Scientific American 12 Mar 2018, 10:45 UTC A maverick group of astronomers is proposing to radically reshape one of NASA’s most successful missions in the modern era, the New Horizons probe that flew by Pluto in 2015 and is now continuing its voyage into the depths of the outer solar system.
EarthSky Blog 11 Mar 2018, 10:59 UTC Here’s the good news: Astronomers have made the most precise measurement to date of the rate at which the universe is expanding since the Big Bang. Here’s the possibly unsettling news: The new numbers remain at odds with independent measurements of the early universe’s expansion, which could mean that there is something unknown about the makeup of the universe. Is something unpredicted going on in the depths of space? Adam Riess is a Nobel Laureate and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University. He said: The community is really grappling with understanding the meaning of this discrepancy. Riess leads a team of researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope to measure the expansion rate of the universe. He shared a Nobel Prize in 2011 for the discovery of the accelerating universe. The team, which includes researchers from Hopkins and the Space Telescope Science Institute, has used the Hubble Space Telescope over the past six years to refine the measurements of the distances to galaxies, using stars as milepost markers. Those measurements are used to calculate how fast the universe expands with time, a value known as the Hubble constant.
SPACE.com 10 Mar 2018, 13:19 UTC "Cosmos" host and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson recently shot down the ideas of anyone who still thinks the Earth is flat. In a new YouTube video on the scientist's StarTalk channel, he used examples ranging from space observations to ancient Greek experiments in a conversation with stand-up comedian Chuck Nice.
Lights in the Dark 9 Mar 2018, 21:28 UTC The eye in the sky sees all…especially when that eye is the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter! Here’s an image of a crater known as Santa Maria, taken from over 150 miles above the Martian surface by the MRO…and if you look carefully at the lower right portion of the crater rim you can see a small grey object that casts a bit of a shadow. That’s the rover Opportunity, which has been investigating the area around Santa Maria for the past several months and was using its robotic arm to take close-up shots of a small nearby rock when the image above was acquired.
Centauri Dreams 9 Mar 2018, 19:05 UTC How we do laboratory work on exoplanet atmospheres is an interesting challenge. We’ve worked up models of the early Earth’s atmosphere and conducted well-known experiments on them. Still within our own system, we’ve looked at worlds like Mars and Titan and, with a good read on their atmospheric chemistry, can reproduce an atmosphere within the laboratory with a fair degree of accuracy.
AAS Nova 9 Mar 2018, 17:00 UTC Supernova explosions enrich the interstellar medium and can even briefly outshine their host galaxies. However, the mechanism behind these massive explosions still isn’t fully understood. Could probing the asymmetry of supernova remnants help us better understand what drives these explosions?
Starts With a Bang! 9 Mar 2018, 15:01 UTC Just 30 years ago, if you had asked an astronomer if there were planets around other stars beyond the Sun, they couldn’t tell you for certain. Although all the theories about planet formation indicated that they should exist around many stars, if not most of them, we had no evidence of planets beyond the Solar System. So we did the most natural thing you can imagine: we assumed others were like our own, with rocky worlds in the inner portions and gas giants in the outer reaches. Over the ensuing decades, we began discovering that our assumptions were gravely mistaken: practically all stars have planets; worlds of all sizes could appear anywhere in a solar system; there were many planets even larger than Jupiter; and most worlds were larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. Yet, despite all we’ve learned, there seem to be only three classes of planet out there: Terran worlds, Neptunian worlds, and Jovian worlds.
Scientific American 9 Mar 2018, 14:00 UTC This is what Earth looks like through a planet hunter's eyes.
ESO Blog 9 Mar 2018, 11:00 UTC Every galaxy is surrounded by a mysterious halo that scientists currently know little about. A team of astronomers has recently used a new technique to map the structure of a distant galaxy halo that is located in between a giant background galaxy and a huge foreground gravitational lens — like a galaxy halo sandwich.