The study of extrasolar planets has revealed some interesting things in recent decades. Not only have astronomers discovered entirely new types of planets – Super Jupiters, Hot Jupiters, Super-Earths, Mini-Neptunes, etc. – it has also revealed new things about solar system architecture and planetary dynamics. For example, astronomers have seen multiple systems of planets where the orbits of the planets did not conform to our Solar System.
According to a new study led by the University of Bern, an international team of researchers recently observed a Mini-Neptune (TOI-2257 b) orbiting a red dwarf star located about 188.5 light-years from Earth. What was interesting about this find was how the small ice giant had such an eccentric orbit, which is almost twice as long as it is wide! This is almost two and a half times as eccentric as Mercury, making TOI-2257 b the most eccentric planet ever discovered!
Continue reading “Exoplanet Found With a Highly Eccentric Orbit”
The James Webb Space Telescope primary mirror is now fully unfolded, which successfully completes the mission’s major deployments. The starboard side of the primary mirror was released into place today, completing a two-week long, complex deployment sequence. The mirror of the most powerful space telescope ever built is now open, preparing to “unfold the Universe.”
Continue reading “Webb’s Mirror Now Fully Unfolded. Prepare to Witness the Power of This Unprecedented Space Telescope”
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a telescope.
The secondary mirror on the James Webb Space Telescope was successfully deployed in space today, an incredibly important milestone.
“We are 600,000 miles from Earth and we have a telescope,” said Bill Ochs, JWST program manager, speaking triumphantly to his team after the secondary mirror was deployed and then latched in place.
Continue reading “JWST Deploys its Secondary Mirror. It’s a Real Telescope Now”
If you felt a little more tension – and perhaps more goosebumps — in the Universe today, it’s probably because the James Webb Space Telescope’s sunshield is now completely and successfully deployed! All five layers of the sunshield have been fully extended and “tensioned” into the final taut, kite-shaped configuration. This is a huge accomplishment (and huge relief) for the entire international Webb mission
“This has been many years in the making, and is a really big moment for the entire team,” said the JWST mission operations manager after the final events to tension and latch the sunshield were confirmed. “There’s nothing cooler in space than JWST!”
Continue reading “Success! Webb Sunshield Now Fully Deployed”
On December 25th, 2021, astronomers and space exploration enthusiasts got the greatest Christmas present of all! After years of delays, cost overruns, and additional testing, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. In what was a real nail-biter, the Ariane 5 rocket and its precious payload reached orbit without a hitch. But as is so often the case, the deployment of the JWST was just the first in a series of “hurry up and wait” episodes.
Typically, periods of waiting are seeing are accompanied by plenty of worry and doubt. Luckily, there have been several positive developments since the JWST launched that could help alleviate these anxieties. The latest is how the telescope successfully deployed its aft momentum flap, an instrument that will keep the telescope oriented during its mission. The news was announced yesterday (December 30th) via @NASAWebb, NASA’s official Twitter account for the Webb telescope, and the JWST page at NASA Blogs.
Continue reading “JWST Just Deployed a Sail That Lets it Stop Getting Pushed Around by the Sun’s Radiation.”
Every part of the James Webb Space Telescope’s (JWST’s) deployment is nerve-wracking, but some of the most nail-biting moments will happen on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Continue reading “Still Nervous about JWST? Friday and Saturday’s Sunshield Deployments will be Nail-biters”
Want to know the latest details on the James Webb Space Telescope? NASA has a “dashboard” where you can see all the data: location, the current deployment info, temperatures and more.
Continue reading “Want Updates on JWST? NASA’s Site Will Bury you in Data: Distance, Temperatures, Deployment Stats… Everything”
After a detailed analysis of where the James Webb Space Telescope is now (Dec. 29, 2021) and how it got there, NASA determined the observatory should have enough propellant to operate in space for significantly more than 10 years in space.
Webb’s mission lifetime was designed to be at least 5-1/2 years, and mission engineers and scientists were hoping for closer to 10 years.
Continue reading “JWST’s Precise Launch and Near-Perfect Course Corrections Mean Fuel Savings. And That Means a Longer Mission”
It’s really happening. After all the years of delays, reschedulings, budget shortfalls, and even more delays, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched on December 25 and is now successfully on its way to is destination at the second LaGrange point (L2), about 1.5 million km (1 million miles) from Earth.
If you celebrate Christmas and are astronomically inclined, the launch feels like a true Christmas miracle.
The footage of JWST’s separation from the Ariane 5 rocket, as seen from a camera on the rocket’s second stage is just absolutely stunning.
Continue reading “JWST Is On Its Way!”
It’s that time again. Time to look at a possible model to explain dark matter. In this case, a perennial favorite known as primordial black holes. Black holes have long been proposed as the source of dark matter. In many ways, they are the perfect candidate because they only interact with light and matter gravitationally. But stellar-mass black holes have been ruled out observationally. There simply aren’t enough of them to account for dark matter.
Continue reading “Primordial Black Holes Could Explain Dark Matter and the Growth of Supermassive Black Holes at the Same Time”