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Webb celebrates first year of science with close-up on the birth of Sun-like stars


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From our cosmic backyard in the Solar System to distant galaxies near the dawn of time, the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope has delivered on its promise of revealing the Universe like never before in its first year of science operations. To celebrate the completion of a successful first year, a new Webb image has been released of a small star-forming region in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex. While the region is relatively quiet, its proximity at 390 light-years makes for a highly detailed close-up, with no foreground stars in the intervening space.

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    • By NASA
      On Feb. 22, 2024, Intuitive Machines’ Odysseus lunar lander captures a wide field of view image of Schomberger crater on the Moon approximately 125 miles (200 km) uprange from the intended landing site, at approximately about 6 miles (10 km) altitude. Credit: Intuitive Machines For the first time in more than 50 years, new NASA science instruments and technology demonstrations are operating on the Moon following the first successful delivery of the agency’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative.
      Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander, called Odysseus, completed a seven-day journey to lunar orbit and executed procedures to softly land near Malapert A in the South Pole region of the Moon at 5:24 p.m. CST on Feb. 22. The lander is healthy, collecting solar power, and transmitting data back to the company’s mission control in Houston. The mission marks the first commercial uncrewed landing on the Moon.
      Carrying six NASA science research and technology demonstrations, among other customer payloads, all NASA science instruments completed transit checkouts en route to the Moon. A NASA precision landing technology demonstration also provided critical last-minute assistance to ensure a soft landing. As part of NASA’s Artemis campaign, the lunar delivery is in the region where NASA will send astronauts to search for water and other lunar resources later this decade.
      “For the first time in more than half a century, America returned to the Moon. Congratulations to Intuitive Machines for placing the lunar lander Odysseus carrying NASA scientific instruments to a place no person or machine has gone before, the lunar South Pole,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This feat from Intuitive Machines, SpaceX, and NASA demonstrates the promise of American leadership in space and the power of commercial partnerships under NASA’s CLPS initiative. Further, this success opens the door for new voyages under Artemis to send astronauts to the Moon, then onward to Mars.” 
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      Odysseus’ surface operations are underway and expected to take place through Thursday, Feb. 29.
      New lunar science, technology
      NASA’s Navigation Doppler Lidar for Precise Velocity and Range Sensing (NDL) guidance system for descent and landing ultimately played a key role in aiding the successful landing. A few hours ahead of landing, Intuitive Machines encountered a sensor issue with their navigation system and leaned on NASA’s guidance system for an assist to precisely land. NASA’s instrument operates on the same principles of radar and uses pulses from a laser emitted through three optical telescopes. It measures speed, direction, and altitude with high precision during descent and touchdown.
      “We are thrilled to have NASA on the Moon again, and proud of the agency’s contribution to the successful landing with our NDL technology. Congratulations for completing this first lunar delivery for NASA, paving the way for a bright future for our CLPS initiative,” said Nicky Fox. “Some of the NASA science instruments on this mission will bring us insight on lunar plume interactions and conduct radio astronomy. The valiant efforts and innovation demonstrated by Intuitive Machines is exemplary and we are excited for the upcoming lunar deliveries that will follow this first mission.”  
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      Additional NASA hardware aboard the lander includes:
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      For more information about CLPS, visit:
      https://www.nasa.gov/clps
      -end-
      Faith McKie / Karen Fox
      Headquarters, Washington
      202-358-1600
      faith.d.mckie@nasa.gov / karen.c.fox@nasa.gov
      Nilufar Ramji / Laura Sorto
      Johnson Space Center, Houston 
      281-483-5111 
      nilufar.ramji@nasa.gov / laura.g.sorto@nasa.gov
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      Last Updated Feb 23, 2024 EditorJennifer M. DoorenLocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
      Missions Artemis Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) View the full article
    • By NASA
      NASA News Briefing on Intuitive Machines' First Lunar Landing
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      A remarkable slice of ancient history has been unearthed beneath the depths of the Baltic Sea, marking a significant milestone in archaeological exploration. This groundbreaking discovery was serendipitously made in Germany’s Bay of Mecklenburg, during a routine student expedition. 

      Located approximately 10 kilometers (six miles) offshore, the team of researchers stumbled upon an intriguing anomaly using their multi-beam sonar system. 
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      Over millennia, Earth's geography has undergone profound transformations due to sea level fluctuations, erosion, and geological shifts, submerging countless ancient settlements beneath the waves and concealing their secrets. However, advancements in technology continue to unveil these submerged relics, offering invaluable insights into our ancestors' way of life. 
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      The significance of the Blinker wall extends beyond its age, promising valuable insights into the socioeconomic complexities of ancient hunter-gatherer societies in the region, illuminating their way of life and interaction with the environment. 
      Baltic Sea Anomaly.
      The Baltic Sea is full off ancient mysteries, not only the discovery of the ruins of the 11,000-year-old megastructure but also the discovery in June 2011 by Swedish OceanX diving team of an enigmatic anomaly displaying unconventional characteristics sparking speculation that it could be a submerged UFO. Despite the explanation behind the Blinker wall, the UFO-like anomaly continues to baffle experts, shrouded in mystery to this day.
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    • By NASA
      5 Min Read Webb Finds Evidence for Neutron Star at Heart of Young Supernova Remnant
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      Supernova 1987A
      The supernova SN 1987A occurred 160,000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud. It was first observed on Earth in February 1987, and its brightness peaked in May of that year. It was the first supernova that could be seen with the naked eye since Kepler’s Supernova was observed in 1604.
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      Indirect evidence for the presence of a neutron star at the center of the remnant has been found in the past few years, and observations of much older supernova remnants –such as the Crab Nebula – confirm that neutron stars are found in many supernova remnants. However, no direct evidence of a neutron star in the aftermath of SN 1987A (or any other such recent supernova explosion) had been observed, until now.
      Image: Supernova 1987A
      The James Webb Space Telescope has observed the best evidence yet for emission from a neutron star at the site of a well-known and recently-observed supernova known as SN 1987A. At left is a NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) image released in 2023. The image at top right shows light from singly ionized argon (Argon II) captured by the Medium Resolution Spectrograph (MRS) mode of MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument). The image at bottom right shows light from multiply ionized argon captured by the NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph). Both instruments show a strong signal from the center of the supernova remnant. This indicated to the science team that there is a source of high-energy radiation there, most likely a neutron star. NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, C. Fransson (Stockholm University), M. Matsuura (Cardiff University), M. J. Barlow (University College London), P. J. Kavanagh (Maynooth University), J. Larsson (KTH Royal Institute of Technology) Claes Fransson of Stockholm University, and the lead author on this study, explained: “From theoretical models of SN 1987A, the 10-second burst of neutrinos observed just before the supernova implied that a neutron star or black hole was formed in the explosion. But we have not observed any compelling signature of such a newborn object from any supernova explosion. With this observatory, we have now found direct evidence for emission triggered by the newborn compact object, most likely a neutron star.”
      Webb’s Observations of SN 1987A
      Webb began science observations in July 2022, and the Webb observations behind this work were taken on July 16, making the SN 1987A remnant one of the first objects observed by Webb. The team used the Medium Resolution Spectrograph (MRS) mode of Webb’s MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument), which members of the same team helped to develop. The MRS is a type of instrument known as an Integral Field Unit (IFU).
      IFUs are able to image an object and take a spectrum of it at the same time. An IFU forms a spectrum at each pixel, allowing observers to see spectroscopic differences across the object. Analysis of the Doppler shift of each spectrum also permits the evaluation of the velocity at each position.
      Spectral analysis of the results showed a strong signal due to ionized argon from the center of the ejected material that surrounds the original site of SN 1987A. Subsequent observations using Webb’s NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph) IFU at shorter wavelengths found even more heavily ionized chemical elements, particularly five times ionized argon (meaning argon atoms that have lost five of their 18 electrons). Such ions require highly energetic photons to form, and those photons have to come from somewhere.
      “To create these ions that we observed in the ejecta, it was clear that there had to be a source of high-energy radiation in the center of the SN 1987A remnant,” Fransson said. “In the paper we discuss different possibilities, finding that only a few scenarios are likely, and all of these involve a newly born neutron star.”
      More observations are planned this year, with Webb and ground-based telescopes. The research team hopes ongoing study will provide more clarity about exactly what is happening in the heart of the SN 1987A remnant. These observations will hopefully stimulate the development of more detailed models, ultimately enabling astronomers to better understand not just SN 1987A, but all core-collapse supernovae.
      These findings were published in the journal Science.
      The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb is solving mysteries in our solar system, looking beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probing the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.
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      Right click the images in this article to open a larger version in a new tab/window.
      Download full resolution images for this article from the Space Telescope Science Institute.
      Media Contacts
      Rob Gutro – rob.gutro@nasa.gov
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      Christine Pulliam – cpulliam@stsci.edu
      Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
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      More Webb News – https://science.nasa.gov/mission/webb/latestnews/
      More Webb Images – https://science.nasa.gov/mission/webb/multimedia/images/
      Webb Mission Page – https://science.nasa.gov/mission/webb/
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      Details
      Last Updated Feb 22, 2024 Editor Marty McCoy Related Terms
      Astrophysics Goddard Space Flight Center James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Neutron Stars Science & Research Stars Supernovae The Universe View the full article
    • By European Space Agency
      The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope has found the best evidence yet for emission from a neutron star at the site of a recently observed supernova. The supernova, known as SN 1987A, occurred 160 000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud. SN 1987A was observed on Earth in 1987, the first supernova that was visible to the naked eye since 1604 — before the advent of telescopes.
      View the full article
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