Titanic collisions are the norm in young solar systems. Earth’s Moon was the result of one of those collisions when the protoplanet Theia collided with Earth some 4.5 billion years ago. The collision, or series of collisions, created a swirling mass of ejecta that eventually coalesced into the Moon. It’s called the Giant Impact Hypothesis.
Astronomers think that collisions of this sort are a common part of planet formation in young solar systems, where things haven’t settled down into predictability. But seeing any of these collisions around other stars has proved difficult.
Continue reading “This is How You Get Moons. An Earth-Sized World Just got Pummeled by Something Huge.”
What happens when you slam a neutron star (or black hole, take your pick) into a companion star? A supernova, that’s what. And for the first time ever, astronomers think they’ve spotted one.
Continue reading “A Black Hole or Neutron Star Fell Into Another Star and Triggered a Supernova”
What happens when galaxies collide? Well, if any humans are around in about a billion years, they might find out. That’s when our Milky Way galaxy is scheduled to collide with our neighbour the Andromeda galaxy. That event will be an epic, titanic, collision. The supermassive black holes at the center of both galaxies will feast on new material and flare brightly as the collision brings more gas and dust within reach of their overwhelming gravitational pull. Where massive giant stars collide with each other, lighting up the skies and spraying deadly radiation everywhere. Right?
Maybe not. In fact, there might be no feasting at all, and hardly anything titanic about it.
Continue reading “When Galaxies Collide, Black Holes Don’t Always Get the Feast They Were Hoping for”
SpaceX has drawn plenty of praise and criticism with the creation of Starlink, a constellation that will one-day provide broadband internet access to the entire world. To date, the company has launched over 800 satellites and (as of this summer) is producing them at a rate of about 120 a month. There are even plans to have a constellation of 42,000 satellites in orbit before the decade is out.
However, there have been some problems along the way as well. Aside from the usual concerns about light pollution and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI), there is also the rate of failure these satellites have experienced. Specifically, about 3% of its satellites have proven to be unresponsive and are no longer maneuvering in orbit – which could prove hazardous to other satellites and spacecraft in orbit.
Continue reading “About 3% of Starlinks Have Failed So Far”
The history of our Solar System is punctuated with collisions. Collisions helped create the terrestrial planets and end the reign of the dinosaurs. And a massive collision between Earth and an ancient body named Theia likely created the Moon.
Now astronomers have found of evidence of a collision between two exoplanets in a distant solar system.
Continue reading “Astronomers See the Wreckage from a Collision Between Exoplanets”
Most of the time stars hang around for billions of years. But the Universe is a big place, and anything that can go wrong, inevitably does. Today we talk about what happens when these stars come together. The outcome is violent, and fortunately for you, also interesting.
Continue reading “Astronomy Cast Ep. 406: Stellar Cannibalism”
Just take a look at the surface of the Moon and you can see it experienced a savage beating in the past. Turns out, the whole Solar System is a cosmic shooting gallery, with stuff crashing into other stuff. It sure sounds violent, but then, we wouldn’t be here without it.
Continue reading “Astronomy Cast Ep. 333: When Worlds Collide”