Astronomers detect signs of an atmosphere stripped from a planet in a giant impact 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. Go to SourceRead More →

Astronomers discover twin sub-Neptune exoplanets orbiting nearby star By analyzing the data from the TESS-Keck Survey (TKS), an international team of astronomers reports the detection of two almost identically sized sub-Neptune exoplanets orbiting a nearby star. The newly found alien worlds, designated HD 63935 b and HD 63935 c, are about three times larger than the Earth. The finding is detailed in a paper published October 13 on the arXiv pre-print server. Go to SourceRead More →

New study probes X-ray bursts from low-mass X-ray binaries An international research team has performed a new measurement of an important astrophysical reaction, 22Mg(α, p)25Al, providing essential experimental data for understanding the light curve of X-ray bursts and the astrophysical environment in low-mass X-ray binaries. Go to SourceRead More →

Simulating chaotic interactions of three black holes Dutch student Arend Moerman (Leiden University, the Netherlands) has defended his thesis research on the simulation of chaotic interactions of three black holes. The simulations, which he carried out together with researchers from Leiden and Oxford, show that lighter black holes tend to slingshot each other out into space, while heavier ones tend to merge. The research will be published in the leading journal Physical Review D. Go to SourceRead More →

Lucy is off to Visit Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids NASA’s Lucy spacecraft is on its way. The spacecraft was launched into space on Saturday, October 16th on an Atlas 5 rocket. Its primary target is Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. Spacecraft have visited asteroids before, and even brought samples back to Earth. But Lucy is unique: it’ll visit a total of eight asteroids, including seven Jupiter Trojans and one main-belt asteroid. All these visits will take Lucy 12 years to complete. Trojan asteroids are asteroids that share Jupiter’s orbit. There are two groups of them; one ahead of Jupiter and one behind, both by 60 degrees. There areRead More →

Something Really Wants our Attention. One Object Released 1,652 Fast Radio Bursts in 47 Days The energetic phenomena known as Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are one of the greatest cosmic mysteries today. These mysterious flashes of light are visible in the radio wave part of the spectrum and usually last only a few milliseconds before fading away forever. Since the first FRB was observed in 2007, astronomers have looked forward to the day when instruments of sufficient sensitivity would be able to detect them regularly. That day has arrived with the completion of the 500-Meter FAST Radio Telescope (aka. Tianyan, “Eye of Heaven”). Since itRead More →

What Are Your Options When you’ve Only Got Hours or Days to Prevent an Asteroid Impact? Imagine a scenario where we detect an asteroid heading straight for Earth. Imagine that it will arrive in a couple of days, or worse, only a few hours. What could be done to stop it? It might be possible to protect ourselves and the planet on such short notice. But we’d have to test and build the right infrastructure to do it. When it comes to asteroids, humanity is engaged in a process of discovery. We send spacecraft out to visit them, and sometimes those spacecraft return samples toRead More →

With no Solid Surface, the Atmosphere of Jupiter Behaves Quite Differently Than Earth Jupiter’s atmosphere has plenty of distinct features, including lightning and the Great Red Spot.  But the underlying processes that drive these features are less well understood, as the physics of the gases that make up Jupiter’s atmosphere is complicated.  A team of scientists from all over the globe has found a familiar process in all the chaos, though.  They think a process that happens here on Earth might be happening on a grander scale at Jupiter. The first hints at that process were visible when looking at one of the most commonRead More →

Astronomers see a Moon-Forming Disk Around a Super-Jupiter Recently, astronomers have been finding protoplanetary discs around certain stars.  Their discovery has helped kick off a new work in planetary formation theory.  But planets aren’t the objects that form from discs of material in space.  Moons do too.  Now, scientists led by Dr. Tomas Stolker of Leiden University and his team have delved deeper into the characteristics of a “protolunar” disc surrounding a “super Jupiter” exoplanet about 500 light-years away. The planet, GQ Lupi B, orbits its parent star on a path about 20 times wider than Jupiter does from the Sun.  In addition, the planetRead More →

Gravitational Waves Reveal Surprising Secrets About Neutron Stars The confirmation of gravitational waves back in 2017 continues to unlock whole new worlds of physics but also continues to elicit further questions.  The detection of each gravitational wave brings a new challenge – how to find out what caused the event.  Sometimes that is harder than it sounds.  Now a team led by Alejandro Vigna-Gomez of the University of Copenhagen thinks they found a model of star death that helps to explain some previously inexplicable findings – and points to a galaxy with many more massive neutron stars than previously thought. In science, it is commonRead More →

X-ray Pulsar XTE J1946+274 investigated with NuSTAR Using NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) spacecraft, Russian astronomers have investigated a transient X-ray pulsar known as XTE J1946+274. Results of the study, presented in a paper published October 11 on, provide more insights into the nature of this object. Go to SourceRead More →

NASA selects gamma-ray telescope to chart Milky Way evolution NASA has selected a new space telescope proposal that will study the recent history of star birth, star death, and the formation of chemical elements in the Milky Way. The gamma-ray telescope, called the Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI), is expected to launch in 2025 as NASA’s latest small astrophysics mission. Go to SourceRead More →

What’s Causing the Mysterious Radio Waves Coming From the Center of the Milky Way? The center of the Milky Way is a mysterious place. Astronomers think there’s a supermassive black hole there, though it could be dark matter instead. The region is densely packed with stars, dominated by red giants. And because of all the dust between Earth and the galactic center, we can’t see anything with visible light, ultraviolet light, or low-energy x-rays. But we can detect radio waves, and there are some unexplained ones coming from the center of the galaxy, and adding to the mystery. Astronomers have discovered a transient source ofRead More →

Europa has Water in its Atmosphere Since the Voyager probes passed through the Jupiter system in 1979, scientists have been intrigued and mystified by its moon Europa. Once the images these probes acquired of the moon’s icy surface returned to Earth, scientists began to speculate about the possibility of a subsurface ocean. Since then, the detection of plume activity and other lines of evidence have bolstered this theory and fed speculation that there could be life beneath Europa’s icy surface. According to new research, another critical piece of evidence of Europa’s watery nature has at least been confirmed. Using a similar technique that confirmed theRead More →

A Magnetic Tunnel Surrounds the Earth What if our eyes could see radio waves? If we could, we might be able to look up into the sky and see a tunnel of rope-like filaments made of radio waves. The structure would be about 1,000 light-years long and would be about 350 light-years away. This tunnel explains two of the brightest radio features in the sky. Astronomers discovered the North Polar Spur and the Fan Region in the 1960s when radio astronomy was getting going. The North Polar Spur is a massive ridge of hot gas that rises above the plane of the Milky Way. ItRead More →

Here’s the View From Sweden During the Recent Solar Storm Vivid green and purple aurora swirled and danced across the entire night sky in Sweden recently. The nighttime light show was captured by an all-sky camera in Kiruna, Sweden, which is part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Space Weather Service Network. This camera is pointed straight up, and is fitted with a fish-eye lens to be able to capture the sky from horizon to horizon. The Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, were visible due to the impact of a coronal mass ejection (CME) into our planet’s magnetosphere on October 12. ARead More →

Dwarf galaxy catches even smaller galaxy Astronomers know that the Milky Way grew by taking in smaller galaxies. But now, a team of Italian-Dutch researchers has shown that a small galaxy neighboring the Milky Way has in turn absorbed an even smaller galaxy from its vicinity. The researchers will publish their findings on Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy. Go to SourceRead More →

Volcanic memories: Black holes give shape to bubbles, rings and ‘intergalactic smoke’ filaments An international team of researchers, including scholars from the University of Bologna and the Italian National Astrophysics Institute (INAF), observed for the first time the evolution of warm gas coming from an active black hole. They were able to look at these structures, which are strongly reminiscent of the smoke streams produced by volcanic eruptions, with unprecedented detail and on a time scale of a hundred million years. Go to SourceRead More →