Saturn's Rings are Young

Young is a bit open to interpretation here, as young in the eyes of astronomers can be quite a long time ago. William sent in a link to a NASA News release - the rings of Saturn may be icons but they may be relatively young. The rings, it is thought, formed much later than the planet Saturn itself, between ten and a hundred million years ago. In other words, it could be 10 million years young. On the other hand, how young is still open to question.

Sent in by William

Sent in by William - ... and also ... which is an interesting story in that since 290 million years ago asteroid strikes have become more common. I suppose it must depend on what data they possess for the situation prior to 290 million years ago - but never mind. The key, in their mind's eye, is that a major smash-up in what is now the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter, may be responsible.

Feeding Time

At ... supermassive black holes are, well, super massive. They are thought to exist at the heart of all galaxies - but how do they grow into supermassive entities. What are they feeding on? It is thought they are constantly gobbling up cosmic gas and some are thought to consume whole stars. A new study at Tel Aviv University in Nature Astronomy (January 2019) claims some supermassive black holes are triggered (set in motion) - suddenly devouring huge amounts of gas.

Magnetic Poles

At ... an interesting point made by climate scientist Tim Ball - what are the implications from climate of recent north magnetic pole activity?. It is wandering from Canada into Siberia. He begins by saying recent hype is another case of saying a normal event is abnormal. The magnetic pole is always moving.

Light Pillars

At (13th January 2019) ... the image below was taken in New Hampshire in the US - colourful lights above a snow covered landscape ...



A quarry near the Dutch town of Winterswijk has many fossils of marine reptiles - many of them with a surprising amount of bone material preserved intact- see ... some of the skeletons are completely preserved.  Why might that be as the fossil bones go back to 240 million years agao. At that time this part of the Netherlands was submerged, it is thought. In adddition, it must have been shallow water as there are the preserved footprints of land animals.

Trilobite Riches

At ... trilobite fossils are common to all parts of the world, northern and southern hemispheres. They dominated the early seas.

Patterns on Venus

At ... a Japanese research team has identified a giant streak structure amongst the clouds covering Venus. They aqlso modelled the origins of the feature. The Japanese spacecraft Akatsuki has been orbiting Venus since 2015. It carries an infra red camera that captures coud morphology - even at lower cloud levels.

Flying Bye Bye

On January 8th asteroid 2019AS5 flew past the Earth - just 8600km above the surface. Nine hours afterwards, the asteroid was discovered, by the Mount Lemmon Survey telescope in Arizona. At (11th January 2019) we learn the space rock was just 2m wide - hardly what one might call an asteroid. More like a meteor. Indeed, if it had entered the atmosphere it would have disintegrated somewhat like the Chelyabinsk meteor of 2013. What is more interesting is that astronomers are thinking that Earth's gravity significantly bent the space rock's orbit during fly by.


At  ... we learn that a huge canyon on Iceland was created by a few days of catastrophic flooding. The Jokulsargljufur canyon is 28 km in length and up to 100m in depth - cutting directly into basalt (former outpourings of lava). It is home to a powerful waterfall - and this has cut back through the basalt (sometimes at an astonishly quick rate). How do they know this.