NASA news conference today to discuss "exceptional object in our cosmic neighborhood"

Monday, November 15, 2010

Edit: if you're just tuning in now, the link to NASA TV is here on the media channel. The press conference starts soon...

Edit 2: the press conference is going on as we speak, and here's what the object is:


It's November 15th and thus NASA will finally hold its press conference to discuss what is apparently an exceptional discovery by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. What it will be is unknown, but keep in mind that often these press conferences announced ahead of time turn out to be exciting for those of us that closely follow developments in space, but far less so to the public at large. Plus, the term "cosmic neighborhood" is very vague - cosmic neighborhood could easily mean "within 50 light years" in which case we are talking about somewhere well beyond where humans could hope to travel (even if we become capable of going to other solar systems), but if it means within 10-20 light years or so then it will be all the more interesting.

The conference will be held at 12:30 pm EST which is three hours from now as I write this - see here to see what time it is now in that time zone.

Also check here out on Reddit to see how much attention this is getting - eight submissions so far over the past two days, and 100+ comments for this one. NASA certainly knows how to tease the imagination.

Anyway, we will find out soon enough and then I will update the post if the discovery turns out to be as interesting as claimed..

Edit: While we're at it, let's see what else has used the term "in our cosmic neighborhood" until now. As you can see, the term really is just useful in a relative sense.

This article refers to a brown dwarf "in our cosmic neighborhood", meaning within ten light years.
This one, however, uses the phrase to refer to asteroids in the inner Solar System.
This one uses the phrase to refer to nearby galaxies.
And this one uses it to mean within 1000 light years.

Also, remember this image?

That was the famous "Hand of God" photograph that was also taken by Chandra, which is actually the pulsar PSR B1509-58, 17000 light years away (17% the diameter of the Milky Way). In the press release for that there is no mention of the pulsar being nearby, or in our cosmic neighborhood, so I think we can safely assume that this new object to be announced is much closer than that.

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