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The Cosmic Mirror
By Daniel Fischer, Germany
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The Sky in April 2009
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Earth gravity field measurer GOCE launched in 2nd try on March 17
The ion engine has now been turned on. The timeline of early events, ESA Press Releases of Apr. 8, Apr. 6, Mar. 20, Mar. 18 (alt. German release), Mar. 17 (earlier), Mar. 16 (earlier, still earlier), Mar. 13, Mar. 11 and Mar. 9 [Deutsch], EurRockot PR of Mar. 17, DLR PMn vom 17. und 16. März, Uni Stuttgart PM vom 23. März, TU Graz PM vom 16. März, TU München PMn vom 17. und 12. März, ESA Twitter of March 14 and March 13, ESA Blog of March 13 and March 9, ESA video clips and ESOC pictures (those of the launch rehearsal commented) and coverage of April 8: KSJ. April 6: BBC. April 2: SB. March 25: Ori. March 23: SpN, DLF. March 21: SB (part 2). March 18: AD, AI. March 17: C4UT, PW, SN, NwS, BBC, RO, AFP, BAB (the comments), ST, HR, Sp., KL, TS. March 16: C4UT, BBC, Nov., G, NwS, Rtr, PlB, CbS, NaB, UT, ST, HR (German TV news clip), Sp., TS, FAZ, KL. March 15: SN. March 13: BBC, Sp.. March 11: UT. March 10: AN. Herschel/Planck launch set for May 6 after Herschel mirror worries are retired: Latest News, ESA Releases of April 8 [alt.], April 2, March 13 (another one), March 12 and March 11, interviews with key people and coverage of April 11: ScN, SF, KL. April 8: Tw. April 7: NwS, AFP. April 5: AW&ST. April 4: Tw. April 2: SN. March 14: SC.
Update # 326 of Saturday, April 11, 2009
BLAST: the science is in / The meteorites from asteroid 2008 TC3 / Heating of the solar corona ... explained!?

Over half of the far-infrared background light comes from galaxies at z>=1.2

Eight papers published about the results from the nerve-wracking BLAST balloon experiment, also topic of a unique documentary

An experiment flying on a balloon at the edge of the atmosphere has yielded the deepest far-infrared view of the sky yet achieved, revealing previously unidentified, dust-obscured, star-forming galaxies in the early Universe. Submillimetre surveys during the past decade had discovered a population of luminous, high-redshift, dusty starburst galaxies which in the redshift range from 1 to 4 go through a phase characterized by optically obscured star formation at rates several hundred times that in the local Universe. Half of the starlight from this highly energetic process is absorbed and thermally re-radiated by clouds of dust at temperatures near 30 K with spectral energy distributions peaking at 100 µm - which is redshifted to wavelengths between 200 and 500 µm.

The cumulative effect of these galaxies is to yield extragalactic optical and far-infrared backgrounds with approximately equal energy densities. Since the initial detection of the far-infrared background (FIRB), higher-resolution experiments have sought to decompose this integrated radiation into the contributions from individual galaxies. And now the results are in from an extragalactic survey at 250, 350 and 500 µm, performed by the Balloon BLAST over Antarctica. Combining its results at 500 µm with those at 24 µm, it is found that all of the FIRB comes from individual galaxies, with galaxies at z over 1.2 accounting for 70% of it. As expected, at the longest wavelengths the signal is dominated by ultraluminous galaxies at z > 1.

The Nature paper (abstract), and more papers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 and 7, BLAST, UBC and Penn. Releases and coverage by Phil. Enq., NwS, SWE, BBC, Tlr, CV and UT.
The BLAST experiment is also the topic of an unusual documentary (which has been declared an official IYA product) being shown in various science places and on TV before coming out on DVD.

New evidence for Dark Matter around dwarf galaxies

Hubble has resolved a large population of small galaxies that have remained intact, "shielded" by a halo of DM: HST PR [ESA HST, ESA]. Dwarf w/o DM: Cosmos. New class of galaxy cluster: AxB. Early assembly of the most massive galaxies: paper by Collins & al., IU Release, NwS. Structure of the Milky Way: NRAO eNews. High-energy gamma rays from Cen A: MPK PM. DE trends: NwS, ABC. Universe's lack of locality: AT.

Meet the meteorites from asteroid 2008 TC3: unusual dark ureilite achondrites

The fact that meteorites had been recovered in Sudan after the first predicted bolide (see Update #320) has been known for a while, but now more details have been revealed. In the first search campaign in the Nubian Desert on 5th - 8th December, 15 meteorites were recovered over an area 29 km long along the calculated approach path of the 4-meter sized asteroid. In later searches, a total of 4 kg of meteorites was found, which still accounts for only a small fraction of the 80 tonnes that crashed into the Earth's atmosphere. The asteroid was made of a particularly fragile material that caused it to explode at a high 37 km altitude, before it was significantly slowed down, so that the few surviving fragments scattered over a large area: The recovered meteorites were unlike anything in the meteorite collections up to that point.

After measuring how the meteorites reflected light, it was discovered that the spectra of the asteroid and meteorites agree well, which implies that the asteroid was not covered in dust and did not have much weathering from radiation in space. More importantly, it was determined that 2008 TC3 was a rare type of asteroid, called F-class, corresponding to dark ureilite achondrite meteorites with a texture and composition unlike any other ureilite meteorites found on Earth before. 2008 TC3, an 80 tonne, 4 meter asteroid with a rare composition, was first sighted by US telescopes on 6th October 2008. Subsequent observations by an international army of professional and amateur astronomers had led to the discovery that it was racing towards our planet and was due to enter the atmosphere the following morning - a first in space history.

STFC, SETI Inst. [Ast.], Sandia, Carnegie and JPL Press Releases, Nature's cover and story (free at the moment), many pictures (from a telecon; more pictures are here), Kowalski's comment and coverage by KSJ, ScAm, S&T, PS (B), ScN, BBC, AN, NwS, SFG, DC, NYT, Wir., Ind., SC [LS] (more), DM, AP, CanWest, AFP, CD, DG, UT, ST, Sp.
Impact crater collection (with stones from astroblemes) in Berlin Sp. (with video). Asteroid lightcurve inversion: BAB.

Alfven waves detected in the lower solar atmosphere, "sufficient to heat the solar corona"

Astronomers are now reporting the detection of oscillatory phenomena associated with a large bright-point group that is 430,000 square kilometers in area and located near the solar disk center: "Wavelet analysis reveals full-width half-maximum oscillations with periodicities ranging from 126 to 700 seconds originating above the bright point and significance levels exceeding 99%. These oscillations, 2.6 kilometers per second in amplitude, are coupled with chromospheric line-of-sight Doppler velocities with an average blue shift of 23 kilometers per second. A lack of cospatial intensity oscillations and transversal displacements rules out the presence of magneto-acoustic wave modes. The oscillations are a signature of Alfven waves produced by a torsional twist of ±22 degrees. A phase shift of 180 degrees across the diameter of the bright point suggests that these torsional Alfven oscillations are induced globally throughout the entire brightening. The energy flux associated with this wave mode is sufficient to heat the solar corona." It should be noted, though, that many solar physicists remained unconvinced on first reading of the paper, and nanoflares are widely seen as a viable alternative.
The paper and CORDIS and Univ. of Sheffield Releases.

Ulysses still alive - and still doing science!

Not only is ESA's solar orbiter Ulysses still alive, but it actually has had a brief resurgence of science activity over the past couple of months: PSB.
Coronas-Foton sends early pics: AI. STEREO data as video art: Black Rain. STEREO Earth trojan hunter: S@N [GSFC], CSM. STEREO watches Jupiter & Sun: BAB.

Mars Update

MRO UA Releases of Mar. 25 and Mar. 9 [the Deimos pic; more], HiRISE blog of Mar. 12 and Mar. 9, images # 11477_1275 and 11386_2065 and 118... 33 and coverage of April 10: Sci. April 9: PSB. March 31: PSB, UT. March 26: BBC, UT. March 18: SpW. March 10: BDH. March 9: SpW, PSB, UT. Mars Odyssey JPL Releases of March 11 and March 10 and coverage of March 20: NwS. March 13: ST. March 12: NwS, SC. March 8: DP. Mars Express ESA Release of March 19, VMC Blog of March 25 and coverage of March 26: UT. March 25: PSB. March 24: UT. March 19: SC. MER S@N of March 26, JPL Release of March 18 and coverage of April 11: SWB. April 10: AE. April 6: PSB. March 31: PS, Tw. March 30: SC. March 24: PSB. March 19: NwS. Phoenix U. Mich. Release of March 17 and coverage of March 25: PSB, KSJ. March 24: SN, BBC. March 23: PSB, ACL (more), S&T, KSJ. March 20: ScN. March 19: C&EN. March 18: NaB. March 17: ScAm, NYT. March 13: LAT. March 11: PPx, ABCB. March 10: SC. March 8: SN. Phobos-Grunt faces delay: IEEE. NASA Mars program problems: SC. NPLD explained by Mars radars: SC, UT. Global Warming on Mars? Climate Denial Crock.

Saturn Update

JPL Releases of Mar. 24 and Mar. 12, Stanford Release of April 7, CICLOPS Release of Mar. 23, a best of, new pictures # 116... 52 (Pan's shadow on ring), 51 (Epimetheus shadow on ring - movie), 50 (dito; still) 114... 68, 61, 52, 105... 98, 97, 96, 95 and 94 and coverage of April 5: KL. April 2: NwS. March 28: NwS. March 26: BdW, BdW, KL. March 24: NwS, CL, PSB. March 22: SLT. March 20: PSB. March 19: BYU NN. March 15: SpW.

ISS, STS & HST SM etc. Update

Discovery and Soyuz back from ISS, Atlantis prepared for HST SM. A cool STS-125 crew picture, the STS-119 gallery (on this page, til 59, the ISS exterior as seen from the departing orbiter; a sampling), Soyuz landing pictures 1 [NPOD], 2 and 3, NASA Releases of April 10, April 8, April 6, March 31, March 30, March 28, March 26, March 25 (other item), March 19, March 17 (on the bat!), March 15, March 13 and March 10 (another one), the STS-119 Status, Obama calling the ISS on Mar. 24 (transcript), DLR PM vom 16.3., LockMart PR of Mar. 24, S@N of Apr. 8, Mar. 20, Mar. 17 (on amateur astronomers imaging the ISS) and Mar. 13, NASA's Expedition 19 photos from Baikonur, A very hi-res picture (!) (earlier) and an ISS fly-around video (speeded up) of the nearly complete ISS after Discovery's departure, a NASA launch pic, collected SRB cam videos (two screenshots from it, showing the backlit plume; more, more, more video clips), an unusual launch video (edgewise!), the remaining cloud in the sky (timelapse), the ISS crew watching the launch, an i-CAN launch pic, selected amateur pictures of the launch video # 1 (great audio), 2 (better cam), 3 (wide angle), 4 (from a plane), 5 (from KSC), and still photo # 1 (most creative shot!), 2 (out of an airplane!), 2a (dito), 2b (dito), 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 (see also these and these thumbnails, TwitPicGrid - and this unexpected view :-), Magnus blog on the view and coverage of March 11...19 by CS and of April 10: Nov., CJR, SC (other story), AFP. April 9: FT, CS, NwSB, UT. April 8: SN, BBC, SC (other story), SpP, ST, Sp. (other story), AI. April 7: SN, BBC, AE, Tw. April 6: SC, IO9, CS. April 5: SN, ABC. April 4: ST. April 3: BBC, ST. April 1: S&T, SC, ST. March 31: SN, NYTB, 80B, PWB, SC, G, UT, IO9, KSJ, Sp. March 30: AW&ST, ABCB, Ex. March 29: SN, CuS, CaA. March 28: SN, SC (earlier, still earlier), ST (earlier), Sp. March 27: SN, ABCB, CL, ST. March 26: SN, BBC (video), SC (other, earlier, still earlier stories), OS, IAF, SpW, NeS, UT, AE. March 25: BBC video, SC (other, another and earlier stories), SN, KSJ, UT (other item), ST. March 24: SpP, SN, ScAm, SC, UT, ST, KL. March 23: SN, SC (earlier), UT, ST. March 22: SN (earlier), SC (earlier, still earlier), ACL, TAB, ST. March 21: SN (earlier), SC, ACT, ST. March 20: SN, CS, BBC, HP, ST. March 19: SC, Sun, Exo., NW, ST. March 18: SN, YT, Mail, SC, CNN, BBC, CuS, NaB, SD, AE, ST, Ori. March 17: SN, SC (earlier, still earlier, even earlier), ScAm, UT, AE (earlier), ST. March 16: CD, SN, SC, AP. BBC, MaD, TS, AI. March 15: NYT, SN, SC (earlier, still earlier), AP, AE, OSB, ST. March 14: SN, SC, CTV, AP. March 13: SN, SC, WP, NaB. March 12: SN (earlier, other, earlier story), SC (earlier), NYT, NwS, ScAm, BBC, X, CNN, Nov., CL, NW, STC, CTT, NSF, UT, SpW, ABCB, BAB, KSJ, ST, RP. March 11: SN, SC (earlier), NYT, ST (earlier), SpP. March 10: SN, SC (other story). March 9: SC, SpR, HPB, UT, ST, SB. Chinese manned planning: coverage of Mar. 9 and Mar. 8. HST NICMOS finetuning: RIT PR.

Kepler has jetissoned its dust cover!

Operation slightly delayed because of a safemode: JPL Release of April 7 [NASA], other updates, e.g. of March 30, earlier CfA and Keck Releases, a paper on variable stars in the FOV, the Twitter feed and coverage of April 10: Tw. April 9: DP, SC. April 8: ScAm, PSB, Tw. (earlier), AN. April 7: Tw. March 26: Sp. March 20: Tw. March 17: Tw. March 15: CD. March 14: Hon.Adv., SpC. March 13: SB, Tw., SB. March 12: SB, Tw. March 11: Lant. March 10: KSJ, Eng., CSM, Nov., SpW, Ex., KL. March 9: Tw. (earlier, still earlier), AB, WP, AW&ST, G, NaB, APOD, Ori. (ctd.). March 8: CD, AT, Tw. CoRoT planet naming rules change: Exo., SC.

Chandrayaan NASA Release of April 2, a Mini-RF gallery, papers in Current Science, Earth view of March 25 (15 min. later) and coverage of April 11: Hin. April 10: X. April 3: UT. April 2: PSB. March 29: Air&Space. March 24: Hin., PSB. March 20: Zee. Kagugya TUB PM. LRO launch now set for June 2 the earliest. Mar. 24 ELV status and coverage of April 7: KQED (11-min. video). April 2: SpN, ST. April 1: SN. March 8: AW&ST. Europe's lunar confusion? KL.

Venus Express Uni Koeln PM and coverage of March 13: UT. Venus mission visions at NASA: NwS. New Horizons spots Triton: PI Persp. of March 19, APL News, PSB, UT, BAB. Dawn Journal of March 29 and March 8. Stardust results presented: PrA.

North Korean satellite launch attempt fails - again - on April 5th

First stage worked, 2nd one did not, 3rd one cannot be assessed. Launch pictures from space(!) and on N. Korean TV (with a side effect :-), a NorthCom release, AGI simulations (pre-launch) and coverage of April 10: SN. April 9: ScAm. April 8: Nat., NYTB, G, KCNA. April 7: WP, Tel. (earlier), NYDN, Kor.Her., Ex., DJ, AFP, Sp., TS, Ori. (Teil 2). April 6: ScAm, LAT, G, AFP, UT. April 5: SN, KCNA, ABC, BBC, LAT, CNN, Tel., Yonhap (later), AFP, ST, TAZ, TS, AI. First hours after launch: BNO, NYT, WP, JT, CNN, BBC, TS. April 3: UT. April 2: CNN. April 1: CNN. Mar. 30: CNN (B), ScAm. Mar. 27: Tel., TAZ. Mar. 26: AFP, NwS. Mar. 25: AFP. Mar. 20: AD. Mar. 13: Daily NK, Tel. Mar. 12: KorT, Blo. Mar, 9: SpP, AFP. South Korea also planning a satellite launch, now for July: AW&ST. Earlier: KorT.

Iran's satellite has ended its mission and will reenter soon: coverage of Mar. 20: ST. Mar. 19: X, Rtr. Mar. 11: Payvand. Delta 2 rocket delivers another GPS satellite to orbit: SN, ST.

The satellite collision aftermath Iridium PR of Mar. 9 and coverage of Mar. 15: STC. Mar. 14: SaA. Mar. 12: SW. Mar. 11: STC, SW, ST. Mar. 10: SC, UT.

Yale pays $12M to use Mauna Kea telescopes

Yale University is the latest institution to buy time on the twin telescopes at the W.M. Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea: HonAdv. GMT visions: DLF. Hi-res imaging (with the VLTI): MPG PM, UT.

Europe's 1st ALMA receiver goes to Chile: BBC. Radio astronomy gets grant boost across Europe: MPIfR PM, BBC.

The 6dF Galaxy Survey: Final Redshift Release (DR3) and Southern Large-Scale Structures - paper by Heath Jones & al., AAO PR, S&T, ABC, NwS, UT.

Technical First Light for Gregor - largest European solar telescope starts test operations: Leibnitz Gemeinschaft PM [English version].

Fermi satellite delivers "movie" of gamma ray sky

with its changes and also the best gamma ray all-sky map: GLAST Release (earlier [NASA]), UT. Anomalous supernova? HST and Weizmann Releases [SD], ScAm, NwS, Dsc., AT, CD, TwP, ST. The origin of supernovae confirmed: paper by Maund & Smartt, Univ. of Copenhagen PR, UT. Helium star donor channel for the progenitors of type Ia supernovae: paper by Wang & al., R.A.S. PR. GRB polarization: ESA PR. Self-regulating microquasar: Chandra PR.

JWST's mirror: NASA Feature. ASTROSAT's instruments: paper. SOFIA issues: NW.

Different Evolution of Gas and Dust in Disks around Sun-like and Cool Stars

The first comprehensive, comparative Spitzer/IRS study of the dust and gas properties of disks around young sun-like stars and cool stars/brown dwarfs reveals major differences in the evolution of both the dust and gas components: paper by Pascucci & al., JPL Release, LAT.

Stars rich in carbon complex molecules may form at the center of our Milky Way galaxy: JPL Feature. Large debris disks around certain stars may imply a high rate of killer comets that wipe out any chance of life forming in these stellar systems: AB. Life could have survived Earth's early pounding: NwS.

  • HST pictures of galaxy NGC 7049 [alt].
  • Spitzer picture of M33.
  • GALEX image of planetary nebula NGC 3242.
  • XMM image of M 82.
  • Chandra image of PSR P1509-58 and its "Hand" and nebula. Fermi, HESS study blazar: GLAST PR, SpW. DM detection? KSJ, Dsc., SC, SB, OF.
  • Did Beta Pic's planet occult the star - in 1981? Old data, new interpretation: paper, NwS. The earlier sighting of the HR 8799 planet (long reported in the last Update) finally gets an HST Release, SB.
  • Redoubt eruption also monitored from space: SB, SpW. Big Pic: BG.
  • Merger of several solar sail experiments (like NanoSail-D and the Planetary Society's) being mulled: CD.
  • Does "space" begin at 118 km altitude? Univ. of Calgary PR, SC.

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