Astronomy news

La Violette

Paul La Violette proposed that an active sun and increased comet bombardment triggered by a cosmic ray volley led to the mass die-off of mammoths 13,000 years ago - coinciding with the Younger Dryas boundary. His theory of cosmic ray bombardment goes back to 1983 when he did a PhD dissertation at Portland State University in Oregon. He postulated that every 10,000 years an intense volley of cosmic ray electrons bursts out of the galactic core of the Milky Way - presumably what has otherwise been known as super waves.

Carbon Dioxide Ice

At ... Rosetta, during the most active phase of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, caught evidence of carbon dioxide ice followed by the appearance of two large puddles of water ice nearby. The carbon dioxide ice layer covered an area the size of a football pitch and the two patches of water ice were each the size of a large swimming pool.

Cosmic Whistles

At ... the cosmic whistle. It packs an energy punch. These are fast radio bursts of gamma rays (and other cosmic radiation). The relevant paper is published in Astrophysical Journal Letters and can be viewed at

Saturn Jet Stream

At ... Saturn is a big planet - and it has a huge jet stream 70,000 km wide. There is currently no theory out there to explain the nature of this jet stream, they say, nor the source of the energy that feeds it. Is that right?

Lack of dinner dims ...

At ... mainstream is trying to make sense of volatile behaviour around what they are convinced is a black hole at the centre of a nearby galaxy. Many such galaxies have an extremely bright core, or nucleus, presumed to be fed by material falling into a supermassive black hole. They are some of the brightest objects in the universe - but the light is inclined to dim, it is being suggested, when the black hole has no dinner.

Younger Than

At ... we learn that Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko is younger than thought - but this is according to computer simulations made at the University of Berne. However, they appear to be referring to when it reached it's current shape as it is a given in mainstream that comets are primordial objects. It is shaped like a duck - they claim. In other words, it has a neck with a shorter piece one end and a bigger piece the other end (like an egg timer but fatter).

Solar System Formation

Everything we know about the formation of the solar system might be wrong - according to two astronomers that discovered the first 'binary-binary' (two massive companions around a single star in a close binary sytem) - see

Egg Rock

At .... we learn that Curiosity Rover has come across an odd looking iron meteorite - the size of a golf ball. It is the remains of a meteorite, it is thought, that had fallen out of the Mars sky. It has been dubbed the 'egg rock' and has been examined by a laser firing spectrometer. It is also thought iron meteorites originate as a result of asteroids melting. Molten iron and nickel form lumps - hence iron meteorites

Saturn's Rings

At ... a team of researchers has presented a new model for the origins of Saturn's rings (see also ... ). The lead author, Ryuki Hydo of Kobe University, says that Saturn's rings are made up of 95 per cent icy particles. However, the rings of Uranus and Neptune are somewhat darker, probably because they are made up of particles that are more rock like. This assumption appears to drive the model's conclusion.

Mooning Around

At ... and variously at ... and ... and all these are useful but the latter two come with comments. The operative word here is 'model' - not actual physical evidence.