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nasagoddard Earth-Directed X-Class Flare and CME -- An active region just about squarely facing Earth erupted with an X 1.6 flare (largest class) as well as a coronal mass ejection (CME) on Sept. 10-11, 2014. This event featured both a long flare decay time and a storm of electrically charged, energetic particles. The particles can be seen as bright white specks scattering across the frames. The coronagraph movie shows the cloud of particles expanding in all directions as if it were creating a halo around the Sun.

Data shows that the CME was heading towards Earth that could generate strong aurora displays several days later. In coronagraph images the Sun (represented by the small white circle in the center) is blocked by an occulting disk so that we can observe faint features in the corona and beyond.

Credit: NASA/ESA/Goddard/SOHO #nasagoddard #sun #cme #flare #earth
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nasagoddard Far beyond the stars in the constellation of Leo (The Lion) is irregular galaxy IC 559.
IC 559 is not your everyday galaxy. With its irregular shape and bright blue spattering of stars, it is a fascinating galactic anomaly. It may look like sparse cloud, but it is in fact full of gas and dust which is spawning new stars.

Discovered in 1893, IC 559 lacks the symmetrical spiral appearance of some of its galactic peers and not does not conform to a regular shape. It is actually classified as a “type Sm” galaxy — an irregular galaxy with some evidence for a spiral structure.

Irregular galaxies make up about a quarter of all known galaxies and do not fall into any of the regular classes of the Hubble sequence. Most of these uniquely shaped galaxies were not always so — IC 559 may have once been a conventional spiral galaxy that was then distorted and twisted by the gravity of a nearby cosmic companion.

This image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3, combines a wide range of wavelengths spanning the ultraviolet, optical, and infrared parts of the spectrum.

Image credit: ESA/Hubble, NASA, D. Calzetti (UMass) and the LEGUS Team #nasagoddard #hubble #space #galaxy #star
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nasagoddard New research led by NASA researchers has found populations of the microscopic marine plants, phytoplankton, have decreased in the Northern Hemisphere. An analysis using a NASA model in combination with ocean satellite data between 1998 and 2012, showed a 1% decrease of phytoplankton per year.

Research: Decadal Trends in Global Pelagic Ocean Chlorophyll: A New Assessment Combining Multiple Satellites, In Situ Data and Models, Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center #nasagoddard #science
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nasagoddard Hubble Finds Supernova Companion Star after Two Decades of Searching -- This is an artist’s impression of supernova 1993J, which exploded in the galaxy M81. Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have identified the blue helium-burning companion star, seen at the center of the expanding nebula of debris from the supernova. "This is like a crime scene, and we finally identified the robber," said Alex Filippenko, professor of astronomy at University of California (UC) at Berkeley. "The companion star stole a bunch of hydrogen before the primary star exploded." SN 1993J is an example of a Type IIb supernova, unusual stellar explosions that contains much less hydrogen than found in a typical supernova. Astronomers believe the companion star took most of the hydrogen surrounding the exploding main star and continued to burn as a super-hot helium star.

Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Bacon (STScI) #nasagoddard #Hubble #galaxy #space #star #supernova
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nasagoddard NASA and the U.S. Forest Service are surveying the forests of Interior Alaska by plane. An advanced instrument will be used to create a 3D map of the forest composition. This will enable scientists to see patterns of fire recovery and provide a benchmark for future changes to the region.

Read more: http://1.usa.gov/1lTqxgS

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center #nasagoddard #NASAinAlaska #Alaska #science
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nasagoddard Meadow Fire in Yosemite National Park, #California -- The Meadow Fire in Yosemite National Park is a remote, hold-over lightning caused fire which began on September 4 and is located five miles east of Yosemite Valley, CA. The fuel burning is timber and brush. There is active fire behavior with long range spotting. The National Park Service reports that a fire, that may be a spot fire, from the Meadow lightning-caused fire, was discovered at approximately 12:30 PM, Sunday September 7. The fire is approximately 2,582 acres. It is burning within the Little Yosemite Valley on both sides of the Merced River. All trails in the area are closed. Approximately 100 hikers and backpackers were evacuated from the fire area in Little Yosemite Valley. Half-Dome, a popular tourist destination, has been closed. The fire is burning in Yosemite Wilderness. Eighty-five hikers and climbers were also evacuated from the summit of Half Dome by helicopters from the California Highway Patrol, US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park, and CAL Fire.

This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite on Sept. 07, 2014. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team #nasagoddard #wildfire #Yosemite #MeadowFire
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nasagoddard This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows a beautiful spiral galaxy known as PGC 54493, located in the constellation of Serpens (The Serpent). This galaxy is part of a galaxy cluster that has been studied by astronomers exploring an intriguing phenomenon known as weak gravitational lensing.

This effect, caused by the uneven distribution of matter (including dark matter) throughout the Universe, has been explored via surveys such as the Hubble Medium Deep Survey. Dark matter is one of the great mysteries in cosmology. It behaves very differently from ordinary matter as it does not emit or absorb light or other forms of electromagnetic energy — hence the term "dark." Even though we cannot observe dark matter directly, we know it exists. One prominent piece of evidence for the existence of this mysterious matter is known as the "galaxy rotation problem." Galaxies rotate at such speeds and in such a way that ordinary matter alone — the stuff we see — would not be able to hold them together. The amount of mass that is "missing" visibly is dark matter, which is thought to make up some 27 percent of the total contents of the Universe, with dark energy and normal matter making up the rest. PGC 55493 has been studied in connection with an effect known as cosmic shearing. This is a weak gravitational lensing effect that creates tiny distortions in images of distant galaxies.

Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt #nasagoddard #galaxy #hubble #darkmatter #space
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nasagoddard NASA's STEREO (Behind) satellite captured this magnificent coronal mass ejection (associated with an M-class flare) that flung a long stream of plasma into space (Aug. 24, 2014). We have combined a view of the Sun in extreme UV light with a broader visible light view of the Sun's corona. It is interesting to note that a lot of the plasma, lacking sufficient kinetic energy to break free from the Sun's gravity, was pulled back into the Sun.

Credit: NASA/Goddard/STEREO #nasagoddard #sun #space
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nasagoddard This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows a variety of intriguing cosmic phenomena.

Surrounded by bright stars, towards the upper middle of the frame we see a small young stellar object (YSO) known as SSTC2D J033038.2+303212. Located in the constellation of Perseus, this star is in the early stages of its life and is still forming into a fully-grown star. In this view from Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys(ACS) it appears to have a murky chimney of material emanating outwards and downwards, framed by bright bursts of gas flowing from the star itself. This fledgling star is actually surrounded by a bright disk of material swirling around it as it forms — a disc that we see edge-on from our perspective.

However, this small bright speck is dwarfed by its cosmic neighbor towards the bottom of the frame, a clump of bright, wispy gas swirling around as it appears to spew dark material out into space. The bright cloud is a reflection nebula known as [B77] 63, a cloud of interstellar gas that is reflecting light from the stars embedded within it. There are actually a number of bright stars within [B77] 63, most notably the emission-line star LkHA 326, and it nearby neighbor LZK 18.

These stars are lighting up the surrounding gas and sculpting it into the wispy shape seen in this image. However, the most dramatic part of the image seems to be a dark stream of smoke piling outwards from [B77] 63 and its stars — a dark nebula called Dobashi 4173. Dark nebulae are incredibly dense clouds of pitch-dark material that obscure the patches of sky behind them, seemingly creating great rips and eerily empty chunks of sky. The stars speckled on top of this extreme blackness actually lie between us and Dobashi 4173.

Credit: ESA/NASA #nasagoddard #hubble #space
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nasagoddard NASA Sees Massive Marie Close Enough to Affect Southern California Coast

On August 26 at 19:05 UTC (3:05 p.m. EDT) NASA's Terra satellite captured a visible image of Hurricane Marie drawing in the small remnants of Karina. Marie is over 400 miles in diameter, about the distance from Washington, D.C. to Boston, Massachusetts. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 205 miles (335 km). Because of Marie's large size and its movement to the north, it is creating rough surf that is now reaching southern California's shoreline. The National Hurricane Center noted that swells generated by Marie will continue to affect much of the west coast of the Baja California, Mexico peninsula and now including the extreme southern Gulf of California and southern California through Thursday, August 28. Life-threatening surf and rip current conditions are likely as a result of these swells as well as minor coastal flooding.

At 11 a.m. EDT (1500 UTC) Marie's maximum sustained winds had decreased to near 75 mph (120 kph). Marie was centered near latitude 22.3 north and longitude 123.7 west. That's about 880 miles (1,415 km) west of the southern tip of Baja California, Mexico. Marie is moving toward the west-northwest near 14 mph (22 kph) and is expected to turn to the northwest.

As Marie moves in a northerly direction it will be moving over progressively colder waters so the National Hurricane Center forecasts additional weakening in the next two days. My Thursday, Marie is expected to become a post-tropical cyclone.

Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response #nasagoddard #weather #marie #hurricane #california
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nasagoddard NASA Telescopes Uncover Early Construction of Giant Galaxy

Astronomers have for the first time caught a glimpse of the earliest stages of massive galaxy construction. The building site, dubbed “Sparky,” is a dense galactic core blazing with the light of millions of newborn stars that are forming at a ferocious rate.

The discovery was made possible through combined observations from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, the W.M. Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and the European Space Agency's Herschel space observatory, in which NASA plays an important role.

A fully developed elliptical galaxy is a gas-deficient gathering of ancient stars theorized to develop from the inside out, with a compact core marking its beginnings. Because the galactic core is so far away, the light of the forming galaxy that is observable from Earth was actually created 11 billion years ago, just 3 billion years after the Big Bang. Read more: http://1.usa.gov/1rAMSSr

Credit: NASA, Z. Levay, G. Bacon (STScI) #nasagoddard #hubble #space #galaxy #sparky
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nasagoddard The Eta Carinae star system does not lack for superlatives. Not only does it contain one of the biggest and brightest stars in our galaxy, weighing at least 90 times the mass of the sun, it is also extremely volatile and is expected to have at least one supernova explosion in the future.

As one of the first objects observed by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory after its launch some 15 years ago, this double star system continues to reveal new clues about its nature through the X-rays it generates.
Astronomers reported extremely volatile behavior from Eta Carinae in the 19th century, when it became very bright for two decades, outshining nearly every star in the entire sky. This event became known as the “Great Eruption.” Data from modern telescopes reveal that Eta Carinae threw off about ten times the sun’s mass during that time. Surprisingly, the star survived this tumultuous expulsion of material, adding “extremely hardy” to its list of attributes.
Today, astronomers are trying to learn more about the two stars in the Eta Carinae system and how they interact with each other. The heavier of the two stars is quickly losing mass through wind streaming away from its surface at over a million miles per hour. While not the giant purge of the Great Eruption, this star is still losing mass at a very high rate that will add up to the sun’s mass in about a millennium.

Read more at: http://1.usa.gov/1tDcLzw

Credit: NASA/CXC/GSFC/K.Hamaguchi, et al.
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nasagoddard On the evening of May 23, 2014, several supercell thunderstorms rumbled along the border between North and South Carolina and dropped significant amounts of hail. Much of the hail was quarter-sized, but the strongest storms unloaded chunks of ice as large as baseballs, according to National Weather Service staff in Columbia, South Carolina. As observers on the ground documented the hail pummeling the ground, NASA’s high-flying ER-2 aircraft flew high overhead.

During one flight, pilot Stu Broce took this photograph of the overshooting top of a storm over North Carolina. For perspective, the storm was about 50,000 feet (15,000 meters) tall, while the ER-2 cruised at an altitude of 65,000 feet (20,000 meters). (Commercial airliners usually fly at about 30,000 feet or 9,000 meters.) Overshooting tops are dome-like protrusions at the top of thunderstorms that provide evidence of very strong updrafts. Severe storms tend to have larger and longer-lived overshooting tops than less intense storms.

The ER-2 flight was part of the Integrated Precipitation and Hydrology Experiment (IPHEx), a field campaign designed to improve understanding of precipitation over mountainous terrain.

Photograph courtesy of Stu Broce and the Integrated Precipitation and Hydrology Experiment team. #nasagoddard #supercell #weather #space #hail
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nasagoddard Tropical Storm Lowell Becomes 7th Eastern Pacific Hurricane of the season.

NOAA's GOES-West satellite watched as Tropical Storm Lowell strengthened into a large hurricane during the morning of August 21 and opened its eye.

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center, while tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 185 miles (295 km). The storm stretches over a greater distance.

Lowell became the seventh hurricane of the Eastern Pacific Ocean season today, August 21 at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 UTC). Maximum sustained winds had increased to 75 mph (120 kph) making Lowell a Category One hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale. Little change in intensity is forecast by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) today, and NHC forecasters expect a slow weakening trend later today through August 22.

The NHC said that Lowell should begin to slowly weaken by August 22 as it moves over progressively cooler waters and into a drier and more stable air mass. Since Lowell is such a large cyclone, it will likely take longer than average to spin down.

Credit: NOAA/NASA GOES Project #nasagoddard #hurricane #Lowell #PacificOcean #weather
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nasagoddard Blue Marble, Eastern Hemisphere -- Image acquired March 30, 2014.

Of all the planets NASA has explored, none have matched the dynamic complexity of our own. Earth is constantly changing, and NASA are working constantly to explore and understand the planet on scales from local to global.

Though Earth science has been a key part of NASA’s mission since the agency was founded in 1958, this year has been one of the peaks. Two new Earth-observing satellites have already been launched and put to work: the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) and the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 (OCO-2). Three more missions are set to take off in the next six months: the wind-measuring ISS-RapidScat, the ISS Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS), and the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP). And research planes have been flying over polar ice, hurricanes, boreal forests, and pollution plumes.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Robert Simmon, using Suomi NPP VIIRS imagery from NOAA's Environmental Visualization Laboratory. Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, NOAA and the Department of Defense. Caption by Mike Carlowicz. You can read more about this image at earthobservatory.nasa.gov

Credit: NASA Earth Observatory #nasagoddard #BlueMarble #EarthRightNow #earth
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nasagoddard How the Sun Caused an Aurora This Week -- On the evening of Aug. 20, 2014, the International Space Station was flying past North America when it flew over the dazzling, green blue lights of an aurora. On board, astronaut Reid Wiseman captured this image of the aurora, seen from above.

This auroral display was due to a giant cloud of gas from the sun – a coronal mass ejection or CME – that collided with Earth's magnetic fields on Aug. 19, 2014, at 1:57 a.m. EDT. This event set off, as it often does, what's called a geomagnetic storm. This is a kind of space weather event where the magnetic fields surrounding Earth compress and release. This oscillation is much like a spring moving back and forth, but unlike a spring, moving magnetic fields cause an unstable environment, setting charged particles moving and initiating electric currents.

Credit: NASA #nasagoddard #ISS #space #sun #earth #aurora
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nasagoddard Hubble Stirs Up Galactic Soup

This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows a whole host of colorful and differently shaped galaxies; some bright and nearby, some fuzzy, and some so far from us they appear as small specks in the background sky. Together they appear as kind of galactic soup.

The most prominent characters are the two galaxies on the left — 2MASX J16133219+5103436 at the bottom, and its blue-tinted companion SDSS J161330.18+510335 at the top. The latter is slightly closer to us than its partner, but the two are still near enough to one another to interact. Together, the two make up a galactic pair named Zw I 136.

Both galaxies in this pair have disturbed shapes and extended soft halos. They don’t seem to conform to our view of a “typical” galaxy — unlike the third bright object in this frame, a side-on spiral seen towards the right of the image.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

#nasagoddard #space #Hubble #galaxy #sky #star
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nasagoddard Hubble Revisits a Globular Cluster’s Age -- Globular clusters are big balls of old stars that orbit around their host galaxy. It has long been believed that all the stars within a globular cluster form at the about same time, a property which can be used to determine the cluster's age. For more massive globulars however, detailed observations have shown that this is not entirely true — there is evidence that they instead consist of multiple populations of stars born at different times. One of the driving forces behind this behavior is thought to be gravity: more massive globulars manage to grab more gas and dust, which can then be transformed into new stars.

Credit: ESA and NASA #nasagoddard #hubble #space #star #galaxy
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nasagoddard Exploring our galaxy's dark side -- Clouds of gas and dust fill the space between the stars. Like giant puffs of smoke, these cosmic particles have a tendency to obscure objects from detection. But by using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, researchers can look through the clouds and see the heat radiated from distant stars, planets and even other galaxies. Since 2003, the telescope has utilized wavelengths in the infrared spectrum to uncover a hidden universe of never-before-seen places and phenomenon. Here are four mind-blowing images of the Milky Way taken by Spitzer.

Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Images courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech
Writer: Izumi Hansen (@imiliarose) #space #nasagoddard #MilkyWay #clouds
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nasagoddard Just how super is this weekend's #Supermoon? This Super! learn more: www.nasa.gov/lro Follow #NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter on Twitter here: @LRO_NASA 1mon

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