In 1987, astronomers witnessed a spectacular event when they spotted a titanic supernova 168,000 light-years away in the Hydra constellation. Designated 1987A (since it was the first supernova detected that year), the explosion was one of the brightest supernova seen from Earth in more than 400 years. The last time was Kepler’s Supernova, which was visible to Earth-bound observers back in 1604 (hence the designation SN 1604).
Since then, astronomers have tried in vain to find the company object they believed to be at the heart of the nebula that resulted from the explosion. Thanks to recent observations and a follow-up study by two international teams of astronomers, new evidence has been provided that support the theory that there is a neutron star at the heart of SN 1604 – which would make it the youngest neutron star known to date.
Continue reading “Astronomers Think They’ve Found the Neutron Star Remnant From Supernova 1987a”
The InSight lander is making progress on Mars. After many months of struggle and careful adaptation, the InSight lander’s ‘Mole’ is finally into the ground. There’s still more delicate work to be done, and they’re not at operating depth yet. But after such a long, arduous affair, this feels like a victory.
Continue reading “InSight’s Mole Is In!”
There’s a surprising phenomenon taking place in Mars’ atmosphere: during the spring and fall seasons on the Red Planet, large areas of the sky pulse in ultraviolet light, exactly three times every night.
Continue reading “The Martian Sky Pulses in Ultraviolet Every Night”
Magnetars are the ultimate aggressive star: intense magnetic fields, massive outbursts, the works. We’ve known that magnetars are capable of producing some of the most powerful blasts in the cosmos, but new observations reveal a different kind of radiation: radio waves. This could potentially solve the long-standing puzzle of the origins of the mysterious Fast Radio Bursts.
Continue reading “A magnetar has been discovered throwing off bizarre blasts of radiation. Is this where fast radio bursts come from?”
In baseball, players receive a Gold Glove award if they show outstanding fielding play throughout the course of the season. Basically, they can’t let any ball get past them when playing in the field. If a Gold Glove award was handed to planets in our solar system, it would undoubtedly be given to Jupiter. It has long been thought that the massive gas giant hoovered up all of the asteroids in its vicinity. In doing so, it would have created two distinct zones of asteroids – those inside it’s orbit and those outside.
Now scientists are starting to cast doubt on such a bifurcated model of the early solar system. And they’re using hundreds of meteorites to do it.
Continue reading “Asteroids Somehow Migrated Past Jupiter During the Solar System’s Early History”
Astronomers have found an extrasolar planet around a main sequence star. Which isn’t a big deal. With a radio telescope. Which is.
Continue reading “An exoplanet has been found for the first time using radio telescopes”
When neutron stars collide, they go out with a tremendous bang, fueling an explosion up to a thousand times more powerful than a supernova. But sometimes they go out with a whimper, and a recent suite of simulations is showing why: they turn into a black hole.
Continue reading “Neutron stars of different masses can make a real mess when they collide”
On the 12th of April, 2019, the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave observatories detected the merger of two black holes. Named GW190412, one of the black holes was eight solar masses, while the other was 30 solar masses. On the 14th of August that year, an even more extreme merger was observed, when a 2.5 solar mass object merged with a black hole nearly ten times more massive. These mergers raise fundamental questions about the way black hole mergers happen.
Continue reading “Why Can Black Hole Binaries Have Dramatically Different Masses? Multiple Generations of Mergers”
According to predominant theories of galaxy formation, the earliest galaxies in the Universe were born from the merger of globular clusters, which were in turn created by the first stars coming together. Today, these spherical clusters of stars are found orbiting around the a galactic core of every observable galaxy and are a boon for astronomers seeking to study galaxy formation and some of the oldest stars in the Universe.
Interestingly enough, it appears that some of these globular clusters may not have survived the merger process. According to a new study by an international team of astronomers, a cluster was torn apart by our very own galaxy about two billion years ago. This is evidenced by the presence of a metal-poor debris ring that they observed wrapped around the entire Milky Way, a remnant from this ancient collision.
Continue reading “A Globular Cluster was Completely Dismantled and Turned Into a Ring Around the Milky Way”
Protoplanetary disks – where young stars are forming their families of planets – usually form concentric rings of gaps. But astronomers have recently spotted a surprising situation: an adolescent star surrounded by galaxy-like spiral arms.
Continue reading “Newly forming star has spiral arms like a tiny galaxy”