Here’s the latest episode of NASA Space to Ground report on Int. Space Station activities:
Here’s the latest episode of NASA Space to Ground report on Int. Space Station activities:
The latest report from ESO (European Southern Observatory:
An international team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has witnessed a cosmic weather event that has never been seen before — a cluster of towering intergalactic gas clouds raining in on the supermassive black hole at the centre of a huge galaxy one billion light-years from Earth. The results will appear in the journal Nature on 9 June 2016.
The new ALMA observation is the first direct evidence that cold dense clouds can coalesce out of hot intergalactic gas and plunge into the heart of a galaxy to feed its central supermassive black hole. It also reshapes astronomers’ views on how supermassive black holes feed, in a process known as accretion.
Previously, astronomers believed that, in the largest galaxies, supermassive black holes fed on a slow and steady diet of hot ionised gas from the galaxy’s halo. The new ALMA observations show that, when the intergalactic weather conditions are right, black holes can also gorge on a clumpy, chaotic downpour of giant clouds of very cold molecular gas.
“Although it has been a major theoretical prediction in recent years, this is one of the first unambiguous pieces of observational evidence for a chaotic, cold rain feeding a supermassive black hole,” said Grant Tremblay, an astronomer with Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, former ESO Fellow, and lead author on the new paper. “It’s exciting to think we might actually be observing this galaxy-spanning rainstorm feeding a black hole whose mass is about 300 million times that of the Sun.”
Tremblay and his team used ALMA to peer into an unusually bright cluster of about 50 galaxies, collectively known as Abell 2597. At its core is a massive elliptical galaxy, descriptively named the Abell 2597 Brightest Cluster Galaxy. Suffusing the space between these galaxies is a diffuse atmosphere of hot ionised gas, which was previously observed with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
“This very, very hot gas can quickly cool, condense, and precipitate in much the same way that warm, humid air in Earth’s atmosphere can spawn rain clouds and precipitation,” Tremblay said. “The newly condensed clouds then rain in on the galaxy, fueling star formation and feeding its supermassive black hole.“
Near the centre of this galaxy the researchers discovered just this scenario: three massive clumps of cold gas are careening toward the supermassive black hole in the galaxy’s core at about a million kilometres per hour. Each cloud contains as much material as a million Suns and is tens of light-years across.
The cosmic weather report, as illustrated in this artist’s concept video, calls for condensing clouds of cold molecular gas around the Abell 2597 Brightest Cluster Galaxy. The clouds condense out of the hot, ionised gas that suffuses the space between the galaxies in this cluster. New ALMA data show that these clouds are raining in on the galaxy, plunging toward the supermassive black hole at its centre. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF; Dana Berry/SkyWorks; ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO). Music: Johan B. Monell
Normally, objects on that scale would be difficult to distinguish at these cosmic distances, even with ALMA’s amazing resolution. They were revealed, however, by the billion-light-year-long “shadows” they cast toward Earth .
Additional data from the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array indicate that the gas clouds observed by ALMA are only about 300 light-years from the central black hole, essentially teetering on the edge of being devoured, in astronomical terms.
While ALMA was only able to detect three clouds of cold gas near the black hole, the astronomers speculate that there may be thousands like them in the vicinity, setting up the black hole for a continuing downpour that could fuel its activity for a long time.
The astronomers now plan to use ALMA to search for these “rainstorms” in other galaxies in order to determine whether such cosmic weather is as common as current theory suggests it might be.
 The shadows are formed when the in-falling opaque gas clouds block out a portion of the bright background millimetre-wavelength light emitted by electrons spiraIling around magnetic fields very near the central supermassive black hole.
Here is a sampling of recent space podcasts:
1. Monday, June 6, 2016: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome Garty Oleson to the show regarding his recent Space Review article “Effects of changing economics on Space architecture and engineering“. You can read the article at www.thespacereview.com/article/2986/1.
2. Tuesday, June 7, 2016: 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT) We welcome WES FAIRES to discuss space property rights claims.
3. Friday, June 10, 2016: 2016; 9:30-11AM PDT; (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM – 1 PM CDT) We welcome back Dr. Dan Durda. Dan will be discussing updates to the suborbital community as he will tell us what went on at the Next Gen Suborbital Researchers Conference last week.
4. Sunday, June 5, 2016: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): .We welcome back PAUL BREED of Unreasonable Rockets. Paul will update us on his work and many current events in the industry as well as presentations from the Space Access Society meetings a few weeks ago.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
The most recent episode of TMRO.tv is now on line: Elon Musk hinting at Mars plans – #MuskOnMars – TMRO
Earlier this week Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX was at the ReCode conference talking about many things. One of those was a hint at what the SpaceX Mars architecture will start to look like. We listen to a small snippet of that conference and discuss. [The full interview is available below.]
Space news topics discussed:
* Russia deploys another GLONASS-M spacecraft via Soyuz 2-1B launch
* Long March 4B lofts Earth-viewing satellites for China, Argentina
* Russian Rokot launches Geo-IK-2
* Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket completes static fire
* Record double-satellite payload mated to Ariane 5 for launch next week
* New Soyuz Spacecraft first launch may be delayed
* Did the young Sun steal Planet 10 from another star?
TMRO.tv is viewer supported:
TMRO:Space Live is a crowd funded show. If you like this episode consider contributing to help us to continue to improve. Head over to http://www.patreon.com/tmro for information, goals and reward levels. Don’t forget to check out our SpacePod campaign as well over at http://www.patreon.com/spacepod
Here is the interview with Elon Musk at the Code Conference last week:
Jeff Bezos also was interviewed at the conference. He talks about Blue Origin and his motivations for his space efforts starting at around 44 minutes into the video:
Below are the initial entries in a space documentary series of videos on Youtube:
Dr. Kaii is proud to present a new series where he finally gets to give over all the wonderful ideas, facts and knowledge about the galaxy that are just waiting to blow your minds.
Using the photo-real sandbox tool Space Engine, this is a whole new type of documentary, with the potential for hundreds of effortless episodes, with the ability to demonstrate the size and awe of the universe in ways never seen before.
Subscribe and follow, I can’t imagine any scenario where you’d regret it 😉
The series is viewer supported:
Download Space Engine and follow along here: http://en.spaceengine.org/l…
The Sun has gone spotless as it enters the less active phase of the solar cycle: Vanishing Sunspots – Spaceweather.com – June.4.2016 –
Forecasters expect the next Solar Minimum to arrive in 2019-2020. Between now and then, there will be lots of spotless suns. At first, the blank stretches will be measured in days; later in weeks and months. Don’t expect space weather to grow quiet, however. Solar Minimum brings many interesting changes. For instance, as the extreme ultraviolet output of the sun decreases, the upper atmosphere of Earth cools and collapses. This allows space junk to accumulate around our planet. Also, the heliosphere shrinks, bringing interstellar space closer to Earth. Galactic cosmic rays penetrate the inner solar system with relative ease. Indeed, a cosmic ray surge is already underway. Goodbye sunspots, hello deep-space radiation!
The average number of sunspots has been dropping steadily for months:
Watch the changing Sun on the HobbySpace Sun & Space Weather page.
This week’s Space to Ground report on recent developments with the Int. Space Station:
Here is a video about a high school student competition to develop tasty foods for the ISS crew:
NASA Commentator Lori Meggs at the Marshall Space Flight Center speaks with a team from Huntsville, Alabama that competed in NASA’S Culinary Challenge. The competition invited high school students from all across the country to develop a recipe for flight: a meal that astronauts would enjoy in space, but which also met the many dietary restrictions for crew members on orbit.
A new finding from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope
Astronomers have used Hubble to measure the distances to stars in nineteen galaxies more accurately than previously possible. They found that the Universe is currently expanding faster than the rate derived from measurements of the Universe shortly after the Big Bang. If confirmed, this apparent inconsistency may be an important clue to understanding three of the Universe’s most elusive components: dark matter, dark energy and neutrinos.A team of astronomers, led by Nobel Laureate Adam Riess and using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, have discovered that the Universe is expanding between five and nine percent faster than previously calculated. This is in clear discrepancy with the rate predicted from measurements of the infant Universe.
“This surprising finding may be an important clue to understanding those mysterious parts of the Universe that make up 95 percent of everything and don’t emit light, such as dark energy, dark matter, and dark radiation,” explains Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute and the Johns Hopkins University, both in Baltimore, USA.
One possible explanation for this unexpectedly fast expansion of the Universe is a new type of subatomic particle that may have changed the balance of energy in the early Universe, so called dark radiation.
The team made the discovery by refining the measurement of how fast the Universe is expanding, a value called the Hubble constant, to unprecedented accuracy, reducing the uncertainty to only 2.4 percent .
This new measurement presents a puzzle because it does not agree with the expansion rate found by looking at the moments shortly after the Big Bang. Measurements of the afterglow from the Big Bang from NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) and the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite mission yield smaller predictions for the Hubble constant.
Comparing the Universe’s expansion rate as calculated by WMAP and Planck (for the time after the Big Bang) and Hubble (for our modern Universe) is like building a bridge, Riess explains:
“You start at two ends, and you expect to meet in the middle if all of your drawings are right and your measurements are right. But now the ends are not quite meeting in the middle and we want to know why.”
This refined determination of the Hubble constant was made possible by making precise measurements of the distances to both nearby and faraway galaxies using Hubble . The improved distance measurements were made by streamlining and strengthening the cosmic distance ladder, which astronomers use to measure accurate distances to galaxies. The team compared these measured distances with the expansion of space as measured by the stretching of light from receding galaxies and these two values were then used to calculate the Hubble constant.
The team is continuing to use Hubble with the aim of reducing the uncertainty in the Hubble constant even further, their goal being to reach an uncertainty of just 1 percent. Current telescopes such as the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite, and future telescopes such as the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) could also help astronomers make better measurements of the expansion rate and lead to a better understanding of our Universe and the laws that govern it.
 Before Hubble was launched in 1990, estimates of the Hubble constant varied by a factor of two. In the late 1990s the Hubble Space Telescope Key Project on the Extragalactic Distance Scale refined the value of the Hubble constant to within 10 percent, accomplishing one of the telescope’s key goals. The new, improved Hubble constant value is 73.02 kilometres per second per Megaparsec (where one Megaparsec is equivalent to 3.26 million light-years).
 For the calibration of relatively short distances the team observed Cepheid variables. These are pulsating stars which fade and brighten at rates that are proportional to their true brightness and this property allows astronomers to determine their distances. The researchers calibrated the distances to the Cepheids using a basic geometrical technique called parallax. With Hubble’s sharp-eyed Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), they extended the parallax measurements further than previously possible, across the Milky Way galaxy. To get accurate distances to nearby galaxies, the team then looked for galaxies containing both Cepheids and Type Ia supernovae. Type Ia supernovae always have the same intrinsic brightness and are also bright enough to be seen at relatively large distances. By comparing the observed brightness of both types of stars in those nearby galaxies, the team could then accurately measure the true brightness of the supernova. Using this calibrated rung on the distance ladder the accurate distance to additional 300 type Ia supernovae in far-flung galaxies was calculated.
A double release of space carnivals:
Sebastián García Rojas points me to his Deep Sky Objects Browser –
An image of both the planet Mercury and the Int. Space Station transiting the face of the Sun simultaneously:
“Space Station Mercury” – Thierry Legault
On 9 May Mercury passed in front of the Sun as seen from Earth. These transits of Mercury occur only around 13 times every century, so astronomers all over Earth were eager to capture the event.
For astrophotographer Thierry Legault, capturing Mercury and the Sun alone was not enough, however – he wanted the International Space Station in the frame as well.
To catch the Station passing across the Sun, you need to set up your equipment within a ground track less than 3 km wide. For Thierry, this meant flying to the USA from his home near Paris, France.
On 9 May there were three possible areas to capture the Station and Mercury at the same time against the solar disc: Quebec, Canada, the Great Lakes and Florida, USA.
Choosing the right spot took considerable effort, says Thierry:
“Canada had bad weather predicted and around Florida I couldn’t find a suitably quiet but public place, so I went to the suburbs of Philadelphia.”
With 45 kg of equipment, Thierry flew to New York and drove two hours to Philadelphia to scout the best spot. Even then, all the preparations and intercontinental travel could have been for nothing because the Station crosses the Sun in less than a second and any clouds could have ruined the shot.
“I was very lucky: 10 minutes after I took the photos, clouds covered the sky,” says a relieved Thierry.
“Adrenaline flows in the moments before the Station flies by – it is a one-shot chance. I cannot ask the space agencies to turn around so I can try again. Anything can happen.”
The hard work and luck paid off. The image here includes frames superimposed on each other to show the Station’s path. Mercury appears as a black dot at bottom-centre of the Sun.
For Thierry, the preparation and the hunt for the perfect shot is the best part.
“Astrophotography is my hobby that I spend many hours on, but even without a camera I encourage everybody to look up at the night sky. The International Space Station can be seen quite often and there are many more things to see. It is just a case of looking up at the right time.”
Visit Thierry’s homepage here: http://www.astrophoto.fr/
1. Monday, May 30, 2016: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): NO SHOW TODAY DUE TO THE MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY WEEKEND.
2. Tuesday, May 31, 2016: 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT) We welcome retired astronaut Woody Spring to the show. You do not want to miss what he has to say and talk about.
4. Friday, June 3, 2016: 2016; 9:30-11AM PDT; (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM – 1 PM CDT) TBD. Please check the website newsletter and the Upcoming Show menu on our home page later in the week for program details.
5. Sunday, June 5, 2016: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): OPEN LINES. All space and STEM topics welcome. First time callers are wanted so do call in and talk with us.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
A couple of major milestones in NewSpace last week.
On Friday, SpaceX launched the THAICOM-8 communications satellite with a Falcon 9 rocket. After separating from the second stage, the first stage booster of the Falcon returned to earth for a successful landing on the platform of a special ship that maintains a fixed position autonomously. This is the third successful booster landing at sea. (There was also a successful booster return for a landing on the ground at Cape Canaveral last December.)
Here is a sped-up video from a camera attached to the first stage:
This video shows the launch of the Falcon rocket:
And on Saturday, Bigelow Aerospace‘s Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which was delivered to the Int. Space Station in April via a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, was successfully expanded to its full volume:
The latest episode of TMRO.tv is now available in the archive: When living a #MarsLifestyle, what will you miss from Earth? – TMRO
#MarsLifestyle asks, when you go to Mars what will you miss most from Earth? When you come back to Earth what will you miss most from Mars?
Space News topics discussed:
* India flies experimental mini sub-orbital space plane
* Soyuz rocket lifts off with new Galileo satellites
* Falcon 9 Launches Thaicom 8
* Orbital ATK’s proposed heavy launcher
* BEAM bummer and success!
* Delta 4 launch postponed and the Cubesat competition URL is http://www.ulalaunch.com/cubesats.aspx
TMRO.tv is supported by viewers:
TMRO Live is a crowd funded show. If you like this episode consider contributing to help us to continue to improve. Head over to http://www.patreon.com/tmro for information, goals and reward levels. Don’t forget to check out our SpacePod campaign as well over at http://www.patreon.com/spacepod
The latest Space to Ground report from NASA on activities related to the Int. Space Station:
Here is a video about the space debris issue:
This episode of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s “What’s New in Aerospace?” series featured host Martin Collins, space history curator at the museum, and historian Lisa Ruth Rand discussing past and current orbital debris research, some American and international efforts to reduce debris, the latest proposed methods to clean up orbit — from lasers to space nets — and thoughts about how we might best solve the problem of trash in space. The “What’s New in Aerospace?” series is presented in collaboration with NASA.
Do we see other satellites in space? Not often with the naked eye but our cameras pick them out – take a look https://t.co/KnElU518Gc
— Tim Peake (@astro_timpeake) May 24, 2016