Astronomy news

Update on Jupiter hit

The recent Jupiter impact, a week or so ago, has left behind a mystery. It produced a flash of light so bright it was visible in attic and garden telescopes but it did not create a cloud of debris - which is what observers from around the world have been waiting for. Alternatives to an impact are not being suggested, one of which is that it was not an object striking Jupiter but a Jovian lightning bolt. NASA are not impressed with this idea and a spokesperson said that NASA had seen plenty of night-side lightning on Jupiter but never lightning on the day time-side.

Comets, Sprites, Black Holes and Telescopes June 10th (see also Science Daily) ... comets may once have orbited other stars before becoming attached to our Sun according to a theory by a group of astronomers. Computer simulations were used to show the Sun capturing cosmic bodies form nearby stars - but only when it was in its 'birth star cluster' and not once the solar system was up and running.

Space Weather

At ... NASA are closely watching the Sun as it begins to come alive. The concern is solar storms - or flares with the possibility of disrupting global communications. The Sun is waking up again, they say, and space weather is an urgent consideration as the modern world and its technology is dependant on satellites.

Black Holes and the origin of Earth and Moon June 7th ... a paper in the June issue of the Astronomical Journal was written on completion of a census of visible quasars that found 105,783 of them - in a quarter of the sky. What quasars are is not known - only that they are very luminous. One theory is that the light energy is being emitted by material fallin into black holes.

Bok Globules

At ... a Bok Globule is described as a dark cloud of dust and gas from which young stars form. They were originally discovered as dark splotches in fron of dense fields of stars and were given the title, holes in the heavens because they appeared, at first, to be holes in the stellar background.

Water on Mars

At we learn that a rare Mars rock holds the clue to water on the red planet. The rock outcrop is rich in carbonite minerals - which contain carbon dioxide and form readily in the presence of water. So, if conditions allowed carbonite rock to form, that would mean there was water on Mars at some stage.

Jupiter Hit ... again ...

See as Anthony Wesley, an amateur astronomer from Australia, was looking at Jupiter and witnessed a bright flash as an object struck Jupiter and burnt up in its atmosphere. He is the same sky gazer that last year spotted a scar the size of the Pacific Ocean near Jupiter's south pole  that was later proved to be an asteroid or comet strike. Using an infra-red telescope NASA found that indeed, Jupiter had been struck, and credited Wesley.

Leaves of Grass

At ... we have a post on Walt Whitman, a poet who left in one of his collections, Leaves of Grass, a reference to a 'huge meteor succession' in extremely vivid detail that has caused people to think he witnessed the event. Scholars have debated the issue for over a hundred years, and astronomers have equally been puzzled. What exactly did he see?

Origins of Earth ... a new idea ... there is a fresh insight into the origin of planet earth, involving geochemical data. The surpising result is that earth did not fully form in the beginning - but was 40 per cent of itself. See the link for details.

Huge Flare

At ... XMM Newton images of the emisson of the neutral iron flourescent line in molecular clouds around Sgr A taken between 2004 and 2008 shows that the supermassive black hole thought to be at the centre of the Milky Way went through a turbulent phase during the past few centuries. The evidence comes from surrounding molecular clouds whose variation in X-ray and gamma-ray luminosity reflects a major flare in the recent past (see the Astrophysical Journal).