Hypothesized First-Gen Stars Remain Unseen in Hubble Deep Views

(News from NASA) New results from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope suggest the formation of the first stars and galaxies in the early universe took place sooner than previously thought. A European team of astronomers have found no evidence of the first generation of stars, known as Population III stars, as far back as when…

June 3, 1965: NASA’s First Spacewalk

Today marks the the anniversary of America’s first spacewalk, performed by NASA astronaut Edward H. White II on the afternoon of June 3, 1965 during the four-day Gemini IV mission. In NASA terminology spacewalks are also referred to as extravehicular activities, or “EVAs” – basically anything performed by a person in space outside a spacecraft. The…

Mars May Have Repeatedly Been a Ringed Planet

(News from SETI) Scientists from the SETI Institute and Purdue University have found that the only way to produce Deimos’s unusually tilted orbit is for Mars to have had a ring billions of years ago. While some of the more massive planets in our solar system have giant rings and numerous big moons, Mars only…

ESA’s Solar Orbiter Will Fly Through the Tail(s) of Comet ATLAS

(News from ESA) ESA’s Solar Orbiter will cross through the tails of Comet ATLAS during the next few days. Although the recently launched spacecraft was not due to be taking science data at this time, mission experts have worked to ensure that the four most relevant instruments will be switched on during the unique encounter.

First Crew Dragon Astronauts Are Aboard the Space Station

(News from NASA) NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday aboard Crew Dragon, the first commercially built and operated American spacecraft to carry humans to orbit, opening a new era in human spaceflight.

Watch America’s Return to Flight Launch Live!

Just a reminder that you can watch today’s launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, carrying NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the Space Station from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Pad 39A, live right here on Lights in the Dark! 

New Theory Emerges on the Formation of Jupiter’s Galilean Moons

(From Caltech) During the first few million years of our sun’s lifetime it was surrounded by a protoplanetary disk made up of gas and dust. Jupiter coalesced from this disk and became encircled by its own disk of satellite-building material. This “circum-Jovian disk” was fed by material from the sun’s protoplanetary disk that rained down…

NGC 3147: A Spiral Giant

Here’s a view of NGC 3147, a spiral galaxy 130 million light-years away in the constellation Draco. This image is made from data acquired by Hubble’s WFC3/UVIS instrument in November 2017 (PI Adam Riess). NGC 3147 is about 140,000 light-years wide, so almost half again as big as our Milky Way. See this and more…

A Dark Horse in a Different Light

Here’s a view of the famous Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33) located 1,375 light-years away from Earth, just under Alnitak, the first star in Orion’s belt. This is a color-composite made from images acquired with Hubble in wide-band infrared in October and November of 2012. (Principal Investigator Z. Levay).

Enceladus Sprays its Ocean Into Space as it Awaits Our Return

Saturn’s 320-mile-wide moon Enceladus sprays its interior ocean into space in this picture, a color-composite made from images taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on November 30, 2010 from the moon’s night side. The original images were captured in visible light filters and the result has been subjectively adjusted for contrast and saturation. South is pointed…

When Galaxies Collide

Here’s a cosmic curiosity: Arp 148, aka “Mayall’s Object,” the aftermath of a collision between two galaxies. It’s located 450 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major (of which the Big Dipper is part.) This is my color-composite of Hubble images originally acquired in April 2007 in optical and near-infrared light.