Friday, May 3, 2019

🚀 Black Hole Eats a Neutron Star, Crew Dragon "Anomaly" Details, Rarest Event Ever Seen in the Universe and More...


It Looks Like LIGO/Virgo Have Detected a Black Hole Eating a Neutron Star. For the First Time Ever

LIGO/Virgo are returning so many black hole and neutron star mergers it's hard to keep track of them all. So far, they've seen at least 5. Three black hole mergers, a neutron star-neutron star merger, and maybe a black hole consuming a neutron star. They're all fascinating, but this last one would be brand new, never before seen. Needless to say, astronomers are really excited to see one new merger event a week, as expected.

In fact, I did a video all about this news.

Fraser Cain
Universe Today

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Black hole mergers

A Black Hole Merger Every Week? LIGO And Virgo Are Back!

Notice that you haven't been hearing much about black holes crashing into each other recently? That's because the world's most sensitive gravitational wave hunters have been offline for the last year.

Well, they're back now, with enough upgrades that they should be capable of finding a black hole merger every week, not to mention more colliding neutron stars, and maybe, just maybe, black holes eating neutron stars.

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Rapidly Spinning Black Hole is Spitting Out Blobs of Plasma

Astronomers have discovered a binary system where a black hole is tearing apart and gobbling up a star. It's too much food to choke down all at once, so a disk of material has formed around the black hole, with jets from its poles. But instead of a steady stream of material coming from the poles, astronomers are seeing giant "blobs" of plasma hurled off into space.

Lunar eclipse

During the Last Total Lunar Eclipse, a Meteor Struck the Moon and Caused a Flash. Now we Know More About the Impact

Back in January 2019, half the world was able to see a dramatic total lunar eclipse. And many people noticed a brief flash on the surface of the Moon as a meteor crashed into it. Astronomers have done the follow up calculations and determined that a 45 kg rock slammed into the Moon going about 61,000 km/h, producing as much energy as 1.5 tonnes of TNT, and digging up a crater 10 to 15 meters across.


A Strange Ice Feature Wraps Halfway Around Titan

Scientists studying images taken by Cassini have found something really unusual on the surface of Saturn's largest moon Titan. Methane ice forms a belt near the moon's equator, stretching about 40% of the way around. Titan doesn't seem to have any active cryovolcanoes any more, and the features look like they're being revealed through constant erosion. You'd expect to see features like this at the poles, not at the equator. It's a mystery. 


Pluto's Atmosphere Will Freeze Onto the Surface Over the Next Decade or so

It's really good timing that NASA's New Horizons spacecraft arrived at Pluto when it did. Now that the dwarf planet is moving farther and farther from the Sun, it's cooling down. Researchers have calculated that over the next decade or so, the world will get so cold that its atmosphere will freeze out  and snow down to the surface. It won't sublimate again for hundreds of years, until Pluto is closer to the Sun in its orbit again.

Crew Dragon

Dragon was Destroyed Just Before the Firing of its SuperDraco Thrusters

Although there hasn't been much out of SpaceX or NASA, details are starting to emerge about what caused last week's explosion and destruction of the Crew Dragon vehicle. According to Hans Koenigsmann, from mission assurance at SpaceX, there was an anomaly about a half-second before it fired its SuperDraco thrusters. "There was an anomaly and the vehicle was destroyed." I'm sure it'll still be a few more weeks before we finally get a detailed explanation about what happened, but this will probably push a human Crew Dragon mission into 2020.



The World's Space Agencies are Responding to a Hypothetical Asteroid Impact. You Can Watch it all Unfold Online.

Have you ever wondered how prepared Earth is for an incoming asteroid? The world's space agencies were wondering that too, so they're practicing their response to a hypothetical asteroid striking the Earth. NASA, ESA and others are going to be live tweeting their responses to various simulated events so you can get a sense of what their response would like like in an actual emergency.


NASA Reveals Why Two of Its Missions Failed: Bad Aluminum

In 2009 NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory failed to separate from its rocket, destroying the mission. And then two years later, the Glory satellite failed in a similar way. After a decade of intense scrutiny, NASA finally figured out why both missions failed. The company that provided the aluminum admitted that it had falsified quality control tests. 


InSight Enjoys a Sunrise on Mars

NASA's InSight lander took a moment out of its busy schedule to appreciate the beautiful view of the rising Sun coming over the horizon on Mars. In fact, the mission has sent home images of both sunrises and sunsets. Because Mars is so much farther away from the Sun, it appears much smaller in the sky from the surface of the Red Planet. 

Xenon experiment

Dark Matter Detector Finds the Rarest Event Ever Seen in the Universe

XENON is a sensitive experiment designed to help scientists understand the nature of neutrinos, and maybe even figure out what dark matter is. It hasn't done that, but it has done something pretty exciting - it detected the decay of a Xenon-124 atomic nuclei for the very first time. This is incredibly rare. The half life of Xenon-124 is a trillion times longer than the age of the Universe, so to see one particle decay makes it the rarest event ever observed in the Universe.

New Shepard

Blue Origin's New Shepard Flies Again, a Week Before Their Mysterious Announcement

Once again, Blue Origin's New Shepard blasted off from its launch pad and returned safely back to Earth. On board it was carrying a series of microgravity experiments for NASA. This means that regular people will soon get a chance to experience flying to the edge of space. But a bigger mystery is the strange tweet that Blue Origin sent out earlier this week: something about Shackleton and the date 5.9.19. Next week, I guess we'll all know what that means.


When the Impact that Created the Moon Happened, the Early Earth was Still a Ball of Magma

We're still trying to figure out where the Moon came from. The most widely held theory is that a Mars-sized planet crashed into the early Earth, and the remnants created the Moon. One new study shows evidence that the Earth was still a ball of magma when the impact happened. This would help explain why there's so much of the early Earth in the Moon.


Keep an Eye Out for the Eta Aquarid Meteors This Weekend

Keep your eyes on the sky this weekend, and you could be lucky to see a few meteors streak across the heavens. It's time for the annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower, and this is a very good year for it. That's because the shower peaks on the evening of Monday, May 6th, which is less than 40 hours after the New Moon, so the sky will be nice and dark, showing off the fainter meteors. Good luck!

Other Interesting Space Stuff

Amazing Astrophotography on @universetoday


We were lucky enough to be able to feature one of the world's greatest astrophotographers this week: Rogelio Bernal Andreo. This is an example of his phenomenal work, the Antares region of the Milky Way.

We have featured nearly 1,000 astrophotographers on our Instagram page, which has more than 170,000 followers. Want to do a takeover? Use the hashtag #universetoday and I'll check out your photos.


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