Phys.org Astronomy & Space News Feeds

  • Global project observes rare meteor showers and meteorite falls
    on July 27, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    As billionaires battle it out in a space race that only a handful of the world’s richest persons can play, a highly inclusive international project is looking in the other direction–what’s flying towards Earth–and all are welcome.

  • Very-high energy gamma-ray emission detected from blazar TXS 1515–273
    on July 27, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    An international team of astronomers has carried out multi-wavelength observations of a blazar known as TXS 1515–273; they detected very-high energy (VHE) gamma-ray emission from this source for the first time. The finding is detailed in a paper published July 20 on arXiv.org.

  • On the hunt for ‘hierarchical’ black holes
    on July 27, 2021 at 11:37 am

    Black holes, detected by their gravitational wave signal as they collide with other black holes, could be the product of much earlier parent collisions. Such an event has only been hinted at so far, but scientists at the University of Birmingham in the U.K., and Northwestern University in the U.S., believe we are getting close to tracking down the first of these so-called “hierarchical” black holes.

  • Astronomers show how planets form in binary systems without getting crushed
    on July 27, 2021 at 8:14 am

    Astronomers have developed the most realistic model to date of planet formation in binary star systems.

  • Bezos offers NASA a $2 billion discount for Blue Origin Moon lander
    on July 27, 2021 at 7:24 am

    Blue Origin owner Jeff Bezos wrote an open letter to NASA on Monday offering a $2 billion discount to allow his company to build a Moon lander.

  • Fermi spots a supernova’s ‘fizzled’ gamma-ray burst
    on July 26, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    On Aug. 26, 2020, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected a pulse of high-energy radiation that had been racing toward Earth for nearly half the present age of the universe. Lasting only about a second, it turned out to be one for the record books—the shortest gamma-ray burst (GRB) caused by the death of a massive star ever seen.

  • Astronomers seek evidence of tech built by aliens
    on July 26, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    An international team of scientists led by a prominent Harvard astronomer announced a new initiative Monday to look for evidence of technology built by extraterrestrial civilizations.

  • Astronomers uncover briefest supernova-powered gamma-ray burst
    on July 26, 2021 at 6:44 pm

    Astronomers have discovered the shortest-ever gamma-ray burst (GRB) caused by the implosion of a massive star. Using the international Gemini Observatory, a program of NSF’s NOIRLab, astronomers identified the cause of this 0.6-second flurry of gamma rays as a supernova explosion in a distant galaxy. GRBs caused by supernovae are usually more than twice as long, which suggests that some short GRBs might actually be imposters—supernova-produced GRBs in disguise.

  • Large meteor lights up skies in Norway
    on July 26, 2021 at 6:25 pm

    Norwegian experts say an unusually large meteor was visible over large parts of southern Scandinavia and illuminated southeast Norway with a powerful flash of light for a few seconds as many observers were reported to also hear a roaring sound afterwards.

  • Hubble finds first evidence of water vapor on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede
    on July 26, 2021 at 4:53 pm

    For the first time, astronomers have uncovered evidence of water vapor in the atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. This water vapor forms when ice from the moon’s surface sublimates—that is, turns from solid to gas.

  • Jeff Bezos is still not an astronaut, according to the FAA
    on July 26, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    Just because you were in space doesn’t mean you get the wings of an astronaut.

  • French astronomers explore supercluster PLCK G334.8-38.0
    on July 26, 2021 at 2:50 pm

    Using ESA’s XMM-Newton telescope, a team of French astronomers has conducted an X-ray study of a supercluster known as PLCK G334.8-38.0. Results of this research, published July 16 on the arXiv pre-print server, deliver important insights into the nature of this structure.

  • Planetary remnants around white dwarf stars
    on July 26, 2021 at 1:55 pm

    When a star like our sun gets to be old, in another seven billion years or so, it will no longer be able to sustain burning its nuclear fuel. With only about half of its mass remaining it will shrink to a fraction of its radius and become a white dwarf star. White dwarf stars are common; over 95% of all stars will become white dwarfs. The most famous one is the companion to the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, but more particularly all stars known to host exoplanets will also end their lives as white dwarfs.

  • Image: Hubble views a faraway galaxy through a cosmic lens
    on July 24, 2021 at 8:35 am

    The center of this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is framed by the tell-tale arcs that result from strong gravitational lensing, a striking astronomical phenomenon which can warp, magnify, or even duplicate the appearance of distant galaxies.

  • Artificial intelligence helps improve NASA’s eyes on the Sun
    on July 24, 2021 at 8:34 am

    A group of researchers is using artificial intelligence techniques to calibrate some of NASA’s images of the Sun, helping improve the data that scientists use for solar research. The new technique was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics on April 13, 2021.

  • NASA selects SpaceX for mission to Jupiter moon Europa
    on July 24, 2021 at 8:26 am

    NASA on Friday said it had selected SpaceX to launch a planned voyage to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, a huge win for Elon Musk’s company as it sets its sights deeper into the solar system.

  • Planetary nebulae in distant galaxies
    on July 23, 2021 at 1:59 pm

    Using data from the MUSE instrument, researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) succeeded in detecting extremely faint planetary nebulae in distant galaxies. The method used, a filter algorithm in image data processing, opens up new possibilities for cosmic distance measurement—and thus also for determining the Hubble constant.

  • Laser research to boost deep space missions
    on July 23, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    Canberra is one step closer to being Australia’s home to deep space laser communication, thanks to a government funding for researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

  • Keen to sign up for space tourism? Here are 6 things to consider (besides the price tag)
    on July 23, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    It’s been a momentous month for space-faring billionaires. On July 11, British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson’s Unity “rocket-plane” flew him and five fellow passengers about 85 kilometers above Earth. And this week, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ New Shepard capsule reached an altitude of 106km, carrying Bezos, his brother, and the oldest and youngest people ever to reach such a height. Passengers on both flights experienced several minutes of weightlessness and took in breathtaking views of our beautiful and fragile Earth.

  • Scientists seek better understanding of Earth’s atmospheric chemistry by studying Mars
    on July 23, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    Long-term studies of ozone and water vapor in the atmosphere of Mars could lead to better understanding of atmospheric chemistry for the Earth. A new analysis of data from ESA’s Mars Express mission has revealed that our knowledge of the way these atmospheric gases interact with each other is incomplete.

  • Mini radar could scan the moon for water and habitable tunnels
    on July 23, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    A miniature device that scans deep below ground is being developed to identify ice deposits and hollow lava tubes on the moon for possible human settlement.

  • Meet the Martian meteorite hunters
    on July 23, 2021 at 7:57 am

    A team at the Natural History Museum (NHM), London is paving the way for future rovers to search for meteorites on Mars. The scientists are using the NHM’s extensive meteorite collection to test the spectral instruments destined for the ExoMars rover Rosalind Franklin, and develop tools to identify meteorites on the surface of the red planet. The project is being presented today (23 July) at the virtual National Astronomy Meeting 2021.

  • Martian global dust storm ended winter early in the south
    on July 23, 2021 at 7:56 am

    A dust storm that engulfed Mars in 2018 destroyed a vortex of cold air around the planet’s south pole and brought an early spring to the hemisphere. By contrast, the storm caused only minor distortions to the polar vortex in the northern hemisphere and no dramatic seasonal changes. Dr. Paul Streeter of The Open University’s Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics will present the work today (23 July) at the virtual National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2021).

  • InSight mission: Mars unveiled
    on July 22, 2021 at 7:25 pm

    Using information obtained from around a dozen earthquakes detected on Mars by the Very Broad Band SEIS seismometer, developed in France, the international team of NASA’s InSight mission has unveiled the internal structure of Mars. The three papers published on July 23, 2021 in the journal Science, involving numerous co-authors from French institutions and laboratories, including the CNRS, the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, and Université de Paris, and supported in particular by the French space agency CNES and the French National Research Agency ANR, provide, for the first time, an estimate of the size of the planet’s core, the thickness of its crust and the structure of its mantle, based on the analysis of seismic waves reflected and modified by interfaces in its interior. It makes this the first ever seismic exploration of the internal structure of a terrestrial planet other than Earth, and an important step towards understanding the formation and thermal evolution of Mars.

  • Scientists determine Mars crustal thickness
    on July 22, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    Based on the analysis of marsquakes recorded by NASA’s InSight mission, the structure of Mars’s crust has now been determined in absolute numbers for the first time. Beneath the InSight landing site, the crust is either approximately 20 or 39 kilometers thick. That is the result of an international research team led by geophysicist Dr. Brigitte Knapmeyer-Endrun at the University of Cologne’s Institute of Geology and Mineralogy and Dr. Mark Panning at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (Caltech). InSight stands for “Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.” NASA’s lander, which landed on Mars on 26 November 2018, explores the crust, mantle and core of the red planet. The paper “Thickness and structure of the Martian crust from InSight seismic data’ will appear in Science on July 23.

  • GLOSTAR: Tracing atomic and molecular gas in the Milky Way
    on July 22, 2021 at 1:39 pm

    By combining two of the most powerful radio telescopes on Earth, an international team of researchers led by the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn, created the most sensitive maps of the radio emission of large parts of the Northern Galactic plane so far. The data were taken with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico in two different configurations and the 100-m Effelsberg telescope near Bonn. This provides for the first time a radio survey covering all angular scales down to 1.5 arc-seconds, the apparent size of a tennis ball lying on the ground and seen from a flying plane. Contrary to previous surveys, GLOSTAR observed not only the radio continuum in the frequency range from 4-8 GHz in full polarization, but simultaneously also spectral lines that trace the molecular gas (from methanol and formaldehyde) and atomic gas via radio recombination lines.

  • Physics students take first-year project to peer-reviewed paper
    on July 22, 2021 at 1:38 pm

    Two Physics students have turned their first-year project using real data from the Cassini mission into a peer-reviewed paper.

  • Italian astronomers inspect galaxy Markarian 509 with ALMA
    on July 22, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), Italian astronomers have investigated an active galaxy known as Markarian 509. Results of the study, presented in a paper published July 14 on arXiv.org, deliver important insights into the distribution and kinematics of the galaxy’s cold molecular gas.

  • Astronomers make first clear detection of a moon-forming disc around an exoplanet
    on July 22, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    Using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is a partner, astronomers have unambiguously detected the presence of a disk around a planet outside our Solar System for the first time. The observations will shed new light on how moons and planets form in young stellar systems.

  • Reprogrammable satellite fuelled prior to launch
    on July 22, 2021 at 11:45 am

    A sophisticated telecommunications satellite capable of being completely repurposed in orbit has been fuelled ready for its launch on 30 July.