Friday, November 23, 2018

🚀 Twin Star Found to Our Sun, Chinese Fusion Hits 100 Million Degrees, BFR Gets a New Name, Strange Grooves on Phobos Explained, and More...

Wild Skies of Costa Rica

Join me and Dr. Paul Sutter in Costa Rica, from March 3-10, 2019

In March 2019, Dr. Paul Sutter and I will be heading to the wilds of Costa Rica for a weeklong adventure in the forests, rivers and beaches of Costa Rica. We'll be visiting active volcanoes, cloud forests, and learning about conservation surrounded by some of the most diverse nature on the planet.

Every night we'll set up our telescopes and view the night sky from one of the least light-polluted places on the planet. 

And we want you to join us.

But hurry! Registration ends January 1, 2019

Fraser Cain
Universe Today

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Oumuamua solar sail

Is Oumuamua a Solar Sail? Probably Not

It's been about a year since the mysterious interstellar asteroid (or maybe comet) Oumuamua passed through our Solar System. It was going so fast and was so far away that astronomers could see very little before it was off and away into deep space again.

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Impact crater in Greenland

Huge Asteroid Impact Crater Found Just Under the Ice in Greenland

Geologists have discovered a recently created impact crater in Greenland. The crater is about 300 meters deep and measures more than 31 kilometers across. According to their calculations, an asteroid impacted the region about 12,900 years ago, and could have contributed to worldwide climate at the time.

SLS testing

NASA Would Retire SLS if SpaceX or Blue Origin Can Get Their Heavy Lift Vehicles Going

NASA is continuing to have problems getting its next generation heavy lift Space Launch System into space, on time and on budget. At the same time, several other companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX are working on their own heavy lift systems that would provide access to orbit at a fraction of the cost. When does NASA pull the plug on SLS and hire private firms?

Tokamak reactor

Chinese Fusion Experiment Reaches 100 Million Degrees

I know, I know, the promise of fusion always feels like a fantasy. It's always 30 years away. But various groups are making incremental progress to tackle the problem of harnessing fusion power, and a Chinese group has reached a milestone with their Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak, heating clouds of plasma to over 100 million degrees.


OSIRIS-REx Unfolds its Rock Grabbing Arm for the First Time

NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission is just a few weeks away from its encounter with Asteroid Bennu, and mission planners are putting the spacecraft through its paces. This week they tested out its sampling arm, which will reach out to the asteroid and pluck a sample from its surface in order to return it back to Earth. 

Supernova progenitor

Astronomers Finally Spot the Type of Star That Leads to Type 1C Supernovae

Of all the types of supernovae out there, the Type 1C is one of the rarest and most mysterious. For some reason, a supermassive star has all its hydrogen and helium stripped away from it, and yet it still has enough mass to explode as a supernova. Astronomers are still arguing about what actually causes them, but they found a star in older photographs that recently exploded as a Type 1C.


Namechange Alert! SpaceX's BFR is now Just Called "Starship"

SpaceX's Elon Musk took to Twitter this week to announce that the name of their next generation heavy lift rocket has been changed from "Big F*cking Rocket" to "Starship". The booster portion of the launch system will now be called Super Heavy. Oh, and he also mentioned on Twitter that they're radically changing the design of the rocket. No details of course. Classic Elon.


The Power of the Wobble: Finding Exoplanets in the Shifting of Starlight

Other stars are really really far away. So how can astronomers discover planets orbiting around them? It all comes down to incredibly sensitive measurements of a the light coming from the star as the gravity of the planet pulls it back and forth. If we're really lucky, the planet will also pass in front of the star, causing it to dim slightly. It turns out there aren't many that will do both.

International Space Station

Go Around the World TWICE in this Space Station Timelapse Video

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the International Space Station by taking this timelapse video ride through two of its orbits. Normally this trip will take you about 3 hours, but you can do the whole journey in about 15 minutes, seeing continents, oceans, storms and the Earth's atmosphere.


Strange Grooves on Phobos Were Caused by Boulders Rolling Around on its Surface

The Martian moon Phobos has long perplexed astronomers with the strange grooves across its surface. Many ideas have been proposed to explain this, including cracks and tidal flexing. But a new study proposes that the tracks were left by huge boulders that rolled across the surface after a large impact on its surface.

Jezero Crater

It's Decided, the Mars 2020 Rover Will Land in Jezero Crater

We're just a few short years away from the launch of NASA's Mars 2020 rover, which has a very similar design to the Curiosity Rover. But planetary scientists have finally decided on where the spacecraft is going to land to search for evidence of past life. The fascinating Jezero Crater appears to have once been an ancient river delta, where life could have flourished for millions of years.


The Sun

Astronomers Find One of the Sun's Sibling Stars. Born From the Same Solar Nebula Billions of Years Ago

It's been more than 4.5 billion years since the Sun formed out of the solar nebula, a region that could have contained more than 1,000 other stars. Some of gone supernova, and the rest have scattered across the Milky Way. Now astronomers have discovered a star that looks like a virtual twin of the Sun; same age, same chemical fingerprint and a similar motion. I wonder if it has Earthlike planets orbiting it?

Pinwheel of dust

Massive Triple Star System Creates this Bizarre Swirling Pinwheel of Dust. And it Could be the Site of a Gamma Ray Burst

Astronomers have turned up a beautiful whirling pinwheel of gas and dust created by a unique star system. The system, named "Apep" is about 8,000 light-years from Earth and contains a monster star, the kind of object that could detonate as a gamma ray burst. The stars are whirling around each other so fast that they're nearly tearing themselves apart in the process.


Mars crater

Lakes on Mars Filled up so Quickly They Would Overflow Catastrophically Carving Canyons Within Weeks

Mars is dry today, but billions of years ago it appears it was much wetter. So wet, in fact, that fresh craters on the planet could be filled up with water in mere weeks. The huge amounts of water would break through the crater wall, creating catastrophic flood plains downstream.

Other Interesting Space Stuff

Amazing Astrophotography on @universetoday


Can you imagine what it would be like to be standing outside in Norway and watch this spectacular light show go off in the sky above you? This photo was captured by Annett Schmitz earlier this year from Senja Norway. What a view!

We have featured nearly 1,000 astrophotographers on our Instagram page, which has more than 143,000 followers. Want to do a takeover? Use the hashtag #universetoday and I'll check out your photos.


Our book!

Find your way across the night sky. Choose a variety of astronomy gear. Follow the Moon and the planets. Find deep sky objects across the seasons in both hemispheres. Observe comets, asteroids, satellites and space stations. Learn to do astrophotography.

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