NASA – We Found The Fat One!

El Gordo, the fat one, was finally captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Hubble image of the most massive cluster of galaxies ever seen to exist

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Jee (University of California, Davis)

A galaxy cluster skirting the edge of the Universe 9.7 billion light-years away, El Gordo has attempted to evade capture, measurement and having its mug shot taken since it was first detected in January 2012.

Authorities at NASA credit the capture to a variety of informants including Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope array in Paranal, Chile.

Due to El Gordo’s massive weight, about 3 million billion times the mass of our sun, it couldn’t escape scientific detectives for long.  By measuring how much El Gordo’s gravity warps images of galaxies in the distant background, a team of astronomical flatfoots calculated the cluster’s mass.

But El Gordo isn’t a solo act.  Science gumshoes had information that  El Gordo was the result of a titanic collision between a pair of galaxy clusters — an event described as two cosmic cannonballs hitting each other.

So this is the end for El Gordo…for now.  Strange occurrences in the area have detectives ever vigilant for more clues to find the big bosses, the king pins of cosmic crimes against the Universe…dark matter and dark energy.  Stay tuned.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Happy Birthday Hubble.

Can you believe that the Hubble Space Telescope was launched 24 years ago!

File:Hubble Probes the Early Universe.jpg

It seems like yesterday that we knew everything about the universe…and then Hubble rewrote (and continues to rewrite) our understanding of the universe.

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field and others showed us that what we thought was empty space, was actually quite busy.  Everything in that image above is another galaxy.

Considering the size of the field of view (shown above) of the Hubble for those deep field views, there is an amazing amount of places in the universe to explore.

Using the Hubble, astronomers where able to find dark matter and fill in about 5% of the matter that is missing from the universe.

So how much longer can Hubble last?  There are no more service missions scheduled for the Hubble and the last mission was in 2009.  Eventually, the giant space telescope will run out of gas.  It’s last command will be to crash down into the Pacific Ocean in a fiery death.  That will be a sad day.  But the data and pioneering efforts of the world’s first space-based optical telescope will be around for years to come.

http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/styles/800x600_autoletterbox/public/heic1406a.jpg?itok=_iijvPZx

In honor of the 24th anniversary of the Hubble, NASA announced that it will release an infrared image of a nearby star factor known as the Monkey Head Nebula (or known as NGC 2174 and Sharpless Sh2-252).

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Big Blue.

Once again, Hubble has expanded the Universe of our knowledge.

This time, Astronomers found the actual color of a planet orbiting another star 63 light-years away.  The planet, HD 189733b, isn’t just blue, its big, at least the size of Jupiter.  The cobalt blue color doesn’t come from water reflection, like Earth, but most likely from the blow-torched atmosphere.  There is even speculation that there is solid silica rain (glass rain).

However fun a glass rain storm would be probably pales in comparison to the 2,000 degree Fahrenheit  (1093 Celsius) temperature and 4,500/mph (7242/ kph) wind.  Shards of glass flying at you very fast, what’s not to love about a planet like that?

Using Hubble’s Imaging Spectrograph, Astronomers measured changes in the color of light from planet HD 189733b during its transit behind the star it orbits.  Fortuitously, the planet’s orbit is tilted edge-on with respect to the Earth so the planet routinely passes in front and behind its star.

Hubble’s instruments measured about 1/10,000 of the light you would normally see.  “We saw the light becoming less bright in the blue, but not in the green or the red. This means that the object that disappeared is blue because light was missing in the blue, but not in the red when it was hidden.”

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Here’s Messier in your eye.

Hubble Space Telescope has captured a new image of nearby spiral galaxy Messier 61 (M61), AKA NGC 4303.

M61 is only 55 million light-years away from Earth, it is about the size of our Milky Way galaxy (depending on whom you ask), and is about a 100,000 light-years.

M61 is an active galaxy with six supernovae observed within the last 100 years or so.

Hubble took this image as M61 was face-on. The spiral arms are very detailed.  The outer arms, seen in blue, are stellar nurseries where stars are being formed.

Messier 61 is part of the Virgo (just like me!) Galaxy Cluster, a massive group of galaxies in the constellation of Virgo (the Virgin – not so much like me in many respects).

Galaxy clusters (groups of galaxies) are some of the biggest structures in the Universe. The Virgo Cluster has over 1300 (and up to 2000) galaxies.

The Virgo Cluster also forms the central region of a Local Supercluster.  As the name suggests, it is an even bigger grouping of galaxies.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Jelly Doughnuts!

“Mmmmm…doughnuts” Homer Simpson.

Today is Friday, and I am in charge of bringing in the doughnuts (or donuts if you prefer) and bagels for everyone in the office.

Today it turns out that the jelly doughnuts and bagels have switched metaphoric states.

M57LRGBa(500).jpg (44902 bytes)

Credit: Alson Wong (http://www.alsonwongastro.com/m57-ring.htm)

Most of my pictures look like my friend Alson Wong’s image above.  (Alson, I needed to borrow yours because I can’t find mine, thanks).  You could always see that there was some material in the center  portion, but it was thought to be the expanding matter blown off from the central star.

A core disc of dark, smokey blue crossed with wisps of violet and ringed with all the colors of the rainbow before exploding into shells of red gasses streaking out across the stars

However, a new image by Hubble has lead team leader C. Robert O’Dell of Vanderbilt University to state that: “The nebula is not like a bagel, but rather, it’s like a jelly doughnut, because it’s filled with material in the middle.”

One of the reasons that the ring nebula is so interesting, is because it is a prelude to what could happen with our Sun.  Although the star at the center of the ring was much larger than our Sun, it should end up in a similar fate.  Blowing of material and becoming a white dwarf.  From millions of times the size of the Earth, to about the same size (although a lot hotter and denser).

Someone once asked me why I keep taking images that everyone else has already imaged.  The answer, of course, is you never know what you will find.  Many new discoveries in space happen because of directed research by professionals (like this one), but a good amount of discoveries happen because some amateur astronomer was imaging the same thing and something new showed up.

RTMC_CLogoJ.jpg (9992 bytes)

We have only been peering at the heavens seriously for about 400 years.  We tracked the stars way before that, but serious, scientific inquiry is only about 400 years old.  The star that formed the ring is relatively young in comparison, the event happened about 4,000 years ago and will go on for another 10,000 years or so.

BIG PLUG for RTMC.

This weekend, if you want to learn more about astronomy, how to make your own telescope, view the night sky.  The RTMC Astronomy Expo is being held near Big Bear California this weekend.  Go here for more information.  I’ll be there and I’m sure that the will be jelly doughnuts….mmmmmm.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Lost in space.

Who could forget that classic SciFi family drama/sitcom, Lost in Space.

A helpful robot pet, the naive wunderkind, a wascally professor, mom and dad, the eye candy brothers and sisters and the strapping captain to save the day (of course if he really wanted to save the day he would have found a way home, and don’t get me started on Gilligan’s Island).

No, today’s images really do come from space.  New images abound from Spitzer and Hubble and a host of other imaging apparatus that are expanding our understanding of the Universe and ourselves.  Enjoy.

This NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory image shows a highly distorted supernova remnant that may contain the most recent black hole formed in the Milky Way galaxy. The composite image combines X-rays from Chandra (blue and green), radio data from the Very Large Array (pink), and infrared data from the Palomar Observatory (yellow). Most supernova explosions that destroy massive stars are generally symmetrical.  In the W49B supernova, however, it appears that the material near its poles was ejected at much higher speeds than that at its equator.  There is also evidence that the explosion that produced W49B left behind a black hole and not a neutron star like most other supernovas. (Photo by L. Lopez/MIT/CXC/NASA via AFP Photo)

This Chandra X-Ray Observatory image shows a highly distorted supernova remnant, aptly name W49B, that might be home to what scientists believe is the most recent black hole formed in the Milky Way. I don’t see it…no really I don’t.

An infrared portrait from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope which shows generations of stars is seen in this undated NASA handout image released February 14, 2013. In this wispy star-forming region, called W5, the oldest stars can be seen as blue dots in the centers of the two hollow cavities (other blue dots are background and foreground stars not associated with the region). Red shows heated dust that pervades the region's cavities, while green highlights dense clouds. (Photo by NASA/Reuters/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian/Handout)

This new infrared image taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope shows a star-forming region, called W5.  Clearly, we need better names here NASA!

This National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) image of the Planetary Nebula Sh2-174, which may suggest a rose to some, was obtained with Mosaic 1 camera on the Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona January 8, 2013. A planetary nebula is created when a low-mass star blows off its outer layers at the end of its life. The core of the star remains and is called a white dwarf.  Photo was captured January 8, 2013. (Photo by T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage) and H. Schweiker/NASA/Reuters)

Just in time for Mother’s Day is this image of the Planetary Nebula Sh2-174 (C’mon Man!) taken at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO).  Looks like a lovely rose for mom.

Not to be confused with the Rossetta Nebula (much better than Caldwell 49).

Or stellar region NGC 604 (M33).  I may have to try to take this image, because summer time is galaxy time!  Of course my image will be so much better than this Hubble image that I would not dare post it for fear of embarrassing NASA.

This image by Hubble shows what happens “When World’s Collide!” Actually NGC 6745 is what happens when galaxies collide, but I had to keep up with the old SciFi schtick, my readers demand nothing less than good SciFi schtick.

This image is NGC 6543 known as the Cat's Eye Nebula as it appears to the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and Hubble Telescope. A planetary nebula is a phase of stellar evolution that the sun should experience several billion years from now, when it expands to become a red giant and then sheds most of its outer layers, leaving behind a hot core that contracts to form a dense white dwarf star. This image was released October 10, 2012. (Photo by J. Kastner/NASA/CXC/RIT)

This excellent image of the Cat’s Eye nebula (NGC 6543) is a collaborative effort between Chandra and Hubble.  See what happens when space telescopes play nice with each other.

Next week is all about mom.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

 

Picture week starts with new Hubble images of an old favorite.

Everyone (in most of the world) can look up into the night sky and see the Orion nebula with their own eyes.  No telescope needed.  Part of the Orion complex is the often imaged Horsehead nebula.  Below is an image that I took a few years ago.

But with a new infra-red camera, Hubble once again bests me.  Oh, to have a telescope outside the atmosphere (or some really good adaptive optics!)

Horsehead in a new infrared light

The latest image of the Horsehead Nebula (IC 434) from Hubble.  The Horsehead nebula is actually a dark molecular cloud, about 1,500 light-years from Earth.  It is only visible because the dark dust that makes up the nebula its is in front of another brighter nebula.  This is one of many so called “dark nebula.”  Most dark nebula are fairly hard to image, because, well, they are dark.  So you have to take a lot of exposures over a long period of time to capture an image of a dark nebula, like the Dark Horse nebula below.

File:GreatDarkHorse Nebulae.jpg

Most of the time you won’t actually be able to tell if you have anything until you do some processing.

Luckily, the Horsehead nebula is fairly easy to capture due to all the bright stuff around it.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

First ISON images released.

Peering deep into space as usual, the Hubble Space Telescope has captured the first images of comet ISON.

Billed as the “comet of the century” because it could, at one point, be brighter than the full Moon.

Maybe.

A lot of if’s surround this comet.  If it is the right composition, if the water ratio is right, if the trajectory is correct, if it doesn’t breakup.  Many questions, not so many answers.  Since this is the first recorded pass of this comet in human history, nobody know for sure.

But getting the answers is all the fun!

The Hubble image above was taken on April 10, when the comet was slightly closer than Jupiter’s orbit at a distance of 386 million miles from the Sun.  As you can see, the tail is longer than Hubble’s field of view.

Hubble was used to image the comet because it is still 4.15 astronomical units (386 million miles) from the Sun and about 4.24 astronomical units (394 million miles) from Earth.  Even out there, the Sun is warming the comet enough to trigger outgassing jets of dust particles off the sunward-facing side of the comet.

Traveling at a mere 47,000 miles per hour, ISON should be visible in North America starting in late November thru December.

Let’s hope that this one lives up to the hype!

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Woodrow Wilson has blown up!

The supernova UDS10Wil, nicknamed SN Wilson after American President Woodrow Wilson, that is.

http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/739215main_IMAGE1-%20p1311aw.jpg

The star exploded more than 10 billion years ago and was recently spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope.  Wilson, also has the distinction of being the farthest supernova of this type found to date.

Although our sun will blow up in a few billion years, it won’t turn into anything cool, like a black hole, but it will leave behind some pretty remnants in the form of a planetary nebula.

I am personally not too worried about it, because by that time I will have found a home on another suitable planet.  Did I mention that I intend to live forever?  Unless of course the Friday doughnuts do me in before I achieve permanence.  Actually, come to think about it, I probably prefer the doughnuts to immortality (but I would like to stay around long enough to own a space station).

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Using the Moon to View the Venus Transit

The astronomers in charge of the Hubble space telescope are going to try and use the sunlight reflected from the Moon to view the transit of Venus in June.  Because the Hubble cannot look directly at the Sun, this would make sense.  But what are they trying to do? Well the good folks over at Hubblesite have the explaination…extra-solar planets.  What?  That’s right, by looking at the atmosphere of Venus in this fashion scientists hope to be able to use this technique on extra-solar planets to determine what they are made of, their atmosphere and other important data.

I, however, am preparing myself to view this months annular eclipse and then use the techniques I learn to photograph the transit in June and the total eclipse in November.  If this is the last year for planet Earth (NOT!), it will be a fun one.

P.S. the Mayan calendar is probably a perpetual calendar so everything just starts over again at the year zero.