Astronomy news

The Three Centaurs

At ... Crantor, a large asteroid with a diameter of 70km, has an orbit similar to that of Uranus, which it tracks. It takes the same amount of time to orbit the Sun. This asteroid, and two others, described as Centaurs, are co-orbital with Uranus.

Mapping the Universe

Maps presented as a video provide a three dimensional representation of the universe through the use of rotation, panning, and zooming facilities. The Cosmic Flows project has mapped visible and invisible matter around the Milky Way up to a distance of 300 million light years, a complex web of clusters, filaments, and voids. Large voids, or empty spaces, are surrounded by filaments that form superclusters of galaxies.

Andromeda Galaxy - 26 black holes and counting

The Chandra X-ray Observatory, says, that over the last 13 years, it has identified 26 black holes in the Andromeda galaxy - sister to the Milky Way. See

Atmospheric tides on Mars

At ... the NASA spacecraft Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has discovered that temperatures in the atmosphere of Mars regularly rise and fall twice a day. Temperatures rising as much as 58 degrees Fahrenheit in the odd, twice a day, pattern. The research has been written up for publication in Geophysical Research Letters.

Black Hole, sleeping giant

At ... NASA reports on a black hole in the middle of the Sculptor galaxy that has apparently gone quiet - even gone to sleep. NASA are keeping their telescopes on the galaxy, every now and then, in expection of it awaking and lunching on neightbouring matter. The lunch menus of black holes continue to interest astronomers and it is noted the black hole at the heart of the Milky Way is also snoring away. The consensus opinion seems to be they have run out of food.

Comet Lovejoy

The journal Science, 7th June 2013, has published a paper on a study of Comet Lovejoy as it passed through the Sun's corona in december of 2011 - see They found its tail wiggled as it passed through the corona. It also displayed changes in intensity, direction, persistence and magnitude, the ions in the tail inter-acting with magetism and plasma in the corona.

Black Widow

At .... a pulsar appears to be travelling through the galaxy at a speed of almost a million km an hour. A bow shock wave is visible in optical telescopes, seen as a greenish crescent shape. The pressure behind the first bow wave creates a second shock wave that seems to sweep high energy particles to form a sort of cocoon, an elongated cloud of high energy flowing behind the rapidly rotating pulsar.

Huge Cosmic Uniformity

This story has been circulating on the web for a week or so - and here we have a belated link , go to

Comet ISON update end of May

At ... the Gemini Observatory on Hawaii has released new images of Comet C/2012 SI (ISON) on its journey through the solar system and astronomers are still expecting a stunning show in November. At the moment it has a short and stubby tail pointing away from the Sun which is indicative of dust and ice escaping from the nucleus. The solar wind pushes the coma (the stretched atmosphere of the comet) away from the Sun.

NASA in the News

At ... asteroid 1998 QE2 passed 15 lunar distances from the Earth in the last few days. It was 1.7 miles in diameter and has a rotation period of less than 4 hours. It was accompanied by a satellite object 2000 feet in diameter.