четверг, 13 декабря 2018 г.

2018 December 13 3D Bennu Image Credit: NASA, GSFC, U. Arizona…


2018 December 13


3D Bennu
Image Credit: NASA, GSFC, U. Arizona – Stereo Image Copyright: Patrick Vantuyne


Explanation: Put on your red/blue glasses and float next to asteroid 101955 Bennu. Shaped like a spinning top toy with boulders littering its rough surface, the tiny Solar System world is about 1 Empire State Building (less than 500 meters) across. Frames used to construct this 3D anaglyph were taken by PolyCam on board the OSIRIS_REx spacecraft on December 3 from a distance of about 80 kilometers. Now settling in to explore Bennu from orbit, the OSIRIS-REx mission is expected to deliver samples of the asteroid to planet Earth in 2023. Samples of dust from another asteroid will streak through Earth’s atmosphere much sooner though, when the Geminid meteor shower peaks in predawn skies on December 14. The parent body for the annual Geminids is asteroid 3200 Phaethon.


∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181213.html


Protective Patterns The crazy colours in these fruit fly…


Protective Patterns


The crazy colours in these fruit fly embryos reveal important truths about how animals develop from a fertilised egg into a living organism. Each of them carries a different combination of faults in genes that are essential for laying down the basic pattern for the developing fly embryo, mapping out head, tail and all the parts in between. It was previously thought that without this information, cells get confused about where they are and what they should be doing, causing them to commit a form of ‘cellular suicide’ known as apoptosis. By carefully comparing the differences between these faulty embryos, researchers have realised that correct patterns normally generate ‘survival signals’, ensuring that each segment grows to the right size. If the patterns are disrupted then cells won’t receive the survival signals and will die instead – a process that might also be at work in embryos of many other species too.


Written by Kat Arney



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An astronaut returns to Earth


ESA – European Astronauts patch.


13 December 2018


ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst will return to Earth alongside NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopiev on 20 December. After more than six months living and working on the International Space Station, their Soyuz is expected to touch down in Kazakhstan at around 05:06 GMT (06:06 CET).



Soyuz undocking, reentry and landing explained

The trio’s journey from the Space Station to Earth will take approximately three hours, during which the speed of their Soyuz capsule will reduce from 28 000 to 0 km/h.


It will be a bumpy ride as they reenter the atmosphere and jettison parts of their spacecraft. Parachutes will deploy and retrorockets will fire an instant before touchdown to slow the capsule for a dramatic but safe landing.



Alexander upon return from his Blue Dot mission in 2014

Once the Soyuz lands, ground teams from Russia, ESA and NASA will help the astronauts out of their capsule and into chairs. From there, ESA flight surgeons and crew support teams will step in to take good care of Alexander’s health, comfort and safety as he his flies back to Cologne, Germany.


From Kazakhstan to Cologne


Once Alexander has passed medical checks, he will be helicoptered to Karaganda, Kazakhstan, where he will take part in a traditional welcoming ceremony alongside Serena and Sergei before boarding a NASA plane to Norway with Serena while Sergei heads to Star City near Moscow, Russia.


Alexander will say farewell to Serena in Norway as he is transferred to an awaiting ESA plane. This marks the final leg of Alexander’s journey to Cologne.


ESA flight surgeon Sergi Vaquer says there are a number of medical considerations when returning an astronaut to Earth. These include cardiovascular issues, weakened bones, muscle loss, and vestibular disturbances which can cause a loss of balance and feelings of nausea. An astronaut’s immune system may also be compromised, so it is important to follow strict hygiene procedures and avoid contact with anyone who may be unwell.



Serena tests Alexander’s muscle tone

In spite of this, Sergi says ESA astronauts come back in good health and he expects Alexander to readapt quickly to life on Earth.


“I believe the reason our astronauts are in such good shape when they return is because they prepare so intensely before their mission, but also thanks to the physical exercise programme they undergo while in orbit,” Sergi says. “Exercise is a key medical countermeasure and ESA’s specialists play a vital role in helping the astronaut reduce many negative effects of spaceflight.”


A team effort


Upon his return, Alexander will undertake a minimum 21 days of rehabilitation under the care of ESA doctors and exercise specialists, supported by facilities at the German Aerospace Centre’s state-of-the-art ‘:envihab’ facility, next to ESA’s astronaut centre.


He will also continue to provide data for researchers as he completes ground-based sessions of experiments performed on the Station.



Envihab

ESA project manager of Alexander’s return to Europe Stephane Ghiste says this demonstrates the way in which many different teams work together to ensure an astronaut’s safe return.


“These kinds of operations are only possible thanks to the cooperation and dedication of several ESA teams including space medicine, crew support, training, communication and the EAC office in Star City, Moscow, as well as close collaboration with our external partners NASA, Roscosmos and German Aerospace Centre – DLR,” he adds.


Follow the live transmission of Alexander’s landing from 04:30–05:45 GMT (05:30–06:45 CET): http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/International_Space_Station/Watch_Alexander_Gerst_s_return_to_Earth


Related links:


Space Station live: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/live-iss-stream


Where is the International Space Station?: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/International_Space_Station/Where_is_the_International_Space_Station


German Aerospace Center DLR: http://www.dlr.de/dlr/de/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-10002/


Human Spaceflight: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight


ESA’s Astronauts: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/Astronauts


Images, Video, Text, Credits: ESA/S. Corvaja, 2014/NASA/Andreas Schütz.


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Well Rested Crew Moves To Human Research, Departure Preps After Spacewalk


ISS – Expedition 57 Mission patch.


December 12, 2018



International Space Station (ISS). Image Credit: NASA

The Expedition 57 crew were allowed to catch a few extra hours of sleep today after a lengthy spacewalk Tuesday by the two cosmonauts on board. They then went to work on a variety of microgravity science and lab maintenance aboard the International Space Station.


Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev performed routine maintenance on their Russian Orlan spacesuits after a seven-hour, 45-minute spacewalk to inspect the Soyuz MS-09 crew ship docked to the station. The duo took detailed photos and captured video of some of the sealant on the outer hull of the Habitation Module used in the repair of a hole discovered inside the vehicle in August.


The other four orbital residents also put in a good night’s sleep after supporting the eighth spacewalk at the station this year. The quartet moved headlong into human research and departure preps after waking up a few hours later than usual today.



Image above: NASA astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor (background) and Anne McClain work inside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module cleaning vents to maintain air circulation aboard the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA.


Alexander Gerst and Serena Auñón-Chancellor drew their own blood samples today and processed them in the Human Research Facility’s centrifuge. The samples were then coagulated and stowed in a science freezer for later analysis. The Biochemical Profile is a long-running study on astronauts and is providing insight into the human body’s adaptation to living in space.


Gerst is also packing the Soyuz spacecraft that will take him, Auñón-Chancellor and Prokopyev back to Earth Dec. 19. This is the same spaceship that was inspected Tuesday by the two Russian spacewalkers.


The station’s newest astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques are still getting used to their new home in space. The pair also went about the day working on a variety of maintenance and research.  McClain strapped on an armband monitoring how her body adapts to orbiting Earth 16 times a day after setting up research hardware for two separate experiments. Saint-Jacques deployed over a dozen radiation monitors throughout the station today before some light plumbing work with Gerst in the orbital restroom.


Related article:


Russian Spacewalkers Complete Crew Vehicle Inspection
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2018/12/russian-spacewalkers-complete-crew.html


Related links:


Expedition 57: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition57/index.html


Soyuz MS-09: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/soyuz-launches-arrivals-and-departures/


Biochemical Profile: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=980


Body adapts: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=869


Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html


International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html


Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.


Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


Rhodizite, tourmaline | #Geology #GeologyPage…


Rhodizite, tourmaline | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral


Locality: Antsongombato, Manapa, Madagascar


Size: 3.7 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm


Photo Copyright © Spirifer Minerals


Geology Page

www.geologypage.com

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrTIU-YFj2W/?utm_source=ig_tumblr_share&igshid=1kqoycdm0db52


Bixbyite, topaz | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral Locality:…


Bixbyite, topaz | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral


Locality: Thomas Range, Juab Co., Utah, USA


Size: 2.7 x 1.6 x 1.0 cm


Photo Copyright © Spirifer Minerals


Geology Page

www.geologypage.com

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrTIiO4Fi2c/?utm_source=ig_tumblr_share&igshid=toq4t93s22ws


Ngilgi Cave, Western Australia | #Geology #GeologyPage…


Ngilgi Cave, Western Australia | #Geology #GeologyPage #WesternAustralia #Australia #Cave


Ngilgi Cave, previously known as Yallingup Cave, is a Karst cave to the northeast of Yallingup, in the southwest of Western Australia. It was discovered by European settlers when Edward Dawson went searching for stray horses in 1899. He acted as a guide to the cave from December 1900 to November 1937.


More Info & Photos: http://www.geologypage.com/2016/05/ngilgi-cave.html


Geology Page

www.geologypage.com

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrTIzL-FCkd/?utm_source=ig_tumblr_share&igshid=4xr6lopatf4a


Erythrite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral Locality: Bou Azer…


Erythrite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral


Locality: Bou Azer mining area, Souss-Massa-Draa Region, Morocco


Size: 13.5 x 4.0 x 3.8 cm


Photo Copyright © Spirifer Minerals


Geology Page

www.geologypage.com

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrTIsHol9ja/?utm_source=ig_tumblr_share&igshid=lwasgyiuj7bq


Tourmaline | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral Locality: Santa…


Tourmaline | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral


Locality: Santa Rosa mine, Itambacuri, Doce valley, Minas Gerais, Brazil


Size: 6.8 x 2 x 1.1


Photo Copyright © Saphira Minerals


Geology Page

www.geologypage.com

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrTJBWNFYGX/?utm_source=ig_tumblr_share&igshid=avkbtwxbgo3n


HiPOD (12 December 2018): Slope StreakingWe have been monitoring…


HiPOD (12 December 2018): Slope Streaking


We have been monitoring the slope streaks on this hill for several years. There are definitive changes between this September 2018 image and a previous one in December 2016.  Earlier streaks have since faded and new, darker streaks are visible. These streaks are tens of meters wide.


These features are small avalanches of dust and sand from the hillsides. The surface dust is lighter in color, but when it avalanches away, it reveals underlying larger-grained sand particles that are much darker.  Over time, the dust slowly rains down from the atmosphere and the streaks fade as they are coated with dust.


NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


NASA’s Juno Mission Halfway to Jupiter Science


NASA – JUNO Mission logo.


Dec. 12, 2018



Image above: A south tropical disturbance has just passed Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot and is captured stealing threads of orange haze from the Great Red Spot in this series of color-enhanced images from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. From left to right, this sequence of images was taken between 2:57 a.m. and 3:36 a.m. PDT (5:57 a.m. and 6:36 a.m. EDT) on April 1, 2018, as the spacecraft performed its 12th close flyby of Jupiter. Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran created this image using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran.



Fly-Around of Jupiter by NASA’s Juno Spacecraft

Video Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/JunoCam.


On Dec. 21, at 8:49:48 a.m. PST (11:49:48 a.m. EST) NASA’s Juno spacecraft will be 3,140 miles (5,053 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops and hurtling by at a healthy clip of 128,802 mph (207,287 kilometers per hour). This will be the 16th science pass of the gas giant and will mark the solar-powered spacecraft’s halfway point in data collection during its prime mission.



Image above: This mosaic combines color-enhanced images taken over Jupiter’s north pole when the lighting was excellent for detecting high bands of haze. The images were taken in the final hours of Juno’s perijove 12 approach on April 1, 2018. Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and John Rogers created this image using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/John Rogers.


Juno is in a highly-elliptical 53-day orbit around Jupiter. Each orbit includes a close passage over the planet’s cloud deck, where it flies a ground track that extends from Jupiter’s north pole to its south pole.





Image above: Detailed structure in the clouds of Jupiter’s South Equatorial Belt brown barge is visible in this color-enhanced image taken at 10:28 p.m. PDT on July 15, 2018 (1:28 a.m. EDT on July 16), as the spacecraft performed its 14th close flyby of the gas giant planet. Citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill created this image using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill.


“With our 16th science flyby, we will have complete global coverage of Jupiter, albeit at coarse resolution, with polar passes separated by 22.5 degrees of longitude,” said Jack Connerney, Juno deputy principal investigator from the Space Research Corporation in Annapolis, Maryland. “Over the second half of our prime mission — science flybys 17 through 32 — we will split the difference, flying exactly halfway between each previous orbit. This will provide coverage of the planet every 11.25 degrees of longitude, providing a more detailed picture of what makes the whole of Jupiter tick.”



Image above: A “brown barge” in Jupiter’s South Equatorial Belt is captured in this color-enhanced image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. This color-enhanced image was taken at 10:28 p.m. PDT on July 15, 2018 (1:28 a.m. EDT on July 16), as the spacecraft performed its 14th close flyby of Jupiter. Citizen scientist Joaquin Camarena created this image using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Joaquin Camarena.


Launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the spacecraft entered orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016. Its science collection began in earnest on the Aug. 27, 2016, flyby. During these flybys, Juno’s suite of sensitive science instruments probes beneath the planet’s obscuring cloud cover and studies Jupiter’s auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, interior structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.



Image above: A long, brown oval known as a “brown barge” in Jupiter’s North North Equatorial Belt is captured in this color-enhanced image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. This image was taken at 6:01 p.m. PDT (9:01 p.m. EDT) on Sept. 6, 2018, as the spacecraft performed its 15th close flyby of Jupiter. Citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill created this image using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill.


“We have already rewritten the textbooks on how Jupiter’s atmosphere works, and on the complexity and asymmetry of its magnetic field,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno, from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “The second half should provide the detail that we can use to refine our understanding of the depth of Jupiter’s zonal winds, the generation of its magnetic field, and the structure and evolution of its interior.”



Image above: This Earth-based observation of Jupiter and the South Tropical Disturbance approaching the Great Red Spot was captured on Jan. 26, 2018. Amateur astronomer Christopher Go took and processed this image. Image Credits: Christopher Go.


Two instruments aboard Juno, the Stellar Reference Unit and JunoCam, have proven to be useful not only for their intended purposes, but also for science data collection. The Stellar Reference Unit (SRU) was designed to collect engineering data used for navigation and attitude determination, so the scientists were pleased to find that it has scientific uses as well.



Image above: A multitude of bright white “pop-up” storms in this Jupiter cloudscape appear in this image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. This color-enhanced image was taken at 1:55 p.m. PDT (4:55 p.m. EDT) on Oct. 29, 2018, as the spacecraft performed its 16th close flyby of Jupiter. Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran created this image using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran.


“We always knew the SRU had a vital engineering job to do for Juno,” said Heidi Becker, Juno’s radiation monitoring investigation lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “But after making scientific discoveries in Jupiter’s radiation belts and taking a first-of-its-kind image of Jupiter’s ring, we realized the added value of the data. There is serious scientific interest in what the SRU can tell us about Jupiter.”



Image above: This image was taken at 7:21 p.m. PDT (10:21 p.m. EDT) on Sept. 6, 2018, as the spacecraft performed its 15th close flyby of Jupiter. The version of the image on the left side shows Jupiter in approximate true color, while the same image on the right has been processed to bring out detail close to the terminator and reveals four of the five southern circumpolar cyclones plus the cyclone in the center. Citizen scientist Björn Jónsson created this image using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Björn Jónsson.


The JunoCam imager was conceived as an outreach instrument to bring the excitement and beauty of Jupiter exploration to the public.


“While originally envisioned solely as an outreach instrument to help tell the Juno story, JunoCam has become much more than that,” said Candy Hansen, Juno co-investigator at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona. “Our time-lapse sequences of images over the poles allow us to study the dynamics of Jupiter’s unique circumpolar cyclones and to image high-altitude hazes. We are also using JunoCam to study the structure of the Great Red Spot and its interaction with its surroundings.”


The SRU and JunoCam teams both now have several peer-reviewed science papers —either published or in the works — to their credit.



Image above: Jupiter’s northern circumpolar cyclones are captured in this color-enhanced image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. The image was taken at 5:42 p.m. PDT (8:42 p.m. EDT) on Sept. 6, 2018, as the spacecraft performed its 15th close flyby of Jupiter. Citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt created this image using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt.


NASA’s JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. The Italian Space Agency (ASI) contributed two instruments, a Ka-band frequency translator (KaT) and the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM). Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the spacecraft.


More information about Juno is available at: https://www.nasa.gov/juno and https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu


More information on Jupiter is at: https://www.nasa.gov/jupiter


Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Dwayne Brown/JoAnna Wendel/Tony Greicius/JPL/DC Agle.


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Seeking Answers in Cosmic Dust: Simulating our Solar System’s Formation


ISS – International Space Station logo.


Dec. 11, 2018


An investigation delivered to the International Space Station aboard Northrop Grumman’s tenth commercial resupply services mission (NG CRS-10) in November may help uncover the electrifying origins of our solar system. The Experimental Chondrule Formation on the ISS (EXCISS), housed in a NanoRacks container, aims to replicate chondrule formation as seen in the early solar system.



Image above: ARISE, EXCISS, and PAPELL NanoRacks Modules onboard the Space Station.
Image Credit: NASA.


Chondrules are tiny, sphere-like particles found in meteorites and asteroids, but their formation is still a mystery. Scientists suggest that lightning agitated dust particles in the early nebula that eventually became our solar system, providing the energy necessary for chondrule formation. To find evidence for or against this theory, this investigation simulates the electrical and environmental conditions similar to that of the early solar system.


The results could reveal new information about particle velocities and behavior. This information adds to our fundamental understanding of physics but may also be a leaping-off point for manufacturing processes that require a deeper understanding of microstructures. The research goes beyond any study of chondrules conducted on Earth.



Image above: European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst with the ARISE, EXCISS, and PAPELL NanoRacks modules. Image Credit: NASA.


Relying on microgravity to suspend a silicate dust within a gaseous glass chamber, lightning-like charges are sent through closely-placed electrodes inside the chamber to agitate the dust. Researchers expect free-floating particles to melt, collide and come together, forming aggregates that may melt and form chondrules when hit with additional electricity.


“Drop towers and parabolic flights do not simulate microgravity conditions long enough to allow larger chondrules to form,” said Dominik Spahr, who works with fellow EXCISS researchers Tamara Koch and David Merges from the University of Frankfurt and the nonprofit Hackerspace organization.


While the team tested many mockups, Sphar said, “The final chamber we’re sending up cannot be activated and tested on Earth. The gravity of our planet would interfere with results.”



Image above: Trial run of an electrode test chamber. Aboard the space station, lightning strikes within the chamber will agitate dust along the electrodes to create chondrules. Image Credit: Dominick Sphar.


The investigation opens new doors for chondrule research.


“It is very important to know how chondrules were formed because then we can explain so many other features that we see in meteorites and asteroids,” said Koch.


Theoretical investigations are critical building blocks for application-based research, and the answers derived from this investigation may greatly advance our fundamental understanding of some of the oldest materials in our solar system.


Related links:


NG CRS-10: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/ng-10_research_highlights


EXCISS: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7785


NanoRacks: http://nanoracks.com/


International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory: https://www.iss-casis.org/


Spot the Station: https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/


Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html


International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html


Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/JSC/International Space Station Program Science Office/Morgan McAllister.


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Calibrating cosmic mile markers

New work from the Carnegie Supernova Project provides the best-yet calibrations for using type Ia supernovae to measure cosmic distances, which has implications for our understanding of how fast the universe is expanding and the role dark energy may play in driving this process. Led by Carnegie astronomer Chris Burns, the team’s findings are published in The Astrophysical Journal.











Calibrating cosmic mile markers
An artist’s conception of what’s called the cosmic distance ladder — a series of celestial objects, including type Ia
supernovae that have known distances and can be used to calculate the rate at which the universe is expanding
[Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]

Type Ia supernovae are fantastically bright stellar phenomena. They are violent explosions of a white dwarf–the crystalline remnant of a star that has exhausted its nuclear fuel–which is part of a binary system with another star.


In addition to being exciting to observe in their own right, type Ia supernovae are also a vital tool that astronomers use as a kind of cosmic mile marker to infer the distances of celestial objects.


While the precise details of the explosion are still unknown, it is believed that they are triggered when the white dwarf approaches a critical mass, so the brightness of the phenomenon is predictable from the energy of the explosion. The difference between the predicted brightness and the brightness observed from Earth tells us the distance to the supernova.


Astronomers employ these precise distance measurements, along with the speed at which their host galaxies are receding, to determine the rate at which the universe is expanding. Thanks to the finite speed of light, not only can we measure how quickly the universe is expanding right now, but by looking farther and farther out into space, we see further back in time and can measure how fast the universe was expanding in the distant past. This led to the astonishing discovery in the late-1990s that the universe’s expansion is currently speeding up due to the repulsive effect of a mysterious “dark” energy. Improving the distance estimates made using type Ia supernovae will help astronomers better understand the role that dark energy plays in this cosmic expansion.


“Beginning with its namesake, Edwin Hubble, Carnegie astronomers have a long history of working on the Hubble constant, including vital contributions to our understanding of the universe’s expansion made by Alan Sandage and Wendy Freedman,” said Observatories Director John Mulchaey.











Calibrating cosmic mile markers
This is an artist’s conception shows a type Ia supernova exploding [Credit: ESO]

However, the speed at which the brightness of type Ia supernova explosions fade away is not uniform. In 1993, Carnegie astronomer Mark Phillips showed that the explosions that take longer to fade away are intrinsically brighter than those that fade away quickly. This correlation, which is commonly referred to as the Phillips relation, allowed a group of astronomers in Chile, includingPhillips and Texas A&M astronomer Nicholas Suntzeff, to develop type Ia supernovae into a precise tool for measuring the expansion of the universe.


Studying the supernovae using the near-infrared part of the spectrum was crucial to this finding. The light from these explosions must travel through cosmic dust to reach our telescopes, and these fine-grained interstellar particles obscure light on the blue end of the spectrum more than they do light from the red end of the spectrum in the same manner as smoke from a forest fire makes everything appear redder. This can trick astronomers into thinking that a supernova is farther away than it is. But working in the infrared allows astronomers to peer more clearly through this dusty veil.


“One of the Carnegie Supernova Project’s primary goals has been to provide a reliable, high-quality sample of supernovae and dependable methods for inferring their distances,” said lead author Burns.


“The quality of this data allows us to better correct our measurements to account for the dimming effect of cosmic dust” added Mark Phillips, an astronomer at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile and a co-author on the paper.


The calibration of these mile markers is crucially important, because there are disagreements between different methods for determining the universe’s expansion rate. The Hubble constant can independently be estimated using the glow of background radiation left over from the Big Bang. This cosmic microwave background radiation has been measured with exquisite detail by the Planck satellite, and it gives astronomers a more slowly expanding universe than when measured using type Ia supernovae.


“This discrepancy could herald new physics, but only if it’s real,” Burns explained. “So, we need our type Ia supernova measurements to be as accurate as possible, but also to identify and quantify all sources of error.”


Source: Carnegie Institution for Science [December 11, 2018]



TANN



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ALMA Campaign Provides Unprecedented Views of the Birth of Planets



ALMA’s high-resolution images of nearby protoplanetary disks, which are results of the Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP). Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), S. Andrews et al.; N. Lira



Animated GIF showing the ALMA images of 20 protoplanetary disks observed by DSHARP project. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Andrews et al.; N. Lira.



Astronomers have already cataloged nearly 4,000 exoplanets in orbit around distant stars. Though we have learned much about these newfound worlds, there is still much we do not know about the steps of planet formation and the precise cosmic recipes that spawn the wide array of planetary bodies we have already uncovered, including so-called hot Jupiters, massive rocky worlds, icy dwarf planets, and – hopefully someday soon – distant analogs of Earth.


To help answer these and other intriguing questions about the birth of planets, a team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)has conducted one of the deepest surveys ever of protoplanetary disks, the planet-forming dust belts around young stars.

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“This specific Large Programis important because it takes one of the fundamental science goals of ALMA, which is to understand the process of planet formation and takes it from previous studies, which were either very small samples or single objects, to a completely new context, allowing statistical views” explains Stuartt Corder, Deputy Director of ALMA; “Are these kinds of structures common or rare? This more statistical approach allows researchers to answer questions that are much more fundamental to the process of planet formation.”


Known as the Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP), this Large Programof ALMA has yielded stunning, high-resolution images of 20 nearby protoplanetary disks and given astronomers new insights into the variety of features they contain and the speed with which planets can emerge.


The results of this survey are contained in a series of ten papers that are accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.


According to the researchers, the most compelling interpretation of these observations is that large planets, likely similar in size and composition to Neptune or Saturn, form quickly, much faster than current theory would indicate. The also tend to form in the outer reaches of their solar systems at tremendous distances from their host stars.


Such precocious formation could also help explain how rocky, Earth-size worlds are able to evolve and grow, surviving their presumed self-destructive adolescence.


“The goal of this months-long observing campaign was to search for structural commonalities and differences in protoplanetary disks. ALMA’s remarkably sharp vision has revealed previously unseen structures and unexpectedly complex patterns,” said Sean Andrews, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and a leader of the ALMA observing campaign along with Andrea Isella of Rice University, Laura Pérez of the University of Chile, and Cornelis Dullemond of Heidelberg University. “We are seeing distinct details around a wide assortment of young stars of various masses. The most compelling interpretation of these highly diverse, small-scale features is that there are unseen planets interacting with the disk material.”


The leading models for planet formation hold that planets are born by the gradual accumulation of dust and gas inside a protoplanetary disk, beginning with grains of dust that coalesce to form larger and larger rocks, until asteroids, planetesimals, and planets emerge. This hierarchical process should take many millions of years to unfold, suggesting that its impact on protoplanetary disks would be most prevalent in older, more mature systems. Mounting evidence, however, indicates that is not always the case.


ALMA’s early observations of young protoplanetary disks, some only about one million years old, reveal striking and surprising structures, including prominent rings and gaps, which appear to be the hallmarks of planets. Astronomers were initially cautious to ascribe these features to the actions of planets since other natural process could be at play.


“It was surprising to see possible signatures of planet formation in the very first high-resolution images of young disks. It was important to find out whether these were anomalies or if those signatures were common in disks,” said Jane Huang, a graduate student at CfA and a member of the research team.


Since the sample set was so small, however, it was impossible to draw any overarching conclusions. It could have been that astronomers were observing atypical systems. More observations on a variety of protoplanetary disks were needed to determine the most likely cause of the features we were seeing.


The DSHARP campaign was designed to do precisely that by studying the relatively small-scale distribution of dust particles around 20 nearby protoplanetary disks. These dust particles naturally glow in millimeter-wavelength light, enabling ALMA to precisely map the density distribution of small, solid particles around young stars.


Depending on the star’s distance from Earth, ALMA was able to distinguish features as small as a few Astronomical Units(An Astronomical Unit is the average distance of the Earth to the Sun – about 150 million kilometers, which is a useful scale for measuring distances on the scale of star systems). Using these observations, the researchers were able to image an entire population of nearby protoplanetary disks and study their AU-scale features.


The researchers found that many substructures – concentric gaps, narrow rings – are common to nearly all the disks, while large-scale spiral patterns and arc-like features are also present in some of the cases. Also, the disks and gaps are present at a wide range of distances from their host stars, from a few AU to more than 100 AU, which is more than three times the distance of Neptune from our Sun. These features, which could be the imprint of large planets, may explain how rocky Earth-like planets are able to form and grow. For decades, astronomers have puzzled over a major hurdle in planet-formation theory: Once planetesimals grow to a certain size – about one kilometer is diameter – the dynamics of a smooth protoplanetary disk would induce them to fall in on their host star, never acquiring the mass necessary to form planets like Mars, Venus, and Earth.


The dense rings of dust we now see with ALMA would produce a safe haven for rocky worlds to fully mature. Their higher densities and the concentration of dust particles would create perturbations in the disk, forming zones where planetesimals would have more time to grow into fully fledged planets.


“When ALMA truly revealed its capabilities with its iconic image of HL Tau, we had to wonder if that was an outlier since the disk was comparatively massive and young,” noted Laura Perez with the University of Chile and a member of the research team. “These latest observations show that, though striking, HL Tau is far from unusual and may actually represent the normal evolution of planets around young stars.”

Additional Information


This research is presented in the following papers accepted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters.



  • “The Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP): I. Motivation, Sample, Calibration, and Overview: S. Andrews, et al.

  • “The Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP): II. Characteristics of Annular Substructures,” J. Huang, et al.

  • “The Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP): III. Spiral Structures in the Millimeter Continuum of the Elias 27, IM Lup, and WaOph 6 Disks,” J. Huang, et al.

  • “The Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP): IV. Characterizing Substructures and Interactions in Disks around Multiple Star Systems,” N. Kurtovic, et al.

  • “The Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP): V. Interpreting ALMA Maps of Protoplanetary Disks in Terms of a Dust Model” T. Birnstiel, et al.

  • “The Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP): VI. Dust Trapping in Thin-Ringed Protoplanetary Disks,” C. Dullemond, et al.

  • “The Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP): VII. The Planet-Disk Interactions Interpretation” S. Zhang, et al.

  • “The Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP): VIII. The Rich Ringed Substructures in the AS 209 Disk,” V, Guzmán, et al.

  • “The Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP): IX. A High Definition Study of the HD 163296 Planet Forming Disk” A. Isella, et al.

  • “The Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP): X. Multiple Rings, a Misaligned Inner Disk, and a Bright Arc in the Disk around the T Tauri Star HD 143006,” L. Pérez, et al.

  • The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) in Taiwan and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI).




ALMA construction and operations are led by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia. The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.







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Roman Brooch, 1st to 2nd century CE, Oriel Ynys Mon, Llangefni, Anglesey, North Wales.

Roman Brooch, 1st to 2nd century CE, Oriel Ynys Mon, Llangefni, Anglesey, North Wales.



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Rosetta witnesses birth of baby bow shock around comet


ESA – Rosetta Mission patch.


12 December 2018


A new study reveals that, contrary to first impressions, Rosetta did detect signs of an infant bow shock at the comet it explored for two years – the first ever seen forming anywhere in the Solar System.


From 2014 to 2016, ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft studied Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and its surroundings from near and far. It flew directly through the ‘bow shock’ several times both before and after the comet reached its closest point to the Sun along its orbit, providing a unique opportunity to gather in situ measurements of this intriguing patch of space.



Rosetta spying infant bow shock at comet

Comets offer scientists an extraordinary way to study the plasma in the Solar System. Plasma is a hot, gaseous state of matter comprising charged particles, and is found in the Solar System in the form of the solar wind: a constant stream of particles flooding out from our star into space.


As the supersonic solar wind flows past objects in its path, such as planets or smaller bodies, it first hits a boundary known as a bow shock. As the name suggests, this phenomenon is somewhat like the wave that forms around the bow of a ship as it cuts through choppy water.


Bow shocks have been found around comets, too – Halley’s comet being a good example. Plasma phenomena vary as the medium interacts with the surrounding environment, changing the size, shape, and nature of structures such as bow shocks over time.


Rosetta looked for signs of such a feature over its two-year mission, and ventured over 1500 km away from 67P’s centre on the hunt for large-scale boundaries around the comet – but apparently found nothing.


“We looked for a classical bow shock in the kind of area we’d expect to find one, far away from the comet’s nucleus, but didn’t find any, so we originally reached the conclusion that Rosetta had failed to spot any kind of shock,” says Herbert Gunell of the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Belgium, and Umeå University, Sweden, one of the two scientists who led the study.


“However, it seems that the spacecraft actually did find a bow shock, but that it was in its infancy. In a new analysis of the data, we eventually spotted it around 50 times closer to the comet’s nucleus than anticipated in the case of 67P. It also moved in ways we didn’t expect, which is why we initially missed it.”



Bow shock taking shape at comet

On 7 March 2015, when the comet was over twice as far from the Sun as the Earth and heading inwards towards our star, Rosetta data showed signs of a bow shock beginning to form. The same indicators were present on its way back out from the Sun, on 24 February 2016.


This boundary was observed to be asymmetric, and wider than the fully developed bow shocks observed at other comets.


“Such an early phase of the development of a bow shock around a comet had never been captured before Rosetta,” says co-lead Charlotte Goetz of the Institute for Geophysics and Extraterrestrial Physics in Braunschweig, Germany.


“The infant shock we spotted in the 2015 data will have later evolved to become a fully developed bow shock as the comet approached the Sun and became more active – we didn’t see this in the Rosetta data, though, as the spacecraft was too close to 67P at that time to detect the ‘adult’ shock. When Rosetta spotted it again, in 2016, the comet was on its way back out from the Sun, so the shock we saw was in the same state but ‘unforming’ rather than forming.”


Herbert, Charlotte, and colleagues explored data from the Rosetta Plasma Consortium, a suite of instruments comprising five different sensors to study the plasma surrounding Comet 67P. They combined the data with a plasma model to simulate the comet’s interactions with the solar wind and determine the properties of the bow shock. 



Simulated view

The scientists found that, when the forming bow shock washed over Rosetta, the comet’s magnetic field became stronger and more turbulent, with bursts of highly energetic charged particles being produced and heated in the region of the shock itself. Beforehand, particles had been slower-moving, and the solar wind had been generally weaker – indicating that Rosetta had been ‘upstream’ of a bow shock.


“These observations are the first of a bow shock before it fully forms, and are unique in being gathered on-location at the comet and shock itself,” says Matt Taylor, ESA Rosetta Project Scientist.


“This finding also highlights the strength of combining multi-instrument measurements and simulations. It may not be possible to solve a puzzle using one dataset, but when you bring together multiple clues, as in this study, the picture can become clearer and offer real insight into the complex dynamics of our Solar System – and the objects in it, like 67P.”


Notes for Editors:


“The infant bow shock: a new frontier at a weak activity comet” by H. Gunell et al is published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, November 2018: https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201834225


The study used ion spectra from the Ion Composition Analyzer of the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC-ICA), ion and electron spectra from the Ion and Electron Sensor (RPC-IES), and magnetic flux density measurements from the magnetometer instrument (RPC-MAG).


Related link:


Rosetta: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Rosetta


Images, Video, Text, Credits: ESA/Markus Bauer/Matt Taylor/Institute for Geophysics and Extraterrestrial Physics TU Braunschweig/Charlotte Goetz/Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy/Umeå University/Herbert Gunell.


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NASA’s InSight Takes Its First Selfie


NASA – InSight Mission patch.


December 12, 2018



Image above: This is NASA InSight’s first selfie on Mars. It displays the lander’s solar panels and deck. On top of the deck are its science instruments, weather sensor booms and UHF antenna. The selfie was taken on Dec. 6, 2018 (Sol 10). Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.


NASA’s InSight lander isn’t camera-shy. The spacecraft used a camera on its robotic arm to take its first selfie – a mosaic made up of 11 images. This is the same imaging process used by NASA’s Curiosity rover mission, in which many overlapping pictures are taken and later stitched together. Visible in the selfie are the lander’s solar panel and its entire deck, including its science instruments.


Mission team members have also received their first complete look at InSight’s “workspace” – the approximately 14-by-7-foot (4-by-2-meter) crescent of terrain directly in front of the spacecraft. This image is also a mosaic composed of 52 individual photos.


In the coming weeks, scientists and engineers will go through the painstaking process of deciding where in this workspace the spacecraft’s instruments should be placed. They will then command InSight’s robotic arm to carefully set the seismometer (called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or SEIS) and heat-flow probe (known as the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, or HP3) in the chosen locations. Both work best on level ground, and engineers want to avoid setting them on rocks larger than about a half-inch (1.3 cm).



Image above: This mosaic, composed of 52 individual images from NASA’s InSight lander, shows the workspace where the spacecraft will eventually set its science instruments. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.


“The near-absence of rocks, hills and holes means it’ll be extremely safe for our instruments,” said InSight’s Principal Investigator Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “This might seem like a pretty plain piece of ground if it weren’t on Mars, but we’re glad to see that.”


InSight’s landing team deliberately chose a landing region in Elysium Planitia that is relatively free of rocks. Even so, the landing spot turned out even better than they hoped. The spacecraft sits in what appears to be a nearly rock-free “hollow” – a depression created by a meteor impact that later filled with sand. That should make it easier for one of InSight’s instruments, the heat-flow probe, to bore down to its goal of 16 feet (5 meters) below the surface.


About InSight


JPL manages InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise stage and lander, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.


A number of European partners, including France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. CNES and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP) provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument, with significant contributions from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany, the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) in Switzerland, Imperial College London and Oxford University in the United Kingdom, and JPL. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) supplied the wind sensors.


Related links:


Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS): https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/mission/instruments/seis/


Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3): https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/mission/instruments/hp3/


For more information about InSight, and to follow along on its flight to Mars, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/insight


Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/JPL/Andrew Good.


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Dancing with the Enemy


ESO – European Southern Observatory logo.


12 December 2018


ESO’s R Aquarii Week continues with the sharpest R Aquarii image ever



R Aquarii peculiar stellar relationship captured by SPHERE

While testing a new subsystem on the SPHERE planet-hunting instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers were able to capture dramatic details of the turbulent stellar relationship in the binary star R Aquarii with unprecedented clarity — even compared to observations from Hubble.



R Aquarii viewed by the Very Large Telescope and Hubble

This spectacular image — the second instalment in ESO’s R Aquarii Week — shows intimate details of the dramatic stellar duo making up the binary star R Aquarii. Though most binary stars are bound in a graceful waltz by gravity, the relationship between the stars of R Aquarii is far less serene. Despite its diminutive size, the smaller of the two stars in this pair is steadily stripping material from its dying companion — a red giant.



R Aquarii In the constellation Aquarius

Years of observation have uncovered the peculiar story behind the binary star R Aquarii, visible at the heart of this image. The larger of the two stars, the red giant, is a type of star known as a Mira variable. At the end of their life, these stars start to pulsate, becoming 1000 times as bright as the Sun as their outer envelopes expand and are cast into the interstellar void.



Digitized Sky Survey image around R Aquarii

The death throes of this vast star are already dramatic, but the influence of the companion white dwarf star transforms this intriguing astronomical situation into a sinister cosmic spectacle. The white dwarf — which is smaller, denser and much hotter than the red giant — is flaying material from the outer layers of its larger companion. The jets of stellar material cast off by this dying giant and white dwarf pair can be seen here spewing outwards from R Aquarii.



Zooming in on R Aquarii

Occasionally, enough material collects on the surface of the white dwarf to trigger a thermonuclear nova explosion, a titanic event which throws a vast amount of material into space. The remnants of past nova events can be seen in the tenuous nebula of gas radiating from R Aquarii in this image.



The ever-changing R Aquarii

R Aquarii lies only 650 light-years from Earth — a near neighbour in astronomical terms — and is one of the closest symbiotic binary stars to Earth. As such, this intriguing binary has received particular attention from astronomers for decades. Capturing an image of the myriad features of R Aquarii was a perfect way for astronomers to test the capabilities of the Zurich IMaging POLarimeter (ZIMPOL), a component on board the planet-hunting instrument SPHERE. The results exceeded observations from space — the image shown here is even sharper than observations from the famous NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.



A vampiric star

SPHERE was developed over years of studies and construction to focus on one of the most challenging and exciting areas of astronomy: the search for exoplanets. By using a state-of-the-art adaptive optics system and specialised instruments such as ZIMPOL, SPHERE can achieve the challenging feat of directly imaging exoplanets. However, SPHERE’s capabilities are not limited to hunting for elusive exoplanets. The instrument can also be used to study a variety of astronomical sources — as can be seen from this spellbinding image of the stellar peculiarities of R Aquarii.



Close-up of a red giant star



Jet outburst of a vampiric star



Changing brightness of R Aquarii



Close-up of jets

More information:


This research was presented in the paper “SPHERE / ZIMPOL observations of the symbiotic system R Aqr. I. Imaging of the stellar binary and the innermost jet clouds” by H.M. Schmid et. al, which was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.


The team was composed of H. M. Schmid (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland), A. Bazzon (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland), J. Milli (European Southern Observatory), R. Roelfsema (NOVA Optical Infrared Instrumentation Group at ASTRON, the Netherlands), N. Engler (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland) , D. Mouillet (Université Grenoble Alpes and CNRS, France), E. Lagadec (Université Côte d’Azur, France), E. Sissa (INAF and Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia “G. Galilei” Universitá di Padova, Italy), J.-F. Sauvage (Aix Marseille Univ, France), C. Ginski (Leiden Observatory and Anton Pannekoek Astronomical Institute, the Netherlands), A. Baruffolo (INAF), J.L. Beuzit (Université Grenoble Alpes and CNRS, France), A. Boccaletti (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, France), A. J. Bohn (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland), R. Claudi (INAF, Italy), A. Costille (Aix Marseille Univ, France), S. Desidera (INAF, Italy), K. Dohlen (Aix Marseille Univ, France), C. Dominik (Anton Pannekoek Astronomical Institute, the Netherlands), M. Feldt (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Germany), T. Fusco (ONERA, France), D. Gisler (Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnenphysik, Germany), J.H. Girard (European Southern Observatory), R. Gratton (INAF, Italy), T. Henning (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Germany), N. Hubin (European Southern Observatory), F. Joos (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland), M. Kasper (European Southern Observatory), M. Langlois (Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon and Aix Marseille Univ, France), A. Pavlov (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Germany), J. Pragt (NOVA Optical Infrared Instrumentation Group at ASTRON, the Netherlands), P. Puget (Université Grenoble Alpes, France), S.P. Quanz (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland), B. Salasnich (INAF, Italy), R. Siebenmorgen (European Southern Observatory), M. Stute (Simcorp GmbH, Germany), M. Suarez (European Southern Observatory), J. Szulagyi (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland), C. Thalmann (ETH Zurich, Institute for Astronomy, Switzerland), M. Turatto (INAF, Italy), S. Udry (Geneva Observatory, Switzerland), A. Vigan (Aix Marseille Univ, France), and F. Wildi (Geneva Observatory, Switzerland).


ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It has 16 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile and with Australia as a Strategic Partner. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope and its world-leading Very Large Telescope Interferometer as well as two survey telescopes, VISTA working in the infrared and the visible-light VLT Survey Telescope. ESO is also a major partner in two facilities on Chajnantor, APEX and ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, the ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.


Links:


ESOcast 188 Light: Dancing with the Enemy: https://www.eso.org/public/videos/eso1840a/


Research paper: https://www.aanda.org/articles/aa/pdf/2017/06/aa29416-16.pdf


Photos of the VLT: http://www.eso.org/public/images/archive/category/paranal/


SPHERE: https://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/paranal-observatory/vlt/vlt-instr/sphere/


NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope: https://www.spacetelescope.org/


Images, Text, Credits: ESO/Schmid et al./NASA/ESA/IAU and Sky & Telescope/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin/Videos: ESO, Digitized Sky Survey 2, ESA/Hubble, Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org). Music: astral electronic/T. Liimets et al./ESO/M. Kornmesser.


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Fusing Droplets Arguably the most important part of our cells…


Fusing Droplets


Arguably the most important part of our cells is the nucleus, a little container of all of our genetic material that dictates each cell’s activities. Using a type of confocal microscopy, a team of scientists have recently developed a new technique to study the inner workings of the nucleus. By measuring a nucleus’ natural movements, the team revealed that its largest structure, the nucleolus, behaves kind of like a droplet of liquid. The team monitored the nucleolus during an elusive process called nucleolar fusion, something that only occurs a handful of times during a cell’s lifespan. The image depicts nucleolar droplets (red) fusing together at different time points within a human cell nucleus (green). This new imaging technique will allow scientists to study other cell structures and processes without disrupting them, providing important insights into the inner workings and behaviours of cells


Written by Gaëlle Coullon



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