Images are Starting to Come in of the New Interstellar Comet

On August 30th, amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov spotted a comet of extrasolar origin passing through our Solar System. This is the second time in as many years that an interstellar object has been observed (the last being ‘Oumuamua 2.0 in 2017). Thanks to the Gemini Observatory, we now have pictures of this comet, making it the first object of its kind to be successfully imaged in multiple colors!

Continue reading “Images are Starting to Come in of the New Interstellar Comet”

Oumuamua 2.0? It Looks Like There’s a New Interstellar Object Passing Through the Solar System

In 2017, astronomers and the world were surprised to learn that an interstellar object (named ‘Oumuamua) passed by Earth on its way to the outer Solar System. After multiple surveys were conducted, scientists were left scratching their heads as to what this object was – which speculation ranging from it being a comet or an asteroid to comet fragment or even an extra-terrestrial solar sail!

But one of the greatest takeaways from that event was the discovery that such objects pass through our Solar System on a regular basis (and some stay). And as it turns out, astronomers with NASA, the ESA, and the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) announced the detection of what could be a second interstellar object! Could this be ‘Oumuamua 2.0? And if so, what mysteries might it present?

Continue reading “Oumuamua 2.0? It Looks Like There’s a New Interstellar Object Passing Through the Solar System”

Astronomers Find a Supermassive Black Hole That’s Feasting on a Regular Schedule, Every 9 Hours

Astronomers have found a supermassive black hole (SMBH) with an unusually regular feeding schedule. The behemoth is an active galactic nucleus (AGN) at the heart of the Seyfert 2 galaxy GSN 069. The AGN is about 250 million light years from Earth, and contains about 400,000 times the mass of the Sun.

Continue reading “Astronomers Find a Supermassive Black Hole That’s Feasting on a Regular Schedule, Every 9 Hours”

Weekly Space Hangout: September 11, 2019 – Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of New Horizons

Hosts:
Fraser Cain (universetoday.com / @fcain)
Dr. Morgan Rehnberg (MorganRehnberg.com / @MorganRehnberg & ChartYourWorld.org)
Dave Dickinson (www.astroguyz.com / @astroguyz)

Continue reading “Weekly Space Hangout: September 11, 2019 – Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of New Horizons”

Hubble Has Looked at the 2017 Kilonova Explosion Almost a Dozen Times, Watching it Slowly Fade Away

In 2017, LIGO (Laser-Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) and Virgo detected gravitational waves coming from the merger of two neutron stars. They named that signal GW170817. Two seconds after detecting it, NASA’s Fermi satellite detected a gamma ray burst (GRB) that was named GRB170817A. Within minutes, telescopes and observatories around the world honed in on the event.

The Hubble Space Telescope played a role in this historic detection of two neutron stars merging. Starting in December 2017, Hubble detected the visible light from this merger, and in the next year and a half it turned its powerful mirror on the same location over 10 times. The result?

The deepest image of the afterglow of this event, and one chock-full of scientific detail.

Continue reading “Hubble Has Looked at the 2017 Kilonova Explosion Almost a Dozen Times, Watching it Slowly Fade Away”

India has Located the Vikram Lander, But it’s Still not Communicating With Home

On Sunday (Sept. 8th), the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced that they had located Vikram, the lander element of their Chandrayaan-2 mission. The search began almost immediately after the space agency lost contact with the robotic spacecraft, which occurred moments before it set down on the lunar surface (on Friday, Sept. 6th).

Continue reading “India has Located the Vikram Lander, But it’s Still not Communicating With Home”

Water Discovered in the Atmosphere of an Exoplanet in the Habitable zone. It Might Be Rain

Astronomers using the Hubble space telescope have discovered water in the atmosphere of an exoplanet in its star’s habitable zone. If confirmed, it will be the first time we’ve detected water—a critical ingredient for life as we know it—on an exoplanet. The water was detected as vapour in the atmosphere, but the temperature of the planet means it could sustain liquid water on its surface, if it’s rocky.

Continue reading “Water Discovered in the Atmosphere of an Exoplanet in the Habitable zone. It Might Be Rain”

Astronauts Try Mixing Concrete in Space

What sounds like a slap-stick comedy shtick is actually solid science. With so much of humanity’s space-faring future involving habitats, other structures, and a permanent presence on the Moon and Mars, mixing concrete in space is serious business. NASA has a program of study called MICS, (Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification) which is examining how we might build habitats or other structures in microgravity.

Continue reading “Astronauts Try Mixing Concrete in Space”

Entrepreneurs and Engineers Come Together to Design a Peaceful Lunar Settlement

An illustration of a Moon base that could be built using 3D printing and ISRU, In-Situ Resource Utilization. Credit: RegoLight, visualisation: Liquifer Systems Group, 2018

With all the plans for sending robotic missions to the Moon in the coming years, and NASA’s plan to send the first astronauts of the post-Apollo Era there, one thing is clear: We are going back to the Moon! But unlike the Apollo Era, we intend to do more than mount “footprints and flags” missions this time. This time, we intend to create the infrastructure that would allow for a long-term, sustainable human presence on the Moon.

This is the vision behind the Open Lunar Foundation, a San Fransisco-based nonprofit organization made up of tech industry executives and engineers (some of whom worked for NASA) that is dedicated to the creation of an international lunar settlement. Intrinsic to this vision is the reliance on private enterprise and the development of open-source technology that would humanity to establish a permanent presence on the Moon.

Continue reading “Entrepreneurs and Engineers Come Together to Design a Peaceful Lunar Settlement”