Astronomy and Space News - Astro Watch

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Russia to Develop New Modular Spacesuit for Cosmonauts

Credit: Alexandr Sherbak/TASS

The Zvezda Research and Production Enterprise plans to start developing a new modular spacesuit for cosmonauts in 2019 after signing a corresponding contract with Russia’s Energia Space Rocket Corporation, Zvezda CEO and Chief Designer Sergei Pozdnyakov told TASS on Wednesday.

The Universe’s First Type of Molecule Is Found at Last

Image of planetary nebula NGC 7027 with illustration of helium hydride molecules. In this planetary nebula, SOFIA detected helium hydride, a combination of helium (red) and hydrogen (blue), which was the first type of molecule to ever form in the early universe. This is the first time helium hydride has been found in the modern universe. Credits: NASA/ESA/Hubble Processing: Judy Schmidt

The first type of molecule that ever formed in the universe has been detected in space for the first time, after decades of searching. Scientists discovered its signature in our own galaxy using the world’s largest airborne observatory, NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, as the aircraft flew high above the Earth’s surface and pointed its sensitive instruments out into the cosmos.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Astronomers Discover Third Planet in the Kepler-47 Circumbinary System

Image Courtesy: NASA/JPL Caltech/T. Pyle

Astronomers have discovered a third planet in the Kepler-47 system, securing the system’s title as the most interesting of the binary-star worlds. Using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, a team of researchers, led by astronomers at San Diego State University, detected the new Neptune-to-Saturn-size planet orbiting between two previously known planets.

TESS Discovers Its First Earth-sized Planet

Illustration of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite:TESS. Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, TESS, has discovered its first Earth-sized exoplanet. The planet, named HD 21749c, is the smallest world outside our solar system that TESS has identified yet.

Putin Urges Heavy Upgrade of Russian Space Industry

Credit: Alexei Nikolskiy/Russian Presidential press service/TASS

Russia needs to heavily upgrade its space industry and improve the sector’s management model, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a Security Council meeting on Tuesday.

What Earth's Gravity Reveals About Climate Change


On March 17, 2002, the German-US satellite duo GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) were launched to map the global gravitational field with unprecedented precision. After all, the mission lasted a good 15 years - more than three times as long as expected. When the two satellites burnt up in the Earth's atmosphere at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, respectively, they had recorded the Earth's gravitational field and its changes over time in more than 160 months.

Astronomers Take First, High-Resolution Look at Huge Star-Forming Region of Milky Way

This image from a radio telescope shows a huge star-forming region of the outer Milky Way galaxy. The ovals identify the main subdivisions of the region's molecular cloud, including the smaller 1a, which is very efficient at producing stars. Image courtesy of Charles Kerton.

Astronomers from the United States and South Korea have made the first high-resolution, radio telescope observations of the molecular clouds within a massive star-forming region of the outer Milky Way.

Deep Space X-Ray Burst Gives Astronomers New Signal to Detect Neutron Star Mergers

These images show the location of an event, discovered by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, that likely signals the merger of two neutron stars. Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Uni. of Science and Technology of China/Y. Xue, et al; Optical: NASA/STScI

An international team of astronomers, including faculty and alumni from UNLV, has discovered a new way to spot when collisions occur in distant galaxies between two neutron stars – incredibly dense, city-sized celestial bodies that possess the most powerful magnetic fields in the universe.