NASA, Boeing and SpaceX has joined hands in a commercial crew program (Image: NASA)
NASA will work with two aeronautical firms, Boeing and SpaceX, in a taxi contract to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in the coming years to perform important science research and other related tasks on ISS. NASA is also thinking to use the same technologies to take astronauts to other places in space such as Mars and asteroids in the future.
This contract would reduce the U.S.’s dependence on Russia to take and bring astronauts to and from the space station. At this time, Russian Soyuz takes at least four astronauts of NASA in a year at the price of $71 million per seat. On the other hand, SpaceX noted the cost $20 million per seat in the future after the success of technological contract. Continue reading
This image of the galaxy Messier 82 is a composite of data from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. The intermediate-mass black hole M82 X-1 is the brightest object in the inset, at approximately 2 o’clock near the galaxy’s center. (Credit: NASA/H. Feng et al.)
UMD and NASA astronomers track an intermediate-mass black hole from syncopated flares of light.
The universe has so many black holes that it’s impossible to count them all. There may be 100 million of these intriguing astral objects in our galaxy alone. Nearly all black holes fall into one of two classes: big, and colossal. Astronomers know that black holes ranging from about 10 times to 100 times the mass of our Sun are the remnants of dying stars, and that supermassive black holes, more than a million times the mass of the Sun, inhabit the centers of most galaxies. Continue reading
In findings that help astrophysicists understand our corner of the galaxy, an international research team has shown that the soft X-ray glow blanketing the sky comes from both inside and outside the solar system.
The source of this “diffuse X-ray background” has been debated for the past 50 years. Does it originate from the solar wind colliding with interplanetary gases within our solar system? Or is it born further away, in the “local hot bubble” of gas that a supernova is believed to have left in our galactic neighborhood about ten million years ago?
The scientists found evidence that both mechanisms contribute, but the bulk of the X-rays come from the bubble. The solar wind, a stream of charged particles continuously emitted by the Sun, appears to be responsible for at most 40 percent of the radiation, according to new findings published in the journal Nature.
“The overarching science goal of our work is to try to answer questions like: What does the local astrophysical environment look like? And what is the environment in which the Sun was born?” said Susan Lepri, an associate professor of atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences in the University of Michigan College of Engineering.
“It’s part of trying to understand our place in the universe.” Continue reading
There are billions of stars and planets in the universe. A star is a glowing sphere of gas, while planets like Earth are made up of solids. The planets are formed in dust clouds that swirled around a newly formed star. Dust grains are composed of elements like carbon, silicon, oxygen, iron, and magnesium. But where does the cosmic dust come from? New research from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University shows that not only can grains of dust form in gigantic supernova explosions, they can also survive the subsequent shockwaves they are exposed to. The results are published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature. Continue reading
The dwarf galaxy UGC 5189A, site of the supernova SN 2010jl (annotated) (Credit: ESO)
A group of astronomers has been able to follow stardust being made in real time — during the aftermath of a supernova explosion. For the first time they show that these cosmic dust factories make their grains in a two-stage process, starting soon after the explosion, but continuing for years afterwards. The team used ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in northern Chile to analyze the light from the supernova SN 2010jl as it slowly faded. The new results are published online in the journal Nature on 9 July 2014.
The origin of cosmic dust in galaxies is still a mystery . Astronomers know that supernovae may be the primary source of dust, especially in the early universe, but it is still unclear how and where dust grains condense and grow. It is also unclear how they avoid destruction in the harsh environment of a star-forming galaxy. But now, observations using ESO’s VLT at the Paranal Observatory in northern Chile are lifting the veil for the first time. Continue reading