31 Jan 2019, 15:00 UTC Next Previous
23 Jan 2019, 18:00 UTC Next Previous
14 Jan 2019, 14:10 UTC New research that included astronomers Luca Matra and David J. Wilner of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian has found the first confirmed example of a double star system that has flipped its surrounding disc to a position that leaps over the orbital plane of those stars. The international team of astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA) to obtain high-resolution images of the Asteroid belt-sized disc. Next Previous
9 Jan 2019, 22:15 UTC Next Previous
9 Jan 2019, 22:14 UTC On Nov. 22, 2014, astronomers spotted a rare event in the night sky: A supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy, nearly 300 million light-years from Earth, ripping apart a passing star. The event, known as a tidal disruption flare, for the black hole’s massive tidal pull that tears a star apart, created a burst of X-ray activity near the center of the galaxy. Since then, a host of observatories have trained their sights on the event, in hopes of learning more about how black holes feed. Now researchers at MIT and elsewhere have pored through data from multiple telescopes’ observations of the event, and discovered a curiously intense, stable, and periodic pulse, or signal, of X-rays, across all datasets. The signal appears to emanate from an area very close to the black hole’s event horizon — the point beyond which material is swallowed inescapably by the black hole. The signal appears to periodically brighten and fade every 131 seconds, and persists over at least 450 days. The researchers believe that whatever is emitting the periodic signal must be orbiting the black hole, just outside the event horizon, near the Innermost Stable Circular Orbit, or ISCO — the ... Next Previous
9 Jan 2019, 16:02 UTC Next Previous
7 Jan 2019, 17:00 UTC The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured the most detailed image yet of a close neighbour of the Milky Way — the Triangulum Galaxy, a spiral galaxy located at a distance of only three million light-years. This panoramic survey of the third-largest galaxy in our Local Group of galaxies provides a mesmerising view of the 40 billion stars that make up one of the most distant objects visible to the naked eye. Next Previous
31 Dec 2018, 16:08 UTC Using observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, researchers have observed, for the first time, a warped disk around an infant protostar that formed just several tens of thousands of years ago. This implies that the misalignment of planetary orbits in many planetary systems, including our own, may be caused by distortions in the planet-forming disk early in their existence.The planets in the Solar System orbit the Sun in planes that are at most about seven degrees offset from the equator of the Sun itself. It has been known for some time that many extrasolar systems have planets that are not lined up in a single plane or with the equator of the star. One explanation for this is that some of the planets might have been affected by collisions with other objects in the system or by stars passing by the system, ejecting them from the initial plane.However, the possibility remained that the formation of planets out of the normal plane was actually caused by a warping of the star-forming cloud out of which the planets were born. Recently, images of protoplanetary disks, rotating disks where planets form around a star, have in fact showed such ... Next Previous
20 Dec 2018, 15:00 UTC Next Previous
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 15 Feb 2019, 18:00 UTC Just after midnight (UTC) on February 1, 2019, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) passed nearly overhead the Chang'e 4 landing site. From an altitude of 82 kilometers the LROC Narrow Angle Camera pixel scale was 0.85 meters (33 inches), allowing a sharper view of the lander and Yutu-2 rover. At the time the rover was 29 meters northwest of the lander, but the rover has likely moved since the image was acquired. This view has close to the smallest pixel size possible in the current LRO orbit. In the future however, LROC will continue to image the site as the lighting changes and the rover roves!
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 15 Feb 2019, 15:00 UTC In this image, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured the smoking gun of a newborn star, the Herbig–Haro objects numbered 7 to 11 (HH 7–11). These five objects, visible in blue in the top center of the image, lie within NGC 1333, a reflection nebula full of gas and dust found about a thousand light-years away from Earth.
NASA Breaking News 13 Feb 2019, 18:51 UTC One of the most successful and enduring feats of interplanetary exploration, NASA's Opportunity rover mission is at an end after almost 15 years exploring the surface of Mars and helping lay the groundwork for NASA’s return to the Red Planet.
German Aerospace Center (DLR) 13 Feb 2019, 08:39 UTC It stands vertically on flat ground, ready for its historic mission. At 19:18 CET on 12 February 2019, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP³) or 'Mole' was deployed on the Martian surface using the NASA InSight mission's robotic arm.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 12 Feb 2019, 14:26 UTC Two tough, resilient, NASA spacecraft have been orbiting Earth for the past six and a half years, flying repeatedly through a hazardous zone of charged particles around our planet called the Van Allen radiation belts. The twin Van Allen Probes, launched in August 2012, have confirmed scientific theories and revealed new structures and processes at work in these dynamic regions. Now, they're starting a new and final phase in their exploration.
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Scientific American 15 Feb 2019, 17:00 UTC In his celebrated book On Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau wrote: “We need the tonic of wildness.... At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” Thoreau raises a fundamental question in space exploration. Should we allow ourselves to terraform planets in an effort to make them habitable and seed objects in space with life as we know it, or should we leave nature out there to its own devices, intact and pure? On the one hand, it would be prudent not to keep all our eggs in one basket; we might choose to spread terrestrial life to other worlds in an effort to reduce the risk of it being eliminated by catastrophes on Earth. But at the same time, one might worry that by doing so we could unleash unforeseen forces that would modify natural ecosystems in ways that could get out of hand. Moreover, artificial seeding of Earth life would muddy the waters in extraterrestrial “Walden-like” ponds. It would deprive us from the ...
Starts With a Bang! 15 Feb 2019, 15:01 UTC When we look around at the Universe: at the planets and stars, at the galaxies and clusters of galaxies, and at the gas, dust and plasma populating the space between these dense structures, we find the same signatures everywhere. We see atomic absorption and emission lines, we see matter interacting with other forms of matter, we see star formation and stellar death, collisions, X-rays and so much more. There’s an obvious question that cries out for an explanation: why is there all this stuff, rather than nothing at all? If the laws of physics are symmetric between matter and antimatter, the Universe we see today should be impossible. Yet here we are, and no one knows why.
Bad Astronomy 15 Feb 2019, 14:00 UTC If you’re a star, how you die depends on how big a star you are. Huge, massive stars explode, creating so much light and heat they can outshine an entire galaxy for weeks. Dinky, lightweight stars just kinda keep on keepin’ on, going through their fuel at a miserly pace, finally fading after hundreds of billions or even trillions of years.
ESO Blog 15 Feb 2019, 11:00 UTC One night in June 2018, telescopes spotted an extremely bright point of light in the sky that had seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Observations across the electromagnetic spectrum, made using telescopes from around the world, suggest that the light is likely to be the explosive death of a star giving birth to a neutron star or black hole. If so, this would be the first time ever that this has been observed. We find out more from Anna Ho, who led a team that used a variety of telescopes to figure out what exactly this mysterious object — classified as a transient and nicknamed The Cow — is.