astronomy round-up: 28 june 2013

A "Darktable" Re-Process of M81 & M82 - 2013-04-06

Time for another round-up of science and astronomy stories! Here are some of the headlines that caught my attention this week:

  • SDO witnesses solar splashdown
    Astronomy Magazine
    “On June 7, 2011, our Sun erupted, blasting tons of hot plasma into space. Some of that plasma splashed back down onto the Sun?s surface, sparking bright flashes of ultraviolet light. This dramatic event may provide new insights into how young stars grow by sucking up nearby gas.”
  • Hubble spots galaxies in close encounter
    Astronomy Magazine
    “When two galaxies stray too close to each other, they begin to interact, causing spectacular changes in both objects. In some cases, the two can merge, but in others, they are ripped apart.”
  • New NASA observatory is changing astronomy
    The Washington Post / CBS News
    “NASA’s ‘Sofia Mission’ takes astronomers to the sky in a 747 plane that has a powerful telescope built into it.”
  • Dry run for the 2020 Mars mission
    Washington University in St. Louis
    “A film director looking for a location where a movie about Mars could be shot might consider the Atacama Desert, one of the harshest landscapes the planet has to offer. Due to the accidents of its geography, Atacama is the driest place on Earth. Some scientists believe there was no rain to speak of in part of the Atacama between 1570 and 1971. With little moisture in the air its salt lakes, sand dunes and lava flows broil or freeze and are blasted by ultraviolet radiation.”
  • Three planets in habitable zone of nearby star
    European Southern Observatory
    “These planets orbit the third fainter star of a triple star system. Viewed from one of these newly found planets the two other suns would look like a pair of very bright stars visible in the daytime and at night they would provide as much illumination as the full Moon. The new planets completely fill up the habitable zone of Gliese 667C, as there are no more stable orbits in which a planet could exist at the right distance to it.”
  • Supermoon 2013: readers’ photos
    Discovery News
    “On June 22 and 23, the Earth’s only natural satellite put on a dazzling show. Although the ‘supermoon’ phenomenon isn’t exactly an astronomical term, and it’s not an event of any great scientific consequence, it captivated the world. The cosmic coincidence of the moon being at its full phase as it made its closest approach (perigee) in its elliptical orbit, caused the 2013 supermoon to be 14 percent larger in the sky (when compared to its furthest point in orbit, or apogee) and 30 percent brighter, according to NASA. It rapidly became a beautiful astronomical spectacle.”
  • Ten-thousandth near-Earth object unearthed in space
    Astronomy Magazine
    “More than 10,000 asteroids and comets that pass near Earth have now been discovered. The 10,000th near-Earth object (NEO), asteroid 2013 MZ5, was first detected on the night of June 18, 2013, by the Pan-STARRS-1 telescope, located on the 10,000-foot (3,000 meters) summit of the Haleakala crater on Maui.”
  • A few fundamental physics and astronomy questions for the next few decades
    The Huffington Post
    “There is no doubt that progress in physics and astronomy in the past century has been phenomenal. From the tiny matter particles (such as quarks, electrons, neutrinos) of the so-called “Standard Model” and the associated force-carrying bosons (such as photons, gluons, W, Z), to the cosmic microwave background and the vast, accelerating universe, physicists and astronomers have come together to explore an astonishing range of cosmic phenomena. ? One may wonder which crucial questions will almost certainly occupy physicists and astronomers working together in the coming few decades. Here are a few of the remaining puzzles.”
  • Shields up! Scientists works to produce “Star Trek” deflector device
    “Recent evidence from NASA’s Curiosity rover mission to the Red Planet has revealed that astronauts on the round-trip would beexposed to high levels of radiation from cosmic rays and high-energy particles from the sun contained in solar storms. NASA says a Mars voyager would receive a radiation dose around 100 times the average yearly exposure on Earth. … Perhaps though, a real Star Trek shield may no longer be science fiction — scientists at the UK’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) certainly think so.”
  • NASA’s Voyager 1 Explores Final Frontier of Our ‘Solar Bubble’
    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    “Data from Voyager 1, now more than 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from the sun, suggest the spacecraft is closer to becoming the first human-made object to reach interstellar space.”

Creative Commons photo: A “Darktable” Re-Process of M81 & M82 – 2013-04-06 by Paul M. Hutchinson.

Posted in astronomy & science.

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