Entries in Hubble Telescope (3)


New Moon Discovered Orbiting Pluto

Illustration. Jason Reed/Photodisc(MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) -- Just seeing it was an accomplishment.  The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a tiny new moon, somewhere between 8 and 21 miles in diameter, in orbit around Pluto.  

Pluto was already known to have three other moons, named Charon, Nix, and Hydra; this newest one is, for now, designated P4.

"I find it remarkable that Hubble's cameras enabled us to see such a tiny object so clearly from a distance of more than 3 billion miles (5 billion km)," said Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., who led the observing program with Hubble.  NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is set to fly past Pluto in July 2015, and mission organizers want to know before then just what they should look for.

P4 first showed up in an image shot by the Hubble on June 28.  Its presence was confirmed by follow-up pictures shot on July 2 and July 18, according to the Space Telescope Science Institute.

What might it be like on P4?  Dark and cold, but beyond that it's too small to have much gravitational pull, almost undoubtedly too small for its gravity to have pulled it into a spherical shape.  But does it have ice or rock, a shiny surface or a dark one?  Now begin the calculations so that New Horizons, as it races through the Pluto-Charon system, can shoot images of P4 on the way.

The new moon will need a more evocative name.  Pluto and its other moons have, by tradition, been named for mythological figures from the underworld.  P4's discoverers get the honor of picking a permanent name for their find; they may welcome ideas.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hubble Photographs Oldest Known Galaxy 

File Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LEIDEN, Netherlands) – The Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a galaxy that scientists believe existed around 480 million years before the Big Bang, which would make it the oldest galaxy ever photographed. 
According to NASA, the galaxy is more than 13 billion light years from the Earth and was spotted using a newly installed wide field camera.

The galaxy, according to researches, was formed during a period of rapid growth in the universe. Some scientists hope the new image could give some answers to theories of the evolution of the universe and insight into the early cosmos.

Researchers at Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands are working to confirm if the discovery is indeed the oldest known galaxy to date.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hungarian Toxic Sludge Visible From Space

Photo Courtesy - NASA(NEW YORK) -- The toxic sludge from a reservoir spill at an aluminum plant in Hungary can be seen from space.  At least eight people have died as a result of last week's spill and more than 120 people have been burned.  Environmental advocates on the scene tell ABC News tests show the sludge is far more caustic than the dust at ground zero on 9/11. 

Pictures from Nasa's Hubble telescope show a fearsome sight.  The red sludge flows for miles.  While NASA does sometimes enhance the color in many of its images, it says this one is natural. 

The alkaline mud is a byproduct of the aluminum manufacturing process, which uses caustic soda to turn bauxite, or aluminum ore, into the lightweight metal.   The spill decimated the Marcal River in western Hungary before flowing in a more diluted state into the Danube River.  Officials and environmentalists are gravely concerned about the long-term health risks associated with the sludge. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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