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Space Telescopes Reveal Secrets of Turbulent Black Hole
A fleet of spacecraft including NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered unprecedented details in the surroundings of a supermassive black hole. Observations reveal huge bullets of gas being driven away from the gravitational monster and a corona of very hot gas hovering above the disk of matter that is falling into the black hole.


This image of Earth (on the left) and the moon (on the right) was taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft on Aug. 26, 2011, when the spacecraft was about 6 million miles (9.66 million kilometers) away. It was taken by the spacecraft’s onboard camera, JunoCam. The solar-powered Juno spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Aug. 5 to begin a five-year journey to Jupiter.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Perspective. NASA - New Star Found Just 9 Light-Years Away


[caption id=”attachment_25746” align=”alignleft” width=”226” caption=”“Y Dwarf” Artist’s Conception”][/caption]

“Finding brown dwarfs near our sun is like discovering there’s a hidden house on your block that you didn’t know about,” Cushing said. “It’s thrilling to me to know we’ve got…


Remnants of an Atmosphere Discovered on a Distant Dwarf Planet

Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have discovered that the dwarf planet 2007 OR10—nicknamed Snow White—is an icy world, with about half its surface covered in water ice that once flowed from ancient, slush-spewing volcanoes. The new findings also suggest that the red-tinged dwarf planet may be covered in a thin layer of methane, the remnants of an atmosphere that’s slowly being lost into space.

“You get to see this nice picture of what once was an active little world with water volcanoes and an atmosphere, and it’s now just frozen, dead, with an atmosphere that’s slowly slipping away,” says Mike Brown, the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor and professor of planetary astronomy, who is the lead author on a paper to be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters describing the findings. The paper is now in press.

(via dailygalaxy)

Exoplanet Looks Potentially Lively: Scientific American Podcast

They say there’s no place like home. Well, we may get to test the idea. Because astronomers have located a world that could be a bit like Earth some 36 light years away. The new addition to the list of exoplanets goes by the name HD85512b. And the newfound world is among the few known that might be hospitable to life. 

The exoplanet is a few times the mass of Earth, but it should still be small enough to be rocky rather than a gas giant like Jupiter. It orbits close to its star, but since that star is somewhat smaller and cooler than the sun, the planet’s climate could be rather temperate. That’s according to a new study submitted to the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. [Lisa Kaltenegger et al on, A Habitable Planet around HD 85512?

If the planet has an atmosphere like ours, it would need about 50 percent cloud cover to stay cool enough for liquid water to exist on the surface. Mild enough, that is, for life as we know it.

Astronomers are just beginning to find potentially habitable worlds. And NASA’s Kepler satellite should turn up more soon—including, perhaps, some that look even more like Earth.

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