SPACE.com 16 Jun 2019, 12:08 UTC This abstract night-sky photo shows the full moon peeking through wispy clouds and barren tree branches while surrounded by brilliant, blue lunar corona. A relatively rare sight, this optical phenomenon occurs when bright moonlight is diffracted by water droplets in thin clouds that drift in front of the lunar disk.
Centauri Dreams 14 Jun 2019, 17:53 UTC We’re getting first results from the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey (GPIES), a four-year look at 531 young, nearby stars that relies on the instrument’s capabilities at direct imaging. Data from the first 300 stars have been published in The Astronomical Journal, representing the most sensitive, and certainly the largest direct imaging survey for giant planets yet attempted. The results of the statistical analysis are telling: They suggest that planets slightly more massive than Jupiter in outer orbits around stars the size of the Sun are rare.
Universe Today 14 Jun 2019, 16:27 UTC When InSight landed on Mars on Nov. 26th, 2018, it deployed a parachute to slow its descent through the thin Martian atmosphere. As it approached the surface, it fired its retro rocket to slow it even more, and then gently touched down on the surface. As it did so, its retro rockets excavated two small pits in the Martian soil.
Bad Astronomy 14 Jun 2019, 13:00 UTC In 1961, the Swedish astronomer Bengt Westerlund was taking photographic plates of the sky near or on the plane of the Milky Way — that is, looking deep into the murk of our flattened disk of a galaxy. He was observing at Mt. Stromlo in Australia, where the Milky Way rises high above the horizon, giving fantastic views of the galaxy. In the images he found something very interesting: A dense cluster of stars, heavily obscured by clouds of dust between us and it. Cold interstellar dust (located far away from and between stars in the galaxy) is made of tiny grains of rocky or carbonaceous material, and is excellent at absorbing light. It not only makes objects behind it look fainter, but it also reddens the light, in the same way the Sun looks redder when it’s near the horizon (astronomers call this extinction).
Scientists describe 'propellers, waves and speckles' in close-up views of Saturn's spectacular rings13 Jun 2019, 21:44 UTC Saturn's rings are a complex mix of stripes, speckled textures and other odd features that appear to be sculpted by the planet's moons. So say researchers who have crunched the final data collected by NASA's Cassini spacecraft just before it plunged through the planet's rings to its demise in 2017. They've published their findings in the journal Science today, providing some of the most detailed insights ever obtained into the iconic rings.
Centauri Dreams 13 Jun 2019, 17:48 UTC We have priceless data on Europa from the Voyager and Galileo missions, but we’re updating earlier interpretations thanks to new work with both the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea (Hawaii). Thus the discovery that the yellow color visible on parts of Europa’s surface in visible light is most likely sodium chloride (NaCl), familiar as table salt and the principal component of sea salt. That’s an interesting result, given that it suggests a Europan ocean chemically more similar to Earth’s than we had previously assumed.
Starts With a Bang! 13 Jun 2019, 14:01 UTC Imagine the largest cosmic smashup you can. Take the largest gravitationally bound structures we know of — enormous galaxy clusters that might contain thousands of Milky Way-sized galaxies — and allow them to attract and merge. With individual galaxies, stars, gas, dust, black holes, dark matter and more inside, there are bound to not only be fireworks, but novel astrophysical phenomena that might not show up elsewhere in the Universe. The gas within these clusters can heat up, interact, and develop shocks, causing the emission of spectacularly energetic radiation. Dark matter can pass through everything else, separating its gravitational effects from the majority of the normal matter. And, in theory, charged particles can accelerate tremendously, creating coherent magnetic fields that could span millions of light-years. For the first time, such an intergalactic bridge between two colliding clusters has been discovered, with tremendous implications for our Univers
Physics World Blog 13 Jun 2019, 12:12 UTC The mass of the smallest black hole known to exist at the centre of an active galaxy has been determined by an international team of astronomers, who argue that their result is “the best direct mass measurement for a galaxy of this size”. The researchers also say that their study could provide important clues about how the most massive black holes form.
Forbes articles by Brian Koberlein 12 Jun 2019, 19:29 UTC On the 2nd of July the Moon will pass between the Earth and Sun, casting a shadow upon the Earth. The darkest part of the shadow will pass across northern Chile, creating a total solar eclipse, and people from all over the world will flock to Chile to stand in that shadow for a brief time.