Astronomical News

gordonrutter

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Re the Draconids tonight. A peak of five per hour, not the most spectacular and unlikely to trigger the Triffids.
 

EnolaGaia

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Betelgeuse hasn't quite run out of geuse just yet. ...
This astronomer posts regular updates about Betelgeuse. The star is slightly brighter than it was, and may be returning to normal. But this chap says it has remained constantly bright when viewed in the infra-red. That probably means this recent 'fainting' is due to dust. ...
Ongoing data analysis indicated we needed to revise our last estimates of Betelgeuse's distance, size, and probable time left before it goes supernova.
Betelgeuse Is Neither as Far Nor as Large as We Thought, And It's a Total Bummer

In the wake of recent fluctuations in Betelgeuse's brightness, astronomers have rigorously examined the star's vital statistics, and come up with a bit of a surprise.

According to the team led by researchers at Australian National University (ANU), the results change a few important things about our favourite red giant.

"The actual physical size of Betelgeuse has been a bit of a mystery – earlier studies suggested it could be bigger than the orbit of Jupiter," says astronomer László Molnár from the Konkoly Observatory in Hungary.

"Our results say Betelgeuse only extends out to two thirds of that, with a radius 750 times the radius of the Sun." ...

Betelgeuse has always been somewhat difficult to map with much accuracy. ...

In 1920, interference patterns among its light waves were used to come up with an angular diameter – the width of Betelgeuse's starlight as it hangs in our sky – of close to 47 milliarcseconds.

Based on an assumed distance of around 180 light years, the red star was initially thought to have a diameter equivalent to around two and a half times the distance between Earth and the Sun.

Since then there have been many more attempts to drag a metaphorical measuring tape around Betelgeuse's butt. ...

Revisions of its location in the past few years pushed it further back to a distance of 724 light years away, where those 47 milliarcseconds represented something more like 1,300 times the diameter of the Sun; a diameter that would see Betelgeuse swallow up planets roughly in Jupiter's orbit. ...

Using information collected with the space-based Solar Mass Ejection Imager prior to Betelgeuse's recent drop in luminosity, the research team developed models of the star's activity to come up with a better sense of just how close to retirement it really was.

"It's burning helium in its core at the moment, which means it's nowhere near exploding" ...

"We could be looking at around 100,000 years before an explosion happens."

The results also allowed the researchers to deduce the giant's radius, shaving a third off its previous girth. Based on this new figure, Betelgeuse can't be more than 700 light years away, either.

"Our results show it's a mere 530 light years from us – 25 per cent closer than previous thought," says Molnár. ...

Now that we know Betelgeuse is even closer to us than we thought, it's sure to be one heck of a display when it does eventually collapse. If you're at all concerned about the new seating arrangements, at 530 light years we still won't be close enough to feel the heat of its radiation either. ...
FULL STORY:
https://www.sciencealert.com/we-wer...-and-now-its-imminent-death-is-super-unlikely

PUBLISHED RESEARCH (Bibliographic data & abstract):
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4357/abb8db
 

Mythopoeika

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It turns out that our solar system is flying through a supernova right now.
Might this be the true underlying cause of our global climate change?
 

ramonmercado

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Bennu is literally exploding with news.

For the last year, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has been circling a large asteroid named Bennu that regularly passes uncomfortably
close to Earth. The spacecraft has been painstakingly mapping the asteroid’s rocky surface using a suite of cameras and other instruments that will help it determine where to land next year. Once NASA selects a final landing site, OSIRIS-REx will kiss Bennu just long enough to scoop up a sample to bring back to Earth in 2023.

Many scientists expect the Bennu sample to revolutionize our understanding of asteroids, especially those that are near Earth and pose the greatest threat to life as we know it. But as detailed in a paper published today in Science, NASA has already started making surprising discoveries around this alien world. Earlier this year, the OSIRIS-REx team witnessed particles exploding from the asteroid’s surface—and it’s not sure why.

“No one has ever seen an active asteroid up close like this,” says Carl Hergenrother, an astronomer at the University of Arizona and the scientist who proposed Bennu as the target for OSIRIS-REx. “It wasn’t that long ago that the conventional wisdom was that asteroids are these dead bodies that didn’t change very much.”

In January, the navigation cameras on OSIRIS-REx captured three ejection events that each spewed about 100 centimeter-sized asteroid particles into space. The spacecraft also detected a significant number of particles already orbiting Bennu like a cloud of gnats. Their diverse orbits suggest that particle ejections are a common event on the asteroid and occur all across its surface, rather than in a few select spots. Indeed, in the year since the three ejection events that are reported today in Science, Hergenrother says OSIRIS-REx has detected several other smaller ejections. ...

https://www.wired.com/story/no-one-knows-why-rocks-are-exploding-from-asteroid-bennu/
Update.

After almost two years circling an ancient asteroid hundreds of millions of miles away, a NASA spacecraft this week will attempt to descend to the treacherous, boulder-packed surface and snatch a handful of rubble.

The drama unfolds Tuesday as the U.S. takes its first crack at collecting asteroid samples for return to Earth, a feat accomplished so far only by Japan.

Brimming with names inspired by Egyptian mythology, the Osiris-Rex mission is looking to bring back at least 2 ounces (60 grams) worth of asteroid Bennu, the biggest otherworldly haul from beyond the moon.

The van-sized spacecraft is aiming for the relatively flat middle of a tennis court-sized crater named Nightingale—a spot comparable to a few parking places here on Earth. Boulders as big as buildings loom over the targeted touchdown zone. ...

https://phys.org/news/2020-10-touch-and-go-spacecraft-sampling-asteroid.html
 

kamalktk

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gordonrutter

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Success! Yay science!

They don't know just how much of the asteroid they've collected yet, but if they didn't get enough they have plans to do the maneuver again at another site.

OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Successfully Touches Asteroid

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-s-osiris-rex-spacecraft-successfully-touches-asteroid
I watched it live, very impressive. Also like the way they are going to check the actually have a sample - stick the arm out and spin around and compare readings with the last time (pre sample) they did the same manoeuvre!
 

Comfortably Numb

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NASA MOON NEWS: CLUES EMERGE ABOUT 'EXCITING' NEW ANNOUNCEMENT

Source: The Independent
6 hours ago

Nasa has provoked excitement across the world with the promise that it will reveal a “new discovery about the Moon” in a major announcement.

The space agency gave no details on what the announcement might be, apart from indicating that it “contributes to NASA’s efforts to learn about the Moon in support of deep space exploration” and had been made with Sofia, a converted Boeing 747 that works as a flying observatory.

But clues have begun to emerge about what the announcement could be about to reveal.

As part of the announcement of the press conference – which will take place next week – Nasa gave a full list of the participants. It will include four different people from across the space agency.

Three of them – Paul Hertz, Jacob Bleacher and Naseem Rangwala – are all senior members of staff at various parts of Nasa’s operations that appear to have been involved in the research. Together they represent Nasa’s astrophysics division and its Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, both based at Nasa’s headquarters, and the Sofia mission that helped with the discovery.

But the other person on the list is perhaps the most telling. The briefing will also include Casey Honniball, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

As the blog Nasa Watch points out, Dr Honniball has conducted extensive research into how we might go about finding water on the Moon.

Her PhD dissertation, which is available online and is titled ‘Infrared Remote Sensing Of Volatile Components On The Moon’, includes a report that she and her team had “developed a new approach to detect the actual water molecule on the Moon”, with the technique relying on infrared astronomy.

It goes on to make clear that the method had been put to the test using Sofia, or the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, which would be needed because such observations are only possible from an “airborne infrared observatory”.

“Using data from SOFIA we report the first direct detection of the water molecule on the illuminated lunar surface," she writes at the end of the abstract.

In August, Dr Honniball was also the lead author on a paper titled ‘Telescopic Observations of Lunar Hydration: Variations and Abundance’ and published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. As the title suggests, that paper explored in the detail the possibilities of water on the Moon, and how it might behave.

As such, the list of names in the briefing would seem to suggest that the announcement has something to do with the detection of water on the Moon. While there has been evidence that there may be water there before, it is still not definitive, and researchers know relatively little about how that water might behave or where it could be found.

As Nasa’s announcement indicated, the discovery of water on the Moon would be of keen interest as the space agency prepares to head back there, and to use a potential lunar base as a way of travelling deeper into the solar system, such as to Mars.

[...]

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-...t-water-hydration-lunar-surface-b1221638.html
 

Trevp666

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Dunno if this is the place for it....but I'm currently watching 'nerdlecam' at Boca Chica as they assemble the spaceship SN8.
Putting the nosecone on with a BIG crane!
superbastard.png
 

Trevp666

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And the nose is on!
And there is a youtube timelapse of it being done too.
nose on.png


 

Kondoru

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You man the moon isnt made out of green cheese but something proceesed?

(So meaning its not worth mining??)
 

Analogue Boy

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You man the moon isnt made out of green cheese but something proceesed?

(So meaning its not worth mining??)
Helium Cheese apparently. It’ll run the CheeseDrives in future Starships. Piloted by Kirk. Cheese. It’s the future.
 

kamalktk

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The Bennu collection mission was so successful they can't close the door on the collector.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/23/world/asteroid-bennu-sample-update-scn-trnd/index.html

"The mission team analyzed images Thursday taken of the collector head of the spacecraft that showed that a substantial sample was collected -- but there is so much material in the head that the flap designed to keep the sample inside is jammed.
...
The mission was required to collect at least 2 ounces, or 60 grams, of the asteroid's surface material. Based on the images they analyzed, the researchers are confident that the collector head on the end of the spacecraft's robotic arm actually captured 400 grams of material. And that's only what's visible to them through the perspective of the camera. "
 

Bigphoot2

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So it wasn't a monolith after all...
Water on the Moon could sustain a lunar base
By Victoria Gill
Science correspondent, BBC News

Published19 minutes ago

Having dropped tantalising hints days ago about an "exciting new discovery about the Moon", the US space agency has revealed conclusive evidence of water on our only natural satellite.
This "unambiguous detection of molecular water" will boost Nasa's hopes of establishing a lunar base.
The aim is to sustain that base by tapping into the Moon's natural resources.
The findings have been published as two papers in the journal Nature Astronomy.
etc
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54666328
 

gordonrutter

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Bigphoot2

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Sad news about the Arecibo Radio Telescope
US to shut down famed huge Arecibo space telescope in Puerto Rico jungle
The observatory has played a key part in space exploration – and a few movies – but two accidents have rendered the 305m-wide instrument unsafe
Reuters
Fri 20 Nov 2020 01.16 GMTLast modified on Fri 20 Nov 2020 17.43 GMT


A huge US space telescope nestled deep in the Puerto Rican jungle will be shut down after suffering two destructive mishaps in recent months, ending 57 years of astronomical discoveries.
etc
https://www.theguardian.com/science...arecibo-space-telescope-in-puerto-rico-jungle
 

Comfortably Numb

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Scientists Detect Hints of Strange New Physics in The Universe's Background Radiation

Source: sciencealert.com
Date: 27 November, 2020

Throughout all known space, between the stars and the galaxies, an extremely faint glow suffuses, a relic left over from the dawn of the Universe. This is the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the first light that could travel through the Universe when it cooled enough around 380,000 years after the Big Bang for ions and electrons to combine into atoms.

But now scientists have discovered something peculiar about the CMB. A new measurement technique has revealed hints of a twist in the light - something that could be a sign of a violation of parity symmetry, hinting at physics outside the Standard Model.

According to the Standard Model of physics, if we were to flip the Universe as though it were a mirror reflection of itself, the laws of physics should hold firm. Subatomic interactions should occur in exactly the same way in the mirror as they do in the real Universe. This is called parity symmetry.

As far as we have been able to measure so far, there's only one fundamental interaction that breaks parity symmetry; that's the weak interaction between subatomic particles that is responsible for radioactive decay. But finding another place where parity symmetry breaks down could potentially lead us to new physics beyond the Standard Model.

And two physicists - Yuto Minami of the High Energy Accelerator Research Organisation in Japan; and Eiichiro Komatsu of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany and Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe in Japan - believe they have found hints of it in the polarisation angle of the CMB.

[...]

https://www.sciencealert.com/a-twis...adiation-of-the-universe-hints-at-new-physics
 

charliebrown

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Not since 1623 Jupiter and Saturn will be next to each other on December 21st, the first day of winter.

Is this a good sign or a bad sign?
 
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