Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA-funded rocket to study birthplace of stars

Date:
May 27, 2014
Source:
NASA
Summary:
In deep space, floating between the stars, lies an abundance of atoms -- carbon, oxygen, hydrogen -- that over millions of years will grow into new stars and new planets. NASA successfully launched the Colorado High-resolution Echelle Stellar Spectrograph, or CHESS, payload aboard a Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket on May 24, 2014, for a 15-minute flight to observe this star nursery more comprehensively and in better detail than has been done by a single instrument ever before.

The Colorado High-resolution Echelle Stellar Spectrograph, or CHESS, sounding rocket gets ready for a six-minute flight to observe far beyond our solar system -- to peer at a place where new stars are born.
Credit: NASA/WSMR

Update -- May 27, 2014: NASA successfully launched the Colorado High-resolution Echelle Stellar Spectrograph, or CHESS, payload aboard a Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket at 3:35 a.m. EDT on May 24, 2014, from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Principal investigator Kevin France at the University of Colorado at Boulder reports that good data was received and the mission was a success. Recovery of the payload is in progress, as planned.

May 23, 2014 -- In deep space, floating between the stars, lies an abundance of atoms -- carbon, oxygen, hydrogen -- that over millions of years will grow into new stars and new planets. Early in the morning on May 24, 2014, at 2 a.m. EDT, a NASA Black Brant IX sounding rocket will carry a payload for a 15-minute flight to observe this star nursery more comprehensively and in better detail than has been done by a single instrument ever before.

"These atoms are the raw materials, the very building blocks for the next generation of stars and planets," said Kevin France at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "We're making detailed measurements of how many atoms have transitioned into molecules, which is the very first step toward star formation."

The sounding rocket payload, Colorado High-resolution Echelle Stellar Spectrograph or CHESS, will launch from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. CHESS is equipped with what's known as a spectrograph, which can parse out just how much of any given wavelength of light is present. CHESS will soar above Earth's atmosphere to look at the ultraviolet light from a bright star -- light that is blocked by the atmosphere and can't be seen from the ground. As this light courses toward Earth, it bumps into the interstellar atoms and molecules along the way, each of which can block certain wavelengths of light. Scientists know which wavelength is blocked by what, so by measuring what light is missing, they can map out the atoms and molecules that are present in space.

The CHESS spectrograph provides such detailed and comprehensive observations that it can measure not only what atoms and molecules are present, but how fast they are moving and how turbulent the gas is. Together, this information helps characterize how mature a given cloud of dust is.

"Carbon, for example, will appear differently over time," said France. "Early on the cloud will have carbon with a missing electron, called ionized carbon. As the gas gets denser, the carbon atoms gain back their electrons, so you have neutral carbon. As you get even denser clouds, the carbon binds to oxygen creating carbon monoxide molecules -- and at that point you can probe the cloud conditions that precede the collapse into a star."

Using something like CHESS to see whether you have ionized or neutral carbon, or even carbon monoxide molecules tells you more about how old the cloud is and can help scientists learn how stars form from these clouds. It's still not known exactly how long it takes before a cloud collapses to begin making a star, for example. It might be anywhere between 1 to 100 million years.

By flying such newly-developed instruments on a relatively inexpensive sounding rocket, scientists do more than just gather solid science data. They also have the chance to test and improve their instruments, perhaps to someday fly long-term on a satellite in space.

CHESS is supported through the NASA Sounding Rocket Program at the Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA. "NASA-funded rocket to study birthplace of stars." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140527151751.htm>.
NASA. (2014, May 27). NASA-funded rocket to study birthplace of stars. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140527151751.htm
NASA. "NASA-funded rocket to study birthplace of stars." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140527151751.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) The smallest of Saturn's main moons, Mimas, wobbles as it orbits. Research reveals it might be due to a global ocean underneath its icy surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins