Astronomy news

Phosphate from Space

At ... did building blocks for life arrive on earth from space (from comets and meteorites, it is suggested). This article is published in Nature Communications (September 2018), 'An Interstellar Synthesis of Phosphorus Oxoacids' by Andrew Turner and Ralph Kaiser. According to this theory phosphate and dephosphoxic acid, two elements required in the building blocks of molecular biology, came out of the sky. They are the main constituents of chromosomes, the carriers of genetic information in which DNA is found.


At (september 22nd 2018) we learn that the Sun has just crossed the equator and is heading south and changing seasons. This event seems to be what causes the crack in Earth's magnetic field.

solar constant

At ... the IPCC lowered their estimate of the impact of solar variability on the Earth's climate from the already low value of 0.12 watts per square metre given in the 4th Report to just 0.05 in the 5th Report (2013). There are long term values extended over 261 years (1750-2011) and they apply to 11 year solar cycles (sunspots). The peaks of sunspot/solar cycles vary so what is being measured is the baseline (the minimums of each cycle).

Rocket Propulsion

At ... propelling spaceships without fuel. Mike McCulloch of Plymouth University first came up with the idea of quantised inertia (QI) in 2007. This involves light being converted into thrust. QI predicts that objects can be pushed by differences in the intensity of Unruh radiation in space. The idea is similar to a ship being pushed towards its bay because there are more waves hitting it from the sea ward side of the boat.

Brown Dwarf Oddity

At ... the curious case of the over luminous brown dwarf. It is theorised brown dwarfs form secondarily to main sequence stars. A gas cloud collapses, heats up, and ignites. However, brown dwarfs, the theory supposes, do not have enough mass to start forming hydrogen as in a star (and instead they form deuterium). Over time they cool off - and fade away. The brown dwarf in question is 16 times brighter than expected by the model (theory). Hence, astronomers are looking for reasons why.

Blue Sun Anomaly

At ... is actually a link to a video by one of my favourite scientists, the much maligned (by CAGW activists) Dr Willie Soon. He is an extremely polite man even in the face of some incredible abuse by people who know as much about climate as they can write on a postage stamp. He doesn't resort to the same level of insults as his critics and always comes across as cool as a cucumber - a one time admirable human characteristic that seems to be part of history nowadays.

Bright and Spotty

At ... bright surface features on the asteroid Ceres were discovered by the Dawn Mission in 2015. See image below ...

The Hexagon

At ... NASAs new mission Focussing Optics X-ray Solar Imager, or FOXSI, is due to take its thrid flight (in September). Maybe it has already. FOXSI is a sounding rocket - meaning to measure. Sounding rockets make brief 15 minute journeys above the Earth's atmosphere to look at space before falling back to ground. These missions are much cheaper than sending satellites into orbit and enable scientists to test ideas - and if those ideas don't achieve very much not a lot is lost.

Water on Jupiter

Water water everywhere - not a drop to drink. Water on the moon, on Mars, and now on Jupiter - see ... which appears to substantiate theory and modelling. The Juno mission is turning up all sorts of odd findings from a magnetic pole located nears its equator (dubbed the great blue spot) and now signs of water on what is the biggest planet in the solar system. The chemical signature of water has been detected below the clouds swirling around the Great Red Spot, a zone of perpetual storm activity.

Michigan Meteor

Sent in by Jovan. At ... which concerns the meteor seen over Detroit back in January of this year. Its explosion and disintegration was captured by infrasonic microphones and seismometers. In the journal, Seismological Research Letters a team from Scripps were able to pinpoint the time, location and the height of the bolide when it disintegrated. About 2000 meteors of this size or larger pass through Earth's atmosphere each year.