Tom's Astronomy Blog 15 Jan 2018, 10:55 UTC Just look at what you can do with a plane and a telescope these days. The SOFIA Observatory is just that combined with a great team. This image was taken with the visible-light guide camera during observations from Christchurch, New Zealand.Credits: NASA/SOFIA/Nicholas A. VeronicoNASA – To have a full picture of the lives of massive stars, researchers need to study them in all stages – from when they’re a mass of unformed gas and dust, to their often dynamic end-of-life explosions.NASA’s flying telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, is particularly well-suited for studying the pre-natal stage of stellar development in star-forming regions, such as the Tarantula Nebula, a giant mass of gas and dust located within the Large Magellanic Cloud, or LMC. Researchers from the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics, led by Michael Gordon, went aboard SOFIA to identify and characterize the brightness, ages and dust content of three young star-forming regions within the LMC.“The Large Magellanic Cloud has always been an interesting and excellent laboratory for massive star formation,” said Gordon. “The chemical properties of star-forming regions in the LMC are significantly different than in the Milky Way, which means the stars forming there potentially mirror the ...
Space Fellowship 15 Jan 2018, 06:21 UTC By starlight this eerie visage shines in the dark, a crooked profile evoking its popular name, the Witch Head Nebula. In fact, this entrancing telescopic portrait gives the impression that the witch has fixed her gaze on Orion’s bright supergiant star Rigel. More formally known as IC 2118, the Witch Head Nebula spans about 50 light-years and is composed of interstellar dust grains reflecting Rigel’s starlight.
SpaceFlight Insider 14 Jan 2018, 10:00 UTC While most people tune-in to their local weather forecasts, and there are those who keep their eyes to the sky for the latest in space weather, the region in which they interact has been largely uncharted. NASA – with the help of two satellites planned for launch in 2018 – hopes to change that. At 60 miles (96.6 kilometers) in altitude, Earth’s ionosphere is host to a little-understood interplay between the electrically-neutral upper atmosphere and the rarified soup of electrically-charged particles created from solar radiation. This boundary layer is susceptible to influences from Earthly weather events and solar outbursts alike, and may be key to understanding how to better protect humans on the ground or hundreds of miles above it.
Astronomy Now 13 Jan 2018, 14:20 UTC Colourful swirling cloud belts dominate Jupiter’s southern hemisphere in this image captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Jupiter appears in this colour-enhanced image as a tapestry of vibrant cloud bands and storms. The dark region in the far left is called the South Temperate Belt. Intersecting the belt is a ghost-like feature of slithering white clouds. This is the largest feature in Jupiter’s low latitudes that’s a cyclone (rotating with clockwise motion).
Astro Bob 12 Jan 2018, 21:01 UTC I thought we were done with the planets after the crescent moon stopped by on Thursday next to Jupiter and Saturn at dawn. Not on your life. Two more vie for our attention lower down in the dawn sky: bright Mercury and returning Saturn. They’ll really get close too — less than 1° (⅘° to be exact) tomorrow morning.