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    • By European Space Agency
      Video: 00:45:00 ESA is releasing the first full-colour images of the cosmos captured by its recently launched space telescope Euclid. Follow live a broadcast of the reveal on Tuesday 7 November at 13:15 GMT / 14:15 CET. Never before has a telescope been able to create such razor-sharp astronomical images across such a large patch of the sky. Five images show that the telescope is ready for its mission to create the most extensive 3D map of the Universe yet and uncover some of its hidden secrets.
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    • By NASA
      5 min read
      NASA Rocket to See Sizzling Edge of Star-Forming Supernova
      A new sounding rocket mission is headed to space to understand how explosive stellar deaths lay the groundwork for new star systems. The Integral Field Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Experiment, or INFUSE, sounding rocket mission, will launch from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on Oct. 29, 2023, at 9:35 p.m. MDT.
      For a few months each year, the constellation Cygnus (Latin for “swan”) swoops through the northern hemisphere’s night sky. Just above its wing is a favorite target for backyard astronomers and professional scientists alike: the Cygnus Loop, also known as the Veil Nebula.
      This image shows an illustration of the constellation Cygnus, Latin for “swan,” in the night sky. The Cygnus Loop supernova remnant, also known as the Veil Nebula, is located near one of the swan’s wings, outlined here in a rectangular box. NASA The Cygnus Loop is the remnant of a star that was once 20 times the size of our Sun. Some 20,000 years ago, that star collapsed under its own gravity and erupted into a supernova. Even from 2,600 light-years away, astronomers estimate the flash of light would have been bright enough to see from Earth during the day.
      This image taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows part of the Veil Nebula or Cygnus Loop. To create this colorful image, observations were taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 instrument using five different filters. New post-processing methods have further enhanced details of emissions from doubly ionized oxygen (shown here in shades of blue), ionized hydrogen, and ionized nitrogen (shown here in shades of red). ESA/Hubble & NASA, Z. Levay Supernovae are part of a great life cycle. They spray heavy metals forged in a star’s core into the clouds of surrounding dust and gas. They are the source of all chemical elements in our universe heavier than iron, including those that make up our own bodies. From the churned-up clouds and star stuff left in their wake, gases and dust from supernovae gradually clump together to form planets, stars, and new star systems.
      “Supernovae like the one that created the Cygnus Loop have a huge impact on how galaxies form,” said Brian Fleming, a research professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and principal investigator for the INFUSE mission.
      The Cygnus Loop provides a rare look at a supernova blast still in progress. Already over 120 light-years across, the massive cloud is still expanding today at approximately 930,000 miles per hour (about 1.5 million kilometers per hour).
      What our telescopes capture from the Cygnus Loop is not the supernova blast itself. Instead, we see the dust and gas superheated by the shock front, which glows as it cools back down.
      “INFUSE will observe how the supernova dumps energy into the Milky Way by catching light given off just as the blast wave crashes into pockets of cold gas floating around the galaxy,” Fleming said.
      To see that shock front at its sizzling edge, Fleming and his team have developed a telescope that measures far-ultraviolet light – a kind of light too energetic for our eyes to see. This light reveals gas at temperatures between 90,000 and 540,000 degrees Fahrenheit (about 50,000 to 300,000 degrees Celsius) that is still sizzling after impact.
      INFUSE is an integral field spectrograph, the first instrument of its kind to fly to space. The instrument combines the strengths of two ways of studying light: imaging and spectroscopy. Your typical telescopes have cameras that excel at creating images – showing where light is coming from, faithfully revealing its spatial arrangement. But telescopes don’t separate light into different wavelengths or “colors” – instead, all of the different wavelengths overlap one another in the resulting image.
      Spectroscopy, on the other hand, takes a single beam of light and separates it into its component wavelengths or spectrum, much as a prism separates light into a rainbow. This procedure reveals all kinds of information about what the light source is made of, its temperature, and how it is moving. But spectroscopy can only look at a single sliver of light at a time. It’s like looking at the night sky through a narrow keyhole.
      The INFUSE instrument captures an image and then “slices” it up, lining up the slices into one giant “keyhole.” The spectrometer can then spread each of the slices into its spectrum. This data can be reassembled into a 3-dimensional image that scientists call a “data cube” – like a stack of images where each layer reveals a specific wavelength of light.
      PhD student Emily Witt installs the delicate image slicer – the core optical technology for INFUSE – onto its mount in a CU-LASP clean room ahead of integration into the payload. CU Boulder LASP/Brian Fleming Using the data from INFUSE, Fleming and his team will not only identify specific elements and their temperatures, but they’ll also see where those different elements lie along the shock front.
      “It’s a very exciting project to be a part of,” said lead graduate student Emily Witt, also at CU Boulder, who led most of the assembly and testing of INFUSE and will lead the data analysis. “With these first-of-their-kind measurements, we will better understand how these elements from the supernova mix with the environment around them. It’s a big step toward understanding how material from supernovas becomes part of planets like Earth and even people like us.”
      To get to space, the INFUSE payload will fly aboard a sounding rocket. These nimble, crewless rockets launch into space for a few minutes of data collection before falling back to the ground. The INFUSE payload will fly aboard a two-stage Black Brant 9 sounding rocket, aiming for a peak altitude of about 150 miles (240 kilometers), where it will make its observations, before parachuting back to the ground to be recovered. The team hopes to upgrade the instrument and launch again. In fact, parts of the INFUSE rocket are themselves repurposed from the DEUCE mission, which launched from Australia in 2022.
      NASA’s Sounding Rocket Program is conducted at the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Virginia, which is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. NASA’s Heliophysics Division manages the sounding rocket program for the agency. The development of the INFUSE payload was supported by NASA’s Astrophysics Division.
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    • By NASA
      4 min read
      Living on the Edge: Supernova Bubble Expands in New Hubble Time-Lapse Movie
      NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, ESA, Ravi Sankrit (STScI) Though a doomed star exploded some 20,000 years ago, its tattered remnants continue racing into space at breakneck speeds – and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has caught the action.
      The nebula, called the Cygnus Loop, forms a bubble-like shape that is about 120 light-years in diameter. The distance to its center is approximately 2,600 light-years. The entire nebula has a width of six full Moons as seen on the sky.
      Astronomers used Hubble to zoom into a very small slice of the leading edge of this expanding supernova bubble, where the supernova blast wave plows into surrounding material in space. Hubble images taken from 2001 to 2020 clearly demonstrate how the remnant’s shock front has expanded over time, and they used the crisp images to clock its speed.
      By analyzing the shock’s location, astronomers found that the shock hasn’t slowed down at all in the last 20 years, and is speeding into interstellar space at over half a million miles per hour – fast enough to travel from Earth to the Moon in less than half an hour. While this seems incredibly fast, it’s actually on the slow end for the speed of a supernova shock wave. Researchers were able to assemble a “movie” from Hubble images for a close-up look at how the tattered star is slamming into interstellar space.
      “Hubble is the only way that we can actually watch what’s happening at the edge of the bubble with such clarity,” said Ravi Sankrit, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. “The Hubble images are spectacular when you look at them in detail. They’re telling us about the density differences encountered by the supernova shocks as they propagate through space, and the turbulence in the regions behind these shocks.”
      A very close-up look at a nearly two-light-year-long section of the filaments of glowing hydrogen and ionized oxygen shows that they look like a wrinkled sheet seen from the side. “You’re seeing ripples in the sheet that is being seen edge-on, so it looks like twisted ribbons of light,” said William Blair of the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland. “Those wiggles arise as the shock wave encounters more or less dense material in the interstellar medium.” The time-lapse movie over nearly two decades shows the filaments moving against the background stars but keeping their shape.

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      Video Credit: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, ESA, STScI; Acknowledgment:
      NSF's NOIRLab, Akira Fujii , Jeff Hester , Davide De Martin , Travis A. Rector , Ravi Sankrit (STScI), DSS “When we pointed Hubble at the Cygnus Loop we knew that this was the leading edge of a shock front, which we wanted to study. When we got the initial picture and saw this incredible, delicate ribbon of light, well, that was a bonus. We didn’t know it was going to resolve that kind of structure,” said Blair.
      Blair explained that the shock is moving outward from the explosion site and then it starts to encounter the interstellar medium, the tenuous regions of gas and dust in interstellar space. This is a very transitory phase in the expansion of the supernova bubble where invisible neutral hydrogen is heated to one million degrees Fahrenheit or more by the shock wave’s passage. The gas then begins to glow as electrons are excited to higher energy states and emit photons as they cascade back to low energy states. Further behind the shock front, ionized oxygen atoms begin to cool, emitting a characteristic glow shown in blue.
      The Cygnus Loop was discovered in 1784 by William Herschel, using a simple 18-inch reflecting telescope. He could have never imagined that a little over two centuries later we’d have a telescope powerful enough to zoom in on a very tiny slice of the nebula for this spectacular view.
      The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, in Washington, D.C.

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      Video Credits: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, ESA, STScI; Acknowledgment:
      NSF's NOIRLab, Akira Fujii , Jeff Hester , Davide De Martin , Travis A. Rector , Ravi Sankrit (STScI), DSS Share

      Last Updated Sep 29, 2023 Editor Andrea Gianopoulos Contact Related Terms
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    • By European Space Agency
      Following the devastating earthquake that struck Morocco on 8 September, satellite data have been made available through the International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’ to help emergency response teams on the ground.
      In addition, radar measurements from Europe’s Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite mission are being used to analyse how the ground has shifted as a result of the quake, which will not only help in planning the eventual reconstruction but will also further scientific research.
      View the full article
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