Hubble Helps Find Smallest Known Galaxy Containing a Supermassive Black Hole

Artist's View of M60-UCD1 Black Hole

Astronomers using data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground observation have found an unlikely object in an improbable place — a monster black hole lurking inside one of the tiniest galaxies ever known. The black hole is five times the mass of the one at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. It is inside one of the densest galaxies known to date — the M60-UCD1 dwarf galaxy that crams 140 million stars within a diameter of about 300 light-years, which is only 1/500th of our galaxy’s diameter.

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NASA Mars Spacecraft Ready for Orbit Insertion

This image shows an artist concept of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission. MAVEN is part of NASA's Mars Scout program, funded by NASA Headquarters and managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Launched in November 2013, the mission will explore the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind.
On Sept. 21, 2014, MAVEN will enter orbit around Mars, completing an interplanetary journey of 10 months and 442 million miles (711 million kilometers).
Scientists will use MAVEN data to determine the role that loss of volatiles from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time, giving insight into the history of Mars' atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability.

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is nearing its scheduled Sept. 21 insertion into Martian orbit after completing a 10-month interplanetary journey of 442 million miles. Flight Controllers at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado, will be responsible for the health and safety of the spacecraft throughout the process. The spacecraft’s mission timeline will place the spacecraft in orbit at approximately 9:50 p.m. EDT. “So far, so good with the performance of the spacecraft and payloads on the cruise to Mars,” said David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The team, the flight system, and all ground assets are ready for Mars orbit insertion.”

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NASA Investigating the Martian Atmosphere

This artist's concept shows the MAVEN spacecraft in orbit around the Red Planet, with a fanciful image of her home planet in the background.

The Martian surface bears ample evidence of flowing water in its youth, from crater lakes and riverbeds to minerals that only form in water. But today Mars is cold and dry, and scientists think that the loss of Mars’ water may have been caused by the loss of its early atmosphere. NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volaile EvolutioN mission, or MAVEN, will be the first spacecraft devoted to studying the Red Planet’s atmosphere, in an effort to understand how the Martian climate has changed over time.

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ATV-5 launch campaign (timelapse)

Cutaway view of the ATV-5

This time-lapse video shows the ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre loading process and its integration on the Ariane 5 launcher before its transfer and launch to the International Space Station from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on 29 July 2014.

 

 

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Sparks Fly as NASA Pushes the Limits of 3-D Printing Technology

Engineers just completed hot-fire testing with two 3-D printed rocket injectors. Certain features of the rocket components were designed to increase rocket engine performance. The injector mixed liquid oxygen and gaseous hydrogen together, which combusted at temperatures over 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit, producing more than 20,000 pounds of thrust.

Image Credit: NASA photo/David Olive

NASA has successfully tested the most complex rocket engine parts ever designed by the agency and printed with additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, on a test stand at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. NASA engineers pushed the limits of technology by designing a rocket engine injector –a highly complex part that sends propellant into the engine — with design features that took advantage of 3-D printing. To make the parts, the design was entered into the 3-D printer’s computer. The printer then built each part by layering metal powder and fusing it together with a laser, a process known as selective laser melting.

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Late Summer M5 Solar Flare (video)

NASA | Late Summer M5 Solar Flare

On Aug. 24, 2014, the sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 8:16 a.m. EDT. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the flare, which erupted on the left side of the sun. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

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NASA’s Spitzer Telescope Witnesses Asteroid Smashup

This artist’s concept shows the immediate aftermath of a large asteroid impact around NGC 2547-ID8, a 35-million-year-old sun-like star. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope witnessed a giant surge in dust around the star, likely the result of two asteroids colliding.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the formation of planets Scientists had been regularly tracking the star, called NGC 2547-ID8, when it surged with a huge amount of fresh dust between August 2012 and January 2013. “We think two big asteroids crashed into each other, creating a huge cloud of grains the size of very fine sand, which are now smashing themselves into smithereens and slowly leaking away from the star,” said lead author and graduate student Huan Meng of the University of Arizona, Tucson.

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Space Station Crew Discusses Life in Space with California Students (video)

Commander Steve Swanson and Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman

During a NASA in-flight educational event on August 27, International Space Station, Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson and Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman talked about their day-to-day activities with students at the Elliot Ranch Elementary School in Elk Grove, California. Swanson, who launched to the station in late March, will return to Earth on Sept. 10, U.S. time, while Wiseman, who arrived on the station in late May, will remain in orbit until November.

 

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NASA Completes Key Review of World’s Most Powerful Rocket in Support of Journey to Mars

Artist concept of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) 70-metric-ton configuration launching to space. SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built for deep space missions, including to an asteroid and ultimately to Mars.

Image Credit: NASA/MSFC

NASA officials Wednesday announced they have completed a rigorous review of the Space Launch System (SLS) — the heavy-lift, exploration class rocket under development to take humans beyond Earth orbit and to Mars — and approved the program’s progression from formulation to development, something no other exploration class vehicle has achieved since the agency built the space shuttle.

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NASA Telescopes Uncover Early Construction of Giant Galaxy

Image Credit: NASA, Z. Levay, G. Bacon (STScI)

Astronomers have for the first time caught a glimpse of the earliest stages of massive galaxy construction. The building site, dubbed “Sparky,” is a dense galactic core blazing with the light of millions of newborn stars that are forming at a ferocious rate. The discovery was made possible through combined observations from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, the W.M. Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and the European Space Agency’s Herschel space observatory, in which NASA plays an important role.

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