25 Oct 2021, 04:00 UTC Most elements lighter than iron are forged in the cores of stars. A star’s white-hot center fuels the fusion of protons, squeezing them together to build progressively heavier elements. But beyond iron, scientists have puzzled over what could give rise to gold, platinum, and the rest of the universe’s heavy elements, whose formation requires more energy than a star can muster. A new study by researchers at MIT and the University of New Hampshire finds that of two long-suspected sources of heavy metals, one is more of a goldmine than the other. The study, published today in Astrophysical Journal Letters, reports that in the last 2.5 billion years, more heavy metals were produced in binary neutron star mergers, or collisions between two neutron stars, than in mergers between a neutron star and a black hole. The study is the first to compare the two merger types in terms of their heavy metal output, and suggests that binary neutron stars are a likely cosmic source for the gold, platinum, and other heavy metals we see today. The findings could also help scientists determine the rate at which heavy metals are produced across the universe. “What we find exciting about our result ... Next Previous
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 22 Oct 2021, 10:30 UTC This observation from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope showcases Arp 86, a peculiar pair of interacting galaxies which lies roughly 220 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Pegasus. Arp 86 is composed of the two galaxies NGC 7752 and NGC 7753 – NGC 7753 is the large spiral galaxy dominating this image, and NGC 7752 is its smaller companion. The diminutive companion galaxy almost appears attached to NGC 7753, and it is this peculiarity that has earned the designation “Arp 86” – signifying that the galaxy pair appears in the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies compiled by the astronomer Halton Arp in 1966. The gravitational dance between the two galaxies will eventually result in NGC 7752 being tossed out into intergalactic space or entirely engulfed by its much larger neighbor.
The University of Arizona Astronomy News 21 Oct 2021, 04:04 UTC By combining Hubble Space Telescope observations with theoretical models, a team of astronomers has gained insights into the chemical and physical makeup of a variety of exoplanets known as hot Jupiters. The findings provide a new and improved "field guide" for this group of planets and inform ideas about planet formation in general.
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center 20 Oct 2021, 18:00 UTC Video capture during future lunar landings could play an important role in contributing to researchers’ understanding of disturbances in lunar surface materials – called regolith – caused by the lander’s rocket plume. With support from NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, on Oct. 14, 2021, researchers from Los Angeles-based Zandef Deksit put a high-tech video capture and regolith sensor payload called ExoCam to the test. The desert environment of Mojave, California, provided a stand-in for the surface of the Moon, and the Xodiac vertical takeoff vertical landing (VTVL) platform from Masten Space Systems was the test vehicle.
MIT 20 Oct 2021, 15:00 UTC Young planetary systems generally experience extreme growing pains, as infant bodies collide and fuse to form progressively larger planets. In our own solar system, the Earth and moon are thought to be products of this type of giant impact. Astronomers surmise that such smashups should be commonplace in early systems, but they have been difficult to observe around other stars.
Las Cumbres Observatory 19 Oct 2021, 18:11 UTC The Gaia spacecraft was launched in 2013 by the European Space Agency. According to NASA, “Its goal is to create the largest, most precise three-dimensional map of the Milky Way by surveying about 1% of the galaxy's 100 billion stars.” Photometry and spectroscopy are also possible for many of the observed objects. The observation mode is based on continuous scanning by two telescopes simultaneously with a 64-day precession movement around the Sun. This scanning mode allows Gaia to map the entire sky in several months and also makes it impossible to follow-up a specific target when necessary.
NASA Breaking News 16 Oct 2021, 10:23 UTC NASA’s Lucy mission, the agency’s first to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, launched at 5:34 a.m. EDT Saturday on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
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SPACE.com 26 Oct 2021, 17:58 UTC
Starts With a Bang! 26 Oct 2021, 14:03 UTC For the past 150+ years, the big ones have all missed us. At some point, our good luck will run out.
Centauri Dreams 26 Oct 2021, 09:23 UTC Back in 2013, Heath Rezabek began developing a series in these pages on a proposal he called Vessel, which he had first presented at the 100 Year Starship Symposium in September of 2012. A librarian and futurist, Rezabek saw the concept as a strategy to preserve both humanity’s cultural as well as biological heritage, with strong echoes of Greg Benford’s Library of Life, which proposed freezing species in threatened environments to save them. In Heath’s case, a productive partnership with frequent Centauri Dreams contributor Nick Nielsen led to articles by both, which produced a series of interesting discussions in the comments.
SPACE.com 25 Oct 2021, 20:00 UTC The observatory cataloged a star's 'cataclysmic demise'
Starts With a Bang! 25 Oct 2021, 14:02 UTC Even if we left today, at the speed of light, we’d never catch up to these galaxies.
Aeon 25 Oct 2021, 10:00 UTC Are we alone in the Universe? And if not, should we be excited – or afraid? These questions are as immediate as the latest Netflix hit and as primal as the ancient myths that associated the planets with spirits and gods. In 1686, Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, the long-term secretary to the French Academy of Sciences, put an Enlightenment stamp on speculations about alien life with his book Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes (Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds). In a series of spirited philosophical conversations, he declared that ‘it would be very strange for the Earth to be so well inhabited, and the other planets perfectly solitary’, and argued that alien beings might attempt to communicate with us or even visit us using some advanced form of flight.