Friday, February 28, 2014

Space news for the last week of February

Just a brief generic summary of space and astronomy news this week.  When that happens, NASA weekly summary goes first: Cygnus Released on This Week @NASA.

With delivery of more than a ton of supplies and experiments completed, Orbital Sciences Corporation's Cygnus cargo craft was detached and released from the International Space Station February 18 -- wrapping up the first of at least eight NASA contracted supply missions to the space station for Orbital through 2016. Also, Orion recovery tests, NuSTAR findings, Stofan visits Stennis, Virginia Aerospace Days and Friendship 7 anniversary!
Follow over the jump for the rest of the week's space news from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Our best animal friends) on Daily Kos.

NASA: ScienceCasts: Follow the Water

NASA and JAXA are about to launch a new satellite that can see through storms, tracking rain and snow around the globe better than any previous observatory. The Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory is scheduled to lift off from Japan on Feb. 27th.
Physics Today: Investigating the early universe through “stellar archaeology”
The New York Times calls attention to a metaphorical way of understanding certain astrophysics work.
By Steven T. Corneliussen
The Nature paper “A single low-energy, iron-poor supernova as the source of metals in the star SMSS J031300.36-670839.3” has inspired international media coverage. In the New York Times, science writer Curtis Brainard wrote a Science Times front-page-dominating commentary calling a relatively new astrophysical method “archaeology of the stars.”

The opening paragraphs from’s report introduce the news from Nature:
Astronomers have found what appears to be one of the oldest known stars in the universe.

The ancient star formed not long after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, according to Australian National University scientists. The star . . . is located 6,000 light-years from Earth and formed from the remains of a primordial star that was 60 times more massive than the sun.
University of Virginia: Hubble Watches Stars’ Clockwork Motion in Nearby Galaxy
February 21, 2014
Using the sharp-eyed NASA Hubble Space Telescope, a University of Virginia astronomer and colleagues have for the first time precisely measured the rotation rate of a galaxy based on the clock-like movement of its stars.

According to the researchers’ analysis, the central part of the neighboring galaxy, called the Large Magellanic Cloud, completes a rotation every 250 million years. Coincidentally, it takes our sun the same amount of time to complete a rotation around the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

The research team, composed of U.Va. astronomer Nitya Kallivayalil and astronomer Roeland van der Marel of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, used Hubble to measure the average motion of hundreds of individual stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, located 170,000 light-years away. Hubble recorded the stars’ slight movements over a seven-year period.
That's it for this week's space and astronomy news.

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