Thursday, April 26, 2018

Stellar Dust Survey Paves Way for Exoplanet Missions

This artist’s illustration shows what the sky might look like from a planet in a particularly dusty solar system. Dust that orbits a star in the plane of the solar system is called zodiacal dust, and the light reflected and scattered by that dust is called zodiacal light. The Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial Systems, or HOSTS, survey was tasked with learning more about the effect of zodiacal dust on the search for new worlds, to help guide the design of future planet-hunting missions. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Veils of dust wrapped around distant stars could make it difficult for scientists to find potentially habitable planets in those star systems. The Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial Systems, or HOSTS, survey was tasked with learning more about the effect of dust on the search for new worlds. The goal is to help guide the design of future planet-hunting missions. In a new paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, HOSTS scientists report on the survey’s initial findings.

Projectile Cannon Experiments Show How Asteroids Can Deliver Water

Experiments using a high-powered projectile cannon suggest that asteroids can deliver surprising amounts of water when they smash into planetary bodies. Schultz Lab / Brown University

Experiments using a high-powered projectile cannon show how impacts by water-rich asteroids can deliver surprising amounts of water to planetary bodies. The research, by scientists from Brown University, could shed light on how water got to the early Earth and help account for some trace water detections on the Moon and elsewhere.

Uncovering the Secret Law of the Evolution of Galaxy Clusters

(Left) Growing cluster attracting many galaxies and dark matter. Galaxies are rapidly falling and gas temperature tends to rise. The new law indicates that the clusters are in this state. (Right) Matured cluster in a calm state, attracting little material. (credit: Yutaka Fujita)

As science enthusiasts around the world bid farewell to legendary cosmologist Stephen Hawking, researchers continue to make important discoveries about the evolution of galaxy clusters that capture the imagination.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Rokot Sends Europe’s Sentinel-3B Earth-Observing Satellite to Orbit

Rokot lifts off with Sentinel-3B. Credit: ESA

A Russian Rokot booster took to the skies on Wednesday, April 25, on a mission to orbit Sentinel-3B - the latest satellite of Europe’s Copernicus Earth observation program. The launch vehicle blasted off at 1:57 p.m. EDT (17:57 GMT) April 25, 2018, from Site 133/3 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.

Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole May Have ‘Unseen’ Siblings

Artist's rendering of a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Credit: NASA / Dana Berry / SkyWorks Digital

Astronomers are beginning to understand what happens when black holes get the urge to roam the Milky Way. Typically, a supermassive black hole (SMBH) exists at the core of a massive galaxy. But sometimes SMBHs may “wander” throughout their host galaxy, remaining far from the center in regions such as the stellar halo, a nearly spherical area of stars and gas that surrounds the main section of the galaxy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Space Smash: Simulating when Satellites Collide

Satellite collisions create debris. Credit: ESA/ID&Sense/ONiRiXEL, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Satellites orbiting Earth are moving at many kilometers per second – so what happens when their paths cross? Satellite collisions are rare, and their consequences poorly understood, so a new project seeks to simulate them, for better forecasting of future space debris.

Galaxies Grow Bigger and Puffier as They Age

NGC 4660 galaxy, which lies among the Virgo cluster of galaxies, is an example of an old galaxy. Credit: ESA, NASA and E. Peng (Peking University, Beijing)

A new international study involving The Australian National University (ANU) and The University of Sydney has found that galaxies grow bigger and puffier as they age. Co-researcher Professor Matthew Colless from ANU said that stars in a young galaxy moved in an orderly way around the galaxy's disk, much like cars around a racetrack.