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Hubble

Image, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, showing five moons orbiting the distant, ic...

Pluto may no longer be classified as a planet, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still getting its fair share of attention. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is currently making its way to the icy dwarf planet to study it and its moons. To search for potential hazards to the spacecraft and help plan a safer trajectory before its scheduled arrival in 2015, a team of astronomers has trained the eye of the Hubble Space Telescope on the system and discovered a fifth, previously unknown moon orbiting the planet.  Read More

3.75 billion years from now - the nighttime sky showing the Andromeda galaxy (M31) early i...

When Galaxies Collide! It sounds like an early science fiction novel. However, analysis of Hubble measurements shows that our own Milky Way galaxy is moving toward a head-on collision with our nearest neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy (also known as M31). The collision will start in about four billion years, and over the following three billion years the two spiral galaxies will coalesce into a large elliptical galaxy. Based on this data, NASA has produced a video of the upcoming collision.  Read More

NASA has been given two ex-spy satellites with optics superior to those of the Hubble Spac...

NASA’s collection of space telescopes just got a bit bigger thanks to an extraordinary gift from America's National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) intelligence agency. The space agency announced on Monday that the NRO has given it two surplus spy satellites that are more advanced than the Hubble Space Telescope. If the money can be found for a mission for the spy “birds” then NASA will not only have two possible replacements for the retiring Hubble, but also an added ability to scan the skies for supernovae, locate new exoplanets and even seek the answer to the fate of the universe.  Read More

The departing Space Shuttle Atlantis captured this image of the Hubble Space Telescope dur...

From Earth's perspective, on June 5 and 6, Venus will pass across the face of the Sun. By observing the tiny fraction of sunlight that passes through Venus's atmosphere using the Hubble Space Telescope, it is hoped that the planet's atmospheric makeup can be determined. Though we already know the nature of Venus's atmosphere, it is hoped the event will help astronomers hone techniques, already in use, that may one day help to identify Earth-like planets in far-away solar systems. The catch? Hubble cannot observe the Sun directly. Instead it will look at the Moon to observe reflected light.  Read More

The NIRCam that has passed its testing at Lockheed Martin and is being readied for shipmen...

Assembly has been completed on the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) that will be the primary imager on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and will also act as the telescope’s wavefront sensor to allow for control of its primary mirror. NIRCam covers the infrared wavelength range of 0.6 (the edge of visible) to 5 microns (near infrared) and its focal plane assemblies (FPA) consist of 40 million pixels and are designed to operate at 35 degrees Kelvin (-396°F/-238°C).  Read More

Artist's view of GJ1214b (Image credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Aguilar (Harvard-Smithsonian Cen...

Planets orbiting two stars, giant super-Earths and worlds racked with boiling rock storms - these are just some of the galactic oddities among the more than 700 exoplanets discovered in the past 20 years. Now there's another new class of extrasolar planet to add to the list - the waterworld.  Read More

Astronomers have pushed the Hubble Space Telescope to the very limit of its technical abil...

Pushing the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to the very limit of its technical ability, an international collaboration of astronomers believe they have discovered the oldest and furthest ancient galaxy ever seen. Light from the new object is thought to have taken some 13.2 billion years to reach the telescope, with the age of the Universe itself said to be 13.7 billion years. It's also said to be older than the current record holder, which set the bar by forming 600 million years after the Big Bang.  Read More

The Hubble Space Telescope image of the inner region of Abell 1689, an immense cluster of ...

Dark energy has been described as the greatest puzzle of our universe. This mysterious force, discovered in 1998, is pushing the universe apart at ever-increasing speeds and astronomers have now devised a new method of measuring it. Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers were able to take advantage of a giant magnifying lens in space – a massive cluster of galaxies – to narrow in on the nature of dark energy. Their calculations, when combined with data from other methods, significantly increase the accuracy of dark energy measurements and may eventually lead to an explanation of what the elusive phenomenon really is.  Read More

A section of Galactic Globular Cluster M3 as seen without (left) and with (right) Laser Ad...

The verse “Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are” could, in fact, refer to the frustration felt by astronomers trying to view celestial objects obscured by turbulence in the earth’s atmosphere. It’s that turbulence that causes stars and other heavenly bodies to twinkle, and it’s one of the reasons that space-based telescopes like the Hubble can see those objects more clearly than telescopes down here on the ground. Recently, however, a team of astronomers from the University of Arizona developed a technique that allows them to effectively turn off the twinkling over a large field of view, allowing them to get Hubble-quality images in a fraction of the usual time.  Read More

1,400 megapixel telescope powered-up to spot earthbound asteroids

If there’s a killer asteroid or comet hurtling towards Earth it’s probably best to know about it sooner rather than later. However, space is a big place and keeping our eyes out for these little blighters is no mean feat even with a mighty automated telescope to hand. Fortunately, astronomers in Hawaii have just announced they’ve successfully managed to boot up the Pan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System) telescope, also known as PS1. Working from dusk-to-dawn every night Pan-STARRS is able to map one-sixth of the sky each month, allowing astronomers to track every moving object, calculate their orbits and identify any potential threats to Earth.  Read More

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