Astronomy & Space News

  • Some astronauts at risk for cognitive impairment, animal studies suggest
    23 April 2014, 7:24 pm
    Rats exposed to high-energy particles, simulating conditions astronauts would face on a long-term deep space mission, show lapses in attention and slower reaction times, even when the radiation exposure is in extremely low dose ranges, new research shows. The cognitive impairments — which affected a large subset, but far from all, of the animals — appear to be linked to protein changes in the brain, the scientists say.
  • Red stars and big bulges: How black holes shape galaxies
    22 April 2014, 2:46 pm
    The universe we can see is made up of thousands of millions of galaxies, each containing anywhere from hundreds of thousands to hundreds of billions of stars. Large numbers of galaxies are elliptical in shape, red and mostly made up of old stars. Another (more familiar) type is the spiral, where arms wind out in a blue thin disk from a central red bulge. On average stars in spiral galaxies tend to be much younger than those in ellipticals. Now a group of astronomers has found a (relatively) simple relationship between the color of a galaxy and the size of its bulge: the more massive the bulge, the redder the galaxy.
  • Solved: Mysteries of a nearby planetary system
    22 April 2014, 2:46 pm
    Mysteries of one of the most fascinating nearby planetary systems now have been solved. A new study presents the first viable model for the planetary system orbiting one the first stars discovered to have planets - the star named 55 Cancri. Numerous studies since 2002 had failed to determine a plausible model for the masses and orbits of two giant planets located closer to 55 Cancri than Mercury is to our Sun. Astronomers had struggled to understand how these massive planets orbiting so close to their star could avoid a catastrophe such as one planet being flung into the star, or the two planets colliding with each other.
  • 'Upside-down planet' reveals new method for studying binary star systems
    22 April 2014, 3:13 am
    What looked at first like a sort of upside-down planet has instead revealed a new method for studying binary star systems. Astronomers confirmed the first "self-lensing" binary star system -- one in which the mass of the closer star can be measured by how powerfully it magnifies light from its more distant companion star. Though our sun stands alone, about 40 percent of similar stars are in binary (two-star) or multi-star systems, orbiting their companions in a gravitational dance.
  • God of the Gap: Pan keeps Encke gap open in Saturn's rings
    21 April 2014, 4:37 pm
    Saturn's moon Pan, named for the Greek god of shepherds, rules over quite a different domain: the Encke gap in Saturn's rings. Pan keeps the Encke gap open through its gravitational influence on the ring particles nearby.
  • Exoplanets soon to gleam in the eye of NESSI
    21 April 2014, 3:05 pm
    The New Mexico Exoplanet Spectroscopic Survey Instrument (NESSI) will soon get its first "taste" of exoplanets, helping astronomers decipher their chemical composition. Exoplanets are planets that orbit stars beyond our sun. NESSI got its first peek at the sky on April 3, 2014. It looked at Pollux, a star in the Gemini constellation, and Arcturus, in the Boötes constellation, confirming that all modes of the instrument are working.
  • NASA completes LADEE mission with planned impact on moon's surface
    20 April 2014, 1:37 am
    Ground controllers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the surface of the moon, as planned, between 9:30 and 10:22 p.m. PDT Thursday, April 17.
  • Bright points in sun's atmosphere mark patterns deep in its interior
    18 April 2014, 1:17 am
    Like a balloon bobbing along in the air while tied to a child's hand, a tracer has been found in the sun's atmosphere to help track the flow of material coursing underneath the sun's surface.
  • Vitamin B3 might have been made in space, delivered to Earth by meteorites
    18 April 2014, 1:17 am
    Ancient Earth might have had an extraterrestrial supply of vitamin B3 delivered by carbon-rich meteorites, according to a new analysis. The result supports a theory that the origin of life may have been assisted by a supply of key molecules created in space and brought to Earth by comet and meteor impacts.
  • First potentially habitable Earth-sized planet confirmed by Gemini and Keck observatories
    17 April 2014, 8:19 pm
    The first Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting within the habitable zone of another star has been confirmed by observations with both the W. M. Keck Observatory and the Gemini Observatory. The initial discovery, made by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, is one of a handful of smaller planets found by Kepler and verified using large ground-based telescopes. It also confirms that Earth-sized planets do exist in the habitable zone of other stars.

 

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Copyright © 2014 Alfonso Fernandez-Barandiaran