Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dutch Astronomers Discover Recipe to Make Cosmic Glycerol

Dutch astronomers from Leiden University created the biologically important molecule of glycerol at minus 250 degrees Celsius out of only carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The photo shows a close up of the ice cold vacuum chamber containing an artist impression of glycerol and the star forming area IRAS 16293-2422. (c) Harold Linnartz

A team of laboratory astrophysicists from Leiden University (the Netherlands) managed to make glycerol under conditions comparable to those in dark interstellar clouds. They allowed carbon monoxide ice to react with hydrogen atoms at minus 250 degrees Celsius. The researchers publish their findings in the Astrophysical Journal.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Impact Threat from Asteroid Apophis Cannot Be Ruled Out

The famous near-Earth asteroid Apophis caused quite a stir in 2004 when it was announced that it could hit our planet. Although the possibility of the impact during its close approach in 2029 was excluded, the asteroid’s collision with Earth in more distant future cannot be completely ruled out.

Launch of Bulgariasat-1 Kicks Off Busy Weekend for SpaceX

SpaceX launched the Bulgariasat-1 satellite at 3:10 p.m. EDT (19:10 GMT) on June 23, 2017. SpaceX also is planning on launching the Iridium Next Satellite 2 on June 25 – from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo Credit: Mike Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

Perhaps the best word to use to describe the launch tempo for Hawthorne, California-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) would be: relentless. With a mission launching about every two or three weeks from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, the flight of the Bulgariasat-1 mission on Friday, June 23, only served to underscore that theme.

Does Dark Matter Annihilate Quicker in the Milky Way?

Image adapted from

Researchers at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai have proposed a theory that predicts how dark matter may be annihilating much more rapidly in the Milky Way, than in smaller or larger galaxies and the early Universe.

ISRO's PSLV-C38 Successfully Launches 31 Satellites in a Single Flight

PSLV-C38 launch on June 23. Credit: ISRO

ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C38 successfully launched the 712 kg Cartosat-2 Series Satellite along with 30 co-passenger satellites Friday (June 23, 2017) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the thirty ninth consecutively successful mission of PSLV.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Magnetic Memories of a Metal World

Artist's concept of the Psyche spacecraft, which will conduct a direct exploration of an asteroid thought to be a stripped planetary core. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Research deciphering the hidden magnetic messages encoded in a rare group of meteorites has helped secure nearly half a billion dollars of NASA funding for a journey to their parent asteroid – the only known place in the solar system where scientists can examine directly what is probably a metallic core.

Radioactive Elements in Cassiopeia A Suggest a Neutrino-Driven Explosion

Observed distribution of 44Ti (blue) and iron (white, red) in Cassiopeia A. Copyright: Macmillan Publishers Ltd: Nature; from Grefenstette et al., Nature 506, 339 (2014); Fe distribution courtesy of U.~Hwang.

Stars exploding as supernovae are the main sources of heavy chemical elements in the Universe. In particular, radioactive atomic nuclei are synthesized in the hot, innermost regions during the explosion and can thus serve as probes of the unobservable physical processes that initiate the blast.