io9 Space 15 Aug 2018, 17:00 UTC Scientists directly observed the signal of iron and titanium atoms in the atmosphere of an exoplanet 600 light-years from Earth, a new paper reports. KELT-9b is a planet entirely alien to our own Solar System—it’s 2.88 times the mass of Jupiter, with a year lasting just 1.5 Earth days and temperatures over 4,000 Kelvin (6,740 Fahrenheit). It’s the hottest known exoplanet, and the site of the first exoplanetary observation of iron and titanium atoms. It’s a stepping stone that will help astronomers one day characterize the atmospheres of more hospitable planets.
Starts With a Bang! 15 Aug 2018, 14:01 UTC The story of our cosmic history is one of an expanding and cooling Universe. As we progressed from a hot, dense, uniform state to a cold, sparse, clumpy one, a number of momentous events happened throughout our cosmic history. At the moment of the hot Big Bang, the Universe was filled with all sorts of ultra-high energy particles, antiparticles, and quanta of radiation, moving at or close to the speed of light. On the other hand, today, we have a Universe filled with stars, galaxies, gas, dust, and many other phenomena that are too low in energy to have existed in the early Universe. Once things cooled enough so that the Higgs gave mass to the Universe, you might think that protons and neutrons would immediately form. But they couldn’t exist right away. Here’s the story of how they came to be.
The Planetary Society Blog 15 Aug 2018, 11:00 UTC What's new out at Jupiter? We haven't looked in on NASA’s Juno spacecraft since (checks blog archive) May. Juno completed its 14th close flyby of Jupiter on July 15, and as of Tuesday morning, it was 8 million kilometers from Jupiter, gradually working its way back toward the planet following apojove.
Centauri Dreams 14 Aug 2018, 16:50 UTC Speaking of getting really, really close to a star, as we were yesterday in our discussion of the Parker Solar Probe, I couldn’t help but turn to new computer models of the ‘ultrahot Jupiter’ WASP-121b. I still find it delightful that the earliest exoplanet detections involved a category of planet that few scientists had imagined existed. These days we routinely discuss gas giants blisteringly close to their hosts, and even manage to extract information about their atmospheres through transmission spectroscopy, but few people expected such planets when we began to discover them.
EarthSky Blog 14 Aug 2018, 10:30 UTC Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have been working toward this video for 26 years. It’s a zoom sequence – with this version posted July 26, 2018 – that takes you to the heart of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. This zoom video sequence starts with a broad view of the Milky Way. We then dive into the dusty central region to take a much closer look. There lurks a 4-million-solar-mass black hole, surrounded by a swarm of stars orbiting rapidly. We first see the stars in motion, thanks to 26 years of data from ESO’s telescopes.
NASA Commercial Crew Program Blog 13 Aug 2018, 20:01 UTC Hear from the five astronauts who will be the first to flying Boeing’s Starliner and SpaceX‘s Crew Dragon to the International Space Station on the companies’ flight tests in 2019!
Centauri Dreams 13 Aug 2018, 16:42 UTC The first thing I did when I heard about the Parker Solar Probe’s successful launch (0731 UTC Sunday) was to double-check the spacecraft’s projected velocity when it makes its closest approach to the Sun. I always think in terms of high speed when contemplating operations close to our star, the legacy of the two Helios missions, which at present hold the record as fastest man-made objects. Placed in highly elliptical orbits after their launches in 1974 and 1976, the Helios spacecraft managed a sizzling 70 kilometers per second.