Astronomy news

Hubble Constant

At ... astronomers using NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope have accomplished a more accurate and precise measurement of the Hubble Constant. This is the rate at which our universe is stretching apart. Spitzer used long wavelength infra red light to make the new measurements. The findings were also combined with published data from NASAs Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe to obtain an independent measurement of dark energy.

Curiosity Rover : One

At ... we learn that Curiosity Rover has found an old streambed on the surface of Mars. This story, recommended by Lawrence Dixon from a NASA news flash is featured everywhere from the Daily Galaxy to Science Daily, Space Daily, and the NASA web site itself. We learn that Mars is mostly blanketed by a reddish-brown dust but there are the odd differences which the Rover is designed to explore. What it has found are rocks containing what looks like stream bed gravels - which indicate water was once flowing at the surface, perhaps a stream.

John Eddy

William Thompson, SIS member, in an email of February 2012, said he was at the University of Colorado at the same time as John Eddy was teaching, and researching, and I did a post way back then as he had recently died, the link provided by William. It was Eddy that made popular the idea that the Sun was a variable star and low sun spot activity coincided with cool temperatures. This work has recently popped up on a post at Steve McIntyre's blog ...

Objects from Space

At ... is all about a 24cm high sculpture thought to be the god Vasravana that was made out of a meteorite. The meteorite in question is said to be one that fell on northern Russia, where it abuts the edge of Mongolia, and dated 10 to 20,000 years ago. This was the Chinga meteorite and it seems a bit of it ended up in Buddhist Tibet. A paper in Meteoritics and Planetary Science says it is made of iron, nickel, cobalt and other trace elements, a geochemistry that is said to fit with Chinga.

The Sun is in the News

At ... is a report on a paper in Nature on CMEs.

At ... (see also - our solar system's planets may have formed at different times, determined by shockwaves flowing from a young Sun.

The Sun - and CMEs

At ... is a fascinating post, scientists are eager to understand what causes coronal mass ejections as they are seen as a threat to satellite communications. Giant columns of hot gas or plasma leap from the surface of the Sun - often into space, others falling back to the surface. Seen from a side view CMEs appear to glow almost like a filament in a light bulb (see the image).

Another hit on Jupiter

At ... it was so bright and prominent that amateur astronomers spotted the flash and another filmed it (see also A video of the flash can be viewed - thought to be a small comet or asteroid striking the atmosphere of Jupiter. This is the fourth strike since July 2009 when amateur astronomers spotted an anomaly the size of the Pacific Ocean in the cloud tops of Jupiter following an asteroid strike. Two more impacts were seen in 2010.

Spherules on Mars

At ... the NASA Opportunity rover, not to be confused with the Curiosity rover now being set loose on the surface of Mars, has returned an image of spherical objects that differ from so called 'blueberries' (iron rich spherules) found in 2004. The new spherules were found on the rim of Endeavour crater and are just 3mm in diameter - and lack iron. Such concretions are thought to form in a wet environment - unlike cold and dry present day Mars.

A dearth of lithium in you know where, a new comet is about to visit us, and a new video on an eruption from the Sun that is simply amazing

At ... the oather day is was a star that had too much lithium and now we have a dearth of lithium. Scientists think there should be more lithium in the universe than appears to actually exist. A paper in Nature by Christopher Howk and colleagues says the dearth cannot be explained in the consensus models of the universe. There is apparently just one third of the amount of lithium out there than the consensus would allow, and it all stems from the big bang.

The Lithium Star

At ... an image from the La Silla Observatory in the Andes (Chile) has picked out a globular star cluster, Menier 4, with an unusual star that the hyped press release claims has 'eternal youth' - an odd thing to say as they have only been looking at it for a short while. It is thought such star clusters go back to the very beginnings of the universe and the eternal youth appears to have a connection with its brightness. This is thought to have something to do with lithium.