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Astronomy (General/Chat)

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  • Bizarre life-forms found thriving in ancient rocks beneath the seafloor

    04/04/2020 1:19:18 PM PDT · by RomanSoldier19 · 18 replies
    nationalgeographic ^ | APRIL 2, 2020 | BY ROBIN GEORGE ANDREWS
    IN 2013, SCIENTISTS were stunned to find microbes thriving deep inside volcanic rocks beneath the seafloor off the Pacific Northwest, buried under more than 870 feet of sediment. The rocks were on the flank of the volcanic rift where they were born, and they were still young and hot enough to drive intense chemical reactions with the seawater, from which the microbes derived their energy. Now, however, another team of researchers have discovered living cells inside exceedingly old, cold oceanic crust in the middle of the South Pacific. It isn’t yet clear how these new microbes are managing to survive—and...
  • Venus will meet Pleiades star cluster after eight years on 3 April at 11.30 pm IST

    04/03/2020 5:09:21 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 39 replies ^ | 04/03/2020
    Venus and Earth are in what's a called a near resonance. As a result, Earth and Venus return to nearly the same positions in their orbits at eight-year intervals, which is why we get an event like this Friday's infrequently. Venus visits the Pleiades' neighbourhood often, but it's only once every eight years that the planet strolls right through the cluster. Since the orbital paths of Venus and Earth are elliptical and not perfect circles, this resonance effect is imprecise. In addition, Venus's orbit is tilted with respect to Earth's path around the Sun by 3.4 degrees, which results in...
  • Scientists: Astronauts Could Build Moon Base Using Human Urine

    03/31/2020 3:26:00 PM PDT · by Pearls Before Swine · 87 replies ^ | 3/31/2020 | Victor Tangermann
    Scientists: Astronauts Could Build Moon Base Using Human Urine Need a resilient lunar building material? Urine luck. VICTOR TANGERMANN5 HOURS AGO In cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), a team of European researchers have conducted a… strange experiment. They mixed urea — the main compound found in mammalian urine — with materials, including Moon rocks, to test if we could one day use astronaut pee to build a lunar base. The urea itself acted as a “plasticizer” — stuff that allows us to shape other harder materials into different forms. In their unusual experiment, the team used an analog...
  • Old gas blob from Uranus found in vintage Voyager 2 data

    03/27/2020 6:50:38 AM PDT · by C19fan · 40 replies ^ | March 26, 2020 | Meghan Bartels
    Buried inside data that NASA's iconic Voyager 2 spacecraft gathered at Uranus more than 30 years ago is the signature of a massive bubble that may have stolen a blob of the planet's gassy atmosphere. That's according to scientists who analyzed archived Voyager 2 observations of the magnetic field around Uranus. These measurements had been studied before, but only using a relatively coarse view. In the new research, scientists instead looked at those measurements every two seconds. That detail showed what had previously been missed: an abrupt zigzag in the magnetic field readings that lasted just one minute of the...
  • Uranus is leaking gas

    03/26/2020 7:20:45 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 106 replies
    BGR ^ | 06/26/2020
    As NASA reports in a new post, researchers recently discovered that Voyager 2 cruised through a blob of charged gas called a plasmoid as it passed the planet. The spacecraft’s journey through the plasmoid lasted only about a minute, but that was still long enough for scientists to spot the anomaly in the decades-old data. The scientists believe that gas loss may have already drained as much 55% of the planet’s atmosphere. Loss of atmosphere resulting in plasmoids has been observed around other planets in our solar system, including Saturn and Jupiter, though it’s thought that Uranus has leaked far...
  • This powerful ion engine will be flying on NASA's DART mission to try and redirect an asteroid

    03/26/2020 7:35:10 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 10 replies ^ | 03/26/2020
    NASA's DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission is scheduled to launch on July 22, 2021. It's a demonstration mission to study the use of kinetic impact to deflect an asteroid. It'll head for the tiny binary asteroid system called Didymos, (or 65803 Didymos.) This double asteroid system poses no threat to Earth. The larger of the pair, named Didymos A, is about 780 meters (2560 ft.) in diameter, while the smaller one, Didymos B, is only about 160 meters (535 ft.) DART will crash itself into the Didymos B. It's close to the typical size of an asteroid that threatens...
  • Circular wheel shaped reflection in STEREO data explained

    03/26/2020 6:27:54 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 14 replies
    Some people have noticed an odd shape, sort of a cross inside a circle, entering the field-of-view of the HI2 telescope on STEREO Ahead around February 20,2020. Eventually there is a cone shape that appears next to it. You can see the feature in question in this movie moving from right-to-left, just below the trapezoidal occulter on the right side of the image. The answer lies on the exact opposite side of the image. At the same time as this strange-looking feature starts being visible, the very bright planet Venus enters the HI2-A field-of-view from the left. Notice that Venus...
  • Lose Yourself in This Absolutely Gobsmacking Image of Valles Marineris on Mars

    03/25/2020 7:52:17 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 30 replies
    Science Alert ^ | 25 MARCH 2020 | MATT WILLIAMS, UNIVERSE TODAY
    The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) delivers once again! Using its advanced imaging instrument, the High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) camera, the orbiter captured a breathtaking image (shown below) of the plains north of Juventae Chasma. This region constitutes the southwestern part of Valles Marineris, the gigantic canyon system that runs along the Martian equator. The image was originally taken in July of 2007 by the HiRISE camera and showcases three distinct types of terrain. In the top half of the image, this includes plains with craters and sinuous ridge features. These features are of particular interest since they could be...
  • Distant 'quasar tsunamis' are ripping their own galaxies apart

    03/25/2020 4:18:01 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 23 replies
    Live Science ^ | 24 Mar, 2020 | Brandon Specktor
    At the center of almost every galaxy in the universe is a supermassive black hole gobbling up incredible amounts of matter, and belching out incredible amounts of radiation. The biggest and hungriest of these gobblers — called quasars (or quasi-stellar objects, because they look deceptively like stars when seen through most telescopes) — are some of the most energetic objects in the universe. As infalling matter swirls around the quasar's maw at near-light-speed, that matter heats up and flies outward, propelled by the incredible force of its own radiation. All that intergalactic indigestion makes a quasar an awesome sight, capable...
  • Researchers believe interstellar comet Borisov is breaking apart

    03/25/2020 10:37:03 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 31 replies
    nypost ^ | 03/23/2020 | By Chris Ciaccia, Fox News
    Since it was first discovered in August 2019, astronomers have been awestruck by interstellar Comet 2I/Borisov. But recent observations of the space object suggest that it could be breaking apart. A group of researchers from Poland have noted that the object has brightened up twice this month. “The total brightness increase is thus about 0.7 mag in 5 days between UT 2020 March 4.3 and 9.3,” the researchers wrote in a note published March 12. “This behavior is strongly indicative of an ongoing nucleus fragmentation.” In September 1019, the International Astronomical Union confirmed that the object was from another solar...
  • Research team discovers path to razor-sharp black hole images [RINGS!]

    03/23/2020 7:19:03 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 19 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | March 18, 2020 | by Lee Sandberg, Institute for Advanced Study
    The image of a black hole has a bright ring of emission surrounding a "shadow" cast by the black hole. This ring is composed of a stack of increasingly sharp subrings that correspond to the number of orbits that photons took around the black hole before reaching the observer. Credit: George Wong (UIUC) and Michael Johnson (CfA) _________________________________________________________________________________ Last April, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) sparked international excitement when it unveiled the first image of a black hole. Today, a team of researchers have published new calculations that predict a striking and intricate substructure within black hole images from extreme...
  • NASA Spots 4 Asteroids Headed For Earth This Weekend

    03/20/2020 7:12:58 PM PDT · by bitt · 93 replies ^ | 3/10/2020 | Inigo Monzon
    KEY POINTS NASA detected four asteroids approaching Earth The biggest asteroid in the group measures 180 feet wide All four asteroids will approach Earth this weekend NASA’s automated asteroid tracking system has detected four near-Earth objects that are expected to approach the planet this weekend. According to the agency, the biggest asteroid in the group is about as big as the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. The first asteroid that will approach Earth this weekend has been identified by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as 2020 FK. As indicated in CNEOS’ database, this asteroid has an estimated...
  • Can Astronauts Use GPS to Navigate on the Moon? NASA Scientists Say Yes

    03/19/2020 10:18:54 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 19 replies ^ | 03/17/2020 | Ned Potter
    Signals from existing global navigation satellites near the Earth could be used to guide astronauts in lunar orbit, 385,000 km away. Cheung and Lee plotted the orbits of navigation satellites from the United States’s Global Positioning System and two of its counterparts, Europe’s Galileo and Russia’s GLONASS system—81 satellites in all. Most of them have directional antennas transmitting toward Earth’s surface, but their signals also radiate into space. Those signals, say the researchers, are strong enough to be read by spacecraft with fairly compact receivers near the moon. Cheung, Lee and their team calculated that a spacecraft in lunar orbit...
  • Brightening comet looks set to delight astronomers in May

    03/18/2020 4:10:11 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 20 replies
    Skymania ^ | 3/16/20 | Paul Sutherland
    A comet is currently brightening faster than expected, giving hope that it will become a prominent object visible with the unaided eye in May. An image of Comet C/2019 ATLAS taken from Walmer, Kent, UK, on March 12th, 2020. Image credit: Paul Sutherland The celestial visitor is labelled C/2019 Y4 ATLAS, indicating that it was discovered in 2019 by a sky survey called the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS). This robotic survey, based in Hawaii, searches for small objects to help defend Earth against possible future impacts, and has found several comets as well as asteroids. Comet C/2019 Y4...
  • At long last, NASA’s probe finally digs in on Mars

    03/18/2020 1:05:39 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 26 replies ^ | 03/18/2020 | By Charlie Wood
    NASA unsticks its Martian digging probe by whacking it with a shovel. ______________________________________________________________________ The robotic scoop-arm pins “the mole” against the side of its hole in an attempt to get it moving.NASA/JPL-Caltech ___________________________________________________________________ Every day, the InSight lander’s suite of instruments sends back data proving that the Red Planet isn’t really dead. Marsquakes rumble the seismometer. Swirling vortices register on onboard pressure sensor. And temperature sensors help track the weather and changing of the seasons. Despite the lander’s successes, however, one gauge has met with resistance from the Martian environment while trying to carry out its mission. Something has stopped...
  • Massive Beauty

    03/17/2020 7:24:53 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 31 replies
    NASA ^ | 03/16/2020
    NASA’s Juno mission captured this look at the southern hemisphere of Jupiter on Feb. 17, 2020, during the spacecraft’s most recent close approach to the giant planet. Not only is Jupiter the largest planet orbiting the Sun, it contains more than twice the amount of material of all other objects in the solar system combined — including all the planets, moons, asteroids and comets. In composition, Jupiter resembles a star, and scientists estimate that if it had been at least 80 times more massive at its formation, it could have become a type of star called a red dwarf rather...
  • Asteroid Collision Simulator: Interactive Map Lets You Simulate Destruction of Asteroids

    03/17/2020 6:27:15 PM PDT · by WebHankerchief22 · 20 replies
    Asteroid Collision Simulator ^ | March 16th, 2020 | Paul McBurney
    With concerns of the Coronavirus Outbreak the media has been less involved with other matters. As a result I would like to post something unrelated to that of the virus. The linked asteroid collision map is a simulation that lets ordinary users like you take the powers of nature into your hands and view the destruction of asteroid collisions in different magnitudes and mediums. It's extremely interesting to see how a relatively small object can wreak havoc on society because of it's high impact speed. I believe that having tools similar to this is important because it raises awareness to...
  • The asteroid Ryugu has a texture like freeze-dried coffee

    03/17/2020 6:19:14 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 9 replies ^ | 03/16/2020 | Lisa Grossman
    As an ancient, carbon-rich asteroid, Ryugu is thought to be a time capsule of solar system history. To read that history, Hayabusa2 explored Ryugu from June 2018 to November 2019, and grabbed two samples from the asteroid to bring back to Earth (SN: 7/11/19). Hayabusa2 observed how the asteroid’s surface retained and released heat, a clue to its composition and structure. Dense rocks take in heat slowly and hold that heat for longer; more porous rocks change temperature quickly, like sand on a beach. Ryugu’s heat map shows that it’s about 50 percent porous, meaning half of it is holes,...
  • Watching the Skies: Parade of planets

    03/17/2020 5:58:08 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 5 replies
    WoodTV ^ | Mar 16, 2020 / 07:04 PM EDT | Emily Schuitema
    Early Tuesday morning, the waning crescent moon will be visible with the four planets down and to the left. As the sky begins to brighten, Mercury will rise and both Saturn and Mars will begin to fade from view. Both the Moon and Jupiter will remain visible as it gets lighter. By Wednesday morning, the moon will be closest to Jupiter and Mars. Jupiter is currently the brightest morning planet and it will be easy to pick out. Mars will be much dimmer in comparison. The moon will continue to get thinner as the week goes on. On Thursday morning,...
  • The universe may have been filled with supermassive black holes at the dawn of time

    03/16/2020 12:09:22 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 28 replies ^ | 03/15/2020 | Rafi Leztzer
    Nine hundred million years after the Big Bang, in the epoch of our universe's earliest galaxies, there was already a black hole 1 billion times the size of our sun. That black hole sucked in huge quantities of ionized gas, forming a galactic engine — known as a blazar — that blasted a superhot jet of bright matter into space. On Earth, we can still detect the light from that explosion more than 12 billion years later. Astronomers had previously discovered evidence of primeval supermassive black holes in slightly younger "radio-loud active galactic nuclei," or RL AGNs. RL AGNs are...