How to get to the sun?

The first space exploration to study a star up close

If all goes according to plan, starting around 3:30 am Eastern on Saturday, NASA will launch the Parker Probe from Cape Canaveral, Florida. If you’re game to stay up that late, check out the live stream of the launch below (or check back during daylight hours for a replay).

After launch, the probe will make its first pass of the sun in about three months. But it will actually take around seven years to dip down within 4 million miles of the solar surface and get a super-close look at the corona. (The corona extends outward about 5 million miles from the surface.) During those seven years, the Parker Probe will make use of Venus’s gravity to alter its orbit, gradually getting closer and closer to the sun.  Continue reading “How to get to the sun?”

NASA’s Kepler Catches Early Flash of an Exploding Star

Shock Breakout

The brilliant flash of an exploding star’s shockwave — what astronomers call the “shock breakout” — has been captured for the first time in visible light by NASA’s planet-hunter, the Kepler space telescope.

An international science team led by Peter Garnavich, an astrophysics professor at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, analyzed light captured by Kepler every 30 minutes over a three-year period from 500 distant galaxies, searching some 50 trillion stars. They were hunting for signs of massive stellar death explosions known as supernovae.
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