A Giant Jellyfish in Space Leaves Boffins Perplexed

A barred spiral galaxy similar to the Milky Way was discovered in 2014 by astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope. Unlike our own family of stars, this galaxy is traveling over seven million kilometers per hour through a cloud of hot gas within a cluster of galaxies. This movement is causing material to be pushed out from the galaxy, creating a tail, giving this galaxy a shape like a gigantic jellyfish. This unusual object will be a target of the James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2021.

Read More A Giant Jellyfish in Space Leaves Boffins Perplexed
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Hubble and Gaia Team Up to Measure the Mass of the Milky Way

The mass of the Milky Way Galaxy is a question that has long puzzled astronomers and astrophysicists. Estimates ranged from between 500 billion to three trillion times the mass of our Sun. A new study looked at globular clusters, groupings of a million or so stars surrounding the Milky Way. By measuring the velocity at which they circled our galaxy, as measured by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gaia Telescope, astronomers determined the Milky Way has a mass around one-and-a-half trillion times as great as our Sun.

Read More Hubble and Gaia Team Up to Measure the Mass of the Milky Way

Stars Fly Past Planet, Saving World from Isolation

Astronomers have long theorized that planetary systems can be affected by stars passing near solar systems. However, direct evidence of this has never been seen, until now.
Sitting 300 light years from Earth, the star HD 106906 is accompanied by a planet 11 times the size of Jupiter, orbiting the pair of binary stars 738 times further away than the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Computer simulations show that roughly 12 million years ago, another pair of stars passed the system, altering the orbit of this giant world, pulling it far from its stellar companions. Had the encounter not taken place, this world would have crashed into the stars around which it orbits.

Read More Stars Fly Past Planet, Saving World from Isolation

Hubble Reveals Origins of Hippocamp — The Tiny Moon of Neptune that Shouldn’t Be There

Hippocamp is one of the smallest, and darkest, moons of Neptune. Known to astronomers as “The Moon that Shouldn’t be There,” it orbits the giant planet at a distance so close to the larger moon of Proteus that it should have already been destroyed. Researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope have now concluded that this tiny satellite, just 20 miles in diameter, broke off of its larger neighbor billions of years ago, following an impact with a comet. When Voyager 2 visited Neptune in 1989, it photographed a massive impact crater on Proteus, which is likely evidence of this ancient collision.

Read More Hubble Reveals Origins of Hippocamp — The Tiny Moon of Neptune that Shouldn’t Be There

Hubble Discovers Dwarf Galaxy Playing ‘Where’s Waldo’ in Our Own Backyard

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope accidentally found a previously-unknown galaxy, 28 million light years from Earth. This family of stars was found while researchers photographed the globular star cluster NGC 6752. Dubbed Bedin 1, this small, dim galaxy is believed to be around 13 billion years old, leading astronomers to describe it as a “living fossil” of the ancient Universe.

Read More Hubble Discovers Dwarf Galaxy Playing ‘Where’s Waldo’ in Our Own Backyard

Hubble Space Telescope Camera Fails and Government Shutdown Prevents Repairs

The Hubble Space Telescope suffered a major setback as a primary instrument, the Wide Field Camera 3, failed on January 8th. This is one of two main cameras aboard the orbiting telescope, and was installed by astronauts in 2009. Backup equipment aboard Hubble might be able to revive the telescope, but engineers are not at work during a partial shutdown of the federal government. Repairs to the Hubble are unlikely to happen until the government reopens.

Read More Hubble Space Telescope Camera Fails and Government Shutdown Prevents Repairs

Hubble Space Telescope Shut Down Following Equipment Failure

The Hubble Space Telescope has been shut down temporarily following the failure of one gyroscope and unexpected behavior from a backup system. These units are used to properly orient the orbiting observatory to its desired target. NASA officials hope to get the system back online soon, restoring full capability to the 28-year-old telescope. If this proves impossible, the HST can operate in a limited capacity using only one of the remaining gyroscopes.

Read More Hubble Space Telescope Shut Down Following Equipment Failure