Astronomy and Space News - Astro Watch

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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Minor Geomagnetic Storm May Hit Earth on Tuesday


A G1-class (minor) geomagnetic storm may hit the Earth on Tuesday, May 21, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The storming is expected when a stream of solar wind, flowing from a hole in the sun’s atmosphere, will reach our planet.

Sedimentary, Dear Johnson: Is NASA Looking at the Wrong Rocks for Clues to Martian Life?

This is a three-dimensional reconstruction made by synchrotron-based X-ray tomography (srxtm) of the same as in the image above. Fungal mycelium with microstromatolitic structures and remains of prokaryotic cell-like structures in between the fungal hyphae. Credit: Dr. Magnus Ivarsson

In 2020, NASA and European-Russian missions will look for evidence of past life on Mars. But while volcanic, igneous rock predominates on the Red Planet, virtually the entire Earth fossil record comes from sedimentary rocks.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

CosmoGAN: Training a Neural Network to Study Dark Matter

Weak lensing convergence maps for the ΛCDM cosmological model. Randomly selected maps from validation dataset (top) and GAN-generated examples (bottom).

As cosmologists and astrophysicists delve deeper into the darkest recesses of the universe, their need for increasingly powerful observational and computational tools has expanded exponentially. From facilities such as the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument to supercomputers like Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Cori system at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) facility, they are on a quest to collect, simulate, and analyze increasing amounts of data that can help explain the nature of things we can't see, as well as those we can.

Russian Scientists Propose Building Astrophysical Observatories on the Moon in Early 2030s

© Alexei Pavlishak/TASS

Russian scientists have proposed that Russia should start building astrophysical observatories on the Moon in the late 2020s and the early 2030s, Scientific Head of the Space Research Institute within Russia’s Academy of Sciences Lev Zelyony told TASS on Thursday.

ALMA Discovers Aluminum around Young Star

ALMA image of the distributions of AlO molecules (color) and warm dust particles (contours). The molecular outflow (not shown in this image) extends from the center to the top-left and bottom-right.

Researchers using ALMA data discovered an aluminum-bearing molecule for the first time around a young star. Aluminum rich inclusions found in meteorites are some of the oldest solid objects formed in the Solar System, but their formation process and stage is still poorly linked to star and planet formation. The discovery of aluminum oxide around a young star provides a crucial chance to study the early formation process of meteorites and planets like the Earth.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Initial Results from New Horizon's Exploration of Distant Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69

Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute, describes the New Horizons extended mission during the program celebrating the Ultima Thule flyby at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, on Dec. 31, 2018.   Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

On January 1, 2019, the New Horizons Spacecraft conducted a flyby of (486958) 2014 MU69, known as Ultima Thule - a distant object orbiting in the outer reaches of the Solar System. In a new report, Alan Stern and colleagues present the first results from the flyby, showing that MU69 is an ancient relic that has remained largely untouched - even by the heat of the Sun - since its formation roughly 4.5 billion years ago.

Beresheet Impact Site Spotted

Left: Beresheet impact site. Right: An image processed to highlight changes near the landing site among photos taken before and after the landing, revealing a white impact halo. Other craters are visible in the right image because there is a slight change in lighting conditions among the before and after images. Scale bar is 100 meters. North is up. Both panels are 490 meters wide. Credits: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

The photo above shows the landing site of the Israeli Beresheet spacecraft on a region of the Moon called Sea of Serenity, or Mare Serenitatis in Latin. On April 11, 2019, SpaceIL, a non-profit organization, attempted to land its spacecraft in this ancient volcanic field on the nearside of the Moon. After a smooth initial descent, Beresheet made a hard landing on the surface.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A (Simulated) Universe for Everybody – IllustrisTNG Releases Petabyte Data Set

The TNG simulations model the universe from the large-scale cosmic structure right down to the substructure of galaxies. Image: Illustris-TNG

One of the largest and most detailed simulations of the cosmos has released most of its data to the public, as described in an article that has just been published. The IllustrisTNG family of simulations is the closest astronomers have yet gotten to recreating a whole universe in a computer. These simulations include not only the ubiquitous Dark Matter, believed to be the most common form of matter in our cosmos, but gas in and between galaxies, stars, and even large-scale magnetic fields.