In this week’s edition of new unexplained astronomical phenomena, a team of astronomers led by Dr. Leigh Smith from Cambridge found a star 100 times larger than our sun that nearly disappears from the sky every few decades. They also have no idea why it does so.Continue reading “Astronomers Find a Blinking Star Near the Center of the Milky Way”
Internal geological processes on the moon are almost non-existent. However, when it gets smacked by a space rock, its surface can change dramatically. Debris from that impact can also travel over large distances, transplanting material from one impact site hundreds of kilometers away, where it can remain untouched in its inert environment for billions of years.
So when Apollo 17 astronauts took regolith samples at their landing site near Serenitatis Basin, they collected not only rocks from the basin itself, but from other impacts that had happened billions of years ago. Differentiating material that actually formed part of the Basin from material that landed their after an impact has proven difficult.Continue reading “Apollo 17 Astronauts Brought Home Samples From the Oldest Impact Crater on the Moon”
In November of 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will make its long-awaited journey to space. This next-generation observatory will observe the cosmos using its advanced infrared suite and reveal many never-before-seen things. By 2024, it will be joined the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (RST), the successor to the Hubble mission that will have 100 times Hubble’s field of view and faster observing time.
These instruments will make huge contributions to many fields of research, not the least of which is the discovery and characterization of extrasolar planets. But even with their advanced optics and capabilities, these missions will not be able to examine the surfaces of exoplanets in any detail. However, a team of the UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) and the Space Science Institute (SSI) have developed the next best thing: a tool for detecting an exoplanet surface without directly seeing it.Continue reading “A New Technique for “Seeing” Exoplanet Surfaces Based on the Content of their Atmospheres”
In October of 2024, NASA’s Artemis Program will return astronauts to the surface of the Moon for the first time since the Apollo Era. In the years and decades that follow, multiple space agencies and commercial partners plan to build the infrastructure that will allow for a long-term human presence on the Moon. An important part of these efforts involves building habitats that can ensure the astronauts’ health, safety, and comfort in the extreme lunar environment.
This challenge has inspired architects and designers from all over the world to create innovative and novel ideas for lunar living. One of these is the Lunar Lantern, a base concept developed by ICON (an advanced construction company based in Austin, Texas) as part of a NASA-supported project to build a sustainable outpost on the Moon. This proposal is currently being showcased as part of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at the La Biennale di Venezia museum in Venice, Italy.Continue reading “The Lunar Lantern Could be a Beacon for Humanity on the Moon”
We’ve known for a while about the large-scale structure of the Universe. Galaxies reside in filaments hundreds of millions of light-years long, on a backbone of dark matter. And, where those filaments meet, there are galaxy clusters. Between them are massive voids, where galaxies are sparse. Now a team of astronomers in Germany and their colleagues in China and Estonia have made an intriguing discovery.
These massive filaments are rotating, and this kind of rotation on such a massive scale has never been seen before.Continue reading “The Largest Rotating Objects in the Universe: Galactic Filaments Hundreds of Millions of Light-Years Long”
Now’s the time to catch Nova Herculis 2021, before it fades from view.
…And then, there were two. Fresh off of the eruption of Nova Cassiopeiae 2021 early this year, another galactic nova made itself known earlier this past weekend, as a ‘new star’ or nova flirted with naked eye visibility in the constellation Hercules the Hero on its border with Aquila the Eagle.Continue reading “Catch New Galactic Nova Herculis 2021 in Hercules the Hero”
Black holes are the most powerful destructive forces in the universe. They can rip apart a star and scatter its ashes out of the galaxy at nearly the speed of light. But these engines of destruction can also pave the way for new stars to form, as a new study in Nature shows.Continue reading “Black Holes don't Just Destroy, They Also Help With Star Formation”
Much like Dark Matter and Dark Energy, Fast Radio Burst (FRBs) are one of those crazy cosmic phenomena that continue to mystify astronomers. These incredibly bright flashes register only in the radio band of the electromagnetic spectrum, occur suddenly, and last only a few milliseconds before vanishing without a trace. As a result, observing them with a radio telescope is rather challenging and requires extremely precise timing.
Hence why the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) in British Columbia launched the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) in 2017. Along with their partners at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Perimeter Institute, and multiple universities, CHIME detected more than 500 FRBs in its first year of operation (and more than 1000 since it commenced operations)!Continue reading “CHIME Detected Over 500 Fast Radio Burst in its First Year, Providing new Clues to What’s Causing Them”
A lot of the threats humanity faces come from ourselves. If we were listing them, we’d include tribalism, greed, and the fact that we’re evolved primates, and our brains have a lot in common with animal brains. Our animalistic brains subject us to many of the same destructive emotions and impulses that animals are subject to. We wage war and become embroiled in intergenerational conflicts. There are genocides, pogroms, doomed boatloads of migrants, and horrible mashups of all three.
Isn’t humanity fun?
But not all of the threats we face are as intractable as our internal ones. Some threats are external, and we can leverage our technologies and our knowledge of nature in the struggle against them. Case in point: asteroids.Continue reading “NASA has Approved a Space Telescope That Will Scan the Skies for Dangerous Near-Earth Asteroids”
One of the best things about that universe is that there is so much to it. If you look hard enough, you can most likely find any combination of astronomical events happening. Not long ago we reported on research that found 7 separate instances of three galaxies colliding with one another. Now, a team led by Jonathan Williams of the University of Maryland has found another triple galaxy merging cluster, but this one might potentially have two active supermassive black holes, allowing astronomers to peer into the system dynamics of two of the universe’s most extreme objects running into one another.Continue reading “Rare Triple Galaxy Merger With at Least Two Supermassive Black Holes”