Starts With a Bang! 11 Jan 2019, 15:01 UTC Looking out at the Universe today, it’s easy to be absolutely awed by all that we can find. The stars in our night sky are just a tiny fraction — a few thousand out of hundreds of billions — of what’s present in our Milky Way. The Milky Way itself is just one lonesome galaxy out of trillions present within the observable Universe, which extends in all directions for some 46 billion light-years. And it all began some 13.8 billion years ago from a hot, dense, rapidly expanding state known as the Big Bang. That’s the first moment in which we can describe our Universe as being full of matter-and-radiation, and stepping forward from that state given the known laws of physics enables us to explain how the cosmos took its modern shape. But it’s all still expanding, forming new stars, and evolving. How will it end? Here’s what science has to say.
ABC 11 Jan 2019, 10:17 UTC China's national space agency has released the first panoramic images of the far side of the Moon since the historic landing earlier this month. The 360-degree photo shows the grey moonscape, the lander and the rover.
Universe Today 10 Jan 2019, 19:36 UTC Look at a galaxy, what do you see? Probably lots of stars. Nebulae too. And that’s probably it. A whole bunch of stars and gas in a variety of colorful assortments; a delight to the eye. And buried among those stars, if you looked carefully enough, you might find planets, black holes, white dwarves, asteroids, and all sorts of assorted chunky odds and ends. The usual galactic milieu. What you wouldn’t see is what most of that galaxy is really made of. You wouldn’t see the invisible, the hidden. You wouldn’t see the bulk of that galactic mass. You wouldn’t see the dark matter.
Starts With a Bang! 10 Jan 2019, 15:01 UTC On January 3rd, 2019, Earth reached the point in its orbit where it’s at its closest approach to the Sun: perihelion. Every object orbiting a single mass (like our Sun) makes an ellipse, containing a point of closest approach that’s unique to that particular orbit, known as periapsis. For the past 4.5 billion years, Earth has orbited the Sun in an ellipse, just like all the other planets orbiting their stars in all the other mature solar systems throughout the galaxy and Universe. But there’s something you may not expect or appreciate that nevertheless occurs: Earth’s orbital path doesn’t remain the same over time, but spirals outward. This year, 2019, our perihelion was 1.5 centimeters farther away than it was last year, which was more distant than the year before, etc. It’s not just Earth, either; every planet drifts away from its parent star. Here’s the science of why.
Centauri Dreams 10 Jan 2019, 13:25 UTC Jill Tarter, an all but iconic figure in SETI, has just launched Technosearch, an Internet tool that includes all published SETI searches from 1960 to the present. A co-founder of the SETI Institute well known for her own research as well as her advocacy on behalf of the field, Tarter presents scientists with a way to track and update all SETI searches that have been conducted, allowing users to submit their own searches and keep the database current.
EarthSky Blog 10 Jan 2019, 11:11 UTC A team of scientists have analyzed pulses of radio waves coming from a magnetar – a rotating, dense, dead star with a strong magnetic field – that is located near the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy. The new research provides clues that magnetars like this one, lying in close proximity to a black hole, could perhaps be linked to the source of fast radio bursts, or FRBs. FRBs are high-energy blasts that originate beyond our galaxy but whose exact nature is unknown.