Daily Archives: December 23, 2008

Developing Software to View Celestial Bodies

Today in the New York Times there is an article about Dr. Robert W. Gaskell of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Although he officially retired from JPL in 2006, he continues to apply his software to the mapping of images obtained by NASA satellites. Most recently he combined some 12,000 images taken by the NEAR spacecraft of the asteroid Eros. He is currently working with the MESSENGER spacecraft in putting together a 3D image of the planet Mercury. Learn more about Dr. Gaskell’s work online at

Did You Know? (1)

Did you know that the neutrino is a fundamental particle produced by hydrogen fusion in the core of stars? In fact, it is estimated that the Earth receives from our Sun about 40 billion neutrinos per second per square centimeter. If you think that sounds like a large amount, it is estimated that about 100 times that amount are passing through you and me right now, and that the origin of these neutrinos is from the “big bang” origin of the universe itself. If you do the math, you should estimate that there would be about 330 neutrinos in every cubic centimeter of the universe, if all of the neutrinos were spread out evenly in our universe. Learn more about neutrinos online at Learn more about solar neutrinos online at

An Open Question Dark Energy Remains

If you think cosmologists are settled about the best model of the universe, you are mistaken. Just today, there appeared a paper online at which seeks to provide an alternative to the standard dark energy model while still explaining the supernovae Type Ia results which lead us to believe in the accelerating expansion of the universe. In another paper available online at and accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters, Canadian astronomers provide yet another alternative view of cosmology, without the need for the standard view of dark energy. And yet another paper on dark energy modeling was released today, and is available online at within which the interactions of dark energy and cold dark matter are examined.

In Search of Gravitational Lenses

The gravitational lens effect (bending of light by gravity) was first predicted by Einstein with his General Theory of Relativity. It was originally demonstrated shortly after the World War I utilizing our Sun at the time of a total solar eclipse. It has since been instrumental in investigating the most distant galaxies in the universe. Learn about the latest gravitational lensing analyses of distant galaxies online at This group of astronomers utilized the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. You can see images from this bright arc survey online at The most distant of the galaxies discussed are estimated to be close to 8 billion light years distant.

Modeling Interacting Nebulae in the Galactic Center

In a paper to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society scientists provide their results of computer simulations of the interactions of gas clouds (nebulae) with other gas clouds near the center of our galaxy. Read more about their models and model results online at Animations made from these computer models are available online at

Jupiter Occultation of Ganymede – The Movie

Last week, scientists at the University of Arizona announced the production of a video based upon the occultation of Ganymede by Jupiter last April as captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. The announcement is available online at The fascinating video is available online at Scientific data and information about the atmosphere of Jupiter was also acquired as the reflected sunlight from Ganymede was passing through the atmosphere, providing spectral recognition of the chemical composition of the atmosphere of Jupiter.

December 2008
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