Astronomy news

A Jupiter Smack

At May 21st ... the impact of a large celestial object with the planet Jupiter last year is the subject of a paper in Astrophycical Journal Letters. It struck the planet near it's southern pole on its dark side which prevented direct observation of the smack - but was picked up a few hours afterwards by an amateur astronomer in Australia.

Big Bang, Anti Matter, and ...

The Daily Galaxy on May 19th asked, does the large scale structure of the universe nix big bang theory? There is apparently a growing body of evidence which questions whether the universe began with a big bang 14 million years ago. Several cosmologists challenge the theory that has dominated science in recent years - another one of those consensus theories that has become almost a hard fact.

Hinode Solar Optical Telescope update (solar flares)

At we are informed Hinode has identified the origin of white light emissions in solar flares. The source of the  white light had not been clarified since it was discovered in the 19th century. A solar flare is the most energy intensive explosion to be observed within the confines of the solar system and different ways of studying them have been used - from X-rays, radion and  chromospheric spectral lines.

Revealing the True Solar Corona

This is an article from American Scientist May/June 2010 volume 98:3, p212-9, and is written by Richard Woo. It can be fully downloaded from but when downloading set the printer to landscape mode as the text is wide.


At May 14th ... Phobus, the larger moon of the planet Mars, appears to be porous - an amalgamation of space rubble (see Geophysical Research Letters May 16th). The density of Phobus is not dissimilar to asteroids but quite how Mars could have captured an asteroid without breaking it to pieces is an unknown.

The Shy Sun

At is a report on what is going on, or not going on, at the surface of the Sun. The Michelson Doppler Images (MDI) onboard the Solar and Heliosphere Observatory (SOHO) measured a very small variation in the absolute solar radius values and the solar shape, a variation of just 22 milli-arc seconds from peak to peak, virtually nothing.

Hole in Clouds

At info [at] jpl [dot] nasa [dot] gov May 11th (see www.jpl.nasa,gov/news ) the Herschel Space Observatory has found a gaping hole in clouds surrounding a batch of young stars - providing astronomers with a glimpse into the star forming process. It is alleged. Stars are born obscured by dense clouds of dust and gas so little is actually known about the process - but theories exist. Now it seems there is a hole in the cloud surrounding the latest star birth event - but what might have blown the hole open?

Seeding the earth

At May 10th ... Nigel Calder freely admits he was not keen to embrace the idea comets seeded life on earth when it was first proposed by Hoyle and Ramasinghe (when he was editor of New Scientist). In the meantime he has changed his mind and reports on a French team that has found extraterrestrial dust grains rich in carbon  in the snow of Antarctica (see also Science May 7th).

Gravitational Waves

At May 9th ... physicists from NASA and the ESA intend to search for gravitational waves - as predicted by Einstein. These are the last strand of the theory of general relativity  that has still to be proved correct.

Space Blob

A strange jelly like substance appears to fall out of the sky giving rise to the term, star jelly, and variously the rot of the stars. It is sometimes associated with meteorites. Not always as other people see it as regurgitated frog spawn. Indigestible pieces of frogs and toads, discarded by birds, foxes, or cats, that retch the stuff up - an idea that has traction when you consider it is often found in gardens, or where people walk and observe. It also occurs in rural locations but fewer people notice it. Reports of star jelly go back for centuries.