Astronomy news

Galaxy super clusters and strings and things

At www.dailygalaxy.com September 17th ... there is a story on galaxy super clusters that may be related to the distribution of dark matter. Galaxies seem to clump together and are surrounded by empty space. The piece goes on to say the goal is to capture the most ancient light in the universe - the cosmic microwave background.

X-rays in Space

A University of Leicester press release on the 8th of September (see www2.le.ac.uk/ebulletin/news/press-release/2010-2019/2010/09/nparticle.2010 ) claims that the source of powerful X-rays in a nearby galaxy are said to be proof of the existence of a new species of black holes - targeted because of its extreme luminosity (and advertising a paper in the Astrophysical Journal published the same day).

Mysteries of the Moon

... or rather, mysteries of the Moon that really might not be as mysterious as this piece at www.disinfo.com/2010/09/who-parked-the-mooon/ would have its readers believe (sent in by Gary). It is actually reminiscent of a speaker at an SIS meeting a few years ago and begins rather tamely by telling us that the Moon is more complicated than scientists imagined. One such complication is said to concern the age of the Moon - which by its nature is highly speculative.

Comet Halley Again

At http://io9.com/5637815/ there is another version of the Comet Halley appearance in 466BC - with a bit more history. It could have been visiting the inner solar system for anything between 16,000 and 200,000 years (see also the Journal of Cosmology). The Chinese record the comet in 240BC and it is thought the Babylonians (people of the Middle East) record it in 164 and 87BC (as well as Tigranes, an Armenian king) and in 12BC it may have sparked messianic expectations - but who can tell.

Comets in the Kuiper Belt

At http://calderup.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/kennelful-of-planet-puppies/ ... is about some images from the Hubble Space Telescope which show two remote objects in the Solar System slowly moving across the sky in front of a distant galaxy. They were moving while Hubble was recording and they appear in the images as streaks of light and seem to be comet like objects orbiting the Sun some 40 odd times further away than the earth.

What are meteorites?

At http://geology.com/meteorites/ there is a short piece that attempts to answer this question - by a science writer, photographer, and meteorite hunter who has contributed to documentaries made by PBS, National Geographic, the History Channel and the Travel Channel as well as Readers Digest, Rock and Gem, Sky and Telescope, Geotimes etc.

Comet Halley in the 5th century BC

At www.decodingtheheavens.com/blog/post/2010/09/08/Halley-and-the-ancient-Greeks/ (see also BBC News September 10th) ... in 466BC a large meteortie, described as the size of a wagon load, fell in northern Greece.

Watch this video clip

SIS member Dr Peter Paget has provided this link to a video slide show of the sky - at www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11213528

 

Life on Mars (?)

At www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2010-286&cid=release_2010-286 we have a report that seems to suggest that NASAs Viking Mars Lander mission in 1976 may actually have examined soil that contained carbon based building blocks of life. Organics and perchlorate may have been present in the soil  although it is quite possible the organics had an origin in meteorites - and the ability of perchlorate to break down organic material was not realised at the time.

Water and Stars

At www.physorg.com/print202577650.html there is a report from ESA (the European Space Agency) that the Herschel infrared space observatory has discovered that ultraviolet starlight is a key ingredient for making water in the atmosphere of some stars. It is the only explanation, they continue, for why a dying star is surrounded by a gigantic cloud of hot water vapour (published in Nature September 2nd).