Astronomy news

solar blast waves

At ... US and German researchers have discovered a new solar phenomenon, blas waves in the Sun's atmosphere accompanied by particle emissions rich in helium-3. The waves may accelerate particles into space, it is theorised - and the research paper is published in Astrophysical Journal (Oct 2015).

The discovery was made using data from STEREO (a solar observatory that travels around the Sun) in combination with ACE (which orbits close to Earth and detected the particle stream).

coronal hole and solar wind

  An enormous coronal hole has opened up and a broad stream of solar wind is pouring out. For much of next week the earth's environment in space will be dominated by wind flowing from the broad hole - which means aurorae. Earth, is now within the solar wind stream - what will it do to the weather. Are we in for a warm couple of weeks - or will the threatened cold weather visit us as we come towards the end of October?

Pluto Blue

  At ... it seems that Pluto has blue skies, just like the Earth. It also has patches of frozen water - and both are a surprise.

On Earth blue skies are seen because of the scattering of sunlight by nitrogen particles - so why the blue skies on Pluto?


The NASA 'Day in Review' newsletter (jplnewsroom [at] jpl [dot] nasa [dot] gov) 9th October 2015 reports on the discovery that lakes once existed on Mars. This was observed by Curiosity Rover which found 'mudstone' geology - and the existence of mud indicates water. However, the lake itself must have existed long ago (it was found in the Gale Crater feature which is a hole punched in the geology), and wait for it - 3.3 to 3.8 billion years ago.

dust and atmosphere

At ... dust from the Chile volcano, Calbuco, which erupted in April just gone, almost six months ago, has caused the moon to be a deeper shade of red than it would have been if there had been little dust in the atmosphere. The dust is still there, months later, inhibiting sunlight. This is the reason why low growth tree ring events, marked by global cooling, are generally attributed to volcanoes.


At ... Europa is a moon of Jupiter and the link provides some historical information on the discovery, by telescope (the kind you hold in your hand), of the object some few hundred years ago.


At ... NASAs Dawn spacecraft has been taking pictures of another small planet, or large asteroid, Ceres - which again displays evidence of unusual activity, including energetic particle bursts.



At ... the New Horizons spacecraft has returned pictures of Charon, the larger companion of Pluto. The pictures are thought to show a very violent history, possibly even evidence of a collision. The solar system is becoming more insecure the more it is investigated.

more on black holes

At ... we have a little history of black holes and how the idea came about. It is illuminating.

  This is how a black hole is perceived. In reality all you get is a flash of intense energy.

water on Mars

At ... NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found evidence of water flow, it is claimed. Using an imaging spectrometer researchers detected the signature of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaking was seen on the Mars surface. These streaks appear to ebb and flow over time, expanding in warm seasons and contracting in cooler seasons. However, warmer is not so warm as they are talking about temperatures of minus 23 Celsius (which is pretty chilly and not obviously very warm).