An underground neutrino detector has found particles produced by the fusion of two protons in the sun’s core

Deep inside the sun pairs of protons fuse to form heavier atoms, releasing mysterious particles called neutrinos in the process. These reactions are thought to be the first step in the chain responsible for 99 percent of the energy the sun radiates, but scientists have never found proof until now. For the first time, physicists have captured the elusive neutrinos produced by the sun’s basic proton fusion reactions…

On August 24, 2014, the sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 8:16 a.m. EDT.

Here are some captured images of the flare, which erupted on the left side of the sun. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

This flare is classified as an M5 flare. M-class flares are ten times less powerful than the most intense flares, called X-class flares.

Credit: NASA/Goddard/SDO

More here: NASA Little Solar Dynamics Observatory

Water Clouds Tentatively Detected Just 7 Light Years From Earth
by Ken Crosswell
Astronomers have found signs of water ice clouds on an object just 7.3 light-years from Earth—less than twice the distance of Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to the sun. If confirmed, the discovery is the first sighting of water clouds beyond our solar system. The clouds shroud a Jupiter-sized object known as a brown dwarf and should yield insight into the nature of cool giant planets orbiting other suns.
Kevin Luhman, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, recently discovered the nearby object by using images from NASA’s WISE infrared space telescope, which scanned the sky from 2010 to 2011. A brown dwarf is a failed star and has so little mass that it can’t sustain nuclear reactions, so after its birth it fades and cools. This brown dwarf, named WISE J0855-0714, is the coldest known. Its temperature is slightly below the freezing point of water, so it’s colder than Earth’s mean temperature but warmer than Jupiter’s…
(read more: Science News/AAAS)
illustration: Rob Gizis, CUNY BMCC

Water Clouds Tentatively Detected Just 7 Light Years From Earth

by Ken Crosswell

Astronomers have found signs of water ice clouds on an object just 7.3 light-years from Earth—less than twice the distance of Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to the sun. If confirmed, the discovery is the first sighting of water clouds beyond our solar system. The clouds shroud a Jupiter-sized object known as a brown dwarf and should yield insight into the nature of cool giant planets orbiting other suns.

Kevin Luhman, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, recently discovered the nearby object by using images from NASA’s WISE infrared space telescope, which scanned the sky from 2010 to 2011. A brown dwarf is a failed star and has so little mass that it can’t sustain nuclear reactions, so after its birth it fades and cools. This brown dwarf, named WISE J0855-0714, is the coldest known. Its temperature is slightly below the freezing point of water, so it’s colder than Earth’s mean temperature but warmer than Jupiter’s…

(read more: Science News/AAAS)

illustration: Rob Gizis, CUNY BMCC

Cassiopeia A - A Star Explodes and Turns Inside Out
A new X-ray study of the remains of an exploded star indicates that the supernova that disrupted the massive star may have turned it inside out in the process. Using very long observations of Cassiopeia A (or Cas A), a team of scientists has mapped the distribution of elements in the supernova remnant in unprecedented detail. This information shows where the different layers of the pre-supernova star are located three hundred years after the explosion, and provides insight into the nature of the supernova…
(read more: Chandra X-Ray Observatory)
image: Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss; X-ray: NASA/CXC/GSFC/U.Hwang & J.Laming

Cassiopeia A - A Star Explodes and Turns Inside Out

A new X-ray study of the remains of an exploded star indicates that the supernova that disrupted the massive star may have turned it inside out in the process. Using very long observations of Cassiopeia A (or Cas A), a team of scientists has mapped the distribution of elements in the supernova remnant in unprecedented detail. This information shows where the different layers of the pre-supernova star are located three hundred years after the explosion, and provides insight into the nature of the supernova…

(read more: Chandra X-Ray Observatory)

image: Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss; X-ray: NASA/CXC/GSFC/U.Hwang & J.Laming

NGC 2467 is a star-forming region with a visual appearance often likened to a skull or a mandrill. Located in the southern constellation of Puppis, it contains the open clusters Haffner 18 (centre) and Haffner 19 (middle right: located inside the smaller pink “eye”), as well as vast areas of ionised gas. The bright star at the centre of the largest pink region is HD 64315, a massive young star that is helping to shape the whole nebular region’s structure.
 Photograph: European Southern Observatory
(via: Wikipedia)

NGC 2467 is a star-forming region with a visual appearance often likened to a skull or a mandrill. Located in the southern constellation of Puppis, it contains the open clusters Haffner 18 (centre) and Haffner 19 (middle right: located inside the smaller pink “eye”), as well as vast areas of ionised gas. The bright star at the centre of the largest pink region is HD 64315, a massive young star that is helping to shape the whole nebular region’s structure.

Photograph: European Southern Observatory

(via: Wikipedia)

Artist’s Concept: A close-up of Super Nova 2006gy  This artist’s illustration shows what the brightest supernova ever recorded, known as SN 2006gy, may have looked like. The fireworks-like material (white) shows the explosive death of an extremely massive star. Before it exploded, the star expelled the lobes of cool gas (red). As the material from the explosion crashes into the lobes, it heats the gas in a shock front (green, blue and yellow) and pushes it backward.Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss (via: Chandra X-Ray Observatory)

Artist’s Concept: A close-up of Super Nova 2006gy

This artist’s illustration shows what the brightest supernova ever recorded, known as SN 2006gy, may have looked like. The fireworks-like material (white) shows the explosive death of an extremely massive star. Before it exploded, the star expelled the lobes of cool gas (red). As the material from the explosion crashes into the lobes, it heats the gas in a shock front (green, blue and yellow) and pushes it backward.

Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

(via: Chandra X-Ray Observatory)

A Look at Today’s Sun (July 10, 2014) 
This is a composite image and is one of my favorite views of our Sun!  This image combines three images with different, but very similar, temperatures. The colors are assigned differently than in the single images. Here AIA 211 is red, AIA 193 is green, and AIA 171 is blue. Each highlights a different part of the corona. 211 highlights the active region of the outer atmosphere of the Sun - the corona. Active regions, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections will appear bright here. The dark areas - called coronal holes - are places where very little radiation is emitted, yet are the main source of solar wind particles. The temperatures are about 3.6 million F…
(read more: NASA - Solar Dynamics Observatory)

A Look at Today’s Sun (July 10, 2014)

This is a composite image and is one of my favorite views of our Sun!

This image combines three images with different, but very similar, temperatures. The colors are assigned differently than in the single images. Here AIA 211 is red, AIA 193 is green, and AIA 171 is blue. Each highlights a different part of the corona.

211 highlights the active region of the outer atmosphere of the Sun - the corona. Active regions, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections will appear bright here. The dark areas - called coronal holes - are places where very little radiation is emitted, yet are the main source of solar wind particles. The temperatures are about 3.6 million F…

(read more: NASA - Solar Dynamics Observatory)

NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (Little SDO)
 A suite of NASA’s Sun-gazing spacecraft have spotted an unusual series of eruptions in which a series of fast puffs forced the slow ejection of a massive burst of solar material from the Sun’s atmosphere.
The eruptions took place over a period of three days, starting on Jan. 17, 2013. Nathalia Alzate, a solar scientist at the University of Aberystwyth in Wales, presented findings on what caused the puffs at the 2014 Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Portsmouth, England.

The sun’s outermost atmosphere, the corona, is made of magnetized solar material, called plasma, that has a temperature of millions of degrees and extends millions of miles into space. On January 17, the joint European Space Agency and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, spacecraft observed puffs emanating from the base of the corona and rapidly exploding outwards into interplanetary space. The puffs occurred roughly once every three hours. After about 12 hours, a much larger eruption of material began, apparently eased out by the smaller-scale explosions…

(read more)

 A suite of NASA’s Sun-gazing spacecraft have spotted an unusual series of eruptions in which a series of fast puffs forced the slow ejection of a massive burst of solar material from the Sun’s atmosphere.

The eruptions took place over a period of three days, starting on Jan. 17, 2013. Nathalia Alzate, a solar scientist at the University of Aberystwyth in Wales, presented findings on what caused the puffs at the 2014 Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Portsmouth, England.
The sun’s outermost atmosphere, the corona, is made of magnetized solar material, called plasma, that has a temperature of millions of degrees and extends millions of miles into space. On January 17, the joint European Space Agency and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, spacecraft observed puffs emanating from the base of the corona and rapidly exploding outwards into interplanetary space. The puffs occurred roughly once every three hours. After about 12 hours, a much larger eruption of material began, apparently eased out by the smaller-scale explosions…

Hot Scientists Explain Important Things:

How to measure the temperature of the stars… & the Universe

Ever wondered how astronomers measure the temperature of distant objects in the Universe?

Recently an international team, led by researchers from Swinburne University of Technology, found evidence that the Universe broke its rising ‘fever’ about 11 billion years ago.

To find this out, they measured the temperature of the Universe when it was 3 to 4 billion years old by studying the gas in between galaxies.

But since scientists can’t travel to these far off places with a thermometer, how did they do it?

Swinburne’s Dr Alan Duffy explains what temperature is, and how we can measure it in space from here on earth.

(via: Swinburne University of Technology)

An animation of the eclipsing binary star Algol (β Persei) , assembled from 55 images of the CHARA interferometer in the near-infrared H-band, sorted according to orbital phase; because some phases are poorly covered, Algol B jumps at some points along its path around Algol A. A third star in the system is outside the frame.

The system has long been associated with violence in astrology. In astronomy, its characteristics have led to a star class and an apparent paradox being named after it.
Animation: Dr. Fabien Baron; University of Michigan                   via: Wikipedia

An animation of the eclipsing binary star Algol (β Persei) , assembled from 55 images of the CHARA interferometer in the near-infrared H-band, sorted according to orbital phase; because some phases are poorly covered, Algol B jumps at some points along its path around Algol A. A third star in the system is outside the frame.

The system has long been associated with violence in astrology. In astronomy, its characteristics have led to a star class and an apparent paradox being named after it.

Animation: Dr. Fabien Baron; University of Michigan                   via: Wikipedia

NASA Observes A Solar Explosion In Unprecedented Detail

by Robert T. Gonzalez

In the video above, a tremendous sheet of solar material can be seen erupting from our parent star. Watch as it rapidly consumes a field of view five-Earths wide and seven-and-a-half-Earths tall, emanating outward from the sun at speeds of 1.5-million miles per hour. The view is unprecedented for IRIS, which launched in June of last year to observe the lowest levels of the sun’s atmosphere with better resolution than ever before.

Via NASA:

IRIS must commit to pointing at certain areas of the sun at least a day in advance, so catching a CME in the act involves some educated guesses and a little bit of luck.

"We focus in on active regions to try to see a flare or a CME," said Bart De Pontieu, the IRIS science lead at Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, California. "And then we wait and hope that we’ll catch something. This is the first clear CME for IRIS so the team is very excited."

(via: io9)

The Most Intriguing Stars in the Universe

Here are the stars that get the closest scrutiny from scientists…

In late 2013, a group of astronomers in the U.S. and France made a new kind of sky map, which charts the how intensely scientists have studied features in the heavens.

To build the map, they analyzed a million references to celestial objects in a NASA database of journal articles. Astronomers can use the online version—Astrophysics Data System All-Sky Survey—find data on their targets. The team is also launching a citizen science project later this year to incorporate archival images in the interactive tool. In the meantime, the map already reveals the most intriguing parts of the universe.

This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of Popular Science.

Star map Illustration by Katie Peek; Original maps courtesy ADS All-Sky Survey, ADSASS.org

(click here to see full image)

Ripe for Stars? Spitzer Spies ‘Pitch Black’ Cosmic Cloud
by Ian O’Neill
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has uncovered the darkest cloud of interstellar dust and gas ever seen; it is so dense that even background infrared radiation is blocked, casting an ominous shadow across an otherwise sparkling star field.

Though the cloud may look dark and foreboding, it’s future is going to be a lot brighter. The cloud, which is about 50 light-years wide, contains enough mass for 70,000 suns and the region is ripe for the creation of potentially thousands of the most massive O-type stars, providing us with an unprecedented insight to the earliest stages of massive star formation.
“The map of the structure of the cloud and its dense cores we have made in this study reveals a lot of fine details about the massive star and star cluster formation process,” said Michael Butler, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Butler is lead author of the study that has been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters…
(read more: Discovery News)
image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Zurich

Ripe for Stars? Spitzer Spies ‘Pitch Black’ Cosmic Cloud

by Ian O’Neill

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has uncovered the darkest cloud of interstellar dust and gas ever seen; it is so dense that even background infrared radiation is blocked, casting an ominous shadow across an otherwise sparkling star field.

Though the cloud may look dark and foreboding, it’s future is going to be a lot brighter. The cloud, which is about 50 light-years wide, contains enough mass for 70,000 suns and the region is ripe for the creation of potentially thousands of the most massive O-type stars, providing us with an unprecedented insight to the earliest stages of massive star formation.

“The map of the structure of the cloud and its dense cores we have made in this study reveals a lot of fine details about the massive star and star cluster formation process,” said Michael Butler, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Butler is lead author of the study that has been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters…

(read more: Discovery News)

image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Zurich