Friday, April 19, 2019

🚀 Hubble is 29! Falcon Heavy's Booster Cracks in Half, Beresheet 2 is GO! and More...

Southern Crab Nebula

Hubble Has Spent 29 Years in Space

Ready to feel old? The Hubble Space Telescope celebrated its 29th trip around the Sun this week. It launched on board the space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990. 

To mark the occasion, astronomers released this image of the Southern Crab Nebula. It's an interesting situation where a white dwarf and red giant star are in a binary pairing. The red giant is dying and blasting out its outer layers, which are being picked up and whipped around by its white dwarf companion. Every now and then the white dwarf picks up too much material, flashes as a nova, and creates these bizarre structures in the nebula.

Happy space birthday Hubble! 

Fraser Cain
Universe Today

As always, if you have comments or questions, or suggestions on how I can improve this newsletter, please don't hesitate to reply this email or email me at info@universetoday.com.

Join our Patreon campaign

Patrons, don't forget to login to Universe Today. That'll remove all the ads for you. Join the 805 Patrons who get our videos early, see behind the scenes, and get no ads on Universe Today.


QA 83: New Planets Around Dead Stars? Featuring Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder

In this week's questions show, I wonder if planets could form from the wreckage around dead stars, who don't all stars collapse immediately into black holes, and where did my new channel pic come from?

Featuring Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder

Subscribe to our podcasts:
Universe Today Guide to Space Audio: iTunes - RSS
Astronomy Cast: iTunes - RSS
Weekly Space Hangout: iTunes - RSS


Proxima Centauri

The Closest Star to the Sun, Proxima Centauri, has a Planet in the Habitable Zone. Life Could be There Right Now

The hunt for exoplanets is in full effect now, with thousands already found, and many more awaiting confirmation. But it's really mindblowing to think that the closest star to the Sun, Proxima Centauri, has at least one confirmed planet orbiting it. And that planet is in the star's habitable zone! Of course, the star is pretty unstable, throwing off killer flares from time to time, so maybe you don't want to move there just yet.

Mars InSight

Scientists are Trying to Figure Out Why InSight's "Mole" Can't Dig Any Deeper

NASA's Mars InSight has been mostly successful so far, landing on the Red Planet safely and proceeding with its experiments. But there's been one big problem, its "Mole" drill designed to put a temperature probe several meters deep into the Martian regolith, is stuck. And nobody knows why. Now German engineers have built a special sandbox with different obstacles to try and figure out what's blocking progress.

Falcon Booster

Although Falcon Heavy's Core Booster Landed Safely, it Fell Over in High Seas

Last week I said that Falcon Heavy's second launch was a complete success. Well, it turns out you shouldn't count your boosters until they're safely in port. The central core landed safely on the Drone Ship "Of Course I Still Love You", but it couldn't be held down securely. The high waves were too much to keep it balanced, it fell over, and most of its upper structure was lost at sea. You can see a picture of the shattered remains here.


Despite the Crash, SpaceIL is Going Back to the Moon with Beresheet 2

Last week we reported on the sad news that SpaceIL's Beresheet lander crashed into the Moon. I mean, it's a landing right? The XPrize announced they were still going to award the SpaceIL team a $1 million prize for their achievement of, uh, crashing a private lunar lander into the Moon. Now we've gotten the word that SpaceIL is going to try again with Beresheet 2.


You Could Travel Through a Wormhole, but it's Slower Than Going Through Space

The Interstellar movie opened our minds to the possibility of traveling instantly through space using wormholes. Well, hold on a second, according to new research you might want to change your travel plans. Although it is, technically, possible to travel through a wormhole (although, we don't know if they're even possible to make), the trip would take longer than just going the regular way, through space. Sorry, you're going to have to keep building your generation ships.


Curiosity has Finally Sampled a Clay-Rich Region on Mars

Since Curiosity first landed on Mars, NASA scientists have wanted the rover to get its science instruments into a special, clay-rich region of the Red Planet. Well, they've finally had their wish, and the rover has plunged its drill into an exposed rock made of clay-rich materials. Clays are important, of course, because they can only form in the presence of liquid water. And here on Earth, liquid water means life. I'll let you know if they find any.


SpaceX's Starlink Constellation Construction Begins. 2,200 Satellites Will go up Over the Next 5 years

High speed internet, almost anywhere on the planet? Yes please. That's the promise of SpaceX's low-Earth orbiting satellite constellation. But the question has always been, when will we get it? Now we know that SpaceX is planning to relentlessly launch 2,200 satellites over the next 5 years to make this internet fantasy a reality. I'm ready.

Slender Moons

Astro-Challenge: Spotting Slender Moons

The Moon shows up every month, relentlessly, to ruin our astrophotography. But if you want a challenge, try to see how early you can take a picture of the Moon after its illuminated side is completely away from us - a New Moon. Astronomers have been pushing right to the limit, and David Dickinson explains how you can get a photo of the newest possible Moon.


A Star the Size of Jupiter Released a Flare 10 Times More Powerful Than Anything Ever Seen on the Sun

Another reminder that you might not want to live on a planet orbiting a red dwarf star. Astronomers from the University of Warwick just published a paper on a red dwarf star that has the same size as Jupiter - a tenth the radius of the Sun - and how that star can deliver devastating solar flares: 10 times more powerful than anything our Sun has ever delivered. Planets in the habitable zone, huddled up close to the ultracool star would receive constant doses of lethal radiation.

Illustration of Earth-sized world

TESS Just Found its First Earth-Sized World

We lost the Kepler Space Telescope, but NASA's TESS is going strong, finding new exoplanets. And this week astronomers announced that it had found its first Earth-sized world orbiting an orange main-sequence star called HD 21749. That's not the only one, it also has a hot sub-Neptune planet as well. Neither are habitable, though. 


Methane-Filled Lakes on Titan are "Surprisingly Deep"

One of the most exciting discoveries made by NASA's Cassini spacecraft at Saturn's moon Titan was its liquid methane lakes, seas and rivers. And now it turns out the seas are bigger and deeper than planetary scientists originally expected. Some of these lakes can go as deep as 100 meters. Obviously we need to go back, with a submarine mission that can explore these seas more fully.


The World's Biggest Aircraft – the Rocket-Launching Stratolaunch – Completes its First Test Flight

SpaceX isn't the only company trying to revolutionize access to space. Stratolaunch, a company founded by the late Paul Allen, will use the world's largest aircraft to hurl rockets into the sky, saving them fuel and increasing their payload capacity. This week, Stratolaunch lifted off, flying for 2.5 hours up to an altitude of 5,000 meters and reaching a maximum speed of 304 km/h. Take that Spruce Goose.

Other Interesting Space Stuff

Amazing Astrophotography on @universetoday

Milky Way

I really love the composition of this Milky Way panorama captured by @sq_snaps from Australia. I've been to Australia just once, and the skies there are nothing short of stunning. As a Canadian, it was so strange to be able to look directly up and see the core features of the Milky Way. This photo really captures that experience.

We have featured nearly 1,000 astrophotographers on our Instagram page, which has more than 168,000 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.

Get it on Amazon for only $18.89. Here are some other options.


This email was sent to znamenski.generalastronomy@blogger.com
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Universe Today · 1505 Osprey Place · Courtenay, BC V9N 7Y1 · Canada