Friday, September 13, 2019

🚀 Water Found on an Exoplanet in the Habitable Zone, 24 Starlink Launches in 2020?!, Is Deimos the Perfect Spot for a Space Habitat? And More...



Water Discovered in the Atmosphere of an Exoplanet in the Habitable zone. It Might Be Rain

Hi, Vasiliy.

I'm sure you've heard the big news this week: astronomers have detected water vapor in the atmosphere of an exoplanet that's located in the habitable zone of its star. This is huge news, but it doesn't mean that we're looking at a habitable world.

The planet, K2-18b, is about twice the size of Earth with 8 times the mass, and orbits a red dwarf star every 33 days. Astronomers were able to use Hubble to detect the presence of water vapor in the presence of the atmosphere, but that doesn't mean it actually has liquid oceans. It might be a superearth with an extended atmosphere, or it might be a mini-neptune. More research will be needed.

You might hear stories that this is the most habitable planet found so far, and that's definitely not accurate. It has significantly more gravity that Earth, it orbits a red dwarf star that can release devastating solar flares. It's probably tidally locked to its star; one side is blasted by sunlight, the other side is in darkness.

But is the very first time astronomers have detected water on a planet in the habitable zone of another star. Over time, they're going to find more and more of them, and eventually it'll be a true Earth-sized world that must have oceans.

As always, stay tuned as the science evolves.


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 813 Patrons who get our videos early, see behind the scenes, and get no ads on Universe Today.


A Tour Of The Lagrange Points. Part 2 - Space Telescopes At L2 And Nothing At L3

Lagrange Points. Stable spots in space that you just can't stop thinking about. What spacecraft work best in which places? What are some amazing ideas that could utilize these regions across the Solar System?

In the last episode, I gave an overview of the Lagrange points, and then went into the details of spacecraft missions sent to L1, the perfect place to constantly observe the Sun, the Earth, or to block radiation coming from the Sun. The best place for a lunar elevator, or a spot to put a space station at the Moon.

This week, we're going to talk about L2 and L3, the other meta-unstable spots that you can park a spacecraft at.

Subscribe to our podcasts:

Universe Today Guide to Space Audio: iTunes - RSS
Audio versions of all the media I upload to my YouTube channel, as well as bonus content, behind the scenes, interviews with Fraser and more

Astronomy Cast: iTunes - RSS
Your weekly facts-based journey through the cosmos, which I co-host with astronomer Dr. Pamela Gay. We have episodes on every concept in space and astronomy, from black holes to the history of astronomy.

Weekly Space Hangout: iTunes - RSS

A weekly round-up of all the breaking space news. Rocket launches, new discoveries from Hubble, and planetary science by three PhD astronomers... and me.


Chandrayaan 2 Mission Loses Contact With Vikram Lander During Descent

Well, this is heartbreaking. In last week's newsletter, I let you know that India's Vikram lander was about to set down on the surface of the Moon and begin two weeks of exploration. Unfortunately, the landing failed, and India lost contact with the spacecraft in the final moments, when it should have been sitting safely on the surface of the Moon. India is still trying to make contact with the lander, and we still don't know any of the details. 


Whoa. Lakes on Titan Might be the Craters from Massive Underground Explosions

Since Cassini's discovery of lakes on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan, astronomers have been trying to puzzle out what they could be, and how they formed. A new theory proposes that they're actually the craters left over from massive explosions beneath the surface of Titan, where huge pockets of nitrogen suddenly exploded, opening a crater on the surface that later filled with liquid methane.

Hypervelocity star

A Black Hole Threw a Star Right out of the Milky Way, but the Culprit Wasn't Sgr A*

Astronomers have known about a hyper-velocity star for a few years now, and astronomers thought it was hurled out of the galaxy by the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way. But new observations show that it originated somewhere else, which means there's something else capable of accelerating a star this quickly. An intermediate-mass black hole? A supernova? What threw the star is still a mystery.


China's FAST Telescope, the World's Largest Single Radio Dish Telescope, is Now Fully Operational


Witness the power of a fully operational 500-meter single dish radio telescope. China announced this week that their Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (or FAST) is now operational and ready to do science at a massive scale. The Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico is 305 meter across, so this is a nice upgrade for radio astronomers scanning the sky for pulsars, fast radio bursts and other radio-emitting astronomical objects.



SpaceX Wants to Launch Groups of Starlink Satellites 24 Times in 2020

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell announced the company's ambitious plans to launch 24 Starlink missions in 2020. I'm not talking about 24 satellites, I'm talking about 24 launches, each of which contains 60 satellites, so they'll be putting well over 1,000 satellites into orbit next year, doing more launches than any rocket company has ever done in a year. They're accelerating their plans to offer internet service to North America.



Here's Hubble's Newest Image of Saturn

Now that Cassini's gone, we'll need to rely on Hubble to give us regular pictures of Saturn. And here's the 2019 edition, taken when Saturn was at its closest point in June. It was taken when the planet was "only" 1.36 billion kilometers away, using Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. So pretty. Also... we need to go back. 

Feasting black hole

Astronomers Find a Supermassive Black Hole That's Feasting on a Regular Schedule, Every 9 Hours

There are active black holes (quasars), constantly blasting out radiation into space as they feed on material, and there are the quiet black holes, which have run out of food. But astronomers have discovered a black hole that seems to be eating on a regular basis, every 9 hours or so, throwing out a burp of X-rays and then quieting down.This kind of regularity has never been seen before, but what could be causing it?


The Safest Bet for Space Settlers? Would you Believe it's Inside Mars' Moon Deimos?

When humans finally try to make a permanent outpost at Mars, it might actually not be down on the surface, but on one of its smaller, potato-like moons: Deimos. According to a new proposal from NASA flight surgeon Jim Logan, you could drill a hole into Deimos, mine all the minerals and water you could ever want, all within the safety of a protective rocky tunnel.


Astronauts Try Mixing Concrete in Space

If we're going to live in space permanently, we're going to need to build large structures in space out of materials harvested from asteroids and the Moon. As a tiny step towards this future, astronauts tried mixing up a few batches of concrete in the microgravity environment of the International Space Station. Without gravity to separate the layers, and for bubbles to be able to rise to the top, the resulting concrete is surprisingly different.

Lunar settlement

Entrepreneurs and Engineers Come Together to Design a Peaceful Lunar Settlement

The Outerspace Treaty clearly defines that you can't own the Moon, and you can't use it for military purposes. So what would a peaceful community on the Moon look like? Last week a group of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs came together to hash out some of the issues that a lunar station might face if it actually comes together.


NASA Tests Autonomous Lunar Landing Technology

As we learned this week, it's incredibly difficult to land on the Moon. In order to stick the landing, NASA is testing out techniques that would allow future landers to autonomously detect the surface around them, and put down in a spot that's safe, away from big rocks, steep slopes and craters. Let's hope the next generation of landers have better luck getting down to the Moon.



This is Why Saturn's Rotation is So Hard to Measure

How long is a day on Saturn? That's actually a very tricky question to answer with precision. That's because it doesn't have any surface features you can track as they go around the planet. Instead, astronomers have watched how its magnetic field turns around the planet, but even that has been unreliable. In fact, in the last few decades, the length of day had seemed to change by about 6 minutes. How is that possible?

Other Interesting Space Stuff

Amazing Astrophotography on @universetoday


Have you ever watched a meteor shower? Take pictures of the sky every few minutes all night long, and you'll realize just how many chunks of dust are really hitting the Earth's atmosphere during one of these events. This amazing picture by @brinscoe shows you the beauty of the 2018 Perseids over Colorado.

We have featured over 1,000 astrophotographers on our Instagram page, which has more than 186,000 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

ESO — VISTA unveils a new image of the Large Magellanic Cloud — Photo Release eso1914

ESO — Reaching New Heights in Astronomy
Subscription preferences | Unsubscribe | View in browser
ESO News
13 September 2019

ESO's VISTA telescope reveals a remarkable image of the Large Magellanic Cloud, one of our nearest galactic neighbours. VISTA has been surveying this galaxy and its sibling the Small Magellanic Cloud, as well as their surroundings, in unprecedented detail. This survey allows astronomers to observe a large number of stars, opening up new opportunities to study stellar evolution, galactic dynamics, and variable stars.

The release, images and videos are available on:

Kind regards,
The ESO Department of Communication
13 September 2019

  ESO Announcements

Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics awarded to the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

9 September 2019: The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration, the team who captured an image of a black hole for the first time, has been awarded the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics ...

Read more

Lodewijk Woltjer (1930–2019)

27 August 2019: ESO's longest-serving Director General, Lodewijk Woltjer, passed away on Sunday 25 August 2019 at the age of 89.  Lodewijk Woltjer, known to many as Lo, was ESO's third ...

Read more


Cosmic lighthouses — ESO Fellow Trystyn Berg on why he uses some of the most energetic known objects to probe the foggy parts of the Universe

Interview with: Trystyn Berg

6 September 2019: As an ESO Fellow in Chile, Trystyn Berg uses our telescopes to answer big questions about the Universe. We catch up with him to find out more about his research, ...

Read more

From comets to cosmology — Meet our 2019 Summer Research Programme students

23 August 2019: This summer, ESO held its first ever Summer Research Programme, giving seven talented university students the opportunity to undertake a six-week long research project at ESO Headquarters. Each student worked ...

Read more

A string of domes in the desert — Site Manager gives peek into running La Silla Observatory

Interview with: Ivo Saviane

9 August 2019: La Silla became ESO's first observatory when it opened in 1969. Since then, the majestic gathering of telescopes in the Chilean desert has led to an enormous number of scientific ...

Read more

Share this newsletter on:

Like ESO — VISTA unveils a new image of the Large Magellanic Cloud — Photo Release eso1914 on Facebook   share on Twitter   Google Plus One Button

Receive our News in your preferred language

Start receiving this newsletter in your language

 Pictures of the Week

2 September 2019
Caught in the act

26 August 2019
Snowy Paranal

Upcoming Events

A Cosmic Vista  Stars Form in Silence  At home in the Milky Way  A game-changer  Red and Long Dead 

You are receiving this newsletter because you subscribed to ESO News.

Subscription preferences | Unsubscribe | View in browser

Follow us on:

Facebook Twitter Vimeo Flickr YouTube LinkedIn Google+ Pinterest Itunes Scribd Issuu Livestream

European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str 2, D-85748 Garching bei München, Germany