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GALEX Mission Is Over
But Its Science Discoveries Will Keep On Going!

29 June, 2013


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MessageToEagle.com - Nasa's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) - an orbiting ultraviolet space telescope launched on April 28, 2003 - has been turned off after a decade of wonderful work.

GALEX used its ultraviolet vision to study hundreds of millions of galaxies across 10 billion years of cosmic time.

"GALEX is a remarkable accomplishment," said Jeff Hayes, NASA's GALEX program executive in Washington.

"This small Explorer mission has mapped and studied galaxies in the ultraviolet, light we cannot see with our own eyes, across most of the sky."



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A Star with a Comet-Like Tail

A speeding star can be seen leaving an enormous trail in this image from NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer. Nothing like this stellar "tail" had even been seen before at the time the telescope spotted it. The tail stretches across 13 light-years of space. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Operators at Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, Va., sent the signal to decommission GALEX at 12:09 p.m. PDT (3:09 p.m. EDT) Friday, June 28.

The spacecraft will remain in orbit for at least 65 years, then fall to Earth and burn up upon re-entering the atmosphere. GALEX met its prime objectives and the mission was extended three times before being cancelled.



Click on image to enlarge

Largest-Known Spiral Galaxy - Revealed by GALEX

This composite of the giant barred spiral galaxy NGC 6872 combines visible light images from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope with far-ultraviolet (1,528 angstroms) data from NASA's GALEX and 3.6-micron infrared data acquired by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. A previously unsuspected tidal dwarf galaxy candidate (circled) appears only in the ultraviolet, indicating the presence of many hot young stars. IC 4970, the small disk galaxy interacting with NGC 6872, is located above the spiral's central region. The spiral is 522,000 light-years across from the tip of one outstretched arm to the tip of the other, which makes it about 5 times the size of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Images of lower resolution from the Digital Sky Survey were used to fill in marginal areas not covered by the other data. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/ESO/JPL-Caltech/DSS


Highlights from the mission's decade of sky scans include:

-- Discovering a gargantuan, comet-like tail behind a speeding star called Mira.
-- Catching a black hole "red-handed" as it munched on a star.
-- Finding giant rings of new stars around old, dead galaxies.
-- Independently confirming the nature of dark energy.
-- Discovering a missing link in galaxy evolution -- the teenage galaxies transitioning from young to old.



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Helix Nebula - Unraveling at the Seams

A dying star is throwing a cosmic tantrum in this combined image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), which NASA has lent to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. In death, the star's dusty outer layers are unraveling into space, glowing from the intense ultraviolet radiation being pumped out by the hot stellar core. This object, called the Helix nebula, lies 650 light-years away, in the constellation of Aquarius. Also known by the catalog number NGC 7293, it is a typical example of a class of objects called planetary nebulae. Discovered in the 18th century, these cosmic works of art were erroneously named for their resemblance to gas-giant planets. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech



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Cosmic Cartwheel of Color

This image of the Cartwheel galaxy shows a rainbow of multi-wavelength observations from NASA missions, including the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (blue), the Hubble Space Telescope (green), the Spitzer Space Telescope (red) and the Chandra X-ray Observatory (purple). credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


The mission also captured a dazzling collection of snapshots, showing everything from ghostly nebulas to a spiral galaxy with huge, spidery arms.

In the space telescope's last year, it scanned across large patches of sky, including the bustling, bright center of our Milky Way.

The telescope spent time staring at certain areas of the sky, finding exploded stars, called supernovae, and monitoring how objects, such as the centers of active galaxies, change over time.

GALEX also scanned the sky for massive, feeding black holes and shock waves from early supernova explosions.

"In the last few years, GALEX studied objects we never thought we'd be able to observe, from the Magellanic Clouds to bright nebulae and supernova remnants in the galactic plane," said David Schiminovich of Columbia University, N.Y., N.Y, a longtime GALEX team member who led science operations over the past year.

"Some of its most beautiful and scientifically compelling images are part of this last observation cycle."

Data from the last year of the mission will be made public in the coming year.

"GALEX, the mission, may be over, but its science discoveries will keep on going," said Kerry Erickson, the mission's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

MessageToEagle.com

See also:
Extraordinary Phoenix Galaxy Cluster - One Of The Largest Objects In The Universe With Record-Breaking Star Formation

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