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#1 STUNNA 03-10-2013 11:02 PM

The Astronomy News and Discussion Thread
I'm fascinated as fuck by astronomy so I figured I'd make a thread to see if others are interested.

Hubble telescope dates oldest star at 14.5 billion years old
Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO
The Hubble space telescope has enabled astronomers to identify the oldest known star whose age we can reliably estimate.

With a birthdate around 14.5 billion years ago and a margin for error of 0.8 billion years (depending on how youthful the star wishes to appear to others), HD 140283 has been given the slightly more memory-friendly name "the Methuselah star", a reference to the oldest person to ever live according to the Bible.

Previous estimates of the star's age had it celebrating it's super sweet sixteen billion but, as NASA points out, the fact that the Universe's age has been calculated at around 13.8 billion presented some obvious problems. The revised estimate and accompanying wiggle room allow for the Methuselah star, cosmology, and stellar physics to carry on coexisting comfortably.

Hubble was useful in achieving this by allowing the astronomers to more accurately measure the distance of the star from Earth using trigonometric parallax—a syllable-heavy way of describing how a star's position appears to change depending on the position of the observer. By comparing observations from opposite points in Hubble's orbit around Earth it was possible to work out a better approximation of the star's distance from us. The distance was then combined with information about the star's intrinsic brightness to estimate its age with around five times the precision.

"You get an age of 14.5 billion years, with a residual uncertainty that makes the star's age compatible with the age of the universe," said Howard Bond of the Space Telescope Science Institute. "This is the best star in the sky to do precision age calculations by virtue of its closeness and brightness."

The star is moving at a speed of 800,000 miles per hour and, NASA explains, will eventually slingshot back to the galactic halo of stars encircling the Milky Way. Currently, however, space enthusiasts can see the star with the help of a pair of binoculars in the constellation of Libra.

^this is blowing my mind right now...

#1 STUNNA 03-10-2013 11:13 PM

This is also really cool nonconventional look of our solar system in relationship to the Milky Way galaxy

I know things are sped up and not to scale but still interesting

XLR8R 03-11-2013 12:17 AM

Oh great!

Now I have the bed-spins.

Excuse me, the bed-helixes.

Terragotti 03-11-2013 12:32 AM

That last video was crazy, subscribed

Whiskers 03-11-2013 02:45 AM


#1 STUNNA 03-20-2013 05:17 PM

Voyager over the “heliocliff,” but Solar System transition mysterious
It's left the solar wind behind, but we're not sure what region it's in.

Where does our Solar System end? If you define it in terms of the Sun's gravitational influence, then it's the edge of the Oort cloud, a collection icy bodies that stretches over two light years from the Sun. You could also place it at the orbit of the last dwarf planet that roams the Kuiper belt. But if you want to define it where the Sun's energy directly affects the environment, then you'd place it at the edge of the heliosheath, where the solar wind and the Sun's magnetic field fall off, and the environment is dominated by the energetic particles of the interstellar medium.

That boundary, called the heliopause, was approached by the most distant man-made object around: Voyager 1. And, in December, researchers held a press conference to announce that, rather than crossing a clean boundary, the probe had entered a region near this edge that nobody had predicted. Today, the paper describing these results was released and, thanks to some public relations confusion, many outlets reported that the probe had left the Solar System entirely.

The evidence of a boundary is very clear in the chart shown below, which maps the particles that Voyager has recorded in its environment over the last year. In blue are low-energy protons emitted by the Sun itself. These fluctuated for a few weeks before dropping off a cliff by over 99 percent. The authors of the paper have termed this transition the "heliocliff."

As Voyager 1 approached the cliff, high energy electrons (red) and protons (black) were rising; these come from the interstellar medium, and are largely blocked by the force of the solar wind. Once the cliff is passed, however, these energetic particles reach new highs and stay here. By this measure, Voyager 1 has left a key area of solar influence, and is now sampling the interstellar medium for the first time. The authors of the paper are so excited by this that they use the terms "extraordinary," "remarkable," and "holy grail" to describe the transition—that sort of terminology doesn't appear often in the scientific literature.
Enlarge / After several partial crossings, Voyager 1 is clearly experiencing the interstellar medium.
Geophysical Research Letters
But has Voyager actually passed beyond the heliopause? The authors argue that it has: "If [these] intensities continue to remain at their present levels, then indeed this 'heliocliff' region displays many of the properties of a 'classical' heliopause, perhaps a much more impressive barrier to inward and outward transport of energetic particles than would have been anticipated." However, what's missing is a similar transition in the magnetic field lines from the Sun. Those were expected to change at the heliopause as well and, until they do, all we can say is that Voyager is passing through an unpredicted region at one of the edges of our Solar System.

Unfortunately, a press officer seems to have gotten a bit ahead of the data, as the initial announcement of the paper's release was entitled, "Voyager 1 has left the solar system, sudden changes in cosmic rays indicate." That led to a predictable number of news stories that echoed this language. Since then, however, the American Geophysical Union has updated its release, which now says only that "Voyager 1 has entered a new region of space." Which is something we knew as far back as the press conference in December.

The paper at least puts the data in front of other scientists. And its acknowledgements contain a touching tribute to one of the original Voyager team members, which we'll quote in its entirety:

This article was conceived by our Voyager colleague, Frank McDonald, who is no longer with us. Frank, we have been working together for over 55 years to reach the goal of actually observing the interstellar spectra of cosmic rays, possibly now achieved almost on the day of your passing. You wanted so badly to be able to finish this article that you had already started. Together we did it. Bon Voyage!

Moog-Type-S 03-20-2013 05:32 PM

Lime and limpid green, a second scene
A fight between the blue you once knew.
Floating down, the sound surrounds
Around the icy waters underground.
Jupiter and Saturn, Oberon, Miranda and Titania.
Neptune, Titan, Stars can frighten.
Blinding signs flare,
Flicker, flicker, flicker blam. Pow, pow.
Stairway scare, Dan Dare, who's there?
Lime and limpid green, the sounds around
The icy waters under
Lime and limpid green, the sounds around
The icy waters underground.

BeezleTL85 03-20-2013 09:05 PM

:thumbsup: good call on the thread

EL19 03-21-2013 11:01 AM

Cool news on voyager

CarbonGray Earl 03-21-2013 11:07 AM

Sweet thread, needed one like this.

#1 STUNNA 03-21-2013 12:16 PM

Telescope that eyes Big Bang’s afterglow shows universe is 80 million years older than thought

PARIS — New results from looking at the split-second after the Big Bang indicate the universe is 80 million years older than previously thought and provide ancient evidence supporting core concepts about the cosmos — how it began, what it’s made of and where it’s going.

The findings released Thursday bolster a key theory called inflation, which says the universe burst from subatomic size to its now-observable expanse in a fraction of a second. The new observations from the European Space Agency’s $900 million Planck space probe appear to reinforce some predictions made decades ago solely on the basis of mathematical concepts.

“We’ve uncovered a fundamental truth of the universe,” said George Efstathiou, director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge who announced the Planck satellite mapping result in Paris. “There’s less stuff that we don’t understand by a tiny amount.”

“It’s a big pat on the back for our understanding of the universe,” California Institute of Technology physicist Sean Carroll, who was not involved in the project, told The Associated Press. “In terms of describing the current universe, I think we have a right to say we’re on the right track.”

The Big Bang — the most comprehensive theory of the universe’s beginning — says the visible portion of the universe was smaller than an atom when, in a split second, it exploded, cooled and expanded faster than the speed of light.

The Planck space probe looked back at the afterglow of the Big Bang, and those results have now added about 80 million years to the universe’s age, putting it at 13.81 billion years old.

The probe, named for the German physicist Max Planck, the originator of quantum physics, also found that the cosmos is expanding a bit slower than originally thought, has a little less of that mysterious dark energy than astronomers had figured and has a tad more normal matter. But scientists say those are small changes in calculations about the universe, whose numbers are so massive.

Officials at NASA, which also was part of the experiment, said the Planck probe has provided a deeper understanding of the intricate history of the universe and its complex composition.

Krzysztof Gorski, a Planck scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, said in a statement that the new results “are giving astronomers a treasure trove of spectacular data, and bringing forth a deeper understanding of the properties and history of the universe.”

The Planck space telescope, launched in 2009, has spent 15 1/2 months mapping the sky, examining so-called “light” fossils and sound echoes from the Big Bang by looking at background radiation in the cosmos. The spacecraft is expected to keep transmitting data until late 2013, when it runs out of cooling fluid.

Scientists not involved in the project said the results were comparable on a universal scale to the announcement earlier this month by a different European physics group on a subatomic level — with the finding of the Higgs boson particle that explains mass in the universe.

“What a wonderful triumph of the mathematical approach to describing nature,” said Brian Greene, a Columbia University physicist who was not part of the new Planck research. “It’s an amazing story of discovery.”

“The precision is breathtaking,” Greene said in an email Thursday after the announcement. “The satellite is measuring temperature variations in space — which arose from processes that took place almost 14 billion years ago — to one part in a million. Amazing.”

Efstathiou marveled at how the Planck data was such “an extremely good match” to the theory of rapid inflation in the split-second after the Big Bang.

Inflation tries to explain some nagging problems left over from the Big Bang, which formed the universe in a sudden burst. Other space probes have shown that the geometry of the universe is predominantly flat, but the Big Bang said it should curve with time. Another problem was that opposite ends of space are so far apart that they could never have been near each other under the normal laws of physics, but early cosmic microwave background measurements show they must have been in contact.

So a few physicists more than 30 years ago came up with a theory to explain this: Inflation. That says the universe swelled tremendously, going “from subatomic size to something as large as the observable universe in a fraction of a second,” Greene said.

Planck shows that inflation is proving to be the best explanation for what happened just after the Big Bang, but that doesn’t mean it is the right theory or that it even comes close to resolving all the outstanding problems in the theory, Efstathiou said.

There was an odd spike in some of the Planck temperature data that hinted at a preferred direction or axis that seemed to fit nicely with the angle of our solar system, which shouldn’t be, he said.

But overall, Planck’s results touched on mysteries of the universe that have already garnered scientists three different Nobel prizes. Twice before scientists studying cosmic background radiation have won a Nobel Prize — in 1978 and 2006 — and other work on dark energy won the Nobel in 2011.

At the press conference, Efstathiou said the pioneers of inflation theory should start thinking about their own Nobel prizes. Two of those theorists — Paul Steinhardt of Princeton and Andreas Albrecht of University of California Davis — said before the announcement that they were sort of hoping that their inflation theory would not be bolstered.

That’s because taking inflation a step further leads to a sticky situation: An infinite number of universes.

To make inflation work, that split-second of expansion may not stop elsewhere like it does in the observable universe, Albrecht and Steinhardt said. That means there are places where expansion is zooming fast, with an infinite number of universes that stretch to infinity, they said.

Steinhardt dismissed any talk of a Nobel.

“This is about how humans figure out how the universe works and where it’s going,” Steinhardt said Thursday. “And it’s kind of a raucous time at the moment.”

Efstathiou said the Planck results ultimately could give rise to entirely new fields of physics — and some unresolvable oddities in explaining the cosmos.

“You can get very, very strange answers to problems when you start thinking about what different observers might see in different universes,” he said.

XLR8R 03-22-2013 12:00 PM

The Big Bang — the most comprehensive theory of the universe’s beginning — says the visible portion of the universe was smaller than an atom when, in a split second, it exploded, cooled and expanded faster than the speed of light.
It wasn't THAT great.

There was a lotta noise.

Kinda bright light.

Then leedogg complained that it wasn't fair to the smaller planets, and Sarlacc said "penis?"

Shoofin 03-23-2013 10:29 PM

For daily updates on what's going on out there...

#1 STUNNA 04-03-2013 02:39 AM

If you want to get high and listen to some trippy shit I got something for you...

It's surprisingly sci-fi sounding...

Click the link below to play the audio

New sound recording of the Big Bang

Available now for your listening pleasure, a recording of our birth.

Captured in hi-fidelity.

A decade ago, American physics professor John Cramer released an audio file of a true golden oldie -- the sound of the theorized Big Bang that formed the universe.

Now armed with new data from the Planck cosmology probe -- a European-led space observatory -- Cramer has released a remix. It's a remarkable audio update on the oldest collaboration imaginable.

"In general, there are no sounds in space, because there is no air to vibrate," Cramer, a professor emeritus at the University of Washington, tells QMI Agency.

He notes the old Hollywood tag line of "In space, no one can hear you scream, but adds: "The Big Bang is the exception to this, because the medium that pervaded the universe in the first 100,000 years or so was far more dense than the atmosphere of the Earth."

He's traced compression waves -- "like ripples in a pool or the ringing of a bell" -- moving through a medium of the very early universe and resonating in it.

"The initial sound waves left a "fingerprint" on the cosmic microwave background in the form of temperature variations," he explains.

"If you were there then, you might hear something like the bottled sound, but the frequencies present then would be very much lower than the simulation."

The audio has proven to be a hit with scientists.

As well as Cramer's dogs, which he says react with barks to the low frequencies

Professor 04-03-2013 04:15 AM

This thread is just taking up space.

Whiskers 04-03-2013 04:25 AM

Originally Posted by Professor (Post 14406008)
This thread is just taking up space.

Its the final frontier.

#1 STUNNA 11-29-2013 10:42 AM

Comet ISON seems to have partially survived it's very close flyby of the Sun yesterday

Continuing a history of surprising behavior, material from Comet ISON appeared on the other side of the sun on the evening on Nov. 28, 2013, despite not having been seen in observations during its closest approach to the sun.

As ISON appeared to dim and fizzle in several observatories and later could not be seen at all by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory or by ground based solar observatories, many scientists believed it had disintegrated completely. However, a streak of bright material streaming away from the sun appeared in the European Space Agency and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory later in the evening. The question remains whether it is merely debris from the comet, or if some portion of the comet's nucleus survived, but late-night analysis from scientists with NASA's Comet ISON Observing Campaign suggest that there is at least a small nucleus intact.

Another view from SOHO's C2 chronograph shows Comet ISON appearing bright as it streams toward the sun (right). it can be seen as a dim streak heading upward and out in the left image. The comet may still be intact.
Image Credit: ESA/NASA/SOHO/Jhelioviewer

Throughout the year that researchers have watched Comet ISON – and especially during its final approach to the sun – the comet brightened and dimmed in unexpected ways. Such brightness changes usually occur in response to material boiling off the comet, and different material will do so at different temperatures thus providing clues as to what the comet is made of. Analyzing this pattern will help scientists understand the composition of ISON, which contains material assembled during the very formation of the solar system some 4.5 billion years ago.

#1 STUNNA 11-29-2013 10:59 AM

XLR8R 11-30-2013 11:56 AM

Originally Posted by Whiskers (Post 14406014)
Its the final frontier.


Did Nissan stop making small trucks? :what:

#1 STUNNA 12-02-2013 08:44 PM

Maybe not so much...

MySoCalLife 12-02-2013 09:13 PM

Largest star in the universe. Really makes us look very very small.

ACCURATEin 12-03-2013 01:20 AM

Typed in 'how to photograph the milky way'..watched that video which was cool, and then watched this one. Mind is blown.

#1 STUNNA 07-07-2015 03:55 PM

NASA's mission to Pluto is starting to get interesting. The New Horizons spacecraft woke up a few months back and started sending back images.

These are the most recent high-resolution views of Pluto sent by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, including one showing the four mysterious dark spots on Pluto that have captured the imagination of the world. The Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) obtained these three images between July 1-3, 2015, prior to the July 4 anomaly that sent New Horizons into safe mode.

The left image shows, on the right side of the disk, a large bright area on the hemisphere of Pluto that will be seen close-up by New Horizons on July 14. The three images together show the full extent of a continuous swath of dark terrain that wraps around much of Pluto’s equatorial region. The western end of the swath (right image) breaks up into a series of striking dark regularly-spaced spots, each hundreds of miles in size, which were first detected in New Horizons images taken in late June. Intriguing details are beginning to emerge in the bright material north of the dark region, in particular a series of bright and dark patches that are conspicuous just below the center of the disk in the right image. In all three black-and-white views, the apparent jagged bottom edge of Pluto is the result of image processing.

A color version of the July 3 LORRI image was created by adding color data from the Ralph instrument gathered earlier in the mission. The inset shows Pluto’s orientation, illustrating its north pole, equator, and central meridian running from pole to pole.

All the fun really starts on July 14th, Stay tuned

#1 STUNNA 07-07-2015 03:55 PM

A day in the life...

Mizouse 07-07-2015 04:42 PM


#1 STUNNA 07-08-2015 12:45 AM

Stay tuned we're hopefully going to learn some cool shit about Pluto in the coming months and get some good pics as the NASA spacecraft approaches it.

97BlackAckCL 07-08-2015 09:48 AM

Who cares, Pluto isn't even a planet :tomato:

Doom878 07-08-2015 12:34 PM

Good lord that thing is moving fast.

#1 STUNNA 07-12-2015 01:38 AM

New Image of Pluto: ?Houston, We Have Geology? | NASA

It began as a point of light. Then, it evolved into a fuzzy orb. Now – in its latest portrait from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft – Pluto is being revealed as an intriguing new world with distinct surface features, including an immense dark band known as the “whale.”

As the newest black and white image from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) appeared on the morning of July 10, members of the science team reacted with joy and delight, seeing Pluto as never before. There will no doubt be many similar moments to come. New images and data are being gathered each day as New Horizons speeds closer to a July 14 flyby of Pluto, following a journey of three billion miles.

“We’re close enough now that we’re just starting to see Pluto’s geology,” said New Horizons program scientist Curt Niebur, NASA Headquarters in Washington, who’s keenly interested in the gray area just above the whale’s “tail” feature. “It’s a unique transition region with a lot of dynamic processes interacting, which makes it of particular scientific interest.”

New Horizons’ latest image of Pluto was taken on July 9, 2015 from 3.3 million miles (5.4 million kilometers) away, with a resolution of 17 miles (27 kilometers) per pixel. At this range, Pluto is beginning to reveal the first signs of discrete geologic features. This image views the side of Pluto that always faces its largest moon, Charon, and includes the so-called “tail” of the dark whale-shaped feature along its equator. (The immense, bright feature shaped like a heart had rotated from view when this image was captured.)

“Among the structures tentatively identified in this new image are what appear to be polygonal features; a complex band of terrain stretching east-northeast across the planet, approximately 1,000 miles long; and a complex region where bright terrains meet the dark terrains of the whale,” said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern. “After nine and a half years in flight, Pluto is well worth the wait.”

97BlackAckCL 07-13-2015 09:46 AM


97BlackAckCL 07-14-2015 09:47 AM

Pretty cool that some ashes of the guy who discovered Pluto in the 30's are on the NH probe

#1 STUNNA 07-14-2015 10:22 AM

Here's the latest image of Pluto taken from about 250,000 miles away

The NH probe has already passed Pluto and it got as close as about 7750 miles, so more images are still coming in.

oo7spy 07-14-2015 11:25 AM

I'm surprised no one brought up the Jupiter and Venus alignment. On June 30th, the two planets were only 0.3 degrees apart from each other observed from Earth. While their orbits align every 24 years, that was supposedly the "closest" they will be for the next 2000 years.

97BlackAckCL 07-14-2015 11:44 AM

^ I saw it, it was pretty neat

Mizouse 07-14-2015 12:36 PM

7775 miles? That's like a flight from LA to Hong Kong :what:

#1 STUNNA 07-14-2015 01:09 PM

imj0257 07-14-2015 01:35 PM

Pluto looks like a big, rocky, ice field.

Mizouse 07-14-2015 08:09 PM

Oooooo flyby confirmed successful!

Now the painful process of downloading images. They said the rate is so slow to take 90 minutes for 1 image. And 16 months to send everything :what:

doopstr 07-14-2015 09:13 PM

Damn space and their slow interwebz.

Mizouse 07-14-2015 09:55 PM

Werd! Dats slower than 56k yo!

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