Astronomy news

Another theory on the formation of the Moon

At details of another theory on the formation of the Moon begins by saying it 'is certain that some sort of impact from another body freed material from the young Earth' and the debris coalesced into our Moon. Still, journalists are allowed some rope  and Auntie does like to play along with consensus ideas of various persuasions. Too bothersome to look into anything any rigour. What is open to debate, we are assured, is not the impactor - that is a given. It is the size and speed of the impactor.

Titan anomaly

At ... a bit of a dilemma. Rivers have been found on Saturn's moon Titan - but something is missing. Evidence of erosion by those rivers, a prerequisite of geological science. What does this imply? The surface of the planet is remarkable smooth with little or any evidence of erosion. This is the burning question in a paper at the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets. Titan is thought to be 4 billion years of age - created when the solar system formed. Why is the surface younger than the moon itself?

Mars, coral reefs, quicksand, moons of Pluto and sea level rise that is not rising very much

Lovely images of Mars - polar ice cliffs, gullies, craters, and dunes - go to ... with links to HiRISE web site and more images.

The doomsaying myth about global warming destroying coral reefs has taken a pounding by the discovery that it is viruses that caused some reefs to decline (see but adds, for funding reasons I suppose, 'corals are known to face various environmental threats, such as warming temperatures ...'

The Sun, the Aurora Borealis

Two stories of interest at Anthony Watts blog. At ... solar researchers have been trying to understand how the Sun transfers heat from its interior to the surface. A paper in PNAS reveals that observations don't match the theory. The speed of the Sun's plasma motions was approximately 100 times slower than previously projected by solar scientists - that is very much slower.

Binary System

As discussed at a recent meeting, there is a theory our solar system is part of a binary system that involves the star Sirius - see

Planets and Dark Matter

A paper published in Nature July 5th claims planets may form much faster than consensus theory currently allows - see This idea comes after they had witnessed a cloud of dust circling a young star disappear - just like that. Tommy Cooper would have been proud of the magic but the scientists were perturbed - and started thinking about what it might mean. It disappeared over a period of 3 years. This is very much a shorter period of time than expected.

The Sun

At's... ... this is another paper in Nature this week, headed by a Norwegian scientist. It suggests the Sun's outer atmosphere may be heated up by enormous tornadoes of magnetism churning at its surface. The study seeks to discover how the energy is created and describes it as 'a coronal heating problem' - but did you know that? Not if you read consensus blogs and web sites.

NASA spots something unexpected

At ... astronomers using the Hubble Space Telscope have discovered an arc of light behind a very large cluster of galaxies 10 billion light years away. The giant arc is the stretched shape of an even more distant galaxy - but according to theory it should not exist.

Is Time slowing down?

At June 16th there is a post on 'Dark Energy - does the mysterious anti-gravitational force really exist?' which is a weekend feature up for discussion (with comments). The article focus is on 'space time continuum' and the mathematical equation that time will literally run out - a sort of disappearing universe. The idea it may all one day vanish is described as radical - others might describe by other adjectives, but such speculative ideas arise from the assumption the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.

The Dark Ages in our Galaxy

At ... astronomers have uncovered a clue about how our galaxy emerged from the Dark Ages - by looking at nearby galaxies. During the Dark Ages hydrogen fog, it is theorised, condensed and stopped light emissions from stars and black holes. What was happening inside all that fog? Ionisation, it seems, drove out the foggy bits and continues to stop it from forming (published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society).