India has successfully started Chandrayaan 3 mission. It has been created by priorly completing the Chandrayaan 1 & 2 mission. If you want to know more about its mission, the purpose, the launching date, and the hardworking team behind it. Then let us keep hovering over the following parts!

India Launches Chandrayaan 3 Mission, Aims to Become Fourth Nation on the Moon

The satellite Chandrayaan-3 was launched today (July 14) at 5:05 a.m. EDT (09:05 GMT; 2:35 p.m. local time in Sriharikota) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

The rocket carried the unmanned lander-rover pair. And the aspirations of the most populous country in the world as it shot into the sky. India has started its most ambitious mission to the moon yet.

Following a planned separation from the LVM3 around 16 minutes after launch, Chandrayaan-3 began its fuel-effective voyage to the moon. It will be entering orbit around the Earth. India will soon join the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China as the fourth nation to set foot on the moon. Assuming the remainder of the mission goes according to plan.

If you are further interested in knowing the second attempt of India at a cost-effective lunar landing, investing around 6 billion rupees ($73 million), then continue reading!

India is Aiming for Low-Cost Space Exploration Milestone

The ambitious indigenous mission costs about 6 billion rupees ($73 million). In an era when many countries compete to establish a long-term presence on the moon. Its achievement would assist India’s growing low-cost space exploration ambitions.

ISRO, the country’s premier space agency, professes to be confident of success this time, said:

With today’s launch, India began its second attempt at a soft lunar landing, nearly four years after Chandrayaan-2’s lander-rover combo crashed into the moon due to a software error.

Chandrayaan 3 mission
Chandrayaan 3 launched atop an LVM3 rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on July 14 at 5:05 a.m. EDT (0905 GMT). (Image Credit: Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO))

This assurance will be tested during the upcoming month as the spacecraft’s thrusters are repeatedly fired to extend its egg-shaped orbit of the Earth. And increase its speed in preparation for being launched into the moon’s orbit. Once there, careful maneuvers are required to securely position the lander-rover pair close to the moon’s south pole. Which is an area that India hopes to be the first to explore.

Now you are wondering about the precise landing capability near the projected landing region for Russia’s Luna 25 spacecraft, so let’s find out more about it!

India’s Chandrayaan-3 Mission Aims for Precision Lunar Landing at the South Pole

Arun Sinha, a former senior scientist at ISRO, told Space.com, said:

“This mission is most significant in terms of ultimate precise landing capability of [the] Chandrayaan-3 lander on the specified lunar surface”

Chandrayaan 3
The Chandrayaan-3 lander is seen before being encapsulated in its payload fairing. (Image credit: ISRO)

The landing zone for the mission measures 2.5 miles by 1.5 miles (4 by 2.5 kilometers). And it is located at 69.367621 south latitude and 32.348126 east longitude. It is also near the projected landing region for Russia’s Luna 25 spacecraft, slated to launch in August.

The lunar south pole, a hotspot for space research, is believed to contain large amounts of water ice that might be harvested for rocket fuel. A tantalizing location for moon outposts would be near the south pole because lunar water ice would also be necessary for life support.

Moreover, the challenges that have been faced on the south pole were challenging; let’s know more about these difficulties!

Chandrayaan 3 Mission & Overcoming Challenges of the South Pole Landing

Chandrayaan-3’s arrival, anticipated for August 23 or 24, would be historic; earlier missions that succeeded landed near the moon’s equator, while those that failed aimed to reach the south pole.

The south pole regions receive sunlight at low angles, and the lengthy shadows there make safe landing difficult. In contrast to more approachable equatorial areas, where sunlight is abundant for solar-powered spacecraft, the south polar regions have long shadows.

In addition, the legs on the lander, named Vikram (Sanskrit for “valor”), have been strengthened to help it survive a slightly high landing speed. And the area where the spacecraft can touch down has also been significantly widened to allow some room for error and ultimately increase chances of success, ISRO Chairman S. Somanath said last week during a press briefing.

Moon is one of the go-to points for scientific discoveries, and the Pragyan rover is all set for it! Let’s know how.

Pragyan Rover Set to Explore Lunar Surface, Extending Possibilities for Scientific Discoveries

Providing the landing is successful, a six-wheeled rover called Pragyan (Sanskrit for “wisdom”) will disembark from Vikram and move onto the lunar surface under the guidance of cameras. Its arsenal includes a spectrometer for examining lunar rocks and dirt and a laser-induced spectroscope for zapping targets and determining their chemical makeup.

The lander and the rover are planned to run for one lunar day (about two weeks on Earth), from the moon’s rising to set.

While the solar-powered robotic duo is not expected to survive a frigid night on the moon, “there are faint chances of extra-efficient battery charge,” Sinha told Space.com. “If this is good, another 14 [Earth] days might be available.”

The following part of the blog is solely based upon the frequently asked questions about this mission and its purposes!

What is the Aim Behind Chandrayaan 3 Mission?

Chandrayaan-3, the current mission, is primarily an opportunity to try again after the previous endeavor of landing a robotic spacecraft on the moon’s surface resulted in a crash and a crater almost four years ago. This undertaking comes when there is a revived enthusiasm for lunar exploration.

Potential Reaching Time & Point of Chandrayaan 3:

The LVM3 M4 vehicle effectively propelled Chandrayaan-3 into its designated orbit. The spacecraft is projected to require approximately a month to travel from Earth to the moon, with an anticipated landing scheduled for August 23.

Why the Chandrayaan has been only Sent to Moon?

Following Chandrayaan-2, this mission aims to showcase a range of capabilities, including achieving lunar orbit, executing a gentle landing on the moon’s surface with a lander, and deploying a rover from the lander to investigate the lunar terrain.

More About Team & Project Director Details of Chandrayaan 3 Mission:

Veeramuthuvel, the project director of Chandrayaan 3, expressed his gratitude to all the stakeholders who played a part in the mission’s success during the event. Veeramuthuvel also mentioned that the eagerly anticipated soft-landing phase marks the commencement of our voyage to the moon. The spacecraft’s progress will be closely monitored from Bengaluru.

Why are Chnadrayaan Missions Happening? Let’s Find Out the Core Purpose!

Chandra has been specifically engineered to detect X-rays emitted by regions in the universe with high energy, including remnants of stellar explosions. Its exceptional sensitivity enables comprehensive black holes, supernovas, and dark matter investigations. Chandra has significantly advanced our comprehension of the universe’s origin, evolution, and ultimate fate through these studies.

Were Chandrayaan 1 and 2 Successful?

The estimated orbital period was approximately 11 hours. Following the successful execution of this mission. India achieved the distinction of becoming the fifth nation to place a vehicle in lunar orbit. The initial Lunar Orbit Reduction Manoeuvre of Chandrayaan-1 took place on November 9, 2008, at 14:33 UTC.

The second mission, Chandrayaan-2, commenced its journey on July 22, 2019, and successfully entered lunar orbit on August 20, 2019. On September 2, 2019, the Vikram Lander was detached. While in a lunar polar orbit approximately 100 kilometers above the moon’s surface.

Step into a breathtaking cosmic realm as you witness the mesmerizing beauty of four composite photos capturing the cosmic wonders obtained by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and James Webb Space Telescope. You can catch a glimpse of this cosmic wonder two galaxies within these frames, a nebula, and a star cluster. Each image combines Chandra’s X-rays — a type of high-energy light — with previously disclosed Webb infrared data, both of which are undetectable to the naked eye. Data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (optical light) and the decommissioned Spitzer Space Telescope (infrared) are used, as well as data from the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton (X-ray) and the European Southern Observatory’s New Technology Telescope (optical). These cosmic beauties and details are made available by mapping the data to human-perceivable colors.

dazzling views from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and James Webb Space Telescope
Credits: X-ray: Chandra: NASA/CXC/SAO, XMM: ESA/XMM-Newton; IR: JWST: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI, Spitzer: NASA/JPL/CalTech; Optical: Hubble: NASA/ESA/STScI, ESO; Image Processing: L. Frattare, J. Major, and K. Arcand

What is NGC 346 and how does the Webb telescope depict the gas and dust surrounding Cosmic Wonders?

NGC 346:

About 200,000 light-years from Earth, in the Small Magellanic Cloud, is a star cluster known as NGC 346, showcasing cosmic wonders. Webb depicts plumes and arcs of gas and dust used as source material by stars and planets during their formation. The purple cloud seen with Chandra on the left is the remnants of a huge star’s supernova explosion. The Chandra data also indicates young, hot, huge stars with tremendous winds erupting from their surfaces. Along with supporting data from XMM-Newton and the ESO’s New Technology Telescope, additional Hubble, Spitzer, and data are included. (X-ray colors: purple and blue; infrared/optical colors: red, green, and blue)

What cosmic wonders does NGC 1672 hold?

NGC1672

Just like NGC 346 is also an NGC 1672 a spiral galaxy is one of the cosmic wonders, however, it is classified as a “barred” spiral by astronomers. The arms of barred spiral galaxies are typically in a straight band of stars across the center that encloses the core in regions close to their centers, in contrast to other spirals that have arms that twist all the way to their core. The Chandra data show compact objects such as neutron stars or black holes sucking material from partner stars as well as relics of exploding stars. Hubble data (optical light) fills in the spiral arms with dust and gas, while Webb data reveals dust and gas in the galaxy’s spiral arms. (X-ray is purple; optical is red, green, and blue; infrared is red, green, and blue)

What is M16 (Cosmic Wonders) and how does the Webb telescope depict the gas and dust surrounding it?

M16

Messier 16, often recognized as the Eagle Nebula, unveils cosmic wonders in the form of the renowned “Pillars of Creation.” The Webb image depicts black columns of gas and dust enveloping the few remaining newborn stars. The Chandra sources, which appear as dots, are young stars that emit a lot of X-rays. (Infrared: red, green, blue; X-ray: red, blue)

What is the significance of Messier 74 and how does the Webb telescope reveal the characteristics of gas and dust within the galaxy?

M74

 

One of the other cosmic wonders Messier 74, which we can view directly from Earth, is a spiral galaxy just like our own Milky Way. It is approximately 32 million light-years away. Messier 74 is known as the Phantom Galaxy because it is less visible with tiny telescopes than other galaxies in Charles Messier’s famous catalog from the 18th century. Infrared data from Webb highlights gas and dust, whereas X-ray data from Chandra highlights high-energy activity from stars. Additional stars and dust are visible in Hubble optical data along the dust lanes. (Optical: orange, cyan, blue; infrared: green, yellow, red, magenta; X-ray: purple)

ISRO’s Chandrayaan 3 is to be launching, its new moon mission, in July. Additionally, they are also launching the Aditya L1 mission this year. In 2023, ISRO has two exciting missions planned – Chandrayaan 3 and Aditya L1. These missions will be a big achievement for India’s space research. India’s space research organization, ISRO, is making big strides with two upcoming missions: Chandrayaan 3 and Aditya L1. Both will be launched in July 2023. 

ISRO is planning to launch Chandrayaan 3, which is their third mission to the moon. They will send a spacecraft to orbit the moon for space research. Aditya L1 will be India’s first space mission to the sun. 

ISRO's Chandrayaan 3 & Aditya L1

Flashback of the past Attempts:

Indian Space Research Organization’s first moon mission, Chandrayaan 1, was launched in 2008 and entered the moon’s orbit. In 2019, Chandrayaan 2 was sent to the moon, but unfortunately, its lander crashed because of a problem with the software.

What is ISRO’s Chandrayaan 3?

Like its predecessor “Chandrayaan 2”, Chandrayaan 3 has a lander and rover.  The lander will gently land on the moon’s surface and analyze its chemicals. In the first week of July, the mission is expected to launch. The lander will gently land on the moon’s surface and analyze its chemicals. In the first week of July, the mission is expected to launch. 

What is Aditya L1?

Aditya L1 is a significant mission for Indian Space Research Organization because it’s India’s first mission to the sun. ISRO is planning to launch a new spacecraft called Aditya L1. This spacecraft will study the solar atmosphere and it’s the first mission of its kind. It’s scheduled to launch in July 2023, right after Chandrayaan 3.

What is the purpose of Aditya’s L1 mission?

The Aditya L1 mission wants to put a spacecraft in a special orbit between the Earth and the Sun. From there, it can study the Sun’s atmosphere and magnetic storms, and how they affect our planet.

What is the budget of Chandryaan 3 and Aditya L1?

ISRO reports that the Aditya L1 mission’s budget is about Rs 378 crore, and the budget for the Chandrayaan 3 mission to the moon is about Rs 615 crore.

Bright galaxy Centaurus A (Cen A) stands out prominently in this composite image from several different telescopes. A supermassive black hole consumes matter from the surrounding gas and dust and shoots out enormous jets of high-energy particles and other matter. About 13,000 light-years away from the black hole is where the jet shown in the top left of this image begins. A dust lane can be seen circling the galaxy’s core; it likely formed as a result of a collision with a more compact galaxy many millions of years ago.

Bright galaxy Cen A Colorful view captured by multiple telescopes:

The data origins inspired the image’s color scheme. The images were captured by three different tools: Chandra X-ray Observatory, IXPE satellite, and European Southern Observatory. Chandra’s images are in blue, IXPE’s images are in orange, and ESO’s images are in white and gray. The white and gray colors represent optical light in ESO’s images. 

Bright Galaxy with Black Hole

How has IXPE helped scientists study polarization and X-ray emission in Cen A’s jets, a Bright Galaxy?

Since Chandra was launched in 1999, a lot has been learned about Cen A. In 2021, scientists will have a new tool at their disposal thanks to the launch of the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE). IXPE is designed to study polarization, a characteristic of X-ray radiation that is related to the structure of electromagnetic waves. Scientists are using this precise measurement to learn more about how particles are pushed to nearly the speed of light in the most extreme cosmic objects. Cen A, also known as NGC 5128, is a Bright Galaxy located in the constellation Centaurus, approximately 11 million light-years away from Earth. 

IXPE Observation:

Using IXPE, scientists at Cen A are investigating the origins of the X-ray emission in the jets. If particles heavier than electrons, such as protons, aren’t responsible for making the X-rays at Cen A, then the polarization of the X-rays should be detectable. Scientists will learn more as they continue to examine the data.

Cen A, the fifth brightest galaxy in the sky, is located 12 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus.

The Moon has always been a source of fascination for humanity, inspiring myths and legends across different cultures. Howeverour understanding of the Moon has grown in the last century in the last century thanks to space agencies’ efforts worldwide. India has also stepped forward to uncover the mysteries and disclose the myths about the moon. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched a series of missions called Chandrayaan to the Moon to learn more about its composition, structure, and history. Chandrayaan-1 launched in 2008 and discovered water on the Moon. ISRO launched Chandrayaan-2, a moon landing project, in 2019. Despite the lander’s crash, the orbiter continues to collect data. ISRO has prepared its next attempt Chandrayaan-3 to land a spacecraft on the moon for flight. ISRO will launch the spacecraft in June 2023.

All these projects highlight India’s expanding capacity for space research and its dedication to expanding humanity’s knowledge of space and expanding humanity’s place in it.

Now, we will discuss the Chandrayaan missions launched from India, which have significantly advanced our understanding of the nearest celestial neighbors.

Let’s start with,

Chandrayaan-1: The First Indian Lunar Space Probe

On October 22, 2008, India’s national space agency, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), officially started its Chandrayaan Missions with Chandrayaan-1, India’s first lunar space probe. The scientists designed the mission to conduct remote sensing studies of the Moon from lunar orbit. It collected data on the lunar surface’s mineralogy and elemental composition. Built at only Rs. 386 crores ($76 million), within three years, it was a low-cost spacecraft. Chandrayaan-1 carried a suite of scientific instruments from India, the United States, and the European Space Agency (ESA), making it a truly international effort.

Chandrayaan Missions: Chandrayaan 1
Image Credit: ISRO

Now, you may need to know,

What were the mission objectives and instrumentation?

Chandrayaan-1 had several objectives, including mapping the Moon in infrared, visible, and X-ray light and prospecting for various elements, minerals, and ice. Some of the particular instruments on board the spacecraft included:

  • To create a three-dimensional atlas of the lunar surface, which would help study the distribution of elements and minerals.
  • Determining the extent and depth of water-ice deposits on the lunar surface is essential for future human settlements.
  • Studying the moon’s mineral composition and geology would help us understand its formation and evolution.
  • To study the moon’s atmosphere, particularly the presence of helium-3, a rare isotope that could be used as a fuel in nuclear fusion.
  • To test new technologies for future space missions. Such as a new imaging spectrometer and a miniaturized synthetic aperture radar.

On the whole,

Is Chandrayaan-1 a success or failure?

The mission started on Oct. 22, 2008, and ended on Aug. 28, 2009. The scientists planned to leave the spacecraft in space for about two years.  But, sadly couldn’t keep exploring due to technical issues. During its operational lifetime of approximately ten months, Chandrayaan-1 made several significant discoveries, including detecting water on the Moon’s surface and mapping various elements and minerals on the lunar surface. However, the mission ended abruptly in 2009 when radio contact was lost with the spacecraft.

ISRO says that this spacecraft has almost all its objectives accomplished by then. So instead of any emergency crash, it is better to dismantle it. Chandrayaan-1 did not crash. But the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)  intentionally ended its mission. The spacecraft was in a polar orbit around the Moon. It had completed more than 3,400 orbits and collected a wealth of scientific data. However, communication with the spacecraft was lost and attempts to re-establish contact failed. Intovoid any potential damage or interference with future lunar missions, ISRO intentionally crashed the spacecraft into the lunar surface. The exact location of the impact is unknown. But scientists believe that it is in the Moon’s south pole region.

Later on, ISRO succeeded in building up another spacecraft,

Chandrayaan-2: India’s Ambitious Lunar Lander Mission

One of the Chandrayaan Missions, Chandrayaan-2, also known as 44441, was a landmark Indian lunar mission launched by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on July 22, 2019. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV-MkIII) carried out the mission. It aimed to explore the uncharted lunar south pole region. With a total mass of 3850 kg and a nominal power of 1000 W, the Chandrayaan-2 mission lasted almost a month, from its launch date until its unfortunate end on August 20, 2019. The mission was a significant milestone in India’s space exploration program and had several key objectives, including mapping the lunar surface, studying the composition of the Moon’s atmosphere, and searching for evidence of water on the lunar surface.

Chandrayaan Missions: Chandrayaan 2
Image Credit: ISRO

Let’s take a closer look on,

What were the mission objectives and instrumentation?

Chandrayaan-2 had several objectives, including conducting high-resolution remote sensing of the lunar surface, studying the Moon’s water ice deposits, and characterizing the Moon’s tenuous atmosphere. Some of the special instruments on board the spacecraft included:

  • The mission aimed to study the lunar surface’s topography, mineralogy, and geology to understand its origin and evolution.
  • Chandrayaan-2 aimed to detect and map the distribution of water ice on the Moon’s surface, which could be a potential resource for future space exploration.
  • The mission aimed to study the Moon’s tenuous atmosphere and understand its composition and dynamics.
  • Chandrayaan-2 also aimed to demonstrate India’s capabilities in soft landing on the lunar surface and rover mobility on the Moon.

Are you wondering,

How did Chandrayaan-2 fail?

The Chandrayaan-2 mission, unfortunately, met an untimely end when communication was lost during the lander descent at an altitude of about 2.1 km. Despite crashing on the lunar surface at 70.881 S, 22.784 E, the lander appeared to remain in one piece. But all communications and operations were impossible. The rover, which was supposed to be deployed shortly after landing, needed help to complete its mission. 

Although the lander and rover portions of the mission were planned for only 14-15 days, the orbiter continues to operate and gather valuable data about the Moon. Despite the challenges faced during the mission, Chandrayaan-2 was a significant achievement for India’s space exploration program. It contributed to our understanding of the Moon’s composition and the potential for future human exploration. The lessons learned from this mission will undoubtedly inform future lunar missions and continue to advance the field of planetary science.

Last but not least, 

Chandrayaan-3: India’s Next Lunar Mission:

After the success of Chandrayaan-1 and the ambitious Chandrayaan-2 mission failure, India’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), is not stopping its Chandrayaan Missions. Chandrayaan-3, also known as Chandrayaan3, is the upcoming lunar mission of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Scientists have designed it to pick up where the Chandrayaan-2 mission left off. The primary objective of this mission is to further explore and study the Moon’s surface, with a specific focus on the south polar region. 

The mission will be launched using the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV-MkIII) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. With a mass of 1752 kg and a nominal power of 738 W, Chandrayaan-3 is expected to be launched in June 2023. The scientists originally planned to launch the mission in 2020. But has been delayed due to technical issues and the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what we know so far about Chandrayaan-3.

Chandrayaan Missions: Chandrayaan 3
Image Credit: ISRO

Now let us take a closer look on,

What is the mission design?

Chandrayaan 3 is a lunar mission scheduled to launch in 2023 from Sriharikota, India, using a GSLV Mark 3 heavy-lift launch vehicle. After entering an elliptic parking orbit, the propulsion module will bring the lander/rover into a 100 km circular polar lunar orbit. Then it will separate from it. The lander will then touch down with the rover in the Moon’s south polar region, near 69.37 S, 32.35 E. 

The touchdown velocity will be less than 2 m/s vertical and 0.5 m/s horizontal to ensure a safe landing. The propulsion module/communications relay satellite will remain in lunar orbit to enable communications with Earth, with Chandrayaan 2 serving as a backup relay. The lander and rover are designed to operate for one lunar daylight period, which is about 14 Earth days. This mission will enable further exploration of the lunar surface and allow for studying the Moon’s geology and resources.

Moreover, 

What scientific instruments are onboard Chandrayaan 3?

Chandrayaan-3, the third lunar mission by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), will consist of a propulsion module, a lander, and a rover. The propulsion module generates 758 W power and carries the lander and rover to the moon. The lander has various sensors to ensure a safe touchdown, and the rover is equipped with navigation cameras and a solar panel that generates 50 W power. 

The lander will carry four scientific instruments: Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE), the Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA), the Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA), and a passive laser retroreflector array provided by NASA. The rover will carry two instruments to study the local surface elemental composition. These include an Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS).

The propulsion module/orbiter will carry the Spectropolarimetry of the Habitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) experiment to study Earth from lunar orbit. It will launch in June 2023, using the GSLV-MkIII launch vehicle from Sriharikota, India.

Lastly,

What are the objectives of Chandrayaan-3?

The objectives of this Chandrayaan Mission are similar to that of its predecessor, Chandrayaan-2. The mission aims to conduct a soft landing on the lunar surface and deploy a rover to explore the surface in greater detail. The primary scientific goals of the mission are:

  • To study the composition of the lunar surface: Chandrayaan-3 will carry scientific instruments to study the lunar surface’s mineralogy, elemental composition, and water content. This data will help scientists understand the Moon’s formation and evolution better.
  • To study the lunar environment: The mission will also study the lunar environment. It includes the Moon’s tenuous atmosphere, magnetic field, and radiation environment. This data will help scientists understand the challenges faced by future human missions to the Moon.
  • To explore the South Pole-Aitken Basin: The landing site for Chandrayaan-3 is expected to be near the Moon’s South Pole-Aitken Basin. This basin is particularly interesting to scientists because it is the largest and oldest impact basin on the Moon. Studying the basin’s composition and structure could shed light on the early history of the Moon and the solar system.

What are India’s expectations with Chandrayaan Missions?

India is not anywhere close to stopping the progress of uncovering the mysteries of the moon. Regardless of the Chandrayaan-2 failure, India heads up to discover more of the moon’s surface and neighboring celestial stars. India is now looking at its masterpiece with fixed eyes to accomplish the objectives of Chandrayaan-2.

Published by: Sky Headlines

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx is an ongoing mission that visited and collected a sample from asteroid 101955 Bennu, with the aim of returning the sample to Earth on Sept. 24, 2023.

 

What is so Exciting About the OSIRIS-REx Mission?

On Sunday morning, above the Utah desert, a parachute will deploy, gently lowering a capsule carrying approximately 250g of rubble to the ground. As it makes its descent, four helicopters, transporting scientists, engineers, and military safety personnel, will speed across the dry landscape to retrieve this valuable cargo.

Osiris-Rex mission
Nasa recovery teams in Utah participate in field rehearsals to prepare for the retrieval of the sample return capsule from the Osiris-Rex mission. Image: Keegan Barber/AP

This isn’t ordinary soil; it comprises chunks of space rock dating back 4.6 billion years. These fragments have the potential not only to provide insights into the formation of planets but also to offer clues about the origins of life itself.

Ashley King of the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London, says:

“These are some of the oldest materials formed in our solar system. Samples from asteroids [such as this] tell us what all those ingredients were for making a planet like the Earth and they also tell us what the recipe was – so how did those materials come together and start mixing together to end up with [habitable environments]?”

The final act of NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission may resemble the opening scene of an action movie, but it marks the culmination of a seven-year journey. During this, a robotic spacecraft, roughly the size of a transit van, was dispatched to investigate. And subsequently, gather resources from – the debris heap that forms the asteroid Bennu.

Bennu Samples
Source: Nasa

Diving Down Towards Earth & Details About Its Speed:

The capsule carrying this collection is anticipated to be released from the spacecraft at 06:42 AM EDT (11:42 AM BST) on Sunday. It will hurtle into Earth’s atmosphere four hours later at a speed of 27,650 miles per hour. As it descends towards Earth, its trajectory will be closely monitored, and parachutes will be deployed to gradually reduce its speed to around 11 miles per hour upon landing.

After the team retrieves the capsule, it will be placed in a sturdy metal crate, securely wrapped, and transported by helicopter to a temporary facility. By Monday, it will be swiftly transported to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

While scientists assert that there is minimal risk of the samples posing a threat to Earth, they emphasize the importance of preventing any potential contamination in the opposite direction. To achieve this, filtered air will be permitted to flow into the capsule during its descent to Earth to prevent any potential leaks that might lead to contamination. Subsequently, the capsule will be connected to a stream of nitrogen.

One of the mission’s objectives is to gain a better understanding of how to predict and safeguard Earth from potential asteroid impacts. Analyzing the physical properties of the collected samples, such as their density and porosity, is expected to contribute significantly to this endeavor, according to King.

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured this image of the asteroid Bennu using its MapCam imager on Dec. 12, 2018. (Image credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

Spacecrafts Involved in the Examination of Asteroids:

The spacecraft was equipped with five instruments that conducted an exhaustive examination, mapping, and analysis of the asteroid, offering an unprecedented level of detail:

OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) – OVIRS carried out its investigations by gauging visible and near-infrared light, with a specific focus on identifying organics and other mineral compositions.

OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES) – OTES, using thermal infrared technology, determined Bennu’s temperature and produced maps detailing the distribution of minerals and chemicals. The collaborative efforts of OVIRS and OTES covered a spectrum of wavelengths to pinpoint the optimal location for collecting samples from the asteroid.

OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite (OCAMS) – OCAMS consisted of three cameras designed to map Bennu comprehensively. PolyCam, the largest of the cameras, captured the initial images of Bennu from a distance of 1.2 million miles (2 million kilometers) and also obtained high-resolution images of the chosen sample site. MapCam, on the other hand, scouted for satellites and dust plumes surrounding the asteroid, compiled colour maps of the asteroid’s surface, and took photographs essential for crafting topographic maps. SamCam documented the entire sample collection process, from its gathering to its secure capture.

OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) – OLA meticulously scanned the entirety of Bennu’s surface, transmitting data that facilitated the creation of exceptionally precise 3D models of the asteroid’s surface. During the primary mission, one of the two Canadian-manufactured lasers ceased functioning, but it had exceeded its anticipated instrument lifespan and had successfully collected all the necessary data for OSIRIS-REx’s landing, as confirmed by investigators.

Regolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (RExIS) – RExIS concentrated on studying X-ray emissions emanating from Bennu, with the goal of generating a comprehensive map illustrating the distribution of various elements on the asteroid’s surface. Unlike other imaging tools, RExIS delved into the asteroid’s composition at the level of individual atomic elements.

Will OSIRIS-REx hit Earth?

The team operating the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, an acronym representing Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer, has recently released fresh data. According to this data, there is an extremely low probability, specifically a one-in-2,700 chance, that the asteroid could collide with our planet. This potential impact event is estimated to occur nearly 159 years from now, specifically on September 24, 2182.

What did this mission discover?

The OSIRIS-REx mission journeyed to Bennu, an asteroid abundant in carbon, preserving the ancient history of our Solar System. This mission’s goal is to retrieve a portion of Bennu and return it to Earth. Bennu is believed to hold potential molecular building blocks that could shed light on the origins of life and even the formation of Earth’s oceans.

What is OSIRIS-REx and why is it important?

Indeed, OSIRIS-REx stands for “Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer.” The primary objective of this mission is to acquire a sample weighing a minimum of 2.1 ounces (59.5 grams) from the near-Earth asteroid 101955 Bennu, previously identified as 1999 RQ36, and subsequently transport this sample back to Earth.

Did OSIRIS-REx return?

On September 24, 2023, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission will achieve a historic milestone by bringing back samples from the asteroid Bennu to Earth following seven years in the depths of space. This mission, initiated in 2016, successfully reached the asteroid Bennu in October 2020 and obtained samples from the surface of this near-Earth asteroid.

What is this mission powered by?

OSIRIS-REx is equipped with two solar panels attached to the zenith panel of the spacecraft, which serve as power generators. When unfurled, these solar arrays provide the spacecraft with an impressive wingspan of 6.2 meters, covering a total active area of 8.5 square meters.

Who built OSIRIS-REx?

The spacecraft for the OSIRIS-REx mission is being constructed by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver. This mission represents the third instalment in NASA’s New Frontiers Program. Oversight and management of the New Frontiers Program on behalf of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington are handled by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, situated in Huntsville, Alabama.

How does this mission communicate with Earth?

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is equipped with a high-gain antenna located on its sun-facing side, which facilitates communication with Earth. On the opposite side of the spacecraft is the TAGSAM, short for Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism. TAGSAM is a 3.4-meter-long, folding arm designed to extend. And collect a sample from the mission’s target, the near-Earth asteroid Bennu.

Sagittarius A* is a gigantic black hole sitting at the heart of our Milky Way galaxy.

Sagittarius A* is a gigantic black hole

What is the Difference between Sagittarius A* & Black Holes?

When compared to black holes in the center of other galaxies we’ve observed, Sagittarius A* doesn’t shine as bright. This suggests that, unlike its counterparts, this black hole hasn’t been busily munching on the surrounding matter. However, recent data from NASA’s IXPE (Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer) telescope indicates that this sleeping giant had a snack about 200 years ago, munching on gas and other space scraps within its reach.

Distance of Sagittarius A* with Other Black Holes

Sagittarius A, the nearest massive black hole to Earth, sits 25,000 light years away. Despite its staggering distance from us, it’s truly mind-blowing to think this black hole is millions of times chunkier than our own Sun. Scientists often shorten it to Sgr A, “Sagittarius A* star.” It’s located in the Sagittarius constellation, smack in the middle of the Milky Way.
When earlier X-ray studies noticed that massive gas clouds near Sgr A* were recently giving off X-rays, scientists directed IXPE to look closer. Usually, these gas clouds in space, known as “molecular clouds,” are cold and dark, so their X-ray signals should have been weak. Instead, they were shining bright.

Frédéric Marin, a space scientist from the Astronomical Observatory of Strasbourg in France, shared:

“To explain why these enormous gas clouds are glowing, you could say they’re like a mirror reflecting a past burst of X-ray light,”

Marin took the lead in writing the new study, which was showcased in the journal Nature.

What is IXPE, and How it is Related to Sagittarius A*?

IXPE, which measures the direction and strength of X-ray light waves, studied these molecular clouds in February and March 2022. Astronomers found the origin of the reflected X-ray signal by mixing their findings with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory’s images and comparing them with older snapshots from the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton project.

“Think of the polarization angle like a compass. It guides us towards the source of the light that disappeared a long time ago,” explained Riccardo Ferrazzoli, a space scientist at the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics in Rome.

“And what do we find there? None other than Sgr A.”

X Rays Light Bounced Back from Huge Molecular Clouds

By examining the data, the team deduced that the X-rays from the huge molecular clouds were light bounced back from a bright, brief flare near or at Sagittarius A*. This flare might have been sparked by the black hole suddenly consuming nearby matter.
The data also gave scientists clues about how bright the original flare was and how long it lasted. This suggests that the event occurred around 200 Earth years ago, roughly at the start of the 1800s.

Our next challenge,” announced Steven Ehlert, a project scientist with IXPE at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, “is to verify what we’ve found and tighten the measurement’s wiggle room.

The intensity of occurance of Flare, and its Height

Further data could refine estimates of when the flare occurred and how intense it may have been at its highest. It will also help us understand how the big molecular clouds around the black hole are spread out in 3D.

Most importantly, such studies will help scientists learn more about the physical processes that could awaken Sagittarius A* again, even if only briefly.

Ehlert stated, “IXPE is vital to helping us understand how long it takes for the black hole at the heart of our galaxy to shift.” “We know that busy galaxies and massive black holes can shift on a timeframe we can comprehend.

We’re learning more about this one’s behavior and history of bursts over time, and we’re eager to keep an eye on it to discern which changes are typical and which aren’t.”

IXPE, A Collaborative Project!

IXPE is a collaborative project between NASA and the Italian Space Agency. Scientists and partners from 12 countries are involved in this project.

Marshall oversees IXPE. Ball Aerospace, tucked away in Broomfield, Colorado, works hand in hand with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder to keep the aircraft running smoothly.

Astronomers frequently use numerous telescopes to observe things in space like sonifications. Each telescope adds its information to whatever is being examined because it can all detect distinct kinds of light.

Sonifications release in Astronomy

Similarly, sonification is helpful in converting digital data into sound. In some ways, this is akin to how different musical scale notes can be performed in unison to produce harmonies that are impractical to achieve with only one note. NASA has been creating “sonification” of astronomical data of space objects during the last few years. This initiative converts the digital data that its telescopes in orbit have collected—the majority of which is undetectable to our unassisted eyes—into musical notes and sounds so that they can be heard rather than seen.

Sonifications to Explore Stellar System

These sonifications use the Chandra X-ray Observatory, James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, and Spitzer Space Telescope of NASA to portray specific light wavelengths through layers of sound. R Aquarii (above). Two stars, a white dwarf and a red giant, are in close orbit in the stellar system known as R Aquarii. Hubble data (red and blue) in a composite visual image show stunning features that are proof of explosions produced by the two stars buried in the image’s core. Chandra’s X-rays demonstrate a jet from the white dwarf striking the surrounding material and generating shock waves.

In the sonification of R Aquarii, the composition develops as a clockwise, 12-hour scan of the image akin to that of radar. In both Hubble’s visible light and Chandra’s X-ray images, the volume varies in proportion to the brightness of the sources, while the distance from the center determines the musical pitch (higher notes are present). “Diffraction spikes,” which are leftovers from the core star’s brilliant glow, are the loud thumps that can be heard in the corners of the image.

The white dwarf’s jets may be heard owing to sonifications as the cursor moves close to the two and eight o’clock positions. Hubble’s ribbon-like arcs produce a rising and falling tune that resembles a set of singing bowls (metal bowls that emit various tones when pounded with a mallet), whereas Chandra’s data are produced with a sound that is more akin to a windy purr.

Sonifying the Steffan of Quintet

In Stephan’s Quintet, a fifth galaxy appears in the picture but is considerably farther away. Four galaxies orbit one another while being kept together by gravity. Infrared light from the JWST (red, orange, yellow, green, and blue) is combined with additional information from the Spitzer Space Telescope (red, green, and blue) and X-ray light from Chandra (light blue) to create a visual representation of Stephan’s Quintet. These data are sonified, starting at the top and moving down the image.

The pitch varies the brightness in various ways as the pointer advances. The stars in the foreground and background of the visual imagery Webb discovers are translated to various notes on a synthetic glass marimba. Stars with diffraction spikes are used as crash symbols in the meantime. The galaxies of Stephan’s Quintet can be heard as they pass over in the scan as smoothly changing frequencies all due to sonifications. A synthetic string sound represents the X-rays from Chandra, which show a shock wave that has superheated gas to tens of millions of degrees.

Sonifications of Dusty Galaxy

Messier 104 (abbreviated M104) is one of the largest galaxies in the neighboring Virgo cluster, located around 28 million light-years from Earth. The galaxy is almost edge-on as seen from Earth, providing a view of its brilliant center and the spiral arms that encircle it. Hubble’s optical light image of M104 is obscured by dust, but Spitzer’s infrared scan of the galaxy reveals a ring of dust encircling the galaxy. Within the dust ring, Spitzer also detects a disk of stars that were previously invisible.

The Chandra X-ray image displays hot gas in the galaxy and point sources in the background that are a combination of objects in M104 and quasars. Diffuse X-ray emission can be seen more than 60,000 light years away from the M104’s center, according to Chandra measurements. (The galaxy’s diameter is 50,000 light years.) We can listen to each form of light independently or all at once by sonifying these data. Either method scans the image from top to bottom, starting at the top.

The loudest and highest frequencies are produced by the sources that are brightest in the image because brightness influences both volume and pitch. Different types of sounds are assigned to the data from the three telescopes. Chandra’s X-rays have a synthesizer-like sound, Spitzer’s infrared data are like strings, and Hubble’s optical light has bell-like tones. The sonification of these data reveals the galaxy’s nucleus, its spiral arms and dust lanes, as well as point-like X-ray sources.

CXC and NASA behind Sonification

 

The Chandra X-ray Center (CXC) was in charge of these sonifications, which were a part of NASA’s Universe of Learning (UoL) initiative. Kimberly Arcand, a visualization scientist at CXC, Matt Russo, an astrophysicist, and Andrew Santaguida, a musician with the SYSTEM Sounds project, were the driving forces behind the collaboration.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center oversees the Chandra program for sonifications, with the management of scientific endeavors falling under the purview of the Chandra X-ray Center located at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Meanwhile, flight operations are administered in Burlington, Massachusetts.

The research that formed the basis of NASA’s Universe of Learning resources was supported by the agency through cooperative agreement grant number NNX16AC65A given to the Space Telescope Science Institute, which collaborated with Caltech/IPAC, the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

TRAPPIST-1 c Atmosphere’s Analysis

A team of scientists from around the world used NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to calculate the amount of heat energy emitted by TRAPPIST-1 c, a rocky exoplanet. The findings indicate that, if there is indeed an atmosphere, it is remarkably tenuous.

TRAPPIST-1 c
This artist’s concept shows what the hot rocky exoplanet TRAPPIST-1 c could look like based on this work. TRAPPIST-1 c, the second of seven known planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system, orbits its star at a distance of 0.016 AU (about 1.5 million miles), completing one circuit in just 2.42 Earth days. TRAPPIST-1 c is slightly larger than Earth but has around the same density, which indicates that it must have a rocky composition. Webb’s measurement of 15-micron mid-infrared light emitted by TRAPPIST-1 c suggests that the planet has either a bare rocky surface or a very thin carbon dioxide atmosphere.
Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI)

TRAPPIST-1 c, with a dayside temperature of approximately 380 kelvins, currently holds the record for being the coolest rocky exoplanet characterized by thermal emission. The accuracy required for these measurements showcases the effectiveness of the Webb telescope in analyzing rocky exoplanets similar in size and temperature to those within our solar system.

The recent breakthrough in research marks a momentous stride in unraveling the mystery of whether planets circling diminutive red dwarfs such as TRAPPIST-1, the most abundant kind of stars in our galaxy, can sustain life-sustaining atmospheres akin to what we recognize.

Clues to Atmospheric Composition

Sebastian Zieba, a graduate student at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany and the lead author of the published results in Nature, stated, “We want to know if rocky planets have atmospheres or not. In the past, we could only really study planets with thick, hydrogen-rich atmospheres. With Webb, we can finally start to search for atmospheres dominated by oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide.”

TRAPPIST-1 c is one of seven rocky planets orbiting an ultracool red dwarf star, approximately 40 light-years away from Earth. The presence of similar size and mass notwithstanding, the question of whether these planets possess atmospheres akin to the inner rocky planets in our solar system remains shrouded in uncertainty. During the initial billion years of their existence, M dwarfs emit intense X-ray and ultraviolet radiation capable of stripping away a young planetary atmosphere. In addition, it’s possible that not enough water, carbon dioxide, or other volatile chemicals were present during the planets’ creation to support significant atmospheres.

TRAPPIST- 1 c, the Venus Twin

Laura Kreidberg, also from Max Planck and a co-author, explained, “TRAPPIST-1 c is interesting because it’s essentially a twin of Venus: it shares a similar size and receives a comparable amount of radiation from its host star as Venus does from the Sun. We speculated that it could possess a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere akin to Venus.”

To address these inquiries, the team employed Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) to observe the TRAPPIST-1 system on four separate occasions as the planet passed behind the star, resulting in a secondary eclipse. The team determined the amount of mid-infrared light, specifically at 15 microns, emitted by the planet’s dayside by comparing the brightness when the planet is beside the star (combining light from the star and planet) with the brightness when the planet is behind the star (representing only starlight).

Rocky Exoplanet
This light curve shows the change in brightness of the TRAPPIST-1 system as the second planet, TRAPPIST-1 c, moves behind the star. This phenomenon is known as a secondary eclipse. Astronomers used Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) to measure the brightness of mid-infrared light. When the planet is beside the star, the light emitted by both the star and the dayside of the planet reaches the telescope, and the system appears brighter. When the planet is behind the star, the light emitted by the planet is blocked and only the starlight reaches the telescope, causing the apparent brightness to decrease.
Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI)

This methodology mirrors the approach employed by another research group to determine that TRAPPIST-1 b, the innermost planet in the system, likely lacks any atmosphere. A planet’s amount of mid-infrared radiation is strongly related to its temperature, which is determined by the composition of its atmosphere. Carbon dioxide gas selectively absorbs 15-micron light, causing the planet to appear dimmer at that wavelength. However, clouds can reflect light, making the planet appear brighter and concealing the presence of carbon dioxide.

Furthermore, a substantial atmosphere of any composition would redistribute heat from the dayside to the nightside, resulting in a lower dayside temperature than would be observed without an atmosphere. TRAPPIST-1 c is thought to be tidally locked, with one side always in the light and the other always in the dark, as it orbits its star nearby (about 1/50th the distance between Venus and the Sun).

TRAPPIST- 1 c’s Carbon Dioxide Cover

Although these initial measurements do not provide definitive information about the nature of TRAPPIST-1 c, they help narrow down the potential possibilities. Zieba noted, “Our results are consistent with the planet being a barren rock with no atmosphere, or the planet possessing an extremely thin CO2 atmosphere (thinner than Earth or even Mars) devoid of clouds. If the planet had a thick CO2 atmosphere, we would have observed a very shallow secondary eclipse or none at all. This is because the CO2 would absorb all the 15-micron light, and we wouldn’t detect any coming from the planet.”

Moreover, the data suggest that TRAPPIST-1 c is unlikely to be a true Venus analog with a thick CO2 atmosphere and sulfuric acid clouds.

Habitable Atmospheres In TRAPPIST-1

The absence of a dense atmosphere implies that the planet may have formed with minimal water. If the other cooler, temperate TRAPPIST-1 planets formed under similar conditions, they might also have started with limited amounts of water and other essential components required for a habitable planet.

The sensitivity required to differentiate between various atmospheric scenarios on such a distant and small planet is genuinely remarkable. The decrease in brightness detected by Webb during the secondary eclipse was merely 0.04 percent, akin to observing a display of 10,000 small light bulbs and noticing that only four have extinguished.

TRAPPIST-1
This graph compares the measured brightness of TRAPPIST-1 c to simulated brightness data for three different scenarios. The measurement (red diamond) is consistent with a bare rocky surface with no atmosphere (green line) or a very thin carbon dioxide atmosphere with no clouds (blue line). A thick carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere with sulfuric acid clouds, similar to that of Venus (yellow line), is unlikely. Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI)

Kreidberg expressed her awe, stating, “It is extraordinary that we can measure this. There have been questions for decades now about whether rocky planets can retain atmospheres. Webb’s capabilities truly allow us to compare exoplanet systems to our solar system in a way we have never been able to before.”

Web Telescope Insights

This research was conducted as part of Webb’s General Observers (GO) program 2304, one of the eight programs dedicated to fully characterizing the TRAPPIST-1 system during Webb’s first year of scientific operations. The full orbits of TRAPPIST-1 b and TRAPPIST-1 c will be observed in a follow-up examination in the future year, according to researchers. They will be able to track temperature fluctuations on the day and night sides of the two planets, which will provide them with more information about the existence or lack of atmospheres.

 

Cosmic Distance Ladder

IA supernovae following which, Einstein Cross occured, play a crucial role. And measuring the vast distances of the cosmos poses a significant challenge for astronomers, who employ various methods and tools collectively known as the cosmic distance ladder. These supernovae occur in binary systems where a white dwarf star feeds on matter from its companion, often a red giant until it surpasses the Chandrasekhar limit and collapses due to its mass. These stars shed their outer layers in a massive explosion, temporarily outshining everything else in their surroundings.

In a recent study, an international team of researchers led by Ariel Goobar from the Oskar Klein Centre at Stockholm University made an extraordinary discovery: an uncommon type IA supernova named SN Zwicky (SN 2022qmx).

Einstein Cross
Illustration of a “type Ia” supernova. When the white dwarf reaches an estimated 1.4 times the current mass of the Sun, it can no longer sustain its weight and collapses. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Unveiling Einstein Ring or Einstein Cross

What made this discovery even more astonishing was the discovery of the Einstein ring, somehow, also reffered as Einstein Cross, a unique phenomenon predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity. This phenomenon occurs when the gravitational lensing effect generated by a foreground object enhances the light emitted by a distant object.

The team’s achievement was significant because it involved the observation of two exceedingly rare astronomical events that coincided.

Researchers from the Oskar Klein Centre, the Kavli Institute for Cosmology, the Cahill Center for Astrophysics, the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA), the Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon, NASA Goddard, the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), and multiple universities made up the team. Their research paper describing these findings was recently published in Nature Astronomy.

Einstein Cross
Imaging of the field of SN Zwicky using multiple sources. (Goobar et al., Nature Astronomy, 2023)

SN Zwicky and Einstein Ring

Initially, the Zwicky Transient Facility at the Palomar Observatory in California detected the supernova. The facility was named after astronomer Fritz Zwicky, who proposed the possibility of dark matter in the 1930s. Several weeks later, the team employed adaptive optics (AO) at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile to observe SN Zwicky. Goobar and his colleagues hypothesized that they were witnessing a solid lensing effect based on the observed brightness. Further observations and images obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope confirmed this hypothesis, revealing that the multiple-image lensing effect was a result of a galaxy in the foreground that magnified the supernova by 25 times!

Studying Mysteries of Einstein Cross

This fortunate discovery of Einstein Cross opens up numerous opportunities for astronomers, enabling them to study SN Zwicky in greater detail and delve deeper into the mysteries of gravitational lenses. As Goobar expressed in a press release from Stockholm University,

“The discovery of SN Zwicky not only showcases the remarkable capabilities of modern astronomical instruments but also represents a significant step forward in our quest to understand the fundamental forces shaping our Universe.” However, the implications extend beyond these two phenomena. The study of type Ia supernovae led astronomers to the groundbreaking realization that the expansion of the cosmos is accelerating.

Universe’s Acceleration Expanding

This discovery of Einstein Cross earned the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, which was divided between Saul Perlmutter (The Supernova Cosmology Project) and jointly awarded to Brian P. Schmidt and Adam G. Reiss (The High-z Supernova Search Team). Consequently, observations of SN Zwicky could contribute to unraveling the mystery behind this accelerated expansion. Joel Johansson, a co-author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at Stockholm University, highlighted the significance of SN Zwicky’s extreme magnification, stating,

Implications and Insights from SN Zwicky Discovery

“The extreme magnification of SN Zwicky gives us an unprecedented chance to study the properties of distant type IA supernova explosions, which we need when we use them to explore the nature of dark energy.”

Furthermore, the discovery of Einstein Cross could throw light on the cryptic nature of dark matter and provide insights into speculations regarding the Universe’s ultimate fate, such as the Big Crunch, Big Rip, or Heat Death.