Astronomy news

Leaky Atmosphere Mars

This is the headline in a couple of news sources - the leaky atmosphere of Mars. See for example ... is about the way Mars lacks a magnetic field of note and that is generally thought to be the reason why it has a thin atmosphere - most of it lost to space as a result of being buffeted by the solar wind. New data from ESAs Mars Express spacecraft shows how ionisation plays a prominent role in safeguarding the planet. Magnetic fields are thought to protect planets - but is this just an assumption that may be overstated.

Plasma Universe

At ... the universe is highly magnetic - with everything from stars to planets to galaxies producing their own magnetic fields. The researchers created a hot turbulent plasma (quite small and short lived) in the laboratory - just the size of a penny. The looked at how the turbulence and its motions was able to amplify a weak magnetic field to the turbulence seen on our Sun. It is the first laboratory experiment of a theory explaining the magnetic fields of various cosmic bodies, the plasma working like a dynamo.

Halley's Comet

One from William. Why Halley's Comet may be linked to famine 1500 years ago. Sounds almost like Patrick McCafferty and Mike Baillie in their book, 'The Celtic Gods' - but it comes from Dallas Abbott. Did a piece of the comet slam into the Earth in AD536? This is already attributed to two volcanoes - now conceded by Baillie. However, Abbott approaches it slightly differently - and combines volcanoes with impact (did one spark the other?) The theory evolved after Abbott was looking at Greenland ice cores laid down between 533 and 540.

Revising solar system history

Sent in by Robert - go to ... which questions the idea of the Late Heavy Bombardment, a theory which has had a somewhat extended life. The bombardment is thought to have occurred half a billion years after our planet was formed. In the process all hell was let loose as a barrage of asteroids remodeled the surface of the Earth. Only after this stream of space debris had quietened down was Life able to evolve. However, it seems mounting evidence has caused a body of researchers to question the hypothesis.

Windy Black Holes

This story is at ... new research shows evidence of strong winds around black holes - throughout the bright outburst events. This is the point where black holes are thought to be feeding - rapidly gorging on material that has been dragged into their vicinity. This, in turn, is said to show how mass transfers to black holes and how black holes can affect the environment around themselves. The winds are hypothesized to blow away matter the black hole cannot consume.

Dust Storms Mars

At ... it seems like all the juicy research turns up months after space missions - and so it is with Mars. A study published in Nature Astronomy used data from NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and suggests dust storms on Mars have a direct link with gases escaping from the top of the atmosphere. The inference is that a wetter warmer ancient Mars lost its liquid volatiles by the same route - launched out of the atmosphere.

Velikovsky Comet

Velikovsky perceived his Exodus comet as raining hydrocarbons on the Earth - among other things less salubrious. We now know meteorites contain hydrocarbons - and so do comets. Planet sized comets are not necessary - just your run of the mill comet such as Comet Churiyumov Gerasimenko (visited by the Rosetta Mission). At ... we learn that instruments aboard the space probe Rosetta analysed dust particles ejected from the comet's nucleus. This research was published by the Royal Astronomical Society in December of 2017.

Cosmic and Comet Dust

Is the origin of Life just cosmic dust in the wind? Carl Sagan famously siad 'we are made of star stuff ...' and perhaps we are. See ... A new study proposes Life on Earth started from particles flyings as dust from outer space. As such, a 105kg of space dust reaches Earth every day - apparently. More interestingly, small particles in the earth's atmosphere could be picked up by the these streams of space dust and transported across the universe to seed far away planets.

Black Holes

At ... new research challenges existing models of black holes as recent findings seem to show magnetic fields associated do not come up to scratch. However, for a different view of the nature of black holes go to ... we are told astronomers know black holes exist because they can see energetic radiation and collimated jets erupting. The latter are thought to result from matter falling into a black hole's gravity field.

Update on Meteor

At ... we learn that although it was just a few feet across its speed was enough to shake the ground as it exploded above ground. It was an explosion in the atmosphere rather than an earthquake but it registered as a magnitude 2.0 seismic event according to the National Weather Service. Larry Ruff, a seismologist at the University of Michigan, said that in 35 years he had never seen an atmospheric event produce such a strong signature. It was a much smaller object than the meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk in 2013.