Over the past quarter century, the Hubble Space Telescope has made more than a million observations. Introduced in 1990, the telescope completes 15 orbits a day, 340 miles above the Earth. It has changed our fundamental understanding of the universe, and NASA hopes the Hubble will last into the next decade. The successor to the Hubble is the long-awaited James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which due to delays and cost overruns will now launch at least a year later than expected, possibly in May 2020. Recently, the engineers noticed small cracks in the telescope's five-layer, tennis-sized sunshade, and valves in the spaceship's propulsion system were damaged by a cleaning solvent. The design of the JWST was certainly a challenge, as it will have a mirror that is six times larger than the Hubble and operates at 1
Gravity as a Lens
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope recently located a star more than halfway across the universe, setting a new distance record. Ikarus, a blue supergiant star 9 billion light-years away, is the farthest single star it has ever seen. Usually too weak to see, Icarus became visible due to a phenomenon called "gravitational lensing". Gravity from a closer cluster of galaxies acts as a lens in space, amplifying the star's light and making extremely weak and distant objects bright enough to see. This new way for astronomers to study individual stars in distant galaxies provides a rare, detailed look at the formation of stars. In fact, Icarus is 100 times farther away than the next single star that astronomers can study except supernovae. In the case of Icarus, the cluster of galaxies "MACS J1149 + 2223" – about 5 billion light-years away from Earth – served as "magnifying glass", which in conjunction with Hubble's enormous resolution and sensitivity allowed astronomers to study Icarus Supernova and discovered a new point of light: When they analyzed the light coming from this object, they discovered that it was a blue star, possibly hundreds of thousands of times brighter than our sun was too far away – even for the Hubble – without the Use of gravitational lenses to see.
Not enough phosphorus?
Scientists have determined which elements are essential for the formation of life, at least under conditions we experience one of these elements is phosphorus. Recent evidence suggests that it could have been a simple matter of luck that our planet had just enough of the element to start life. New observations of the cancer N ebula – first seen as a supernova in 1054 – show that the abundance and distribution of phosphorus in the Milky Way is more random than assumed. Most of the phosphor in the universe was created by the death of massive stars or when a massive star consumed its fuel and exploded to become a supernova. While phosphorus is normally difficult to observe, observations of the remains of a supernova Cassiopeia A. in 2013 found up to 100 times more phosphorus than astronomers have observed in the rest of the Milky Way. If the abundance of phosphorus in the galaxy varies greatly, it could also be the opportunity to live on other planets. These recent observations were only able to measure parts of the Crab Nebula and researchers hope to use the European Space Agency's ESA Space Telescope Herschel to study the remainder of the nebula and measure phosphorus in other supernova remnants in the Universe
Heaven for May
Jupiter shines brightest in May and rises at 8:54 pm in the southeast. Saturn follows, rising about 45 minutes into the morning of the second, with Mars rising an hour later. Mercury can then rise at 5:30 in the morning almost directly in the east. Venus is conspicuous in the west after sunset and moves from bull to twins during the month. On the morning of the fifth, Saturn and the waning Gibbon Moon are less than 2 degrees apart. The Eta Aquariid meteor shower occurs before dawn on May 7th. While the shower occasionally peaks at about one meteor per minute, the beam of the shower is just above the horizon for the few hours before dawn and the light of the waning moon (19659003) At the Planetarium
The Hoover Prize Planetarium continues to present the regularly updated "Universe in the Great" at 1pm on Saturdays and 2pm on Sundays. The planetarium has 65 seats and is located inside the Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum at 800 McKinley Monument Drive NW in Canton. Admission is included with entry to the museum. Children must be 5 years or older to attend the first Monday of the month at 1pm. is for adults. For more information, visit the planetarium blog on the museum's website or call the museum at 330-455-7043.