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NASA to launch balloon-borne Observatory to study Emissions from Cosmic material found between Stars

The observatory will help researchers map out parts of the Milky Way galaxy and a nearby galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud

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Washington, March 26, 2017: NASA has announced plans to launch a balloon-borne observatory to study the emissions from the cosmic material found between stars, known as the interstellar medium.

This data will help scientists determine the life cycle of interstellar gas in the Milky Way galaxy, witness the formation and destruction of star-forming clouds, and understand the dynamics and gas flow in the vicinity of the centre of our galaxy, the US space agency said in a statement on Saturday.

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The Galactic/Extragalactic ULDB Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory (GUSTO) mission will fly an Ultralong-Duration Balloon (ULDB) carrying a telescope with carbon, oxygen and nitrogen emission line detectors.

“GUSTO will provide the first complete study of all phases of the stellar life cycle, from the formation of molecular clouds, through star birth and evolution, to the formation of gas clouds and the re-initiation of the cycle,” said Paul Hertz of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

The mission, led by Christopher Walker of the University of Arizona, is targetted for launch in 2021 from McMurdo, Antarctica, and is expected to stay in the air between 100 to 170 days, depending on weather conditions, NASA said.

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This unique combination of data will provide the spectral and spatial resolution information needed for the researchers to untangle the complexities of the interstellar medium.

The observatory will help researchers map out parts of the Milky Way galaxy and a nearby galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud.

“NASA has a great history of launching observatories in the Astrophysics Explorers Program with new and unique observational capabilities. GUSTO continues that tradition,” Hertz added. (IANS)

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Do You Know: The Oldest Ever Detected Supernova Happened 10.5 Billion Years Ago

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UFO religion as a concept is now becoming a part of popular understanding.
Countless galaxies exist in the universe, each hiding secrets that humankind is yet to unearth. Pixabay
  • The first Supernova ever discovered was 10.5 billion years old
  • The star named DES16C2nm was detected by the Dark Energy Survey
  • Researchers used very powerful telescopes to detect it

An international team of astronomers has discovered the oldest supernova ever detected — a huge cosmic explosion that took place 10.5 billion years ago.

A supernova is the explosion of a massive star at the end of its life cycle.

The first supernova discovered was 10.5 billion years old. Wikimedia  Commons
The first supernova discovered was 10.5 billion years old. Wikimedia Commons

The exploding star, named DES16C2nm, was detected by the Dark Energy Survey (DES), an international collaboration to map several hundred million galaxies in order to find out more about dark energy — the mysterious force believed to be causing the accelerated expansion of the universe.

As detailed in a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal, light from the event has taken 10.5 billion years to reach Earth, making it the oldest supernova ever discovered and studied.

The universe itself is thought to be 13.8 billion years old.

Also Read: Mangalyaan Mission: A huge leap into space

“It’s thrilling to be part of the survey that has discovered the oldest known supernova,” said the lead author of the study Mathew Smith of the University of Southampton in Britain.

A star called DES16C2nm was discovered. Pixabay
A star called DES16C2nm was discovered. Pixabay

is extremely distant, extremely bright, and extremely rare – not the sort of thing you stumble across every day as an astronomer,” Smith said.

The researchers used three powerful telescopes — the Very Large Telescope and the Magellan, in Chile, and the Keck Observatory, in Hawaii — to measure the exploding star’s distance and brightness.

More than 400 scientists from over 25 institutions worldwide are involved in the DES, a five-year project which began in 2013.