Monday, February 14, 2011

Blogger Buzz: Blogger integrates with Amazon Associates

Blogger Buzz: Blogger integrates with Amazon Associates

Focus Areas

  • The Big Bang

    The night sky presents the viewer with a picture of a calm and unchanging Universe. So the 1929 discovery by Edwin Hubble that the Universe is in fact expanding at enormous speed was revolutionary. Hubble noted that galaxies outside our own Milky Way were all moving away from us, each at a speed proportional to its distance from us. He quickly realized what this meant that there must have been an instant in time (now known to be about 14 billion years ago) when the entire Universe was contained in a single point in space. The Universe must have been born in this single violent event which came to be known as the "Big Bang."
  • Dark Energy, Dark Matter

    What is dark energy? More is unknown than is known — we know how much there is, and we know some of its properties; other than that, dark energy is a mystery — but an important one. Roughly 70% of the Universe is made of dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 25%. The rest - everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter adds up to less than 5% of the Universe. Then again, maybe it shouldn't be called "normal" matter since it is a small fraction of the Universe!
  • Stars

    How do stars form and evolve? Stars are the most widely recognized astronomical objects, and represent the most fundamental building blocks of galaxies. The age, distribution, and composition of the stars in a galaxy trace the history, dynamics, and evolution of that galaxy. Moreover, stars are responsible for the manufacture and distribution of heavy elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, and their characteristics are intimately tied to the characteristics of the planetary systems that may coalesce about them. Consequently, the study of the birth, life, and death of stars is central to the field of astronomy.
  • Galaxies

    Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is typical: it has hundreds of billions of stars, enough gas and dust to make billions more stars, and about six times as much dark matter as all the stars and gas put together. And it’s all held together by gravity. Like more than two-thirds of the known galaxies, the Milky Way has a spiral shape. At the center of the spiral, a lot of energy and, occasionally, vivid flares. are being generated. Based on the immense gravity that would be required explain the movement of stars and the energy expelled, the astronomers conclude that at the center of the Milky Way is a supermassive black hole.
  • Black Holes

    Don't let the name fool you: a black hole is anything but empty space. Rather, it is a great amount of matter packed into a very small area - think of a star ten times more massive than the Sun squeezed into a sphere approximately the diameter of New York City. The result is a gravitational field so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape. In recent years, NASA instruments have painted a new picture of these strange objects that are, to many, the most fascinating objects in space. What happens at the edge of a Black Hole?
  • Planets Around Other Stars

    Throughout recorded history and perhaps before, we have wondered about the possible existence of other worlds, like or unlike our own. The earliest understanding of the solar system showed us that there were indeed other worlds in orbit about our Sun, and steadily growing understanding of their natures shows that all are dramatically different from Earth, and mostly very different from one another. As we came to understand that the stars in the sky are other suns, and that the galaxies consist of billions of stars, it appeared a near certainty that other planets must orbit other stars. And yet, it could not be proven, until the early 1990’s. Then, radio and optical astronomers detected small changes in stellar emission which revealed the presence of first a few, and now many, planetary systems around other stars. We call these planets “exoplanets” to distinguish them from our own solar system neighbors.

Question Time

  • What are the origin, evolution and fate of the Universe?

    Two of the most profound questions that all cultures, both past and present, have asked are: where did we come from and what is our destiny? Throughout history philosophers, theologians, and scientists have debated these questions. NASA Science seeks to provide quantitative information pertinent to these basic elements of human curiosity by enabling scientists and engineers to construct instruments and make measurements on these topics that were once the purview of thought experiments only.
  • How do planets, stars, galaxies and cosmic structure come into being?

    In order to understand how the Universe has changed from its initial simple state following the Big Bang (only cooling elementary particles like protons and electrons) into the magnificent Universe we see as we look at the night sky, we must understand how stars, galaxies and planets are formed.
  • When and how did the elements of life in the Universe arise?

    Following the Big Bang and the gradual cooling of the Universe the primary constituents of the cosmos were the elements hydrogen and helium. Even today, these two elements make up 98% of the visible matter in the Universe. Nevertheless, our world and everything it contains—even life itself—is possible only because of the existence of heavier elements such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, silicon, iron, and many, many others. How long did it take the first generations of stars to seed our Universe with the heavy elements we see on Earth today? When in the history of the Universe was there a sufficient supply of heavy elements to allow the formation of prebiotic molecules and terrestrial-like planets upon which those molecules might combine to form life.
  • Is there life elsewhere?

    Are we alone? This question is as old as humankind itself. For millennia, people have turned their eyes to the stars and wondered if there are others like themselves out there. Does life, be it similar to our own or not, exist elsewhere in our Solar System? Our Galaxy? Until some 15 years ago it was uncertain whether there were even any planets outside those in our own Solar System. Today we know of literally hundreds of planets orbiting other stars. Do any of these planets have conditions that would support life? What conditions favor the formation of terrestrial-class planets in developing planetary systems? NASA can help address these questions by developing missions designed to find and characterize extrasolar planetary systems.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What is Astrophysics

Astrophysics (Greek: Astro - meaning "star", and Greek: physisφύσις - meaning "nature") is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties (luminosity, density, temperature, and chemical composition) of celestial objects such as galaxies, stars, planets, exoplanets, and the interstellar medium, as well as their interactions. The study of cosmology addresses questions of astrophysics at scales much larger than the size of particular gravitationally-bound objects in the universe.
Because astrophysics is a very broad subject, astrophysicists typically apply many disciplines of physics, including mechanics, electromagnetism, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, relativity, nuclear and particle physics, and atomic and molecular physics
  These are the images of our galexy named "MILKY WAY''
Milky Way Galaxy, commonly referred to as just the Milky Way, or sometimes simply as the Galaxy, is the galaxy in which the Solar System is located. The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy that is part of the Local Group of galaxies. It is one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the observable universe. Its name is a translation of the Latin Via Lactea, in turn translated from the Greek Γαλαξίας (Galaxias), referring to the pale band of light formed by stars in the galactic plane as seen from Earth (see etymology of galaxy).
Some sources hold that, strictly speaking, the term Milky Way should refer exclusively to the band of light that the galaxy forms in the night sky, while the galaxy should receive the full name Milky Way Galaxy, or alternatively the Galaxy. However, it is unclear how widespread this convention is, and the term Milky Way is routinely used in either context.

Friday, October 8, 2010