Air & Space Magazine 13 Apr 2018, 19:00 UTC A little over two years ago, in March 2016, a telescope array called Evryscope observed a “superflare,” or extremely strong stellar eruption, on the nearby star Proxima Centauri. The flare was so bright that it was visible with the naked eye on Earth, the first time that’s ever happened. Now an analysis by Ward Howard from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and colleagues shows the devastating consequences such an event would have on the Earthlike planet circling our stellar neighbor.Read more at https://www.airspacemag.com/daily-planet/you-dont-want-be-proxima-b-180968795/#yQ1bPQMUizkbUDWS.99
Many Worlds 13 Apr 2018, 15:54 UTC We all know that cut diamonds sparkle and shine, one of the great aesthetic creations from nature. Less well known is that diamonds and the bits of minerals, gases and water encased in them offer a unique opportunity to probe the deepest regions of our planet. Thought to be some of the oldest available materials found on Earth — some dated at up to 3.5 billion years old — they crystallize at great depth and under great pressure. But from the point of view of those who study them, it’s the inclusions that loom large because allow them to know the age and depth of the diamond’s formation. And some think they can ultimately provide important clues to major scientific questions about the origin of water on Earth and even the origin of life.
The Planetary Society Blog 13 Apr 2018, 11:00 UTC In astronomy we are presented with the intricate interplay of darkness and light. In Plato's story we are potential prisoners in a cave who, being chained in position, have only ever seen shadows on a cave wall cast by a fire behind us. The reality of the substantive objects that cast the shadows is not known—all that appears is the seeming reality of the shadows.Only within the last handful of generations have fuzzy, luminous clouds in the sky transformed into galaxies leaving other clouds such as this one to be understood as a starforming region inside our own galaxy. This understanding came about through creative insight and an expansion of our senses through evermore sensitive detectors.
ESO Blog 13 Apr 2018, 10:00 UTC When most people picture an astronomer, they imagine a man in glasses peering up at the Universe through the lens of a huge telescope. While this might have been accurate a century ago, the life of a modern astronomer is a far cry from this stereotype. To learn more about what it’s like to spend a night at a telescope, we chatted to ESO Fellow Anita Zanella, who just wrapped up an observing run at ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.
Sky and Telescope 12 Apr 2018, 16:17 UTC The ultra-diffuse galaxy NGC 1052–DF2, originally identified with the Dragonfly Telescope Array, has puzzled astronomers since the discovery that its dynamical mass — determined by the motions of globular-cluster-like objects spotted within it — is essentially the same as its stellar mass. This equivalence implies that the galaxy is strangely lacking dark matter; the upper limit set on its dark matter halo is 400 times smaller than what we would expect for such a dwarf galaxy.
Starts With a Bang! 12 Apr 2018, 14:01 UTC In 1961, scientist Frank Drake wrote down a simple-looking equation for estimating the number of active, technologically-advanced, communicating civilizations in the Milky Way. From first principles, there was no good way to simply estimate a number, but Drake had the brilliant idea of writing down a large number of parameters that could be estimated, which you would then multiply together. If your numbers were accurate, you’d arrive at an accurate figure for the number of technologically advanced civilizations that humanity could communicate with, within our own galaxy, at any given moment. It’s a brilliant idea in concept, but one that’s become less and less useful as we’ve learned more about our Universe. As it stands today, the Drake equation is broken, but we know enough about the Universe to construct an even better framework.