Astronomy news

Moon impact

At July 1st ... from a lunar sample collected by Apollo 17 astronauts 40 years ago scientists have detected and dated carbon on the Moon - in the form of graphite. It dates back almost 4 billion years ago (estimate) and formed during a meteorite impact event. The carbon came either from the inpactor, and as it was found near the Mare Serenitatus there is a good chance the depression was formed at the same time, or alternatively, it condensed from carbon rich gas released during the impact event.

The debate on dark matter

At June 30th, Casey Kazan is stirring things up again and needling some of his readers. The title is what they find upsetting, 'The Jupiter Effect: Is everything we know about the universe wrong?' - is in fact the story I posted a few days ago on In the News - the discovery that dark energy and dark matter may not exist. This version is worth another look to anybody so inclined as Kazan has a habit of stirring the pot - and by the tone of some of the comments at the end of the piece  they do not like his style.

Venus, Mars ... asks, Was Venus once a habitable planet? Did it once have an ocean? This is an exercise in computer modellingt - read with a beady eye.

Panspermia and meteorites

At Daily Galaxy we have an interesting story on June 15th ( .... on meteorites and panspermia. This might be a bad example of scientists using large rocks to find evidence of panspermia when it was originally suggested it arrived on earth via particles and debris with an origin in comets - material flared from the surface of comets and captured by the atmosphere of the earth. Meteorites also have an origin in space - but ten per cent of those that strike earth have been found to have an origin on Mars.

Update on Jupiter hit

The recent Jupiter impact, a week or so ago, has left behind a mystery. It produced a flash of light so bright it was visible in attic and garden telescopes but it did not create a cloud of debris - which is what observers from around the world have been waiting for. Alternatives to an impact are not being suggested, one of which is that it was not an object striking Jupiter but a Jovian lightning bolt. NASA are not impressed with this idea and a spokesperson said that NASA had seen plenty of night-side lightning on Jupiter but never lightning on the day time-side.

Comets, Sprites, Black Holes and Telescopes June 10th (see also Science Daily) ... comets may once have orbited other stars before becoming attached to our Sun according to a theory by a group of astronomers. Computer simulations were used to show the Sun capturing cosmic bodies form nearby stars - but only when it was in its 'birth star cluster' and not once the solar system was up and running.

Space Weather

At ... NASA are closely watching the Sun as it begins to come alive. The concern is solar storms - or flares with the possibility of disrupting global communications. The Sun is waking up again, they say, and space weather is an urgent consideration as the modern world and its technology is dependant on satellites.

Black Holes and the origin of Earth and Moon June 7th ... a paper in the June issue of the Astronomical Journal was written on completion of a census of visible quasars that found 105,783 of them - in a quarter of the sky. What quasars are is not known - only that they are very luminous. One theory is that the light energy is being emitted by material fallin into black holes.

Bok Globules

At ... a Bok Globule is described as a dark cloud of dust and gas from which young stars form. They were originally discovered as dark splotches in fron of dense fields of stars and were given the title, holes in the heavens because they appeared, at first, to be holes in the stellar background.

Water on Mars

At we learn that a rare Mars rock holds the clue to water on the red planet. The rock outcrop is rich in carbonite minerals - which contain carbon dioxide and form readily in the presence of water. So, if conditions allowed carbonite rock to form, that would mean there was water on Mars at some stage.