Scientists are planning to use NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to observe next month’s historic transit of Venus across the sun’s face.
But there’s a twist. Researchers can’t point Hubble anywhere near the sun, because our star’s bright light could damage the telescope’s super-sensitive instruments. So Hubble will watch the June 5-6Venus transit by using the moon as a mirror.
Imaged Above: Michael Wilce of Central London, UK took 20 composite shots to create this image of Venus transit on June 8, 2004. CREDIT: Michael Wilce
Four dead planetary systems, each lit by the burned-out core of a star that once resembled the sun, provide a harrowing forecast for Earth’s eventual demise.
Astronomers used the space-based Hubble telescope to probe the chemical signatures of dusty disks encircling the four star systems. In each they found a surprising abundance of elements that make up about 93 percent of Earth’s mass.
“What we are seeing today in these white dwarfs several hundred light years away could well be a snapshot of the very distant future of the Earth,” said Boris Gänsicke, an astrophysicist at the University of Warwick, in a press release.
Images: Three panels illustrate the death sequence of a planetary system. Four terrestrial planets orbit a sun-like star (top); the host star turns into a red giant and mixes up planetary orbits, causing them to collide (middle); dusty debris and asteroid-like objects are all that remains around the star, now a white dwarf (bottom). (Copyright of Mark A. Garlick/University of Warwick) [high resolution]
Sifting through Dust near Orion’s Belt
A new image of the region surrounding the reflection nebula Messier 78, just to the north of Orion’s Belt, shows clouds of cosmic dust threaded through the nebula like a string of pearls. The observations, made with the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope, use the heat glow of interstellar dust grains to show astronomers where new stars are being formed.
Dusty stellar nurseries from the dark side of a galaxy
The red colors in this image show the galaxy M66 as it appears at the submillimeter wavelength of 850 microns, while the white background shows the galaxy as it appears in visible light. Regions of cold dust that appear as dark streaks in the white image glow brightly in the red image. The center of the galaxy contains much more dust than is obvious from looking at the visible image, and the submillimeter image also picks out an unusual compact cloud in the southern part of the galaxy that is a prime site for future star formation.
Credit: VLT/ESO, JAC, G. Bendo
When astronomers look at distant galaxies to determine how fast they’re moving, it looks like they’re all moving away from us. Does that mean we’re at the center of the universe? Well, no. It turns out that every point in the universe sees itself as the center! You can show yourself why HERE.
Space Nerds Rejoice: A Crazy 3-D Tour of the Universe at Gizmodo Gallery
Meet Carter Emmart. He has spectacular hair and an unbelievably cool job title: Director of Astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History. And on Wednesday night at 7pm, he’s bringing his badass 3-D Atlas of the Universe to Gizmodo Gallery.
Emmart’s job is to take the latest discoveries about the universe and figure out how to show translate them into visions people can understand, using advanced imaging technologies and computational modeling. That’s a mouthful. Some of the concepts tackled by Emmart and his team at the AMNH’s Hayden Planatarium tackle are immensely complicated. They need to find a way to explain it to the average joe while retaining rigorous accuracy.