Astronomy news

The Glory

Not the Glory of the Lord but something equally as fascinating. At https://phys.org/print460798257.html ... concerns the optical phenomenon known as a glory - that is mostly seen by aircraft pilots and mountaineers, looking down on mist and clouds. It forms a small circular rainbow. Glories are seen when the sun sines from behind and interacts with water droplets to refract light back to the observer. An ESA astronaut took this picture of a glory from the International Space Station back in September ...

Comet McNaught

At https://phys.org/print460383012.html ... data from NASAs STEREO spacecraft (short for Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory) has been reassessed. The subject in question goes back to 2007 - the appearance of Comet McNaught in the skies (mainly of the southern hemishere). This was one of the brightest comets of the last 50 years and it was visible by naked eye even during daylight. The STEREO instruments captured images of the dust tail in a fan like formation that stretched over 100 million miles from the comet nucleus.

Phaethon

At http://spaceweather.com/ (30th October, 2018) NASAs Parker Solar Probe is now closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft in history. It is inside the orbit of Mercury and approaching perilhelion. It is schedule to make several close passes over the next few years. Its mission is to investigate the origin of the solar wind. A recent burst of earth driven plasma has just occurred but the first data dump will not be until early December. Stay tuned.

Comet Wirtanen

At http://spaceweather.com 16th October 2018, we hae news of an upcoming comet (Comet Wirtanen) which may provide us with a dramatic show in December. It is just 1km in width but is set to become a naked eye object for several weeks over the Christmas holidays.

Galactic Panspermia

At https://phys.org/print458809784.html ... looks like at least one country, Japan, is prepared to seriously consider a connection between the solar wind/ earth's magnetic field connection to earthquakes - using the magnetic field to detect future natural disasters (and in memory of the recent tsunami wave that caused the deaths of so many people).

At https://phys.org/print458815392.html ... giant planets around young stars raise question about how planets form, we are informed - but are those questions just that. Something to ruminate about or something to explain.

Meteor Flux

At http://spaceweather.com, October 14th 2018, we learn that a burst of meteors seen over Europe was just the edge of a much bigger stream of cometary dust following in the track of the passage of a comet. The Draconids, they seem to appear out of the constellation of Draco, on October 8th and 9th, were just a shadow of their self as it could easily have been ten times more impressive. Earth seems to have narrowly avoided what could have been a storm of meteors as the orbit of the earth dissected the the debris track - seeming to nudge through a very light gap in the meteor trail.

Cosmological Lithium Problem

Apparently, there is a cosmological lithium problem - see https://phys.org/print458379012.html .... and it is one of the unresolved issues of the Big Bang theory. Nuclear reactions responsible fro the creation and destruction of atomic nuclei during Big Bang are crucial in determining the primordial abundance of lithium, the third chemical element formed during the very early phase of the universe. The standard model predicts an abundance of lithium - four times the amount that has actually been observed.

Cassini Final Descent

At https://phys.org/print457947412.html ... results from Cassini's final mission phase show protons of extreme energies between the planet and its rings. A series of 6 article in the journal Science (5th October 2018) describe the initial results and thoughts - by a vareity of authors.

Voyager 2

At https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7252 ... the Voyager 2 spacecraft probe has detected an increase in cosmic rays that originate outside our solar system - which suggests it is fast approaching interstellar space. Since 2007 it has been travelling through the outer layers of the heliosphere. Voyager 1 is already in interstellar space it is thought. It is unclear if the general lack of solar activity has caused the heliosheaf to retract (as we in between two solar cycles).

Distant Objects

At https://phys.org/print457686574.html ... a new very distant object found in the hunt for Planet X, far beyond the orbit of Pluto. Full details are available in October's issue of Astronomical Journal (2018). It has an elongated orbit and never comes anywhere near the gas giants (such as Neptune) so cannot be influenced by gravity pull. However, Planet X (currently invisible) is said to affect the orbit of the object.