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Hubble precisely measures distance to globular star cluster

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have for the first time precisely measured the distance to one of the oldest objects in the universe -- a collection of stars born shortly after the Big Bang

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Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have for the first time precisely measured the distance to one of the oldest objects in the universe — a collection of stars born shortly after the Big Bang. This stellar assembly, a globular star cluster called “NGC 6397”, is one of the closest such clusters to Earth. The new measurement sets the cluster’s distance at 7,800 light-years away, with just a three per cent margin of error.

This new distance yardstick provides an independent estimate for the age of the universe, the US space agency said in a statement on Thursday. The new measurement will also help astronomers improve models of stellar evolution.

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Countless galaxies exist in the universe, each hiding secrets that humankind is yet to unearth. Pixabay

Star clusters are the key ingredient in stellar models because the stars in each grouping are at the same distance, have the same age, and have the same chemical composition. The new measurement uses straightforward trigonometry, the same method used by surveyors, and as old as classical Greek science. The research team calculated NGC 6397’s age at 13.4 billion years old. “The globular clusters are so old that if their ages and distances deduced from models are off by a little bit, they seem to be older than the age of the universe,” said Tom Brown of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland

The researchers say they could reach an accuracy of one per cent if they combine the Hubble distance measurement of NGC 6397 with the upcoming results obtained from the European Space Agency’s Gaia space observatory.

Also Read: NASA to intensify focus on Earth’s frozen regions

“Getting to one per cent accuracy will nail this distance measurement forever,” Brown said. The findings appeared in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. IANS

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Emmy Awards 2018: NASA Nominated for Stunning Footage of Cassini voyage to Saturn

The Emmy Awards nominations have turned out to be more diverse than last year

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The Primetime Emmys will be awarded by the ATAS in Los Angeles on September 17.
The Primetime Emmys will be awarded by the ATAS in Los Angeles on September 17. Flickr

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS) has nominated NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for Outstanding Original Interactive Program for its coverage of the Cassini mission’s Grand Finale at Saturn.

The Primetime Emmys will be awarded by the ATAS in Los Angeles on September 17.

The Creative Arts Emmys, which include interactive awards, will be presented during a separate ceremony on September 15 at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, NASA said in a statement on Friday.

In 2017, after nearly 20 years in space and 13 years revealing the wonders of Saturn, NASA’s Cassini orbiter was running out of fuel. As a final act, Cassini began a whole new mission — its Grand Finale, where it journeyed into the unknown and ended with a spectacular plunge into the planet.

Cassini’s first, daring dive into the unexplored space between the giant planet and its rings kicked off the campaign on April 26 in 2017.

NASA's stunning footage of Cassini lands Emmy nomination
NASA’s stunning footage of Cassini lands Emmy nomination. Pixabay

It culminated on September 15, 2017, with live coverage of Cassini’s plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere, with the spacecraft sending back science to the very last second.

JPL created a multi-month digital campaign to celebrate the mission’s science and engineering accomplishments and communicate why the spacecraft must meet its end in the skies of Saturn.

The multi-faceted campaign included regular updates on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and the Cassini mission website, multiple live social, web and TV broadcasts during which reporter and public questions were answered.

Also Read: NASA Juno Data Indicate Another Possible Volcano on Jupiter Moon Io

A dramatic short film to communicate the mission’s story and preview its endgame; multiple 360-degree videos, including NASA’s first 360-degree livestream of a mission event from inside JPL mission control.

The Emmy Awards nominations have turned out to be more diverse than last year. Fantasy drama “Game of Thrones” has earned 22 nominations for the coveted Awards, while HBO’s 17-year streak as the most nominated network has been broken by Netflix. (IANS)