MIT 1 Dec 2017, 05:00 UTC Plasmas, gas-like collections of ions and electrons, make up an estimated 99 percent of the visible matter in the universe, including the sun, the stars, and the gaseous medium that permeates the space in between. Most of these plasmas, including the solar wind that constantly flows out from the sun and sweeps through the solar system, exist in a turbulent state. How this turbulence works remains a mystery; it’s one of the most dynamic research areas in plasma physics. Now, two researchers have proposed a new model to explain these dynamic turbulent processes. The findings, by Nuno Loureiro, an associate professor of nuclear science and engineering and of physics at MIT, and Stanislav Boldyrev, a professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, are reported today in the Astrophysical Journal. The paper is the third in a series this year explaining key aspects of how these turbulent collections of charged particles behave. “Naturally occurring plasmas in space and astrophysical environments are threaded by magnetic fields and exist in a turbulent state,” Loureiro says. “That is, their structure is highly disordered at all scales: If you zoom in to look more and more closely at the wisps and eddies ...
New Horizons 30 Nov 2017, 23:31 UTC NASA is extending the campaign to find a temporary tag for the next flyby target of its New Horizons mission, giving the public until midnight Eastern Time on Dec. 6 to continue to help select a nickname for the Kuiper Belt object known as 2014 MU69.
Gemini Observatory 30 Nov 2017, 18:02 UTC Gemini observations played a critical role in research by scientists at the University of Washington in their quest to identify an object which appears to be “photobombing” the Andromeda Galaxy. The researchers determined that rather than being a binary star system within the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy, as previously thought, the object is really a distant galaxy containing a supermassive black hole binary – a pair of black holes orbiting each other very closely within the galaxy’s core.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 29 Nov 2017, 19:00 UTC A NASA-led team has found evidence that the oversized planet WASP-18b is wrapped in a smothering stratosphere loaded with carbon monoxide and devoid of water. The findings come from a new analysis of observations made by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes.
ESO Top News 29 Nov 2017, 11:00 UTC Astronomers using the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile have conducted the deepest spectroscopic survey ever. They focused on the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, measuring distances and properties of 1600 very faint galaxies including 72 galaxies that have never been detected before, even by Hubble itself. This groundbreaking dataset has already resulted in 10 science papers that are being published in a special issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics. This wealth of new information is giving astronomers insight into star formation in the early Universe, and allows them to study the motions and other properties of early galaxies — made possible by MUSE’s unique spectroscopic capabilities.
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy 29 Nov 2017, 07:00 UTC Simulations show that the search for life on other planets may well be more difficult than previously assumed: On planets like Proxima b or TRAPPIST-1d, unusual flow pattern could hide atmospheric ozone from telescopic observations. Ozone, which is a variety of oxygen, is seen as one of the possible traces allowing for the detection of life on another planet from afar. The simulations, led by Ludmila Carone of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, have consequences for formulating the optimal strategy for searching for (oxygen-producing) life such as bacteria or plants on exoplanets.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features 28 Nov 2017, 18:44 UTC In just a few years, NASA's next Mars rover mission will be flying to the Red Planet. At a glance, it looks a lot like its predecessor, the Curiosity Mars rover. But there's no doubt it's a souped-up science machine: It has seven new instruments, redesigned wheels and more autonomy. A drill will capture rock cores, while a caching system with a miniature robotic arm will seal up these samples. Then, they'll be deposited on the Martian surface for possible pickup by a future mission.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) 28 Nov 2017, 16:00 UTC At the center of our galaxy, in the immediate vicinity of its supermassive black hole, is a region wracked by powerful tidal forces and bathed in intense ultraviolet and X-ray radiation. These harsh conditions, astronomers surmise, do not favor star formation, especially low-mass stars like our sun. Surprisingly, new observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) suggest otherwise.
ASI Agenzia Spaziale Italiana 28 Nov 2017, 11:31 UTC These two images illustrate just how far Cassini traveled to get to Saturn. On the left is one of the earliest images Cassini took of the ringed planet, captured during the long voyage from the inner solar system. On the right is one of Cassini's final images of Saturn, showing the site where the spacecraft would enter the atmosphere on the following day.