Donald Savage Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1547) NOTE TO EDITORS: N98-1

January 5, 1998

NASA SPACE SCIENCE DISCOVERIES FEATURED AT AMERICAN ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY WINTER MEETING Several new findings from a number of NASA's space science missions and researchers will be presented in special sessions and press conferences at the upcoming Winter Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, DC, Jan. 6-10, at the Washington Hilton & Towers, 1919 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Following are highlights of the NASA results to be announced at the meeting (embargoed until day and time noted). More information can be obtained at the FTPs and URLs listed. On Wednesday, Jan. 7 at 11:30 a.m. EST, NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin will deliver a speech reporting on space science progress and will issue a challenge to astronomers concerning the origins of life in the Universe. The Administrator will trace recent findings bearing on the origins of life in the Universe and stress the need for additional emphasis on the biological sciences. In addition, Dr. Wesley T. Huntress, Jr., NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Science, will be available for questions from reporters at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. For specific press conference location, time and other winter meeting information, contact the AAS Press Room at 202/797-4534, starting Tuesday, Jan. 6. * "OLD FAITHFUL" BLACK HOLE ERUPTS EVERY HALF HOUR: Scientists have observed a black hole in our galaxy which hurls hot gas outward in opposite directions in jets moving at nearly the speed of light. The black hole pulls in fresh material from the surface of a nearby star, and then undergoes another disruption, repeating the sequence at half-hour intervals. (press briefing 9:30 a.m. EST Jan. 7) FTP://PAO.GSFC.NASA.GOV/newsmedia/JAN_AAS/BH * ONE OF GALAXY'S LARGEST STARS MAY BE TWINS: X-rays studied by astronomers using NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer spacecraft lend strong support to a controversial new idea that one of the

Galaxy's largest stars may be a double star system. (Jan. 7) FTP://PAO.GSFC.NASA.GOV/newsmedia/JAN_AAS/TWINS * HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE IMAGES OF JUPITER AND SATURN SHOW SPECTACULAR AURORAE: Ultraviolet light images from Hubble's new Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) show northern and southern auroras of Jupiter and Saturn, at more than ten times the sensitivity and twice-to-five-times higher resolution than earlier cameras. The resolution in these images is sufficient to show the "curtain" of auroral light extending several hundred miles above the planets' limbs. (paper to be released Jan. 7) Jupiter Aurorae (STIS) PRC98-04 Saturn Aurorae (STIS) PRC98-05 * TWO TEAMS PRESENT FINDINGS ON POSSIBLE PLANETARY FORMATION: New images of the visibly warped disk of matter around the star Beta Pictoris support the theory that nascent planets may be forming inside and perturbing the disk through their gravitational influence says one team, but another team says a passing star or companion brown dwarf may be the culprit. (press briefing 9:30 a.m. EST Jan. 8) FTP://PAO.GSFC.NASA.GOV/newsmedia/JAN_AAS/DISK * TWO TEAMS PROVIDE NEW DATA ON POSSIBLE FATE OF UNIVERSE: Two teams of astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope present measurements of high-redshift supernovae, indicating the Universe does not have enough matter to stop its expansion, and so may go on forever, never collapsing. (paper to be released Jan. 8) * COBE DATA REVEALS "FOSSIL" INFRARED BACKGROUND GLOW TO UNIVERSE: Astronomers announce the first definitive detection of a background infrared glow across the sky produced by dust warmed by all the stars that have existed since the beginning of time. The discovery of this "fossil" infrared radiation puts a limit on the total amount of energy released by all the stars in the Universe since the Big Bang. (press briefing 8:15 a.m. EST Jan. 9)

* PREVIEW OF THE FEBRUARY TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN: NASA solar and eclipse experts discuss where and when to see it, science experiments including the role of Galileo near Jupiter, advice on safe viewing & photography. (press briefing 9:30 a.m. EST Jan. 10) Information, animation and images from NASA available at the AAS and via NASA TV Videofile Jan. 12. - end -