Articles about astronomy

Gemini's composite image of FRB 121102's host galaxy

15 'could it be aliens?' fast radio bursts observed in one night

Fast Radio Burst-hunters have suffered London Bus syndrome again: fifteen have shown up at once. A bout of sky-watching at Green Bank in West Virginia, under the auspices of the Breakthrough Initiative's Listen project, has turned up 15 pulses from repeater source FRB 121102. Boffins already knew FRB 121102 was enticing: back …
Illustration of diamond rain on Neptune

Uh oh, scientists know how those diamonds got in Uranus, and they're telling everyone!

Researchers from Stanford have shown how the frigid, high-pressure atmospheres of the planets Uranus and Neptune can create a "rain" of diamonds. The team from the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory says it used an optical laser from the Matter In Extreme Conditions instrument to demonstrate how, deep within the gas giants, …
Shaun Nichols, 21 Aug 2017

NASA delivers CREAM-y load to ISS to improve cosmic ray detection

Hitching a ride on SpaceX's 12th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station is NASA's latest tech for studying the origins of cosmic rays, the high-energy particles that bombard Earth from deep space. Victor Hess, an Austrian physicist, is credited with discovering cosmic rays during a balloon flight in …
Andrew Silver, 15 Aug 2017
Black hole - spaghetti visualisation. Artist's impression.  NASA/JPL-Caltech, CC BY-SA

Melbourne Uni hoping to hoist tiny telescope to look at BIG explosions

A couple of years after it was first conceived, a Melbourne University-led infrared astronomy cubesat proposal called SkyHopper is gathering momentum. Vulture South found itself intrigued by a simple question, which we found time to put to one of the project's founders, astrophysicist Dr Katie Mack: what useful astronomy can …
wow

Has riddle of the 1977 'Wow!' signal finally been cracked? Maybe...

Updated The mystery of the "Wow!" signal, a radio burst recorded from outer space in the 1970s, may been solved. Or not. Not everyone is convinced. The 72-second signal was spotted at 1,420MHz on August 15, 1977 by Astronomer Jerry Ehman at Ohio State University's Big Ear radio telescope. It was so clear that he scribbled Wow! in the …
Iain Thomson, 10 Jun 2017

Two hot Jupiters around two similar stars orbiting at similar distances look similar, right? WRONG

WASP-67 b and HAT-P-38 b are two far-flung exoplanets orbiting near-identical stars at similar distances. Their size and temperatures are also pretty close. So, naturally, astronomers thought that their atmospheres wouldn't be too far apart. They were wrong. "We don't see what we're expecting," said Giovanni Bruno, a …
Andrew Silver, 6 Jun 2017
Galaxies stretching back into time across billions of light-years of space. The image covers a portion of a large galaxy census called the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS).

Scientists are counting atoms to figure out when Mars last had volcanoes

Astroboffins have figured out a new way of dating planets and meteorites by counting individual atoms in rock samples snatched from the depths of space. The atomic-scale imaging technique developed by University of Portsmouth scientists involves locating and counting individual atoms in planetary materials. "Directly linking …
Gareth Corfield, 26 May 2017
Kepler

'Tabby's Star' intrigues astro-boffins with brief 'dimming event'

Astronomers worldwide are scrambling a worldwide effort to capture as many images of the famous “Tabby's Star” (also known as Boyajian's Star), which has abruptly entered a dimming phase. The mysterious KIC 8462852 has intrigued astro-boffins ever since Tabetha Boyajian worked out the dimming signature in Kepler observations …

Feel guilty for scoffing Easter chocolate? Good news: Scientists have made NEGATIVE mass

A team of physicists from around the world have created a fluid they claim has negative mass. This strange matter has peculiar properties: when it is pushed, it moves in the opposite direction. In other words, pushing the fluid away only brings it closer. Newton's second law states that the acceleration of an object is …
Katyanna Quach, 18 Apr 2017
Ninth planet from the Sun

How hard will it be to measure Planet Nine?

Planet 9 will be easier to find if we know what we're looking for, so a French astronomer has set himself the task of trying to wrap the enigma in some parameters. When the idea of a ninth planet (using the guidelines that excluded Pluto from planet status) was mooted last year, the CalTech group that ran the orbital maths …
NASA's exploding star illustration

Baby supernova spotted, just three hours old and a real cutie

In the kind of observational serendipity that astro-boffins live for: spotting the explosion of a supernova mere hours after the explosion's light started reaching Earth. The catch, made in 2013 by the venerable Samuel Oschin 48-inch telescope as part of the Palomar Transient Factory Survey, is the “youngest” supernova …

Feel like a spot of planet-hunting? Here's 1,600 suns worth of data

Here's a treat for amateur exoplanet-hunters and experts alike: 20 years' worth of observations from the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii, complete with application and tutorial. The data release, led by the Carnegie Institution for Science, includes 61,000 measurements of more than 1,600 nearby stars. According to participant …
A ginger tabby cat is walked on a leash over cobblestones. Photo by Shutterstock

You know what, maybe Tabby's star ate a planet, ponder space eggheads

Tabby's star – formally KIC 8462852 – has attracted a new and possibly-plausible explanation for its excess of twinkle: the remnants of a planet destroyed in a collision. That hypothesis comes from Brian Metzger and Nicholas Stone of Columbia University's Astrophysics Laboratory, and Ken Shen of UC Berkeley's Department of …

You know how cop cars pile into each other in old comedy movies? That's how the Moon was built, say boffins

The birth of the Earth’s Moon didn’t begin with a single huge collision – rather it grew as lots of baby moons from smaller impacts fused together, according to a new theory published in Nature Geoscience. Scientists believe that a proto-Earth and a Mars-sized body smashed together in the earlier days of the Solar System to …
Katyanna Quach, 10 Jan 2017
NASA Stereo Science Center asteroid image

Asteroid nearly gave Earth a new feature, two days after its discovery

On Saturday, the Catalina Sky Survey spotted a near-Earth asteroid of respectable heft – and today, it passed between us and the Moon. 2017 AG13 (the Minor Planet Center, MPC, entry is here) is about the size of a 10-storey building. Its velocity to Earth is 11 kilometres per second. It passed at 0.53 Lunar distance, or 203, …
Gemini's composite image of FRB 121102's host galaxy

Puny galaxy packs a big punch: A gazillion joules' worth of radio bursts

Sorry to say this, but fast radio bursts still aren't alien communications. There is a surprise, however, in the latest science about them – the only repeating burst yet known comes from a "puny" galaxy with no obvious sources for such a cataclysmic cosmic event. We don't know quite what they are, but the galactic mysteries …
Black hole - spaghetti visualisation. Artist's impression.  NASA/JPL-Caltech, CC BY-SA

NASA eyes up supermassive black holes, neutron stars

NASA will embark on a new mission to explore supermassive black holes, neutron stars, and pulsars hidden within the depths of space. The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission was chosen among 14 other proposals during the rigorous selection process for NASA's Astrophysics Explorer programmes. It's expected to …
Hubble telescope megamaser

Major maser microwaves Hubble

The name's boring but the science isn't: an entire galaxy spied by the Hubble Space Telescope is acting as a microwave-emitting laser, or maser. Think of the process going on here: in a laser, molecules in a crystal are stimulated to add energy to electrons, and when they shed that energy, they emit coherent light (or, at …

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