Wednesday, July 26, 2017

International Research Team Sheds Light on the Earth’s ‘Twin Planet’

Examples of new types of cloud morphology discovered on the night side of Venus thanks to Venus Express (ESA) and the infrared telescope IRTF (NASA): stationary waves (Venus Express, up-left corner), “net” patterns (IRTF, up-right), mysterious filaments (Venus Express, down-left) and dynamical instabilities (Venus Express, down-right). CREDITS: ESA, NASA, J. Peralta (JAXA) and R. Hueso (UPV/EHU).

A research paper published by Nature Astronomy sheds light on the so far unexplored nightside circulation at the upper cloud level of Venus. Researchers from the Rhenish Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Cologne are part of an international research project which has now presented its preliminary findings. They discovered unexpected patterns of slow motion and abundant stationary waves in Venus’s nighttime sky.

Large, Distant Comets More Common Than Previously Thought

A new study suggests that distant “long-period” comets—which take more than 200 years to orbit the sun—are more common than previously thought. This illustration shows how the researchers used data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft to determine the nucleus sizes of several of these distant comets. They subtracted a model of how dust and gas behave in comets in order to obtain the core size. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Comets that take more than 200 years to make one revolution around the sun are notoriously difficult to study. Because they spend most of their time far from our area of the solar system, many "long-period comets" will never approach the sun in a person's lifetime. In fact, those that travel inward from the Oort Cloud—a group of icy bodies beginning roughly 300 billion kilometers away from the sun—can have periods of thousands or even millions of years.

Astronomers Find Young Galaxies that Appeared Soon After the Big Bang

False-color image of a 2-square-degree region of the LAGER survey field, created from images taken in the optical at 500 nm (blue), in the near-infrared at 920 nm (red) and in a narrow-band filter centered at 964 nm (green). The small white boxes indicate the positions of the 23 LAEs discovered in the survey. The detailed insets (yellow) show two of the brightest LAEs. Image by Zhenya Zheng (SHAO) and Junxian Wang (USTC)

ASU astronomers Sangeeta Malhotra and James Rhoads, working with international teams in Chile and China, have discovered 23 young galaxies, seen as they were 800 million years after the Big Bang. The results from this sample have been recently published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Cosmologists Produce New Maps of Dark Matter Dynamics

Slice through the celestial equator showing the radial component of the velocity field (in kilometres per second). Blue regions are falling towards us and red regions are flying away from us. Galaxies of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey main galaxy sample are overplotted. In the centre of the slice, the infalling dynamics of the Sloan Great Wall, one of the largest structure of the known Universe, can be observed

New maps of dark matter dynamics in the Universe have been produced by a team of international cosmologists. Using advanced computer modelling techniques, the research team has translated the distribution of galaxies into detailed maps of matter streams and velocities for the first time. The research was carried out by leading cosmologists from the UK, France and Germany.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Choose Your Star: First Gaia Data Release Catalogs More than Billion Celestial Objects

Gaia's first sky map. Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC. Acknowledgement: A. Moitinho & M. Barros (CENTRA – University of Lisbon), on behalf of DPAC.

European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia satellite is on a crucial mission to create the most detailed ever 3D map of our Milky Way galaxy. Last year, the agency has published first data release provided by Gaia, which contains more than one billion stars with information about their brightness and precise position on the sky.

Scientists Spy New Evidence of Water in the Moon’s Interior

Evidence from ancient volcanic deposits suggests that lunar magma contained substantial amounts of water, bolstering the idea that the Moon's interior is water-rich. Credit: Olga Prilipko Huber

A new study of satellite data finds that numerous volcanic deposits distributed across the surface of the Moon contain unusually high amounts of trapped water compared with surrounding terrains. The finding of water in these ancient deposits, which are believed to consist of glass beads formed by the explosive eruption of magma coming from the deep lunar interior, bolsters the idea that the lunar mantle is surprisingly water-rich.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Newly Discovered Asteroid 2017 OM1 to Whiz by Earth on Tuesday

A newly discovered asteroid, designated 2017 OM1, is about to give Earth a close shave on Tuesday, July 25, flying by our planet at a distance of approximately 2.3 lunar distances (LD), or 883,000 kilometers. The space rock will whiz by Earth at 11:41 UTC with a relative velocity of 15.9 km/s.