Let’s Explore the Red Glow of Orion Nebula

Cavities, bubbles, fronts, bowshocks within the Orion Nebula as well as red glow.

For years astronomers have looked at Orion Nebula, known as the hunter. It is in this region of our wonderful sky that the newest stars are being born. The stars near the hunter’s shoulder are 12 million years old. Astronomers have also discovered stars in the Orion Nebula that are less than one million years old. What has astronomers excited is the red glowing dust that is part of the Orion Nebula. This area is where the new stars are forming.

The star with the most energy has been named Theta-1C Orionis. It is from this star that the red glow occurs. This star is expected to grow bigger and become a red supergiant over the next million years. It will explode much like a balloon that has been blown up with too much air. Upon explosion, t will make as many as 40 stars and 150 planets.It was through this same process that our own sun and planets were formed. That was 4.5 billion years ago. Keep watching this area as you explore the night sky and observe the red glow coming from the Orion Nebula. This red glow produces 210,000 times the light of our own sun. It is this ultraviolet light that gives the red glow.

Image Credit: 1) NASA/ESA

Reference:
http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/111919-M42-s-Trapezium-Dust-Clouds-amp-Theta-1-Orionis-Cluster

Science Teachers – Enter to Win a STEMIE!

McGraw-Hill Education today launched the Science, Technology, Engineering & Math Innovative Educator Awards, to recognize and reward teachers who are finding innovative ways to reach today’s students. The awards, known as the STEMIEs, will acknowledge teachers who are pioneering effective techniques to engage their students in science, technology, engineering or math – fields of study critical to our nation’s economic growth. McGraw-Hill will award $25,000 in cash and prizes to the winners of the contest.

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Life on Europa: A Controversial Proposal on a Moon of Jupiter

An astrobiology research team from the University of Arizona has recently claimed that the ocean below a thick layer of ice on Jupiter’s moon Europa is probably lifeless. The research assumes that the ocean regions under the ice layer of the moon are simply too acidic to support life as we know it. In other words, perhaps life does exist as we don’t know it. Read More →

A Closer Look at Galaxy Cluster Abell 520

Data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory show the hot gas in the colliding clusters colored in green. The gas provides evidence that a collision took place. Optical data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) in Hawaii are shown in red, green, and blue. Starlight from galaxies within the clusters, derived from observations by the CFHT and smoothed to show the location of most of the galaxies, is colored orange.

The blue-colored areas pinpoint the location of most of the mass in the cluster, which is dominated by dark matter. Dark matter is an invisible substance that makes up most of the universe’s mass. The dark-matter map was derived from the Hubble observations, by detecting how light from distant objects is distorted by the cluster galaxies, an effect called gravitational lensing. The blend of blue and green in the center of the image reveals that a clump of dark matter (which can be seen by mousing over the image) resides near most of the hot gas, where very few galaxies are found.

This finding confirms previous observations of a dark-matter core in the cluster announced in 2007. The result could present a challenge to basic theories of dark matter, which predict that galaxies should be anchored to dark matter, even during the shock of a powerful collision.

Source: NASA

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CFHT, CXO, M.J. Jee (University of California, Davis), and A. Mahdavi (San Francisco State University)

Supermassive Black Holes May be Shaping Galaxies Faster

Image Credit: Artist concept credit: ESA/AOES Medialab)

The understanding of the way in which supermassive black holes shape galaxies is quickly changing, considering that new data is helping astrophysicists to grasp ultra-fast outflows. There is apparently a correlation between central black holes in galaxies and the velocity of stars in the system. An international team at the Goddard Space Flight Center believes that they have identified a particular outflow model that forges a link between black holes and these velocities.

The current understanding is that supermassive black holes make up the center of most decent sized galaxies. Galatic systems that have additional large black holes seem to have bulges where there are faster-moving stars. There seems to be some sort of a feedback loop between star formation and the black hole. However, as of yet, there is no real solid correlation for why this is.

Recent data that was collected by the project, though, explains that ultra-fast outflows might be speeding up these processes. While they’re not as fast as particle jets, ultra-fast outflows are probably making quicker star formation systems. One can hope that the Astro-H X-ray telescope project will help people better understand these concepts when it is presumably launched in 2014. Until that time, the Goddard Center will continue to look into the physical models behind the outflows.

Reference:
Tombesi, F., Cappi, M., Reeves, J., & Braito, V. (2012). Evidence for ultrafast outflows in radio-quiet AGNs – III. Location and energetics Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-3933.2012.01221.x

Tombesi, F., Cappi, M., Reeves, J., Palumbo, G., Braito, V., & Dadina, M. (2011). EVIDENCE FOR ULTRA-FAST OUTFLOWS IN RADIO-QUIET ACTIVE GALACTIC NUCLEI. II. DETAILED PHOTOIONIZATION MODELING OF Fe K-SHELL ABSORPTION LINES The Astrophysical Journal, 742 (1) DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/742/1/44

Tombesi, F., Cappi, M., Reeves, J., Palumbo, G., Yaqoob, T., Braito, V., & Dadina, M. (2010). Evidence for ultra-fast outflows in radio-quiet AGNs Astronomy and Astrophysics, 521 DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200913440

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GRAIL Spacecraft Begins Collecting Lunar Science Data

NASA’s Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft orbiting the moon officially have begun their science collection phase. During the next 84 days, scientists will obtain a high-resolution map of the lunar gravitational field to learn about the moon’s internal structure and composition in unprecedented detail. The data also will provide a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed and evolved.

“The initiation of science data collection is a time when the team lets out a collective sigh of relief because we are finally doing what we came to do,” said Maria Zuber, principal investigator for the GRAIL mission at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. “But it is also a time where we have to put the coffee pot on, roll up our sleeves and get to work.”

The GRAIL mission’s twin, washing-machine-sized spacecraft, named Ebb and Flow, entered lunar orbit on New Year’s Eve and New Years Day. GRAIL’s science phase began yesterday at 8:15 p.m. EST (5:15 p.m. PST). During this mission phase, the spacecraft will transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them. As they fly over areas of greater and lesser gravity caused by visible features such as mountains, craters and masses hidden beneath the lunar surface, the distance between the two spacecraft will change slightly. Science activities are expected to conclude on May 29, after GRAIL maps the gravity field of the moon three times.

“We are in a near-polar, near-circular orbit with an average altitude of about 34 miles (55 kilometers) right now,” said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. “During the science phase, our spacecraft will orbit the moon as high as 31 miles (51 kilometers) and as low as 10 miles (16 kilometers). They will get as close to each other as 40 miles (65 kilometers) and as far apart as 140 miles (225 kilometers).”

Previously named GRAIL A and B, the names Ebb and Flow were the result of a nation-wide student contest to choose new names for the spacecraft. The winning entry was submitted by fourth graders from the Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman, Mont. Nearly 900 classrooms with more than 11,000 students from 45 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, participated in the contest.

JPL manages the GRAIL mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The GRAIL mission is part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center inHuntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft.

For more information about GRAIL, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/grail

Source: NASA

Aurora Borealis Showing Her Stuff These Days

The aurora borealis has been putting on a stunning display of intense beauty the last few days in the southern hemisphere. These lights, also known as the northern lights, are produced when super heated plasma escapes from the sun’s atmosphere and travels for two to five days before it meets the earth’s atmosphere. The increased beauty of the aurora borealis is believed to be caused by a crack in the earth’s magnetic field that has allowed more of the plasma to be visible.

Aurora borealis is expected to become more visible over the next 11 years as the sun enters a period when solar spots are more frequent. As the earth experiences more sun spots, the sun will produce more solar winds. As more solar winds are produced more plasma will be drawn into the wind’s circular rotation. As these rotations become stronger plasma escapes from these rotations. The plasma then travels two to five days to meet the earth’s atmosphere. Currently, the earth’s magnetic field near the South Pole has a huge crack in it. This allows more plasma to pass through it. It is this plasma that we see as the aurora borealis.

Autonomous Space Capture Challenge

TopCoder®, Inc., the world’s largest competitive Community of digital creators and MIT, today announced registration has opened for the Autonomous Space Capture Challenge, an algorithm competition from Zero Robotics which seeks computationally efficient code solutions for a hypothetical mission scenario which models autonomous docking or satellite servicing procedures. The online challenge is open to all eligible participants but especially teams from high schools and colleges. Four winning submissions will be tested aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in the recently established SPHERES national laboratory by astronauts. Successful teams will be invited to watch the event live onsite at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or via webcast feed remotely. Register at http://www.zerorobotics.org.

Competitors in the Autonomous Space Capture Challenge will be tasked with programming an active satellite or “Tender” to synchronize its motion with and capture a tumbling, passive space object or “POD”. The tournament will have four week-long rounds, during which teams will test their solutions and submit them for scoring and publication on the leader board. At the end of each week the best submission will be published on the Zero Robotics website for public reference and use in the next round. The winner from each week will be included in a demonstration aboard the ISS in late May with the best performing finalist being awarded an additional commendation.

Competition Dates

  • March 28 – competition begins
  • April 4 – submission 1 closes
  • April 11 – submission 2 closes
  • April 18 – submission 3 closes
  • April 25 – submission 4 closes

How to register

“Robots are not just very cool, they represent a rapidly growing and increasingly critical field of education and business,” said Rob Hughes, president and COO of TopCoder, Inc. “From defense to manufacturing, agriculture to pharmaceutical as well as ongoing space exploration, the study and application of robotics has a very bright future.”

Sponsored by DARPA and NASA, and run by the MIT Space Systems Laboratory, TopCoder and Aurora Flight Sciences, Zero Robotics is a programming tournament that opens the SPHERES satellite research platform to the general public. Originally developed to engage U.S. middle and high school students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Zero Robotics includes a web-based development environment to create programs for the SPHERES satellites and run simulations to evaluate resulting performance. For more information visit: http://www.zerorobotics.org.

About TopCoder, Inc.

TopCoder is the world’s largest competitive community of digital creators with nearly 400,000 members representing algorithmists, software developers and creative artists from over 200 countries. The TopCoder Community creates digital assets including analytics, software and creative designs and solutions for a wide-ranging client base through a competitive, rigorous, standards based methodology. Combined with our extremely talented community this groundbreaking methodology results in superior outcomes for our clients. For more information about sponsoring TopCoder events and utilizing TopCoder’s software services and platforms, visit www.topcoder.com.

TopCoder is a registered trademark of TopCoder, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Source: TopCoder, Inc.

STEM News: Robots in the Classroom

How cool is this!?

Sixth-graders in Cheney will run tests on the community water supply and present their findings to city officials. Students at Rainier Beach High School in Seattlewill travel to the Olympic Peninsula to work on the Elwha Dam removal project. And middle school girls in the Spokane area will build a programmable robot to learn practical applications for math.

The projects are among 14 around the state chosen to receive the third wave of Entrepreneur Award grants from Washington STEM, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education across the state. With this round of investments, Washington STEM is now impacting more than 500 teachers and 16,000 students across the state.

“I had a D in science and didn’t do much studying, but working with my high school partner helped me work harder,” said Everett Greene-Maddelena, an eighth-grader at Markishtum Middle School in Neah Baywho was involved in a 2011 Washington-STEM project. “We also got to go on a research ship and learn about cool stuff, like the tribe’s work cleaning sand with mushrooms. I now have a B in science and think I am ready for high school.” Growing student success and enthusiasm for STEM has already helpedNeah Bay students win $70,000 in a national Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest . The students have a chance to win more in the contest’s final round.

While Washington ranks first in the nation in the concentration of STEM jobs, too few of its students are prepared to pursue STEM degrees and take the jobs our state generates. This disparity stretches back to our elementary schools, where Washington kids typically receive two hours or less of science instruction a week.

“STEM isn’t just for scientists and engineers, it’s the best ticket to a good job in today’s market and virtually the only ticket to a good job in the economy of the future,” said Carolyn Landel, Chief Program Officer at Washington STEM. “Entrepreneur Awards celebrate the commitment and innovative spirit ofWashington educators who strive to ensure that all kids are prepared to succeed.”

Washington STEM Entrepreneur Award grants support breakthrough ideas and promising approaches in STEM education. The one-year investments encourage teachers to take risks, pilot new ideas, and generate promising practices that can be used around the state. Applications for the next round of Entrepreneur Award investments are due May 3.

For those interested in pursuing multi-year STEM projects that develop or expand innovative interventions in STEM, Washington STEM is also opening applications for its second round of Portfolio Awards with letters of inquiry due March 23. To learn more about Entrepreneur and Portfolio Awards, go to www.washingtonstem.org/grantee-application.asp

“My female students use to think that building robots was just for boys,” said, Dave Neale, a seventh-grade science and automation and robotics teacher and lead of the Team GEAR Heads, an all-girl robotics club at Mountainside Middle School in Colbert that will be supported by an Entrepreneur Award. “Our club makes it cool for girls to be into math and science.”

A complete list of Washington STEM’s round three Entrepreneur Award investments can be found online at www.washingtonstem.org/investments.asp

About Washington STEM: Washington STEM is a statewide nonprofit dedicated to advancing innovation, equity, and excellence in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Launched in March 2011, Washington STEM partners with education, business, and community leaders to bridge opportunities in education and economy that reimagine STEM education for all students, starting with those most underserved and underrepresented in STEM fields. Learn more atwww.washingtonstem.org , join the conversation at Facebook , or follow STEM on Twitter @washingtonstem.

Image Credit: The Journal
Source: Washington STEM

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New Book: Lights of Mankind Shows Beauty of Earth from Space

As far as we know, Earth is the only planet in the universe that lights up at night. Now comes the first full-planet study of Earth after dark. Lights of Mankind: The Earth at Night As Seen From Space shares the awe-inspiring views that have caught the imagination of millions, showcasing more than 250 incredible photographs taken by astronauts on the International Space Station.

Recently released by Lyons Press, this stunning illustrated book documents the entire globe, featuring over 100 world-class cities and 70-plus regional panoramic images that show in striking detail the interplay of geography, man, and science. Covering every major city — from Paris to Milan, New York City to San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro to Rome — this is a photographic reference of the Earth at night, as seen from space.

Five astronauts — Clay Anderson, Sandra Mangus, Don Pettit, Mario Runco Jr., and Doug Wheelock — eloquently share their own perspectives on Earth at night, infusing this beautiful and informative book with eyewitness testimony. As Wheelock describes, “Earth presents itself as this raging explosion of light in a black, empty sea.”

At night our cities glow in patterns of light that speak volumes about how we inhabit this planet. The human story, including political conflicts and cultural proclivities, is highlighted from this perspective:

  • Powerful images of the Korean Peninsula underscore in a glance the literal and metaphorical differences between democracy and a totalitarian state.
  • Lights delineate the seemingly harmonious line of Gaza, Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan perched on a narrow strip of land along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean.
  • Water as the lifeblood of civilization is clearly seen worldwide as the lights of major cities line sheltered harbors and navigable rivers.

Keeney’s picks for the “Seven Wonders of the Nighttime World” show truly awe-inducing panoramic images of population centers around the globe in all their glittering glory. His playful selection on “The Unintentional Artwork of Man” offers a counterpoint to the zodiac creatures of the ancient astronomers.

The book itself is a testament to new technology, very human sharing without face-to-face contact: inspired by an astronaut’s tweet, filled with digital images, refined via Twitter consultation, facilitated by interviews on FreeConferenceCall.com, and transmitted by YouSendIt.

L. Douglas Keeney is the author of eleven books on military or American history. He is a cofounder of The Military Channel, and has visited many of the cities in this book. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

Source: Globe Pequot Press