Galaxies Regulate their Own Growth so they Don’t Run Out of Star Forming Gas Look at most spiral or barred spiral galaxies and you will see multiple regions where stars are forming. These star forming regions are comprised of mostly hydrogen gas with a few other elements for good measure. The first galaxies in the Universe had huge supplies of this star forming gas. Left unchecked they could have burned through the gas quickly, generating enormous amounts of star formation. Life fast though and die young for such an energetic burst of star formation would soon fizzle out leaving behind dead and dying stars. InRead More →

A Close Pulsar Measures 11.4 km Across When massive stars detonate as supernovae, they leave often behind a pulsar. These fast rotating stellar corpses have fascinated scientists since their discovery in 1967. One nearby pulsar turns 174 times a second and now, its size has been precisely measured. An instrument on board the International Space Station was used to measure x-ray pulses  from the star. A supercomputer was then used to analyse its properties and found it was 1.4 times the mass of the Sun and measured only 11.4 km across! The death of a massive stars leads to one of a number of objectsRead More →

Solar Flares and Solar Magnetic Reconnection Get New Spotlight in Two Blazing Studies Two recent studies published in The Astrophysical Journal discuss findings regarding solar flare properties and a new classification index and the Sun’s magnetic field, specifically what’s called solar magnetic reconnection. These studies hold the potential to help researchers better understand the internal processes of the Sun, specifically pertaining to solar flare activity and space weather. Here, Universe Today discusses these two studies with both lead authors regarding the motivation behind the studies, significant results, and implications on our understanding regarding solar flares and space weather. The first study discusses new insights intoRead More →

‘Fly Me to the Moon’ Points to the Past and Future of Moonshot Marketing In a new movie titled “Fly Me to the Moon,” a marketing consultant played by Scarlett Johansson uses Tang breakfast drink, Crest toothpaste and Omega watches to give a publicity boost to NASA’s Apollo moon program. The marketing consultant may be totally fictional. And don’t get me started on the fake moon landing that’s part of the screwball comedy’s plot. But the fact that the makers of Tang, Crest and Omega allied themselves with NASA’s brand in the 1960s is totally real. More than 50 years later, those companies are still benefiting from the NASA connection, says Richard Jurek, a marketingRead More →

SpaceX’s Rocket Failure Could Cause Delays for Lots of Launches After going eight years and more than 300 launches without a failure, SpaceX had a Falcon 9 rocket launch go awry, resulting in the expected loss of 20 Starlink satellites. The Federal Aviation Administration said it would oversee an investigation into the anomaly, raising the prospect that dozens of launches could be delayed until the problem is identified and rectified. As many as 40 Falcon 9 launches are on tap between now and the end of the year — potentially including missions that would carry astronauts to the International Space Station and send the privatelyRead More →

A Hopping Robot Could Explore Europa Using Locally Harvested Water Various forms of hopping robots have crept into development for us[e in different space exploration missions. We’ve reported on their use on asteroids and even our own Moon. But a study funded by NASA’s Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) in 2018 planned a mission to a type of world where hopping may not be as noticeable an advantage—Europa. The mission, developed by engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Purdue University, and Honeybee Robotics, is known as the Steam Propelled Autonomous Retrieval Robot for Ocean Worlds, or SPARROW. It’s about the size and shape of aRead More →

Resources on Mars Could Support Human Explorers In the coming decades, multiple space agencies and private companies plan to establish outposts on the Moon and Mars. These outposts will allow for long-duration stays, astrobiological research, and facilitate future Solar System exploration. However, having crews operating far from Earth for extended periods will also present some serious logistical challenges. Given the distances and costs involved, sending resupply missions will be both impractical and expensive. For this reason, relying on local resources to meet mission needs – aka. In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) – is the name of the game. The need for ISRU is especially important onRead More →

Exoplanet Could be an Enormous Version of Europa Certain exoplanets pique scientists’ interest more than others. Some of the most interesting are those that lie in the habitable zone of their stars. However, not all of those planets would be similar to Earth – in fact, finding a planet about the size of Earth is already stretching the limits of most exoplanet-hunting telescopes. So the scientific community rejoiced when researchers at the Université de Montréal announced they found an exoplanet in the size range of the Earth. However, it appears to be almost entirely covered in water, making it more similar to a giant versionRead More →

The Moon Occults Spica This Weekend For North America The ‘Great North American Occultation’ sees the Moon blot out Spica Saturday night. Few events in the sky transpire as quickly as occultations. While the path of the planets may move at a leisurely pace, and the orbits of double stars may be measured in terms of a lifetime or more, occultations are swift vanishing acts. North American observers have a chance to witness just such an event this coming weekend, when the waxing gibbous Moon passes in front of the bright first magnitude star Spica. The Moon meets Spica Saturday night. Credit: Stellarium. The MoonRead More →

Webb Detects the Smell of Rotten Eggs in an Exoplanet’s Atmosphere Studying the atmospheres of exoplanets is helpful for several reasons. Sometimes, it helps in understanding their formation. Sometimes, it helps define whether the planet might be habitable. And sometimes, you allow a press officer to write the headline “Stench of a gas giant? Nearby exoplanet reeks of rotten eggs.” That headline was released by John Hopkins University’s (JHU) press department after a study describing the atmosphere of one of the nearest known “hot Jupiters” was recently published in Nature. The malodorous stench from rotten eggs is caused by a compound known as hydrogen sulfide.Read More →

Mapping the Stars in a Dwarf Galaxy to Reveal its Dark Matter Dark matter is curious stuff! As the name suggests, it’s dark making it notoriously difficult to study. Although it’s is invisible, it influences stars in a galaxy through gravity. Now, a team of astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to chart the movements of stars within the Draco dwarf galaxy to detect the subtle gravitational pull of its surrounding dark matter halo. This 3D map required studying nearly two decades of archival data from the Draco galaxy. They found that dark matter piles up more in the centre, as predicted by cosmologicalRead More →

Hubble measures the distance to a supernova Measuring the distance to truly remote objects like galaxies, quasars, and galaxy clusters is a crucial task in astrophysics, particularly when it comes to studying the early universe, but it’s a difficult one to complete. phys.org Go to SourceRead More →

Vivid portrait of interacting galaxies marks Webb’s second anniversary A duo of interacting galaxies commemorates the second science anniversary of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which takes constant observations, including images and highly detailed data known as spectra. Its operations have led to a “parade” of discoveries by astronomers around the world. phys.org Go to SourceRead More →

How astronomers work out the size of the solar system The size of the solar system is defined by the volume of space over which the sun’s influence exceeds those of other nearby stars in the Milky Way galaxy. This influence derives from two fundamental forces of nature: gravity and magnetism. phys.org Go to SourceRead More →

Hubble finds evidence for rare black hole in Omega Centauri An international team of astronomers has used more than 500 images from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope spanning two decades to detect seven fast-moving stars in the innermost region of Omega Centauri, the largest and brightest globular cluster in the sky. These stars provide compelling new evidence for the presence of an intermediate-mass black hole. phys.org Go to SourceRead More →

Q&A: Researcher discusses how gravitational waves hint at dark matter and Big Bang mysteries Gravitational waves, ripples in space-time predicted by Einstein almost a century ago, were detected for the first time in 2015. A new study led by Yanou Cui, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Riverside, reports that very simple forms of matter could create detectable gravitational wave backgrounds soon after the Big Bang. phys.org Go to SourceRead More →

NASA’s Hubble traces dark matter in dwarf galaxy using stellar motions The qualities and behavior of dark matter, the invisible “glue” of the universe, continue to be shrouded in mystery. Though galaxies are mostly made of dark matter, understanding how it is distributed within a galaxy offers clues to what this substance is, and how it’s relevant to a galaxy’s evolution. phys.org Go to SourceRead More →

JWST sheds light on the structure of interstellar water ice Using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a team of researchers including Paola Caselli, Barbara Michela Giuliano and Basile Husquinet from MPE, have probed deep into dense cloud cores, revealing details of interstellar ice that were previously unobservable. The study, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, focuses on the Chamaeleon I region, using JWST’s NIRCam to measure spectroscopic lines toward hundreds of stars behind the cloud. phys.org Go to SourceRead More →