Status Report

Space Science News from NASA HQ 11 Jan 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
January 11, 2001
Filed under ,

Hello all,

Well, I warned you there were going to be a bunch of news items coming out
of the AAS meeting this week. Much, but not all, of this comes out of our
spacecraft and research. I’ll try to be brief, but here they
come. There’s a few non-AAS items at the end, too. Enjoy!


Our two Great Observatories, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra
X-ray Observatory, have independently provided what could be the best
direct evidence yet for the existence of an event horizon, the defining
feature of a black

Planet hunters have found two new planetary systems around other stars,
neither of them much like ours and one of them downright bizarre. These two
new systems are only the second and third to be found with more than one

New evidence from Chandra suggests that a known pulsar is the present-day
counterpart to a supernova that exploded in 386 AD, a stellar explosion
witnessed by Chinese

A new study using HST data supports the hypothesis that dark matter in the
halo of our Milky Way galaxy may be composed of normal matter in the form
of small dark objects, rather than exotic

Some celestial detective work strongly suggests that the Milky Way consumed
a smaller galaxy billions of years

A different study than the one above suggests that the area around the
Milky Way contains the remains of many small galaxies that were torn apart
by the Milky Way’s gravity.

New evidence of an extreme warp in the stellar disk of the Andromeda Galaxy
– billions of twisted stars at

New results from HST reveal an intergalactic “pipeline” of material flowing
between two battered galaxies that bumped into each other about 100 million
years ago.

Evidence that small dust grains are agglomerating into larger blocks inside
a persistent shell of gas and dust around a young, nearby star is giving a
team of astronomers a rare glimpse into the process that likely formed our

Astronomers have found clues that may reveal an unexpected origin of
lithium, the abundance of which has been a

Rare Spherical Planetary Nebula Provides Step Toward Accurate Measurement
of Chemical Compositions in Stars – a really pretty pic too at

NASA Administrator Dan Goldin gave a presentation at the AAS, highlighting
many challenges and opportunities for Space Science in the future. It’s a
.pdf file at


In other news, not out of the AAS:

The Stardust mission team has improved the spacecraft’s navigation-camera
resolution to nearly normal. Stardust is preparing to make a close flyby of
the Earth on Monday, on its way to comet Wild-2 in

The countdown is underway for the launch of a revolutionary
research-balloon we designed to fly higher and longer than anything before
it, and the flight could open a new era in scientific research. The launch
is scheduled for January 16 from

Geological evidence suggests that Earth may have had surface water –and
thus conditions to support life — earlier than previously

SpaceRef staff editor.