SpaceFlight Insider 5 Jul 2019, 08:09 UTC NASA is making important strides with the Orion spacecraft in preparation for the Artemis 1 mission, the next step in the agency’s effort to return humans to the Moon.The mission, currently scheduled for launch in the Fall of 2020, will be an uncrewed flight test, with the Orion spacecraft launching for the first time atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The mission will take Orion thousands of miles past the moon on an approximately three-week test flight.
astrobites 4 Jul 2019, 15:57 UTC Like humans, the stars in our night sky are also typically born into large extended families. Star formation occurs in dense molecular clouds, in which many stars are typically born around the same time. If two stars are born close enough together to be gravitationally bound to each other, they form a binary system (or a triple system if there are three, etc.). These systems are so common that roughly half of the stars in our galaxy have companions, or siblings.
New Scientist 4 Jul 2019, 11:43 UTC We might need to rethink our understanding of water, both on Earth and other planets. New experiments with water ice at high pressures has revealed unexpected behaviour, which could upend our assumptions about the makeup of icy exoplanets.
Centauri Dreams 3 Jul 2019, 15:55 UTC Remember ‘Nemesis’? The idea was that mass extinctions on Earth recur on a timescale of between 20 and 40 million years, and that this recurrence could be accounted for by the existence of a faint star in a highly elliptical orbit of the Sun. Put this object on a 26 million year orbit and it would, so the theory ran, destabilize Oort cloud comets, causing some to fall into the inner system at a rate matching the record of extinctions. Thus a cometary bombardment was to be expected on a regular basis, as were the mass extinctions that were its consequence.
Chandra X-ray Observatory Blog 3 Jul 2019, 12:24 UTC Like whirlpools in the ocean, spinning black holes in space create a swirling torrent around them. However, black holes do not create eddies of wind or water. Rather, they generate disks of gas and dust heated to hundreds of millions of degrees that glow in X-ray light.
EarthSky Blog 3 Jul 2019, 10:24 UTC A galactic halo, or corona, stands out as an ethereal glowing ring in this image from the Hubble Space Telescope. The image shows a magnified galaxy, due to the gravitational lensing effect, behind a massive galaxy cluster. Image via ESO/NASA/ESA/A.Claeyssens/EWASS.When we think of galaxies, we think of huge disks of billions of stars, dust and gas. Many are reminiscent of giant pinwheels. With the right instruments, though, astronomers can see more: halos of light, composed of neutral hydrogen, around galaxies. On June 24, 2019, the Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon announced that its researchers have made new observations of distant galactic halos – sometimes called galactic coronae – using the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. The astronomers said MUSE sees halos around almost all distant galaxies it observes, but even then they are generally too small to show much detail or structure. To help with this, the new study combined the MUSE observations with what’s called gravitational lensing to study the halos in more detail.The images and other data were presented at the annual meeting of the European Astronomical Society (EWASS 2019) in Lyon, France, on June 25. Over 1,200 astronomers gathered for the meeting.Another ...
All About Space 3 Jul 2019, 08:33 UTC This artist’s illustration shows the theoretical internal structure of the exoplanet GJ 3470 b. It is unlike any planet found in the Solar System. Image credit: NASA/ESA/L. Hustak (STScI)Two NASA space telescopes have teamed up to identify, for the first time, the detailed chemical “fingerprint” of a planet between the sizes of Earth and Neptune. No planets like this can be found in our own solar system, but they are common around other stars.The planet, Gliese 3470 b (also known as GJ 3470 b), may be a cross between Earth and Neptune, with a large rocky core buried under a deep crushing hydrogen and helium atmosphere. Weighing in at 12.6 Earth masses, the planet is more massive than Earth, but less massive than Neptune (which is more than 17 Earth masses).Many similar worlds have been discovered by NASA’s Kepler space observatory, whose mission ended in 2018. In fact, 80 percent of the planets in our galaxy may fall into this mass range. However, astronomers have never been able to understand the chemical nature of such a planet until now, researchers say.By inventorying the contents of GJ 3470 b’s atmosphere, astronomers are able to uncover clues about the planet’s nature and ...