A billion years after the big bang, nearly all of the atoms were destroyed (ionized), but astronomers don’t understand what caused it. They assume that nascent galaxies emitted ultraviolet light energetic enough to ionize all of the atoms. However, astronomers don’t fully understand the escape rate of ionizing photons from early galaxies. That escape rate is a crucial, but still a poorly constrained value, meaning there are a wide range of upper and lower limits in the models developed by astronomers.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
A telescope located deep in the West Australian outback has shown what the Universe would look like if human eyes could see radio waves. Published Monday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the GaLactic and Extragalactic All-sky MWA, or ‘GLEAM’ survey, has produced a catalog of 300,000 galaxies observed by the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), a $50 million radio telescope located at a remote site northeast of Geraldton.
An international team of astronomers has discovered glowing gas clouds surrounding distant quasars. This new survey by the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope indicates that halos around quasars are far more common than expected. The properties of the halos in this surprising find are also in striking disagreement with currently accepted theories of galaxy formation in the early Universe.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Head of the Roscosmos State Corporation has recently confirmed that the first test flight of Russia’s next-generation spacecraft, called “Federation”, will take place in 2021. The spacecraft’s maiden orbital mission will see its unmanned version launching from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the country’s Far East.
For the first time, astronomers have seen a dusty disk of material around a young star fragmenting into a multiple-star system. Scientists had suspected such a process, caused by gravitational instability, was at work, but new observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) revealed the process in action.
A rocky extrasolar planet with a mass similar to Earth’s was recently detected around Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our sun. This planet, called Proxima b, is in an orbit that would allow it to have liquid water on its surface, thus raising the question of its habitability. In a study to be published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, an international team led by researchers at the Marseille Astrophysics Laboratory (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université) has determined the planet’s dimensions and properties of its surface, which actually favor its habitability.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
In stark contrast to questions SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk encountered following his Mars architecture announcement at the 2016 International Astronautical Congress (IAC) earlier this year, the NewSpace entrepreneur entertained questions from a more informed group in a surprise Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Oct. 23, 2016.