Space

The ESA's Herschel infrared space observatory is capturing new images from thousands of distant galaxies as they furiously build stars and beautiful star-forming clouds. The photographic evidence reveals previously hidden details and challenges old ideas about of star formation.

The new findings were presented today during a major scientific symposium held at the European Space Agency (ESA).
A new wide-field image released today by ESO has captured a large group  of galaxies belonging to the massive cluster known as Abell 315. As crowded as it may appear, this assembly of galaxies is only the proverbial "tip of the iceberg", as Abell 315 — like most galaxy clusters — is dominated by dark matter. The huge mass of this cluster deflects light from background galaxies, distorting their observed shapes slightly.
A satellite recently made the news for careening out of order and threatening other satellites with its unplanned path and bad driving. I just want to point out, that is not my satellite. Not my fault. I wasn't there.  I have an alibi!

Short recap: The ground station lost control of the geostationary (always over the same part of the Earth) communications satellite Galaxy 15, which has now started to drift from its position while still broadcasting. Folks are worried because it's still transmitting, so it might cause signal interference with other statellite broadcasts. They need to regain control and force a full shutdown.
There was a time when kids dreamt of being astronauts - a time when going up to the Moon was sexy and being a spaceman was the coolest job on the planet. As astronauts became global heroes they themselves were only too aware that there were many more heroes whose feet remained firmly on the ground but without whom those Moon missions would never have happened: Guenter Wendt was one of those heroes.
An international team of researchers has captured an enormous cloud of cosmic gas and dust - BYF73 - in the process of collapsing in on itself, a discovery which could help explain how massive stars form. The team’s findings have been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Astronomers have a good grasp of how stars such as our Sun form from clouds of gas and dust, but how heavier stars form is still largely unknown.
Astronauts could one day tend their own crops on long space missions, and researchers from Purdue say a variety of strawberry called Seascape seems to meet the requirements for becoming a space crop.

Seascape strawberries are day-neutral, meaning they aren't sensitive to the length of available daylight to flower. Seascape was tested with as much as 20 hours of daylight and as little as 10 hours. While there were fewer strawberries with less light, each berry was larger and the volume of the yields was statistically the same.

The findings are detailed in Advances in Space Research.


It almost looks like they're floating
Astronomers have found signatures in X-ray data suggesting that two mid-sized black holes exist close to the center of the nearby starburst galaxy M82, located 12 million light years from Earth.

These "survivor" black holes avoided falling into the center of the galaxy and could be examples of the seeds required for the growth of supermassive black holes in galaxies, including the one in the Milky Way.

For several decades, scientists have had strong evidence for two distinct classes of black hole: the stellar-mass variety with masses about ten times that of the Sun, and the supermassive ones, located at the center of galaxies, that range from hundreds of thousands to billions of solar masses.
An international team of astrophysicists has just unveiled the most complete atlas of nuclear rings, enormous star-forming ring-shaped regions that circle certain galactic nuclei.

The catalog, just published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, covers 113 nuclear rings in 107 different galaxies. Six are dust rings in elliptical galaxies; the rest are star-forming rings in disc galaxies.
Astronomers have found evidence of water ice and organic material on the asteroid 24 Themis. The findings, detailed in Nature, support the idea that asteroids could be responsible for bringing water and organic material to Earth, researchers say.

Using NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility on Hawaii's Mauna Kea, astronomers examined the surface of 24 Themis, a 200-kilometer wide asteroid that sits halfway between Mars and Jupiter. By measuring the spectrum of infrared sunlight reflected by the object, the researchers found the spectrum consistent with frozen water and determined that 24 Themis is coated with a thin film of ice. They also detected organic material.
A study in Applied and Environmental Microbiology suggests that bacteria common to spacecraft may be able to survive the harsh conditions on Mars long enough to inadvertently contaminate the planet with terrestrial life.

Despite sterilization efforts made to reduce the bioload on spacecraft, recent research has shown that diverse microbial communities remain at the time of launch, including acinetobacter, bacillus, escherichia, staphylococcus and streptococcus.