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Riding on Endeavour

Now you can take a virtual trip aboard shuttle Endeavour's recent launch thanks to video cameras mounted inside the ship's cockpit as well as outside on the twin solid rocket boosters and external tank.

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Launch of Phoenix

The Phoenix lander bound for the northern plains of Mars is launched atop a Delta 2 rocket from Cape Canaveral.

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Phoenix animation

Project officials narrate animation of Phoenix's launch from Earth, arrival at Mars, touchdown using landing rockets and the craft's robot arm and science gear in action.


"The Time of Apollo"

This stirring 1970s documentary narrated by Burgess Meredith pays tribute to the grand accomplishments of Apollo as men left Earth to explore the Moon and fulfill President Kennedy's challenge to the nation.


"Apollo 17: On The Shoulders of Giants"

Apollo's final lunar voyage is relived in this movie. The film depicts the highlights of Apollo 17's journey to Taurus-Littrow and looks to the future Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz and shuttle programs.


"Apollo 10: To Sort Out The Unknowns"

The May 1969 mission of Apollo 10 served as a final dress rehearsal before the first lunar landing later that summer. Stafford, Young and Cernan went to the moon to uncover lingering spacecraft problems that needed to be solved.


Traveling on Freedom 7

Fly with Alan Shepard during his historic journey into space with this documentary that takes the viewer along as an invisible companion to America's first astronaut.


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Black holes in feeding frenzy
Posted: September 2, 2007

Two University of Hawaii astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope believe they have identified what makes at least some quasars shine: the black hole at the center of a massive galaxy with little gas of its own is gobbling up material from a colliding gas-rich galaxy. The merging of two galaxies has long been thought to be an efficient way of driving gas deeply into a galaxy to feed the central black hole, but there was only indirect evidence for such a mechanism until now.

Top: A gas-rich galaxy collides with a giant galaxy, producing a quasar. Credit: Computer simulation by Joshua Barnes, University of Hawaii. Bottom: Artist's conception of the heart of a quasar, a massive black hole that sucks in a vortex of gas. Hawaii astronomers found that quasars shine because a giant galaxy with a large black hole collides with a gas-rich galaxy that feeds the black hole. Credit: A. Simonnet, Sonoma State University, NASA Education and Public Outreach.
It was already known that quasars, which are among the most powerful objects in the Universe, lie at the centers of giant galaxies and consist of a massive black hole surrounded by a vortex of gas. Before the gas falls into the black hole, it spins faster and faster, and its temperature rises until it is hot enough to radiate up to a trillion times the power from the Sun.

The question that graduate student Hai Fu and astronomer Alan Stockton tried to answer is, "Where is the gas coming from?"

To answer the question, Fu and Stockton used a telescope-mounted spectroscope to find out what the gas is made of. "We found that the gas that is spiraling into the black hole is almost pure hydrogen and helium, whereas the stars and other material in the surrounding giant galaxy are heavily contaminated by other elements such as carbon and oxygen," said Fu.

This difference implies that the infalling gas has recently come from outside the galaxy, most likely from another galaxy that is merging with the giant one. Fu and Stockton also see a chaotic distribution of fast-moving patches of relatively pure hydrogen and helium scattered around the quasar, implying that black holes not only swallow things, but can also expel a large portion of their meal out to thousands of light-years away, likely through an energetic blast that happened millions of years ago.

Fu and Stockton did their research at the UH Institute for Astronomy in Manoa valley using data from the Hubble Space Telescope, which is in orbit around Earth, and from the telescopes on Mauna Kea, the Big Island. Their work has been published in the August 1 issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii conducts research into galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets, and the sun. Its faculty and staff are also involved in astronomy education, deep space missions, and in the development and management of the observatories on Haleakala and Mauna Kea.

Established in 1907 and fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the University of Hawaii is the state's sole public system of higher education. The UH System provides an array of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and community programs on 10 campuses and through educational, training, and research centers across the state. UH enrolls more than 50,000 students from Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, and around the world.