NASA is about to launch a $1 billion 7-year mission to probe asteroid Benny, which may carry the building blocks of organic life, but also has a chance of hitting Earth late in the next century.
“It may be destined to cause immense suffering and death,” Dante Lauretta, professor of planetary science at Arizona University and the lead researcher on the OSIRIS-REx mission, told the Sunday Times.
Discovered in 1999, Bennu measures about 500 meters across, weighs over 60 million tons, and travels at over 100,000 kilometers per hour. Continue reading »
For the first time, researchers have discovered three potentially habitable, Earth-like worlds orbiting an ultracool dwarf star 40 light-years away in another star system, according to a study published in the journal Nature.
The ultracool dwarf star, known as TRAPPIST-1, isn’t the kind of star scientists expected to be a hub for planets. It’s at the end of the range for what classifies as a star: half the temperature and a tenth the mass of the sun. TRAPPIST-1 is red, barely larger than Jupiter and too dim to be seen with the naked eye or even amateur telescopes from Earth. Continue reading »
Earthlings can now observe a rare celestial gathering: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are all in alignment in our sky – and will continue to be for around a month. The last time the five paraded in a line was December 2004 to January 2005.
From January 20 to February 20 sky-gazers can see the five planets almost literally lined up, as their positions along the ecliptic (the sun’s perceived path in our sky) form a diagonal line. Even the naked eye will be enough to see them, though a telescope and binoculars will help. Continue reading »
In a bipartisan bid to encourage commercial exploitation of outer space, the U.S. Senate this week unanimously passed the Space Act of 2015, which grants U.S. citizens or corporations the right to legally claim non-living natural resources—including water and minerals—mined in the final frontier.
The legislation – described by IGN‘s Jenna Pitcher as “a celestial ‘Finders Keepers’ law” – could be a direct affront to an international treaty that bars nations from owning property in space. The bill will now be sent back to the House of Representatives, which is expected to approve the changes, and then on to President Barack Obama for his anticipated signature.
A massive space rock that will shave by Earth on Halloween looks like a dead comet with a skull face, NASA said after gaining a closer look at the spooky space object.
Astronomers initially thought the object was an asteroid when they spotted it in early October, and named it Asteroid 2015 TB145.
But using the US space agency’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, experts “have determined that the celestial object is more than likely a dead comet that has shed its volatiles after numerous passes around the sun,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement late Friday.
Scientists have also spotted an eerie skull-like resemblance on the face of the rock, based on radar data from the National Science Foundation’s 305-meter (1,000-foot) Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Continue reading »
There are a billion Earths in this galaxy, roughly speaking. Not a million. A billion. We’re talking 1 billion rocky planets that are approximately the size of the Earth and are orbiting familiar-looking yellow-sunshine stars in the orbital “habitable zone” where water could be liquid at the surface.
That’s a billion planets where human beings, or their genetically modified descendants, as well as their dogs and cats and tomato plants and crepe myrtle trees and ladybugs and earthworms and whatnot, could plausibly live. Continue reading »
Have you seen the largest picture ever taken? For the record, it’s a mammoth 1.5 billion pixel image (69,536 x 22,230) and requires about 4.3 GB disk space. Oh, and it’ll take your breath away.
On January 5, NASA released an image of the Andromeda galaxy, our closest galactic neighbour, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The full image is made up of 411 Hubble images, takes you through a 100 million stars and travels over more than 40,000 light years. Well, a section of it anyway.
Prepare to feel extremely tiny and insignificant as you marvel at this fly-through video created by YouTuber daveachuk and make sure you stick around till the end. Seriously.
A recently released time-lapse clip filmed from the International Space Station (ISS) shows European and North African cities lighting up the sky, in contrast to the dark expanses of the Mediterranean Sea at night.
ISS Expedition 43 captured the footage, as the spacecraft was traveling over the Mediterranean region on March 28. It was then merged into a video and uploaded to YouTube on Thursday.
The breathtaking views of European cityscapes from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Balkans are revealed from two different angles, with the northern coast of Africa also partly visible. Continue reading »
This spring should reward plenty of star-gazers, especially in Britain, which will experience its deepest solar eclipse in 15 years, as well as a Supermoon, all at the same time – an event that will sink the island into twilight for two whole hours.
The Supermoon eclipse, as the phenomenon is known, is an astronomical alignment where the Moon is sent on a trajectory between the Sun and the Earth, depriving us of light. The event will occur on March 20 at around 8:40GMT. Continue reading »
NASA astronaut has posted the photo of the biggest 2014 storm on Earth from the International Space Station. Typhoon Vongfong is heading to Japan coast and is as powerful as the Haiyan storm that killed thousands of people in 2013.
As of Thursday Vongfong winds were as strong as 105 knots (194.46 km/h) and gust up to 150 knots (277.8 km/h), with wave height reaching 15.25 m. It is expected to be to 260 km/h in the coming days. Typhoons graduate to ‘super’ status when winds reach 150 mph (241 km/h).
NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, who is a member of the 41st expedition to the ISS, has posted a photo of the typhoon in his Twitter account.
It’s not quite extraterrestrial life, but scientists have discovered sea plankton growing in space.
Russian space officials have confirmed traces of plankton and other micro-organisms were found living on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS), and it appears they’ve been living there for years. Continue reading »
Billed as “the most comprehensive picture ever assembled of the evolving universe,” the latest image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope is an explosion of color that depicts thousands of galaxies in the universe.
Released on Tuesday, the beautiful image is part of a survey exploring the Hubble Ultra Deep Field – a portion of space in the constellation Fornax that astronomers have been compiling for more than 10 years – and features approximately 10,000 galaxies. Continue reading »
This deep image shows the Nebula (cyan) with a size of 2 million light-years discovered around the quasar UM287 (at the center of the image). The energetic radiation of the quasar makes the surrounding intergalactic gas glow revealing the physical structure of a cosmic web filament.
For the first time, astronomers were able to see a string of hot gas known as a filament that is thought to be part of the mysterious underlying structure that dictates the layout of all the stars and galaxies in our universe.
Scientists believe that matter in the universe is arranged into a gigantic web-like structure. This is called the cosmic web.
If you could see it from the outside, the Milky Way would look like a majestic spiral of stars and glowing gas, rotating on its axis once every 200 million years or so like a gigantic, pinwheel 100,000 light-years across. Up close, though, you’d see that each star is jostling along on its own, moving through an entirely independent orbit. It’s more like an unruly crowd, going in the same approximate direction at the same approximate speed, than a military formation marching in lockstep.
At least a few stars, however, are headed somewhere else entirely, and in a big hurry. They’re known as hypervelocity stars, and they’re going so fast that they’re on their way out of the Milky Way altogether. While the astronomers think they have an explanation for the 18 hypervelocity stars discovered since 2005, a new group of 20, just announced at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society outside of Washington, DC, seems to make no sense at all.
“What’s going on?” asks Vanderbilt University grad student Lauren Palladino, lead author of a paper in the Astrophysical Journal describing these cosmic speedsters. “We don’t know.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — Space is vast, but it may not be so lonely after all: A study finds the Milky Way is teeming with billions of planets that are about the size of Earth, orbit stars just like our sun, and exist in the Goldilocks zone — not too hot and not too cold for life.
Astronomers using NASA data have calculated for the first time that in our galaxy alone, there are at least 8.8 billion stars with Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone.
The study was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
If you’re confused about the sun’s impending magnetic field flip, don’t feel bad — scientists don’t fully understand it, either.
The sun’s magnetic field will reverse its polarity three or four months from now, researchers say, just as it does every 11 years at the peak of the solar activity cycle. While solar physicists know enough about this strange phenomenon to predict when it will occur, its ultimate causes remain mysterious.
Something big is about to happen on the sun. According to measurements from NASA-supported observatories, the sun’s vast magnetic field is about to flip.”It looks like we’re no more than 3 to 4 months away from a complete field reversal,” says solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University. “This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system.”
The sun’s magnetic field changes polarity approximately every 11 years. It happens at the peak of each solar cycle as the sun’s inner magnetic dynamo re-organizes itself. The coming reversal will mark the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24. Half of ‘Solar Max’ will be behind us, with half yet to come.
Not content with simply being the man-made object to travel farthest from Earth, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft recently entered a bizarre new region at the solar system’s edge that has physicists baffled. Their theories don’t predict anything like it.
Launched 36 years ago, Voyager 1 and its twin Voyager 2 made an unprecedented tour of the outer planets, returning spectacular data from their journey. The first Voyager sped out of the solar system in 1980 and it has since been edging closer and closer to interstellar space. The probe is currently out more than 120 times the distance between the Earth and the sun.
Scientists initially thought that Voyager’s transition into this new realm, where effects from the rest of the galaxy become more pronounced, would be gradual and unexciting. But it’s proven to be far more complicated than anything researchers had imagined, with the spacecraft now encountering a strange region that scientists are struggling to make sense of.
“The models that have been thought to predict what should happen are all incorrect,”said physicist Stamatios Krimigis of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who is lead author of one of three new papers on Voyager appearing in Science on June 27. “We essentially have absolutely no reliable roadmap of what to expect at this point.”
HUNTSVILLE, Ala (WAAY)- When William Lucas was 13 years-old he did made a huge discovery before NASA, the US Air Force, or any other scientist around the world; he discovered a massive Gamma Ray burst.
William, a student at Whitesburg Middle, has long had a love for Science.
“It’s fun, it’s interesting, it’s something new, you get to explore new things that haven’t been discovered before,” said William while talking about his love for all things scientific. So when his 13th birthday rolled around in 2011 he had a big decision to make.
“My parents told me for my 13th birthday to either have a dirt bike or a Geiger counter and I chose a Geiger counter for good reasons,” he said while explaining the dirt bikes are a bit too dangerous and with a Geiger counter he could learn more.
A comet falling in from the distant reaches of the solar system could become a naked-eye object in early March. This is Comet Pan-STARRS’s first visit to the inner solar system, so surprises are possible as its virgin ices are exposed to intense solar heating.
A massive cosmic explosion in deep space sent out a pulse of high-energy radiation that hit the Earth in AD 774 and 775 when Charlemagne ruled much of Western Europe, scientists have found.
“Over the past 3,000 years this was the most energetic event to have hit the Earth,” said Professor Ralph Neuhauser of the University of Jena in Germany. Last year, scientists discovered rings in Japanese cedar trees that had much higher levels of radioactive carbon 14 than normal for the period. Professor Neuhauser believes the radiation came from a collision either between two black holes or two stars between 3,000 and 12,000 light years away.
Astronomers have discovered a Methuselah of stars — a denizen of the Solar System’s neighbourhood that is at least 13.2 billion years old and formed shortly after the Big Bang.“We believe this star is the oldest known in the Universe with a well determined age,” says Howard Bond, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, who announced the finding on 10 January at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Long Beach, California1.
The venerable star, dubbed HD 140283, lies at a comparatively short distance of 190 light years from the Solar System and has been studied by astronomers for more than a century. Researchers have long known that the object consists almost entirely of hydrogen and helium — a hallmark of having formed early in the history of the Universe, before successive generations of stars had a chance to forge heavier elements. But no one knew exactly how old it was. Continue reading »