Astronomy news

NASA and the asteroids

This story is at ... the WISE mission is still coming up with information and in this study of the data there was an attempt to understand the family relationships of the asteroids in the belt between Mars and Jupiter. Not sure if they achieved that but the belt is the source of Near Earth Objects, composed of outgassed comets as well as asteroids, and comprising some 600,000 objects out there any of which could be redirected on a collision course with the Earth.

Great Blobs

At ... Blobs in the Universe - discovered a few years ago, are fuzzy galactic holes thought to consist of hot hydrogen gas. Asatronomers can see the blobs glowing they don't know what provides the energy to light them up. They do have a stab at an explanation - precursor of galaxies. One blob of has, known as Himiku after a legendary Japanese queen, stretches 55 thousand light years and the length is comparable to the radius of the disc of the Milky Way.

Mars - bombarded planet

At ... small space rocks are hitting the planet Mars at about 200 times per annum. These asteroid and comet fragments are normally no bigger than 3 to 6 feet across, about a tenth of the size of the Russian meteor (that exploded over Chelyabinsk). Such space rocks break up in Earth's atmosphere but on Mars they hit the surface and create a crater. Previously, NASA had spoken in terms of around 10 hits per annum - so this is a major expansion.

Comet Ison ... Lots of Dust

At ... an image from the guts of Comet ISON - a jet blasting dust particles off the sunward facing side of the Comet's coma. A lot of expectations are riding on this comet - some say it will be as bright as a full moon. We shall see come November. It's also a great test for the Electric Comet hypothesis, possibly even a make or break piece of theatre.

Moon Crash

At ... a paper in Nature Geoscience (online) says the iron core of the Earth is weaker than thought (it has only half the previously estimated strength). Computer models are at the heart of the findings.

A gobble we will go

At ... there is a story about the black hole at the heart of our galaxy - still munching away. A dense torus of molecular gas and dust surrounds the galactic centre and within that disc is a central cavity filled with warm dust lower density gas. It is thought the gas is being heated by ultraviolet radiation from massive stars that orbit around the lip of the black hole. The heating also appears to generate strong shocks, generated as gas orbits around the black hole.

Molecular Clouds and the presence of DNA

Interesting post at ... the Spitzer Space Telscope and NASAs GLIMPSE Mission (a ten year survey) has scanned a deep panarama of our galaxy in mid infrared, enabling it to penetrate molecular clouds where some of the Milky Way's 400 billion stars are still forming.

Tom Van Flandern

Tim Cullen, in a post at Tall Bloke's Talk Shop, 'The Other Big Bang Theory', raises an interesting set of issues, not least another example of consensus dictating the line research should follow, the desired path way so to speak. It is basically all about the Asteroid Belt and where did all those comets come from. Their origin of course has been banished to the far reaches of the solar system, beyond the penetration of telescopes (until recently), in the so called Oort Cloud.

Dark Lightning and Water from Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9

Water from Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 which spectacularly struck Jupiter way back in 1994 appears to have left behind millions of gallons of water, it is claimed - see and the paper is in the April 23rd issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics journal. Telescopes had spotted water above the cloud tops on Jupiter, and this has been known for some time.

Cosmic Rays and Supernovae

At .... speculates on a supernova explosion in AD1006 as texts from the time mention a space light so bright it cast shadows at night. Observations of something unusual in the sky in 1006 come from China, Egypt, Baghdad, Japan and Switzerland. Radio astronomers in 1965 claimed to have identified the culprit, assumed to be a supernova as supernovae were very popular at the time, which exploded and left behind (for the astronomers of 1965 to witness) a 60 light-year diameter shell of glowing gas.