16 Nov 2017, 16:38 UTC Twice as big as Earth, the super-Earth 55 Cancri e was thought to have lava flows on its surface. The planet is so close to its star, the same side of the planet always faces the star, such that the planet has permanent day and night sides. Based on a 2016 study using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, scientists speculated that lava would flow freely in lakes on the starlit side and become hardened on the face of perpetual darkness. The lava on the dayside would reflect radiation from the star, contributing to the overall observed temperature of the planet. Next Previous
16 Nov 2017, 16:00 UTC This artist’s impression shows a cutaway view of the parts of the Universe that SDSS-V will study. SDSS-V will study millions of stars to create a map of the entire Milky Way. Farther out, the survey will get the most detailed view yet of the largest nearby galaxies like Andromeda in the Northern Hemisphere and the Large Magellanic Cloud in the Southern hemisphere. Even farther out, the survey will measure quasars, bright points of light powered by matter falling into giant black holes. Image Credit: Artist’s Conception of SDSS-V: Image by Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science/SDSS The next generation of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-V), directed by Juna Kollmeier of the Carnegie Institution for Science, will move forward with mapping the entire sky following a $16 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The grant will kickstart a groundbreaking all-sky spectroscopic survey for a next wave of discovery, anticipated to start in 2020. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey has been one of the most-successful and influential surveys in the history of astronomy, creating the most-detailed three-dimensional maps of the universe ever made, with deep multi-color images of one third of the sky, and spectra for more than three ... Next Previous
15 Nov 2017, 11:00 UTC This artist’s impression shows the temperate planet Ross 128 b, with its red dwarf parent star in the background. This planet, which lies only 11 light-years from Earth, was found by a team using ESO’s unique planet-hunting HARPS instrument. The new world is now the second-closest temperate planet to be detected after Proxima b. It is also the closest planet to be discovered orbiting an inactive red dwarf star, which may increase the likelihood that this planet could potentially sustain life. Ross 128 b will be a prime target for ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope, which will be able to search for biomarkers in the planet's atmosphere. Next Previous
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NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 20 Nov 2017, 16:15 UTC Dark features on Mars previously considered evidence for subsurface flowing of water are interpreted by new research as granular flows, where grains of sand and dust slip downhill to make dark streaks, rather than the ground being darkened by seeping water. Continuing examination of these still-perplexing seasonal dark streaks with a powerful camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) shows they exist only on slopes steep enough for dry grains to descend the way they do on faces of active dunes.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 20 Nov 2017, 14:04 UTC The historic chamber’s massive door opening brings to a close about 100 days of testing for Webb, a significant milestone in the telescope’s journey to the launch pad. The cryogenic vacuum test began when the chamber was sealed shut on July 10, 2017. Scientists and engineers at Johnson put Webb’s optical telescope and integrated science instrument module (OTIS) through a series of tests designed to ensure the telescope functioned as expected in an extremely cold, airless environment akin to that of space.
Stellar Astrophysics Centre at the University of Aarhus 20 Nov 2017, 08:52 UTC In a recent paper published online on arXiv and due to be published in its final version in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, a group of researchers with Vincent van Eylen as lead author, and most co-authors connected to SAC, tell the story of the "Radius Valley" amongst rocky exoplanets and with new and more precise measurements explain why we may have to lower the number of prospective earthlike rocky planets. The paper, titeled "An asteroseismic view of the radius valley: stripped cores, not born rocky" can be found here in the arXive version. ScienceNews has an exellent overview of the results, and a somewhat shorter resume appears here from the University of Leiden, where Vincent now resides. A resume in Danish can be found in the news column from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University (IFA).
ESA Top News 20 Nov 2017, 08:30 UTC ESA’s Integral space observatory has been orbiting Earth for 15 years, observing the ever-changing, powerful and violent cosmos in gamma rays, X-rays and visible light. Studying stars exploding as supernovas, monster black holes and, more recently, even gamma-rays that were associated with gravitational waves, Integral continues to broaden our understanding of the high-energy Universe.
Planetary Science Institute 20 Nov 2017, 07:00 UTC
Europlanet Research Infrastructure 19 Nov 2017, 09:59 UTC We’ve said goodbye to Cassini. What comes next? Prof. Nick Achilleos (left), Anastasia Kokori (centre) and Dr. Patrick Guio (right) at UCL. Anastasia Kokori has participated in an expert exchange programme at in the department of astrophysics at UCL. The Cassini mission, a collaborative effort between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency, said goodbye on the 15th of September 2017. The mission reached an end after 13 years of orbiting around Saturn, proving us with a large legacy of data that is still being analysed, and will keep scientists occupied for many years to come. The research of the Planetary Plasma Physics Group at UCL focuses on the two gas giant planets of our Solar System, Jupiter and Saturn. The team, which currently consists of five members, studies the magnetic fields of these planets by applying models which help us better understand the observations made by spacecraft like Cassini. Prof. Nick Achilleos highlights that one of the major discoveries of Cassini was the observation of water plumes erupting from Enceladus, the sixth largest moon of Saturn. Until Cassini arrived there, it was not known that Enceladus was a very geologically active moon. “The discovery of water ...
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Scientific American 20 Nov 2017, 20:45 UTC A 19th-century proposal for contacting aliens is being rebooted in the latest transmission to nearby star.
Cosmic Diary 20 Nov 2017, 19:03 UTC This 0.93×1.25 km (0.57×0.78 mi) scene shows what I’m starting to think are windblown features. I posted something similar to this once before, from a location not that far from here. In this one region of Mars there are parallel lines cut into the tops of hills. A geologist would first presume they were exposed, tilted layers. But the regularity of their spacing (especially when you zoom in) is a bit unusual, and suggests some sort of self-organization (like windblown ripples). And then the questions begin: why just in this spot on Mars? what’s unusual about the rocks (or the wind) here? I still have no good answers.
Asteroid Day Blog 20 Nov 2017, 16:22 UTC When I woke up this morning my inbox was full. I received two dozen messages from concerned citizens who heard about asteroid Apophis in the news this morning. When I checked Google News, I found quite a few “news reports“ claiming NASA issued a warning that our planet will be hit by asteroid Apophis in 2036. Those recent news reports are absolutely false. NASA did not issue such a warning. Asteroid Apophis will not hit us in 2036. Read an in-depth article about Apophis by one of our experts, here. I did email our Asteroid Day Expert Panel this morning and got three replies. First reply by Dr. Clark Chapman: “I would point out that the JPL CNEOS center *is* the official NASA site for predicted impacts. This link shows no impact possibility in 2036 for Apophis. The highest impact probability (for a date in April 2068) is less than 1-in-100,000. Of course, there was a time, years ago, before more recent observations, when the possibility of Apophis impacting the Earth seemed to be much higher. But that is old news.“ Then Rusty Schweickart said: “The probability that Apophis will impact Earth at any time in the next 100 years ...
Sky and Telescope 20 Nov 2017, 14:42 UTC How to calculate what you need to know about your telescopes, oculars, and binoculars. I am about as far from being a mathematician as it is possible to get. However, sometimes it is good to know how to calculate some of the numbers commonly mentioned by telescope owners and in telescope articles. (Binoculars are just two small telescopes linked together, so the same formulas work for them, too.) Armed with a simple calculator and the following formulas, even I can work out the vital statistics of my telescopes and eyepieces. Most of the values you need to know to work these formulas, such as prime focal length, focal ratio and clear aperture, are usually printed right on the optical tubes of astronomical telescopes, binoculars and the barrel of eyepieces. If they are not, the manufacturer's web site usually has the basic numbers, as should the instrument's Owners Manual. To illustrate the various formulas below, I will use a telescope with a 100mm (4") clear aperture and a prime focal length of 1000mm. Magnification The magnification of an astronomical telescope changes with the eyepiece used. It is calculated by dividing the focal length of the telescope (usually marked on the optical ...
In the Dark 20 Nov 2017, 13:45 UTC Interesting post from a gravitational wave researcher, telling the inside story of the latest gravitational wave detection (a binary black hole merger) announced last week. Christopher Berry Detected in June, GW170608 has had a difficult time. It was challenging to analyse, and neglected in favour of its louder and shinier siblings. However, we can now introduce you to our smallest chirp-mass binary black hole system! The growing family of black holes. From Dawn Finney. Our family of binary black holes is now growing large. During our first observing run (O1) we found three: GW150914, LVT151012 and GW151226. The advanced detector observing run (O2) ran from 30 November 2016 to 25 August 2017 (with a couple of short breaks). From our O1 detections, we were expecting roughly one binary black hole per month. The first same in January, GW170104, and we have announced the first detection which involved Virgo from August, GW170814, so you might be wondering what happened in-between? Pretty much everything was dropped following the detection of our first… View original post 1,790 more words
Astronomy.com News 20 Nov 2017, 12:00 UTC If you want to cook up a stellar-mass black hole, it’s fairly easy. Take a massive star, wait until it has consumed all its elemental fuel, watch the blinding supernova, and before you know it, you have a black hole. Now, if you want to create a supermassive black hole — one that’s a million to a billion times the mass of the Sun — the process becomes more complicated.