From BBC NEWS
Astronomers have taken the first ever image of a black hole, which is located in a distant galaxy.
It measures 40 billion km across – three million times the size of the Earth – and has been described by scientists as “a monster”.
The black hole is 500 million trillion km away and was photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the world.
Details have been published today in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Prof Heino Falcke, of Radboud University in the Netherlands, who proposed the experiment, told BBC News that the black hole was found in a galaxy called M87.
“What we see is larger than the size of our entire Solar System,” he said.
“It has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun. And it is one of the heaviest black holes that we think exist. It is an absolute monster, the heavyweight champion of black holes in the Universe.”
The image shows a intensely bright “ring of fire”, as Prof Falcke describes it, surrounding a perfectly circular dark hole. The bright halo is caused by superheated gas falling into the hole. The light is brighter than all the billions of other stars in the galaxy combined – which is why it can be seen at such distance from Earth.
Image: EHT Collaboration
From BBC News:
A Japanese spacecraft has touched down on an asteroid in an attempt to collect a sample of rock from the surface.
The Hayabusa-2 probe was trying to grab the sample from a pre-chosen site on the asteroid Ryugu just before 23:00 GMT on 21 February.
The spacecraft reached asteroid Ryugu in June 2018 after a three-and-a-half-year journey from Earth.
Hayabusa-2 is expected to return to Earth in 2020 along with its rocky hoard.
During sample collection, the spacecraft approached the 1km-wide asteroid with an instrument called the sampler horn. On touchdown, a 5g “bullet” made of the metal tantalum was fired into the rocky surface at 300m/s.
The particles kicked up by the impact should have been be caught by the sampler horn.
“We made a successful touchdown, including firing a bullet,” said Hayabusa-2 project manager Yuichi Tsuda.
“We made the ideal touchdown in the best conditions,” he said.
From BBC News:
Astronomers have revealed details of mysterious signals emanating from a distant galaxy, picked up by a telescope in Canada.
The precise nature and origin of the blasts of radio waves is unknown.
Among the 13 fast radio bursts, known as FRBs, was a very unusual repeating signal, coming from the same source about 1.5 billion light years away.
Such an event has only been reported once before, by a different telescope.
“Knowing that there is another suggests that there could be more out there,” said Ingrid Stairs, an astrophysicist from the University of British Columbia (UBC).
“And with more repeaters and more sources available for study, we may be able to understand these cosmic puzzles – where they’re from and what causes them.”
The CHIME observatory, located in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, consists of four 100-metre-long, semi-cylindrical antennas, which scan the entire northern sky each day.
The telescope only got up and running last year, detecting 13 of the radio bursts almost immediately, including the repeater.
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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.
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
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
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.”
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.
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.
Artist’s rendering of how the first stars in the universe may have looked.
Image credits: N.R. Fuller, National Science Foundation