Astronomy news

Planet formation

At http://phys.org/print329463697.html ... the question is, how do planets form? Okay, we have the mainstream model in which the idea is that dust from the remnants of supernova acretes into discs around young stars. Such dust is thus thought, over time, to clump together in order to form pieces as big as pebbles, and over time, into even bigger and bigger pieces that eventually gell into a planet size body. However, at the point the pebbles form the consensus view is not entirely sure just how they expand into bigger objects.

Mapping Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

The point of the map is to differentiate different morphological sections of the comet - hence the bright colours. This has been achieved in a few short weeks, since Rosetta arrived in the vicinity of Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The images shows areas of the comet dominated by cliffs, depressions, boulders and grooves, a surprising number of different terrains - and no sign of a dirty snowball.

alcohol in space, and other stories

At http://phys.org/print329463869.html ... astronomers have detected a great cloud of alcohol in space - all to do with molecular chemistry in molecular clouds (which includes dust and various chemical compounds). Alcohol, in this instance, is a combination of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen so the reality is not that surprising. However, adding energy to the mix can result in a stimulated emission of light.

Rosetta Update

At http://phys.org/print329062105.html ... ESAs Rosetta mission has found the comet is 'unusually' dark and there is no sign, as yet, of water ice. It's a lump of rock - apparently.

Solar Activity

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140903104743.htm ... an article in the Astrophysical Journal, 2014:792 (1) 'Deciphering Solar Magnetic Activity' - and based on NASA images and data, tells us a little more about how the Sun ticks. Roughly, every 11 years, the Sun switches from a stable and fairly quiet situation into a violently active one, which is the solar maximum. At this time there are numerous sun spots and eruptions of radiation and solar particles that are ejected around the solar system.

Space Dust

At http://phys.org/print328538416.html ... 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 www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2014/08/vast-streams-of-gravel-detected-in... ... 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 http://phys.org/print328339018.html ... 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 www.spaceweather.com (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 http://phys.org/print327822387.html ... 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?