Astronomy news

A black hole captured by WISE - on video

Now you can see what is thought to be a black hole on video - or bright flaring activity (see www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-298&cid=release_2010-298 ). Whatever it is emits random bursts of energy and can become then three times as bright in a matter of hours, before fading again. It is orbited by a companion star. See the video link at www.astro.isas.jaxa.jp/~pgandhi/wise_gx339/wise_blackhole_anim.html and a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters by a number of scientists from Japan, India, the UK, Europe and US (see also http://wise.astro.ucla.edu ).

Vesta - the asteroid

A video of NASAs Dawn spacecraft flying past the giant asteroid, Vesta, is available online to view (see www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.cfm?id=1020). Vesta has seasons just like the Earth - and there is a huge circular depression near its South Pole, hundreds of miles wide with cliffs several miles high. A mountain squats in the middle of the depression, nine miles tall. No doubt Thunderbolts in due course may comment on this peculiarity (see also www.nasa.gov/dawn or http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov for mission details etc.

The Grail and the Moon

Gary Gilligan sent in this link to a story about NASAs Grail mission which is set to blast off in an attempt to unravel some of the mysteries of the Moon (see http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/07sep_twomoons/ - and one such mystery concerns a paper in Nature that claimed there was once two moons orbiting the earth. The small of the two struck the bigger one and created the bumps and humps on the far side of the Moon.

Aliens

At www.physorg.com/print234443910.html ... as a result of the expanding universe, or the belief in an accelerating expansion of the universe, cosmologists have come up with a timetable for the creation of life forms and conclude it is unlikely that intelligent life could have evolved anywhere in the universe prior than the present, basically the last few billion years (source Universe Today). 

Cern CLOUD again ...

The mainstream media is either ignoring the potential of the experiment at CERN or is taking, once again, soundbites from the establishment - as if they would tell them the truth. Various critics have been dragged out of nowhere, possibly not having read the paper, and asked for their opinions. One of them claimed that clouds do not cause cooling ... because it is hot on the surface of Venus and yet there are enormous swirling clouds clogging up its atmosphere. Therefore, it seems, the Sun can't warm the earth - or something like that.

Star gas

William Thompson sent the following link, http://newsinfo.nd.edu/news/25691/, which is Notre Dame University. It seems that two of its astrophysicists, N Lehner and C Hawk, have published a paper in Science (August 26th) that is important in our understanding of how stars are made - continuously. The same story can be seen at www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110825164931.htm and at www.physorg.com/print233510806.html.

Youthful Moon - or not so youthful

A paper in Nature August 17th - see www.physorg.com/print232805174.html - is suggesting the Moon is somewhat younger than previously alleged, created by a giant impact between two bodies one of which was proto-earth. The Moon then formed from melted material ejected into space. It is further alleged that analysis of lunar rocks, or sample so far retrieved, can only be dated as far back as 4.36 billion years ago. This may sound quite old but apparently it is younger than earlier estimates of the Moon's age - which were 4.5 billion years ago.

The zodiacal light, meteor streams, and dark matter - is it an illusion?

At www.physorg.com/print190569543.html (April 15th 2010) is a piece on the dust between planets that scatters sunlight. Its origins are in comets according to Nesvorny and Jennisken (April 20th, The Astrophysical Journal). The zodiacal dust cloud is regularly replenished.

Roaming planets ... again

At a variety of blogs, for example at www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2023778/Planets-survive-stars-su... , we have this story that is basically a paper that purports to explain the discovery of planets unattached to star systems, lots of them. A new theory has inevitably been devised by (experts, according to the Daily Mail reporter). They suggest such planets may have been ejected from solar systems by supernova events (the explosion of stars).

Water on Mars?

NASA News at www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-242&cid=release_2011-242 claims they have discovered water on Mars - briny water that flows in spring but disappears in the winter. However, the images are in regions too cold for water yet some kind of volatile has been detected - hence the idea of salty water.

At www.physorg.com/print231669586.html we hear that NASA is reporting two active regions on the Sun, or in general terms, two sunspots have sprouted and a solar flare is being predicted.