Those who live in areas with low levels of light pollution will most likely be able to see the comet with the naked eye. People who live in cities may need binoculars or a telescope to get a glimpse. Online charts can help pinpoint its location.
Each telescope will point at Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, and measure every radio wave coming from its direction. Linking together observatories spread across such a huge area and combining their observations to filter out extra light will effectively create a powerful “virtual telescope” almost the size of Earth.
As other telescopes are added to the network in coming decades, observations of the black holes will become even more precise, and should provide fundamental insights into the workings of our universe.
The Vespa technique works by comparing the details of a transiting planet signal — specifically its duration, depth and shape — against simulated planetary and false positive signals to indicate the type of signal the candidate most likely is. At the same time, Vespa factors in the projected distribution and frequency of star types in the galaxy from which the signal originated to determine the chances that a planet with the characteristics being analyzed would exist.
The last regular contact with the spacecraft was on April. 4. The spacecraft was in good health and operating as expected.
Kepler completed its prime mission in 2012, detecting nearly 5,000 exoplanets, of which, more than 1,000 have been confirmed. In 2014 the Kepler spacecraft began a new mission called K2. In this extended mission, K2 continues the search for exoplanets while introducing new research opportunities to study young stars, supernovae, and many other astronomical objects.
To save on bandwidth, Kepler only downlinks data from the pixels associated with 156,000 target stars out of the millions of stars in the Kepler field. Data from an “aperture” of pixels around each target star are downlinked to Earth, and computer programs on Earth measure the brightness of the star based on the light that hit the pixels in the aperture. If the telescope pointing is not good enough to keep the target stars in their respective apertures on the pixels, it is impossible to measure the brightness of those stars with a precision of 20 parts per million.
Once the spacecraft checks out, Kepler will kick off its latest effort, looking toward the galactic center for planets whose gravity distorts the light from far more distant stars. This technique, known as gravitational microlensing, has been used with ground-based telescopes to discover about 46 planets, some of them orphaned from their parent stars. But the method is a first for Kepler, which searches for dips in starlight caused by planets crossing in front of their suns.
That faint rising tone, physicists say, is the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago (Listen to it here.). And it is a ringing (pun intended) confirmation of the nature of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape, which were the most foreboding (and unwelcome) part of his theory..
“Everything else in astronomy is like the eye,” he said, referring to the panoply of telescopes that have given stargazers access to more and more of the electromagnetic spectrum and the ability to peer deeper and deeper into space and time. “Finally, astronomy grew ears. We never had ears before.”
During that interval, Jupiter’s motion across the sky appears to slow. (Such erratic apparent motion stems from the complex combination of Earth’s own orbit around the sun with that of Jupiter.) A graph of Jupiter’s apparent velocity against time slopes downward, so that the area under the curve forms a trapezoid. The area of the trapezoid in turn gives the distance that Jupiter has moved along the ecliptic during the 60 days. Calculating the area under a curve to determine a numerical value is a basic operation, known as the integral between two points, in calculus. Discovering that the Babylonians understood this “was the real ‘aha!’ moment,” Ossendrijver says.
After cuneiform died out around 100 C.E., Babylonian astronomy was thought to have been virtually forgotten, he notes. It was left to French and English philosophers and mathematicians in the late Middle Ages to reinvent what the Babylonians had developed.
If JWST works as expected, it’s carrying enough fuel on-board that it should operate from 2018 through 2028, and although it’s never been done, the potential exists for a robotic (or crewed, if the technology gets developed by then) re-fueling mission to L2, which could increase the telescope’s lifetime by another decade. Just as Hubble’s been in operation for 25 years and counting, JWST could give us a generation of revolutionary science if things work out as well as they could. It’s the future of astronomy, and after more than a decade of hard work, it’s almost time to come to fruition. The future of space telescopes is almost here!
Mr Hocking, who led the new work, commented: “The important thing about our algorithm is that we have not told the machine what to look for in the images, but instead taught it how to ‘see’.”
The new work appears in “Teaching a machine to see: unsupervised image segmentation and categorisation using growing neural gas and hierarchical clustering”, A. Hocking, J. E. Geach, N. Davey & Y. Sun. The paper has been submitted to Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The Aragoscope is named after French scientist Francois Arago who first noticed how a disk diffracted light waves. The principle is based on using a large disk as a diffraction lens, which bends light from distant objects around the edge of the disk and focuses it like a conventional refraction lens. The phenomenon isn’t very pronounced on the small scale, but if the telescope is extremely large, it not only becomes practical, but also extremely powerful.
The plan calls for a satellite to be sent out several tens of thousands of miles from Earth. The satellite will unfold a huge, flower-shaped metal shade that will literally block the light of some far-out star to the point where a space telescope, which will directly communicate with Starshade, will be able to image whatever planets are orbiting it directly.