Sonntag, 17. Januar 2016 - 20:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Start von Falcon 9 Rakete mit JASON-3 Satelliten



The Jason-3 oceanography satellite is now scheduled to launch Sunday 17 January at 10:42 EPSDT (19:42 CET) from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), California, and the launch campaign has resumed on site. Jason-3 is set to extend the time-series of highly precise ocean altimetry measurements supporting climate monitoring, operational oceanography and seasonal forecasting.


The launch of Jason-3 had been postponed following the mishap of the Falcon-9 launcher on 28 June when the programme partners —CNES, NASA, Eumetsat and NOAA— decided to interrupt the launch campaign to leave time for all necessary investigations to return the launcher to flight. Thursday 10 December, after the Falcon-9 launcher successfully came through a series of NASA launch readiness reviews, the launch of Jason-3 was rescheduled for 17 January 2016. All CNES, Thales, NASA and SpaceX teams are now working together to meet this launch date.
Jason-3 is the result of a collaboration between CNES, NASA, Eumetsat and NOAA, pursuing the mission of its predecessor satellites that have been surveying the oceans for more than 20 years. Jason-3 is built around a Proteus bus accommodating a suite of altimetry instruments that will continue the highly precise measurements of sea-surface height begun with TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1 and Jason-2.
The Jason-3 mission will assure long-term data continuity as a key element in the fleet of altimetry satellites set to operate in the years ahead. It features a number of improvements over its predecessor Jason-2, both in systems and data processing. Today, more than 10,000 people in over 120 countries are using data from altimetry missions for applications that are crucial to meet the challenges of a changing climate, allowing them to model the oceans, weather and climate, and supporting operational oceanography.
For CNES, 2015 has been a year focused on climate, culminating in the COP21 climate conference that came to a close this weekend in Paris. The rise in mean sea level measured by altimetry satellites is one of the clearest indicators of global warming. Jason-3 is an especially important mission in this respect and CNES has once again brought all of its expertise to bear in developing it.
Quelle: CNES
Update: 26.12.2015
Launch preparations continue at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for the launch of Jason-3 on January 17, 2016. At Space Launch Complex 4E, the next milestone is mating the first stage booster to the second stage which is currently planned to occur on Dec. 28.  The spacecraft, seen here after arriving at Vandenberg earlier this year, will be encapsulated into the payload fairing on Jan. 9, then mated to the rocket’s second stage on Jan. 12.
Media Invited to View Launch of New Ocean Monitoring SatelliteThe launch of Jason-3, an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to continue U.S.- European satellite measurements of the topography of the ocean surface, is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016.
Media are invited to cover prelaunch activities and launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Advance accreditation is required by contacting Tech. Sgt. Tyrona Lawson of the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs Office at 805-606-3595 or, or by fax at 805-606-4571.
Information required for U.S. media is full legal name, date of birth and media affiliation. A legal photo identification will be required upon arrival at Vandenberg. The deadline for U.S. media to apply for accreditation is Jan. 11. The deadline for international media to apply for accreditation has passed.            
Liftoff aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East is targeted for 10:42 a.m. PST (1:42 p.m. EST), at the opening of a 30-second launch window. If needed, a backup launch opportunity is available at 10:41 a.m. PST (1:31 p.m. EST) on Jan. 18.
A Jason-3 prelaunch news conference and science briefing will be held at Vandenberg at 4 p.m. EST on Jan. 15. The briefing will be carried live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency’s website. Media also can ask questions via phone by calling 321-867-2468, or on Twitter by using the hashtag #askNASA. 
On Jan. 16, media will have an opportunity to photograph the Falcon 9 and Jason-3 spacecraft at the launch pad. Those wishing to attend the launch pad photo opportunity should confirm their participation with Capt. Selena Rodts of the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs office at 805-606-3595 no later than Jan. 11.
On Jan. 17, NASA TV launch commentary coverage of the countdown will begin at 11 a.m. EST. Coverage will feature updates of countdown milestones and streaming video clips that highlight launch preparations and liftoff. Spacecraft separation from the rocket will occur 55 minutes after launch.
Jason-3 will continue the ability to monitor and precisely measure global sea surface heights, monitor the intensification of tropical cyclones and support seasonal and coastal forecasts. Jason-3 data also will benefit fisheries management, marine industries and research into human impacts on the world’s oceans. The mission is planned to last at least three years, with a goal of five years.
Jason-3 is a four-agency international partnership consisting of NOAA, NASA, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, France’s space agency, and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. Thales Alenia of France built the spacecraft.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 4.01.2016
Quelle: NASA
Update: 8.01.2016

SpaceX Plans Drone Ship Rocket Landing for Jan. 17 Launch

SpaceX hopes to make history again on Jan. 17 by landing a Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship at sea after launching a payload into orbit. SpaceX confirmed to NBC News that it would be making the attempt; the news was earlier reported by space journalist Charles Lurio on Twitter.
This launch will take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying NASA's Jason-3 satellite. Jason-3 carries instruments to monitor the ocean's surface, collecting information about circulation patterns and perhaps rising sea levels.
The commercial spaceflight company succeeded Dec. 21 in making its first-stage rocket, which is usually discarded after reaching space, return safely to Earth and land upright at a predetermined location nears its launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
A previous attempt in January 2015 to land a Falcon 9 on a "drone ship" — an automated seagoing landing platform — nearly succeeded, but a last-minute failure saw the rocket topple over and explode in spectacular fashion.
Having a mobile landing platform means more flexibility in when and how launches can proceed — it's not always convenient or possible for a rocket to return to a static site like a launch facility or other suitably flat, empty space. A mobile landing site could conceivably be placed where it is safest or most fuel-efficient for the rocket to come down.
This will not be the exact same rocket the company launched last month — though SpaceX founder Elon Musk is confident that would be just fine.
"I think we'll probably keep this one on the ground because it's quite unique, it's the first one we brought back," Musk said in a conference call following December's successful landing. The company will "just confirm through tests that it could fly again and then put it somewhere to display."
Update; 12.01.2016
SpaceX Falcon 9 Static Fire Complete for Jason-3
At Space Launch Complex 4 on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the static test fire of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the upcoming Jason-3 launch was completed Monday at 5:35 p.m. PST, 8:35 p.m. EST. The first stage engines fired for the planned full duration of 7 seconds.  The initial review of the data appears to show a satisfactory test, but will be followed by a more thorough data review on Tuesday.  With this test complete, the next step in prelaunch preparations is to mate the rocket and the Jason-3 spacecraft, which is encapsulated in the payload fairing. This also is planned to occur as soon as Tuesday. 
Quelle: NASA
Update: 14.01.2016

Photos: Jason 3 oceanography satellite encapsulated

The Jason 3 oceanography satellite, a joint project between U.S. and European weather agencies, is closed up inside the nose cone of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket awaiting launch from California’s Central Coast on Sunday.
Technicians from SpaceX and Thales Alenia Space, the French manufacturer of the Jason 3 spacecraft, oversaw the encapsulation procedure Jan. 8 inside SpaceX’s payload processing facility at Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
With a launch weight of approximately 1,124 pounds, or 510 kilograms, Jason 3 sits inside the Falcon 9’s clamshell-like fairing, which measures 17 feet, or 5.2 meters, in diameter. Ground crews planned to attach the payload shroud containing Jason 3 to the rocket Wednesday.
Jason 3 carries a radar altimeter instrument to detect the heights of ocean waves and monitor sea level rise, variables critical in forecasting tropical cyclone development, predicting large-scale climate patterns, and tracking the consequences of climate change.
Liftoff from Vandenberg is set for 10:42:18 a.m. PST (1:42:18 p.m. EST; 1842:18 GMT) Sunday.
Quelle: SN, NASA
Update: 16.01.2016

Jason-3 Ocean-Monitoring Satellite: Launch Timeline

The Jason-3 international oceanography satellite mission is scheduled for launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California on Sunday, Jan. 17. Liftoff aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex 4 East is targeted for 10:42:18 a.m. PST (1:42:18 p.m. EST) at the opening of a 30-second launch window. If needed, a backup launch opportunity is available on Monday, Jan. 18 at 10:31:04 a.m. PST (1:31:04 p.m. EST).
Jason-3 will add to a 23-year satellite record of global sea surface heights, a measurement with scientific, commercial and practical applications related to climate change, currents and weather. Jason-3 data will be used for monitoring global sea level rise, researching human impacts on oceans, aiding prediction of hurricane intensity, and operational marine navigation. The mission is planned to last at least three years, with a goal of five years. It is a four-agency international partnership of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, the French Space Agency CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales), and EUMETSAT (the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites).
Launch Timeline
About 154 seconds (just under two minutes) after the Falcon-9 rocket lifts off, the main engine will cut off. About three seconds after that, the rocket's first stage will separate. Second-stage ignition will follow in about eight seconds. Half a minute into the second-stage burn, the payload fairing, or launch vehicle nose cone, will be jettisoned -- a bit over three minutes after launch. The first cutoff of the second-stage engine will take place nine minutes after liftoff.
The Jason-3 spacecraft and second stage will then coast in an intermediate orbit for about another 46 minutes. The second-stage engine will fire a second time about 55 minutes after launch to place Jason-3 in the desired orbit. Separation of the rocket and spacecraft will occur about half a minute later, or almost 56 minutes after liftoff. A little more than two minutes later, Jason-3 will begin to deploy its twin solar arrays to prepare for operation.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 17.01.2016
Quelle: NASA
Update: 19.15 MEZ - LIVE Frams von Falcon-9 Start:

...19.35 MEZ
...19.46 MEZ

...20.00 MEZ
...20.45 MEZ
Quelle: SpaceX

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Sonntag, 17. Januar 2016 - 19:00 Uhr

Astronomie - Astronomen suchen den Grund für mächtigste Supernova, die je gesehen wurde


What is 10 miles across, but powers an explosion brighter than the Milky Way?
Astronomers studying what may be the most powerful supernova ever seen
An artist's impression of the record-breakingly powerful, superluminous supernova ASASSN-15lh as it would appear from an exoplanet located about 10,000 light years away in the host galaxy of the supernova. (Credit: Beijing Planetarium / Jin Ma)
COLUMBUS, Ohio—Right now, astronomers are viewing a ball of hot gas billions of light years away that is radiating the energy of hundreds of billions of suns. At its heart is an object a little larger than 10 miles across.
And astronomers are not entirely sure what it is.
If, as they suspect, the gas ball is the result of a supernova, then it’s the most powerful supernova ever seen.
In this week’s issue of the journal Science, they report that the object at the center could be a very rare type of star called a magnetar—but one so powerful that it pushes the energy limits allowed by physics.
An international team of professional and amateur astronomers spotted the possible supernova, now called ASASSN-15lh, when it first flared to life in June 2015.
Even in a discipline that regularly uses gigantic numbers to express size or distance, the case of this small but powerful mystery object in the center of the gas ball is so extreme that the team’s co-principal investigator, Krzysztof Stanek of The Ohio State University, turned to the movie This is Spinal Tap to find a way to describe it.
“If it really is a magnetar, it’s as if nature took everything we know about magnetars and turned it up to 11,” Stanek said. (For those not familiar with the comedy, the statement basically translates to “11 on a scale of 1 to 10.”)
The gas ball surrounding the object can’t be seen with the naked eye, because it’s 3.8 billion light years away. But it was spotted by the All Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN, pronounced “assassin”) collaboration. Led by Ohio State, the project uses a cadre of small telescopes around the world to detect bright objects in our local universe.
Though ASAS-SN has discovered some 250 supernovae since the collaboration began in 2014, the explosion that powered ASASSN-15lh stands out for its sheer magnitude. It is 200 times more powerful than the average supernova, 570 billion times brighter than our sun, and 20 times brighter than all the stars in our Milky Way Galaxy combined.
“We have to ask, how is that even possible?” said Stanek, professor of astronomy at Ohio State. “It takes a lot of energy to shine that bright, and that energy has to come from somewhere.”
“The honest answer is at this point that we do not know what could be the power source for ASASSN-15lh,” said Subo Dong, lead author of the Science paper and a Youth Qianren Research Professor of astronomy at the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University.
He added that the discovery “may lead to new thinking and new observations of the whole class of superluminous supernova.”
Todd Thompson, professor of astronomy at Ohio State, offered one possible explanation. The supernova could have spawned an extremely rare type of star called a millisecond magnetar, a rapidly spinning and very dense star with a very strong magnetic field.
To shine so bright, this particular magnetar would also have to spin at least 1,000 times a second, and convert all that rotational energy to light with nearly 100 percent efficiency, Thompson explained. It would be the most extreme example of a magnetar that scientists believe to be physically possible.
“Given those constraints,” he said, “will we ever see anything more luminous than this? If it truly is a magnetar, then the answer is basically no.”
The Hubble Space Telescope will help settle the question later this year, in part because it will allow astronomers to see the host galaxy surrounding the object. If the team finds that the object lies in the very center of a large galaxy, then perhaps it’s not a magnetar at all, and the gas around it is not evidence of a supernova, but instead some unusual nuclear activity around a supermassive black hole.
If so, then its bright light could herald a completely new kind of event, said study co-author Christopher Kochanek, professor of astronomy at Ohio State and the Ohio Eminent Scholar in Observational Cosmology. It would be something never before seen in the center of a galaxy.
Ohio State co-authors on the study include John Beacom,professor of physics and astronomy and director of the university’s Center for Cosmology and Astro-Particle Physics (CCAPP); graduate students Thomas Holoien, Jonathan Brown, A. Bianca Danilet and Gregory Simonian; and Ohio State alumni Ben Shappee, now at the Carnegie Observatories, and Jose Prieto, now at the Universidad Diego Portales and Millennium Institute of Astrophysics.
Other co-authors, including both professional and amateur astronomers, hail from Rutgers University, Las Campanas Observatory, Liverpool John Moores University, Coral Towers Observatory, Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania, Observatoire de Strasbourg, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Morehead State University, Variable Star Observers League in Japan, The Virtual Telescope Project, Mt. Vernon Observatory, Universidad Andres Bello, Warsaw University and Los Alamos National Laboratory.
This work is primarily funded by the National Science Foundation and CCAPP. Additional support came from the Mt. Cuba Astronomical Foundation and private donations from retired Homewood Corp. CEO George Skestos and the Robert Martin Ayers Sciences Fund. ASAS-SN telescopes are hosted by the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network.
Quelle: The Ohio State University
Update: 17.01.2016

Record-Shattering, Ultra-Luminous Hypernova Explosion Stuns Astronomers, Poses New Cosmic Mystery

A means to portray the differences between the properties of two objects in our everyday speech is the use of comparative adjectives, and their superlative counterparts have become a staple of astronomical nomenclature, with newly discovered cosmic objects often described as the “largest,” “brightest,” or “most energetic” ever seen. A new discovery of a gargantuan hypernova explosion at a distant galaxy is now set to give new meaning to these comparative expressions by setting new standards to how powerful and energetic these cataclysmic events can be and at the same time pose a new stellar mystery as to the nature and origins of some of the most violent astrophysical phenomena in the Universe.
Often described as being the most powerful cosmic explosions since the Big Bang itself, which set the Universe in motion more than 13.7 billion years ago, hypernovae, otherwise known as “super-luminous supernovae,” represent the extreme end of the scale of stellar evolution and death which is characterised by violently explosive events. At the lower end of this scale are novae, which are caused by the cataclysmic nuclear explosions that occur at the surfaces of dead stellar remnants known as white dwarfs, while the latter accrete material from neighboring companion stars within stellar binary systems. The more well-known supernovae occupy the next step in the ladder and signify the violent death of stars more massive than the Sun. Best known for their brightness, supernova explosions can briefly outshine an entire galaxy at their peak and can be seen across cosmological distances out to the edge of the observable Universe. Yet, at the upper end of explosive stellar prowess, hypernovae can be seen as “supernovae on overdrive.” With energies that can be hundreds or even thousands of times greater than that of a typical supernova explosion, hypervovae are true monsters of the stellar kind—whereas a supernova simply expels all of the outer layers of a star at least eight times more massive than the Sun into space, leaving its exposed hot and dense core behind, hypernovae explosions occur in stars with a mass at least 20 times that of the Sun, while tearing apart the remnant core of the star itself as well. And contrary to the much more studied supernovae whose origins and physical processes are well-understood, the causes behind the much more rare hypernovae explosions remain more or less a mystery to this date.
Pseudo-color images showing the host galaxy before the explosion of ASASSN-15lh taken by the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) [Left], and the supernova by the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT) 1-meter telescope network [Right]. (Image Credit: The Dark Energy Survey, B. Shappee and the ASAS-SN team)
Adding to this intriguing astrophysical enigma, an international team of astronomers reported earlier this week the discovery of such a colossal hypernova, whose energy output stretches what is physically possible from these violent phenomena to the limit and holds the distinction for the most powerful one of its kind to ever been observed. Named “ASASSN-15lh,” this new addition to the zoo of hyper-giant stellar monsters, which was reported at the journal Science, was first spotted on the night of 14 June 2015 by the All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae project, or ASAS-SN for short, which comprises a global network of eight 14-cm telescopes deployed in two pairs of four as part of the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network in the U.S. and Chile respectively. Having seen first light in 2013, the Ohio State University-based ASAS-SN project is devoted to the survey of the entire sky which it completes every two to three days, in the search for new supernovae and other transient, variable stellar objects. The modest, $1 million-worth project, which is operated by a team of both professional and amateur astronomers, has already discovered an impressive total of 278 supernovae on both hemispheres to date, as well as other variable and transient stellar events.
Soon after ASASSN-15lh was first spotted, the automated sky survey’s computer software triggered its pre-programmed detection alert to a team of astronomers led by Dr. Subo Dong, a professor at the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University in China. Appearing as just an inconspicuous dot of light in the sky, ASASSN-15lh didn’t grab the researchers attention at first. It wasn’t until a spectrum of the newly found object was obtained with the 2.5-meter du Pont telescope in Chile a few days later which indicated that ASASSN-15lh was a supernova and a record-setting one at that. These follow-up observations, coupled with additional ones with the 10-meter Southern African Large Telescope, or SALT, in South Africa as well as NASA’s Swift X-ray telescope, further baffled Dong’s team for they revealed that ASASSN-15lh’s spectrum didn’t match any of the more than 250 supernovae that had been previously detected by the ASAS-SN project. The only one that fit was a super-luminous supernova that had been independently discovered back in 2010. Nevertheless, ASASSN-15lh did seem to exhibit similar characteristics with a certain type of hypernovae called Type I, which lack any hydrogen or helium emission lines in their spectra.
To complicate things further, ASASSN-15lh was also found to lie inside a host galaxy even more massive and bright than the Milky Way. At face value that wouldn’t seem like an odd thing, save for the fact that all of the other super-luminous supernovae that have been discovered to date have been found inside very small and faint galaxies. In addition, the spectral observations with the 10-meter SALT telescope, helped to determine that ASASSN-15lh was located an impressive 3.8 billion light-years away. By observing its light curve in the weeks following its discovery, Dong’s team calculated that ASASSN-15lh had exploded with a jaw-dropping force that was approximately 200 times greater than that of a typical supernova and twice that of previously known hypernovae, making it the most powerful and luminous one ever to have been detected. To put these numbers in perspective, ASASSN-15lh’s energy output at its peak was 570 billion times that of the Sun and some 20 times the output of the entire Milky Way galaxy! “Upon seeing the spectral signatures from SALT and realizing that we had discovered the most powerful supernova yet, I was too excited to sleep the rest of the night,” comments Dong, who got word of the SALT observations during the wee hours on July 1.
The light curves of ASASSN-15lh and other supernovae for comparison. At maximum, ASASSN-15lh is about 200 times more powerful than a typical Type Ia supernova, and it is more than twice as luminous as the previous record-holding supernova, named iPTF13ajg. (ImageCredit: the ASAS-SN team)
Having been established as an absolute record-smasher in regards to stellar explosions, ASASSN-15lh seems to defy almost every known explanation as to the origin of its tremendous power source. One of the leading explanations among astronomers is that behind ASASSN-15lh’s extreme luminosity lies a rapidly-spinning magnetar. The latter are a distinct sub-class of neutron stars, which are the stellar left-overs of powerful supernova explosions. Even though they result from the same cataclysmic events as neutron stars, magnetars are instead surrounded by magnetic fields of such brute force, that is hundreds of trillions of times that of the Earth’s internal magnetic field. As the theory goes, the sheer force of a magnetar stellar core that would happen to rotate thousands of times every second would be enough to power a super-luminous supernova explosion, the likes of which have already been observed in the past. Yet, even that can’t quite explain the origin of ASASSN-15lh, for the latter’s observed energy output would require a magnetar that would be able to convert 100 percent of its rotational energy to visible light. “We have to ask, how is that even possible?” says Dr. Krzysztof Stanek, a professor of astronomy at Ohio State University and member of Dong’s team. “It takes a lot of energy to shine that bright, and that energy has to come from somewhere. If it really is a magnetar, it’s as if nature took everything we know about magnetars and turned it up to 11.”
So, for now astronomers are left with a nagging mystery at their hands. “ASASSN-15lh is the most powerful supernova discovered in human history,” says Dong. “The explosion’s mechanism and power source remain shrouded in mystery because all known theories meet serious challenges in explaining the immense amount of energy ASASSN-15lh has radiated.”
“The honest answer is at this point that we do not know what could be the power source for ASASSN-15lh,” adds Stanek.
To shine more light into the matter, Dong’s team has already been granted observing time on the Hubble Space Telescope later this year, which could help solve some parts of the mystery, like ASASSN-15lh exact whereabouts. Even though initial observations showed that the newly found hypernova seems to be located inside a massive galaxy, it may turn out that it is nested inside a neighboring dimmer one, which would be more consistent with the handful of other hypernovae cases that have been discovered in previous years. Furthermore, if it is determined that ASASSN-15lh lies at the center of its host galaxy, it might turn out that it is related to the antics of a supermassive black hole, the likes of which reside at the centers of most galaxies, than a magnetar.
“ASASSN-15lh may lead to new thinking and new observations of the whole class of superluminous supernova, and we look forward to plenty more of both in the years ahead,” says Dong.
Shinning brightly across the Cosmos, ASASSN-15lh represents just one more compelling target for the next generation of space-based observatories like the James Webb Space Telescope, which is rapidly coming together at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for its rendezvous with history in October 2018.
Quelle: AS

Tags: Astronomie die je gesehen wurde 


Sonntag, 17. Januar 2016 - 12:22 Uhr

Astronomie - Mögliches fehlende Glied in Schwarze Loch Entwicklung gefunden


Astronomers using the Nobeyama 45-m Radio Telescope have detected signs of an invisible black hole with a mass of 100 thousand times the mass of the Sun around the center of the Milky Way. The team assumes that this possible “intermediate mass” black hole is a key to understanding the birth of the supermassive black holes located in the centers of galaxies.
A team of astronomers led by Tomoharu Oka, a professor at Keio University in Japan, has found an enigmatic gas cloud, called CO-0.40-0.22, only 200 light years away from the center of the Milky Way. What makes CO-0.40-0.22 unusual is its surprisingly wide velocity dispersion: the cloud contains gas with a very wide range of speeds. The team found this mysterious feature with two radio telescopes, the Nobeyama 45-m Telescope in Japan and the ASTE Telescope in Chile, both operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.
Figure. (a) The center of the Milky Way seen in the 115 and 346 GHz emission lines of carbon monoxide (CO). The white regions show the condensation of dense, warm gas. (b) Close-up intensity map around CO-0.40-0.22 seen in the 355 GHz emission line of HCN molecules. The ellipses indicate shell structures in the gas near C0-0.40-0.22. (c) Velocity dispersion diagram taken along the dotted line shown above. The wide velocity dispersion of 100 km/s in CO-0.40-0.22 stands out. 
To investigate the detailed structure, the team observed CO-0.40-0.22 with the Nobeyama 45-m Telescope again to obtain 21 emission lines from 18 molecules. The results show that the cloud has an elliptical shape and consists of two components: a compact but low density component with a very wide velocity dispersion of 100 km/s, and a dense component extending 10 light years with a narrow velocity dispersion.
What makes this velocity dispersion so wide? There are no holes inside of the cloud. Also, X-ray and infrared observations did not find any compact objects. These features indicate that the velocity dispersion is not caused by a local energy input, such as supernova explosions.
The team performed a simple simulation of gas clouds flung by a strong gravity source. In the simulation, the gas clouds are first attracted by the source and their speeds increase as they approach it, reaching maximum at the closest point to the object. After that the clouds continue past the object and their speeds decrease. The team found that a model using a gravity source with 100 thousand times the mass of the Sun inside an area with a radius of 0.3 light years provided the best fit to the observed data. “Considering the fact that no compact objects are seen in X-ray or infrared observations,” Oka, the lead author of the paper that appeared in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, explains “as far as we know, the best candidate for the compact massive object is a black hole.”
If that is the case, this is the first detection of an intermediate mass black hole. Astronomers already know about two sizes of black holes: stellar-mass black holes, formed after the gigantic explosions of very massive stars; and supermassive black holes (SMBH) often found at the centers of galaxies. The mass of SMBH ranges from several million to billions of times the mass of the Sun. A number of SMBHs have been found, but no one knows how the SMBHs are formed. One idea is that they are formed from mergers of many intermediate mass black holes. But this raises a problem because so far no firm observational evidence for intermediate mass black holes has been found. If the cloud CO-0.40-0.22, located only 200 light years away from Sgr A* (the 400 million solar mass SMBH at the center of the Milky Way), contains an intermediate mass black hole, it might support the intermediate mass black hole merger scenario of SMBH evolution.
(Top) CO-0.40-0.22 seen in the 87 GHz emission line of SiO molecules. (Bottom) Position-velocity diagram of CO-0.04-0.22 along the magenta line in the top panel.
(Top) Simulation results for two moving clouds affected by a strong compact gravity source. The diagram shows changes in the positions and shapes of the clouds over a period of 900 thousand years (starting from t=0) at intervals of 100 thousand years. The axes are in parsecs (1 parsec = 3.26 light years). (Bottom) Comparison of observational results (in gray) and the simulation (red, magenta, and orange) in terms of the shape and velocity structure. The shapes and velocities of the clouds at 700 thousand years in the simulation match the observational results well.
These results open a new way to search for black holes with radio telescopes. Recent observations have revealed that there are a number of wide-velocity-dispersion compact clouds similar to CO-0.40-0.22. The team proposes that some of those clouds might contain black holes. A study suggested that there are 100 million black holes in the Milky Way Galaxy, but X-ray observations have only found dozens so far. Most of the black holes may be “dark” and very difficult to see directly at any wavelength. “Investigations of gas motion with radio telescopes may provide a complementary way to search for dark black holes” said Oka. “The on-going wide area survey observations of the Milky Way with the Nobeyama 45-m Telescope and high-resolution observations of nearby galaxies using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have the potential to increase the number of black hole candidates dramatically.”
Artist’s impression of the clouds scattered by an intermediate mass black hole. 
The observation results were published as Oka et al. “Signature of an Intermediate-Mass Black Hole in the Central Molecular Zone of Our Galaxy” in the Astrophysical Journal Letters issued on January 1, 2016. The research team members are Tomoharu Oka, Reiko Mizuno, Kodai Miura, Shunya Takekawa, all at Keio University.
This research is supported by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) No. 24540236.
Inter-University Research Institute Corporation
National Institutes of Natural Sciences
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Tags: Astronomie 


Samstag, 16. Januar 2016 - 22:15 Uhr

Astronomie - Erfolgreiche Inbetriebnahme von GRAVITY am VLTI


GRAVITY entdeckt, dass einer der Sterne im Orion-Trapez ein Doppelstern ist

Im Rahmen der ersten Beobachtungen mit dem neuen GRAVITY-Instrument nahm das Team die hellen, jungen Sterne unter die Lupe, die als Trapez bekannt sind und sich im Herzen der Sternentstehungsregion Orion befinden. Bereits in den ersten Daten der Inbetriebnahme machte GRAVITY eine kleine Entdeckung: Eine der Komponenten des Sternhaufens (Theta1 Orionis F)  stellte sich als Doppelstern heraus. Ebenfalls zu sehen ist der hellere Doppelstern Theta1 Orionis C (unten rechts).
Das Hintergrundbild stammt vom ISAAC-Instrument am Very Large Telescope der ESO. Die Nahansichten der beiden Sterne dagegen wurden mit GRAVITY aufgenommen. Sie zeigen deutlich feinere Details als es selbst mit dem NASA/ESA Hubble-Weltraumteleskop möglich gewesen wäre.
Erstes Licht für Instrument zur zukünftigen Beobachtung Schwarzer Löcher
Erfolgreiche Inbetriebnahme von GRAVITY am VLTI
Am Very Large Telescope der ESO in Chile wurde ein neues Instrument in Betrieb genommen, dessen Hauptaufgabe es sein wird, Schwarze Löcher zu untersuchen. Entworfen und gebaut wurde GRAVITY von einem großen Team aus europäischen Astronomen und Ingenieuren, zu dem auch Wissenschaftler aus Heidelberg, Köln und Garching gehören. Geleitet wird das Projekt vom Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik in Garching. GRAVITYs Leistungsfähigkeit sorgt durchweg für große Begeisterung im Team. Während der ersten Beobachtungen gelang es GRAVITY bereits, das Sternlicht von allen vier VLT-Hilfsteleskopen zu bündeln. Während der ersten Tests konnte das Instrument bereits mehrere Premieren feiern. GRAVITY ist das leistungsstärkste Instrument für das VLT-Interferometer, das bisher montiert wurde.
Um ein virtuelles Teleskop mit bis zu 200 Metern Durchmesser zu bilden, kombiniert das GRAVITY-Instrument über Interferometrie das Licht von mehreren Teleskopen. Diese Technik ermöglicht es Astronomen, viel feinere Details in astronomischen Objekten zu erkennen als es mit einem einzigen Teleskop möglich wäre.
Seit dem Sommer 2015 hat ein internationales Team aus Astronomen und Ingenieuren unter der Leitung von Frank Eisenhauer (MPE, Garching) das Instrument in speziell angepassten Tunneln unter dem Very Large Telescope der ESO am Paranal-Observatorium im Norden Chiles montiert [1]. Dies stellt die erste Phase der Inbetriebnahme von GRAVITY im Rahmen des Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) dar. Ein entscheidender Meilenstein wurde jetzt erreicht: Zum ersten Mal hat  das Instrument erfolgreich das Sternlicht von den vier VLT-Hilfsteleskopen vereint [2].
„Bereits bei den ersten Beobachtungen, und zum allerersten Mal in der Geschichte der optischen Interferometrie, konnte GRAVITY Aufnahmen mit mehreren Minuten Belichtungszeit machen, also mehr als hundert Mal länger als es vorher möglich war“, erläutert Frank Eisenhauer. „GRAVITY wird zukünftig die Beobachtung von deutlich lichtschwächeren Objekten erlauben, und verschiebt die Grenzen der Empfindlichkeit und Genauigkeit der hochauflösenden Astronomie weit über das hinaus, was derzeit möglich ist."
Im Rahmen der ersten Beobachtungen nahm das Team die hellen, jungen Sterne unter die Lupe, die als Trapez bekannt sind und sich im Herzen der Sternentstehungsregion Orion befinden. Bereits in den ersten Daten der Inbetriebnahme machte GRAVITY eine kleine Entdeckung: Eine der Komponenten des Sternhaufens stellte sich als Doppelstern heraus [3].
Der Schlüssel zu diesem Erfolg bestand darin, mit dem Licht eines Vergleichssterns das virtuelle Teleskop lange genug zu stabilisieren, so dass eine tiefe Aufnahme eines zweiten, deutlich lichtschwächeren Objekts möglich wird. Desweiteren gelang es den Astronomen auch, das Licht der vier Teleskope zeitgleich zu stabilisieren – ein Kunststück, das so bisher noch nie gelungen ist [3].
GRAVITY kann sowohl die Positionen astronomischer Objekte auf das Genauste vermessen als auch interferometrische Bildgebung und Spektroskopie durchführen [4]. Befänden sich Gebäude auf dem Mond, würde GRAVITY sie erkennen. Solch extrem hochauflösende Bildgebung besitzt viele Anwendungsmöglichkeiten, aber der Hauptfokus wird in der Zukunft in der Untersuchung der Umgebung Schwarzer Löcher liegen.
Insbesondere wird GRAVITY untersuchen, was in dem extrem starken Gravitationsfeld nahe des Ereignishorizonts des massereichen Schwarzen Lochs im Zentrum der Milchstraße passiert – was den Namen des Instruments erklärt. In dieser Region wird das physikalische Verhalten von Einsteins Allgemeiner Relativitätstheorie beherrscht. Außerdem soll es Details des Massenzuwachses und Jets erkennen – Prozesse, die beide in der Nähe neugeborener Sterne (junger stellare Objekte) und in Regionen um massereiche Schwarze Löcher in den Zentren anderer Galaxien auftreten. Überragen wird es alles je dagewesene auch bei der Untersuchung der Bewegungen von Doppelsternen, Exoplaneten und jungen stellaren Scheiben, sowie bei Aufnahmen von Sternoberflächen.
Bislang ist GRAVITY mit den vier 1,8-Meter-Hilfsteleskopen getestet worden. Die ersten Beobachtungen mit GRAVITY mit den vier 8-Meter-Hauptteleskopen des VLT sind im Verlauf des Jahres 2016 geplant.
Die GRAVITY-Arbeitsgemeinschaft steht unter der Führung des Max-Planck-Instituts für extraterrestrische Physik in Garching. Die anderen Partner-Institute sind:
LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Meudon, Frankreich
Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie in Heidelberg
I. Physikalisches Institut der Universität Köln
IPAG, Université Grenoble Alpes/CNRS, Frankreich
Centro Multidisciplinar de Astrofísica, CENTRA (SIM), Lissabon und Porto, Portugal
ESO Garching
[1] An den VLTI-Tunneln und Strahlvereinigungsräumen wurden kürzlich einschneidende Baumaßnahmen durchgeführt, um sowohl Platz für GRAVITY zu schaffen als auch die Anlage auf zukünftige Instrumente vorzubereiten.
[2] Eigentlich wäre es genauer, diesen Schritt als “erstes Interferenzmuster“ zu bezeichnen, da der Meilenstein darin bestand, das Licht der verschiedenen Teleskope erfolgreich zu vereinen, so dass die Lichtstrahlen interferieren und die sich daraus bildenden Interferenzmuster aufgezeichnet werden können.
[3] Bei dem neu entdeckten Doppelstern handelt es sich um Theta1 Orionis F, wobei der nahgelegene hellere Stern Theta1 Orionis C bei den Beobachtungen als Referenz genutzt wurde.
[4] Das Ziel von GRAVITIY ist es, die Position von Objekten im Bereich von zehn Mikrobogensekunden zu messen und Bilder mit einer Auflösung von vier Millibogensekunden aufzunehmen.
Quelle: ESO

Tags: Astronomie 


Samstag, 16. Januar 2016 - 19:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt-History - 1959: Mond Sonde Lunik-2 erste harte Mondlandung


Aus dem CENAP-Archiv:


Tags: Raumfahrt 


Samstag, 16. Januar 2016 - 18:30 Uhr

Astronomie - Galaxie W2246-0526 wird sich zerreißen


This artist's rendering shows a galaxy called W2246-0526, the most luminous galaxy known. New research suggests there is turbulent gas across its entirety, the first example of its kind. Image credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF; Dana Berry / SkyWorks; ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)


In a far-off galaxy, 12.4 billion light-years from Earth, a ravenous black hole is devouring galactic grub. Its feeding frenzy produces so much energy, it stirs up gas across its entire galaxy.
"It is like a pot of boiling water being heated up by a nuclear reactor in the center," said Tanio Diaz-Santos of the Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago, Chile, lead author of a new study about this galaxy.
This galaxy, called W2246-0526, is the most luminous galaxy known, according to research published in 2015, based on data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). That means that it has the highest power output of any galaxy in the universe, and would appear to shine the brightest if all galaxies were at the same distance from us.
The new study, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, reveals that this galaxy is also expelling tremendously turbulent gas -- a phenomenon never seen before in an object of this kind.
"This galaxy is tearing itself apart," said Roberto Assef, astronomer with the Universidad Diego Portales and leader of the observing team at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. "The momentum and energy of the particles of light deposited in the gas are so great that they are pushing the gas out in all directions."
Using ALMA, astronomers found large amounts of ionized carbon in a very turbulent state throughout the entire galaxy. The galaxy formed a little over 1 billion years after the big bang.
The growing supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy is the likely engine of the turbulence. As the gravitational pull of the black hole attracts surrounding gas and other matter, the material forms a structure around it called an accretion disk. The friction from this disk produces the intense brightness, making the galaxy shine like a combination of more than 300 trillion suns.
The black hole's event horizon is thought to be one million times smaller than the W2246-0526 galaxy, yet the energy emitted by the black hole's swallowing of material affects gas thousands of light-years away from it.
While turbulence has been detected in gas around supermassive black holes before - for example, around the centers of some nearby luminous galaxies that host active galactic nuclei - those winds are found to flow in specific directions. This is the first time that highly turbulent gas has been found across the entire galaxy.
"The 'boiling' gas is not in the accretion disk. The whole galaxy is being disturbed," said Peter Eisenhardt, project scientist for WISE, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
Researchers are unsure whether the gas is being pushed out strongly enough to leave the galaxy entirely, or if it will eventually fall back.
"A likely finale would be that the galaxy will blow out all of the gas and dust that is surrounding it, and we would see the accretion disk without its dust cover -- what we call a quasar," Assef said.
This galaxy is an example of a rare class of objects called Hot, Dust-Obscured Galaxies or Hot DOGs, which are powerful galaxies with supermassive black holes in their centers. Only 1 out of every 3,000 galaxies that WISE has observed is in this category.
The WISE mission was essential to finding this galaxy because the galaxy is covered in dust, obscuring its light from visible-wavelength telescopes. The dust shifts the light from the galaxy into the infrared range, to which WISE is attuned.
JPL managed and operated WISE for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The spacecraft was put into hibernation mode in 2011, after it scanned the entire sky twice, thereby completing its main objectives. In September 2013, WISE was reactivated, renamed NEOWISE and assigned a new mission to assist NASA's efforts to identify potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Astronomie 


Samstag, 16. Januar 2016 - 16:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt-History - 2006: NASA Stardust Sample Return Mission


The sample return capsule from NASA's Stardust mission successfully landed at the U.S. Air Force's Utah Test and Training Range in Dugway, Utah, at 2:10 a.m. Pacific (3:10 a.m. Mountain) on January 15, 2006. The capsule carried cometary and interstellar samples gathered by the Stardust spacecraft. Image credit: NASA


It was less than an hour into the new day of January 15, 2006 (EST), when tens of thousands of miles above our planet, two cable cutters and two retention bolts fired, releasing a spring which pushed a 101-pound (46-kilogram) sample return capsule away from its mother ship. Later, during its final plunge Earthward, the capsule would become the fastest human-made object to enter our atmosphere, achieving a velocity of about 28,600 mph (12.8 kilometers per second).
Then, at 5:10 a.m. EST (3:10 a.m. MST), for the first time in seven years, the sample return capsule finally stopped moving. By the time it landed, under parachute in the desert salt flats of the U.S. Air Force's Utah Test and Training Range in Dugway, the capsule had travelled 2.88 billion miles (4.5 billion kilometers) -- a journey that carried it around the sun three times and as far out as halfway to Jupiter. Inside the Stardust mission's graphite-epoxy covered capsule was the objective of its prime mission -- humanity's first samples collected from a celestial body in deep space (beyond the Earth-moon system).
"The Stardust sample return capsule carried inside cometary material it gathered from comet Wild-2 during a flyby in January of 2004," said Don Brownlee, Stardust principal investigator from the University of Washington, Seattle. "The spacecraft deployed a tennis racket-like, aerogel-lined collector, and we flew the spacecraft within 150 miles (241 kilometers), capturing particles from the coma as we went."
Two days after the return, the sample return capsule's science canister and its cargo of comet and interstellar dust particles was stowed inside a special aluminum carrying case and transported to a curatorial facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Eileen Stansbery -- now Chief Scientist at Johnson -- worked on Stardust as the deputy director of Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science at the time. "We were investigating big questions with the smallest samples -- how did our solar system form? What are we made of? This comet is representative of one of the most primitive bodies in the solar system, preserving the earliest record of material from the nebula during the 'planetesimal' forming stage in its evolution."
Brownlee notes, "The science team couldn't wait to get their hands on the samples. It had been 10 years of planning and then seven more years for the actual mission, so everyone was raring to go."
The Stardust mission's international team of scientists -- 200 strong -- helped re-write the book on comets and the evolution of the solar system. The Stardust mission samples indicated that some comets may have included materials ejected from the early sun and may have formed very differently than scientists had theorized.
"What we found was remarkable," said Brownlee. "Instead of rocky materials that formed around previous generations of stars, we found that most of the comet's rocky matter formed inside our solar system at extremely high temperature. In great contrast to its ice, our comet's rocky material had formed under white-hot conditions."
Comet ice formed in cold regions beyond the planet Neptune, but the rocks, probably the bulk of any comet's mass, formed much closer to the sun in regions hot enough to evaporate bricks. The materials that Stardust collected from comet Wild-2 contain pre-solar "stardust" grains, identified on the basis of their unusual isotopic composition, but these grains are very rare.
"Even though we confirmed comets are ancient bodies with an abundance of ice -- some which formed a few tens of degrees above absolute zero at the edge of the solar system -- we now know that comets are really a mix of materials made by conditions of both 'fire and ice,'" said Brownlee.
While Stardust was the first deep-space sample-return mission, it was by no means the last. The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA's) Hayabusa mission collected samples from an asteroid and returned them to Earth in 2010, and the Hayabusa 2 mission to return material from asteroid Ryugu is currently underway. Still to come is NASA's OSIRIS-Rex mission. Scheduled to launch in September of this year, OSIRIS-REx will travel to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and retrieve at least 2.1 ounces (60 grams) of surface material and return it to Earth for study.
"The ways to explore space are probably as big as space itself," said Brownlee. "But for my money, you can't beat sample return. Having samples there in front of you, available for laboratory analysis when you want -- that's tough to beat."
Another thing about Stardust that was tough to beat was the spacecraft itself. Launched on Feb. 7, 1999, Stardust flew past an asteroid known as Annefrank, flew past and collected particle samples from comet Wild-2, and returned those particles to Earth in a sample return capsule in January 2006. As planned, the Stardust spacecraft did not re-enter Earth's atmosphere along with its sample return capsule. Instead, it went into a solar orbit. NASA then re-tasked the still-healthy spacecraft to perform a flyby of comet Tempel 1 on Feb. 14, 2011.
Quelle: NASA
Cooles Re-entry Video von Stardust Sample Return Mission:
zu sehen hier:

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Samstag, 16. Januar 2016 - 15:45 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - Neuer Beton für Bauwerke auf dem Mars entwickelt


This New Concrete Was Developed for Structures on Mars
Crucially, no water is required to make the Martian material
While NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers are scouring the planet for any sign of life, the (somewhat controversial) Mars One organization is vowing to send the first people to Mars in 2025. To prep for human habitation, designers and architects have been tasked with creating the first Martian structures. Late last year NASA awarded $25,000 to the winning design for a 3-D–printed Mars habitat. But more recently, a team of researchers at Northwestern University has developed a type of concrete to be used as a building material on the Red Planet.
Mars Ice House is 3D printed from translucent ice which shields the crew from radiation.
Illustration: Courtesy of Clouds AO/SEArch
Formulated to survive Mars’s harsh conditions—subzero temperatures, low gravity, and thin atmosphere—the concrete is a mixture of Martian soil and molten sulfur that can easily be remelted and recycled. And most important, it can be made without water, which will be in limited supply in a human settlement. The breakthrough, although years ahead of any practical use, will make the future human explorers of Mars less dependent on shipments from Earth. It also creates an opportunity for a new wave of design: Engineers can turn to mud-brick houses and other earthen construction to inspire structural development on Mars.

Tags: Mars-Chroniken 


Samstag, 16. Januar 2016 - 11:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - China startet Long March-3B Rakete mit Belarusian Telecom Satelliten


Photo taken on Jan. 16, 2016 shows the Long March-3B carrier rocket is launched with a Belarusian telecom satellite in Xichang of southwest China's Sichuan Province. China sent a Belarusian telecom satellite into intended orbit from southwest China's Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Saturday.(Xinhua/Liu Chan)
XICHANG, Sichuan, Jan. 16 -- China sent a Belarusian telecom satellite into intended orbit from southwest China's Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 12:57 a.m. Beijing time on Saturday.
The satellite, carried by a Long March-3B rocket, is Belarus' first communication satellite, and this was also the first time that China had launched a satellite for a European country.
The Belintersat-1 was built by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. with a designed life of 15 years.
It will be put into a geostationary orbit 51.5 degrees east longitude to provide a wide range of telecommunication services, including satellite TV, radio broadcasting and broadband Internet access.
This was China's first orbital mission of 2016 and the 223rd launch of the Long march carrier rocket.
Quelle: Xinhua

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Samstag, 16. Januar 2016 - 10:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Cool! : Space Station Kamera zoomt auf dem Wasser-Skifahrer auf der Erde


Think of it as an "E.T.'s"-eye view. A powerful camera pointed at Earth from the International Space Station captured a remarkable detail from 250 miles away: an amazingly clear image of a waterskier speeding through the waves.
Vancouver-based UrtheCast, which is the first high-definition video streaming platform of Earth to be located on the International Space Station, released a GIF of a waterskier darting around behind a speedboat taken from space.
After looking closely at a video taken by the High-Resolution Camera (HRC) called Iris, the UrtheCast team noticed the waterskier within a larger image of the famous Acropolis of Lindos in Greece. While the actual person isn't visible, the white streak of water splashing up behind him or her breaks up the stillness of the image.
The waterskier was spotted speeding along off the coast of Lindos, which is on the island of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea.
Video hier:
Quelle: CBS

Tags: Raumfahrt 


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