Astronomy news

dust and nanodust

An interesting piece of research - see http://phys.org/print345105547.html .... we've all heard of the dust in space created by comets and asteroids on their journeys through the solar system, outgassing and the like. This is the dust which scatters sunlight to produce the zodiacal lights, the glow in the night sky along the line of the zodiac. We all know this light was once more pronounced as a result of lots of comets and meteor streams, so much so the pyramid light formation gave rise to pyramidal buildings on Earth.

Ping Pong with the planets

At www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-31664162 ... rogue planets are forcing astronomers into a rethink of the birth of our solar system. Planetary pin balls are on the table - and are seriously being aired as a subject for discussion.

The change in heart and mind has come about as a result of the hunt for exo-planets. Astronomers have been seeking them out as they may harbour life - or that is the hope. The search is on for a planet in an Earth like orbit in an Earth like solar system arrangement.

the Rostov slab

At www.livescience.com/48298-bronze-age-sundial-moondial-discovered.html ... a slab of rock discovered 20 years ago and having spent that time in the back of a museum in Russia has proved to have had an astronomical function. An archaeo-astronomer said somewhat unconvincingly, that it was perhaps evidence of people trying to understand patterns of the motion of luminaries and the nature of time. The slab of rock had been used to cover a grave dating back to the 12th century BC. It goes back to the Srubna Culture people who lived on the steppe between the Urals and the Dneiper.

starry eyes

At http://phys.org/print344225723.html ... star clusters forming in a remote part of the Milky Way. Apparently, this is not supposed to happen according to the consensus view on how stars may form. Now, the sky survey WISE mission has picked up star formation in a region where it is impossible to happen - according to orthodox thinking. Stars, the theory goes, form inside loops of gas in great molecular clouds at the heart of the galactic disc. Brazilian astronomers espied two molecular clouds - and the stars beaming out from them.

Big Bang Black Hole

Yes, shortly after Big Bang, a mere 900 million miles away, a huge quasar formed - with a central supermassive black hold for company - go to http://phys.org/print344084376.html

the small comet of no consequence that transmogrified into a bright one

At http://spaceweather.com ... track back to the page for February 19th. Here we find a story of a small comet, barely noticed, that went around the Sun and came out the other side shining brightly. A video of the transformation appears on the site.

At the same time we get the news that at the moment solar activity is very low and there are just a few small sun spots blemishing the surface.

dark matter and the galaxy journey

At http://phys.org/print343503264.html ... the question is asked - does dark matter cause mass extinctions and geological upheavals? What might we make of that. Well, it is a direct statement that recognises catastrophism as a fact of the planetary past. In that way it is interesting as not so long ago they may have avoided catastrophism altogether and stuck fast to the uniformitarian model in that nothing has happened in the past that does not happen in the present.

Plumes from Mars

An interesting story at http://phys.org/print343307323.html ... plumes seen rising from Mars, high above the surface. On two occasions amateur astronomers reported the plumes. Now, NASA astronomers had a look at some old images from the Hubble telescope and they found a really big plume from 1997. Now it is being taken seriously, we may well suspect, amateurs excluded. Sccientists are actually being forced to address the issue - and what might cause the plumes. One theory is a connection with auroral phenomena.

Big Bang by Dang

At http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/02/10/another-settled-science-topic-is-n... .... the settled science of global warming/climate change has another bedfellow (they are being collected in droves)  as the settled science of Big Bang theory is once again being criticised by dissenters of the faith.

comets and coated ice creams

I don't know what it is with NASA news releases that compare astronomical features with food and eating disorders but here we have another one at www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?features=4480&utm ... where comets are being described as deep fried ice creams. Mind you, they are said to have a soft centre. Ostensibly, they are saying the hard surface of comets is caused by a coating - somewhat like the chocolate on an ice cream lolly (I'm doing it as well, must be catching).