Astronomy news

Space Dust

At ... the space dust in question was collected by NASAs Stardust mission in 2006, microscopic particles captured from the vicinity of a comet. Some of the conclusions are interesting - if only to show they way the minds of the researchers are taking them. Three of the particles seemed to contain sulphur compounds and some astronomers believe they should not occur in interstellar space - but apparently they do. It is hoped the dust will confirm consensus views on the origin of the solar system and possibly on the origin of life.

Gravels in Space, as big as pebbles

At ... which almost sounds Velikovskyesque. The NSF Green Bank Telescope has detected pebble sized gravels amongst dust grains near the Orion Nebula. However, there is a caveat worth taking on board. The discovery was made as it was shining much more brightly than it should at the calculated distance of the cloud. Is this a case of red shift negativity? Could the molecular cloud be nearer to our solar system than estimated.

Supernova and the Bubble round the Earth

At ... it did occur to me this might be a spoof - but assuming it is genuine, we are told that 10 million years ago a cluster of supernovae went off like popcorn popping in a saucepan. The explosion blew an enormous bubble into interstellar space - and we are inside that bubble. It seems the bubble was discovered early in the 1980s by optical and radio astronomers on the lookout for interstellar gas. According to NASA, astronomers at the time were also in the process of discovering an x-ray glow coming from all directions.

What is happening upstairs

Not a great deal if you go to (August 24th). It describes an explosion in the magnetic canopy of an emerging sun spot, AR2 151, which hurled a dense and twisted plume of plasma into space. SOHO recorded the bright coronal mass ejection emerging from the blast site (see the video) - but Earth is not in the line of fire. However, a pulse of UV radiation did partly ionise the upper atmosphere (known as a Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance event). The sun spot will turn towards an Earth facing direction in the week ahead.

Jupiter dynamo, Lunar sparking

At ... we have a picture of Jupiter cut open in an attempt to explain why its magnetic field is similar to that of the Earth but the two bodies are so different - one has a rocky crust and the other is gaseous. It is inferred the structures of Jupiter and the Earth are radically different, but are they?

Life in Space

At ... one of the big stories this week was the claim by the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS  that cosmonauts have discovered sea plankton on the outside of the International Space Station. Other organisms have also been found - such as bacteria. Plankton is known to get transported into the atmosphere by the process of evaporation of the ocean surface - and should not be too much of a surprise. It is the other organisms that have turned the light bulb on in some heads.

The other comet is also set to cause a stir

At ... comet Siding Spring, the other comet of interest this autumn, will pass by Mars in October, just 132,000km away - which is the equivalent of a comet passing the Earth at one third the distance away from the Moon. A spokesman is quoted, 'we hope to witness two atmospheres colliding'. Planets have atmospheres (Mars is on the thin side) but so do comets, he claims - only it is called a coma and is capable of stretching to the width of Jupiter.

Erupting Filaments

A magnetic filament winding down the face of the Sun has been compared to a canyon of fire at August 17th. It appeared two days previously, launching a CME towards the Earth (expected to arrive on Monday). The web site has a video clip of the appearance and eruption of the filament.

The names of the gods

Victor Clube has an article in SIS Review V:4, 'Cometary Catastrophes and the ideas of Immanuel Velikovsky' and whilst admitting the Clube and Napier theory as outlined in 'The Cosmic Serpent' was by no means perfect and was probably strewn with gaffs of one kind or another, the basic idea that comets rather than planets were the agents of disaster (and more significantly, the meteor streams produced by progenitor comets) were sound.

Barycentric solar effects

I did some earlier posts on Rhodes Fairbridge and the barycentre of the solar system - which is not always within the body of the Sun. The orbit of the Sun has a distinct cycle around the barycentre according to Fairbridge - and one that is close to 100,000 years. This cycle is not mentioned in this link ... ... but it does add an even more intriguing idea to the mix.