While, NASA's next rover to Mars does at least. Go here to read about the progress on its construction.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Well, you already knew that - but astronomers recently detected the absorptions lights associated with it from light reflected off the Earth, to the Moon, during a lunar eclipse. Go here to read why this is actually a very important result for the search of other Earth-like planets in the Milky Way.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
This isn't a sci-fi story: scientists are working on replicating the physical conditions of Neptune's core in lab's here on Earth. Go here to read more. It always amazes me how much we don't know about the everyday things around us - like water and ice.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Thanks to a nice little quirk in gravity (which actually NASA and ESA routinely use to send satellites to other planets in the Solar System), a small object orbiting a more massive one can get a big boost to its speed. Well, the most massive object in the Milky Way is the black hole at is center - Sgr A*. And it can accelerate stars to ridiculously high velocities. Well, some of these stars have been found - including one which should have exploded long before it reached its current location in the galaxy even with its high velocity. Go here and here and here to read more about how it survived its trip.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
One of the most powerful tools we have in trying to understand the properties of the universe as a whole (e.g how much normal matter is in there, how much dark matter, how much dark energy? - i.e, the entire field of cosmology) are galaxy surveys - figuring out both how many galaxies there are at a particular redshift / time after the Big band and how close they are too each other. Traditionally, this has been done using large optical surveys like the Sloan Digital Sky Survey - which finds galaxies by detecting their star light. Galaxies also contain a lot of hydrogen gas, which when cold emits light at particular wavelength - 21 cm, in the radio band. It is possible to a galaxy survey by detecting this emission, which may be more sensitive to low mass galaxies with few stars than optical surveys. Such radio galaxy surveys are now feasible using telescopes like NRAO's 100m Green Bank Telescope and NAIA's Arecibo Telescope. To read more about these surveys, and how they can help determine the answer to such questions like "the nature of dark energy" read this and this and this article, with the full research articles here and here(Subscription, required).
Saturday, September 25, 2010
While "earth quake" like events actually occur somewhat regularly on the surface of neutron stars and white dwarfs, something similar - for very different reasons - was also recently observed to occur in the Earth's magnetic field. Go here to read more, or listen to it here. Enjoy!
Friday, September 24, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Eight years in the making, courtesy of the the THEMIS camera aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft. You can read more about the making of this map here or here, or just go here to look at the stunning results. Enjoy!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Not human sized soccer balls, but those of the molecular variety - chains of carbon atoms which arrange themselves into a soccer-ball like shape, also known as buckyballs. These have long been manufactured on Earth and have lots of industrial uses, but it wasn't thought that they would necessarily form through the essentially random processes which govern the formation of molecules in space. Well, until the Spitzer Space Telescope detected their tell-tale infrared glow. Go here and here to read more. Neat!
Monday, September 20, 2010
An important question in star formation is how massive can a star be? This is a very
tricky question, depending strongly on how the infalling material which forms the star interacts with the light emitted by it. Too much light (radiation pressure), it prevents from the material from falling onto the star. How the light interacts with the material depends on many factors: the chemical composition of the infalling material, the (unknown, honest) atomic properties of these atoms, etc. It was thought that the most massive star that could form today was 200 Solar Masses, but astronomers recently found something even more massive. Go here to read more about it.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Is not confined to the stars, but also to the Earth. The reasoning is that, if life can survive in extreme environments (i.e, very hot, very cold, very dark, high pressure, etc.) on Earth, then maybe they can form in other examples of such environments. Read more about it here.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Not really, but it does make for a nice title. Saturn's rings are a collection of tiny pieces of ice and rock, and the combined gravitational push and pull of Saturn's moons causes this material to clump into beautiful structures, as you can see here and here and here. This is how small, icy moons are made by the way- which is really cool to observe.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
According to Einstein's theory of General Relativity, mass bends space, causing light not to travel in a straight line by curve. Therefore, massive objects can act like lenses, amplifying the line observed from objects behind them. Lots of these have been seen, most commonly a galaxy lensing a quasar behind it. Well, recently, a quasar was discovered lensing a background galaxy. Neat. Read more about it here.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
Well, a star producing a comet-like tail. Not because it is losing material from being too close to a star like a comet does, but because of powerful winds at its surface. Read about it here and here.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The current picture of star formation looks like this: small sections of a giant molecular cloud collapse under their own gravitational attraction (or something like that), and the collapsing gas and dust forms a star. This stops once either there is no more gas and dust or the light output of the star (luminosity) is sufficiently strong to blow away the surrounding gas and dust. Massive stars are so luminous that they stop this process before enough material can collapse to form them, a problem for models. As a result, people thought that maybe massive stars from from the merger of lower mass stars. Not so, say recent observations of a massive star forming that has a dusty disk around it and is expelling material - just as observed around single low mass stars as they form as you can read here or here or here or here or in its full detail here (subscription required. Sorry.)
So how do they form, that is still a mystery. But form directly they appear to do.