Tuesday, 29 April 2014


Star Formation Region Gum 41.
This new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that causes the surrounding hydrogen to glow with a characteristic red hue.

This area of the southern sky, in the constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur), is home to many bright nebulae, each associated with hot new-born stars that formed out of the clouds of hydrogen gas. The intense radiation from the stellar new-borns excites the remaining hydrogen around them, making the gas glow in the distinctive shade of red typical of star-forming regions. Another famous example of this phenomenon is the Lagoon Nebula, a vast cloud that glows in similar bright shades of scarlet.

Monday, 28 April 2014


The magnetosphere is a protective field that extends thousands of miles into space. Its magnetism affects everything from global communication to weather patterns. Created by the Earth’s spinning molten core, its existence means that the charged particles of the solar wind are unable to cross the magnetic field lines and are deflected around the Earth towards the poles. This causes beautiful auroras, sometimes appearing far south of their indigenous polar regions, like the recent displays in mid latitude zones.

This life-protecting magnetic field, has decreased by fifteen per cent over the last two centuries. Some scientists think this could be an indication that the Earth’s poles are about to exhibit a long overdue flip. The Earth would be exposed to ozone layer damaging solar winds while power supplies are wiped out, the climate is changed and cancer rates rocket.


This artist's conception shows the object named WISE J085510.83-071442.5, the coldest known brown dwarf. This cool star-like body is as frosty as the North Pole. It is also the fourth closest system to our sun, at 7.2 light-years from Earth. Image Credit: Penn State University/NASA/JPL-Caltech.


NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered what appears to be the coldest "brown dwarf" known - a dim, star-like body that, surprisingly, is as frosty as Earth's North Pole.

 Images from the space telescopes also pinpointed the object's distance to 7.2 light-years away, earning it the title for fourth closest system to our sun. The closest system, a trio of stars, is Alpha Centauri, at about 4 light-years away.

"It's very exciting to discover a new neighbour of our solar system that is so close," said Kevin Luhman, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University's Centre for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds, University Park.

 "And given its extreme temperature, it should tell us a lot about the atmospheres of planets, which often have similarly cold temperatures."

Brown dwarfs start their lives like stars, as collapsing balls of gas, but they lack the mass to burn nuclear fuel and radiate starlight. The newfound coldest brown dwarf is named WISE J085510.83-071442.5. It has a chilly temperature between minus 48 to minus 13 degrees Celsius. Previous record holders for coldest brown dwarfs, also found by WISE and Spitzer, were about room temperature.


Annular solar eclipse, as seen in these time lapse images taken at the Jansky Very Large Array, west of Socorro, New Mexico on May 20, 2012.

On Tuesday 29 April 2014, tomorrow, an annular solar eclipse will occur. Eclipses occur when our moon moves between the Earth and the Sun blocking the Sun's light. Tomorrow's eclipse is known as an annular eclipse and is a little different to what we might think of as a 'normal' solar eclipse where the Sun completely disappears behind the Moon.

Due to the current distance of the Moon from the Earth as it orbits, the relative size of the Moon will not appear large enough in the sky to block out all of the light from the Sun. Instead it will cause the Sun to appear as a bright ring as the outer edges of the Sun are seen shining around the Moon at the height of the eclipse. The resulting ring of light is known as the 'annulus' or 'the ring of fire'.

Sadly this amazing sight will only be visible in a few areas of the world. The total annular eclipse will in fact be visible only from a very remote and uninhabited area of Antarctica where the instant of the greatest eclipse will be at 06:03 UTC. The south of Indonesia and Australia will however get a chance to see at least a partial eclipse.

If you do happen to be lucky enough to catch a view remember that you should never look directly at the Sun when trying to view an eclipse. One of the easiest ways to safely watch it is to create a projection of it. A cheap and easy way it to create your own pinhole camera!

Watch the Annular Eclipse LIVE direct from the Slooh Telescope, Australia

The next annular solar eclipse will not occur until September 2016. Although a little bit of a while to wait the good news is that it should be easier to view. Much of Africa should this time be able to see the event as well as Antarctica, Australia and south Asia.


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Friday, 25 April 2014


Relative sizes of the planets in the Solar System and several well-known stars:
Mercury < Mars < Venus < Earth
Earth < Neptune < Uranus < Saturn < Jupiter
Jupiter < Wolf 359 < Sun < Sirius
Sirius < Pollux < Arcturus < Aldebaran
Aldebaran < Rigel < Antares < Betelgeuse

Betelgeuse < Mu Cephei < VV Cephei A < VY Canis Majoris


One of the really awesome and mind-blowing aspects of astronomy is the sheer immense scale of the distances between planets, stars, galaxies and galaxy clusters. Our everyday terrestrial notions of scale, size, and distance must be discarded, even if we just consider a transit between the Earth and Mars. Kilometres first fall as units of measurement, then astronomical units (AU)(one AU is the distance between the Earth and Sun) -- when we start to consider interstellar distances we have to look at light years as units of measurement (the distance that light travels in one year).

If distances become truly 'astronomical', then it comes as no surprise that likewise sizes and masses follow suit. We all think that the Sun is massive, and it is, with a radius of 695,990km, this is 109 times that of the Earth. With a mass of 1.989x1030 kg, the Sun has the equivalent of 333,000 Earth masses, and yet it is still just a run-of-the-mill yellow dwarf class G2 star. As the diagram above shows, although there are many considerably smaller than the Sun (very common red dwarf stars) such as our nearest neighbour Proxima Centauri, there are also stars very much more massive.

Monday, 14 April 2014



It’s the story of how we, and all of the creatures with whom we share the Earth came to be. It’s an epic tale to rival the best Shakespearean tragedy or our best works of literature. It’s the story of how we and everything we see was literally ‘made in heaven’, and it confidently predicts what our fate may be...

Stars do not live forever, and our Sun will one day die, and with it all life on Earth. Five billion years from now, when our planet has been incinerated to a crisp, our local star will have run out of the fuel that powers its nuclear fusion. Its hydrogen depleted and all consumed, it will have metamorphosed from the relatively stable yellow dwarf star that we see today into a bloated angry red giant, its outer layers and atmosphere occupying most of the inner solar system.

Indeed, the Sun is already imperceptibly increasing in temperature – it’s 20 per cent hotter now than when the Earth coalesced out of the Sun’s proto-planetary disk 4½ billion years ago, and within a couple of hundred million years the Earth will become uninhabitable. This chain of events is inevitable and, over different time periods, happens to all stars.

Stars coalesce by gravity out of clouds of interstellar gas, made up largely of the original constit-uent elements of the universe: about 75% hydrogen and 25% helium, plus trace amounts of lithium – the latter two termed ‘metals’ in the unorthodox nomenclature of astronomy.

Sunday, 13 April 2014


 Europe Seeks Greater Cooperation with Russia on Space Projects. A Soyuz booster lifts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome taking a joint European and Russian crew to the International Space Station.
The European Space Agency (ESA) will not limit its space cooperation with Russia as it has
earlier been done by the US National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), Russian Federal Space Agency deputy head Sergey Saveliev told a teleconference at ITAR-TASS ahead of Cosmonautics Day marked in Russia on April 12, 2014.

“There will be no sanctions from European partners,” he said. “On the contrary, there are plans to expand our cooperation.”

Saveliev recalled that ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst will launch as a member of an international crew aboard a Soyuz spacecraft from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur cosmodrome on May 28 to begin a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

“A large delegation from the European Space Agency is expected at Baikonur,” he added.

Progress supply ship docks with ISS

Last week, the US space agency posted on its Twitter and Facebook accounts a statement announcing the suspension of cooperation with Russia in an apparent move of siding with Washington administration’s sanctions in regard to Moscow over the situation in Ukraine.

NASA’s decision to suspend the majority of space cooperation projects with Russia was accepted not only with bewilderment among Russian space experts, but also drew criticism inside the US space agency as well. A number of Russian space experts remarked that the suspension of cooperation would be to the detriment of NASA itself.

Speaking about these sanctions against Russia, the Roscosmos official said: “We depend on each other to a large extent. This (NASA sanctions) is an incautious step.

Original Source: Rianovosti


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