Astronomy news

Galactic Chimney Works

At ... Australian National University scientists have found that Earth is made of the same elements as the Sun but has less of the volatile elements such as hydrogen, helium, and nitrogen. Rocky planets around stars may be devolatised pieces left over after the formation of stars.

Bennu and Ultima Thule

At ... data from the New Horizons mission is still filtering back and what has been revealed so far will be discussed at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas. Ultima Thule is regarded as a primordial object. It is 22 miles long and it has a large flat lobe connected to a smaller rounder lobe. The strange shape is the surprise. Apparently, we are told the two lobes once orbited each other but an unknown something brought them together - or that is the thinking at the moment. What caused them to join at the hip?

Dust Ring Mercury

Roberet sent in a link to ... a dust ring has been discovered orbiting Mercury. Or one might put it another way, Mercury regular encounters a dust ring during its orbit around the Sun. Two different ways of looking at it. Both Earth and Venus share their orbits with a dust ring but Mercury is much closer to the Sun and it came as something of a surprise. Researchers created models to try and identify where such a dust ring might have originated and hypothesise on a yet to be discovered group of small asteroids.

Black Hole Enigma

At ... I reported on this last week but at the link above we have some interesting comments (and some silly ones) - on Big Bang and cosmology in general. The researchers say it is remarkable that such massive objects were able to form so soon after Big Bang. It is a challenge to the cosmological model.


William commented, mainstream doesn't mind catastrophism as long as it happened eons ago. See Elements volume 15:1 (February) which is a special issue devoted to the planet Mercury. Charlier and Namur, 'The Origins and Differentiation of Planet Mercury' (2019) page 9-14. Excerpts picked out by William are (page 9), metal enrichment may originate from primordial processes in the solar nebula or from a giant impact that stripped most of the silicate portion of a larger planet leaving Mercury as we know it today.

Planets Behaving Badly

Robert sent in this link to ... latest data sent back from Jupiter and Saturn show that these two gas giants have not played ball with consensus theory. The magnetic and gravity data have confounded scientists it is alleged. There will be an update on the new discoveries at the March 2019 American Physical Society meeting - so be prepared for more revelations in the press release.

At .... Aurora Australis ....

Galactic Winds

A NASA 'Day in Review' article, 'Galactic Wind Provides Clue to Evolution of Galaxies' (from the jpl news room at ) is reproduced at ... the magnetic field lines of the Cigar Galaxy follow the bipolar outflows generated by exceptionally high rates of star formation. The Cigar Galaxy is famous amongst astronomers for the speed in which it creates new stars. Researchers have discovered that the galactic wind flowing from the centre of the galaxy is aligned along a magnetic field and transports a large mass of gas and dust.

The Pantheon

At ... this pieces was sent in by Brian, a long time SIS member. He is hoping to open discussion with other members of the society - and presumably with anyone not in the society but who have a genuine interest in the subject matter of the post. This revolves around the Pantheon - built in the reign of Roman emperor Hadrian. We know about the wall he had built between Britannia and Caledonia but the Pantheon has to be the biggest dome built (at the time), 142 feet in diameter.

Kuiper Belt Objects

The outer solar system is a fairly quiet place we are assured. Not a lot of meteors or craters on the likes of Pluto and Charon. However, the orbital architecture of Kuiper Belt objects is odd - and it has been suggested they are controled by the gravity of the hypothetical Planet Nine. This is because known objects appear to bunch up tight in what is described as orbital clustering (see image below). Go to ...

Hayabusa 2

At ... the Japanese probe Hayabusa 2 has landed on the Ryuga asteroid and is in the process of collecting samples. The material is thought to contain large amounts of organic matter and water from the early solar system ...