You could spend each day of your life staring at a different galaxy, and you’d never even come remotely close to seeing even a tiny percentage of all the galaxies in the Universe. Of course, nobody knows for sure exactly how many galaxies there are. But there might be up to two trillion of them. If you live to be a hundred, that’s only 36,500 galaxies that you’d look at. Puts things in perspective.Continue reading “This Galaxy is the Very Definition of “Flocculent””
Astronomers like observing distant young stars as they form. Stars are born out of a molecular cloud, and once enough of the matter in that cloud clumps together, fusion ignites and a star begins its life. The leftover material from the formation of the star is called a circumstellar disk.
As the material in the circumstellar disk swirls around the now-rotating star, it clumps up into individual planets. As planets form in it, they leave gaps in that disk. Or so we think.Continue reading “Are the Gaps in These Disks Caused by Planets?”
Despite humanity’s current struggle against the novel coronavirus, and despite it taking up most of our attention, other threats still exist. The very real threat of a possible asteroid strike on Earth in the future is taking a backseat for now, but it’s still there.
Though an asteroid strike seems kind of ephemeral right now, it’s a real threat, and one that—unlike a coronavirus—has the potential to end humanity. Agencies like NASA and the ESA are still working on their plans to protect us from that threat.Continue reading “This Powerful Ion Engine Will Be Flying on NASA’s DART Mission to Try and Redirect an Asteroid”
Say hello to Space Foam.
The ESA has a science lab on the International Space Station called Columbus. Inside that lab is the Fluid Science Laboratory, dedicated to studying the behaviour of fluids in microgravity. Currently, that lab is being used to study a substance most of us probably don’t spend much time thinking about: foam.Continue reading “This is Foam, Made in Space”
There’s at least one small bit of good news in these challenging Covid-19 times. And it’s playing out on the surface of Mars. In a brief Tweet, NASA says that using InSight’s robotic arm to push the Mole into the ground is working, somewhat.Continue reading “Good News! The New Strategy of Using InSight’s Arm to Push the Mole Seems to be Making Progress.”
Imagine a planet where it rained iron. Sounds impossible. But on one distant exoplanet, which is tidally locked to its star, the nightside has to contend with a ferrous downpour.Continue reading “Your Umbrella is Insufficient on a Planet Where it Rains Iron”
Matter in the Universe is not distributed equally. It’s dominated by super-clusters and the filaments of matter that string them together, surrounded by huge voids. Galaxy super-clusters are at the top of the hierarchy. Inside those is everything else: galaxy groups and clusters, individual galaxies, and solar systems. This hierarchical structure is called the “Cosmic Web.”
But how and why did the Universe take this form?Continue reading “Slime Mold Grows the Same as the Large Scale Structure of the Universe”
Has humanity been doing it all wrong? We’re busy staring off into space with our futuristic, ultra-powerful telescopes, mesmerized by ethereal nebulae and other wondrous objects, and trying to tease out the Universe’s well-kept secrets. Turns out, humble, ancient clams have something to tell us, too.Continue reading “70 Million Years Ago, Days Were 30 Minutes Shorter, According to this Ancient Clam”
Meet OSIRIS-REx’s “Guide Boulders.”
When the NASA spacecraft first arrived at asteroid Bennu over a year ago, the surface of the asteroid was much different than expected. Instead of a surface with large, smooth areas, nearly the entire surface is covered in boulders. That meant that NASA had to do a re-think of the sampling procedure.Continue reading “These are the Boulders OSIRIS-REx is Going to Use to Navigate Down to the Surface of Bennu”