Astronomy news

Planetary Tails

National Geographic July 15th is a story about a planet orbiting so close to a star that its atmosphere is being blasted away, forming a gaseous comet-like tail - according to astronomers in the Astrophysical Journal of July 10th.

black hole, cold thunderstorm

At researchers have discovered a black hole emitting powerful jets of particles that spew forth some 1000 light years. Black holes are usually associated with X-rays rather than jets of particles (see Nature July 8th).

Gravity and the Big Bang

At July 12th ... a paper in Physical Review Letters might cause a stir as it says the theory of gravity as proposed by Arthur Eddington may require a review. Eddington was on an island off the coast of West Africa where he witnessed a solar eclipse and noticed the Sun's gravity bends starlight, an observation he thought which substantiated Einstein's 'general relativity'. Somewhat later, he appears to have had misgivings, and suggested it might mean something quite different.


NASA spacecraft Juno (see July 12th ... is being assembled in Denver - and a unique protective shield is being added around its electronics. The magnetic field of Jupiter, and an intense barrage of cosmic radiation, is extremely powerful, and this is thought to have something to do with its faster speed of rotation.

keeping a track on what the Sun is doing .... ... Proba-2 is a small member of ESAs fleet of satellites but it is full of experimental technology. It has returned 90,000 images of the surface of the Sun in the last 8 months. It is capable of following coronal mass ejections as they leave the solar surface - although these are currently in short supply. In addition, a piece of Czech technology is able to measure the plasma environment around the satellite.

exploding stars June 30th ... supernovae are stellar explosions that can be seen across the entire universe. Type 1a supernovae are used by researchers to observe the acceleration of the universe. It has long been known they exhibit considerable variation in their spectra - but the reasons why this is so have been unknown, or certainly so, until now. Scientists at the Niels Bohr Institute think they have the answer.

Moon impact

At July 1st ... from a lunar sample collected by Apollo 17 astronauts 40 years ago scientists have detected and dated carbon on the Moon - in the form of graphite. It dates back almost 4 billion years ago (estimate) and formed during a meteorite impact event. The carbon came either from the inpactor, and as it was found near the Mare Serenitatus there is a good chance the depression was formed at the same time, or alternatively, it condensed from carbon rich gas released during the impact event.

The debate on dark matter

At June 30th, Casey Kazan is stirring things up again and needling some of his readers. The title is what they find upsetting, 'The Jupiter Effect: Is everything we know about the universe wrong?' - is in fact the story I posted a few days ago on In the News - the discovery that dark energy and dark matter may not exist. This version is worth another look to anybody so inclined as Kazan has a habit of stirring the pot - and by the tone of some of the comments at the end of the piece  they do not like his style.

Venus, Mars ... asks, Was Venus once a habitable planet? Did it once have an ocean? This is an exercise in computer modellingt - read with a beady eye.

Panspermia and meteorites

At Daily Galaxy we have an interesting story on June 15th ( .... on meteorites and panspermia. This might be a bad example of scientists using large rocks to find evidence of panspermia when it was originally suggested it arrived on earth via particles and debris with an origin in comets - material flared from the surface of comets and captured by the atmosphere of the earth. Meteorites also have an origin in space - but ten per cent of those that strike earth have been found to have an origin on Mars.