Institute of Astronomy

Astronomy News

Hubble Solves Mystery of Monster Star's Dimming

4 hours 15 min ago
Portal origin URL: Hubble Solves Mystery of Monster Star's DimmingPortal origin nid: 468795Published: Thursday, March 4, 2021 - 10:55Featured (stick to top of list): noPortal text teaser: Last year, astronomers were puzzled when Betelguese, the bright red supergiant star in the constellation Orion, dramatically faded, but then recovered. The dimming lasted for weeks. Now, astronomers have turned their sights toward a monster star in the adjoining constellation Canis Major, the Great Dog.Portal image: This zoom into VY Canis Majoris is a combination of Hubble imaging and an artist's impression.

Observations Around Solar System With Parker Solar Probe’s 7th Solar Encounter

4 hours 16 min ago
Portal origin URL: Observations Around Solar System With Parker Solar Probe’s 7th Solar EncounterPortal origin nid: 468845Published: Friday, March 5, 2021 - 10:00Featured (stick to top of list): noPortal text teaser: During Parker Solar Probe’s seventh swing by the Sun, celestial geometry posed a special opportunity. The configuration of this particular orbit placed Parker Solar Probe on the same side of the Sun as Earth — meaning that Earth-bound observatories could observe the Sun and its outpouring of solar wind from the same perspective as Parker’s.Portal image: The Sun in ultraviolet light has both dark coronal holes and bright active regions

Comet Catalina Suggests Comets Delivered Carbon to Rocky Planets

4 hours 16 min ago
Portal origin URL: Comet Catalina Suggests Comets Delivered Carbon to Rocky PlanetsPortal origin nid: 468860Published: Friday, March 5, 2021 - 12:00Featured (stick to top of list): noPortal text teaser: SOFIA found that Comet Catalina is carbon-rich, suggesting comets could have been an essential source of carbon on planets like Earth and Mars during the early formation of the solar system.Portal image: as it passes through the inner solar system with dust and gas evaporating into its tail.

Follow the Energy: An Astrobiology Update from Beneath Earth’s Seafloor

4 hours 16 min ago
Portal origin URL: Follow the Energy: An Astrobiology Update from Beneath Earth’s SeafloorPortal origin nid: 468884Published: Friday, March 5, 2021 - 16:16Featured (stick to top of list): noPortal text teaser: A team of NASA Astrobiology-funded researchers from the University of Rhode Island (URI) have revealed that the abundant microbes living thousands of meters from the ocean’s surface are sustained by an unexpected energy source – primarily by chemicals created by the natural irradiation of water molecules.Portal image: Justine Sauvage, lead author of the study, measures dissolved oxygen content in sediment cores collected in the North Atlantic.

Underwater success

4 March 2021 - 9:24am

In response to the news story “Neutrino observatory set for the Pacific Ocean” (October p14) about the planned Pacific Ocean Neutrino Experiment, which, once built by the end of the decade, will be one of the world’s largest neutrino telescopes.

Second cable failure calls time on Arecibo Observatory

4 March 2021 - 9:22am

Officials at the US National Science Foundation have decided to decommission the iconic Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico after a second cable failure caused fresh damage to the telescope’s metal platform, which is suspended above the 305 m-wide reflecting radio dish.

Meteorites ruled out as source of magnetized lunar crust

4 March 2021 - 9:22am

A leading theory as to why regions of the Moon’s crust are magnetized has been debunked by researchers led by Rona Oran at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Venus phosphine discovery sparks fallout

4 March 2021 - 9:20am

The recent discovery of phosphine in the clouds of Venus has triggered an unsavoury debate among astronomers. Keith Cooper reports

Science must listen to opposing views

4 March 2021 - 9:19am

Pruthvi Mehta says that the ongoing controversy over the Thirty Meter Telescope continues to stain the field of astronomy

Moon twin

4 March 2021 - 9:18am

Astronomers at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium in Northern Ireland and colleagues have discovered that an asteroid with the catchy name (101429) 1998 VF31 bears a remarkable resemblance to the Moon

New ‘Eyewear’ to Deepen the View of NASA’s Roman Space Telescope

4 March 2021 - 9:02am
Portal origin URL: New ‘Eyewear’ to Deepen the View of NASA’s Roman Space Telescope Portal origin nid: 468738Published: Wednesday, March 3, 2021 - 10:00Featured (stick to top of list): noPortal text teaser: NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will be able to explore even more cosmic questions, thanks to a new near-infrared filter. The upgrade will allow the observatory to see longer wavelengths of light, opening up exciting new opportunities for discoveries from the edge of our solar system to the farthest reaches of space.Portal image: Roman spacecraft

Mars: Nasa's Perseverance rover sends stunning images

3 March 2021 - 8:59am

Amazing images as Nasa's Perseverance rover lands on Mars and seeks signs of past microbial life.

X-rays expose a clue to the mystery of the missing neutron star

3 March 2021 - 8:58am

Nature, Published online: 02 March 2021; doi:10.1038/d41586-021-00555-5

Astronomers might have spotted the long-sought debris of a famous stellar explosion.

UK meteor spotted above Midsomer Norton and Bath

2 March 2021 - 9:27am

Social media users reported seeing a 'flash' with a 'tail of orange light' in the night sky.

Daily briefing: Stunning sky map of 25,000 black holes

2 March 2021 - 9:26am

Nature, Published online: 25 February 2021; doi:10.1038/d41586-021-00537-7

The most detailed map yet of the universe’s black holes, what the science says about COVID reinfection, and an imbalance in the heart of the proton.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Completes Final Functional Tests to Prepare for Launch

2 March 2021 - 9:25am
Portal origin URL: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Completes Final Functional Tests to Prepare for LaunchPortal origin nid: 468743Published: Monday, March 1, 2021 - 11:45Featured (stick to top of list): noPortal text teaser: Testing teams successfully completed two important milestones that confirmed the observatory’s internal electronics are all functioning as intended, and that the spacecraft and its four scientific instruments can send and receive data properly through the same network they will use in space.Portal image: James Webb Space Telescope's mirrors

129I and 247Cm in meteorites constrain the last astrophysical source of solar r-process elements

26 February 2021 - 9:29am

The composition of the early Solar System can be inferred from meteorites. Many elements heavier than iron were formed by the rapid neutron capture process (r-process), but the astrophysical sources where this occurred remain poorly understood. We demonstrate that the near-identical half-lives of the radioactive r-process nuclei iodine-129 and curium-247 preserve their ratio, irrespective of the time between production and incorporation into the Solar System. We constrain the last r-process source by comparing the measured meteoritic ratio 129I/247Cm = 438 ± 184 with nucleosynthesis calculations based on neutron star merger and magneto-rotational supernova simulations. Moderately neutron-rich conditions, often found in merger disk ejecta simulations, are most consistent with the meteoritic value. Uncertain nuclear physics data limit our confidence in this conclusion.