Tuesday, May 28

Astronomy

A Weather Satellite Watched a Space Rock Burn Up Above Spain and Portugal
Astronomy

A Weather Satellite Watched a Space Rock Burn Up Above Spain and Portugal

It’s been a momentous May for skywatchers around the world. First the big auroral event of May 10-11, next a flaming space rock entering over Spain and Portugal. The inbound object was captured by ground-based cameras and the MeteoSat Third Generation Imager in geostationary orbit. The incoming meteor dazzled viewers across both countries as it sped across the skies at 160,000 km/hour. Of course, social media came alive with speculation about what was burning up in the atmosphere. Most people thought it was a piece of space rock from an asteroid. European Space Agency members of the Planetary Defence Office immediately began analyzing images and data to figure out the composition of the impactor. Now it seems more likely the chunk of space debris came from a comet. They used other data a...
Resolving Messier 3’s swarming stars – Astronomy Now
Astronomy

Resolving Messier 3’s swarming stars – Astronomy Now

Messier 3 is a great globular cluster of the late-spring sky. Image: Adam Block. During late spring or early summer—whichever term you choose, likely depending on how fine the weather has been—is the best time to seek out and observe globular clusters, which are among the most striking and impressive categories of deep-sky objects. Globular clusters are densely-packed, near spherical collections of ancient stars that populate mainly the extended outer halo of our galaxy. They are believed to have formed in the very early life of our Galaxy, over 11 billions years ago; Messier 3 is thought to be 11.4 billion years old. Astounding star densities exist inside even run-of-the-mill globulars; on average, 0.4 stars per cubic parsec (a parsec is equal to 3.26 light years), rising to 100 to 1,000...
Astronomy

Black holes observed colliding when universe was only 740m years old | Astronomy

A pair of black holes has been observed colliding in the ancient universe for the first time. The observations, by the James Webb Space Telescope, reveal a merger of two galaxies and the monster black holes at their centres when the universe was just 740m years old, about a 20th of its current age.The discovery that massive mergers appear to have been common in the infant universe could help explain how supermassive black holes like the one at the heart of the Milky Way achieved such tremendous proportions.Prof Roberto Maiolino, an astrophysicist at the University of Cambridge, and a member of team behind the observations, said: “One problem that we have in cosmology is explaining how these black holes manage to grow so big. In the past we have always talked about gobbling matter very quic...
Supermassive Black Holes Got Started From Massive Cosmic Seeds
Astronomy

Supermassive Black Holes Got Started From Massive Cosmic Seeds

Supermassive black holes are central to the dynamics and evolution of galaxies. They play a role in galactic formation, stellar production, and possibly even the clustering of dark matter. Almost every galaxy has a supermassive black hole, which can make up a small fraction of a galaxy’s mass in nearby galaxies. While we know a great deal about these gravitational monsters, one question that has lingered is just how supermassive black holes gained mass so quickly. Most of what we know about early black holes comes from quasars. These occur when supermassive black holes are in an extremely active phase, consuming prodigious amounts of matter and emitting intense light that can be seen across the Universe. Observations from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and other observatories have...
May Night Sky – Astronotes
Astronomy

May Night Sky – Astronotes

We completed a half orbit around the Sun since I wrote the November Night Sky. It felt like yesterday, but it has been 6 months ago. The time is cruel…  The days are already quite a bit longer and are still getting longer. Stargazing is getting more difficult in this part of the world. However, there is still plenty to see this month. Let us have a quick look at the May Night Sky.  Planets and the Moon  Image Credit: Stellarium   There are five planets visible to the naked eye. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. They all look quite bright in the night sky since they are nearby (on the cosmic scale) objects and reflect the sunlight. However, this May is unfortunate for planet observation. All these planets are quite close to the Sun in the sky (from our point of view) and thus, they...