astronomy round-up: 22 June 2012

Voyager Neptune

Voyager has left our solar system!

I’ve not been pinning as much this past week, for two reasons—first, my Google Alerts seem to have mysteriously stopped working; second, several of the sites I regularly visit no longer allow pinning from their domains.

  • Data From NASA’s Voyager 1 Point to Interstellar Future

    “Data from NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft indicate that the venerable deep-space explorer has encountered a region in space where the intensity of charged particles from beyond our solar system has markedly increased. Voyager scientists looking at this rapid rise draw closer to an inevitable but historic conclusion – that humanity’s first emissary to interstellar space is on the edge of our solar system.”

  • BaBar data hint at cracks in the standard model

    “Recently analysed data from BaBar, a high energy physics experiment in the US, may suggest possible flaws in the Standard Model of particle physics, the reigning description of how the universe works on sub-atomic scales. The data from BaBar, a particle accelerator at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, built by ten countries including the UK, show that a particular type of particle decay, happens more often than the Standard Model says it should.”

  • Dark Universe mission blueprint complete

    “ESA’s Euclid mission to explore the hidden side of the Universe – dark energy and dark matter – reached an important milestone … that will see it head towards full construction.”

  • Most Quasars Live on Snacks, Not Large Meals

    “Black holes in the early universe needed a few snacks rather than one giant meal to fuel their quasars and help them grow, according to observations from NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes.”

  • Researchers Estimate Ice Content of Crater at Moon’s South Pole

    “NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft has returned data that indicate ice may make up as much as 22 percent of the surface material in a crater located on the moon’s south pole.”

  • Extensive Water in Mars Interior

    “Until now, Earth was the only planet known to have vast reservoirs of water in its interior. Scientists analyzed the water content of two Martian meteorites originating from inside the Red Planet. They found that the amount of water in places of the Martian mantle is vastly larger than previous estimates and is similar to that of Earth’s. The results not only affect what we know about the geologic history of Mars, but also have implications for how water got to the Martian surface. The data raise the possibility that Mars could have sustained life.”

  • Astronomers spy two planets in tight quarters as they orbit a distant star

    “A research team led by astronomers at the University of Washington and Harvard University has discovered a bigger version of Earth locked in an orbital tug-of-war with a much larger, Neptune-sized planet as they orbit very close to each other around the same star about 1,200 light years from Earth.”

  • ALMA Reveals Constituent of a Galaxy at 12.4 Billion Light-Years Away

    “An international research team, led by Associate Professor Tohru Nagao from Kyoto University, and including researchers from Japan and Europe, has observed a “submillimeter galaxy” located about 12.4 billion light-years away using ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array), and has successfully detected an emission line from nitrogen contained in that galaxy. Comparisons between the data obtained by ALMA and numerical models revealed that the elemental composition of this galaxy in the early universe, at only 1.3 billion years after the Big Bang, was already close to the elemental composition of the present universe.”

  • New Infrared Sensor to Revolutionize Infrared Astronomical Imaging

    “The University of Hawaii today released the first image obtained using its new 16-megapixel HAWAII 4RG-15 (H4RG-15) image sensor on the UH 2.2-meter (88-inch) telescope on Mauna Kea. This represents a significant step forward in astronomical infrared technology because it is the first time a sensor with anywhere near this many infrared pixels has been trained on the sky.”

  • Bok Awards for Astronomy Presented to High-School Students at Intel Science Fair

    “Two high school students from Texas and Louisiana are the winners of the 2012 Priscilla and Bart Bok Awards for their astronomy projects presented at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in May. The awards were presented on May 18 by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) in partnership with the American Astronomical Society (AAS), supported by funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF).”

  • Nearby Star Cluster, Long Forgotten, Now Discovered to Be Useful in Studies of Sun and Search for Planets Like Earth

    “A loose group of stars, known for over 180 years but never before studied in detail, has been revealed to be an important new tool in the quest to understand the evolution of stars like the Sun, and in the search for planets like Earth.”

  • Magnetic fields slow down stars

    “Researchers from the Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP) made simulations of the magnetic fields of stars and compared the results with measurements from a laboratory experiment done at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR). The aim and result of this experiment was to detect, for the first time, a magnetic instability that had been theoretically predicted but never directly observed in a star. This magnetic effect would enhance the viscosity of hot plasma inside a star, leading to a strong deceleration of its core.”



Creative Commons photo by FlyingSinger.



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