Astronomy news

Asteroids creep up on You

Some nice asteroid stories in the news. At http://phys.org/print301303272.html ... concerns a newly discovered asteroid that made a close approach to Earth on September 16th - did you notice? It came within 4.2 million miles away and has probably been coming close to Earth on numerous occasions over the last few thousand years. At just 400m across the asteroid has not been picked up before - until the Ukarainians, looking at the sky in case there might be another Chelyabinsk meteor on the horizon, found it. It is due to come close to the Earth again in 2032 - bring out the odd doomsayer.

Worlds in Collision

A new explanation for the current rotational state of the planet Mercury has been offered - see http://phys.org/print300689491.html. The rotation is two thirds of the orbital one. It has an elongated orbit around the Sun. The study suggests the 3.2 spin orbit resonance is likely to occur in exoplanetary systems which use tighter formations than our solar system.

Chelyabinsk and ISON

At http://phys.org/print300699048.html ... Finnish scientists in collaboration with the Russians have been looking at the Chelyabinsk meteorite that exploded over Russia in February. This was he largest cosmic object entering the atmosphere since Tunguska in 1908 - it is believed. The asteroid was just 20m in diameter but managed to release energy equivalent to 440 kilo tons of TNT and apparently, we are told, asteroids such as this collide with Earth every 100 years. Who did the arithmetic I wonder as the maths is missing. Are they just averaging two events?

Variations in Gravity

In one of those science puzzles the general public has generally been sheltered, for whatever reason, the consensus has admitted problems did exist with moving spacecraft about by using gravity of big planets such as Jupiter to provide a boost. In the event, they claim they have solved the puzzle. It couldn't have been much of a problem as spacecraft were regularly boosted by the so called 'sling shot' method,  and NASA has been very successful.

Is Comet ISON breaking up?

At http://phys.org/print300257242.html ... it is being suggested by astronomer Ignacius Ferrin that Comet ISON is beginning to disintegrate - and it has only in the vicinity of Mars with a long way to go before it reaches perihelion. This theory appears to revolve around unusual observations of the behaviour of the comet that are said to resemble two earlier comets, in 1996 and 2002, which exhibited similar odd behaviour and disintegrated.

Primordial Cosmic Fuel

At http://phys.org/print299948694.html ... astronomers have detected cold streams of primordial hydrogen, vestigial matter left over from the Big Bang. It was spied fueling a distant star forming galaxy. Profuse flows of gas on to galaxies are considered to be crucial to the mainstream consensus theory on star formation. The image was only visible as a result of a bright qasar which lit up like a cosmic lighthouse, illuminating the nether regions of the universe - Astrophysical Journal Letters, Oct 2nd.

Four Comets. Are we in for a treat?

Frank Daivs, who contributed a lot of words and computer jiggling to the Tall Bloke's Talk Shop debate on the February Chelyabinsk meteor (over Russia) that continued well into August, has now cast his somewhat beady eye at several comets about to visit the inner solar system (late 2013 and 2014).

Super Volcanoes on Mars

The BBC News over the weekend had one of those hushed thrall like monologues on the subject of supervolcanoes on Mars - in response to a press blurb released on the publication of a paper in the journal Nature - see www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24392559 and www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24348673

The hairiness of black holes

At http://phys.org/print299757749.html ... a new hypothesis on the nature of black holes, asks - do they have hair? The paper was published in Physical Review Letters and I'm sure this is not strictly what was asked. However, the speculation is that there is more to black holes than a hole in deep space. The original concept of black holes worked with just two things - mass, and angular momentum (rotation velocity). Observation of what is thought to be black holes has caused some further thinking on their composition - and what exactly they may actually be.

Did Earth obtain its Moon from Venus?

Wow. Velikovsky is described as a crackpot for suggesting Venus was a late addition to the solar system, accused of cosmic billiards, among other things, yet we now have a serious talk at a science conference organised by the Royal Society which actually suggests Earth pulled the Moon out of the orbit of Venus and into that of the Earth. Mind you, this came from a conference with the title, 'The Origin of the Moon' - so some speculation was in order, even way out speculation. Why not?