NASA Launches Mission to ‘Touch the Sun”. Parker Solar Probe

Original story via BBC NEWS

US space agency Nasa has launched its mission to send a satellite closer to the Sun than any before.

The Parker Solar Probe rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The probe is set to become the fastest-moving manmade object in history. Its data promises to crack longstanding mysteries about the Sun’s behaviour.

It is the first space craft to be named after a living person – astrophysicist Eugene Parker, 91, who first described solar wind in 1958.

“Wow, here we go! We’re in for some learning over the next several years,” he said after watching the lift-off from the scene. The University of Chicago professor said he had been biting his nails in anticipation.

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Scientists Are About to Announce a “Groundbreaking” Discovery

From Science Alert...

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) is hosting an announcement today to reveal exciting findings from its IceCube observatory at the South Pole. At 11am EDT (3pm GMT) today, they’ll be streaming live from the NSF headquarters in Virginia, as scientists discuss a groundbreaking discovery in astronomy. The NSF said that the announcement concerns “multi-messenger astrophysics findings” from IceCube.

More than 20 observatories took part in the research, and leading astrophysicists from these will be present at the event. Aside from that, no other details have been revealed.

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launch set back to 2021 — TechCrunch

NASA announced yesterday that its highly anticipated James Webb Space Telescope is delaying its launch — again. It was announced in March that the mission would be delayed until 2020, which is already two years past its original launch date of October 2018. But after accepting the recommendations of an independent review board, NASA has…

via NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launch set back to 2021 — TechCrunch

NASA Finds Ancient Organic Material, Mysterious Methane on Mars

Original story courtesy of NASA

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface.

The new findings – “tough” organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere – appear in the June 8 edition of the journal Science.

Organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, and also may include oxygen, nitrogen and other elements. While commonly associated with life, organic molecules also can be created by non-biological processes and are not necessarily indicators of life.

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Colliding Stars May Create Black Holes

A new report in The Astrophysical Journal claims that two stars may have just collided to create a black hole. If this is true, it may radically alter our understanding of how these super structures are formed. The alternative is potentially just as crazy sounding, that two neutron stars can fuse. Either way, something very […]

via Colliding Stars May Create Black Holes. Something Weird Is Happening In The Cosmos. — Science Can Change Your World

NASA’s Insight Takes Off For Mars

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE: NASA on Saturday blasted off its latest Mars lander, InSight, designed to perch on the surface and listen for “Marsquakes” ahead of eventual human missions to explore the Red Planet. “Three, two, one, liftoff!” said a NASA commentator as the spacecraft launched on a dark, foggy morning atop an Atlas V […]

via NASA’s InSight, made to detect ‘marsquakes’, blasts off from California air force base — The Siasat Daily

At Nine Billion Light Years, ‘Icarus’ Is the Most Distant Star Ever Observed

Original story via MOTHERBOARD

Thanks to gravitational lensing, astronomers can observe normal stars across colossal stretches of space and time.

Nine billion light years is a practically unfathomable distance, but astronomers have managed to peer across this vast expanse of spacetime to capture images of a single “normal” star (meaning that it is not currently going through a supernova).

This far-flung star, nicknamed “Icarus” though it is officially called MACS J1149 Lensed Star 1, is the most distant non-exploding star ever observed by humans, according to new research published Monday in Nature Astronomy. The paper’s first author, University of Minnesota astronomer Patrick Kelly, said in a statement the star is “at least 100 times farther away than the next individual star we can study, except for supernova explosions.”

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Stephen Hawking, One of the World’s Brilliant Minds, has died.

ARTICLE VIA BBC NEWS 

World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76.

He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday, his family said.

The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.

At the age of 22 Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease.

The illness left him in a wheelchair and largely unable to speak except through a voice synthesiser.

In a statement his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said: “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today.

“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”

They praised his “courage and persistence” and said his “brilliance and humour” inspired people across the world.

“He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”

A book of condolence has been opened at Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge, where Prof Hawking was a fellow.

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Astronomers Catch Faint Message from Universe’s First Stars

Original Post from Inside Science

Signal hints at possible interactions between ordinary hydrogen and dark matter in the early universe, but some scientists remain skeptical.

(Inside Science) — After spending nearly two decades listening to the skies with radio telescopes, astronomers have finally detected a long-sought-after and subtle signal from the early universe. A group of scientists claim to have found a sign of radiation from the very first generation of stars, only about 180 million years after the Big Bang — just a blink of an eye to the cosmos.

“Other than the cosmic microwave background radiation, this is the earliest observation of any kind in the universe. Compare it to Hubble looking at the first galaxies at 400 million years old; we’re looking at a time roughly half that age,” said Judd Bowman, a cosmologist at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona and lead author of the research, published today in the journal Nature.

During an era known as the “cosmic dawn,” the first stars were forged from primordial hydrogen and helium gas. Their ultraviolet light reached free hydrogen gas in the surrounding regions, interacting with the atoms in a way that left a key signature in the radio spectrum from the afterglow of the Big Bang. Looking for signatures like this helps astronomers probe the early moments of the universe when it was first beginning to form its structure.

Cover image:

Artist’s rendering of how the first stars in the universe may have looked.

Image credits: N.R. Fuller, National Science Foundation

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Could the Stability of Gravitational Waves Rule Out Hidden Dimensions?

From Science News

When it comes to the dimensions of spacetime, what you see may be what you get.

Using observations from the collision of two neutron stars that made headlines in 2017 (SN: 11/11/17, p. 6), scientists found no evidence of gravity leaking into hidden dimensions. The number of observed large spatial dimensions — kilometer-scale or bigger — is still limited to the three we know and love, the researchers report January 24 at arXiv.org.

Just as insects floating on a pond may be unaware of what’s above or below the water’s surface, our 3-D world might be part of a higher-dimensional universe that we can’t directly observe. However, says astrophysicist David Spergel of Princeton University, a coauthor of the new study, “gravity might be able to explore those other dimensions.”

Such extra dimensions might explain some conundrums in physics, such as the existence of dark matter (an as-yet-unidentified source of mass in the universe) and dark energy (which causes the universe’s expansion rate to accelerate), says coauthor Daniel Holz, an astrophysicist at the University of Chicago. “That’s why people get excited about these modifications.”

To look for any hint of leaking gravity, scientists turned to the light and gravitational waves emitted in the neutron star smashup detected on August 17, 2017

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