Friday, August 28, 2009

Mystery cause of Solar Wind Heating recognized

The solar wind is hotter than it should be, and for decades researchers have puzzled over the unknown source of energy that heats it. In a paper published in the June 12 issue of Physical Review Letters, NASA scientists say they may have found the answer.

"The energy source is turbulence," says co-author Melvyn Goldstein, chief of the Geospace Physics Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "The sun heats the solar wind by stirring it up."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chandra Turns Ten

About ten years ago Space Shuttle Columbia launched hauling 55,000 pounds worth of astronomers' dreams -- the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. This was the heaviest payload a space shuttle ever lifted – and one of the best day's labor the work-horse space shuttle ever put in.

Above : In a beautiful night launch, the space shuttle (STS-93) carries Chandra aloft.

Above: Chandra's first light image of the Cas A supernova remnant.

Above: A false-color X-ray image of the Cas A supernova remnant. Red traces iron-rich material; greenish-white denotes material enriched in silicon and sulfur. The blue regions are peppered with X-ray absorbing space dust.

Above: A composite Hubble-Chandra image of the Crab Nebula. Credit: NASA and Chandra Science Center

Above: A Chandra X-ray Observatory image of the central region of our Milky Way galaxy.

Above: This Chandra image gave scientists their first look at X-rays from Mars.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Trigger-Happy Star Formation

This composite image, combining data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope shows the molecular cloud Cepheus B, located in our Galaxy about 2,400 light years from the Earth. A molecular cloud is a region containing cool interstellar gas and dust left over from the formation of the galaxy and mostly contains molecular hydrogen. The Spitzer data, in red, green and blue shows the molecular cloud (in the bottom part of the image) plus young stars in and around Cepheus B, and the Chandra data in violet shows the young stars in the field.

Friday, August 07, 2009


This image was taken by Clementine as it came over the north lunar pole at the completion of mapping orbit 102 on March 13, 1994. The angular separation between lunar horizon and Earth has been reduced for illustration purposes. The large crater at the bottom of the image is Plaskett (180 W longitude, 82 N latitude).