Neutron stars are the end-state of massive stars that have spent their fuel and exploded as supernovae. There’s an upper limit to their mass, because a massive enough star won’t become a neutron star; it’ll become a black hole. But finding that upper mass limit, or tipping point, between a star that becomes a black hole and one that becomes a neutron star, is something astronomers are still working on.
Now a new discovery from astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) have found the most massive neutron star yet, putting some solid data in place about the so-called tipping point.
Continue reading “The Most Massive Neutron Star has been Found. It’s ALMOST the Most Massive Neutron Star That’s Even Possible”
When ‘Oumuamua passed through our Solar System two years ago, it set off a flurry of excitement in the astronomical community. Here was the first-ever interstellar object that be observed by human trackers, and the mysteries surrounding its true nature and composition led to some pretty interesting theories. There were even some proposals for a rapid mission that would be able to rendezvous with it.
And now that a second interstellar object – C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) – has been detected traveling through the Solar System, similar proposals are being made. One of them comes from a group of scientists from the Initiative for Interstellar Studies (i4is) in the UK. In a recent study, they assess the technical feasibility of sending a mission to this interstellar comet using existing technology, and found that there were a few options!
Continue reading “Could We Intercept Interstellar Comet C/2019 Q4 Borisov?”
Despite the many, many problems we face in the world today, it is still an exciting time to be alive! As we speak, mission planners and engineers are developing the concepts that will soon take astronauts on voyages beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for the first time in almost fifty years. In addition to returning to the Moon, we are also looking further afield to Mars and other distant places in the Solar System.
This presents a number of challenges, not the least of which are the effects of prolonged exposure to radiation and microgravity. And whereas there are many viable options for protecting crews from radiation, gravity remains a bit of a stumbling block. To address this, Youtuber smallstars has proposed a concept that he calls the Gravity Link Starship (GLS), a variation of SpaceX’s Starship that will be able to provide its own artificial gravity.
Continue reading “Real Artificial Gravity for SpaceX’s Starship”
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”
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”
Hubble has captured a new image of Saturn that makes you wonder if it’s even real. The image is so crisp it makes it look like Saturn is just floating in space. Which it is.
Continue reading “Here’s Hubble’s Newest Image of Saturn”
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”
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”
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”
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”