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Space Science

Herschel's First Science Results, Eagle Nebula 91

davecl writes "Over the next three days, many new science results will come out from Herschel. The first of these, a view deep inside the stellar nursery of the Eagle Nebula, finds a huge amount of activity, revealing new stars and filaments of dust that could not have been detected by previous telescopes. Also open today is OSHI, the online showcase of Herschel images where all the new science images will be found. Herschel news also available on the Herschel Mission Blog."
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Herschel's First Science Results, Eagle Nebula

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  • Re:I'm excited (Score:1, Informative)

    by TrisexualPuppy ( 976893 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @11:28AM (#30458082)
    I had to refresh myself a bit on the mission. This [] is really good info and of course this [] is as well.
  • by qinjuehang ( 1195139 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @11:42AM (#30458308) Homepage
    No. It has unprecedented resolution for far-infared, but definitely not the first IR space telescope. Enough matter to account for dark matter would form huge structures due to gravity (assuming nebulosity), and thus if they are detectable at Herschel frequencies, they would haven been detected.
  • by xmundt ( 415364 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @11:49AM (#30458424)

    Greetings and Salutations....
    Well, it depends on how big a telescope you have. Aperture is everything, alas.
    However, even the cheapest scope will show good images of the moon and some level of detail of the planets.

    Also, you should be able to see how double stars that appear to be a single point of light when we look at them with the naked eye actually consist of several stars in close proximity.

    bigger scopes can show the nebulae and other, dimmer items.

    Go check out for many observing suggestions, etc.

  • by qinjuehang ( 1195139 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @11:58AM (#30458580) Homepage
    Depends on your skies, more location, how late you are willing to stay until, and of course your scope. For starters, try Pleiads and Orion nebula. If my guess of your position is close enough, you should be able to see both just after the sun sets completely, together with Jupiter. Mars and Saturn should come up much later. If you are feeling adventurous, try Double Cluster, M44 (Beehive), and Andromeda. Those objects I mentioned are typically visible in Binoculars, so should pose no problem for a telescope. The last 3, however, may or may not be naked-eye visible (again, depending on various factors, such like light pollution), and even if they are, might require experienced observers to pick out, so might be hard to find.
  • by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @12:08PM (#30458742)
    For starters, try Pleiads and Orion nebula. If my guess of your position is close enough, you should be able to see both just after the sun sets completely, together with Jupiter. Mars and Saturn should come up much later.

    Oh, and here's a tip:

    Saturn is worth staying up for.

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @12:11PM (#30458780) Journal

    Without the use of a telescope you could show your kids the surface of the sun by creating your own pinhole box.

    Get as large a rectangular box as you can manage which has its ends as large as possible. Affix a large piece of white paper on the inside of one end, close the box then tape all the seams so light can't enter. Take a pin and punch a hole in the end opposite of the one you put the paper on.

    Finally, cut a hole in the side of the box near the end where the paper is. When you look into this hole, you should be looking at an angle down towards the white sheet of paper. Start with a smaller hole and keep making larger until you have the size you need.

    Finally, point the end with the pinhole towards the sun then look in the hole in the side of the box. When you align the box correctly, you should see an image of the sun projected onto the white sheet of paper which is perfectly safe for your kids to look at. If you're really lucky, you might see a sunspot or two.

    Keep this box so when there is a solar eclipse viewable in your area, your kids can have a great view without having to stare at the sun with funky glasses on.

  • by davecl ( 233127 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @12:54PM (#30459462)

    The actual numbers that go to make up these images are needed to do any science with them - only a fool would try to do science with a JPEG image, but this does happen. The 'scientific rights' refer to the use of the raw numbers for these images in scientific papers. These rights apply for about 1 year after the observations are taken so that the team that has spent years building the instrument and sorting out its science can benefit. This data then becomes completely public.

  • by coastwalker ( 307620 ) <acoastwalker@hotmail. c o m> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @12:57PM (#30459510) Homepage

    Please do not suggest looking at the Sun through a telescope even as a joke, it will blind you. You can buy special filters to put over the end of a telescope at the opposite end to the one you look through, which can make a telescope safe to use. But you had better know what you are doing because even a pin hole in the filter will let in so much light that you will blind yourself. If you have ever seen someone set fire to something with a magnifying glass then you should be pretty wary of putting anything glass between your eyes and the sun. I have been using a telescope to look at the night skies for years and have not yet got around to looking at the sun with anything more than a pinbox because of the danger, I'll keep my eyes safe thanks :-)

    This is not a case of "ooh you had better wear a crash helmet in case you fall off your bike". You only occasionally fall off your bike. If you look at the sun through a telescope or binoculars it will blind you - first time, every time. This is why a pinhole box is so cool because you can see something that is literally dangerous to do any other way.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:58PM (#30460586) Homepage

    I always thought "dark" was taken to mean "beyond detection with our current instruments" ... i.e. a handy compensating factor to fix theoretical equations when those equations don't match observation.

    That's literally all it means... dark matter is matter we haven't observed directly, yes. But it isn't really a compensating factor to fix a theoretical equation. It's something that the extremely well tested and verified equations of gravity strongly suggests must exist. We've used the exact same theory to find other things we were unable to see directly, like exoplanets, that were then subsequently imaged directly. The exoplanet wasn't a 'fudge', it was an experimental prediction.

    But the kink that is thrown in the "dark matter is just matter we haven't seen yet" definition is that given the amount of dark matter that should be out there (and we even know where a lot of it should be), it seems unlikely that we wouldn't have seen it already if it was 'normal' matter, like clouds of hydrogen gas or what-not. Cus we can see those. So that would suggest that it isn't 'normal' as in Baryonic matter, and this is what gets some people in a huff because now it seems like the physicists are just making things up. There is precedent for this kind of matter, namely neutrinos which are quite real but very hard to detect. Dark matter would have to be similar, but more massive, so it is true that it is speculative. Which isn't the same as 'made up'. Plenty of particles have been inferred from theory, then later verified by experiment. Like neutrinos.

  • by coastwalker ( 307620 ) <acoastwalker@hotmail. c o m> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:27PM (#30461062) Homepage

    AstronomyCast doesnt quite hit it with me. Its hosted by two people who do the question and answer routine on a topic each week and I'd rather just hear one of them talk about the subject instead of one of them pretending to know nothing about the subject and asking questions. Its all a matter of taste but I find it a bit too packaged and distracting. Like it was trying to be a conversation but came out awkwardly like a script. The information is always top notch and interesting stuff but the style of the show is not my cup of tea. The Jodcast recently asked its listeners whether they wanted the "objects in the sky for the upcoming month" to be read as a question and answer thing and they voted for one person to talk about it. As I say its a matter of taste so I pointed out a couple of other shows, in case the one I wasn't so keen on, put people off podcasts - theres a big sky out there and there's lots of different podcasts too.

    I could mention a few more in addition to
    AstronomyCast [] top quality show with different subjects explored in depth with a teaching mission that will leave you much better informed than anything on tv ever will. The pedogogic style doesnt suit me but thats just my taste.

    "Slacker Astronomy" [] Practising astronomers interviewed and in-depth subjects discussed by enthusiastic experts, they crack abysmal jokes about technical things which might seem a little silly (or incomprehensible) but the unscripted enthusiasm appeals to me.

    The "Jodcast" [] Science staff from Manchester Universities Joderal Bank radio telescope bring us astronomy news, a themed mini drama, the night sky this month, topical discussion and an oft repeated desire for their theme tune to be redone in a heavy metal version. Well connected on Facebook et al, join in the fun.

    there are

    NASA Blueshift [] A bit slick the last time I listened, with soundbite interviews instead of a bit more detail from a single person. Most NASA stuff is a bit "wow look at that" without too much depth so I only come back to it infrequently. However it is probably perfect for the younger listener and they will probably be hooked by its friendliness.

    "Astronomy a Go Go" [] is the best observing podcast on the net bar none with Alice Few. It may prove a little intimidating to newcomers but the website is also the best general resource for amateur astronomers who want to do observing IMHO. Alice is so thorough and easy on the ear that you could easily play this one three or four times to get yourself fully up to speed on what might be worth doing in the coming month with your observing time. Solid gold this one.

    Planetary Radio [] from the Planetary Society is great if you are into rockets and the exploration of the solar system as opposed to deep space. Always an interesting listen with news features, an opinion spot from the self styled "Bill Nye the planetary guy" and loads of enthusiasm for exploring.

    365 days of astronomy [] has a few days left to run with a choice of 365 short programs from this The year of Astronomy - The ones from this year best heard now by browsing through the programs to find ones on subjects you are interested in, but the good news is that they are set to carry on with their volunteer generated 5 to 10 minute programs in 2010. Head on over and make a program for them yourself!

    The Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures http://www.astroso []

  • by Trapezium Artist ( 919330 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @03:24PM (#30461942)
    The new Herschel image shows part of the constellation of Aquila, meaning the Eagle. However, this is not the Eagle Nebula or M16: that is in the constellation of Serpens which is, coincidentally, nearby. To make matters more confusing, perhaps, the two blue parts of the image are star-forming regions, similar in principle to the Eagle Nebula. I believe that the left-hand one is Westerhout 40 and the right-hand one is Sharpless 62.
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @11:34AM (#30473942) Homepage

    The reason we have speculated about dark matter is because we can't account for the gravity we observe, isn't it so?

    Yes in the same way we couldn't 'account' for the wobble of a star, so we speculated that there were planets around it.

    If so, then how come dark matter can interact with non-dark matter via gravity? in other words, if dark matter can distort spacetime like normal matter, then dark matter is normal matter, by all accounts and purposes.

    No not exactly, because there are "accounts and purposes" of matter other than having mass. All the "normal" matter around you is Baryonic [], and in addition to having spacetime-warping mass, interacts with the strong, weak, and electromagnetic forces.

    In contrast, neutrinos only interact with the weak force, and thus can pass through large amounts of normal matter with ease -- it's EM forces that prevent this with normal matter. It also means we can't detect them from a distance, since the weak force is short range and their masses are extremely small. However, if there was a large enough cloud of them (or similar particles), we could infer its existence via the gravitational effect on other masses.

    Then why can't we detect it?

    Simply put, because all of our direct detection methods involve electromagnetism, so if the dark matter doesn't interact with EM, then it's literally invisible to those methods.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?