Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hubble Space Telescope spots one of the smallest galaxies ever discovered -- with a giant black hole at its core.

An artist's rendering of the massive black hole at the center of the tiny 'dwarf' galaxy revealed by NASA on September 17.NASA

CNN Reports:

NASA said Wednesday that astronomers using its Hubble Space Telescope have found a new dwarf galaxy -- known as M60-UCD1 -- that "crams 140 million stars within a diameter of about 300 light-years, which is only 1/500th" the diameter of the Milky Way galaxy.

At the core of this tiny galaxy is what NASA is calling a "supermassive," or "monster" black hole, one that has five times the mass of the black hole at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy. A dwarf galaxy is one that has a small fraction of the hundreds of billion of stars in the Milky Way.

However, when comparing the density of the Milky Way and the newly-discovered galaxy, NASA said looking at the nighttime sky from Earth reveals about 4,000 stars. Someone looking up into the sky from inside M60-UCD1 would see a million stars.

This is amazing. Think of looking up in the sky and seeing a million stars.  Awesome!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rosetta Space Craft orbiting around a comet over 250 million miles away!

After a ten-year mission the Rosetta spacecraft has landed a probe on a comet.  This is a great way for our scientists to learn about what actually makes up a comet. Congratulations!  This animation shows the Rosetta spacecraft orbiting the comet.  Remember this comet is over 250 million miles away from Earth!
Below is from the European Space Agency, ESA

Rosetta orbiting Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and scanning its surface to make scientific measurements. The colours of the beams and their shape on the surface represent two different instruments imaging and analysing the comet.

The Rosetta orbiter has a total of 11 instruments to study the characteristics and environment of the comet. Rosetta is taking images of the comet at a variety of different wavelengths, measuring its gravity, mass, density, internal structure, shape and rotation, and assessing the properties of its gaseous, dust-laden atmosphere, or coma. It is also probing the surrounding plasma environment and analysing how it interacts with the solar wind.

Rosetta also carries a small lander, Philae, which will descend to the surface of the comet and make in situ measurements using its suite of 10 instruments.

The animation is not to scale; the comet is about 4.1 km wide and Rosetta is 32 m across including its solar wings, and it conducts scientific investigations at a range of altitudes. The comet shape is based on a true comet shape model.

Credits: ESA