Astronomy grad student Chad Madsen gives us a peek into his study of  super-heated physics on the Sun: “This [video] is an example of running waves emanating from a sunspot observed by the IRIS slit-jaw imager. They look a lot like ripples that appear after you throw a rock into a pond. This movie covers about 80 minutes of observations. Sunspots appear dark in visible light, but those viewed in UV tend to appear bright like this one. The light you’re seeing is coming from triple-ionized silicon (Si IV 1400 A) in the solar transition region, a thin layer of the solar atmosphere where the temperature rises from thousands of degrees to millions of degrees.

Sun, you’re so weird, but I love you anyway.”

IRIS is a NASA small explorer mission developed and operated by LMSAL with mission operations executed at NASA Ames Research center and major contributions to downlink communications funded by the Norwegian Space Center (NSC, Norway) through an ESA PRODEX contract.

This map shows the effect of an enormous star, nearly one-hundred thousand times the brightness of the Sun, on star forming dust in a small slice of our galaxy. Taken from grad student Lauren Cashman and Prof. Dan Clemens' recent paper, the gray background shows dust levels measured by the WISE satellite, while red lines trace out polarization, a measure of the magnetic field winding through the dust cloud (measured by Mimir on the Perkins telescope). The dot in top right indicates the location of the super bright run-away O star Zeta Ophiuchi, whose intense ultraviolet emission is squashing the cloud’s dust and magnetic field.

"The Magnetic Field of Cloud 3 in L204": http://arxiv.org/abs/1407.3279

A group of interacting galaxies in Andromeda, NGC (also known as ARP 279), in a multicolor image compiled by BU grad students at the DCT. The larger, much more massive galaxy at the top is being distorted by the more compact galaxy below it, see from the side, is undergoing a burst of star formation at its center.

Congratulations to graduate student Dylan Morgan for winning a 2014 Chambliss Student Poster award at this winter’s American Astronomical Society meeting for his poster “Quantifying an Age-Activity Relation using Wide White Dwarf - M Dwarf Binary Pairs”! (Read the abstract).

Hot off the detector!
Last night grad student Chris Theissen took this multi-color image of the Butterfly Nebula (NGC 6302) with the 0.9m telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory.
The bright green traces the emission of hot hydrogen gas (in this image, an RGB composite of Sloan G,R,I filters, “green” represents the R band, which includes light from approx. 550nm to 700 nm).

Hot off the detector!

Last night grad student Chris Theissen took this multi-color image of the Butterfly Nebula (NGC 6302) with the 0.9m telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory.

The bright green traces the emission of hot hydrogen gas (in this image, an RGB composite of Sloan G,R,I filters, “green” represents the R band, which includes light from approx. 550nm to 700 nm).

Professor Espaillat’s recent observing run at the Discovery Channel was featured in Bostonia magazine. Bostonia produced this awesome video showcasing her work on planet formation and the DCT.

The VeSpR sounding rocket payload, returning from a successful flight over White Sands Missile Range in the Fall of 2013. Professor Clarke led the mission with PhD student Carol Carveth. VeSpR flew a far ultraviolet spectrograph to measure the Deuterium (heavy Hydrogen) to Hydrogen ratio of the top of the Venusian atmosphere. This ratio varies with altitude in the Venusian atmosphere, and learning about it where loss from the atmosphere happens is an important key in considering the total water loss history from the atmosphere. A better understanding of the water escape history on Venus will help us understand the evolution of the atmospheres of both Mars and Venus. This measurement could not have been made from a telescope on the ground because the far ultraviolet light from Venus cannot penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere. (Photo Courtesy Prof. Clarke)

NGC 1232 is a spiral galaxy, seen face on from the DCT. Image by the same team of students who brought us the spectacular side view of a spiral galaxy, NGC891.

BU grad student Matt Young captured this image of the Crab Nebula, the remnant of a supernova in the year 1054 on an observing trip to the Discovery Channel Telescope. (This image is the sum of three separate colored exposures, each exposure was long enough to bring out the details of the nebula,  but as a result, the brightest stars have saturated or “maxed-out” their pixels, causing the electrons to overflow into neighboring pixels, this is also known as “blooming”).

Prof. Clarke provided this photograph of MAVEN on the launchpad.

Maven launched successfully yesterday at 1:28 p.m. Eastern Time and is presently en-route to Mars.

Professors Withers, Clarke and Mendillo are involved in different aspects of the Maven mission to study the Martian atmosphere.