Friday, February 11, 2011

Flutes in Space

Flight Engineer Cady Coleman demonstrates playing a flute on the International Space Station during an interview with National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." Listen the space flute!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine's Day Gift From Space

Rings of gold are precious for sure, but what can you say about this? Absolutely stunning!

NASA released the black hole ring photo, yesterday on Feb. 9. The image was taken using several space telescopes across different parts of the light spectrum. Two interacting galaxies, known collectively as Arp 147, set the stage for the spectacular view!

Arp 147 is about 430 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Cetus, the Whale.

This image of the two galaxies that form Arp 147 shows a vast cosmic ring of stars (blue) and black holes (pink) as seen by the Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope. Another galaxy is also visible (vertical at left), as well as a bright star and quasar (pink object at upper left). This image was released on Feb. 9, 2011.
NASA/CXC/MIT/S.Rappaport et al, Optical: NASA/STScI 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How Big is the Universe?

Our Universe. How big is it? It is for sure an enormous place! That's not secret. What stay for discussion is just how enormous it is. New research suggest it's a whopper - over 250 times the size of our observable universe - we can only see a really small part of it from our planet with our technology.

Cosmologists believe the Universe takes one of three possible shapes:

1) It is flat, like a Euclidean plane, and spatially infinite.
2) It is open, or curved like a saddle, and spatially infinite.
3) It is closed, or curved like a sphere, and spatially finite.

But, how can we reach that far? We can't. Light from any object outside of the Hubble telescope volume will never reach us because the space between us and it is expanding too quickly. According to the team's analysis, a closed universe would encompass at least 251 Hubble volumes. 

Primordial light from just after the birth of the Universe started traveling across the cosmos about 13.75 billion years ago. Since special relativity states nothing can move faster than a photon, many people misinterpret this to mean that the Universe must be 13.75 billion light years across. In fact, it is much larger! Not only has space been expanding since the big bang, but the rate of expansion has been steadily increasing due to the influence of dark energy. Special relativity doesn't factor in the expansion of space itself! Cosmologists estimate that the oldest photons have traveled a distance of 45 billion light years since the big bang. That means that our observable Universe is on the order of 90 billion light years wide.

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the distribution of dark matter in the center of the giant galaxy cluster Abell 1689, containing about 1,000 galaxies and trillions of stars. Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Coe (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, and Space Telescope Science Institute), N. Benitez (Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, Spain), T. Broadhurst (University of the Basque Country, Spain), and H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

First Ever STEREO Images of the Entire Sun

Date: February 6, 2011: It's official: The sun is a sphere!

On Feb. 6th, NASA's twin STEREO probes moved into position on opposite sides of the sun, and now beaming back uninterrupted images of the entire star - front and back.

NASA released a 3D movie

"For the first time ever, we can watch solar activity in its full 3-dimensional glory. This is a big moment for solar physics. STEREO has revealed the sun as it really is - a sphere of hot plasma and intricately woven magnetic fields." says Angelos Vourlidas, a member of the STEREO science team at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, DC.

With this nice global model, human can track changes on the sun and predict solar storms heading toward. Many lives and billions of dollars can be saved that way!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tiny Asteroid Zips Close By Earth

A tiny asteroid passed close by Earth Friday (Feb. 4) but posed no threat of impacting our planet - or even reaching the surface, NASA officials say.

The small asteroid, named 2011 CQ 1, passed within 5470 km (3400 miles) of Earth at about 2:40 p.m. EST (19:40 GMT). It was discovered just hour or two later by astronomer Richard A. Kowalski.

Asteroid 2011 CQ 1 is only 1.3 meters (4 feet) wide, so small that it would have incinerated in Earth's atmosphere before reaching the ground. "Even if it came closer, a rocky asteroid small as 2011 CQ1 would break apart in out atmosphere and cause no ground damage", Nasa Asteroid Watch scientists wrote in a Twitter post.