Keyword: astronomy

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  • 1st Known Interstellar Visitor Gets Weirder: 'Oumuamua Likely Had 2 Stars

    03/19/2018 4:09:06 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 15 replies ^ | March 19, 2018 06:12pm ET | Mike Wall,
    Our solar system's first known interstellar visitor is likely even more alien than previously imagined, a new study suggests. The mysterious, needle-shaped object 'Oumuamua, which was spotted zooming through Earth's neighborhood last October, probably originated in a two-star system, according to the study. 'Oumuamua means "scout" in Hawaiian; the object was discovered by researchers using the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS), at Haleakala Observatory on the island of Maui. ... "It's really odd that the first object we would see from outside our system would be an asteroid, because a comet would be a lot easier to...
  • Mars’ oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

    03/19/2018 4:16:16 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 15 replies
    UC Berkeley ^ | | March 19, 2018 | Robert Sanders,
    A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars’ putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million years earlier and were not as deep as once thought. The early ocean known as Arabia (left, blue) would have looked like this when it formed 4 billion years ago on Mars, while the Deuteronilus ocean, about 3.6 billion years old, had a smaller shoreline. Both coexisted with the massive volcanic province Tharsis, located on the unseen side of the planet, which may have helped support the existence of liquid water. The water...
  • The Moon WASN'T formed with one giant impact but had a bombardment birth after 20 moonlets hit...

    03/18/2018 6:36:56 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 65 replies
    Daily Mail ^ | January 9 2017 | AFP
    In such a scenario, scientists expect that about a fifth of the Moon's material would have come from Earth and the rest from the impacting body. The Moon, our planet's constant companion for some 4.5 billion years, may have been forged by a rash of smaller bodies smashing into an embryonic Earth, researchers have revealed. A bombardment birth would explain a major inconsistency in the prevailing hypothesis that the Moon splintered off in a single, giant impact between Earth and a Mars-sized celestial body. In such a scenario, scientists expect that about a fifth of the Moon's material would have...
  • Asteroid Bennu: Target of Sample Return Mission

    03/13/2018 6:30:05 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 5 replies ^ | March 12, 2018 11:31pm ET | By Elizabeth Howell,
    Bennu has a shape that looks a bit like a spinning top. It is roughly 500 meters (1,640 feet) in diameter and orbits the sun once every 1.2 years, or 436.604 days. Every six years or so, it comes very close to Earth — about 0.002 AU, according to the University of Arizona. (... well within the orbit of Earth's moon.) Bennu is part of a small class of carbonaceous (dark) asteroids that likely have primitive materials in them. Called a B-type class, Bennu and other asteroids like it have materials such as volatiles (compounds with a low boiling point),...
  • Elon Musk projects Mars spaceship will be ready for short trips by first half of 2019

    03/11/2018 12:00:46 PM PDT · by Simon Green · 39 replies
    CNBC ^ | 03/11/18 | Michelle Castillo
    Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk told an audience at South by Southwest that his timeline for sending a space vehicle to Mars could mark its first milestone early next year. The privately-funded venture, announced in September 2017, aims to send a cargo mission to the Red Planet by 2022. SpaceX's ultimate objective is to plant the seeds to put a human colony on Mars. Musk held a surprise question and answer session at the annual technology and culture festival in Austin, Texas on Sunday. The billionaire told attendees that "we are building the first Mars, or interplanetary ship, and...
  • How Did Uranus Form?

    03/09/2018 9:43:05 AM PST · by Simon Green · 83 replies ^ | 03/08/18 | Nola Taylor Redd,
    Although planets surround stars in the galaxy, how they form remains a subject of debate. Despite the wealth of worlds in our own solar system, scientists still aren't certain how planets are built. Currently, two theories are duking it out for the role of champion. The first and most widely accepted, core accretion, works well with the formation of the terrestrial planets but has problems with giant planets such as Uranus. The second, the disk instability method, may account for the creation of giant planets. "What separates the ice giants from the gas giants is their formation history: during...
  • Up for Grabs: In Science, When 'Anything Goes,' Everything Goes

    12/12/2017 11:58:16 AM PST · by Heartlander · 21 replies
    Salvo Magazine ^ | December 2017 | Denyse O'Leary
    Up for Grabs In Science, When 'Anything Goes,' Everything Goesby Denyse O'Leary Family values activist Austin Ruse's new book, Fake Science: Exposing the Left's Skewed Statistics, Fuzzy Facts, and Dodgy Data (Regnery, 2017), offers a look at a world growing increasingly hostile to evidence-based reasoning. We have not discovered better reasoning methods; rather, many people seem to have decided that reasoning is not relevant to our life together, and perhaps not relevant to the life of the mind generally. Ruse begins his book with a note about polls. Opinion pollsters claim that their work is a scientific enterprise. But in...
  • Cosmic dawn: astronomers detect signals from first stars in the universe

    03/03/2018 8:26:39 AM PST · by wastedyears · 28 replies
    The Guardian ^ | Feb 28 2018 | Hannah Devlin
    Astronomers have detected a signal from the first stars as they appeared and illuminated the universe, in observations that have been hailed as “revolutionary”.
  • Meet TESS, NASA’s Next Step in the Quest for Alien Earths

    03/02/2018 3:39:16 PM PST · by LibWhacker · 21 replies
    Scientific American ^ | 3/1/18 | Irene Klotz
    In a clean room inside a clean room at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, a petite telescope is perched on a stand for a final series of checkouts prior to launch. The extra fastidiousness is because the observatory’s four cameras will fly without protective covers—one of several simplifying design decisions made to help ensure the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, will meet its goal of measuring the masses of at least 50 small, rocky and potentially Earth-like worlds as part of the first all-sky, exoplanet survey. TESS was proposed even before NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope, launched in 2009, demonstrated...
  • The Wall of Death Around Black Holes Could Break Down

    02/28/2018 5:51:45 PM PST · by LibWhacker · 24 replies
    LiveScience ^ | 2/27/18 | Rafi Letzter
    Physicists have insisted for a long time that black holes are impenetrable ciphers. Whatever goes in is lost, impossible to study or meaningfully understand. Some small amount of matter and energy might escape a black hole in the form of "Hawking radiation," but anything still inside the black hole is functionally disappeared from the physical universe. The idea is a basic premise of modern physics: If something falls into a black hole, it can't be contacted, it's future can't be predicted. No observer could possibly survive traveling into the dark space, not even long enough to glance around and notice...
  • Quasars: Brightest Objects in the Universe

    02/24/2018 11:16:03 AM PST · by Simon Green · 12 replies ^ | 02/23/18 | Nola Taylor
    (The Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of ancient and brilliant quasar 3C 273, which resides in a giant elliptical galaxy in the constellation of Virgo. Its light has taken some 2.5 billion years to reach us. Despite this great distance, it is still one of the closest quasars to our home. It was the first quasar ever to be identified, and was discovered in the early 1960s by astronomer Allan Sandage.) Shining so brightly that they eclipse the ancient galaxies that contain them, quasars are distant objects powered by black holes a billion times as massive as our...
  • All The Wild Stuff We're Going To Do In Space And Physics In 2018

    12/31/2017 9:25:17 PM PST · by iowamark · 11 replies
    Gizmodo ^ | Jan 1, 2018 | George Dvorsky
    It's time to gaze into our crystal ball and see what the coming year has in store for science. From powerful new rockets and asteroid-sampling spacecraft to groundbreaking particle physics, there's plenty to look forward to in 2018. Aeronautics and space exploration A new tool to find exoplanets In March 2018, NASA will launch its Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) - a mission to find previously undiscovered exoplanets from the vantage point of low Earth orbit. The space-based telescope is expected to discover thousands of exoplanets over the next several years as it measures the luminosity of more than 200,000...
  • Trio of dead stars upholds a key part of Einstein’s theory of gravity

    01/13/2018 9:09:23 AM PST · by MtnClimber · 16 replies
    Science News ^ | 12 Jan, 2018 | EMILY CONOVER
    Observations of a trio of dead stars have confirmed that a foundation of Einstein’s gravitational theory holds even for ultradense objects with strong gravitational fields. The complex orbital dance of the three former stars conforms to a rule known as the strong equivalence principle, researchers reported January 10 at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. That agreement limits theories that predict Einstein’s theory, general relativity, should fail at some level. According to general relativity, an object’s composition has no impact on how gravity pulls on it: Earth’s gravity accelerates a sphere of iron at the same rate as a...
  • In 2018, we will see a black hole for the first time ever

    12/19/2017 3:38:07 AM PST · by Libloather · 59 replies
    Fox News ^ | 12/18/17 | Jamie Seidel
    We're about to see — for the very first time — the event horizon of a black hole, proving beyond any last vestige of doubt that Einstein’s interstellar monsters are real. And here’s what it will look like.
  • Black holes' magnetism surprisingly wimpy

    12/07/2017 2:52:50 PM PST · by LibWhacker · 23 replies
    ScienceDaily ^ | 12/7/17
    Black holes are famous for their muscle: an intense gravitational pull known to gobble up entire stars and launch streams of matter into space at almost the speed of light. It turns out the reality may not live up to the hype. In a paper published today in the journal Science, University of Florida scientists have discovered these tears in the fabric of the universe have significantly weaker magnetic fields than previously thought. A 40-mile-wide black hole 8,000 light years from Earth named V404 Cygni yielded the first precise measurements of the magnetic field that surrounds the deepest wells of...
  • Martian Craters go splat!

    03/09/2018 2:24:14 PM PST · by Voption · 4 replies
    Behind the Black ^ | March 9, 2018 | Robert Zimmerman
    Cool image time! In continuing my exploration of this month’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) image release, I found two interesting images of small craters, one as part of that image release, the other found completely by accident...The map on the right, taken from the MRO HiRISE archive page, shows the locations of these two images...Both are located in the lava plains that surround the giant volcano Pavonis Mons, the central volcano of the three volcanoes to the east of Olympus Mons.
  • 'Planet Parade' to light up night sky in March: How to watch the rare event

    03/06/2018 7:45:31 AM PST · by SandRat · 9 replies
    Stargazers, get your binoculars ready: a string of bright planets, called a "Planet Parade," will grace the night's sky this week, and the show is expected to last several days. It's just the start of what will be a breathtaking month. A "worm moon" rose on March 1, and another full moon, known as a "blue moon," will pop up on March 31. But this may be the most stunning show yet. A rare parade of planets, including Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Mercury and Venus along with the bright star Antares, will light the sky starting March 7, though they won't...
  • Sunspot update for February 2018

    03/05/2018 3:44:20 PM PST · by Voption · 7 replies
    Behind the Black ^ | March 5, 2018 | Robert Zimmerman
    It’s time for my monthly sunspot update. On Sunday NOAA posted its monthly update of the solar cycle, covering sunspot activity for February 2018. Below the fold is my annotated version of that graph.Sunspot activity in February continued the low activity seen in November, December, and January, with November 2017 still the most inactive month for sunspots since the middle of 2009. In fact, the low activity we are seeing now is somewhat comparable to the low activity seen during the ramp down to solar minimum in the first half of 2008.
  • The Brightest Planets in March's Night Sky: How to See them (and When)

    03/04/2018 6:45:21 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 19 replies ^ | Joe Rao
    Mercury and Venus spend the first three weeks of March near to each other low in the western evening twilight sky soon after sunset. Two other planets – Mars and Saturn – are at their best during the predawn morning hours toward in the south-southeast sky. And between these planet pairs, shines Jupiter, which by late in the month becomes available before midnight low in the east-southeast sky and climbs to a point almost due south by sunrise. If you have an unobstructed western sky and can follow Venus down as it gets near to the horizon on March 28, you'll...
  • The Curiosity Rover Just Drilled into a Rock on Mars for 1st Time Since 2016

    03/04/2018 9:51:36 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 19 replies ^ | March 1, 2018 07:00am ET | Mike Wall, Senior Writer |
    Curiosity bored a hole about 0.5 inches (1.3 centimeters) deep into a target rock on Monday (Feb. 26), during the trial run of a new, jury-rigged drilling technique, NASA officials said. The car-size rover's drill — a key tool at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm that allows it to snag pristine samples from the interiors of ancient rocks — has been out of commission since late 2016... More than seven months after a malfunction sidelined the rock-boring drill aboard NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, mission team members are still trying to find a solution, or a work-around. On Dec. 1,...