Astronomy news

Voyager nearing the edge of the solar system

At http://phys.org/print291565822.html ... this story comes from NASA and the Voyager 1 spacecraft and speculation surrounding what is actually there at the edge of the solar system. The paper is published in Science this week (last week of June 2013) (see www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2013/06/26/science.1235451.abstract ... but for an alternative and more populist take on the article go to www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2350411/The-final-frontier-nasas...

Oxygen in the solar system, comet ISON update

Problems regarding the amount of oxygen in the solar system in comparison with space at large - see www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/06/did-our-solar-system-evolve-in-a-m...

At www.space.com/21758-comet-ison-summer-brightness.html ... the size of this comet is still open to dispute but is currently obscured from view as it approaches the Sun

Black Hole anomaly, pulsating dying stars, the cosmic distance ladder, and Van Allen belts

Four interesting posts on astronomy - at http://phys.org/print290928922.html ... ESOs Very Large Telescope Interferometer has observed dust around a huge black hole which seems to show it being blown away from the hole rather than being consumed. Black Holes ringed by doughnuts of cosmic dust are likened to small whirlpools around the plughole of a kitchen sink, forming before being swallowed. We now have evidence that consumption is not necessarily what is happening.

The Three Centaurs

At http://phys.org/print290764261.html ... 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 www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/06/26-new-black-holes-found-in-androm...

Atmospheric tides on Mars

At www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-201&cid=release_2013-201 ... 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 www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-198&cid=release_2013-198 ... 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 http://phys.org/print289817332.html. 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 www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/06/black-widow-pulsar-at-the-top-of-s... .... 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.