Red dwarf stars have been seen as the biggest potential frontier for alien life, in part because they’re the most common stars in our galaxy. But observations made using the Hubble Space Telescope suggest that the frontier might turn out to be a desert.
“We may have found the limit to habitable planets,” said Carol Grady, a co-investigator on the Hubble observations from Eureka Scientific in Oakland, Calif. She laid out the research team’s findings today at the American Astronomical Society’s winter meeting in Seattle.
Due to the glitch, Chandra swapped critical hardware operations to backup units and pointed its solar panels to soak up the maximum amount of sunlight, while pointing its mirrors away from the sun to minimize the risk of damage.
The 28-year-old Hubble Space Telescope is temporarily out of service, due to the failure of one of its gyroscopic pointing devices, but scientists say they’re working on a Plan B.
Today NASA confirmed reports that Hubble scientists such as deputy mission head Rachel Osten were passing along over the weekend: One of the telescope’s three active gyros had failed on Oct. 5, which hampered the telescope’s ability to point at astronomical targets for long periods.
NASA said that Hubble’s instruments were still fully operational, and that mission managers were working to address the gyro issue.
With a lot of help from the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers now feel confident enough to publish their evidence for the first moon detected in orbit around a planet beyond our solar system.
But they’re still not completely confident.
“At this point, it’s up to us to report what we’re seeing, hand it over to the community and let the community probe it,” said Columbia University astronomer Alex Teachey, one of the authors of a study about the find published in the open-access journal Science Advances. “If they see what we see, I expect some people will be convinced and other people will be skeptical. And that’s all part of the process.”
Observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories indicate that the cigar-shaped interstellar object known as ‘Oumuamua got an unexpected boost in speed and a shift in its trajectory as it passed through the inner solar system last year. Scientists surmise that the source of the boost was an outflow of gas and dust from ‘Oumuamua, which suggests that the object is more like an active comet than a passive asteroid.
Leave it to tiny Phobos to horn in on Mars’ glory in an image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
The view of the Red Planet and the larger of its two moons, released today, is actually a testament to the orbiting observatory’s sharper vision.
Phobos is an irregular hunk of rock and ice, measuring no more than 16.5 miles in diameter. It’s small enough to sit comfortably inside the Beltway in Washington, D.C. (although residents of the nation’s capital would be none too comfortable).
Despite its status as one of the solar system’s smallest moons, Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 could pick out Phobos easily against the black background of space in a series of images acquired over the course of 22 minutes on May 12, 2016.
This composite view from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys shows hundreds of galaxies in the cluster, which is 6 billion light-years away in the constellation Cetus.
The view is remarkable not only because the galaxies are so dense, but also because their mass serves as a gravitational lens, focusing the light from even more distant galaxies into luminous arcs of blue light.
It’s traditional for the team behind the Hubble Space Telescope to release a jaw-dropping picture to celebrate the anniversary of the observatory’s launch in April 1990, and this year’s image might well rate a double jaw drop.
The science team’s greeting card for Hubble’s 27th birthday features side-by-side views of two spiral galaxies much like our own Milky Way galaxy, seen from two angles.
The edge-on galaxy at left, NGC 4302, is about 60 percent of the Milky Way’s size and contains about 10 percent of our home galaxy’s mass, the Hubble team says in today’s image advisory.
The galaxy at right, NGC 4298, is tilted about 70 degrees as seen from Earth, and measures about a third as wide as the Milky Way. It weighs in at 17 billion solar masses, which is less than 2 percent of the Milky Way’s 1 trillion solar masses.