Phys.org Astronomy & Space News Feeds

  • Comet Catalina suggests comets delivered carbon to rocky planets
    on March 5, 2021 at 6:44 pm

    In early 2016, an icy visitor from the edge of our solar system hurtled past Earth. It briefly became visible to stargazers as Comet Catalina before it slingshotted past the Sun to disappear forevermore out of the solar system.

  • Engineering marvel: Sixth mirror cast for Giant Magellan Telescope
    on March 5, 2021 at 5:47 pm

    The Giant Magellan Telescope announces fabrication of the sixth of seven of the world’s largest monolithic mirrors. These mirrors will allow astronomers to see farther into the universe with more detail than any other optical telescope before. The sixth 8.4-meter (27.5 feet) mirror—about two stories high when standing on edge—is being fabricated at the University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab and will take nearly four years to complete. The mirror casting is considered a marvel of modern engineering and is usually celebrated with a large in-person event with attendees from all over the world. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, work on the sixth mirror began behind closed doors to protect the health of the 10-person mirror casting team at the lab.

  • Spacewalkers finish solar panel prep for station power boost
    on March 5, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    Spacewalking astronauts completed the first round of prep work Friday for new solar panels, part of a major power upgrade at the International Space Station.

  • Planet-hunting eye of Plato
    on March 5, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    Key technology for ESA’s exoplanet-hunting Plato spacecraft has passed a trial by vacuum to prove the mission will work as planned. This test replica of an 80-cm high, 12-cm aperture camera spent 17 days inside a thermal vacuum chamber.

  • Mining water and metal from the moon at the same time
    on March 5, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) is becoming an increasingly popular topic as space exploration begins to focus on landing on the surface of other bodies in the solar system. ISRU focuses on making things that are needed to support an exploration mission out of materials that are easily accessible at the site being explored, like European explorers in the New World building canoes out of the wood they found there.

  • SpaceX: more risks, better rockets?
    on March 5, 2021 at 9:13 am

    A prototype of SpaceX’s unmanned rocket Starship exploded on Wednesday, the third time a test flight ended in flames.

  • Biden lauds NASA team for giving US ‘dose of confidence’
    on March 5, 2021 at 8:51 am

    President Joe Biden on Thursday congratulated the NASA team responsible for last month’s successful landing of an six-wheeled rover on Mars and for giving the country a “dose of confidence” at a moment when the nation’s reputation as a scientific leader has been tattered by the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Super-Earth discovered: Data will characterize planetary atmosphere models
    on March 4, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    During the past 25 years astronomers have discovered a wide variety of exoplanets, made of rock, ice and gas, thanks to the construction of astronomical instruments designed specifically for planet searches. Also, using a combination of different observing techniques they have been able to determine a large number of masses, sizes, and hence densities of the planets, which helps them to estimate their internal composition and raises the number of planets which have been discovered outside the Solar System.

  • Hubble solves mystery of monster star’s dimming
    on March 4, 2021 at 5:21 pm

    Last year, astronomers were puzzled when Betelguese, the bright red supergiant star in the constellation Orion, dramatically faded, but then recovered. The dimming lasted for weeks. Now, astronomers have turned their sights toward a monster star in the adjoining constellation Canis Major, the Great Dog.

  • Organic materials essential for life on Earth are found for the first time on the surface of an asteroid
    on March 4, 2021 at 2:56 pm

    New research from Royal Holloway, has found water and organic matter on the surface of an asteroid sample returned from the inner Solar System. This is the first time that organic materials, which could have provided chemical precursors for the origin of life on Earth, have been found on an asteroid.

  • New ‘eyewear’ to deepen the view of NASA’s Roman Space Telescope
    on March 4, 2021 at 2:56 pm

    NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will be able to explore even more cosmic questions, thanks to a new near-infrared filter. The upgrade will allow the observatory to see longer wavelengths of light, opening up exciting new opportunities for discoveries from the edge of our solar system to the farthest reaches of space.

  • Testing instruments for Artemis astronauts
    on March 4, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    NASA’s Artemis program will establish a sustainable presence at the Moon as we prepare to venture on to Mars. To empower the success of these missions, terrestrial engineers must furnish astronauts with the tools they need to make new discoveries on their journeys.

  • Volcanoes might light up the night sky of this exoplanet
    on March 4, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    Until now, researchers have found no evidence of global tectonic activity on planets outside our solar system. Under the leadership of the University of Bern and the National Center of Competence in Research NCCR PlanetS, scientists have now found that the material inside planet LHS 3844b flows from one hemisphere to the other and could be responsible for numerous volcanic eruptions on one side of the planet.

  • Chinese volunteers live in Lunar Palace 1 closed environment for 370 days
    on March 4, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    Volunteer students at Beihang University have reportedly lived in the Lunar Palace 1 biosphere environment for 370 days. Media outlets have reported that two groups of students took turns living in the biosphere over the course of 370 days, and required minimal supplies from the outside.

  • Chinese astronauts training for space station crewed flights
    on March 4, 2021 at 9:02 am

    China said Thursday a cohort of astronauts is training for four crewed missions this year as the country works to complete its first permanent orbiting space station.

  • SpaceX Starship lands upright, then explodes in latest test
    on March 4, 2021 at 9:00 am

    SpaceX’s futuristic Starship looked like it aced a touchdown Wednesday, but then exploded on the landing pad with so much force that it was hurled into the air.

  • Source of hazardous high-energy particles located in the Sun
    on March 3, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    The source of potentially hazardous solar particles, released from the Sun at high speed during storms in its outer atmosphere, has been located for the first time by researchers at UCL and George Mason University, Virginia, U.S.

  • Planetary science intern leads study of Martian crust
    on March 3, 2021 at 6:07 pm

    The planet Mars has no global magnetic field, although scientists believe it did have one at some point in the past. Previous studies suggest that when Mars’ global magnetic field was present, it was approximately the same strength as Earth’s current field. Surprisingly, instruments from past Mars missions, both orbiters and landers, have spotted patches on the planet’s surface that are strongly magnetized—a property that could not have been produced by a magnetic field similar to Earth’s, assuming the rocks on both planets are similar.

  • Will this solve the mystery of the expansion of the universe?
    on March 3, 2021 at 6:04 pm

    The universe was created by a giant bang; the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, and then it started to expand. The expansion is ongoing: it is still being stretched out in all directions like a balloon being inflated.

  • Study shows a sharp rise in detection rate of broad absorption line variations
    on March 3, 2021 at 5:52 pm

    Gas around black holes and interstellar medium distribution are key factors in understanding the growth of supermassive black holes and the evolution of their host galaxies. However, as a crucial parameter, gas density is hard to determine reliably, because the general method is not applicable to all quasars.

  • Help is a long way away: The challenges of sending humans to Mars
    on March 3, 2021 at 2:30 pm

    On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin stepped out a lunar lander onto the surface of the moon. The landscape in front of him, which was made up of stark blacks and grays, resembled what he later called “magnificent desolation.”

  • Hoinga: Debris of stellar explosion found in unexpected location
    on March 3, 2021 at 2:20 pm

    In the first all-sky survey by the eROSITA X-ray telescope onboard SRG, astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics have identified a previously unknown supernova remnant, dubbed “Hoinga.” The finding was confirmed in archival radio data and marks the first discovery of a joint Australian-eROSITA partnership established to explore our Galaxy using multiple wavelengths, from low-frequency radio waves to energetic X-rays. The Hoinga supernova remnant is very large and located far from the galactic plane—a surprising first finding—implying that the next years might bring many more discoveries.

  • MUSE sheds more light on central kinematics of Messier 15
    on March 3, 2021 at 2:10 pm

    Using the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE), astronomers have performed observations of an old globular cluster known as Messier 15. The observational campaign delivered essential information about stellar kinematics of the central region of this cluster. The results were published February 24 on arXiv.org.

  • Aging stars provide a new cosmological yardstick
    on March 3, 2021 at 1:16 pm

    Despite a century of measurements, astronomers can’t agree on the rate at which the universe is expanding. A technique that relies on measuring distances to a specific type of aging star in other galaxies—called the J-region Asymptotic Giant Branch, or JAGB method—might be able to help.

  • Fly me to the Moon: Japan billionaire offers space seats
    on March 3, 2021 at 9:34 am

    It’s the sort of chance that comes along just once in a blue Moon: a Japanese billionaire is throwing open a private lunar expedition to eight people from around the world.

  • Astrophysicist’s 2004 theory confirmed: Why the Sun’s composition varies
    on March 2, 2021 at 4:59 pm

    About 17 years ago, J. Martin Laming, an astrophysicist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, theorized why the chemical composition of the Sun’s tenuous outermost layer differs from that lower down. His theory has recently been validated by combined observations of the Sun’s magnetic waves from the Earth and from space.

  • Three elder sisters of the Sun with planets
    on March 2, 2021 at 4:02 pm

    An international team led by Prof. Dr. habil. Andrzej Niedzielski, an astronomer from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun (Poland), has discovered yet another three extrasolar planets. These planets revolve around the stars that can be called elder sisters of our Sun.

  • Extinct atom reveals the long-kept secrets of the solar system
    on March 2, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    Using the extinct niobium-92 atom, ETH researchers have been able to date events in the early solar system with greater precision than before. The study concludes that supernova explosions must have taken place in the birth environment of our sun.

  • Astronomers identify faint radio-jets in the galaxy cluster CLJ1449+0856
    on March 2, 2021 at 2:10 pm

    Using ground-based facilities and space telescopes, an international team of astronomers has conducted multiwavelength observations of a galaxy cluster known as CLJ1449+0856. The observational campaign detected multiple faint radio-jets, what could shed more light on the nature of this cluster. The finding is reported in a paper published February 23 on the arXiv pre-print server.

  • NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope completes final functional tests to prepare for launch
    on March 2, 2021 at 1:10 pm

    February marked significant progress for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which completed its final functional performance tests at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California. Testing teams successfully completed two important milestones that confirmed the observatory’s internal electronics are all functioning as intended, and that the spacecraft and its four scientific instruments can send and receive data properly through the same network they will use in space. These milestones move Webb closer to being ready to launch in October.