Astronomical News

Dinobot

Justified & Ancient
Joined
May 19, 2015
Messages
2,192
Likes
1,836
Points
154
Location
Under the floorboards...
Ah haha yeah. No, nothing to see here. Adelaide's a hole. You'd hate it. Better stay where you are.

For non-Aussies, you mightn't know (or care ~ the rest of us don't) that people from Sydney and Melbourne are a bit insecure about who's best. They're constantly reminded that their cities don't measure up internationally, so they'll often take a cheap shot at people from other parts of their country to feel better about themselves. It's an east coast neurosis.

No barrels in bank vaults here!
 

skinny

Antediluvian
Joined
May 30, 2010
Messages
6,652
Likes
5,904
Points
284
I've probably mentioned this before, but I did see a literal 'blue moon' back in 1992. That was when an eclipse of the Moon coincided with a major eruption of Mt Pinatubo. The eclipse was very high on the so-called Danjon scale, which measures the amount of darkening.
Here's an image I've found on the internet; the colour I saw was a bit closer to purple, but not much.

I witnessed a red moon quite without anticipating it in South Korea in 2000 or 2001. Must have been mid to late winter as I slipped on the hard ice walking downhill to work at 6am and crowned myself and nearly dislocated my shoulder. When I was laid out flat on my back, there it was, mooning brownly down at me. I thought I'd broken my brain. So I went home and had the day off.
 

Vardoger

Bring the Beat Back!
Joined
Jun 3, 2004
Messages
4,767
Likes
3,170
Points
184
Location
Scandinavia
Rocket launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy in a little more than one and a half hour. Think it is 21:15 CET.

Edit: New time: 21:45 CET.

Live video below:

 
Last edited:

hunck

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
3,831
Likes
4,258
Points
159
Location
Hobbs End
This is worth a watch - The Weirdest Stars in the Universe - lecture by Prof Emily Levesque from the Perimeter Institute For Theoretical Physics, Ontario, from 2 days ago featuring:

Yellow Super Giants
Red Giants
Luminous Blue Variables
Neutron Stars
Pulsars
Black Holes
Gravity Waves
Fast Radio Bursts
Thorne Zytkow Objects [combined neutron/red giant stars]

One slightly mindblowing example: the largest red giant so far discovered, if placed in our solar system, would extend beyond the orbit of Jupiter & towards Saturn.
 

Bigphoot2

Not sprouts! I hate sprouts.
Joined
Jul 30, 2005
Messages
5,813
Likes
13,507
Points
294
Location
Round about here sometimes
Amazing images of Jupiter..or is it a pizza with extra pepperoni?

Jupiter's winds run deep into the planet
By Jonathan AmosBBC Science Correspondent
  • 8 March 2018

Image copyrightNASA/JPL-CALTECH/SWRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM
Image captionThe central cyclone at the planet's north pole is encircled by eight other storms
We are finally getting a look inside the biggest planet in the Solar System - Jupiter. And it is very strange.

The American space agency's Juno probe has been studying the variations in the pull of gravity as it flies across the giant world's banded atmosphere.

These measurements betray the movement of mass within Jupiter, and that gives scientists clues to its structure.

The latest data reveals the activity of those familiar, colourful, wind-sculpted bands extends 3,000km down.

etc
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43317566
 

Tribble

Furry Idiot
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
1,890
Likes
3,427
Points
154
A Japanese company, Astro Live Experiences, wants to launch a LEO satellite that'll release small spheres with the intention they'll create a meteor storm on-demand. Even assuming it works and the spheres travel fast enough and don't get accidentally launched the wrong way and act like a claymore mine on other satellites, astronomers aren't happy.

Audio&transcript : https://www.npr.org/2018/03/27/5973...ent-fans-of-creating-on-demand-meteor-showers
 

hunck

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
3,831
Likes
4,258
Points
159
Location
Hobbs End
Galaxy without any dark matter baffles astronomers
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/mar/28/galaxy-without-any-dark-matter-baffles-astronomers
The absence of dark matter from a small patch of sky might appear to be a non-problem, given that astronomers have never directly observed dark matter anywhere. However, most current theories of the universe suggest that everywhere that ordinary matter is found, dark matter ought to be lurking too, making the newly observed galaxy an odd exception.

“Something like this has never been seen,” said Prof Pieter van Dokkum, of Yale University, the study’s senior author. “It challenges the standard ideas of how we think galaxies form.”

Dark matter’s existence is inferred from its gravitational influence on visible objects, which suggests it dominates over ordinary matter by a ratio of 5:1.

Some of the clearest evidence comes from tracking stars in the outer regions of galaxies, which consistently appear to be orbiting faster than their escape velocity, the threshold speed at which they ought to break free of the gravitational binds holding them in place and slingshot into space. This suggests there is unseen, but substantial, mass holding stars in orbit.

In the Milky Way there is about 30 times more dark matter than normal matter. The latest observations focused on an ultra-diffuse galaxy – ghostly galaxies that are large but have hardly any stars – called NGC 1052-DF2.

The team tracked the motions of 10 bright star clusters and found that they were travelling way below the velocities expected. “They basically look like they’re standing still,” said van Dokkum.

The velocities gave an upper estimate for the galactic mass of 400 times lower than expected. “If there is any dark matter at all, it’s very little,” van Dokkum explained. “The stars in the galaxy can account for all of the mass, and there doesn’t seem to be any room for dark matter.”

Van Dokkum and colleagues identified the galaxy, NGC 1052-DF2, using a low-budget setup called the Dragonfly Telephoto Array in New Mexico, which they designed from 48 commercial cameras and paparazzi-style lenses.

The initial images just showed a ghostly blob on the night sky, but by peering more closely at it using the Gemini Multi Object Spectrograph and Keck telescopes they were able to pick out star clusters within the galaxy and track their movements. The team are now turning to look at other ultra-diffuse galaxies to see whether any others are similarly deficient in dark matter.
 

Schrodinger's Zebra

Lost a few tiles on re-entry..
Joined
Mar 8, 2018
Messages
1,706
Likes
2,994
Points
154
A Japanese company, Astro Live Experiences, wants to launch a LEO satellite that'll release small spheres with the intention they'll create a meteor storm on-demand. Even assuming it works and the spheres travel fast enough and don't get accidentally launched the wrong way and act like a claymore mine on other satellites, astronomers aren't happy.
This would be one of those "what could possibly go wrong" moments.
 

Schrodinger's Zebra

Lost a few tiles on re-entry..
Joined
Mar 8, 2018
Messages
1,706
Likes
2,994
Points
154
Wow... I like that :)

The bright dots travelling from the top of the frame to the bottom, which look something like snow, are in fact background stars. They have that apparent motion as the spacecraft moves and the comet rotates. The more rapidly moving streaks are thought to be dust particles illuminated by the Sun. There also appear to be a few streaking cosmic rays.
So the white flashes in front of the comet would be dust? It's very dusty!
 

hunck

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
3,831
Likes
4,258
Points
159
Location
Hobbs End
Mysterious 'exiled' asteroid found in far reaches of solar system

The first of its kind to be found so far away, 2004 EW95 is a carbon-rich asteroid that currently resides in the Kuiper Belt, a cold region beyond the orbit of Neptune.


Astronomers suspect the 300km-long object was formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter before being ejected into the outer reaches of the solar system.


While performing routine observations using the Hubble Space Telescope, Queen's University Belfast astronomer Dr Wesley Fraser noticed something unusual about one of the distant asteroids he was monitoring.


Its “reflectance spectrum” – the pattern of light reflecting from it – marked it out from neighbouring bodies.


"It looked enough of a weirdo for us to take a closer look."


Measurements taken using the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope allowed the team to determine it was formed from carbon, suggesting it originated in the inner solar system.


This idea was confirmed by the presence of minerals called ferric oxides and phyllosilicates, which had never been confirmed before in an asteroid from the Kuiper Belt and are another indicator it first emerged closer to the Sun.


Astronomers suspect the 300km-long object was formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter before being ejected into the outer reaches of the solar system.


As gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn formed, they are thought to have migrated through the solar system, causing chaos as they flung small rocky bodies like 2004 EW95 from their places of origin into the solar system’s outer regions.


"The reflectance spectrum of 2004 EW95 was clearly distinct from the other observed outer solar system objects," said Dr Tom Seccull, another Queen's University Belfast and lead author of the study describing the new asteroid.

"Given 2004 EW95's present-day abode in the icy outer reaches of the solar system, this implies that it has been flung out into its present orbit by a migratory planet in the early days of the solar system,” said Dr Seccull.

If this is the case, then astronomers should expect to find more 2004 EW95-like bodies in the Kuiper Belt, but so far it is the only known example.

The lack of fellow asteroids from the inner solar system does not mean 2004 EW95 is alone – it simply exemplifies the difficulty in observing objects that are so far away, even with the very best technology available.


"It's like observing a giant mountain of coal against the pitch-black canvas of the night sky," said Professor Thomas Puzia from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, who co-authored the study.
 

Jim

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Jan 19, 2016
Messages
865
Likes
828
Points
94
Location
NYS, USA
Was Venus the first habitable planet in our solar system?
Often referred to as Earth’s evil twin, Venus is the solar system’s hottest planet. But research suggests that Venus may have had vast oceans and a balmy climate
Hannah Devlin Science correspondent
Monday 17 October 2016 11.37 BST

Its surface is hot enough to melt lead and its skies are darkened by toxic clouds of sulphuric acid. Venus is often referred to as Earth’s evil twin, but conditions on the planet were not always so hellish, according to research that suggests it may have been the first place in the solar system to have become habitable.

The study, due to be presented this week at the at the American Astronomical Society Meeting in Pasadena, concludes that at a time when primitive bacteria were emerging on Earth, Venus may have had a balmy climate and vast oceans up to 2,000 metres (6,562 feet) deep.

Michael Way, who led the work at the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, said: “If you lived three billion years ago at a low latitude and low elevation the surface temperatures would not have been that different from that of a place in the tropics on Earth,” he said.

The Venusian skies would have been cloudy with almost continual rain lashing down in some regions, however. “So while you might get nice sunsets you would have mostly overcast skies during the day and precipitation,” Way added.

Crucially, if the calculations are correct the oceans may have remained until 715m years ago - a long enough period of climate stability for microbial life to have plausibly sprung up.

“The oceans of ancient Venus would have had more constant temperatures, and if life begins in the oceans - something which we are not certain of on Earth - then this would be a good starting place,” said Way.

Other planetary scientists agreed that, despite the differing fates of the two planets, early Earth and Venus may have been similar.
Professor Takehiko Satoh, who works on the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Venus Climate Orbiter (“Akatsuki”) mission, said: “Habitable or not, I’m not in a position to answer. Environment-wise, probably Venus once had an ocean and probably the environment of Venus and the Earth might have been similar.”

With an average surface temperature of 462C (864F), Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system today, thanks to its proximity to the sun and its impenetrable carbon dioxide atmosphere, 90 times denser than Earth’s. At some point in the planet’s history this led to a runaway greenhouse effect.

Previous US and Soviet landers sent to Venus have survived only a few hours on the surface before being destroyed.
Way and colleagues simulated the Venusian climate at various time points between 2.9bn and 715m years ago, employing similar models to those used to predict future climate change on Earth. The scientists fed some basic assumptions into the model, including the presence of water, the intensity of the sunlight and how fast Venus was rotating. In this virtual version, 2.9bn years ago Venus had an average surface temperature of 11C (52F) and this only increased to an average of 15C (59F) by 715m years ago, as the sun became more powerful.
More precise measurements of the chemical makeup of Venus’s surface and atmosphere could help establish how much water the planet had in the past, and when this began to disappear.

Some of this information may be filled in by the Akatsuki mission, which is observing the Venusian weather systems in unprecedented detail. The spacecraft was supposed to enter orbit about the planet in 2010, but after its main engine blew out, it instead spent five years drifting around the sun like a miniature artificial planet. Last year, scientists used altitude thrusters to redirect it into an orbit, and the mission could yet answer longstanding questions about our planetary neighbour, including whether it has volcanic activity, whether lightning strikes in the sky and why its atmosphere is rotating 60 times faster than the planet itself.

However, searching for traces of ancient microbial life would need a lander, and would be significantly more challenging.
“It would take a great deal of technology development, and money of course, to build the requisite landing craft to survive the surface conditions of present day Venus and to be able to dig into the surface,” said Way. “But if the investments were made it would be possible to search for such signs of life, including chemical traces.”

Details of the study are also published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/oct/17/was-venus-the-first-habitable-planet-in-our-solar-system
I think we should give up on searching for life (present or past) on the barren desert of Mars and the toxic hothouse of Venus. If outwardly life exist in our solar system the place to look is on the moons of Jupiter or Saturn: Europa, Ganymede, Callisto or Enceladus. Again IMO.
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
11,019
Likes
11,575
Points
294
Location
Out of Bounds
It may be that Oumuamua isn't the only object to which we can attribute an extra-solar origin. This story concerns an asteroid whose oddball orbit suggests it may have arrived in, and been captured by, our solar system a few billion years ago.

'Permanent' interstellar visitor found
An asteroid in Jupiter's orbit may have come from outside our Solar System, according to a new study.

Unlike 'Oumuamua, the interstellar object which briefly visited the Solar System earlier this year, 2015 BZ509 (affectionately known as BZ) seems to have been here for 4.5 billion years.

This makes it the first known interstellar asteroid to have taken up residence orbiting the Sun.

It is not yet known where the object came from. ...
FULL STORY: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44173403
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
11,019
Likes
11,575
Points
294
Location
Out of Bounds

Solar System may hold ten planets or more, say scientists
he Solar System may hold 10 or 11 planets, scientists have predicted after running new computer models on the data which led to the announcement of Planet Nine.

In January, astronomers Professor Konstantin Batygin and Professor Mike Brown from California Institute of Technology predicted the existence of a ninth planet after discovering that 13 objects in the Kuiper Belt – an area beyond Neptune – were all moving together as if ‘lassooed’ by the gravity of a huge object. ...
This new study undermines some of the evidence cited back in 2016 in confidently announcing there is a Planet Nine out there waiting to be discovered ...

A New Study Could Explain Away Some Evidence for Planet Nine
... A giant gas planet orbiting in outskirts of the solar system, 20 times as far as Neptune, meandering its way around the sun every 10,000 or 20,000 years. It's a tantalizing prospect.

Planet Nine, if it exists, would be the first planet discovered orbiting the sun since Uranus in 1846 (RIP Pluto, discovered 1930). Such a discovery would rock the foundations of everything we thought we knew about our little neighborhood in space. But no one has ever observed Planet Nine directly. All the evidence for its possible existence is written in the gravitational dance of trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs)—small, cold bodies that lie far beyond the eighth planet.

However, a new model from the University of Colorado at Boulder, presented June 4 at the 232nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Denver, suggests a simpler explanation for these gravitational oddities: The accumulation of small encounters over many years may have knocked the objects into their strange orbits.

If it's true, then maybe there really is no ninth planet. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/deep-space/a21070825/planet-nine-orbits-gravity-study/
 

Bigphoot2

Not sprouts! I hate sprouts.
Joined
Jul 30, 2005
Messages
5,813
Likes
13,507
Points
294
Location
Round about here sometimes
Farting Martians perhaps :)

Curiosity rover sees seasonal Mars methane swing
By Jonathan AmosBBC Science Correspondent
  • 1 hour ago


Image copyrightNASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS
Image captionThe Curiosity rover carries an onboard lab to measure the chemistry of the atmosphere
It may only be a very small part of Mars' atmosphere but methane waxes and wanes with the seasons, scientists say.

The discovery made by the Curiosity rover is important because it helps narrow the likely sources of the gas.

On Earth, those sources largely involve biological emissions - from wetlands, paddy fields, livestock and the like.

No-one can yet tie a life signature to Mars' methane, but the nature of its seasonal behaviour probably rules out some geological explanations for it.

Etc
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44405658
 
Top