Observatory News (Various)

Discussions ranging from space technology, near-earth and solar system missions, to efforts to understand the large-scale structure of the cosmos.

Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on April 2nd, 2015, 8:44 am 

Darby » April 1st, 2015, 11:57 am wrote:If that happens, I'll capture and post a new copy of the light curve chart.


And here's the rebound charted ...

teapot.jpg
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on April 2nd, 2015, 8:41 pm 

One of the data points today showed a brief spike to mag 3.79 ... if this continues to trend up deep into the three range, look for this nova to start making front page news.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on April 5th, 2015, 12:06 am 

Looks to be levelling off at around 4.4ish
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on April 6th, 2015, 8:54 am 

Ok, although I'm not an astrophysicist, I'm going to take an amateur speculative stab at the possible reason for the brightness rebound seen in the teapot nova: incomplete fusion of accreted gases that had accumulated on the surface of the collapsed remnant (white dwarf ?). In other words, enough fusable gas had built up on the surface (since the original nova was detected back in the 1800's) so that the residual gravity and temp of the remnant were able to re-ignite the H-He fusion cycle, resulting in a re-birth explosion that led to the first peak. The force of that explosion partially dissipated the gas that was trying to fuse (causing it to partially dim for several days), and as it slowly fell back into the remnant, the rate of fusion increased for several days more (i.e., the rebound). I'm guessing it will slowly stabilize over the next few days/weeks/months, and then gradually decrease in brightness for the remaining duration of it's re-fusion stage.

The remnant is probably unlikely to have sufficient mass and fuel to fuse helium & trans-helium elements, so once the remaining hydrogen drops below a critical threshold, the gradual decrease should suddenly increase dramatically, and the the remnant will essentially wink back out again (i.e., rapidly decrease in magnitude to the original native brightness of the white dwarf remnant). The process could repeat again (a few decades or centuries time) when it eventually builds up enough stray hydrogen to briefly re-ignite itself again.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on April 7th, 2015, 2:42 am 

NASA announced their selections for the 2015 Carl Sagan Fellows (exoplanet research) ...

JPL Article

Biographies of recipients

NASA announced their selections for the 2015 Einstein Fellows (astrophysics research) ...

Chandra XRO Article

Biographies of recipients

Best of luck to this year's recipients on all their research endeavors.

Of particular interest to this thread (SMBHs and SMBHs) will be the work of James Steiner and Nicholas Stone. I look forward to seeing their forthcoming publications.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on April 7th, 2015, 10:48 am 

Ok, let's file this under Solar Observatory news ...

It turns out that the 11 year cycle in Solar activity that we already know about is actually less than the effect of a newly discovered 11 month seasonal phenomena that's analagous to the Jet Stream here on Earth, and is responsible for the majority of CMEs that occur.

Article

A very interesting and insightful article.

Image
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on April 7th, 2015, 11:06 am 

Wow ... steep drop off in brightness from Teapot Nova so far today (almost a full point). If it's matched by another full point tomorrow, it could be a sign of the 'fusion flameout' I alluded to earlier.

I'll post a light chart update in the next day or two, as readings warrant.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on April 7th, 2015, 6:26 pm 

Another possible explanation for the variable brightness of the Teapot nova is an irregular cloud of debris in tight orbit that is spiraling back in.

I'm sure there must be a flurry of papers underway ... I look forward to seeing them appear.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on April 7th, 2015, 7:52 pm 

BTW, for anyone who's interested, here's a link to a site that provides free realtime satellite tracking ...

http://www.n2yo.com/

The ISS's current position and track is displayed by default, but you can change it to any desired satellite. If you register and create a login, you can even setup a tracking list for multiple satellites.

BTW, the system appears to be keyed off of the NORAD ID system ... as a byproduct of noticing that, I was able to backpedal through the ID numbers, and as it turns out the oldest satellite still in orbit is NORAD ID #5, which is Vanguard 1 which has been up there since 17-Mar-1958.

Pretty cool.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on April 8th, 2015, 8:44 am 

Ok, magnitude on the teapot nova has dropped into the 6's, and color spectra is shifting towards red, so that looks like the beginnings of fusion flameout to me.

teapotnova.jpg


EDIT: A new article (8-Apr-2015) over at Sky & Telescope seems to agree.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on April 8th, 2015, 4:23 pm 

New paper (6-Apr-2015) publishes data from Chandra XRO & Hubble on 12 {offset}Dual Quasar Galaxies (read: merging galaxies wherein one or both SMBHs are actively feeding).

You can bet the people looking for gravitational wave theory confirmation are gonna be looking closely at these.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on April 12th, 2015, 12:48 am 

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has discovered vast quantities of methyl cyanide orbiting MWC 480. That's important because the carbon-nitrogen bonds contained in the cyanide are an important precursor to the formation of amino acids, and with clear evidence that cyanide compounds can form readily in deep space under the right conditions, that's a potentially large increase to one of the constants in the Drake Equation (another constant of which has already been recently increased due to the higher than expected prevalence of planets around stars).

http://www.space.com/29049-life-ingredi ... lated_test
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Braininvat on April 12th, 2015, 10:16 am 

Upping the Drake equation again...means we may end up reframing the Fermi question, from 'where are they' to "why won't they talk to us?'

Of course, there may turn out to be limiting factors on life chemistry we haven't figured out, in many stellar systems, such that rudimentary life forms easily but then keeps getting wiped by catastrophic events. I read "Rare Earth" decades ago...wonder how some of
their grim scenarios hold up today, in light of more recent observation.

(Correction: "Rare Earth" was published in 2000, so what I read "decades ago" was an earlier paper by Brownlee, iirc.)
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on April 16th, 2015, 12:35 am 

Teapot nova re-brightened again !

http://www.aavso.org/lcg/plot?auid=000- ... an=&vmean=

Definitely a cyclical pattern. It's nowhere near its eddington limit, so it's unlikely to be a polar jet, so ATM I'm guessing an irregular debris cloud is circling the dwarf with an orbital period of 13 days. Again, just an amateur guess. Anyway, if my guess holds, this fluctuation could continue for several months, and should begin to smooth out and trail off.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on June 13th, 2015, 7:21 am 

After 100 days of coasting, the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) reached Lagrange 1. Instrument calibration/certification is underway, and I'd guestimate that if all goes well DSCOVR should come online in a few short weeks.

http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/DSCOVR/
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on July 30th, 2015, 6:38 pm 

The Keck Observatory & HST have both visually confirmed the detection of a Uranus sized planet orbiting at approximately 4 AU around OGLE-2005-BLG-169. Not a big deal at first glace, except for the fact that the latter is 8,800 ly away, and was made possible by a combination of gravitational microlensing, and sheer fortuitous luck of alignment (e.g., this is a direct visual detect, not one inferred by a wobble).

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 131116.htm
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on August 19th, 2015, 2:45 am 

Some more details regarding the previous post, direct from the Keck Observatory website ...

http://www.keckobservatory.org/recent/e ... crolensing
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on August 19th, 2015, 10:36 am 

New today from the ESO La Silla Observatory in Chile is an awesome slow zoom-in video of bright star cluster IC 4651 (3k ly) right here in the milky way. Enjoy.

http://www.space.com/30296-colorful-sta ... video.html
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on August 19th, 2015, 12:37 pm 

The zoom effect in that prior video is really impressive ... it goes on for almost twice as deep as I was expecting.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on August 20th, 2015, 7:33 pm 

New image of the galactic core released today from the ESA's XMM-Newton X-Ray Observatory:

Image

http://sci.esa.int/xmm-newton/56371-the ... ur-galaxy/
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on August 21st, 2015, 12:10 pm 

Cassini recently took it's last pictures of the Saturnian moon Dione.

Image

BBC Article

Cassini, having completed all of it's science objectives, and after having taken countless spectacular pictures of Saturn and all its moons, is currently scheduled for a suicidal dive into Saturn's atmosphere in 2017.

The Cassini image gallery is pretty amazing, for those with the time and interest to explore it.

For those with less time on their hands, check out the Cassini hall of fame image gallery.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on August 24th, 2015, 4:56 pm 

The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured an image of today's solar flare, which erupted at 3:33 a.m. EDT (0733 GMT).

Image

The flare was a mid-strength magnitude M5.7.

Meanwhile, over at the brand spanking new DSCOVR Observatory site, everyone seems embarassingly ASLEEP AT THE HELM. Wake up guys. Finish your calibrations and certifications and what not, sweep the empty beer bottles into a corner, and get online already. What the heck are we US taxpayers paying you for ? Answer: THIS.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on August 25th, 2015, 5:27 pm 

Darby » March 29th, 2015, 6:09 am wrote:BTW, here's the first annual operational report for the Gaia Starmapping Mission:

http://blogs.esa.int/rocketscience/2015 ... -for-gaia/

The 6-mo commissioning phase is an interesting read, given the incredible precision requirements (sub micro-arc second !), and incidents with ice formation, sun glare, and a failed thruster.


And a long overdue update ...

http://sci.esa.int/gaia/56387-gaia-s-fi ... ervations/

The blurb explaining how repeated measurements are being used to measure and offset both solar system parallax and galactic proper motion are very interesting ... and not only that, but they'll be able to use the resulting refinements in parallax measurements to refine their data on the distance of various bodies (e.g., closer stars have a greater parallax delta than more distant stars) and with it their absolute luminosity, which will be a huge boon.

This will be a truly impressive feat of data processing when it's all complete and released next summer.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on August 27th, 2015, 7:46 am 

Cool new image released yesturday of the Twin Jet Nebula from the Hubble Space Telescope:

Image

Good article:
http://sci.esa.int/hubble/56391-the-win ... -heic1518/
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Braininvat on August 27th, 2015, 10:30 am 

Wow.

This is a bipolar nebula, so I expect spectral study will show higher residues of lithium. (Sorry)
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Watson on August 31st, 2015, 1:31 pm 

I didn't see anything on the Giant Magellan Telescope so here is a Ted from last fall.

http://www.ted.com/talks/wendy_freedman ... 2015-08-31

http://www.gmto.org/

First light, expected in 2021, with 4 of 7 mirrors.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on September 4th, 2015, 5:20 am 

Braininvat » August 27th, 2015, 10:30 am wrote:Wow.

This is a bipolar nebula, so I expect spectral study will show higher residues of lithium. (Sorry)


Look on the bright side (both of them) ... if there's a magnetar at the core, it can do it's own electroshock therapy.
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on September 12th, 2015, 2:39 pm 

NatGeo posted some amazing photos recently. Two in particular grabbed my attention.

1) Here's an awesome shot of the Western USA at sunrise, as seen from the ISS.

Image

2) According to the caption, these appear to be flow lines of thawing salt water brine from the north facing slopes in Valles Marineris on Mars, during local spring time.

Image
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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on September 13th, 2015, 6:57 pm 

NASA recently released a very cool video from the SDO of a 5,000,000+ degree plasma tornado on the surface of the sun.

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Re: Observatory News (Various)

Postby Darby on September 21st, 2015, 2:31 pm 

Darby » April 8th, 2015, 8:44 am wrote:Ok, magnitude on the teapot nova has dropped into the 6's, and color spectra is shifting towards red, so that looks like the beginnings of fusion flameout to me.

The attachment teapotnova.jpg is no longer available


EDIT: A new article (8-Apr-2015) over at Sky & Telescope seems to agree.


Today's a slow day, so I went back and re-ran the light chart for the teapot nova, imaged it, and posted it here ...

teapotsept.jpg


To my untrained eye, it looks like a series of cyclical mini-novas as the debris from the big nova back in march periodically re-accreted then re-exploded under renewed pressure and temperature, and that each cycle got progressively weaker until the whole thing flamed out in june and slowly collapsed/accreted until it reached an even lower state, after which some weak energy output resumed and has since slowly taped off at around magnitude 9. It'll probably stay there for another century or so until enough additional accretion occurs to restart the whole chain of events. I havent searched out and read what the experts have been saying since last I posted to this thread, but that's my take on it.

I'm somewhat reminded of the annual floods of the Zambezi in Africa ... an annual cycle between lush swampy grassland and parched desert across an enormous area. Here, instead, we have a stellar remnant that every hundred years or slow blows up, flares a half dozen more times in succession, then goes back to sleep to start it all over again.
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