Astronomy news

Comets and the Sun

The old idea that water from comets replenished the water on Earth has had a bit of a revival after NASA scientists discovered a comet with an origin in the Kuiper Belt that had water of a similar composition to water in our oceans.

However, at www.physorg.com/print237024685.html there is a video that is far more interesting, and comes from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory that witnessed a comet hitting the Sun on October 1st. Shortly afterwards there was a huge CME - or solar flare - but on the opposite side of the Sun. Are the two events connected?

Mars, Mercury and NEOs

The Messenger spacecraft orbiting Mercury has provided a raft of information - see www.physorg.com/print236595592.html - from flood volcanism,  crater like depressions, measurements of chemical composition, and lastly, observations of its magnetic field. A series of papers based on Messenger data have been published in Science, Sept 30th 2011.

An exoplanet that gobbles the light but glows in the dark ... and freshwater springs feed the Dead Sea

Yes, at www.physorg.com/print236322008.html astronomers at Princetown University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics have found a distant exoplanet that absorbs 99.9 per cent of the light that strikes it - why? The planet is non-reflective, it seems, high in hydrogen and helium. It is thought to be a hot planet, however, in spite of being very dark and very alone, as it glows 'thermally' - or that is the explanation. The little light it emits, the glow, is compared to a burner on an electric stove.

A black hole captured by WISE - on video

Now you can see what is thought to be a black hole on video - or bright flaring activity (see www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-298&cid=release_2010-298 ). Whatever it is emits random bursts of energy and can become then three times as bright in a matter of hours, before fading again. It is orbited by a companion star. See the video link at www.astro.isas.jaxa.jp/~pgandhi/wise_gx339/wise_blackhole_anim.html and a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters by a number of scientists from Japan, India, the UK, Europe and US (see also http://wise.astro.ucla.edu ).

Vesta - the asteroid

A video of NASAs Dawn spacecraft flying past the giant asteroid, Vesta, is available online to view (see www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.cfm?id=1020). Vesta has seasons just like the Earth - and there is a huge circular depression near its South Pole, hundreds of miles wide with cliffs several miles high. A mountain squats in the middle of the depression, nine miles tall. No doubt Thunderbolts in due course may comment on this peculiarity (see also www.nasa.gov/dawn or http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov for mission details etc.

The Grail and the Moon

Gary Gilligan sent in this link to a story about NASAs Grail mission which is set to blast off in an attempt to unravel some of the mysteries of the Moon (see http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/07sep_twomoons/ - and one such mystery concerns a paper in Nature that claimed there was once two moons orbiting the earth. The small of the two struck the bigger one and created the bumps and humps on the far side of the Moon.

Aliens

At www.physorg.com/print234443910.html ... as a result of the expanding universe, or the belief in an accelerating expansion of the universe, cosmologists have come up with a timetable for the creation of life forms and conclude it is unlikely that intelligent life could have evolved anywhere in the universe prior than the present, basically the last few billion years (source Universe Today). 

Cern CLOUD again ...

The mainstream media is either ignoring the potential of the experiment at CERN or is taking, once again, soundbites from the establishment - as if they would tell them the truth. Various critics have been dragged out of nowhere, possibly not having read the paper, and asked for their opinions. One of them claimed that clouds do not cause cooling ... because it is hot on the surface of Venus and yet there are enormous swirling clouds clogging up its atmosphere. Therefore, it seems, the Sun can't warm the earth - or something like that.

Star gas

William Thompson sent the following link, http://newsinfo.nd.edu/news/25691/, which is Notre Dame University. It seems that two of its astrophysicists, N Lehner and C Hawk, have published a paper in Science (August 26th) that is important in our understanding of how stars are made - continuously. The same story can be seen at www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110825164931.htm and at www.physorg.com/print233510806.html.

Youthful Moon - or not so youthful

A paper in Nature August 17th - see www.physorg.com/print232805174.html - is suggesting the Moon is somewhat younger than previously alleged, created by a giant impact between two bodies one of which was proto-earth. The Moon then formed from melted material ejected into space. It is further alleged that analysis of lunar rocks, or sample so far retrieved, can only be dated as far back as 4.36 billion years ago. This may sound quite old but apparently it is younger than earlier estimates of the Moon's age - which were 4.5 billion years ago.