Articles about astronomy

Mars and the solar winds

Which distant Mars-alikes could we live on? Ask these Red Planet data-sifters

Scientists are applying knowledge gained from studying Mars to calculate how the atmospheres of theoretical exoplanets would behave. David Brain, professor at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder and co-investigator for NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) …
Richard Priday, 14 Dec 2017

How is 55 Cancri e like a Sisters of Mercy gig? Astroboffins: It has atmosphere

A new physical model has added more support to the theory that the large exoplanet 55 Cancri e has an Earthlike atmosphere. A study describing the work by researchers Isabel Angelo, of the University of California, Berkeley, and Renyu Hu, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was published Thursday in The Astronomical Journal …
Andrew Silver, 20 Nov 2017
Arecibo observatory

Arecibo spared the axe: Iconic observatory vital to science lives on

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has approved a plan to keep the famous Arecibo Observatory running after it was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria. The NSF this week signed off [PDF] on a proposal to continue funding work at the Puerto Rican radio observatory, and seek out a partner to help cover operational costs. …
Shaun Nichols, 18 Nov 2017

Rocky Ross 128 b might harbour aliens – and it's headed right for us

A new study to appear in Astronomy & Astrophysics has detected what could be our closest exoplanet that is not only rocky, but also orbits a star with a low amount of solar activity that could help an atmosphere survive – Ross 128 b. Proxima Centauri b, about 4.25 light years away from our Sun, garnered a lot of media …
Andrew Silver, 15 Nov 2017
Man and a woman share gossip/secret

Boffins: Sun's red dwarf neighbour is looking a little thick around the middle

New research suggests that a dust belt may be circling the closest star to the Sun, a red dwarf named Proxima Centauri. Guillem Anglada at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalucía in Granada, Spain, led the work (PDF), which was accepted for publication last week in Astrophysical Journal Letters. He told The Register a belt …
Andrew Silver, 6 Nov 2017
2012 TC4 - NASA impression

NASA readies its asteroid warning system for harmless flyby

With asteroid 2012 TC4 about to pass between Earth and the moon, NASA is gearing up for its much-anticipated live test of its warning system. Back in July, the approaching rock caused a brief flurry of speculation that an impact was imminent, before the European Space Agency issued a “calm down” statement. With error bars …
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 …

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