Status Report

Space Science News from NASA HQ 15 November 2000

By SpaceRef Editor
November 15, 2000
Filed under ,

Here’s what’s new at :


The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous team has released the first movie from
NEAR Shoemaker’s low-altitude buzz over Eros, as well as other images
showing rocks about 1.4 meters (5 feet) across. Great pics at


More x-ray and gamma-ray science from last week’s High Energy astrophysics

Astronomers using our Chandra X-ray Observatory have discovered that
protostars — stars in their youngest, “neonatal” stage — are marked by
powerful X rays from plasma ten times hotter and 100 to 100,000 times
brighter than the flares on our Sun. Screaming babies at , Chandra at

Chandra has also detected, for the first time in x-rays, a stellar
fingerprint known as a P Cygni profile. The discovery reveals a
4.5-million-mile-per-hour wind coming from a highly compact pair of stars
in our galaxy, one of which is a neutron

NASA researchers have concluded that gamma ray bursts, the most powerful
blasts known other than the Big Bang, may originate from at least two
different types of cosmic explosions. Slowly we seem to be unraveling the
mystery of GRBs.

RXTE recently observed a three-hour burst (not a GRB) on a neutron star
20,000 light years from Earth. This may mark the first observation of a
carbon-fueled thermonuclear explosion on a neutron star. Story at , RXTE at

Finally, it’s not a science result, but one of the Smithsonian
Institution’s most distinguished honors ˜ the National Air and Space
Museum’s Trophy ˜ has been awarded to the team responsible for Chandra. I
was lucky enough to be there for the ceremony; nice


Hubble Sees Bare Neutron Star Streaking Across Space – I suppose it was
wearing tennis shoes? It started running about a million years ago when
its parent star went supernova. In optical light it is about 20 billion
times fainter than the bright star Vega. Since it has no companion star
that would affect its appearance, further study should allow astronomers to
more easily confirm theories of neutron star physics and


A team of NASA researchers and their collaborators have reported their
findings from last year’s Leonid meteor storm. The key results reported
have implications for the existence and survival of organic molecules in
comet materials that reach


Finally, the web site of the week: don’t just read about astronomy, do
some! Find a local club, observatory, or planetarium at . It’s a big
universe, somebody has to look at it.

SpaceRef staff editor.