A new view of a 20,000-year old supernova remnant demonstrates the upgraded imaging power of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and provides more clues to the history of this giant cloud that resembles a beloved endangered species, the Florida Manatee.
W50 is one of the largest supernova remnants ever viewed by the VLA. At nearly 700 light years across, it covers two degrees on the sky – that’s the span of four full Moons!
The enormous W50 cloud formed when a giant star, 18,000 light years away in the constellation of Aquila, exploded as a supernova around twenty thousand years ago, sending its outer gases flying outward in an expanding bubble.
The remaining, gravitationally-crushed relic of that giant star, most likely a black hole, feeds on gas from a very close, companion star. The cannibalized gas collects in a disk around the black hole. The disk and black hole’s network of powerful magnetic field lines acts like an enormous railroad system to snag charged particles out of the disk and channel them outward in powerful jets traveling at nearly the speed of light. This system of a black hole and its feeder star shines brightly in both radio waves and X-rays and is known collectively as the SS433 microquasar.
Over time, the microquasar’s jets have forced their way through the expanding gases of the W50 bubble, eventually punching bulges outward on either side. The jets also wobble, like an unstable spinning top, and blaze vivid corkscrew patterns across the inflating bulges.
Credits: NRAO/AUI/NSF, K. Golap, M. Goss; NASA’s Wide Field Survey Explorer (WISE) / Tracy Colson.
From a message via our website: So, lets see if I got this right. You guys got US tax money to send an expensive satellite to Mars to taks pretty Hi-Def pictures for geo-physical study for why?????
We politely responded, but we often encounter folks with the belief that space exploration, and NASA in particular, is a gigantic waste of taxpayer money. NASA’s funding is less than 1 percent of the federal total. While it’s still a lot of money, it’s, well, just 1 percent. Missions have to compete for a shrinking pool of dollars, and older missions like ours, lose funding each year through attrition. That’s just the nature of the work.
But we don’t think these images are a waste of time.
Credit: NASA/The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington/Smithsonian Institution
This image shows the margin of Goethe basin. A wrinkle-ridge ring marks the margin of the nearly completely buried basin. Graben are found within two interior ridge rings and throughout the basin fill material. Read the full Mission News story for more details about a recently published scientific study of these unusual tectonic landforms.
The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft’s seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System’s innermost planet. Visit the Why Mercury? section of this website to learn more about the key science questions that the MESSENGER mission is addressing. During the one-year primary mission, MESSENGER acquired 88,746 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is now in a yearlong extended mission, during which plans call for the acquisition of more than 80,000 additional images to support MESSENGER’s science goals.
Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
Today’s Featured Image displays a classic set of aligned craters, most likely formed as a swarm of secondary impactors hit the surface. The location of this cluster is only about 10 km southeast of Rayet Y crater (14.5 km in diameter). But since the cluster extends in a northeast-southwest direction that does not point back to Rayet Y, the source of these secondary craters must be another crater. Giordano Bruno is one possible candidates in terms of the direction and maturity (similar or younger in age than Rayet Y), even though it is over about 450 km away.
For age dating small and young surfaces with crater counts, secondary craters introduce a serious problem. As the image resolution increases, we can count more small craters from a small portion of the ground, giving the impression of an increase in the accuracy of age estimates. However, secondary craters are more common at small diameters and their distribution is not random over small areas, violating one of the principal assumptions of age dating via crater counting. Counting secondaries in addition to the normal random population of primary craters can result in an artificially older age estimate for a surface.
So how can we determine if secondaries are present? One of the definitive signs of secondary craters is the clustering shown in the opening image. Random impacts over time typically don’t result in such local high densities. Secondary craters can also have a V-shaped pattern in their rays, known as a “herringbone” pattern, seen for some of the craters above. Counts of craters thus try to exclude clusters and irregularly shaped craters to minimize errors in age estimates introduced by secondaries.
Curiosity: Soil sample on the observation tray, sol 96 (11/12/12). The observation tray is used to examine soil samples before they’re consumed by the SAM or CheMin instruments. So it’s kind of hilarious (to me) that the tray looks like a plate sitting on an old fashioned checkered tablecloth. I wonder if that was intentional?
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems
N00196801.jpg was taken on November 11, 2012 and received on Earth November 12, 2012. The camera was pointing toward SATURN-DRING at approximately 307,735 miles (495,252 kilometers) away, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters.Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Opportunity: Rover tracks at Cape York, sol 3119.
This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 93 (2012-11-09 15:46:12 UTC) .Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems
W00076694.jpg was taken on November 06, 2012 and received on Earth November 06, 2012. The camera was pointing toward SATURN at approximately 1,258,904 miles (2,026,009 kilometers) away, and the image was taken using the CB2 and CL2 filters.Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute