Strange Loner Planet Gets Astronomers’ Attention In the hunt for exoplanets, some rather strange discoveries have been made. Beyond our Solar System, astronomers have spotted gas giants and terrestrial planets that appear to be many orders of magnitude larger than what we are used to (aka. “Super-Jupiters” and “Super-Earths”). And in some cases, it has not been entirely clear what our instruments have been detecting. For instance, in some cases, astronomers have not been if an exoplanet candidate was a super-Jupiter or a brown dwarf. Not only do these substellar-mass stars fall into the same temperature range as massive gas giants, they also share manyRead More →

Closest Star Around A Black Hole Discovered Imagine being caught in the clutches of a black hole, being whirled around at dizzying speeds and having your mass slowly but continually sucked away. That’s the life of a white dwarf star that is doing an orbital dance with a black hole. And this dancing duo could be the first ultracompact black hole X-ray binary identified in our galaxy. “This white dwarf is so close to the black hole that material is being pulled away from the star and dumped onto a disk of matter around the black hole before falling in,” said Arash Bahramian from theRead More →

Messier 37 – the NGC 2099 Open Star Cluster Welcome back to Messier Monday! In our ongoing tribute to the great Tammy Plotner, we take a look at the Pinweel Cluster, otherwise known as Messier 36. Enjoy! During the 18th century, famed French astronomer Charles Messier noted the presence of several “nebulous objects” in the night sky. Having originally mistaken them for comets, he began compiling a list of them so that others would not make the same mistake he did. In time, this list (known as the Messier Catalog) would come to include 100 of the most fabulous objects in the night sky. OneRead More →

Carnival of Space #500 This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Stefan Lamoureux at the Links Through Space blog. Click here to read Carnival of Space #500. And if you’re interested in looking back, here’s an archive to all the past Carnivals of Space. If you’ve got a space-related blog, you should really join the carnival. Just email an entry to carnivalofspace@gmail.com, and the next host will link to it. It will help get awareness out there about your writing, help you meet others in the space community – and community is what blogging is all about. And if you really want to helpRead More →

Next Cygnus Cargo Ship Christened the SS John Glenn to Honor First American in Orbit The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft named for Sen. John Glenn, one of NASA’s original seven astronauts, stands inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida behind a sign commemorating Glenn. Credit: Ken Kremer/Kenkremer.com KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – The next Cygnus cargo ship launching to the International Space Station (ISS) has been christened the ‘S.S. John Glenn’ to honor legendary NASA astronaut John Glenn – the first American to orbit the Earth back in February 1962. John Glenn was selected as one of NASA’s originalRead More →

Exploring Titan with Aerial Platforms Last week, from Monday Feb. 27th to Wednesday March 1st, NASA hosted the “Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop” at their headquarters in Washington, DC. During the course of the many presentations, speeches and addresses that made up the workshop, NASA and its affiliates shared their many proposals for the future of Solar System exploration. A very popular theme during the workshop was the exploration of Titan. In addition to being the only other body in the Solar System with a nitrogen-rich atmosphere and visible liquid on its surface, it also has an environment rich in organic chemistry. For this reason,Read More →

Fried Egg? Flying Saucer? Nope. Just Cool New Closeups of Saturn’s Moon Pan This new view of Saturn’s moon Pan is the closest yet, snapped by Cassini from a distance of 15,268 miles (24,572 km) on March 7, 2017. Pan measures 22 miles wide by 14 miles across and displays a number of small craters along with parallel ridges and grooves in addition to its relatively smooth equatorial “flap.” Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute Besides Earth, Saturn may be the only other planet where you can order rings with a side of ravioli. Closeup photos taken by the Cassini probe of the the planet’s second-innermost moon, Pan,Read More →

Earth’s Twisted Sister: How Will We Reveal Venus’ Secrets? Venus is known as Earth’s Sister Planet. It’s roughly the same size and mass as Earth, it’s our closest planetary neighbor, and Venus and Earth grew up together. When you grow up with something, and it’s always been there, you kind of take it for granted. As a species, we occasionally glance over at Venus and go “Huh. Look at Venus.” Mars, exotic exoplanets in distant solar systems, and the strange gas giants and their moons in our own Solar System attract much more of our attention. If a distant civilization searched our Solar System forRead More →

Astronomy Cast Ep. 443: Destroy and Rebuild Pt. 7: Tsunamis Surf’s up! Today we’re going to be talking about one of the most devastating natural disasters out there: tsunamis. We’re talking huge waves that wreck the seashore. But it turns out, there many ways you can get a tsunami, and one of those has to do with space. Visit the Astronomy Cast Page to subscribe to the audio podcast! We usually record Astronomy Cast as a live Google+ Hangout on Air every Friday at 1:30 pm Pacific / 4:30 pm Eastern. You can watch here on Universe Today or from the Astronomy Cast Google+ page.Read More →

Weekly Space Hangout – Mar 10, 2017: Nic DiPalma and Spacetime Labs Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain) Special Guest: Nic DiPalma is the Founder and CEO of SpacetimeLabs, a ‘creative agency’ for science – a team of award-winning designers, producers, and developers creating brands, communication strategies, and digital content for the science community. With 20 years’ experience as a creative director, designer, and entrepreneur in educational media, public television, broadcast/cable news, corporate brand strategy, and experience design for web and mobile products, Nic is helping scientists and researchers engage the public to inspire a deeper connection and greater support. Guests: Kimberly Cartier ( KimberlyCartier.org / @AstroKimCartierRead More →

Comet Encke Reemerges in the Dawn Sky Comet 2P Encke glides through Pisces on February 16th. Image credit and copyright: Hisayoshi Kato. Miss out on Comet 45/P Honda-Mrkos-Padadušáková last month? We’ll admit, it was fairly underwhelming in binoculars… but fear not, there are several other binocular comets in the pipeline for 2017. Maybe you managed to catch sight of periodic Comet 2P Encke in late February after sunset before it disappeared into the Sun’s glare. Pronounced (En-Key), the comet actually passes through the field of view of the joint NASA/ESA Solar Heliospheric Observatory’s (SOHO) LASCO C3 camera from March 8th to March 14th before reemergingRead More →

SpaceX Conducts Successful Static Fire Test Permitting Post Midnight Spectacle with EchoStar 23 Comsat on March 14 SpaceX conducts successful static fire test of Falcon 9 booster on Mar 9, 2017 as seen from Space View Park, Titusville, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/Kenkremer.com SPACE VIEW PARK/KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – After a pair of back to back postponements presumably due to technical gremlins, the third time proved to be the charm at last as SpaceX engineers carried out a successful engine test of the Falcon 9 first stage this evening (Mar. 9) atop historic pad 39 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The brief testRead More →

Are Fast Radio Bursts Evidence Of Alien Activity? The extremely energetic events that we see out there in the Universe are usually caused by cataclysmic astrophysical events and activities of one sort or another. But what about Fast Radio Bursts? A pair of astrophysicists at Harvard say that the seldom seen phenomena could, maybe, possibly, be evidence of an advanced alien technology. Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are short-lived radio pulses that last only a few milliseconds. It’s been assumed that they have some astrophysical cause. Fewer than 2 dozen of them have been detected since their discovery in 2007. They’re detected by our huge radioRead More →

The Future of Space Colonization – Terraforming or Space Habitats? The idea of terraforming Mars – aka “Earth’s Twin” – is a fascinating idea. Between melting the polar ice caps, slowly creating an atmosphere, and then engineering the environment to have foliage, rivers, and standing bodies of water, there’s enough there to inspire just about anyone! But just how long would such an endeavor take, what would it cost us, and is it really an effective use of our time and energy? Such were the questions dealt with by two papers presented at NASA’s “Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop” last week (Mon. Feb. 27th –Read More →

How Will NASA Find Life On Other Worlds? For a long time, the idea of finding life on other worlds was just a science fiction dream. But in our modern times, the search for life is rapidly becoming a practical endeavour. Now, some minds at NASA are looking ahead to the search for life on other worlds, and figuring out how to search more effectively and efficiently. Their approach is centered around two things: nano-satellites and microfluidics. Life is obvious on Earth. But it’s a different story for the other worlds in our Solar System. Mars is our main target right now, with the workRead More →

Rise of the Super Telescopes: The James Webb Space Telescope We humans have an insatiable hunger to understand the Universe. As Carl Sagan said, “Understanding is Ecstasy.” But to understand the Universe, we need better and better ways to observe it. And that means one thing: big, huge, enormous telescopes. In this series we’ll look at 6 of the world’s Super Telescopes: The Giant Magellan Telescope The Overwhelmingly Large Telescope The 30 Meter Telescope The European Extremely Large Telescope The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope The James Webb Space Telescope The James Webb Space Telescope The James Webb Space Telescope“>James Webb Space Telescope (JWST, or theRead More →

1st SLS 2nd Stage Arrives at Cape for NASA’s Orion Megarocket Moon Launch in 2018 Composite view of the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) for first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at United Launch Alliance manufacturing facility in Decatur, Alabama in December 2016 (left) and arrival of ICPS in a canister aboard the firm’s Delta Mariner barge on March 7, 2017 (right). Credits: ULA (left) and Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com (right) PORT CANAVERAL – Bit by bit, piece by piece, the first of NASA’s SLS megarockets designed to propel American astronauts on deep space missions back to the Moon and beyond to Mars isRead More →

What Did Cassini Teach Us? Ask me my favorite object in the Solar System, especially to see through a telescope, and my answer is always the same: Saturn. Saturn is this crazy, ringed world, different than any other place we’ve ever seen. And in a small telescope, you can really see the ball of the planet, you can see its rings. It’s one thing to see a world like this from afar, a tiny jumping image in a telescope. To really appreciate and understand a place like Saturn, you’ve got to visit. And thanks to NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, that’s just what we’ve been doing forRead More →

How Long is Day on Mercury? Mercury is one of the most unusual planets in our Solar System, at least by the standards of us privileged Earthlings. Despite being the closest planet to our Sun, it is not the hottest (that honor goes to Venus). And because of its virtually non-existence atmosphere and slow rotation, temperatures on its surface range from being extremely hot to extremely cold. Equally unusual is the diurnal cycle on Mercury – i.e. the cycle of day and night. A single year lasts only 88 days on Mercury, but thanks again to its slow rotation, a day lasts twice as long!Read More →

Ancient Stardust Sheds Light on the First Stars Astronomers have used ALMA to detect a huge mass of glowing stardust in a galaxy seen when the Universe was only four percent of its present age. This galaxy was observed shortly after its formation and is the most distant galaxy in which dust has been detected. This observation is also the most distant detection of oxygen in the Universe. These new results provide brand-new insights into the birth and explosive deaths of the very first stars. ESO News Feed Go to Source Powered by WPeMaticoRead More →