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News Article | May 18, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

The combined power of three space observatories, including NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, has helped astronomers uncover a moon orbiting the third largest dwarf planet, catalogued as 2007 OR10. The pair resides in the frigid outskirts of our solar system called the Kuiper Belt, a realm of icy debris left over from our solar system's formation 4.6 billion years ago. With this discovery, most of the known dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt larger than 600 miles across have companions. These bodies provide insight into how moons formed in the young solar system. "The discovery of satellites around all of the known large dwarf planets -- except for Sedna -- means that at the time these bodies formed billions of years ago, collisions must have been more frequent, and that's a constraint on the formation models," said Csaba Kiss of the Konkoly Observatory in Budapest, Hungary. He is the lead author of the science paper announcing the moon's discovery. "If there were frequent collisions, then it was quite easy to form these satellites." The objects most likely slammed into each other more often because they inhabited a crowded region. "There must have been a fairly high density of objects, and some of them were massive bodies that were perturbing the orbits of smaller bodies," said team member John Stansberry of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. "This gravitational stirring may have nudged the bodies out of their orbits and increased their relative velocities, which may have resulted in collisions." But the speed of the colliding objects could not have been too fast or too slow, according to the astronomers. If the impact velocity was too fast, the smash-up would have created lots of debris that could have escaped from the system; too slow and the collision would have produced only an impact crater. Collisions in the asteroid belt, for example, are destructive because objects are traveling fast when they smash together. The asteroid belt is a region of rocky debris between the orbits of Mars and the gas giant Jupiter. Jupiter's powerful gravity speeds up the orbits of asteroids, generating violent impacts. The team uncovered the moon in archival images of 2007 OR10 taken by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. Observations taken of the dwarf planet by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope first tipped off the astronomers of the possibility of a moon circling it. Kepler revealed that 2007 OR10 has a slow rotation period of 45 hours. "Typical rotation periods for Kuiper Belt Objects are under 24 hours," Kiss said. "We looked in the Hubble archive because the slower rotation period could have been caused by the gravitational tug of a moon. The initial investigator missed the moon in the Hubble images because it is very faint." The astronomers spotted the moon in two separate Hubble observations spaced a year apart. The images show that the moon is gravitationally bound to 2007 OR10 because it moves with the dwarf planet, as seen against a background of stars. However, the two observations did not provide enough information for the astronomers to determine an orbit. "Ironically, because we don't know the orbit, the link between the satellite and the slow rotation rate is unclear," Stansberry said. The astronomers calculated the diameters of both objects based on observations in far-infrared light by the Herschel Space Observatory, which measured the thermal emission of the distant worlds. The dwarf planet is about 950 miles across, and the moon is estimated to be 150 miles to 250 miles in diameter. 2007 OR10, like Pluto, follows an eccentric orbit, but it is currently three times farther than Pluto is from the sun. 2007 OR10 is a member of an exclusive club of nine dwarf planets. Of those bodies, only Pluto and Eris are larger than 2007 OR10. It was discovered in 2007 by astronomers Meg Schwamb, Mike Brown, and David Rabinowitz as part of a survey to search for distant solar system bodies using the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California. The team's results appeared in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.newscientist.com

Everybody gets a moon! With the discovery of a small moon orbiting the third-largest dwarf planet, all the large objects that orbit beyond Neptune now have satellites. Trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) spend most or all of their orbits beyond Neptune. Last April, the dwarf planet Makemake became the ninth of the ten TNOs with diameters near or above 1,000 kilometres known to have a moon. So when dwarf planet 2007 OR was found to be rotating more slowly than expected, it was suspected that a moon might be the culprit. To try to find it, John Stansberry at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, and his colleagues went back to the Hubble Space Telescope archives and found eight images of the world from 2009 and 2010. “We basically just stretched the images a lot harder than the people who originally took the data, and there was a moon,” says Stansberry. The moon was in every image. The team presented these results at a planetary sciences meeting in October and now in a paper. The discovery of moons around all the largest TNOs gives us a window, not just into the objects themselves, but also into our solar system’s history. TNOs are relics from the era of planet building, so they present an opportunity to peer into the past. The moons around each of these relatively small worlds probably formed when a large rock collided with the parent body and the debris coalesced in orbit. The fact that every large TNO has a moon points towards a crowded, chaotic past. “Today, those objects are fairly rare and them hitting each other is improbable,” says Scott Sheppard at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC. “That means the environment there must have been much more dense: there must have been 10 or 100 times more objects out there in the past than there are now.” Astronomers hope to take more images of 2007 OR to catch further glimpses of its satellite, as measuring the moon’s orbit can tell us more about the dwarf planet and the early solar system. “Knowing the mass and density tells you something about how much rock and ice is in the interior, which can tell you things about the gas chemistry in the protosolar disc,” says Stansberry.


Astronomers have discovered a moon orbiting the third largest dwarf planet catalogued as 2007 OR10. Nasa's Hubble telescope and two other space observatories helped astronomers spot the duo, which reside in a freezing area on the outskirts of our solar system, called the Kuiper Belt that Nasa describes as "a realm of icy debris left over from our solar system's formation 4.6 billion years ago." This discovery adds to the fact that most of the dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt "larger than 600 miles across" have companions. Nasa said that the existence of these space bodies "provide insight into how moons formed in the young solar system." Trending: First mass extinction: Supervolcano bigger than Yellowstone and Toba almost wiped out all life "The discovery of satellites around all of the known large dwarf planets - except for Sedna - means that at the time these bodies formed billions of years ago, collisions must have been more frequent, and that's a constraint on the formation models," Csaba Kiss of the Konkoly Observatory in Budapest, the lead author of the paper announcing the discovery of the moon, said in a statement. "If there were frequent collisions, then it was quite easy to form these satellites." The bodies inhabiting the Kuiper Belt likely slammed into each other given how crowded the region is, Nasa said. "There must have been a fairly high density of objects, and some of them were massive bodies that were perturbing the orbits of smaller bodies," John Stansberry of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland said. "This gravitational stirring may have nudged the bodies out of their orbits and increased their relative velocities, which may have resulted in collisions." Don't miss: Under the Pole: Divers explore depths of the Arctic to study sharks and glow-in-the-dark species However, astronomers believe that the speed of the colliding objects couldn't have been either too fast or too slow. If the collision speed was too fast, it would have resulted in tons of debris that could have escaped from the system. On the other hand, if the collision speed was too slow, it would only have produced an impact crater. Most popular: Infertility: 100-year-old technique of 'tube flushing' increases chances of pregnancy without IVF According to Nasa, 2007 OR10 is one among "an exclusive club of nine dwarf planets" and was discovered in 2007 by astronomers Meg Schwamb, Mike Brown, and David Rabinowitz, who stumbled onto the body during a survey, searching for distant solar system bodies. How was the moon found? Astronomers found the moon in the dwarf planet's archival images, which were taken by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. However, the astronomers were first tipped off about the moon's existence by Nasa's Kepler telescope's observations of 2007 OR10. Kepler's observations revealed that the dwarf planet has a slow rotation period of 45 hours. "Typical rotation periods for Kuiper Belt Objects are under 24 hours," Kiss said. "We looked in the Hubble archive because the slower rotation period could have been caused by the gravitational tug of a moon. The initial investigator missed the moon in the Hubble images because it is very faint." The moon was spotted in two separate Hubble images that were taken a year apart, which revealed that the moon is gravitationally bound to the dwarf planet "because it moves with the dwarf planet, as seen against a background of stars." You may be interested in:


News Article | May 18, 2017
Site: phys.org

With this discovery, most of the known dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt larger than 600 miles across have companions. These bodies provide insight into how moons formed in the young solar system. "The discovery of satellites around all of the known large dwarf planets - except for Sedna - means that at the time these bodies formed billions of years ago, collisions must have been more frequent, and that's a constraint on the formation models," said Csaba Kiss of the Konkoly Observatory in Budapest, Hungary. He is the lead author of the science paper announcing the moon's discovery. "If there were frequent collisions, then it was quite easy to form these satellites." The objects most likely slammed into each other more often because they inhabited a crowded region. "There must have been a fairly high density of objects, and some of them were massive bodies that were perturbing the orbits of smaller bodies," said team member John Stansberry of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. "This gravitational stirring may have nudged the bodies out of their orbits and increased their relative velocities, which may have resulted in collisions." But the speed of the colliding objects could not have been too fast or too slow, according to the astronomers. If the impact velocity was too fast, the smash-up would have created lots of debris that could have escaped from the system; too slow and the collision would have produced only an impact crater. Collisions in the asteroid belt, for example, are destructive because objects are traveling fast when they smash together. The asteroid belt is a region of rocky debris between the orbits of Mars and the gas giant Jupiter. Jupiter's powerful gravity speeds up the orbits of asteroids, generating violent impacts. The team uncovered the moon in archival images of 2007 OR10 taken by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. Observations taken of the dwarf planet by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope first tipped off the astronomers of the possibility of a moon circling it. Kepler revealed that 2007 OR10 has a slow rotation period of 45 hours. "Typical rotation periods for Kuiper Belt Objects are under 24 hours," Kiss said. "We looked in the Hubble archive because the slower rotation period could have been caused by the gravitational tug of a moon. The initial investigator missed the moon in the Hubble images because it is very faint." The astronomers spotted the moon in two separate Hubble observations spaced a year apart. The images show that the moon is gravitationally bound to 2007 OR10 because it moves with the dwarf planet, as seen against a background of stars. However, the two observations did not provide enough information for the astronomers to determine an orbit. "Ironically, because we don't know the orbit, the link between the satellite and the slow rotation rate is unclear," Stansberry said. The astronomers calculated the diameters of both objects based on observations in far-infrared light by the Herschel Space Observatory, which measured the thermal emission of the distant worlds. The dwarf planet is about 950 miles across, and the moon is estimated to be 150 miles to 250 miles in diameter. 2007 OR10, like Pluto, follows an eccentric orbit, but it is currently three times farther than Pluto is from the sun. 2007 OR10 is a member of an exclusive club of nine dwarf planets. Of those bodies, only Pluto and Eris are larger than 2007 OR10. It was discovered in 2007 by astronomers Meg Schwamb, Mike Brown, and David Rabinowitz as part of a survey to search for distant solar system bodies using the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California. The team's results appeared in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington, D.C. Explore further: 2007 OR10 is the largest unnamed dwarf planet in the solar system More information: "Discovery of a Satellite of the Large Trans-Neptunian Object (225088) 2007 OR10," Csaba Kiss et al., 2017 Mar. 20, Astrophysical Journal Letters iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/aa6484 , arxiv.org/abs/1703.01407


News Article | May 18, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The combined power of three space observatories, including NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, has helped astronomers uncover a moon orbiting the third largest dwarf planet, catalogued as 2007 OR10. The pair resides in the frigid outskirts of our solar system called the Kuiper Belt, a realm of icy debris left over from our solar system's formation 4.6 billion years ago. With this discovery, most of the known dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt larger than 600 miles across have companions. These bodies provide insight into how moons formed in the young solar system. "The discovery of satellites around all of the known large dwarf planets - except for Sedna - means that at the time these bodies formed billions of years ago, collisions must have been more frequent, and that's a constraint on the formation models," said Csaba Kiss of the Konkoly Observatory in Budapest, Hungary. He is the lead author of the science paper announcing the moon's discovery. "If there were frequent collisions, then it was quite easy to form these satellites." The objects most likely slammed into each other more often because they inhabited a crowded region. "There must have been a fairly high density of objects, and some of them were massive bodies that were perturbing the orbits of smaller bodies," said team member John Stansberry of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. "This gravitational stirring may have nudged the bodies out of their orbits and increased their relative velocities, which may have resulted in collisions." But the speed of the colliding objects could not have been too fast or too slow, according to the astronomers. If the impact velocity was too fast, the smash-up would have created lots of debris that could have escaped from the system; too slow and the collision would have produced only an impact crater. Collisions in the asteroid belt, for example, are destructive because objects are traveling fast when they smash together. The asteroid belt is a region of rocky debris between the orbits of Mars and the gas giant Jupiter. Jupiter's powerful gravity speeds up the orbits of asteroids, generating violent impacts. The team uncovered the moon in archival images of 2007 OR10 taken by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. Observations taken of the dwarf planet by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope first tipped off the astronomers of the possibility of a moon circling it. Kepler revealed that 2007 OR10 has a slow rotation period of 45 hours. "Typical rotation periods for Kuiper Belt Objects are under 24 hours," Kiss said. "We looked in the Hubble archive because the slower rotation period could have been caused by the gravitational tug of a moon. The initial investigator missed the moon in the Hubble images because it is very faint." The astronomers spotted the moon in two separate Hubble observations spaced a year apart. The images show that the moon is gravitationally bound to 2007 OR10 because it moves with the dwarf planet, as seen against a background of stars. However, the two observations did not provide enough information for the astronomers to determine an orbit. "Ironically, because we don't know the orbit, the link between the satellite and the slow rotation rate is unclear," Stansberry said. The astronomers calculated the diameters of both objects based on observations in far-infrared light by the Herschel Space Observatory, which measured the thermal emission of the distant worlds. The dwarf planet is about 950 miles across, and the moon is estimated to be 150 miles to 250 miles in diameter. 2007 OR10, like Pluto, follows an eccentric orbit, but it is currently three times farther than Pluto is from the sun. 2007 OR10 is a member of an exclusive club of nine dwarf planets. Of those bodies, only Pluto and Eris are larger than 2007 OR10. It was discovered in 2007 by astronomers Meg Schwamb, Mike Brown, and David Rabinowitz as part of a survey to search for distant solar system bodies using the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California. The team's results appeared in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington, D.C. For images and more information about the study and Hubble, visit:


News Article | May 2, 2017
Site: www.cemag.us

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has successfully passed the center of curvature test, an important optical measurement of Webb’s fully assembled primary mirror prior to cryogenic testing, and the last test held at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., before the spacecraft is shipped to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for more testing. After undergoing rigorous environmental tests simulating the stresses of its rocket launch, the Webb telescope team at Goddard analyzed the results from this critical optical test and compared it to the pre-test measurements. The team concluded that the mirrors passed the test with the optical system unscathed. “The Webb telescope is about to embark on its next step in reaching the stars as it has successfully completed its integration and testing at Goddard. It has taken a tremendous team of talented individuals to get to this point from all across NASA, our industry and international partners, and academia,” says Bill Ochs, NASA’s Webb telescope project manager. “It is also a sad time as we say goodbye to the Webb Telescope at Goddard, but are excited to begin cryogenic testing at Johnson.” Rocket launches create high levels of vibration and noise that rattle spacecraft and telescopes. At Goddard, engineers tested the Webb telescope in vibration and acoustics test facilities that simulate the launch environment to ensure that functionality is not impaired by the rigorous ride on a rocket into space. Before and after these environmental tests took place, optical engineers set up an interferometer, the main device used to measure the shape of the Webb telescope’s mirror. An interferometer gets its name from the process of recording and measuring the ripple patterns that result when different beams of light mix and their waves combine or “interfere.” Waves of visible light are less than a thousandth of a millimeter long and optics on the Webb telescope need to be shaped and aligned even more accurately than that to work correctly. Making measurements of the mirror shape and position by lasers prevents physical contact and damage (scratches to the mirror). So, scientists use wavelengths of light to make tiny measurements. By measuring light reflected off the optics using an interferometer, they are able to measure extremely small changes in shape or position that may occur after exposing the mirror to a simulated launch or temperatures that simulate the subfreezing environment of space. During a test conducted by a team from Goddard, Ball Aerospace of Boulder, Colo., and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, temperature and humidity conditions in the cleanroom were kept incredibly stable to minimize fluctuations in the sensitive optical measurements over time. Even so, tiny vibrations are ever-present in the cleanroom that cause jitter during measurements, so the interferometer is a “high-speed” one, taking 5,000 “frames” every second, which is a faster rate than the background vibrations themselves. This allows engineers to subtract out jitter and get good, clean results on any changes to the mirror's shape. “Some people thought it would not be possible to measure beryllium mirrors of this size and complexity in a cleanroom to these levels but the team was incredibly ingenious in how they performed these measurements and the results give us great confidence we have a fantastic primary mirror,” says Lee Feinberg, Webb’s telescope optical element manager. The Webb telescope will be shipped to Johnson for end-to-end optical testing in a vacuum at its extremely cold operating temperatures. Then it will continue on its journey to Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, Calif., for final assembly and testing prior to launch in 2018. The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s most advanced space observatory. This engineering marvel is designed to unravel some of the greatest mysteries of the universe, from discovering the first stars and galaxies that formed after the big bang to studying the atmospheres of planets around other stars. It is a joint project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency), and the Canadian Space Agency, and was assembled in a Class 10,000 cleanroom at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.newscientist.com

Like a cosmic trampoline gone too far, gravitational waves may have bounced a supermassive black hole out of the centre of its home galaxy. In a galaxy 8 billion light years away from us, a supermassive black hole one billion times the mass of the sun is far from where it ought to be. It’s already over 35,000 light years from the galaxy’s centre, where such black holes usually reside, and hurtling away at 2 thousand kilometres per second. Marco Chiaberge at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Maryland and his colleagues discovered this rogue black hole, the biggest one ever detected, using the Hubble Space Telescope. They found that it may be ricocheting from a powerful blast of gravitational waves. When a pair of galaxies merge, their central black holes fall towards each other, meeting in the middle of the newly merged galaxy. As the black holes orbit one another, they emanate ripples in space-time called gravitational waves. If the two black holes have different masses or rates of rotation, the gravitational waves radiate in one direction more strongly than all the others. As the black holes smash together and merge, the resulting black hole recoils in the other direction. We knew that smaller black holes could merge and rebound like this, but this is the first time the aftermath has been observed with supermassive ones. “The amount of energy that you need to kick a supermassive black hole out like this is equivalent to 100 million supernovae exploding simultaneously,” says Chiaberge. “Nothing else can really do that.” If the black hole really is being propelled by gravitational waves, they got lucky in spotting it. “This is an extreme kick – right on the edge of what we’d expect – so it would be a very unusual system,” says Daniel Holz at the University of Chicago. Such an unusual system might help provide evidence that supermassive black holes do merge in our universe, a phenomenon for which we only have circumstantial evidence so far. “It’s a big question: do two supermassive black holes actually merge, or do they stall and basically orbit each other for the age of the universe?” says Chiaberge. “Seeing this proves indirectly that they can merge.” It is still possible, though, that the black hole wasn’t actually kicked out at all and is just located behind the galaxy to which it seems to belong. “It could be incredibly extreme physics or it could be pedestrian astronomy,” says Holz. “Time will tell.”


News Article | March 24, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

Using NASA's Hubble Telescope, Astronomers have detected a supermassive black hole being evicted from the central hub of its parent galaxy in what could be a demonstration of the immense force of gravitational waves. Scientists have suspected there are several black holes elsewhere kicked out of their galactic core and the recent discovery is considered a very strong case confirming what they assumed all the while. The black hole, which weighs more than 1 billion suns, is the first supermassive black hole found to have been evicted from its home. To propel a black hole as massive as this one from its galactic core requires an immense amount of energy. It is estimated that the energy required is equivalent to the energy of 100 supernovas exploding at the same time, study co-author Stefano Bianchi of Roma Tre University said. Stefano said their theoretical model suggested that the gravitational waves generated by the fusion of two black holes some 1 to 2 billion years ago, propelled this massive black hole spaceward. The rogue black hole was found to have moved 35,000 light-years away from the central hub of its parent galaxy 3C 186. This distance is farther than the Sun's distance from the center of the Milky Way. The researchers said this super massive black hole continues to hurtle away at a speed of 7.5 million kilometers per hour. Gravitational waves, first put forward by Albert Einstein, are ripples created when two massive objects bumped in space. These ripples are similar to the waves created when a stone is dropped into a pond. Its existence was only proven last year when the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected them having their origin from the merging of two massive black holes. "When I first saw this, I thought we were seeing something very peculiar," team leader Marco Chiaberge of the Space Telescope Science Institute said of the observed black hole. Since black holes are located at the core of their galaxies, Chiaberge said he was surprised to see a quasar off from the galaxy's central hub. Quasars are the visible and energetic signature of black holes. He said the combined data from different observation sites revealed the same stellar event. Chiaberge's paper on the phenomenon will be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics on March 30. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | May 5, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Six billion light-years away from Earth is a massive galaxy cluster called Abell 370 whose enormous gravity warps the spacetime around it, causing an effect called gravitational lensing which distorts and magnifies the view of the objects behind it. The galaxy cluster is home to several hundred galaxies that are kept together by the same gravitational pull. The Hubble Space Telescope — operated jointly by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) — captured an image of Abell 370 in unprecedented detail, using 630 hours of observing time over 560 orbits of Earth, according to the telescope’s website. And the resulting image, a combination of visible and near-infrared light photographs, is spectacular in its detail. Abell 370 is home to a large variety of galaxy shapes. The yellow-white objects in the image are the largest and brightest galaxies, which are elliptical in shape and contain billions of stars each. The bluish objects are spiral galaxies, like the Milky Way, and are home to younger stars, a statement on NASA’s website said. The arcs of blue that are scattered all over the image are actually remote galaxies behind Abell 370, which are otherwise too faint to be seen by Hubble but are visible in the image due to gravitational lensing. By studying the lensing properties of this massive galaxy cluster, astronomers also determined it contains two separate, large concentrations of dark matter, which provides evidence for the theory that Abell 370 formed when two smaller clusters merged into one. This sort of analysis contributes to the understanding of the distribution of normal matter and dark matter in the universe. The Abell 370 image was captured as part of Hubble’s Frontier Fields program, which has produced the deepest observations made yet, of massive galaxy clusters along with the distant, older galaxies that lie behind them. The gravitational lensing effect of the clusters like Abell 370 allow astronomers to get a glimpse of the universe as it existed only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, or cosmic infancy. In the Frontier Fields program, Hubble produced six images of massive galaxy clusters, of which Abell 370 was the last. Along with the clusters, “parallel fields” or regions of space adjacent to the clusters — seemingly sparse — were also imaged with the same exposure that provided a deep look into the early universe. The program has shown galaxies that are 10 to 100 times fainter than any of those previously observed. Abell 370 was photographed in high resolution as early as the 1980s, and a detailed photograph of it, also taken by Hubble, was released in 2009. The galaxy cluster was one of the very first where the phenomenon of gravitational lensing was observed.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Has NASA found evidence of life in space? Some of the world's leading voices on life beyond Earth will gather for a NASA press conference Wednesday where an important announcement on planets outside our solar system was expected to be made, NASA announced Monday. Exoplanets are widely believed to be the best hope of finding life elsewhere in the universe. NASA vowed to broadcast the announcement featuring astronomers and planetary scientists from across the world on NASA Television and the agency's website. The space agency was encouraging the public to ask questions during the briefing on Twitter using the hashtag #askNASA. The announcement comes as NASA has also been working to send a lander to Europa, Jupiter’s ice moon, to explore the potential for extraterrestrial life. The project includes determining whether life can thrive on Europa. The full press release about Wednesday's major announcement titled "NASA to Host News Conference on Discovery Beyond Our Solar System" can be found below: "NASA will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 22, to present new findings on planets that orbit stars other than our sun, known as exoplanets. The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Details of these findings are embargoed by the journal Nature until 1 p.m. Limited seating is available in the NASA TV studio for media who would like to attend in person at the agency’s Headquarters at 300 E Street SW in Washington. Media unable to attend in person may ask questions by telephone. To attend in person or participate by phone, media must send an email with their name, affiliation and telephone number to Dwayne Brown at dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov by noon Feb. 22. Media and the public also may ask questions during the briefing on Twitter using the hashtag #askNASA. ·        Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington ·        Michael Gillon, astronomer at the University of Liege in Belgium ·        Nikole Lewis, astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore ·        Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge A Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) about exoplanets will be held following the briefing at 3 p.m. with scientists available to answer questions in English and Spanish."

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