Heavens

Flagstaff, Ariz. -- A team of astronomers used the Keck and Gemini North telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii to discover three planets in orbit around the young star HR 8799. Christian Marois (the lead author of a paper to be published in Science) and his collaborators developed an advanced computer processing technique that helped separate the planets from the much brighter light of the star. HR 8799 is located about 130 light-years from Earth and is just visible to the naked eye in the constellation of Pegasus.

Berkeley – After eight years and repeated photographs of a nearby star in hopes of finding planets, University of California, Berkeley, astronomer Paul Kalas finally has his prize: the first visible-light snapshots of a planet outside our solar system.

Astronomers using the Gemini North telescope and W.M. Keck Observatory on Hawaii's Mauna Kea have obtained the first-ever direct images identifying a multi-planet system around a normal star.

GREENBELT, Md. - Imagine sunglasses that can withstand the severe cold and heat of space, a barrage of radiation and high-speed impacts from small space debris. They don't exist, but Northrop Grumman engineers have created a Sunshield for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope that can withstand all of those elements. The space telescope needs a Sunshield to block heat from the sun so its cameras and instruments can operate properly a million miles from the Earth, when it launches in 2013.

The region, called RCW120, is about 4200 light years from Earth, towards the constellation of Scorpius. A hot, massive star in its centre is emitting huge amounts of ultraviolet radiation, which ionises the surrounding gas, stripping the electrons from hydrogen atoms and producing the characteristic red glow of so-called H-alpha emission.

Chandrayaan-1, the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) lunar orbiter, was captured into orbit around the Moon on 8 November. One day later, the spacecraft performed a manoeuvre that lowered the closest point of its orbit down to 200 km from the Moon.

This uniquely beautiful patchwork image, with its myriad of brightly coloured galaxies, shows the Chandra Deep Field South (CDF-S), arguably the most observed and best studied region in the entire sky. The CDF-S is one of the two regions selected as part of the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS), an effort of the worldwide astronomical community that unites the deepest observations from ground- and space-based facilities at all wavelengths from X-ray to radio.

A team of theoretical and experimental physicists, with participants from Case Western Reserve University, have designed a new black hole simulator called BlackMax to search for evidence that extra dimensions might exist in the universe.

Information about BlackMax's creation has been published in Physical Review Letters in the article, "BlackMax: A Black-Hole Event Generator with Rotation, Recoil, Split Branes and Brane Tension."

Yesterday, following a fifth orbit-raising manoeuvre, the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft successfully settled into a trajectory that will take it to the Moon.

After launch on 22 October, the spacecraft was first injected into an elliptical 7-hr orbit around Earth, between 255 km and 22 860 km above our planet. After five engine firings, Chandrayaan-1 spiralled outwards in increasingly elongated ellipses around Earth, until it reached its lunar transfer orbit on 4 November at 00:26 CET (04:56 Indian standard time).

According to the international space agencies, "Space Weather" is the single greatest obstacle to deep space travel. Radiation from the sun and cosmic rays pose a deadly threat to astronauts in space.

New research, out today, Tuesday, November 4, published in IOP Publishing's Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, shows how knowledge gained from the pursuit of nuclear fusion research may reduce the threat to acceptable levels, making man's first mission to Mars a much greater possibility.

Meteorites that are among the oldest rocks ever found have provided new clues about the conditions that existed at the beginning of the solar system, solving a longstanding mystery and overturning some accepted ideas about the way planets form.

The ancient meteorites, like disk drives salvaged from an ancient computer, still contain magnetic records about the very early history of planets, according to research by MIT planetary scientist Benjamin P. Weiss.

Just a couple of days after the orbiting observatory was brought back online, Hubble aimed its prime working camera, the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), at a particularly intriguing target, a pair of gravitationally interacting galaxies called Arp 147.

The image demonstrated that the camera is working exactly as it was before going offline, thereby scoring a "perfect 10" both for performance and beauty.

Astronomers have discovered that the nearby star Epsilon Eridani has two rocky asteroid belts and an outer icy ring, making it a triple-ring system. The inner asteroid belt is a virtual twin of the belt in our solar system, while the outer asteroid belt holds 20 times more material. Moreover, the presence of these three rings of material implies that unseen planets confine and shape them.

For the second time this year, The University of Western Ontario Meteor Group has captured incredibly rare video footage of a meteor falling to Earth. The team of astronomers suspects the fireball dropped meteorites in a region north of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, that may total as much as a few hundred grams in mass.

The Physics and Astronomy Department at Western has a network of all-sky cameras in southern Ontario that scan the sky monitoring for meteors.

Some of the first data collected by the CoRoT space telescope mission, launched in December 2006, provides valuable information about the physical vibrations and surface characteristics of nearby stars that are similar to our Sun, researchers say. This novel information illustrates the great value of space-based observations, and provides astronomers with insights into the interior of our Sun, other stars, and the overall evolution of our galaxy.