Space News - Space, Astronomy, Space Exploration
Phys.org provides the latest news on astronomy and space exploration.
08/16/2018 06:31 PM
Hubble paints picture of the evolving universe
Astronomers using the ultraviolet vision of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have captured one of the largest panoramic views of the fire and fury of star birth in the distant universe. The field features approximately 15,000 galaxies, about 12,000 of which are forming stars. Hubble's ultraviolet vision opens a new window on the evolving universe, tracking the birth of stars over the last 11 billion years back to the cosmos' busiest star-forming period, which happened about 3 billion years after the big bang.
08/16/2018 03:10 PM
Donald Trump's Space Force plans analysed by a sci-fi expert
The US leadership has plans to introduce a "US Space Force" by 2020. Already announced by president Donald Trump in June, US vice president Mike Pence outlined further details of the plan at a press conference on August 9. The Space Force, he said, would consist of an elite corps of soldiers trained to fight in space, and a space command that would design military strategies for warfare beyond the atmosphere.
08/16/2018 02:52 PM
Oort clouds around other stars should be visible in the cosmic microwave background
For decades, scientists have theorized that beyond the edge of the solar system, at a distance of up to 50,000 AU (0.79 ly) from the sun, there lies a massive cloud of icy planetesimals known as the Oort Cloud. Named in honor of Dutch astronomer Jan Oort, this cloud is believed to be where long-term comets originate from. However, to date, no direct evidence has been provided to confirm the Oort Cloud's existence.
08/16/2018 01:56 PM
Image: Aurora observed from orbit
Ever wondered what auroras look like from space? Astronaut Alexander Gerst, also known as @Astro_Alex, gives us his bird's-eye view from aboard the International Space Station, tweeting that the experience is "[m]ind-blowing, every single time."
08/16/2018 01:27 PM
Former 'Mars czar' reviews latest news on the red planet
Since June, we've heard major news about two indicators of possible life on Mars and become absorbed with the fate of the rover Opportunity, shrouded in one of the planet's global dust storms. We've also looked back on rover Curiosity's mission and forward to how humans may someday step foot on Mars. This flurry of activity has generated increased attention for Mars, and questions about where the latest news fits among all that we've learned about the planet.
08/16/2018 01:24 PM
Sprawling galaxy cluster found hiding in plain sight
MIT scientists have uncovered a sprawling new galaxy cluster hiding in plain sight. The cluster, which sits a mere 2.4 billion light years from Earth, is made up of hundreds of individual galaxies and surrounds an extremely active supermassive black hole, or quasar.
08/16/2018 01:23 PM
Image: DLR's Rollin' Justin robot
This Friday 17 August, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst will be directing this humanoid robot Rollin' Justin – based in the DLR German Aerospace Center establishment in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany – from aboard the International Space Station, flying at 28 800 km/h and 400 km above Earth.
08/16/2018 01:14 PM
Tiny ASTERIA satellite achieves a first for CubeSats
A miniature satellite called ASTERIA (Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics) has measured the transit of a previously-discovered super-Earth exoplanet, 55 Cancri e. This finding shows that miniature satellites, like ASTERIA, are capable of making of sensitive detections of exoplanets via the transit method.
08/15/2018 09:10 PM
Study of material surrounding distant stars shows Earth's ingredients 'pretty normal'
The Earth's building blocks seem to be built from 'pretty normal' ingredients, according to researchers working with the world's most powerful telescopes. Scientists have measured the compositions of 18 different planetary systems from up to 456 light years away and compared them to ours, and found that many elements are present in similar proportions to those found on Earth.
08/15/2018 05:00 PM
Iron and titanium in the atmosphere of an exoplanet
Exoplanets, planets in other solar systems, can orbit very close to their host stars. When the host star is much hotter than the sun, the exoplanet becomes as hot as a star. The hottest "ultra-hot" planet was discovered last year by American astronomers. Today, an international team led by researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), who collaborated with theoreticians from the University of Bern (UNIBE), Switzerland, discovered the presence of iron and titanium vapours in the atmosphere of this planet. The detection of these heavy metals was made possible by the surface temperature of the planet, which reaches more than 4000 degrees. This discovery is published in the journal Nature.
08/15/2018 02:51 PM
Scientists discover organic acid in a protoplanetary disk
An international team of scientists from Russia, Germany, Italy, the U.S. and France has discovered a relatively high concentration of formic acid in a protoplanetary disk. This is the first organic molecule found in protoplanetary disks containing two oxygen atoms.
08/15/2018 01:20 PM
Unusual doughnut-shaped jet observed in the galaxy NGC 6109
Astronomers from the University of Bristol, U.K., have uncovered an unusual doughnut-shaped jet in the radio galaxy NGC 6109. It is the first time that such a jet morphology has been observed in a low-power radio galaxy. The finding is detailed in a paper published August 6 on the arXiv pre-print repository.
08/15/2018 01:06 PM
Mapping the universe in 3-D
In 1998, scientists discovered that the universe's expansion is accelerating. Physicists don't know how or why the universe is accelerating outward, but they gave the mysterious force behind this phenomenon a name: dark energy.
08/15/2018 12:33 PM
Video: NASA's NICER does the space station twist
This time-lapse video, obtained June 8, 2018, shows the precise choreography of NASA's Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) as it studies pulsars and other X-ray sources from its perch aboard the International Space Station. NICER observes and tracks numerous sources each day, ranging from the star closest to the sun, Proxima Centauri, to X-ray sources in other galaxies. Movement in the movie, which represents a little more than one 90-minute orbit, is sped up by 100 times.
08/14/2018 12:45 PM
Unraveling the stellar content of young clusters
About twenty-five percent of young stars in our galaxy form in clustered environments, and stars in a cluster are often close enough to each other to affect the way they accrete gas and grow. Astronomers trying to understand the details of star formation, for example the relative abundance of massive stars to low mass ones, must take such complicated clustering effects into account. Measuring the actual demographics of a cluster is not easy either.
08/14/2018 12:27 PM
Astronomers discover supermassive black hole in an ultracompact dwarf galaxy
A team of scientists from the Faculty of Physics and Sternberg State Astronomical Institute, MSU, leading an international collaboration with members from Europe, Chile, the U.S. and Australia discovered a supermassive black hole in the center of the Fornax galaxy. The results of the research were published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal.
08/13/2018 03:30 PM
Earth mini-moons: Potential for exciting scientific and commercial opportunities
The detection of "mini-moons"—small asteroids temporarily captured in orbit around Earth—will vastly improve our scientific understanding of asteroids and the Earth-Moon system, says a new review published in Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Science. These small and fast-moving visitors have so-far evaded detection by existing technology, with only one confirmed mini-moon discovery to date. The advent of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will verify their existence and track their paths around our planet, presenting exciting scientific and commercial opportunities.
08/13/2018 02:35 PM
Image: Partial solar eclipse from space
Thanks to a quirk of our cosmos, the Moon's average distance from Earth is just right for it to appear as the same size in the sky as the significantly larger Sun. Once in a while the Moon slides directly between Earth and the Sun such that it appears to cover our star completely, temporarily blocking out its light and creating a total solar eclipse for those along the narrow path cast by the Moon's shadow.