News archive

News archive

The twenty-year saga of the International Ultraviolet Explorer, IUE, culminates in Sevilla, Spain, at a scientific conference, 11-14 November. The worlds astronomers will review the results of this spacecrafts unrivalled contribution to the exploration of the Universe in ultraviolet light. The IUE project team will also present the IUE Final Archive to the astronomical community, produced by reprocessing all of the spacecrafts observations. As an astonishing treasure-chest of data from IUEs long operating life, the Archive will enable astronomers to go on making discoveries for many years to come.
Published: 6 November 1997
ESA's Infrared Space Observatory ISO has detected dust for the first time in apparently empty space between the galaxies. German and Finnish astronomers made the discovery in the northern constellation of Coma Berenices, where more than 500 galaxies swarm together in the Coma Cluster. The intergalactic dust is concentrated towards the centre of the cluster.
Published: 6 November 1997
On 25 August, results from ESA's Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) are being presented to the world's astronomers, who have gathered in Kyoto, Japan for the XXIIIrd General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union. A full day is being used for a special session containing 18 separate presentations which illustrate the breadth of ISO's influence in astronomy, ranging from deep surveys and cosmology through extragalactic and galactic studies to our own solar system.
Published: 14 August 1997
A team of astronomers from the United States and Germany has discovered trace amounts of hydrogen fluoride gas in the near vacuum of interstellar space, using the European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory satellite, ISO, which was launched in November 1995.
Published: 12 August 1997
New Observations of Intergalactic Helium Absorption Observations of the bright southern quasar HE 2347-4342 with telescopes at the ESO La Silla Observatory and with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope (HST) have provided a group of European astronomers1 with an exceptional glimpse into an early, still unexplored transition period of the Universe. At that time, many billions of years ago, some of the enormous gaseous clouds of hydrogen and helium left over from the Big Bang had not yet been fully ionized by the increasingly strong radiation from emerging galaxies and stars.
Published: 1 August 1997
The Infrared Space Observatory ISO ought to be running out of fuel by now, 20 months after its launch on 17 November 1995, yet the astronomers and controllers at Villafranca in Spain are busier than ever. Thanks to meticulous engineering and some good fortune, the satellite's working life has stretched from a specified minimum of 18 months to more than 28 months. ESA's unique space telescope for exploring the cool and cloudy Universe by infrared rays should, according to present calculations, remain operational until April 1998.
Published: 22 July 1997
An assembly of 58 mirrors, carefully sized, formed and nested one inside another, makes the most sensitive X-ray telescope ever built. ESA's new satellite called XMM, for X-ray Multi-Mirror, will carry three identical telescopes of this kind when it goes into orbit in 1999. With its gold- coated reflecting surfaces totalling 300 square metres, XMM will revolutionize X-ray astronomy. Observations of X-rays from cosmic sources that previously took hours to accomplish will be done by XMM in a matter of seconds.
Published: 13 May 1997
To find anything to rival the new results on star positions and motions from the Hipparcos satellite, the European Space Agency's director of science has to look back 400 years. Commenting on the Hipparcos Symposium which commences in Venice on 13 May, Roger Bonnet compares it to astronomy in Denmark at the end of the 16th Century.
Published: 12 May 1997
The smart place for globe-trotting astronomers to be in May is on the island of San Giorgio in Venice, Italy. There they will gather, 13-16 May, to celebrate and discuss astonishing information about the stars that has come from ESA's Hipparcos satellite.
Published: 6 May 1997
Water is the medium of life, and ESA's cosmic water diviner continues to detect it in a wide variety of sources in the cosmos where it was previously unknown. Astronomers using ESA's Infrared Space Observatory, ISO, have found water vapour in dark clouds lying towards the centre of the Milky Way. They calculate that water is abundant in our Galaxy.
Published: 29 April 1997
Almost 300 renowned astronomers, astrophysicists and physicists from all over the world will gather in Venice on 13-16 May at the Hipparcos Venice 97 Symposium, organized by the European Space Agency.
Published: 8 April 1997
Comets contain the remnants of the raw materials that built the Earth and the other planets of the Solar System. Emphatic confirmation of this long-standing belief of astronomers comes from the detection of the mineral olivine in Comet Hale-Bopp, by ESA's Infrared Space Observatory, ISO. The 28 March issue of the US journal Science carries a report on this result by a European and American team led by Jacques Crovisier of l'Observatoire de Paris-Meudon.
Published: 28 March 1997
If you had infrared eyes, Comet Hale-Bopp would look quite different from the streaky visible object now examined by astronomers' telescopes and amateurs' binoculars all around the world, as the comet approaches its close encounter with the Sun. You would see not just the very fine dust thrown out by the comet, which makes its head and tail conspicuous to ordinary human eyes, but larger particles of dust. The colour or dominant wavelength of the infrared glow would tell you the temperature of the dust cloud. And infrared hues at other wavelengths would reveal the nature of the dust, and let you see what vapours emanate from the comet's nucleus as the Sun's rays warm its chilly surface.
Published: 14 March 1997
The observable Universe may be about 10 per cent larger than astronomers have supposed, according to early results from the European Space Agency's Hipparcos mission. Investigators claim that the measuring ruler used since 1912 to gauge distances in the cosmos was wrongly marked.
Published: 14 February 1997
Excellent use of Hubble continues to provide astronomers in ESA's member states with a disproportionate share of the space telescope's observing time. ESA has a 15 per cent stake in the Hubble Space Telescope project, earned by providing the Faint Object Camera, the first two sets of solar power arrays, and some staff at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. Current European-led programmes account for about 22 per cent of the observing schedule. So what have Europe's astronomers been doing with Hubble?
Published: 11 February 1997
The European Space Agency's Faint Object Camera in the Hubble Space Telescope has identified a neutron star, the smallest and densest type of star that exists, lying approximately 3000 light-years away in the southern sky. It is 100 million times dimmer than faint stars seen by the unaided eye. Thus the Faint Object Camera lives up to its name by revealing objects in the Universe close to the limit of visibility.
Published: 28 November 1996
A special issue of the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, published in the latter part of November 1996, is devoted to early results from the European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory. Ninety-one scientific papers tell of unprecedented inspections of the cool universe and its hidden corners, as ISO and its four excellent instruments rewrite the astronomical textbooks.
Published: 28 November 1996
The International Ultraviolet Explorer has completed a campaign of special observations of Jupiter in concert with the Hubble Space Telescope and with NASA's Galileo spacecraft now in orbit around the giant planet. IUE provided an unrepeatable opportunity for sustained observations by ultraviolet light, over 40 days, as its contribution to the programme called the International Jupiter Watch. Important targets were the aurorae, activated by charged particles hitting Jupiter's atmosphere, which IUE discovered around the planet's magnetic poles in 1980.
Published: 30 September 1996
This month, exactly seven years after the launch of the European Space Agency's star-mapping satellite Hipparcos in August 1989, the Hipparcos Catalogue has been completed for distribution to contributing scientists. The satellite expired in 1993, after nearly four years of operation. Since then, number- crunching computers across Europe have digested and reconciled a million million bits of information to pinpoint the positions of 118 000 stars.
Published: 22 August 1996
The water that we drink and which fills the world's oceans had its origin among the stars. Astronomers are enthralled by results from the European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory, ISO, which reveal the chemistry of our Galaxy in unprecedented detail. Surprisingly conspicuous in the neighbourhood of stars at the end of their lives is water vapour made by the combination of primordial hydrogen with oxygen atoms newly manufactured by the stars themselves. Water then reappears during the formation of new stars and planets from the interstellar medium. This happened at the origin of tbe Solar System, and incidentally supplied the water which accounts for more than half of a human being's body weight.
Published: 12 June 1996
29-May-2024 03:29 UT

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