Monday, February 18, 2019

A Nearby River of Stars

Night sky centered on the south Galactic pole in a so-called stereographic projection. In this special projection, the Milky Way curves around the entire image in an arc. The stars in the stream are displayed in red and cover almost the entire southern Galactic hemisphere, thereby crossing many well-known constellations. Background image: Gaia DR2 skymap.

Astronomy & Astrophysics publishes the work of researchers from the University of Vienna, who have found a river of stars, a stellar stream in astronomical parlance, covering most of the southern sky. The stream is relatively nearby and contains at least 4000 stars that have been moving together in space since they formed, about 1 billion years ago.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Tidal Tails – The Beginning of the End of an Open Star Cluster

Image of the Hyades, the star cluster closest to the Sun. Credit: NASA, ESA, and STScI

In the course of their life, open star clusters continuously lose stars to their surroundings. The resulting swath of tidal tails provides a glimpse into the evolution and dissolution of a star cluster. Thus far only tidal tails of massive globular clusters and dwarf galaxies have been discovered in the Milky Way system. In open clusters, this phenomenon existed only in theory.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Has Its Third, Overhead Look on China's Chang'e-4 Probe

Looking down on the Chang'e 4 landing site; lander is just beyond tip of large arrow, rover at tip of small arrow. Image is 850 meters (2789 feet) across, LROC M1303619844LR. Credits: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Just after midnight (UTC) on February 1, 2019, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) passed nearly overhead the Chang'e 4 landing site. From an altitude of 82 kilometers the LROC Narrow Angle Camera pixel scale was 0.85 meters (33 inches), allowing a sharper view of the lander and Yutu-2 rover.

Scientist Rules Out Sending Cosmonauts to Fix Faulty Spektr-R Telescope in Orbit

Spektr-R space radio telescope © Lavochkin Research and Production Association

A manned space mission, even if sent, will not help to fix the faulty Spektr-R space radio telescope, said Nikolai Kardashev, the director of the Astrospace Center (the Radioastron project contractor).

Carbonaceous Chondrites Provide Clues about the Delivery of Water to Earth

Sample collecting of meteorites in the Antarctica. Credit: Katherine Joy / ANSMET

An international study led by researchers from the Institute of Space Sciences, from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya has discovered that carbonaceous chondrites, a class of meteorites, incorporated hydrated minerals along with organic material from the protoplanetary disk before the formation of planets.

Taiwan to Launch Satellites, Land One on the Moon

Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee (left) unveils the next phase of Taiwan's space program. (By Central News Agency)

Taiwan is planning to put a satellite in the moon’s orbit and eventually land it using its onboard guidance system in the absence of GPS, an ambitious goal set out in its new space program announced this week.

Where is the Universe Hiding its Missing Mass?

Credit: Illustration: Springel et al. (2005); Spectrum: NASA/CXC/CfA/Kovács et al.

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them locate this elusive expanse of missing matter.

US-UK-Australia Funding to Improve Global Gravitational Wave Network

Artist's illustration of two merging neutron stars. The narrow beams represent the gamma-ray burst while the rippling space-time grid indicates the isotropic gravitational waves that characterize the merger. Swirling clouds of material ejected from the merging stars are a possible source of the light that was seen at lower energies.  Credit: National Science Foundation/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet

A global network of gravitational wave observatories will be upgraded to almost double its sensitivity, the lead science funding agencies of the United Kingdom and United States have announced. The $US30 million Advanced LIGO Plus (ALIGO+) project will improve the two existing Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatories (LIGO) in the United States, and will be included as standard in the new LIGO India facility from the mid-2020s.