I can calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people

— Sir Isaac Newton

Hubblesite Newscenter

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This news collection compiles news releases and supporting materials published by the Officeof Public Outreach of the Space Telescope Science Institute, to further your knowledge of astronomy. The different news releases are organized by space telecope (Hubble, James Webb, WFIRST, etc.), and different categories (like galaxies, nebulae, planets, stars, etc.).
Updated: 7 hours 56 min ago

Superflares From Young Red Dwarf Stars Imperil Planets

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 1:00pm

The term "HAZMAT" connotes danger. In this case, it's on a cosmic scale, where violent flares of seething gas from small, young stars may make entire planets uninhabitable. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is observing such stars through a large program called HAZMAT — HAbitable Zones and M dwarf Activity across Time. This is an ultraviolet survey of red dwarfs — referred to as "M dwarfs" in astronomical circles — at three different ages: young, intermediate, and old.

Approximately three-quarters of the stars in our galaxy are red dwarfs. Most of the galaxy's "habitable-zone" planets orbit these small stars. But young red dwarfs are active stars, producing ultraviolet flares that blast out million-degree plasma with an intensity that could influence atmospheric chemistry and possibly strip off the atmospheres of these fledgling planets. The HAZMAT team found that flares from the youngest red dwarfs they surveyed — around 40 million years old — are 100 to 1,000 times more energetic than when the stars are older. This is the age when terrestrial planets are forming around their stars. Scientists also detected one of the most intense stellar flares ever observed in ultraviolet light. Dubbed the "Hazflare," this event was more energetic than the most powerful flare from our Sun ever recorded.

Categories: NASA

Superflares From Young Red Dwarf Stars Imperil Planets

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 1:00pm

The term "HAZMAT" connotes danger. In this case, it's on a cosmic scale, where violent flares of seething gas from small, young stars may make entire planets uninhabitable. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is observing such stars through a large program called HAZMAT — HAbitable Zones and M dwarf Activity across Time. This is an ultraviolet survey of red dwarfs — referred to as "M dwarfs" in astronomical circles — at three different ages: young, intermediate, and old.

Approximately three-quarters of the stars in our galaxy are red dwarfs. Most of the galaxy's "habitable-zone" planets orbit these small stars. But young red dwarfs are active stars, producing ultraviolet flares that blast out million-degree plasma with an intensity that could influence atmospheric chemistry and possibly strip off the atmospheres of these fledgling planets. The HAZMAT team found that flares from the youngest red dwarfs they surveyed — around 40 million years old — are 100 to 1,000 times more energetic than when the stars are older. This is the age when terrestrial planets are forming around their stars. Scientists also detected one of the most intense stellar flares ever observed in ultraviolet light. Dubbed the "Hazflare," this event was more energetic than the most powerful flare from our Sun ever recorded.

Categories: NASA

How to Weigh a Black Hole Using NASA's Webb Space Telescope

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 10:00am

Galaxies and their central, supermassive black holes are inextricably linked. Both grow in lockstep for reasons that aren’t yet understood. To gain new insights, Webb will turn its infrared gaze to the center of a nearby galaxy called NGC 4151, whose supermassive black hole is actively feeding and glowing brightly. By measuring the motions of stars clustered around the black hole and comparing them to computer models, astronomers can determine the black hole’s mass. This challenging measurement will test the capabilities of Webb’s innovative instrument called an integral field unit.

Categories: NASA

Hubble in Safe Mode as Gyro Issues are Diagnosed

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 4:00pm

On Friday, October 5, 2018, at approximately 6:00 p.m. EDT, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope entered safe mode. NASA is working to resume science operations. Hubble’s instruments still are fully operational and are expected to produce excellent science for years to come.

Categories: NASA

Hubble in Safe Mode as Gyro Issues are Diagnosed

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 4:00pm

On Friday, October 5, 2018, at approximately 6:00 p.m. EDT, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope entered safe mode. NASA is working to resume science operations. Hubble’s instruments still are fully operational and are expected to produce excellent science for years to come.

Categories: NASA

Hubble in Safe Mode as Gyro Issues are Diagnosed

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 4:00pm

On Friday, October 5, 2018, at approximately 6:00 p.m. EDT, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope entered safe mode. NASA is working to resume science operations. Hubble’s instruments still are fully operational and are expected to produce excellent science for years to come.

Categories: NASA

Hubble in Safe Mode as Gyro Issues are Diagnosed

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 4:00pm

On Friday, October 5, 2018, at approximately 6:00 p.m. EDT, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope entered safe mode. NASA is working to resume science operations. Hubble’s instruments still are fully operational and are expected to produce excellent science for years to come.

Categories: NASA

Hubble in Safe Mode as Gyro Issues are Diagnosed

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 4:00pm

On Friday, October 5, 2018, at approximately 6:00 p.m. EDT, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope entered safe mode. NASA is working to resume science operations. Hubble’s instruments still are fully operational and are expected to produce excellent science for years to come.

Categories: NASA

Hubble in Safe Mode as Gyro Issues are Diagnosed

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 4:00pm

On Friday, October 5, 2018, at approximately 6:00 p.m. EDT, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope entered safe mode. NASA is working to resume science operations. Hubble’s instruments still are fully operational and are expected to produce excellent science for years to come.

Categories: NASA

Astronomers Find First Evidence of Possible Moon Outside Our Solar System

Wed, 10/03/2018 - 2:00pm

Our solar system has eight major planets, and nearly 200 moons. Though astronomers have to date found nearly 4,000 planets orbiting other stars, no moons have yet been found. That hasn't been for any lack of looking, it’s just that moons are smaller than planets and therefore harder to detect.

The Hubble and Kepler space telescopes found evidence for what could be a giant moon accompanying a gas-giant planet that orbits the star Kepler-1625, located 8,000 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. The moon may be as big as Neptune and it orbits a planet several times more massive than Jupiter.

If our solar system is a typical example, moons may outnumber planets in our galaxy by at least an order of magnitude or more. This promises a whole new frontier for characterizing the nature of moons and their potential for hosting life as we know it.

The exomoon at Kepler-1625b is too far away to be directly photographed. Its presence is inferred when it passes in front of the star, momentarily dimming its light. Such an event is called a transit. However, the "footprint" of the moon's transit signal is weaker than for the host planet.

The researchers caution that the moon’s presence will need to be conclusively proven by follow-up Hubble observations.

Categories: NASA

Astronomers Find First Evidence of Possible Moon Outside Our Solar System

Wed, 10/03/2018 - 2:00pm

Our solar system has eight major planets, and nearly 200 moons. Though astronomers have to date found nearly 4,000 planets orbiting other stars, no moons have yet been found. That hasn't been for any lack of looking, it’s just that moons are smaller than planets and therefore harder to detect.

The Hubble and Kepler space telescopes found evidence for what could be a giant moon accompanying a gas-giant planet that orbits the star Kepler-1625, located 8,000 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. The moon may be as big as Neptune and it orbits a planet several times more massive than Jupiter.

If our solar system is a typical example, moons may outnumber planets in our galaxy by at least an order of magnitude or more. This promises a whole new frontier for characterizing the nature of moons and their potential for hosting life as we know it.

The exomoon at Kepler-1625b is too far away to be directly photographed. Its presence is inferred when it passes in front of the star, momentarily dimming its light. Such an event is called a transit. However, the "footprint" of the moon's transit signal is weaker than for the host planet.

The researchers caution that the moon’s presence will need to be conclusively proven by follow-up Hubble observations.

Categories: NASA