Astronomy news

Seeding the earth

At http://calderup.wordpress.com 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 www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/7695994/Largest-scientific-instrument-ever-built-to-prove-Einsteins-theory-of-relativity.html 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.

Water ice found on asteroid

This story can be accessed from several places (see www.physorg.com/print191665880.html and BBC News April 28th http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/science_and_environment/10090128.stm April 28th 'Asteroid Themis has frosted surface' and in addition www.sciencedaily.com).

A Catastrophe of Comets

A Catastrophe of Comets is the title of a post at http://craterhunter.wordpress.com/ parts one and two. The blog author claims there has been little independent geological research in Chihauhua in northern Mexico - apart from mining companies. The standard theory is that ignimbrites date to mid-Tertiary when vast rifts are thought to have opened up in the middle of the North American continent that spread out thousands of cubic miles of ignimbrite - then closed again without trace.

Searching for Neutrinos

At www.physorg.com/print190976193.html April 20th ... a series of detectors to capture cosmic rays striking the Earth has been set up in Antarctica with the idea of finding neutrino generated signals bounced off the bottom of the ice cap. It is hoped they will be able to pinpoint the unidentified source of ultra high energy cosmic rays. The Earth is constantly peppered by showers of debris from cosmic ray outburst colliding with atoms in the atmosphere.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory

NASAs new Eye on the Sun delivers a series of stunning images at www.nasa.gov/sdo (and see also http://wattsupwiththat.com April 21st). Some images show material streaming away from sun spots - others are close-up images of the surface of the Sun. The spacecraft has also made high resolution measurements of solar flares in a range of ultra-violet wavelengths.

Electrified Lunar Craters

Science Daily April 17th (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100416185151.htm ) ... as the solar wind flows over natural obstructions on the moon it may charge polar lunar craters to 100s of volts according to new NASA calculations. Polar lunar craters are an object of interest as a possible source of water for astronauts and have therefore attracted interest. The moon's orientation towards the sun keeps polar craters in permanent shade - allowing temperatures to plunge to -400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Black Holes

Daily Galaxy April 16th (www.dailygalaxy.com) ... does our universe exist in a black hole? Cosmic string theorists, it is alleged, have suggested the whole universe may exist in a black hole. In their view the pre-Big Bang universe is vast, infinite, and stretches indefinitely backwards in time. They think the universe might be destroyed on a regular basis - it's space time twisted into black holes.

Dark Matter Doubts

At www.physorg>com/print190631146 ... astrophysicists are looking everywhere for dark matter - inside the Large Hadron Collider, in deep mines, and way out in space, but evidence of dark matter cannot yet be found. It is claimed it makes up a quarter of the energy density of the universe. Current models and simulations cannot acount for the excess in positrons being observed - on the satellite experiment of PAMELA for instance.