December 13, 2018

    An enormous solar flare might have fried the Proxima b planet
    Closest Earth-sized planet may have been fried by its own sun - short space science news

    The closest exoplanet to Earth is Proxima b, orbiting the Proxima Centaury star. The planet is about the same size as Earth and it has been speculated that it might meet the conditions for hosting life. We don’t know if that is true, but we do know the latest astronomical event affecting the planet is not really life-friendly! For a brief moment the star became 1000 times brighter for about 10 seconds before returning back to normal. This is likely due to a huge stellar flare. Because Proxima b planet is very close to the star, it was likely bombarded with enormous amounts of radiation (1000 times more than what Earth receives normally). This would fry the planet’s surface, together with everything that might be found there.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: The Astrophysical Journal Letters
    Scientific publication: The Astrophysical Journal Letters

    Earth and moon formed from one synestia according to a new theory
    New theory explains how the moon was formed

    A new theory on the origins of our planet and the moon proposes that both have formed from a giant donut of vaporised rock called a synestia. A synestia forms upon collision of two planets. Once the Earth synestia formed, lumps of molten rock came into orbit and formed the basis of the moon. The Earth synestia shrunk and formed the Earth. This new theory explains inconsistencies of the current collision model of the Earth and another planet, Theia, such as the relatively big size of the moon and the similar chemical composition between the Earth and the moon.

    Read the full story: University of California Davis
    Scientific publication: Journal of Geophysiological Research Planets

    The analysis of two lunar mission suggests the water is evenly distributed on the moon’s surface
    The water on the moon is evenly spaced on its surface - short science news

    The presence of water on the moon was confirmed in 2009. Until now scientist thought the water is confined to restricted areas around the moon’s poles. Now, the data obtained by two lunar missions suggest that water could be evenly spread across the surface. The study doesn’t show how accessible the water is, but it might provide insights about the origin of the water on the moon and its potential importance as a resource for Earth.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: Nature Geoscience

    The locations of the observed stars. Credit: T. MUELLER/C. LAPORTE/NASA/JPL-CALTECH
    Stars from the edge of the Milky Way were kicked out from the galaxy’s disk - short science news

    Scientists believe that the stars located at the outskirts of our galaxy (halo stars) were formed from debris left behind by smaller galaxies that invaded the Milky Way in the past. However, a new study is challenging this view. Astronomers obtained convincing evidence that some of these star clusters actually originated in the disk of the Milky Way, but they were kicked out, a process termed galactic eviction. This happens when a massive dwarf galaxy passes through the disk of the Milky Way. The study involved 14 stars from two different halo structures.

    Read the full story: Keck Observatory
    Scientific publication: Nature

    Inside these black holes the past is erased and infinite futures are possible
    Unreal reality: the past does not determine the future inside special black holes - science news

    Physics predicts that travelling inside most black holes would be deadly: any object would be torn to atoms. However, in the case of supermassive black holes, like the ones in the center of galaxies, one could survive crossing the event horizon (the edge of the black hole). Theoretical physicists predict that inside, the reality could be hard to imagine: past events would no longer determine the future, and the future could take infinite possibilities. Scientists believe this is possible in an expanding universe because space-time is being increasingly pulled apart. Although this theoretical depiction strongly stimulates the imagination, it is hard to believe that anyone would dare to prove it right by venturing inside a black hole.

    Read the full story: University of California, Berkeley
    Scientific publication: Physics

    Colliding black holes generate light signals
    Colliding black holes generate light signals

    In the center of galaxies there are mysterious supermassive black holes. A new simulation of these monsters uses a realistic scenario to predict the light signals emitted before two masses of black hole collide. Supermassive black holes are fed by gas disks that surround them like doughnuts. The strong gravitational pull of two black holes getting closer to each other heats and disrupts the flow of gas and emits periodic signals in the visible to X-ray portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Knowing how these light signals look like will enable researchers to identify them in the real world, when scanning the space, in order to pinpoint collisions between black holes.

    Watch a video of the simulation inside the full story article!

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: Astrophysical Journal Letters

    These false-color images are the farthest from Earth ever captured. Credit: NASA
    The furthers image ever made captured by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. Short science news

    NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft snapped the farthest image from Earth ever made so far. When the camera captured the image, the spacecraft was 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers, or 40.9 astronomical units) from Earth. No photographs have ever been captured that far from our home planet, at least until now. In the images, New Horizons has captured several Kuiper Belt objects and dwarf planets at unique phase angles, as well as Centaurs at extremely high phase angles to search for forward-scattering rings or dust. The spacecraft is functioning correctly and is currently in hibernation. Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, will bring the spacecraft out of its electronic slumber on June 4 and begin a series of system checkouts and other activities to prepare New Horizons for the encounter with Kuiper Belt objects.

    Read the full story: NASA

    Falcon Heavy rocket lunch. Credit: Official SpaceX Photos
    The Falcon Heavy space rocket is on its way to Mars

    The Falcon Heavy space rocket from SpaceX was successfully launched Tuesday night. Falcon Heavy is the biggest reusable rocket in operation. Its course in space is set for the planet Mars, where it remains to see if it will crash on the planet, or continue its journey through space. On board of the rocket there is a very original cargo: a Tesla roadster car equipped with a mannequin driver. The launch demonstrates the capability of Falcon Heavy to send cargo in space for an estimated price of $90 million, significantly cheaper than other space agencies, like NASA.

    Read the full story:

    Artist’s impressions of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser
    Exoplanets from TRAPPIST-1 system could contain water

    “Just” 40 light-years from Earth is located the planetary system TRAPPIST-1 which contains seven Earth-like planets (in size and temperature). Until recently there was not much information about the intriguing planets, but now further information has been obtained from telescopes on the ground and from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Kepler Space Telescope. Most interestingly, the planets seem to contain water, some of them even more than our planet! Moreover, the planets are so close that they interfere with each other’s gravity. The TRAPPIST-1 system continues to be of interest for scientists due to the large agglomeration of exoplanets that might harbor life.

    Read the full story: European Southern Observatory

    Planets have been found outside our galaxy. Image: Pixabay
    Extragalactic planets discovered for the first time

    Astrophysicists from Oklahoma University have discovered planets that are beyond the boundaries of the Milky Way. The planets have a mass ranging from that of the moon to the mass of Jupiter. The galaxy in which the planets have been detected is located 3.8 billion light years away, and cannot be seen with even the most powerful telescopes. Instead, the scientists have used microlensing that is based on gravitation and bending of light.

    Read the full story: University of Oklahoma
    Scientific publication: The Astrophysical Journal Letters

    Massive stars found in high numbers in the Tarantula Nebula. Image by: bigstockphoto
    A huge number of massive stars found in a neighboring galaxy

    One of our neighboring galaxies, the Large Magellanic Cloud, contains a higher than expected abundance of massive stars. More precisely, the stars are located in the Tarantula Nebula. Scientists identified here over 1000 of them, the highest agglomeration discovered so far in space. At the end of their lives these stars can explode in supernovae, generating black holes and neutron stars. Artemio Herrero, IAC/ULL researcher and co-author, explains the importance of the study: "Understanding the physics of massive stars under the varying conditions found from the Milky Way to the early Universe is fundamental to our knowledge of the cosmos evolution and how we see it presently."

    Read the full story: Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias
    Scientific publication: Science

    Complex molecules were found in a chemically primitive galaxy. Image: Pixabay
    Surprisingly complex organic molecules found outside our galaxy

    New observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have revealed the presence of complex organic molecules in the Large Magellanic Cloud. This is very surprising, as heavy elements such as carbon, oxygen and nitrogen are essentially absent in this galaxy. They are nevertheless necessary to form molecules as methanol, dimethyl ether and methyl formate that have now been detected here. Also, it is the first time that the latter two molecules have been found outside our galaxy.

    Read the full story: National Radio Astronomy Observatory
    Scientific publication: The Astrophysical Journal Letters

    Birth of stars can now be examined in detail. Image: Pixabay
    New method to measure the birth of stars

    Scientists have finally solved the problem of measuring magnetic properties of methanol in space, which allows them to study the birth of starts in more detail than ever before. Magnetic fields play a role in the birth process of starts, but measuring these has always been impossible until now. Methanol is found in areas where high mass stars form. These stars are important for the formation of carbon and metals, and researchers hope to determine the origin of chemicals in space with the newly available technique.

    Read the full story: Radboud University Nijmegen
    Scientific publication: Nature Astronomy

    Our galaxy and others may contain moving dark matter clumps. Image
    Masses of dark matter could be traveling throughout galaxies

    A new paper suggests that dark matter could collapse into small clusters that could represent up to 10% of our galaxy. The researchers estimate that the formation of these clusters in possible for small quantities of dark matter but large formations, the size of galaxies would not behave as such. The theory still needs to be confirmed by experimental data. For the moment this is an interesting find that may shed light on the mysteries of dark matter.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication:

    Supermoon. Image source NASA
    Lunar eclipse, a supermoon and a blue moon at the end of January

    An unusual series of cosmic events will happen at the end of January: the positions of Earth, moon and sun will result in a lunar eclipse, a blue moon and a supermoon. According to NASA, on January 30, 4.58 AM EST the moon will appear 13% bigger (supermoon) because it will be closer to Earth. However, the difference in size will be difficult to see with the naked eye. This is in the same time a blue moon, a phenomenon whereby the moon appears bluish. Finally, there will be a moon eclipse visible across North America. If clouds obscure the event, no worries, NASA TV will broadcast the event.

    NASA TV will broadcast the event live, here:

    Read the full story:

    Planet Earth seen from space. Image by NASA
    How big can a planet be? Astronomers propose a limit for defining planets - space news

    New planets are discovered regularly in the last years. However, there is an ongoing scientific debate about how to define a planet. Astrophysicist Kevin Schlaufman published a paper that might settle the dispute. He argues that a planet can not have more than 10 times the mass of Jupiter. This upper limit may help distinguish newly discovered planets from brown dwarfs. The new approach proposes to consider celestial bodies in excess of 10 times Jupiter mass as brown dwarfs. Off course, are factors are important also such as the chemical composition of the bodies or the type of neighbors they may have.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication:

    Black hole emitting energy jet. Image by NASA
    Black hole generate three elusive high-energy particles

    The origin of thee high-energy particles have been puzzling scientist for years. They are the ultrahigh energy cosmic rays, gamma rays and cosmic neutrinos. A news study suggests they may have a common origin: the dreadful black holes. Black holes emanate energy jets that generate the ultrahigh energy cosmic rays. Some of these rays interact with cosmic gas to produce the neutrinos, and other rays interact with photons to generate gamma rays. Scientists reached this conclusion after using computer simulations correlated with real astrophysical observations.

    Watch a video of a star exploding and producing a black hole emitting jets. Courtesy of NASA.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication:

    Cosmic rays are regularly entering the atmosphere. Image by
    Mysterious cosmic rays emanated by black holes to be detected using smarthones - space news

    Cosmic rays are regularly entering Earth’s atmosphere, including the very rare ultra-high energy cosmic rays which originate in black holes and supernovae. They are so rare that only one event in 100 years could be detected by a big surface detector. Now researchers have a solution to improve detection rate: use people’s smartphones. The phone’s camera can detect these events and volunteers have been asked to install an app on their phones that identifies cosmic rays. In the future, millions of smartphones could form a huge network helping astrophysicists understand the mystery of cosmos.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication:

    Source: NASA
    A magnet in space to understand the Dark Matter returns novel information of Cosmic rays

    Prof Samuel Ting from MIT who won the Nobel Prize in 1976, says that when primary cosmic rays run through interstellar space, this unknown media releases its own cosmic rays into space. However to study these secondary cosmic rays, one would need to put a magnetic device in space such as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station since charged cosmic rays get absorbed by the atmosphere. Prof. Ting says that by carefully measuring the matter and anti-matter arriving with the secondary cosmic rays, we could understand the biggest mystery of the universe as to why most of it is made up of only matter.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication:

    Source: MasterTux via
    You just missed a recently spotted asteroid which was dangerously close to earth and our satellites

    The skyscraper-sized 2002 AJ129 asteroid has been making the rounds of the media since it will be zipping pass earth on 4th February at a distance equivalent to 10 times that between earth and moon. However, yet another asteroid was discovered via the Catalina Sky Survey and it flew pass earth just 22,000 miles away. Asteroid 2018 BD fell in the 'potentially hazardous category' and was dangerously close to earth just 7 hours after being discovered. Since being close to the geosynchronous orbit it was much more dangerous than the 2002 AJ129 and could also harm our satellites.

    Read the full story:

    SpaceX launched its most secretive satellite ‘ZUMA’ from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
    SpaceX launched its most secretive satellite ‘ZUMA’ from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

    Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched the ZUMA satellite for the US government from NASA’s Kennedy Space center in its most secretive mission till date.  SpaceX has previously completed launches for the Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office before but this was the first time that the government agency which awarded the contract was not known.  The launch of ‘ZUMA’ makes way for SpaceX to concentrate its resources on testing the Flacon Heavy Rocket system which is nothing but three Falcon 9 rockets put together to create a launch system with twice the current power.  However, Elon Musk isn’t as confident that the heavy launch will go as smoothly as the ‘ZUMA’.

    Read the full story:

    First Space Nation - Asgardia - has all its territory in space - image source: NASA
    First Space Nation - Asgardia - has all its territory in space - image source: NASA

    Though not being technically a nation, Space Kingdom of Asgardia which is a non-profit NGO based in Austria and financed by Russian billionaire Igor Ashurbeyli launched a satellite into the earth's orbit. This satellite has a storage capacity of 0.5 TB contains the Constitution of Asgardia and also documents and images submitted by the 'citizens' of Asgardia. This is an ongoing effort which began last year to digitize and then eventually store human knowledge in outer space.

    Read the full story:

    Robots exploring the surface of Saturn, artist representation © NASA
    Robots exploring the surface of Saturn, artist representation  - space news
    NASA announced the selection of two targets for future billion-dollar missions: Titan (Saturn’s largest moon) and the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The first mission - Dragonfly - will send a flying robot to explore sites on the surface of Titan, which features rivers and lakes filled with methane. The second mission – CAESAR – aims to capture and bring back to Earth a piece of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet. 

    The missions are scheduled in 2034 for Dragonfly and 2038 for CAESAR. They are part of NASA’s New Frontiers program with a budget of over $900 million. Previous missions from this program are currently exploring Pluto, Jupiter and other objects from our solar system.

    Read the full story: www,


    Rocky surfaces on planet Mars. Space news
    Rocky surfaces on planet Mars. Space news
    Rocky surfaces on planet Mars. © NASA

    It is estimated that almost half of Mars's northern hemisphere was once covered by a huge ocean. So, where did all the water go? A new study from Oxford University claims that basal rocks on Mars can hold up to 25% more water than similar rock from Earth, thus they may have sucked the water from the surface towards the inside of the planet.

    The same thing probably happened on Earth, in its infancy. But, when Earth became super hot the water-filled rocks melted releasing the water back, a phenomenon that did not occur on Mars. This suggests that the lost water of Mars is, at least in part, trapped in rocks now located deep inside the mantle of the planet.


    Scientific publication :

    Astronomers would be checking Oumuamua asteroid for alien evidence
    Astronomers would be checking Oumuamua asteroid for alien evidence. Space science news
    Oumuamua, an oblong cigar shaped asteroid is present in our solar system and cruising along. This provides a unique opportunity for scientists to use the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to check if this body has any evidence that it might be sending signals to potential aliens. However, they do not expect to truly find any signs of alien life, but this does provide an opportunity to evaluate the presence of water or ice on Oumuamua.


    Subscribe to our mailing list

    * indicates required