Astro Bob 12 Apr 2017, 16:09 UTC If you had clear skies this week, you probably noticed the big, bright moon next to the big, bright planet Jupiter. Jupiter drew closest to the Earth on April 8 and now appears brighter in the night sky than at any other time in the year. Not only are beginners and amateurs alike pointing telescopes at this brilliant dot to enjoy views of its shifting cloud belts and dancing moons, professional astronomers are, too.
Astronomy Now 12 Apr 2017, 14:01 UTC The colours in the ALMA data represent the relative Doppler shifting of the millimetre-wavelength light emitted by carbon monoxide gas. The blue colour in the ALMA data represents gas approaching at the highest speeds; the red colour is from gas moving toward us more slowly. The background image includes optical and near-infrared imaging from both the Gemini South and ESO Very Large Telescope. The famous Trapezium Cluster of hot young stars appears towards the bottom of this image.
The Space Reporter 12 Apr 2017, 14:00 UTC Images captured by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) during the spacecraft’s nine-and-a-half-year journey to Pluto are now helping astrophysicists measure the brightness of distant galaxies. Led by Michael Zemcov of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), a team of scientists studied archival data from LORRI taken during the spacecraft’s 2006 launch, its 2007 Jupiter flyby, and at four separate positions between Jupiter and Uranus taken in 2007, 2008, ad 2010. All the images looked away from the solar system and outward into the Milky Way.
The Space Reporter 12 Apr 2017, 13:43 UTC NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) spacecraft, in orbit around the Red Planet since 2014, has detected metal ions in Mars’ upper atmosphere, marking the first detection of metal in the atmosphere of a world other than Earth. MAVEN was sent to study the process by which ancient Mars lost its atmosphere, transforming it from a warm, wet world that could have been habitable to a cold, dry wasteland. The spacecraft found electrically charged metal atoms, or ions, in the upper region of Mars’ atmosphere, known as its ionosphere, which likely comes from impacting meteoroids.
EarthSky Blog 12 Apr 2017, 12:40 UTC Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot is a vast and long-lived weather system on the giant planet, observed by astronomers since the first telescopes were aimed skyward in the 1600s. And it has small smaller spots or ovals, too, smaller storms that can last as little as a few hours or stretch on for centuries. Now astronomers say they’ve discovered another spot on Jupiter – dubbed the Great Cold Spot – that rivals as the planet’s Great Red Spot in size. It’s a dark spot, a cold spot, possibly driven by powerful energies from the auroras at Jupiter’s poles. Tom Stallard is an associate professor at the University of Leicester in the UK and lead author of the new study, which was published April 11, 2017 in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters.
SPACE.com 12 Apr 2017, 10:50 UTC NASA's New Horizons Pluto probe is getting some much-deserved rest. The spacecraft, which performed the first-ever flyby of Pluto on July 14, 2015, entered hibernation Monday afternoon (April 10) for the first time in nearly 2.5 years, mission team members said. New Horizons will spend the next five months in this sleep mode, which reduces wear and tear on the probe, lowers operation costs and frees up NASA's deep-space communications network for other missions.
Astronaut.com 12 Apr 2017, 10:48 UTC A new massive storm has been spotted in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere, and it’s considerably cooler than its blistering surroundings. With its massive size, enormous magnetic field and giant storms, Jupiter has been called a planet of extremes. Now, a new storm has been spotted at Jupiter, and this one is even more volatile and extreme than the famous “Great Red Spot.” It’s also much colder.
The TeCake 12 Apr 2017, 10:29 UTC It is more than 350 years that scientists have been continued to observe the “Great Red Spot” on solar system’s largest planet – Jupiter. It was believed to be the only Great Red Spot on the planet. But in a recent breakthrough, a team of international astronomers have stumbled upon the second Great Red Spot on the planet – this one is more cold and high up. A team of scientists from the University Of Leicester has spotted another Great Red Spot on Jupiter which is said to be colder than the previous one. Scientists, while announcing the latest discovery reported on Tuesday that the second Great Red Spot is 15,000 miles or 24,000 kilometres longitude and 7,500 miles or 12,000 kilometres altitude. It is located in the upper atmosphere of the giant gas planet and much colder than the tropical surroundings of the planet. And because of this scientists have named the new dark expanse Great Cold Spot. The new red spot is nearly 200K (Kelvin) cooler than Jupiter’s nearby atmosphere, whose temperature stands in-between 700K (426ºC) and 1000K (726ºC).
Astronomy Now 11 Apr 2017, 22:39 UTC Artist’s concept of an exoplanet orbiting very close to its parent star. Credit: Danielle Futselaar Astronomers using NASA’s Kepler space telescope have found a planet 219 light-years away that seems to be a close relative to Venus. This newly discovered world is only slightly larger than Earth and orbits a low-temperature star called Kepler-1649 that’s one-fifth the diameter of our Sun. The planet tightly embraces its dim home star, encircling it every 9 days. The tight orbit causes the flux of sunlight reaching the planet to be 2.3 times as great as the solar flux on Earth. For comparison, the solar flux on Venus is 1.9 times the terrestrial value. The discovery will provide insight into the nature of planets around M dwarf stars, by far the most common type in the universe. While such stars are redder and dimmer than the Sun, recent exoplanet discoveries have revealed instances in which Earth-sized worlds circle an M dwarf in orbits that would place them in their star’s habitable zone. But such worlds might not inevitably resemble Earth, with its salubrious climate. They could just as well be analogs of Venus, with thick atmospheres and scalding temperatures. According to SETI Institute scientist ...