EarthSky Blog 14 Mar 2018, 09:42 UTC This system of 2 spiral galaxies – located some about 350 million light-years away – is called Arp 256. The galaxies are colliding, as evidence by their distorted shapes and the many young blue stars in their spiral arms, whose birth was triggered by the galaxies’ close interaction. Image via Hubble Space Telescope.Astronomers use the term peculiar galaxy to describe any galaxies that appear unusual in shape, size or composition. It’s often a merger between galaxies that causes them to look peculiar, as in the case with this pair of barred spirals – called Arp 256 – which are known to be moving toward each other and already interacting. These two are located in our sky in the direction of the constellation of Cetus the Whale. The Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of them; its website explained:This image suspends them in a single moment, freezing the chaotic spray of gas, dust and stars kicked up by the gravitational forces pulling the two galaxies together.Though their nuclei are still separated by a large distance, the shapes of the galaxies in Arp 256 are impressively distorted. The galaxy in the upper part of the image contains very pronounced tidal tails — ...
The New York Times 14 Mar 2018, 04:08 UTC Stephen W. Hawking, the Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author who roamed the cosmos from a wheelchair, pondering the nature of gravity and the origin of the universe and becoming an emblem of human determination and curiosity, died early Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76.
Astronomy Now 14 Mar 2018, 00:13 UTC Yale University astronomers have developed a powerful new spectrometer to search for Earth-size planets around nearby stars. Expected to improve precision over earlier ground-based instruments by a factor of 10, the Extreme Precision Spectrometer – EXPRES – is now in operation at the Lowell Observatory’s Discovery Channel Telescope in Arizona.
The Planetary Society Blog 13 Mar 2018, 18:03 UTC NASA has sent a robot to Mars that autonomously picks out targets to zap with its laser, blasting a little bit of rock to plasma. It's for science! Since 2016, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has had the ability to choose its own science targets using an onboard intelligent targeting system called AEGIS (for Automated Exploration for Gathering Increased Science). The AEGIS software can analyze images from on-board cameras, identify geological features of interest, prioritize and select among them, then immediately point the ChemCam instrument at selected targets to make scientific measurements.
All About Space 13 Mar 2018, 11:46 UTC With a phenomenal mass nearly 100- times greater than our planet, Saturn has an amazingly strong gravitational attraction. However, when it really comes down to it, both planets would cause complete and utter chaos on each other.