One group of student in particular stands out in overcoming incredible odds to qualify for participation in this event, and they need financial help to be able to attend. Student from Afghanistan have been restricted from publicly participating in science activities like astronomy due to the presence of the Taliban. Additionally, a majority of the students from Afghanistan who qualified to attend the IOAA are girls, and since the Taliban returned to power nearly two years ago, they have resumed pushing women and girls out of public life and out of schools.
Concern over global light pollution is growing. Astronomers are noticing its growing effect on astronomical observations, just as predicted in prior decades. Our artificial light, much of which is not strictly necessary, is interfering with our science.
But there’s more than just scientific progress at stake. Can humanity afford to block out the opportunities for wonder, awe, and contemplation that the night sky provides?
The war in Ukraine has taken a terrible toll, and the damage extends far from the shifting battle lines. In addition to the many soldiers and civilians who’ve died, over 2.5 million children have been displaced within the country. The war has also exacerbated the problems of orphaned children, who are especially vulnerable in urban areas where the fighting has been most intense. Ensuring these children and their families can get adequate food and medical care is always challenging. Ensuring they have access to education and counseling services so their lives are not severely interrupted is even more so.
But there’s also the need for inspiration and hope for the future, which becomes all the more important in times of war and displacement. This is the purpose of Earthlings Hub, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing astronomy and science education to refugee and orphan children in Ukraine. Founded in 2022 by members of the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science (BMSIS), Earthlings Hub is made up of scientists, teachers, and psychologists working to provide students with access to scientific research, equipment, and an inquiry-based educational program that goes beyond the standard school curriculum.
Most astronomers know the struggle of getting time on the world’s most powerful telescopes. Even though this observing time might literally be the most important thing to their career prospects, there are always more studies than there is time available to perform them. Typically, each telescope system has a panel of experts that determine which proposals will get observational time and which won’t. However, the European Southern Observatory (ESO), based in Germany but with observational telescopes in Chile, decided to try a new proposal review method – peer review.
Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are cosmic mysteries that are slowly but surely revealing their secrets. These bright flashes of light are visible in the radio wave part of the spectrum and usually last only a few milliseconds before fading away forever. They come from random locations across the Universe and are so powerful that we can see them emanating from billions of light-years away.
Astronomers have used a newly upgraded radio telescope array to find five new FRBs and discovered that multiple bursts pierced right through the Triangulum Galaxy (M33). These brief flashes lit up the gas inside M33, allowing astronomers to calculate the maximum number of otherwise invisible atoms.
Astronomy is poised for another leap. In the next several years, major ground-based telescopes will come online, including the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT,) the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT,) the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT,) and the Vera Rubin Observatory. The combined power of these telescopes will help drive discovery in the next couple of decades.
But something threatens to undermine astronomical observing in the coming years: Starlink and other internet satellite constellations.
Now a group of astronomers have shown that even the Hubble can’t escape the satellite problem.
In a recent study published in Nature Astronomy, an international team of researchers led by NASA and The George Washington University examined data from an October 2020 detection of what’s known as a “large spin-down glitch event”, also known as an “anti-glitch”, from a type of neutron star known as a magnetar called SGR 1935+2154 and located approximately 30,000 light-years from Earth, with SGR standing for soft gamma repeaters. Such events occur when the magnetar experiences a sudden decrease in its rotation rate, which in this case was followed by three types of radio bursts known as extragalactic fast radio bursts (FRBs) and then pulsed radio emissions for one month straight after the initial rotation rate decrease.
In a recent study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, an international team of researchers examined the levels of light pollution at astronomical observatories from around the world to better understand how artificial light is impacting night sky observations in hopes of taking steps to reduce it. But how important is it to preserve the scientific productivity of astronomical observatories from the dangers of light pollution, as noted in the study’s opening statement?
After a quarter-century of development, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is a smashing success. But senior project scientist John Mather, a Nobel-winning physicist who’s played a key role in the $10 billion project since the beginning, still sees some room for improvement.