Scientific American 17 Nov 2017, 18:30 UTC Nearly two months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the people who operate one of the world’s pre-eminent radio telescopes—at the Arecibo Observatory, on the northwestern part of the island—are still without reliable water, electricity and phone service at their homes. But their jobs seem to be safe.
astrobites 17 Nov 2017, 16:55 UTC Today’s paper takes another look at a binary system, HD 49798, which has been puzzling scientists for some time. HD 49798 is an X-ray binary, a type of binary in which matter is transferred onto a central, compact star (a white dwarf, neutron star or black hole) from a donor star. The authors suggest that many of the unusual attributes of the system could be explained if one of the stars is a young, half-formed white dwarf which is still in the process of contracting.
Air & Space Magazine 17 Nov 2017, 13:30 UTC What were the critical steps toward the first appearance of life on Earth? In a new paper published in Nature Chemistry, Clémentine Gibard and her co-authors from the Scripps Research Institute may have identified one of the most important ones: phosphorylation, or the addition of phosphate to another organic molecule. Read more at http://www.airspacemag.com/daily-planet/phosporus-you-cant-have-life-without-it-least-earth-180967243/#jZCXkZoEM9fOkq7M.99
ESO Blog 17 Nov 2017, 11:00 UTC Exoplanets are one of the hottest topics in astronomy, and the stuff they’re made of is especially fascinating. Not so long ago, astronomers thought that exoplanets were created from the same interstellar materials as their parent stars, so they must have similar compositions. But in many recently-discovered systems, planets have wildly different compositions to their host stars, turning theories of planet formation on their head. One such planet, named K2-106b, is more than twice as dense as Earth and even denser than lead! Puzzlingly, the parent star of this heavy metal planet has a much lower metallicity than the planet itself. We asked Eike Guenther, the astronomer who led the research on this intriguing system, to fill us in on the details.
NPR 17 Nov 2017, 09:51 UTC A two-story tall, digital camera is taking shape in California. It will ultimately go on a telescope in Chile where it will survey the sky, looking for things that appear suddenly or change over time.(Image credit: Joe McNally/Getty Images)
The Daily Galaxy 17 Nov 2017, 05:10 UTC "First of all, it's important to leave aside the idea that Earth received all its water via the impacts of comets from very distant regions. These 'deliveries' also occurred, but their contributions came later and were far less significant in percentage terms," said André Izidoro, with the School of Engineering of Sao Paulo State University, Brazil. "Most of our water came to the region currently occupied by Earth's orbit before the planet was formed." Equipped with Newton's law of universal gravitation (published in Principia 330 years ago) and powerful computational resources (used to apply the law to more than 10,000 interacting bodies), a young Brazilian researcher and his former postdoctoral supervisor have just proposed a new physical model to explain the origin of water on Earth and the other Earth-like objects in the Solar System. André Izidoro, from the School of Engineering of Sao Paulo State University in Guaratinguetá, Brazil, explains that the novelty does not lie on the idea that Earth's water came predominantly from asteroids. "What we did was associate the asteroid contribution with the formation of Jupiter. Based on the resulting model, we 'delivered to Earth' amounts of water consistent with currently estimated values," said Izidoro, who ...
LIGO Laboratory News 17 Nov 2017, 00:38 UTC Scientists searching for gravitational waves have confirmed yet another detection from their fruitful observing run earlier this year. Dubbed GW170608, the latest discovery was produced by the merger of two relatively light black holes, 7 and 12 times the mass of the sun, at a distance of about a billion light-years from Earth. The merger left behind a final black hole 18 times the mass of the sun, meaning that energy equivalent to about 1 solar mass was emitted as gravitational waves during the collision.This event, detected by the two NSF-supported LIGO detectors at 02:01:16 UTC on June 8, 2017 (or 10:01:16 pm on June 7 in US Eastern Daylight time), was actually the second binary black hole merger observed during LIGO’s second observation run since being upgraded in a program called Advanced LIGO. But its announcement was delayed due to the time required to understand two other discoveries: a LIGO-Virgo three-detector observation of gravitational waves from another binary black hole merger (GW170814) on August 14, and the first-ever detection of a binary neutron star merger (GW170817) in light and gravitational waves on August 17.