Starts With a Bang! 16 Nov 2017, 15:01 UTC The above image, a composite of optical data, X-ray data, and a reconstructed mass map, is one of the most famous and informative ones in all of astronomy. Known as the Bullet Cluster, it showcases two galaxy clusters that have recently collided. The individual galaxies present within the clusters, like two guns filled with bird shot fired at one another, passed right through one another, as the odds of a collision were exceedingly low. However, the intergalactic gas within each cluster, largely diffuse and making up the majority of the normal matter, collided and heated up, emitting X-rays that we can see today. But when we used our knowledge of General Relativity and the bending of background light to reconstruct where the mass must be, we found it alongside the galaxies, not with the intra-cluster matter.
EarthSky Blog 16 Nov 2017, 11:01 UTC Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico, used in 1974 to broadcast the 1st intentional radio signal into space. Image via Wikimedia Commons. November 16, 1974. This is the anniversary of the most powerful broadcast ever deliberately beamed into space with the intention of contacting alien life. The broadcast formed part of the ceremonies held to mark a major upgrade to the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico. Some applauded this event as a mind-expanding attempt to remind people in 1974 that Earth is likely not the only planet where an intelligent civilization has evolved. At the time, others expressed concern. They felt we shouldn’t be attempting to reveal Earth’s location in space to unknown alien civilizations. The broadcast itself was simple, and elegant. It consisted of a pattern of binary numbers. This message contained information about the basic chemicals of life, the structure of DNA, Earth’s place in our solar system and even a stick figure of a human. The actual message is below. The Arecibo message as sent 1974 from the Arecibo Observatory. Via Wikimedia Commons. Click here for an explanation of each part of the message. It took three minutes to send 1,679 bits of information – a ...
Astrobiology Magazine 16 Nov 2017, 05:00 UTC Asteroids key to understanding our Solar System's formation.
Tom's Astronomy Blog 16 Nov 2017, 04:29 UTC A great piece of work. It strikes me as it always does: science research done collaboratively should serve as an excellent role model of what can be accomplished TO so many other unrelated (non-science) endeavors. University of Southampton — An international team of astronomers, including a University of Southampton expert, has discovered a new type of explosion in a distant galaxy. The explosion, called PS1-10adi, seems to prefer active galaxies that house supermassive black holes consuming the gas and material around them. Using telescopes on La Palma and Hawaii, the team detected an explosion that was so energetic it must have originated from one of two sources: an extremely massive star – up to several hundred times more massive than our Sun – exploding as a supernova, or from a lower mass star that has been shredded by the ultra-strong gravitational forces close to the supermassive black hole. The explosion – detailed in a study published in Nature Astronomy – occurred 2.4 billion years ago, but the enormous distance that light from the event had to travel to reach Earth meant it wasn’t observed by astronomers until 2010. The slow evolution of the explosion allowed scientists to monitor it for ...
Planetaria 16 Nov 2017, 02:50 UTC Exoplanets, planets orbiting stars other than the Sun, are being discovered by the thousands now, and there are estimated to be billions of them in our galaxy alone. So far, they have ranged from worlds smaller than Earth, to “super-Earths” and “hot Jupiters” – a wide variety of sizes, compositions and temperatures. For many people, the most interesting are the ones which could potentially support life of some kind. How many of these planets may actually be habitable, at least by earthly standards? As technology improves, astronomers are getting closer to tentatively answer some of these questions, and a few dozen or so such planets have been identified so far. Now, a large team of researchers have found 20 more exoplanets which might be capable of supporting life. The findings are based on data sent back by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope.
Astroquizzical 15 Nov 2017, 22:01 UTC The snappily-named object A/2017 U1 may be more familiar to you as the interstellar visitor that zipped through our solar system at nearly 16 miles per second, discovered in mid-October. It has now been given a less alphanumeric name by the Minor Planet Center: ‘Oumuamua. That Hawai'ian name “reflects the way this object is like a scout or messenger sent from the distant past to reach out to us (ʻou means reach out for, and mua, with the second mua placing emphasis, means first, in advance of)”
Air & Space Magazine 15 Nov 2017, 20:00 UTC When I became an astronaut, we were the class that was going to go to Mars,” says Scott Kelly early in Beyond a Year in Space, a new PBS documentary premiering tonight at 9 p.m. EST. “I never thought that was a realistic thing. But the most recent astronaut class could be. I hope they are.” The hourlong special introduces two viewers to two of those astronauts, biologist Jessica Meir and naval aviator Victor Glover, who are training for the kind of long-duration spaceflights that will be informed by what NASA learned from Kelly’s historic 340-day mission aboard the International Space Station.