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Sipping from the Firehose of Astronomy

15 Jan 2021, 21:29 UTC
Sipping from the Firehose of Astronomy
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After a holiday break from writing, I’m back and attending the American Astronomical Society meeting this week. Normally, I’d be traveling to a distant city for this meeting. However, during the Age of Pandemic, all events like this have gone virtual. So, thousands of us have been logging into the meeting to sip from the “Firehose of Astronomy Results.”

This year’s meeting offered talks and papers about everything from planetary science to cosmology, so let’s dive in! Over the next week or so, I’ll bring you some highlights of the kinds of science that has astronomers excited.

Pluto Raises Questions

The first true color image of Pluto from New Horizons.

We’ll start with Pluto. You remember Pluto. It’s the little planet that just keeps on giving. Before the New Horizons mission flew through the Pluto system in 2015, planetary scientists had a few problems with it.

First, it’s pretty far away. Looking at it through a telescope didn’t reveal a lot. Not even Hubble Space Telescope could show much in the way of surface information about Pluto. That is, in fact, why New Horizons exists. It is on a forever journey to the Kuiper Belt and beyond.

The second ...

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