New Scientist 3 Feb 2020, 16:00 UTC Earth’s upper atmosphere has strange dense layers of ions that are constantly appearing and disappearing and which can hamper radio communication. Now, the same thing has now been found on Mars, offering a new chance to crack understand this poorly studied phenomenon.
Centauri Dreams 3 Feb 2020, 13:12 UTC In a few short months, New Horizons will be almost 8 billion kilometers out, a distance that still boggles the mind until we remember that Voyager 1 has reached 22.2 billion kilometers (over 148 AU). Then, of course, we’re humbled again with the thought that the inner Oort Cloud is thought to be between 2,000 and 5,000 AU from the Sun, with an outer edge that could extend as far as halfway to the nearest star. That star, Proxima Centauri, is 268,770 AU from us.
Centauri Dreams 31 Jan 2020, 18:17 UTC Meanwhile, we have the good news that the European Space Agency’s CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite), which was launched from Kourou (French Guiana) on December 18, has completed its early orbit phase, involving instrument tests and calibration, and has now opened its telescope cover, exposing the focal plane to starlight.
ESO Announcements 31 Jan 2020, 15:00 UTC ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), the world’s biggest eye on the sky, will have a pioneering five-mirror optical system that will allow it to unveil the Universe in unprecedented detail. The tertiary mirror in this system, M3, has completed a key production stage and has now been delivered to French company Safran Reosc for final polishing.
Universe Today 30 Jan 2020, 21:06 UTC Put “James Webb Telescope launch” into your search engine and you’ll be flooded with links, some reaching back to the ‘scope’s first proposed launch date in 2010. The delayed launch of the space telescope is a running theme in the space community, even though we all know it’s going to be worth the wait. So nobody will be surprised by this latest development in the story of the world’s most anticipated telescope.
New Scientist 30 Jan 2020, 19:00 UTC A pair of distant stars have a weird wobble to their orbits, which is probably caused by a strange effect predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity. This tumbling motion tells us that they formed in a very unusual way.
Astronomy Now 30 Jan 2020, 14:35 UTC In 1999, the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia discovered a binary system made up of a fast-spinning white dwarf and a pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star created in a supernova blast. The pulsar – PSR J1141-6545 – completes one orbit every 4.8 hours at a velocity of nearly 1 million kilometres per hour (620,000 mph).