Hubble discovers moon orbiting the dwarf planet Makemake
Astronomers have discovered a small dark moon orbiting the distant dwarf planet Makemake. The discovery made using NASA’s Earth orbiting Hubble Space Telescope will allow scientists to better understand Makemake’s characteristics.
Red Dragons fly to red planet
SpaceX has announced plans to fly its Dragon 2 capsule to the red planet Mars in 2018. The spacecraft to be known as the Red Dragon -- will launch on SpaceX’s new rocket -- the Falcon 9 heavy – with the aim of achieving a soft landing on the Martian surface.
First flight from new Russian spaceport
The Russian Federal Space Agency has successfully launched its first rocket from its new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the remote Amur region of Russia’s far east. The Soyuz launch vehicle carrying three satellites blasted off into clear blue skies heralding the beginning of the end for the historic Soviet Union era Baikonur Cosmodrome in the central Asian republic of Kazakhstan.
India completes its regional navigation satellite navigation network
India has successfully launched the seventh and final member of its regional satellite navigation system. The IRNSS-1G navigational satellite was blasted into a geostationary transfer orbit aboard the PSLV-C33 launch vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota province near the Bay of Bengal.
Eta Aquarids meteor shower getting underway
The usually spectacular Eta Aquarids meteor shower is now getting underway with good numbers being predicted. The Eta Aquarids is one of two meteor showers created by debris from Comet Halley.
New neighbouring galaxy discovered
Astronomers have just discovered a new galaxy quietly lurking at the edge of the Milky Way. The newly found satellite is located just 391 thousand light years away and is the fourth largest galaxy ever detected orbiting the Milky Way.
Earth currently being showered by supernovae debris
The ashes of a recent supernova explosion are sprinkling down on Earth right now. The new data comes from traces of the isotope Iron 60 which was produced in the cataclysmic explosion of a nearby star in a supernova within the last few million years.
New satellite launched to monitor the growing effects of global warming
A new satellite has blasted into orbit as part of a growing constellation designed to monitor the growing impacts of human made climate change on the planet. The Russian Soyuz rocket carrying the latest Sentinel environmental satellite in the Copernicus constellation launched from the European Space Agency’s Kourou space port in French Guiana.
Ancient tectonic activity was trigger for ice ages
A new study has finally explained the link between the movement of the continental tectonic plates and the Earth’s two ice ages. The research claims a natural mechanism for carbon sequestration triggered both ice age events.
The search to solve the mystery of Dark Matter
Scientists may be closing in on that mysterious substance called Dark Matter. A slew of new experiments and detectors are either operational or under construction to discover what makes up the unknown 80 percent of all the matter in the universe.
NASA's Fermi poised to pin down gravitational wave sources
Astronomers say they detected a sudden burst of Gamma Ray energy from the same region of space as the gravitational waves detected last September from a pair of merging black holes over a billion light years away. If confirmed, the would represent both the first evidence of electromagnetic radiation from the gravitational wave event, and also the first evidence contradicting existing hypothesis that black holes merge "cleanly," without producing any sort of light.
Venus Express’s demise sheds light on the planet’s polar atmosphere
Some of the final results sent back by the European Space Agency’s Venus Express mission before the probes suicide plunge through the planet’s atmosphere have revealed it to be rippling with atmospheric waves -- and, at an average temperature far colder than anywhere on Earth.
The Fast Radio Bursts mystery continues
Astronomers have detected what appears to be the first ever repeating Fast Radio Burst – a mysterious flash of electro-magnetic radiation lasting just a millisecond but powerful enough to be visible half way across the universe. If correct the discovery dramatically changes sciences understanding of what these ephemeral events are.
Dark matter dwarf galaxy detected
Scientists have found a hidden dark matter dwarf galaxy lurking some four billion light years away in the halo of another larger galaxy. The discovery could help astronomers address important questions on the nature of mysterious dark matter.
Interstellar space dust discovered near Saturn
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has detected the faint but distinct signature of interstellar dust grains from beyond our solar system. Astronomers say 36 alien dust grains were detected among the millions gathered by Cassini’s over the past 12 years exploring the ringed world of Saturn and its many moons.
New surprises from Jupiter’s ice moon Europa
A new study of the frozen Jovian ice moon Europa indicates gravitational tidal forces generated by its orbit around Jupiter is generating far more heat than previously thought. The new findings work could ultimately help scientists better estimate the thickness of Europa’s icy crust.
Mysterious alignment of supermassive black holes discovered in the distant universe.
Astronomers have been shocked by new deep radio imaging which has revealed that supermassive black holes in a region of the distant universe are all spinning out radio jets in the same direction. The bizarre findings are totally unexpected -- based on our current understanding of cosmology.
A new study bringing science a step closer to understanding antimatter.
Scientists are developing new numerical models to better understand why we live in a universe composed mostly of matter rather than antimatter. Existing cosmological theory tells us that equal amounts of matter and antimatter were made in the big bang 13.8 billion years ago, and the laws of physics show that matter and antimatter annihilate each other if they come into contact. So that raises the question: why didn’t the universe explode and cease to exist immediately and why do we live a universe made of matter rather than antimatter?
The strange system challenging existing models on dark matter and hypervelocity stars.
Astronomers have discovered a strange star system on the outskirts of our Milky Way Galaxy travelling at almost our galaxies escape velocity. The discovery challenges existing hypothesis that hypervelocity stars are flung onto their high speed trajectories by the supermassive black hole at the galactic centre.
New study explores links between cosmic rays and galaxy formation
New computer simulations indicate that cosmic rays – high speed subatomic particles produced in supernovae explosions -- may play a vital role in the formation of galaxies and galaxy clusters. The findings will help scientists trying to understand how galaxies are made which is among the greatest problems facing modern astrophysics.
Revolutionising space flight with the arrival of a flying dragon at the International Space Station.
SpaceX’s Dragon has opened a new era in spaceflight delivering the first inflatable module to the International Space Station. The flight was a double success with the Falcon 9 launch vehicle successfully landing on a barge floating in the North Atlantic Ocean, from where it was picked up for refurbishment for potential reuse on future missions.
Red Dwarfs provide a new way of mapping the Milky Way Galaxy.
Scientists have developed a new map of the Milky Way using the galaxies most common stars, tiny and faint red dwarfs. The result is the most comprehensive model ever for the distribution of these stars.
The mystery deepens for Fast Radio Bursts.
Fast Radio Bursts -- those mysterious ephemerally brief millisecond flashes of powerful radio signals from beyond our galaxy -- are continuing to baffle astronomers, with new evidence showing that a key clue to their origins was wrong.
Jonathan Nally with what’s in the new edition of Sky & Telescope Magazine
Supernovae showered Earth with radioactive debris
The Earth was showered with radioactive debris from a series of nearby exploding stars which all went supernova just a few million years ago. The findings are based on the discovery of radioactive deposits of iron 60, found in sediment and crust samples taken from the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Behemoth Black Hole Found in an Unlikely Place
Astronomers have discovered a near-record breaking supermassive black hole -- some 17 billion times the mass of the Sun -- in an unlikely location in a sparsely populated region of the universe. The observations mean these monsters may be far more common than previously thought.
Traffic gridlock aboard the International Space Station
A Russian cargo ship has successfully docked with the International space station two days after blasting off on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the central Asian republic of Kazakhstan. The Progress arrived on station just days after an American Cygnus cargo ship reached the orbiting outpost, with anther American Dragon cargo ship is also slated to dock this month.
New Space tourism rocket makes third sub-orbital flight.
Blue Origin have carried out a successful sub-orbital test flight of the company’s new reusable vertical take-off and vertical landing New Shepard spacecraft. The launch from Blue Origin’s west Texas facility reached an altitude of over 103 kilometres, the highest yet it has flown.
More evidence for Planet 9 from outer space
There’s new evidence today supporting the idea of a yet to be discovered ninth planet in our solar system. Back in January, we reported on StarStuff that strange orbital alignments involving at least 6 distant Kuiper belt objects were pointing to the existence of a ninth planet at least ten times the mass of the Earth -- now astronomers have discovered a seventh Kuiper belt object on a similar strange orbital trajectory -- further supporting this hypothesis.
Scientists are looking at a new method of making gold. It’s not some new form of medieval alchemy turning sea water into the valuable yellow metal -- but a new look at exactly how the element gold is produced in stars.
Is dark matter responsible for creating supermassive black holes?
Astronomers are fairly sure that stellar mass black holes are formed when the most massive stars die and explode as supernovae. But they’ve never been able to explain the formation of those monstrous supermassive black holes found in the hearts of galaxies. Now a new study suggests a mysterious substance called dark matter could be to blame.
Searching for gamma ray emissions from black holes
Astronomers have failed to find any electromagnetic counterpart signal to the historic first ever direct detection of gravitational waves. The lack of an afterglow provides further support for the idea that the event was generated by a pair of black holes – 1.3 billion light years away -- as they spiralled in towards each other before merging.
Continuing the search for gravitational waves
While scientists were able to announce the confirmed detection of gravitational waves for the first time, the precise epicentre where those waves originated from is still a mystery. Pin pointing the exact location of a gravitational wave source will be of vital importance for studying the objects generating them.
Alien world blacker than coal
Astronomers have discovered distant gas giant similar to Jupiter -- but far more alien than any planet in our solar system. Instead of displaying Jupiter’s gleaming white and pink coloured clouds, this strange exoplanet is darker than the blackest lump of coal reflecting just one percent of the light reaching it.
Asteroid slams into Jupiter
Amateur astronomers in Austria and Ireland got the shot of a lifetime when they imaged what’s thought to be an asteroid slamming into Jupiter. At least two sky watchers were independently videoing the gas giant on March 17 when they both caught a massive ejecta blast erupting on the Jovian limb -- north of the planet’s equator.
We turn our eyes to the skies as Jonathan Nally -- the editor of Australian Sky and Telescope Magazine -- takes us on a journey through this month’s night skies with Skywatch.
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