Author Topic: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates  (Read 63649 times)

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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #40 on: 01/10/2011 06:04 PM »
Webcast press conference on Planck

Scientists from ESA and several European astronomy institutes will present the first data and results from ESA's Planck mission. The Early Release Compact Source Catalogue contains thousands of sources detected by Planck, from radio to far-infrared wavelengths, ranging from dense, cold clouds embedded in nearby star-forming regions to distant, supermassive clusters of galaxies.

http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Planck/SEMBTA3SNIG_0.html

Offline bolun

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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #41 on: 01/11/2011 03:32 PM »
Planck’s new view of the cosmic theatre
 
11 January 2011

ESA PR-3 2011 The first scientific results from ESA’s Planck mission were released at a press briefing today in Paris. The findings focus on the coldest objects in the Universe, from within our Galaxy to the distant reaches of space.

http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMK4D3SNIG_index_0.html

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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #42 on: 01/11/2011 05:53 PM »
RELEASE: 11-011

PLANCK MISSION PEELS BACK LAYERS OF THE UNIVERSE

WASHINGTON -- The Planck mission released a new data catalogue Tuesday
from initial maps of the entire sky. The catalogue includes thousands
of never-before-seen dusty cocoons where stars are forming and some
of the most massive clusters of galaxies ever observed. Planck is a
European Space Agency (ESA) mission with significant contributions
from NASA.

"NASA is pleased to support this important mission, and we have
eagerly awaited Planck's first discoveries," said Jon Morse, NASA's
Astrophysics Division director at the agency's headquarters in
Washington. "We look forward to continued collaboration with ESA and
more outstanding science to come."

Planck launched in May 2009 on a mission to detect light from just a
few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang, an explosive event at
the dawn of the universe approximately 13.7 billion years ago. The
spacecraft's state-of-the-art detectors ultimately will survey the
whole sky at least four times, measuring the cosmic microwave
background, or radiation left over from the Big Bang. The data will
help scientists decipher clues about the evolution, fate and fabric
of our universe. While these cosmology results won't be ready for
another two years or so, early observations of specific objects in
our Milky Way galaxy, as well as more distant galaxies, are being
released.

"The data we're releasing now are from what lies between us and the
cosmic microwave background," said Charles Lawrence, the U.S. project
scientist for Planck at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
Calif. We ultimately will subtract these data out to get at our
cosmic microwave background signal. But by themselves, these early
observations offer up new information about objects in our universe
-- both close and far away, and everything in between," Lawrence
said.

Planck observes the sky at nine wavelengths of light, ranging from
infrared to radio waves. Its technology has greatly improved
sensitivity and resolution over its predecessor missions, NASA's
Cosmic Background Explorer and Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe.

The result is a windfall of data on known and never-before-seen cosmic
objects. Planck has catalogued approximately 10,000 star-forming
"cold cores," thousands of which are newly discovered. The cores are
dark and dusty nurseries where baby stars are just beginning to take
shape.

They also are some of the coldest places in the universe. Planck's new
catalogue includes some of the coldest cores ever seen, with
temperatures as low as seven degrees above absolute zero, or minus
447 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to see the coldest gas and dust in
the Milky Way, Planck's detectors were chilled to only 0.1 kelvins.

The new catalogue also contains some of the most massive clusters of
galaxies known, including a handful of newfound ones. The most
massive of these holds the equivalent of a million billion suns worth
of mass, making it one of the most massive galaxy clusters known.

Galaxies in our universe are bound together into these larger
clusters, forming a lumpy network across the cosmos. Scientists study
the clusters to learn more about the evolution of galaxies and dark
matter and dark energy -- the exotic substances that constitute the
majority of our universe.

"Because Planck is observing the whole sky, it is giving us a
comprehensive look at how all the smaller structures of the universe
are connected to the whole," said Jim Bartlett, a U.S. Planck team
member at JPL and the Astroparticule et Cosmologie-Universite Paris
Diderot in France.

Planck's new catalogue also includes unique data on the pools of hot
gas that permeate roughly 14,000 smaller clusters of galaxies; the
best data yet on the cosmic infrared background, which is made up of
light from stars evolving in the early universe; and new observations
of extremely energetic galaxies spewing radio jets. The catalogue
covers about one-and-one-half sky scans.

For more information about Planck, visit:



http://www.nasa.gov/planck




http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Planck/index.html 


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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #43 on: 02/16/2011 06:32 PM »
RELEASE: 11-045

HERSCHEL MEASURES DARK MATTER REQUIRED FOR STAR-FORMING GALAXIES

WASHINGTON -- The Herschel Space Observatory has revealed how much
dark matter it takes to form a new galaxy bursting with stars.
Herschel is a European Space Agency cornerstone mission supported
with important NASA contributions.

The findings are a key step in understanding how dark matter, an
invisible substance permeating our universe, contributed to the birth
of massive galaxies in the early universe.

"If you start with too little dark matter, then a developing galaxy
would peter out," said astronomer Asantha Cooray of the University of
California, Irvine. He is the principal investigator of new research
appearing in the journal Nature, online on Feb. 16 and in the Feb. 24
print edition. "If you have too much, then gas doesn't cool
efficiently to form one large galaxy, and you end up with lots of
smaller galaxies. But if you have the just the right amount of dark
matter, then a galaxy bursting with stars will pop out."

This right of amount of dark matter turns out to be a mass equivalent
to 300 billion of our suns.

Herschel launched into space in May 2009. The mission's large,
3.5-meter telescope detects longer-wavelength infrared light from a
host of objects, ranging from asteroids and planets in our own solar
system to faraway galaxies.

"This remarkable discovery shows that early galaxies go through
periods of star formation much more vigorous than in our present-day
Milky Way," said William Danchi, Herschel program scientist at NASA
Headquarters in Washington. "It showcases the importance of infrared
astronomy, enabling us to peer behind veils of interstellar dust to
see stars in their infancy."

Cooray and colleagues used the telescope to measure infrared light
from massive, star-forming galaxies located 10 to 11 billion
light-years away. Astronomers think these and other galaxies formed
inside clumps of dark matter, similar to chicks incubating in eggs.

Giant clumps of dark matter act like gravitational wells that collect
the gas and dust needed for making galaxies. When a mixture of gas
and dust falls into a well, it condenses and cools, allowing new
stars to form. Eventually enough stars form, and a galaxy is born.

Herschel was able to uncover more about how this galaxy-making process
works by mapping the infrared light from collections of very distant,
massive star-forming galaxies. This pattern of light, called the
cosmic infrared background, is like a web that spreads across the
sky. Because Herschel can survey large areas quickly with high
resolution, it was able to create the first detailed maps of the
cosmic infrared background.

"It turns out that it's much more effective to look at these patterns
rather than the individual galaxies," said Jamie Bock of NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Bock is the U.S. principal
investigator for Herschel's Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver
instrument used to make the maps. "This is like looking at a picture
in a magazine from a reading distance. You don't notice the
individual dots, but you see the big picture. Herschel gives us the
big picture of these distant galaxies, showing the influence of dark
matter."

The maps showed the galaxies are more clustered into groups than
previously believed. The amount of galaxy clustering depends on the
amount of dark matter. After a series of complicated numerical
simulations, the astronomers were able to determine exactly how much
dark matter is needed to form a single star-forming galaxy.

"This measurement is important, because we are homing in on the very
basic ingredients in galaxy formation," said Alexandre Amblard, also
of UC Irvine, first author of the Nature paper. "In this case, the
ingredient, dark matter, happens to be an exotic substance that we
still have much to learn about."

NASA's Herschel Project Office is based at JPL, which contributed
mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel's three science
instruments. The NASA Herschel Science Center, part of the Infrared
Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena, supports the U.S. astronomical community.

For more information about Herschel, visit:



http://www.nasa.gov/herschel




http://www.esa.int/herschel


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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #44 on: 02/16/2011 06:50 PM »
16 February 2011 -

ESA’s Herschel space observatory has discovered a population of dust-enshrouded galaxies that do not need as much dark matter as previously thought to collect gas and burst into star formation.

Full story:
http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMRQ3PT1KG_index_0.html

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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #46 on: 04/13/2011 03:49 PM »
13 April 2011

ESA’s Herschel space observatory has revealed that nearby interstellar clouds contain networks of tangled gaseous filaments. Intriguingly, each filament is approximately the same width, hinting that they may result from interstellar sonic booms throughout our Galaxy.

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMQVH7S9MG_index_0.html

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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #47 on: 05/10/2011 10:33 AM »
Raging storms sweep away galactic gas

9 May 2011

ESA’s Herschel infrared space observatory has detected raging winds of molecular gas streaming away from galaxies. Suspected for years, these outflows may have the power to strip galaxies of gas and halt star formation in its tracks.
 
The winds that Herschel has detected are extraordinary. The fastest is blowing at a speed of more than 1000 km/s, or about 10 000 times faster than the wind in a terrestrial hurricane.

This is the first time that such molecular gas outflows have been unequivocally observed in a sample of galaxies. This is an important discovery because stars form from molecular gas, and these outflows are robbing the galaxy of the raw material it needs to make new stars. If the outflows are powerful enough, they could even halt star formation altogether. 

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMQETISDNG_index_0.html

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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #48 on: 07/07/2011 07:17 PM »
Exploding stars can make good dust factories

7 July 2011

ESA’s Herschel space observatory has discovered that titanic stellar explosions can be excellent dust factories. In space, the dust mixes with gas to become the raw material for new stars, planets and, ultimately, life. This discovery may solve a mystery of the early Universe.

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMZT27TLPG_index_0.html

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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #49 on: 07/07/2011 07:18 PM »
 July 7, 2011

Herschel Helps Solve Mystery of Cosmic Dust Origins

The full version of this story with accompanying images is at:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-204&cid=release_2011-204

PASADENA, CALIF. -- New observations from the infrared Herschel Space Observatory reveal that an exploding star expelled the equivalent of between 160,000 and 230,000 Earth masses of fresh dust. This enormous quantity suggests that exploding stars, called supernovae, are the answer to the long-standing puzzle of what supplied our early universe with dust.

"This discovery illustrates the power of tackling a problem in astronomy with different wavelengths of light," said Paul Goldsmith, the NASA Herschel project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., who is not a part of the current study. "Herschel's eye for longer-wavelength infrared light has given us new tools for addressing a profound cosmic mystery."

Herschel is led by the European Space Agency with important contributions from NASA.

Cosmic dust is made of various elements, such as carbon, oxygen, iron and other atoms heavier than hydrogen and helium. It is the stuff of which planets and people are made, and it is essential for star formation. Stars like our sun churn out flecks of dust as they age, spawning new generations of stars and their orbiting planets.

Astronomers have for decades wondered how dust was made in our early universe. Back then, sun-like stars had not been around long enough to produce the enormous amounts of dust observed in distant, early galaxies. Supernovae, on the other hand, are the explosions of massive stars that do not live long.

The new Herschel observations are the best evidence yet that supernovae are, in fact, the dust-making machines of the early cosmos.

"The Earth on which we stand is made almost entirely of material created inside a star," explained the principal investigator of the survey project, Margaret Meixner of the Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md. "Now we have a direct measurement of how supernovae enrich space with the elements that condense into the dust that is needed for stars, planets and life."

The study, appearing in the July 8 issue of the journal Science, focused on the remains of the most recent supernova to be witnessed with the naked eye from Earth. Called SN 1987A, this remnant is the result of a stellar blast that occurred 170,000 light-years away and was seen on Earth in 1987. As the star blew up, it brightened in the night sky and then slowly faded over the following months. Because astronomers are able to witness the phases of this star's death over time, SN 1987A is one of the most extensively studied objects in the sky.

A new view from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope showing how supernova 1987A has recently brightened is at http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2011/21 .

Initially, astronomers weren't sure if the Herschel telescope could even see this supernova remnant. Herschel detects the longest infrared wavelengths, which means it can see very cold objects that emit very little heat, such as dust. But it so happened that SN 1987A was imaged during a Herschel survey of the object's host galaxy -- a small neighboring galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud (it's called large because it's bigger than its sister galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud).

After the scientists retrieved the images from space, they were surprised to see that SN 1987A was aglow with light. Careful calculations revealed that the glow was coming from enormous clouds of dust -- consisting of 10,000 times more material than previous estimates. The dust is minus 429 to minus 416 degrees Fahrenheit (about minus 221 to 213 Celsius) -- colder than Pluto, which is about minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius).

"Our Herschel discovery of dust in SN 1987A can make a significant understanding in the dust in the Large Magellanic Cloud," said Mikako Matsuura of University College London, England, the lead author of the Science paper. "In addition to the puzzle of how dust is made in the early universe, these results give us new clues to mysteries about how the Large Magellanic Cloud and even our own Milky Way became so dusty."

Previous studies had turned up some evidence that supernovae are capable of producing dust. For example, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, which detects shorter infrared wavelengths than Herschel, found 10,000 Earth-masses worth of fresh dust around the supernova remnant called Cassiopea A. Hershel can see even colder material, and thus the coldest reservoirs of dust. "The discovery of up to 230,000 Earths worth of dust around SN 1987A is the best evidence yet that these monstrous blasts are indeed mighty dust makers," said Eli Dwek, a co-author at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Other authors include M. Otsuka, J. Roman-Duval, K.S. Long and K.D. Gordon, Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.; B. Babler, University of Wisconsin, Madison; M.J. Barlow, University College London, United Kingdom; C. Engelbracht, K.A. Misselt and E. Montiel, University of Arizona, Tucson; K. Sandstrom, Max Planck Institut für Astronomie, Heidelberg, Germany; M. Lakićević and J.Th. van Loon, Keele University, United Kingdom; G. Sonneborn, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; G.C. Clayton, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge; P. Lundqvist, Stockholm, Sweden; T. Nozawa, University of Tokyo, Japan; S. Hony, K. Okumura and M. Sauvage, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, France.

Herschel is a European Space Agency cornerstone mission, with science instruments provided by consortia of European institutes and with important participation by NASA. NASA's Herschel Project Office is based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. JPL contributed mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel's three science instruments. The NASA Herschel Science Center, part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, supports the United States astronomical community. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

More information is online at http://www.nasa.gov/herschel and http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Herschel/index.html .


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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #50 on: 07/26/2011 01:56 PM »
Enceladus rains water onto Saturn
 
26 July 2011

ESA’s Herschel space observatory has shown that water expelled from the moon Enceladus forms a giant torus of water vapour around Saturn. The discovery solves a 14-year mystery by identifying the source of the water in Saturn’s upper atmosphere.
 
Herschel’s latest results mean that Enceladus is the only moon in the Solar System known to influence the chemical composition of its parent planet.

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMNGHFTFQG_index_0.html


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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #51 on: 08/01/2011 04:23 PM »
RELEASE: 11-252

HERSCHEL TELESCOPE DETECTS OXYGEN MOLECULES IN SPACE

WASHINGTON -- The Herschel Space Observatory's large telescope and
state-of-the-art infrared detectors have provided the first confirmed
finding of oxygen molecules in space. The molecules were discovered
in the Orion star-forming complex.

Individual atoms of oxygen are common in space, particularly around
massive stars. But, molecular oxygen, which makes up about 20 percent
of the air we breathe, has eluded astronomers until now.

"Oxygen gas was discovered in the 1770s, but it's taken us more than
230 years to finally say with certainty that this very simple
molecule exists in space," said Paul Goldsmith, NASA's Herschel
project scientist at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in
Pasadena, Calif.

Goldsmith is lead author of a recent paper describing the findings in
the Astrophysical Journal. Herschel is a European Space Agency-led
mission with important NASA contributions.

Astronomers searched for the elusive molecules in space for decades
using balloons, as well as ground- and space-based telescopes. The
Swedish Odin telescope spotted the molecule in 2007, but the sighting
could not be confirmed.

Goldsmith and his colleagues propose that oxygen is locked up in water
ice that coats tiny dust grains. They think the oxygen detected by
Herschel in the Orion nebula was formed after starlight warmed the
icy grains, releasing water, which was converted into oxygen
molecules.

"This explains where some of the oxygen might be hiding," said
Goldsmith. "But we didn't find large amounts of it, and still don't
understand what is so special about the spots where we find it. The
universe still holds many secrets."

The researchers plan to continue their hunt for oxygen molecules in
other star-forming regions.

"Oxygen is the third most common element in the universe and its
molecular form must be abundant in space," said Bill Danchi, Herschel
program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Herschel is
proving a powerful tool to probe this unsolved mystery. The
observatory gives astronomers an innovative tool to look at a whole
new set of wavelengths where the tell-tale signature of oxygen may be
hiding."

Herschel is a European Space Agency cornerstone mission, with science
instruments provided by consortia of European institutes. NASA's
Herschel Project Office is based at JPL, which contributed
mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel's three science
instruments.

The NASA Herschel Science Center, part of the Infrared Processing and
Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in
Pasadena, supports the U.S. astronomical community. Caltech manages
JPL for NASA.

For NASA'S Herschel website, visit:


http://www.nasa.gov/herschel


For ESA'S Herschel website, visit:


http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Herschel/index.html 

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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #52 on: 09/13/2011 09:43 AM »
Herschel paints new story of galaxy evolution

13 September 2011

ESA's Herschel infrared space observatory has discovered that galaxies do not need to collide with each other to drive vigorous star birth. The finding overturns this long-held assumption and paints a more stately picture of how galaxies evolve.

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEM2Y40UDSG_index_0.html

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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #53 on: 10/05/2011 08:03 PM »
RELEASE: 11-338

SPACE OBSERVATORY PROVIDES CLUES TO CREATION OF EARTH'S OCEANS

WASHINGTON -- Astronomers have found a new cosmic source for the same
kind of water that appeared on Earth billions of years ago and
created the oceans. The findings may help explain how Earth's surface
ended up covered in water.

New measurements from the Herschel Space Observatory show that comet
Hartley 2, which comes from the distant Kuiper Belt, contains water
with the same chemical signature as Earth's oceans. This remote
region of the solar system, some 30 to 50 times as far away as the
distance between Earth and the sun, is home to icy, rocky bodies
including Pluto, other dwarf planets and innumerable comets.

"Our results with Herschel suggest that comets could have played a
major role in bringing vast amounts of water to an early Earth," said
Dariusz Lis, senior research associate in physics at the California
Institute of Technology in Pasadena and co-author of a new paper in
the journal Nature, published online Oct. 5. "This finding
substantially expands the reservoir of Earth ocean-like water in the
solar system to now include icy bodies originating in the Kuiper
Belt."

Scientists theorize Earth started out hot and dry, so that water
critical for life must have been delivered millions of years later by
asteroid and comet impacts. Until now, none of the comets previously
studied contained water like Earth's. However, Herschel's
observations of Hartley 2, the first in-depth look at water in a
comet from the Kuiper Belt, paint a different picture.

Herschel peered into the comet's coma, or thin, gaseous atmosphere.
The coma develops as frozen materials inside a comet vaporize while
on approach to the sun. This glowing envelope surrounds the comet's
"icy dirtball"-like core and streams behind the object in a
characteristic tail.

Herschel detected the signature of vaporized water in this coma and,
to the surprise of the scientists, Hartley 2 possessed half as much
"heavy water" as other comets analyzed to date. In heavy water, one
of the two normal hydrogen atoms has been replaced by the heavy
hydrogen isotope known as deuterium. The ratio between heavy water
and light, or regular, water in Hartley 2 is the same as the water on
Earth's surface. The amount of heavy water in a comet is related to
the environment where the comet formed.

By tracking the path of Hartley 2 as it swoops into Earth's
neighborhood in the inner solar system every six and a half years,
astronomers know that it comes from the Kuiper Belt. The five comets
besides Hartley 2 whose heavy-water-to-regular-water ratios have been
obtained all come from an even more distant region in the solar
system called the Oort Cloud. This swarm of bodies, 10,000 times
farther afield than the Kuiper Belt, is the wellspring for most
documented comets.

Given the higher ratios of heavy water seen in Oort Cloud comets
compared to Earth's oceans, astronomers had concluded that the
contribution by comets to Earth's total water volume stood at
approximately 10 percent. Asteroids, which are found mostly in a band
between Mars and Jupiter but occasionally stray into Earth's
vicinity, looked like the major depositors. The new results, however,
point to Kuiper Belt comets having performed a previously
underappreciated service in bearing water to Earth.

How these objects ever came to possess the tell-tale oceanic water is
puzzling. Astronomers had expected Kuiper Belt comets to have even
more heavy water than Oort Cloud comets because the latter are
thought to have formed closer to the sun than those in the Kuiper
Belt. Therefore, Oort Cloud bodies should have had less frozen heavy
water locked in them prior to their ejection to the fringes as the
solar system evolved.

"Our study indicates that our understanding of the distribution of the
lightest elements and their isotopes, as well as the dynamics of the
early solar system, is incomplete," said co-author Geoffrey Blake,
professor of planetary science and chemistry at Caltech. "In the
early solar system, comets and asteroids must have been moving all
over the place, and it appears that some of them crash-landed on our
planet and made our oceans."

Herschel is a European Space Agency cornerstone mission, with science
instruments provided by consortia of European institutes. NASA's
Herschel Project Office is based at the agency's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which contributed mission-enabling
technology for two of Herschel's three science instruments. The NASA
Herschel Science Center, part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis
Center at Caltech in Pasadena, supports the U.S. astronomical
community.

For NASA's Herschel website, visit:


http://www.nasa.gov/herschel


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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #54 on: 10/05/2011 08:04 PM »
Did Earth's oceans come from comets?

5 October 2011

ESA's Herschel infrared space observatory has found water in a comet with almost exactly the same composition as Earth's oceans. The discovery revives the idea that our planet's seas could once have been giant icebergs floating through space.

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMER89U7TG_index_0.html

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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #55 on: 10/20/2011 07:11 PM »
Herschel detects abundant water in planet-forming disc
 
20 October 2011

ESA’s Herschel space observatory has found evidence of water vapour emanating from ice on dust grains in the disc around a young star, revealing a hidden ice reservoir the size of thousands of oceans.
 
TW Hydrae, a star between 5-10 million years old, and only 176 light-years away, is in the final stage of formation, and is surrounded by a disc of dust and gas that may condense to form a complete set of planets.

 http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMXSWFURTG_index_0.html

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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #56 on: 10/20/2011 08:19 PM »
RELEASE: 11-355

HERSCHEL SPACE OBSERVATORY FINDS OCEANS OF WATER IN PLANET-FORMING DISK AROUND NEARBY STAR

WASHINGTON -- Using data from the Herschel Space Observatory,
astronomers have detected for the first time cold water vapor
enveloping a dusty disk around a young star. The findings suggest
that this disk, which is poised to develop into a solar system,
contains great quantities of water, suggesting that water-covered
planets like Earth may be common in the universe. Herschel is a
European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions.

Scientists previously found warm water vapor in planet-forming disks
close to a central star. Evidence for vast quantities of water
extending out into the cooler, far reaches of disks where comets take
shape had not been seen until now. The more water available in disks
for icy comets to form, the greater the chances that large amounts
eventually will reach new planets through impacts.

"Our observations of this cold vapor indicate enough water exists in
the disk to fill thousands of Earth oceans," said astronomer Michiel
Hogerheijde of Leiden Observatory in The Netherlands. Hogerheijde is
the lead author of a paper describing these findings in the Oct. 21
issue of the journal Science.

The star with this water-logged disk, called TW Hydrae, is 10 million
years old and located about 175 light-years away from Earth, in the
constellation Hydra. The frigid watery haze detected by Hogerheijde
and his team is thought to originate from ice-coated grains of dust
near the disk's surface. Ultraviolet light from the star causes some
water molecules to break free of this ice, creating a thin layer of
gas with a light signature detected by Herschel's Heterodyne
Instrument for the Far-Infrared, or HIFI.

"These are the most sensitive HIFI observations to-date," said Paul
Goldsmith, NASA project scientist for the Herschel Space Observatory
at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "It is
a testament to the instrument-builders that such weak signals can be
detected."

TW Hydrae is an orange dwarf star, somewhat smaller and cooler than
our yellow-white sun. The giant disk of material that encircles the
star has a size nearly 200 times the distance between Earth and the
sun. Over the next few million years, astronomers believe matter
within the disk will collide and grow into planets, asteroids and
other cosmic bodies. Dust and ice particles will assemble as comets.

As the new solar system evolves, icy comets are likely to deposit much
of the water they contain on freshly created worlds through impacts,
giving rise to oceans. Astronomers believe TW Hydrae and its icy disk
may be representative of many other young star systems, providing new
insights on how planets with abundant water could form throughout the
universe.

Herschel is a European Space Agency cornerstone mission launched in
2009, carrying science instruments provided by consortia of European
institutes. NASA's Herschel Project Office based at JPL contributed
mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel's three science
instruments. The NASA Herschel Science Center, part of the Infrared
Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena, supports the U.S. astronomical community.
Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

For NASA's Herschel website, visit:   

http://www.nasa.gov/herschel


For ESA's Herschel website, visit:   

http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Herschel/index.html


Offline bolun

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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #57 on: 01/13/2012 01:19 PM »
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12065464

Quote
The Planck telescope, put in space to map the oldest light in the Universe, has run out of the helium coolant that keeps it in full working order.

Engineers expect the observatory's systems to start to warm from their ultra-frigid state in the coming days, blinding one of its two instruments.

Nonetheless, Planck has gathered more than enough data since its launch in 2009 to complete its mission goals.

Offline bolun

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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #58 on: 01/16/2012 03:01 PM »
Planck's HFI completes its survey of early Universe
 
16 January 2012

The High Frequency Instrument on ESA's Planck mission has completed its survey of the remnant light from the Big Bang. The sensor ran out of coolant on Saturday as expected, ending its ability to detect this faint energy.

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMXWNMXDXG_index_0.html

Offline bolun

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Re: ESA - Herschel and Planck updates
« Reply #59 on: 01/18/2012 04:30 PM »
http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMG4NMXDXG_index_0.html

Quote
The Eagle Nebula as never seen before. In 1995, the Hubble Space Telescope's 'Pillars of Creation' image of the Eagle Nebula became one of the most iconic images of the 20th century. Now, two of ESA's orbiting observatories have shed new light on this enigmatic star-forming region.

Quote
The ESA Herschel Space Observatory's new image shows the pillars and the wide field of gas and dust around them. Captured in far-infrared wavelengths, the image allows astronomers to see inside the pillars and structures in the region.

In parallel, a new multi-energy X-ray image from ESA's XMM-Newton telescope shows those hot young stars responsible for carving the pillars.

Combining the new space data with near-infrared images from the European Southern Observatory's (ESO's) Very Large Telescope at Paranal, Chile, and visible-light data from its Max Planck Gesellschaft 2.2m diameter telescope at La Silla, Chile, we see this iconic region of the sky in a uniquely beautiful and revealing way.

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