Astronomy news

Red Spot

At http://phys.org/print388828337.html ... Jupiter's red spot heats up the upper atmosphere, thereby explaining the anomalous high temperatures that can hardly be the result of sunshine. Jupiter is five times distant from the Earth yet has an atmospheric temperature little different from that of our planet. The source of the non-solar energy has been a mystery - now they think they might have cracked it. The paper, in the July issue of Nature, to too early to be influenced by the current space mission to Jupiter.

Mammatus Clouds

Mammatus clouds are so named for their similarity to cow udders and underbelly

early arrival

July 19th and 20th, the arrival of a G1 geomagnetic storm following the early arrival of a CME originally expected on the 21st. Expect some nice auroras if you live in high latitudes, especially in the southern hemisphere. Meanwhile, take a gander at this, a picture of a stork's nest in Poland with a background in the sky of noctilucent clouds - see www.spaceweather.com

Unstable sun spot

   An unstable sun spot has emerged on the face of the Sun after a few weeks of almost zero activity. We might be in for a solar flare. Currently the sun spots are directly facing the Earth but as the Sun rotates they will be aiming at another point in the solar system. See www.spaceweather.com (July 17th 2016).

Double Halo

At www.spaceweather.com (July 15th 2016) ... it seems the big sun spot is not acive. It has a stable magnetic field and there is no chance of a flare over the next few days. Noctilucent clouds are the highest clouds in the atmosphere, forming at the edge of space some 80km above the surface of the earth. They are caused by wisps of water vapour that wrap themselves around the smoke of incoming meteors. There are therefore lots of meteors interacting with the upper atmosphere - especially at this time of year. The resulting ice crystals glow electric blue in the night sky.

Gravitational Vortex

At http://phys.org/print387561473.html ... the ESAs orbiting X-ray observatory has 'proved' the existence of a 'gravitational vortex' around a black hole. The study, which included NASA data from the NuSTAR mission, has solved a 30 year mystery we are told. The theory is that as matter falls into a black hole it heats up as it plunges into doom, swallowed by the black hole. At that point of very high temperature it shines x-rays into space.

spinning universe

At http://phys.org/print387521718.html ... a new dwarf planet discovered beyond Neptune ....

Space Weather

At www.spaceweather.com (July 10th) we hear that Earth is currently insdie a single speed stream of solar wind flowing from an enormous hole in the atmosphere of the sun.

Leaking Atmosphere

At http://phys.org/print387182978.html ... the magnetosphere shields earth from the solar wind (or plasma injections) but at Earth's poles the field lines are open - like those of a bar magnet. Hence the solar wind is able to descend towards the earth's surface. However, just as particles can head downwards so too can particles ascend upwards - ions from the earth's atmosphere (the ionosphere). The question of plasma transport and atmospheric loss is relevant not just to planets we may note but to stars also.

Closing In

Closing in is the term used in the link at http://phys.org/print387027245.html ... but is it just too hopeful? Closing in on black holes, a theory now within an arms length of actual observation.