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Friday, 26 July 2013

NASA's WISE Finds Mysterious Centaurs May Be Comets

PASADENA, CALIF. 91109  PHONE 818-354-5011

Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

J.D. Harrington 202-358-5241
Headquarters, Washington

News release: 2013-234                                                  July 25, 2013

NASA's WISE Finds Mysterious Centaurs May Be Comets

The full version of this story with accompanying images is at:
PASADENA, Calf. -- The true identity of centaurs, the small celestial bodies orbiting the sun between Jupiter and Neptune, is one of the enduring mysteries of astrophysics. Are they asteroids or comets? A new study of observations from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) finds most centaurs are comets.
Until now, astronomers were not certain whether centaurs are asteroids flung out from the inner solar system or comets traveling in toward the sun from afar. Because of their dual nature, they take their name from the creature in Greek mythology whose head and torso are human and legs are those of a horse.
"Just like the mythical creatures, the centaur objects seem to have a double life," said James Bauer of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Bauer is lead author of a paper published online July 22 in the Astrophysical Journal. "Our data point to a cometary origin for most of the objects, suggesting they are coming from deeper out in the solar system."
"Cometary origin" means an object likely is made from the same material as a comet, may have been an active comet in the past, and may be active again in the future.
The findings come from the largest infrared survey to date of centaurs and their more distant cousins, called scattered disk objects. NEOWISE, the asteroid-hunting portion of the WISE mission, gathered infrared images of 52 centaurs and scattered disk objects. Fifteen of the 52 are new discoveries. Centaurs and scattered disk objects orbit in an unstable belt. Ultimately, gravity from the giant planets will fling them either closer to the sun or farther away from their current locations.
Although astronomers previously observed some centaurs with dusty halos, a common feature of outgassing comets, and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope also found some evidence for comets in the group, they had not been able to estimate the numbers of comets and asteroids.
Infrared data from NEOWISE provided information on the objects' albedos, or reflectivity, to help astronomers sort the population. NEOWISE can tell whether a centaur has a matte and dark surface or a shiny one that reflects more light. The puzzle pieces fell into place when astronomers combined the albedo information with what was already known about the colors of the objects. Visible-light observations have shown centaurs generally to be either blue-gray or reddish in hue. A blue-gray object could be an asteroid or comet. NEOWISE showed that most of the blue-gray objects are dark, a telltale sign of comets. A reddish object is more likely to be an asteroid.
"Comets have a dark, soot-like coating on their icy surfaces, making them darker than most asteroids," said the study's co-author, Tommy Grav of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz. "Comet surfaces tend to be more like charcoal, while asteroids are usually shinier like the moon."
The results indicate that roughly two-thirds of the centaur population are comets, which come from the frigid outer reaches of our solar system. It is not clear whether the rest are asteroids. The centaur bodies have not lost their mystique entirely, but future research from NEOWISE may reveal their secrets further.
The paper is available online at: .
JPL, managed by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, managed and operated WISE for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The NEOWISE portion of the project was funded by NASA's Near Earth Object Observation Program. WISE completed its key mission objective, two scans of the entire sky, in 2011 and has been hibernating in space since then.
For more information about the WISE mission, visit: .

Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Charts-info Astrosite Groningen (July 23, 2013)

Dear comet observers,    We have prepared the following new charts for our homepage:    C/2012 F6 (Lemmon):     - Two 2.3x3.2 degrees charts for the period 26 July - 7 August 2013    These new charts are now available in the charts section of our   mainpage at:    Reinder Bouma/Edwin van Dijk   ----------------------------------------------------------------------------  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info

Monday, 22 July 2013

SPA ENB No. 357


Electronic News Bulletin No. 357 2013 July 21

Here is the latest round-up of news from the Society for Popular
Astronomy. The SPA is Britain's liveliest astronomical society, with
members all over the world. We accept subscription payments online at
our secure site and can take credit and debit cards. You can join or
renew via a secure server or just see how much we have to offer by


The Hubble telescope has discovered a new satellite -- the 14th -- of
Neptune. Designated S/2004 N 1, is estimated to be no more than 12
miles across, making it the smallest known moon in the Neptunian
system. It is so small and dim that it even escaped detection by the
Voyager 2 spacecraft when it flew past Neptune in 1989 and surveyed
the planet's system of moons and rings. Astronomers found the moon on
July 1, while studying the faint arcs, or segments of rings, around
Neptune.  It has a circular orbit, and completes one revolution around
Neptune every 23 hours.


Since the early 1990s scientists have found almost 1000 'exo-planets'
in orbit around other stars. They are mostly much larger than the
Earth, and many are much closer to their stars than we are to the Sun,
leading them to be described as 'hot Jupiters'. Now astronomers have
detected the spectrum of water molecules in the atmosphere of one of
them. They looked, with an infrared spectrometer called CRIRES on the
VLT in Chile, at the exo-planet HD 189733b, that orbits its star
every 2.2 days and is heated to over 1000蚓. Astronomers usually do
not see the actual exo-planets, but infer their existence by measuring
their gravitational influence on the stars about which they orbit, a
reflex motion that is only a matter of metres per second. In this
case, however, the team, led from Leiden University, managed to
measure the velocity of the planet itself, about 110 km/s, even though
it is nearly a thousand times fainter than the star, by observing
water molecules in its spectrum. It seems likely that some other
exo-planet atmospheres will also be detectable in the same way.


Astronomers working with the Hubble telescope have deduced that the
planet HD 189733b, referred to in the preceding item and one of the
closest exo-planets that can be seen in transit cross the face of its
star, is cobalt blue in colour. If seen directly, that planet would
look like a deep blue dot, reminiscent of the Earth as seen from
space. Although the planet resembles the Earth in terms of colour, it
is not Earth-like, being only 2.9 million miles from its parent star
and dreadfully hot. In 2007, the Spitzer space telescope managed to
measure the infrared heat from the planet, leading to one of the first
temperature maps for an exo-planet. The map shows day-side and
night-side temperatures to differ by about 300蚓. That difference
could be expected to cause fierce winds to roar from the day side to
the night side. It would not be a homely place to live.


The most massive and brightest stars in the Galaxy form within cool
dark clouds, which make it difficult to see exactly what is happening.
One such cloud is called Spitzer Dark Cloud (SDC) 335.579-0.292; it is
about 11,000 light-years away. ALMA observations, made with just a
quarter of the eventual complete array, show details of the motions of
the filamentary network of dust and gas, and indicate that a lot of
gas is flowing into a central compact region. The cloud is thought to
have a mass of over 500 times the mass of the Sun and is still
growing. It is is expected eventually to give birth to a brilliant
star with up to 100 times the mass of the Sun.


Surprisingly low temperatures detected in the remnant of the supernova
1987A may help to explain why space is so abundant with dust grains
and molecules. In 1987, an explosion of a massive star occurred in
the Large Magellanic Cloud, 'only' 170,000 light years away. 25 years
later, astronomers have used the Herschel space observatory and ALMA
to study the supernova remnant. They found unexpectedly cold
molecules and dust. The explosion observed in 1987 scattered elements
made by the star into space in the form of a very hot plasma. The gas
has now cooled to temperatures between -170 to -250 degrees Celsius.
That is surprisingly cold, comparable to the icy surface of Pluto at
the edge of the Solar System. The gas has formed molecules and some
has even condensed into solid grains of dust. The Herschel
observations show that the supernova produced dust and solid material
equal to about 3/4 of the mass of the Sun. Previously, scientists
have believed that supernova remnants contain only very energetic
atomic gas, detectable at X-ray wavelengths.


The 'Opportunity' rover on Mars was designed only for a 3-month
mission on the hostile Martian surface. Yet on July 7 there was
celebrated the tenth anniversary of its launch and more than 9 years
on Mars. The rover is currently en route to 'Solander Point', a place
on the rim of Endurance Crater where interesting-looking areological
layering is exposed for investigation. After nine-plus years of
travelling, Opportunity recently set the record for the US space
programme's mileage on another planet. That occurred on May 15, when
the rover drove 80 metres, bringing its total distance to 35.76 km.
The previous mark had been held by the Apollo 17 moon rover, which
astronauts drove for 35.74 km across the lunar surface in 1972.

Solander Point, where Opportunity is heading now, has two main
attractions. First, it has a thick series of strata to look at, and
secondly, there are north-facing slopes where the rover can tilt its
solar panels toward the Sun and hope to ride out the coming winter.
The minimum-sunshine days of this sixth Martian winter for Opportunity
will come next February. If Opportunity survives another year, the
rover might yet break the 40-year-old all-time extra-terrestrial
driving record set by Lunokhod 2, a Soviet robotic vehicle that
travelled an estimated 42 km across the Moon in 1973.


A successor to the present largest fully robotic telescope is being
planned. The Liverpool Telescope (LT) is a 2-metre optical telescope
that has been in operation on La Palma since 2004. A useful feature
has been its ability to react quickly to newly discovered or transient
events, such as gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). It has also been used by
more than 2000 schools as an 'outreach programme'. Now, the community
is being consulted on its successor, LT2. Plans for it are being
developed by the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool John
Moores University, which owns and operates the LT. LT2 will be a
4m-class telescope, and the preferred location is again La Palma.

Like the existing telescope, LT2 will be fully robotic and will be
able to make rapid and flexible observations to capitalize on
discoveries made elsewhere. That will become increasingly important
as more large-scale surveys begin. From around 2020, the 'Large
Synoptic Survey' telescope is hoped to survey the entire southern sky
every few nights; but it seems not to have been noticed that that will
be rather at cross purposes with LT2, which will not be well placed to
follow up on southern objects. All the same, it is claimed that LT2
will be able to slew extremely rapidly to a new object very soon after
receiving a 'trigger' from elsewhere, in order to catch the light from
transient objects that fade extremely rapidly, like GRB after-glows.
The aim is for LT2 to be able to set on the object and start making
follow-up observations in only about a minute. There will evidently
be scope for the appointment of a ruthless administrator who will have
a particular interest in that sort of object and be in the fortunate
position of being able to give over-riding priority to it. The
interests of the poor observer whose work may be fatally compromised
when the telescope is suddenly snatched away without any warning will
presumably take a back seat.

SPA SOLAR SECTION, JUNE 2013, Rotation Nos. 2137, 2138
Richard Bailey, SPA Solar Section Director

We wonder whether Solar Cycle 24 has reached its maximum. From the
observations by Section members in June, when a record of solar
activity was made for each day, the Mean Daily Frequency, MDF, for
Active Regions was less than that for May, down to 3.59 from 5.39.
Also, the Relative Sunspot Number, R, was down to 46.61 from 72.77.

The SH was more active than the NH by a factor of about 2. The
maximum AR count of 8 was on the 23rd and the highest R number was 103
on the 18th and 20th. The month began and ended with 4 ARs visible,
and the maximum AR numbers and sunspots were from the 16th to the 23rd
with a surge of activity, a group of ARs with 5 SH/2 NH, 8 on the 23rd
6/2. No blank discs were seen, nor large ARs. MDF 3.59 R 46.61

Compared to the decline in white-light activity, prominence activity
remained about the same as in May. Some were visible daily, as were
filaments and areas of plaging to larger ARs. A large W-limb
prominence had a bright, detached part on the 9th. Other large
prominences occurred on the 7th, 13th, and 16th. A NH flare was seen
on the 2nd, E of the CM.
MDF 7.78

The full Report, plus images, can be viewed on the Solar link from the
SPA home page.

Bulletin compiled by Clive Down

(c) 2013 the Society for Popular Astronomy

Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

[BAA-ebulletin 00749] Patrick at Night - a Celebration, 28 September 2013

BAA electronic bulletin

On 28 September 2013 the Royal Astronomical Society, in collaboration with
the National Space Centre, will be holding an event to commemorate Sir
Patrick Moore and celebrate his life and legacy. The event will be held at
the National Space Centre, Leicester, and tickets (which must be booked in
advance) will cost £25.

Further details, along with a booking link, may be found at:

Bill Leatherbarrow
President, British Astronomical Association

2013 July 10
BAA-ebulletin mailing list visit:
(c) 2013 British Astronomical Association

Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info

Monday, 8 July 2013

SPA ENB No. 356

                The SOCIETY for POPULAR ASTRONOMY

          Electronic News Bulletin No. 356  2013 July 7

Here is the latest round-up of news from the Society for Popular
Astronomy.  The SPA is Britain's liveliest astronomical society, with
members all over the world.  We accept subscription payments online
at our secure site and can take credit and debit cards.  You can join
or renew via a secure server or just see how much we have to offer by

BBC Online

This seemingly rather anachronistic item refers to the passage of the
'Sun-grazing' Comet Lovejoy through the solar corona on 2011 December
16.  The comet's tail was pulled about by magnetic fields.  It went
where satellites can't go because they would melt, and we can't see
that area well from here because there is not much light coming from
it.  Its passage through the corona (the outer part of the Sun's
atmosphere) was, however, watched by several spacecraft.  The images
show the comet getting increasingly bright as it enters the corona,
where the BBC item that forms (now rather distantly) the basis of this
report claims that it encountered temperatures of millions of degrees
Celsius (in fact it was a few thousand).  The tail did not follow the
comet's head perfectly, but was perturbed by the Sun's magnetic field.
That field drives the solar wind and is responsible for energetic
events that occur in the solar corona and can cause 'space weather' --
streams of particles which can damage satellites and telecommunications
infrastructure.  The observations of Comet Lovejoy may contribute to
our understanding of the magnetic field and its activities.

After the comet made its close approach, scientists were surprised to
see that it survived, re-emerging on the other side of the Sun.  Some
days later, however, it disintegrated.  There have been about 1,600
Sun-grazing comets observed, but most of them have been very small and
seen only by satellites.  Some of the brightest recorded comets have
been from the same family, evidently all derived from a major body that
disintegrated into pieces on a previous return many centuries ago.
The 'Great Comets' of 1843, 1880, 1882 and 1887, as well as others
from previous centuries, were among them.  The moderator of these
Bulletins actually made a flight in an RAF training aircraft in a
pre-dawn effort to see the tail of the Sun-grazing Comet Ikeya-Seki
in 1965 at the time that it rounded the Sun; the comet became so
bright that it could be seen later that day, very close to the Sun, at
high noon, by observers standing in the shadow of a chimney or other
obstruction that blocked the direct view of the Sun.

Another large Sun-grazing comet, Comet Ison, is approaching, and may
become a spectacular sight in November.

University of Oxford

Scientists have investigated the compositions of supposed Martian
meteorites found on Earth and data from the 'Spirit' rover that
examined surface rocks in Gusev crater on Mars.  The fact that the
surface rocks are five times richer in nickel than the meteorites was
puzzling and had cast doubt on whether the meteorites were typical
volcanic products of Mars.  The team showed that both meteorites and
surface volcanic rocks are consistent with similar origins in the deep
interior of Mars but that the surface rocks come from a more oxygen-
rich environment, probably caused by recycling of oxygen-rich
materials into the interior.  This result is surprising because, while
the meteorites are areologically 'young', around 180 million to 1400
million years old, the rover was analysing a very old part of the
Martian surface, more than 3700 million years old.

Whilst it is possible that the composition of Mars varies a lot from
one place to another, researchers believe that it is more likely that
the differences arise through a process known as subduction, in
which material is recycled into the interior.  They suggest that the
Martian surface was oxidised very early in the history of the planet
and that, through subduction, the oxygen-rich material was drawn into
the shallow interior and recycled back to the surface during eruptions
4000 million years ago.  The meteorites, by contrast, are much younger
volcanic rocks that emerged from deeper within the planet and so were
less influenced by that process.  The implication is that Mars had an
oxygen-rich atmosphere at a time, about 4000 million years ago, well
before the rise of atmospheric oxygen on the Earth around 2500 million
years ago.  As oxidation is what gives Mars its distinctive colour it
is likely that Mars was wet, warm and rusty long before the Earth's
atmosphere became oxygen-rich.

BBC Online

The recently discovered fourth and fifth moons of Pluto now have
official names, Kerberos and Styx.  The International Astronomical
Union (IAU), which gives the official designations, stipulates in its
rules that names derive from mythology.  The names -- referring to a
three-headed dog and a river separating the living from the dead,
ranked second and third in an international public vote.  The winning
submission, Vulcan, was vetoed by the IAU on the grounds that it is
used elsewhere in astronomy, and not sufficiently associated in
mythology with Pluto, the ruler of the underworld.  The two moons,
formerly known simply as P4 and P5, were discovered in 2011 July and
2012 July, respectively.  Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in
1930.  It is now regarded not so much as a planet as one of the many
objects in the Kuiper Belt, a disc-shaped volume of icy objects beyond


Astronomers using the new Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA) have
imaged a region around a young star where dust particles can grow by
clumping together.  This is the first time that such a dust trap has
been clearly observed and modelled.  It illustrates how dust particles
in discs grow to larger sizes and can eventually form comets, planets
and other rocky bodies.  Computer models suggest that dust grains grow
when they collide and stick together.  However, when those bigger
grains collide at high speed they are often smashed to pieces again.
Even when that does not happen, the models indicate that the larger
grains would quickly move inwards because of friction between the dust
and gas and fall onto their parent star, leaving no chance that they
could grow further.  Somehow the dust needs a safe haven where the
particles can continue growing until they are big enough to survive on
their own.  Such 'dust traps' have been proposed, but there has been
no observational proof of their existence up to now.

Astronomers used ALMA to study the disc in a system called Oph-IRS 48.
They found that the star was surrounded by a ring of gas with a
central hole that was probably created by an unseen planet or
companion star.  Earlier observations by the VLT had already shown
that the small dust particles also formed a similar ring structure.
But the new ALMA view of where the larger millimetre-sized dust
particles were found was very different.  What had been discovered was
a region where bigger dust grains were trapped and could grow much
larger by colliding and sticking together.  It was a dust trap -- just
what the theorists were looking for.  The trap forms as bigger dust
particles move in the direction of regions of higher pressure.
Computer modelling has shown that such a high-pressure region can
originate from the motions of the gas at the edge of a hole just like
the one found in that disc.


Astronomers using the Swiss 1.2-m Euler telescope at the La Silla
Observatory in Chile have found a new type of variable star.  They
made regular measurements of the brightnesses of more than 3000 stars
in the open star cluster NGC 3766 over a period of seven years.  The
brightness of 36 of the stars exhibited tiny regular variations at the
level of 0.1% of the stars' normal brightness, with periods between
about 2 and 20 hours.  The stars are somewhat hotter and brighter than
the Sun, but otherwise apparently unremarkable.  The new class of
variable stars is yet to be given a name.  Many stars are known as
variable or pulsating stars, because their apparent brightness changes
over time.  How their brightness changes often depends in complex ways
on the properties of their interiors.  The phenomenon has allowed the
development of a whole branch of astrophysics called asteroseismology,
where astronomers follow stellar vibrations and can infer some of the
physical properties of the stellar interiors.  Although the cause of
the newly discovered type of variability remains unknown, there is a
tantalising clue: some of the stars seem to be fast rotators.  They
spin at speeds that are more than half of their critical velocity,
which is the threshold at which stars become unstable and throw off
material into space.


Nearly a decade ago, the Chandra X-ray Observatory saw signs of what
appeared to be a black hole accreting gas at the middle of the nearby
Sculptor galaxy (NGC 253).  Now, the 'Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope
Array' (NuSTAR), which sees higher-energy X-ray light, has found the
black hole to be dormant.  The black hole is about 5 million times the
mass of our Sun and lies at the centre of NGC 253, a so-called
starburst galaxy actively giving birth to new stars.  At 13 million
light-years away, it is one of the closest starbursts to our own
galaxy, the Milky Way.  The Milky Way is much quieter than the
Sculptor galaxy.  It makes far fewer new stars, and its black hole,
about 4 million times the mass of the Sun, is also sleeping.  Black
holes feed off surrounding accretion discs of material, and when they
run out of that fuel, they go dormant.  NGC 253 is somewhat unusual
because the black hole is asleep in the midst of tremendous star-
forming activity all around it.  The findings are teaching astronomers
how galaxies grow over time.  Nearly all galaxies are suspected to
harbour super-massive black holes at their hearts.  In the most
massive ones, the black holes are thought to grow at the same rate
that new stars form, until radiation blasting from the black holes
ultimately shuts down star formation.  In the case of the Sculptor
galaxy, astronomers do not know whether star formation is winding down
or ramping up.

Chandra first observed signs of what appeared to be a feeding super-
massive black hole at the heart of the Sculptor galaxy in 2003.  As
material spirals into a black hole, it heats up to tens of millions of
degrees and glows in X-ray light that telescopes like Chandra and
NuSTAR can see.  Then, in September and November of 2012, Chandra and
NuSTAR observed the same region simultaneously.  The NuSTAR
observations -- the first to detect focused, high-energy X-ray light
from the region -- allowed the researchers to say conclusively that
the black hole is not accreting material.  Another possibility is that
the black hole was not actually awake 10 years ago, and Chandra
observed a different source of X-rays.  Future observations with both
telescopes may solve the puzzle.  The observations also revealed a
smaller, flaring object that the researchers were able to identify as
an 'ultra-luminous X-ray source', or ULX.  ULXs are black holes
feeding off material from a partner star.  They shine more brightly
than typical stellar-mass black holes generated from dying stars, but
are fainter and more randomly distributed than the super-massive holes
at the centres of massive galaxies.


Using more than 150 Chandra observations, spread over 13 years,
researchers have identified 26 black-hole candidates in the Andromeda
galaxy.  The candidates are in the stellar-mass category, meaning that
they formed at the demise of very massive stars and typically have
masses 5 to 10 times that of the Sun.  Astronomers can detect such
otherwise invisible objects as material is pulled from a companion
star and heated up to produce radiation before it disappears into the
black hole.  The first step in identifying the black holes was to make
sure that they were stellar-mass systems in the Andromeda galaxy
itself, rather than super-massive black holes at the hearts of more
distant galaxies.  To do that, the researchers used information about
the brightness and variability of the X-ray sources in the Chandra
data: stellar-mass systems vary much more quickly than super-massive
ones.  To classify the Andromeda systems as black holes, astronomers
observed that the X-ray sources had special characteristics: they were
brighter than a certain high level of X-rays, and also had a
particular X-ray 'colour'.  Sources containing neutron stars, the
dense cores of dead stars that would be the alternative explanation
for the observations, do not show both of those features simultaneous-
ly, but sources containing black holes do.  The XMM-Newton X-ray
observatory supported this work by providing X-ray spectra for some of
the candidates.

The research group previously identified nine black-hole candidates
within the region covered by the Chandra data, and the new results add
another 26.  They may be just the 'tip of the iceberg', since most
black holes won't have close companions and will be invisible to us.
Eight of the 26 are associated with globular clusters; that
differentiates Andromeda from the Milky Way, as astronomers have yet
to find a similar black hole in one of the Milky Way's globular
clusters.  Seven of the candidates are within 1000 light-years of the
Andromeda galaxy's centre -- more than the number of black-hole
candidates with similar properties near the centre of our own galaxy.
That is not necessarily a surprise, because the bulge of stars in the
middle of Andromeda is bigger.

University of Colorado at Boulder

New observations with the Hubble telescope's 'Cosmic Origins
Spectrograph' (COS) show that normal spiral galaxies are surrounded by
haloes of gas that can be over 1 million light-years in diameter.  The
current estimate of the diameter of the Milky Way, for comparison, is
about 100,000 light-years.  The gas in the haloes was ejected from the
galaxies by supernovae, and is stored and then recycled through an
extended galactic halo, falling back into the galaxies to invigorate
a new generation of star formation.  Building on earlier studies
identifying oxygen-rich gas clouds around spiral galaxies, scientists
think that such clouds may contain almost as much mass as all the
stars in their respective galaxies.  In addition, they found
reservoirs of hot gas enshrouding the spiral galaxies and haloes under
study.  The haloes of the spiral galaxies were relatively cool by
comparison.  Previous theoretical studies suggested that spiral
galaxies should possess about five times more gas than was detected;
the new COS observations are much more in line with theory.  The team
used distant quasars as 'torches' to track ultraviolet light as it
passed through the extended gaseous haloes of foreground galaxies.
Spectra yielded estimates of temperatures, densities, velocities,
distances and chemical compositions of the gas clouds.

Bulletin compiled by Clive Down

(c) 2013 the Society for Popular Astronomy

Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info

Friday, 5 July 2013

Big Sunspot Turns Toward Earth

Space Weather News for July 5, 2013

BIG SUNSPOT: One of the biggest sunspot groups of the current solar cycle has emerged in the sun's southern hemisphere.  AR1785 has an unstable magnetic field that harbors energy for strong solar flares, and it is turning toward Earth. Check for more information and updates.

SOLAR FLARE ALERTS: Would you like a call when solar flares are underway? X-flare alerts are available from (text) and (voice).

Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Lyra Website:
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info