It seems unlikely that an ocean could persist on a world that never gets closer than 30 astronomical units from the Sun. But that’s the case with Pluto. Evidence shows that it has a sub-surface ocean between 100 to 180 km thick, at the boundary between the core and the mantle. Other Kuiper Belt Objects may be similar.
But time might be running out for these buried oceans, which will one day turn to ice.
Continue reading “Pluto and Other Kuiper Belt Objects Started Out With Water Oceans, and Have Been Slowly Freezing Solid for Billions of Years”
Today, SpaceX experienced another explosion at their South Texas Launch Site in Boca Chica, Texas. Once again, the explosion occurred during a cryogenic pressure test, where a prototype was pressurized with liquid nitrogen to see how it held up. This time around, it was the test tank for the 7th Starship prototype (SN7), which was being deliberately pressurized to the point where it would fail – aka. “tested to failure”.
Continue reading “Another Starship Test Ends in an Explosion (Intentionally This Time)”
Most of the universe is made of one of two kinds of mysterious substances, called dark matter and dark energy. From all the evidence, these two cosmic components only interact with “normal” matter through the gravitational force. And a recent nuclear experiment reveals no presence of any dark contamination in the bonds between atomic nuclei to a level twenty times better than previously recorded.
Continue reading “There’s no evidence that dark matter interacts with any other force but gravity”
Astronomers like to observe young planets forming in circumstellar debris disks, the rotating rings of material around young stars. But when they measure the amount of material in those disks, they don’t contain enough material to form large planets. That discrepancy has puzzled astronomers.
The answer might come down to timing.
A new study suggests that planets form much quicker than astronomers think.
Continue reading “Planets Form in Just a Few Hundred Thousand Years”
Five hundred million light-years from Earth, there is a deeply unusual object. It is radio silent for 12 days, then erupts in bright radio bursts. These fast radio bursts occur randomly over four days, then the object goes silent for another 12 days. Astronomers have observed this object for 500 days, and the pattern always repeats, like clockwork. We still aren’t sure what the object is.
Continue reading “A Repeating Fast Radio Burst Has Been Found. It Flares for 4 Days and then Remains Silent for 12 Days”
Comet U6 Lemmon promises to be a fine binocular object at dusk.
And then there were five. Though we’re long overdue for the next great ‘Comet of the Century,’ 2020 seems intent on on throwing decent binocular comets our way, the ranks of which include comets C/2017 T2 PanSTARRS, C/2019 Y1 and C/2019 Y4 ATLAS and C/2020 F8 SWAN. Now, C/2019 U6 Lemmon is set to take center stage in July.
Continue reading “Comet U6 Lemmon Brightens in July”
X-ray astronomy helps scientists study neutron stars, binary star systems, and supernova remnants, and even helps detect black holes. But even if human eyes had the ability to see X-rays, we couldn’t just look up at the night sky and see these amazing objects since Earth’s atmosphere absorbs and blocks X-rays. So, thank goodness for space telescopes! ?And the newest X-ray instrument in space has just produced a breathtaking view of the Universe, and is the deepest X-ray view of the sky we’ve ever seen. ?
Continue reading “If You Could See in X-rays, This is What the Universe Would Look Like”
Antares, the angry red eye of the constellation Taurus the bull, is a red supergiant star near the end of its life. And astronomers with the VLA and ALMA have realized that it’s much, much bigger than we ever?imagined.
Continue reading “Antares is a supergiant star that would fill the Solar System beyond Mars, but its atmosphere is 12 times bigger than that”
To date, astronomers have discovered 4,164 extrasolar planets in 3,085 star systems, with another 5,347 awaiting confirmation. With this many planets available for study, researchers have been able to apply new constraints on how likely habitable planets are. In fact, the latest estimates say there could be 6 billion in the Milky Way alone! Understandably, these discoveries have renewed interest in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).
But whereas the search for habitable planets is focused on finding evidence of biological processes (aka. “biosignatures”), SETI has historically been focused on evidence of technological activity – aka. “technosignatures.” With a grant from NASA, researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and the University of Rochester are gearing up for a new study that will look for different kinds of potential technosignatures.
Continue reading “A New Search for Evidence of Technological Civilizations in the Milky Way”
We puny humans think we can accelerate particles? Look how proud we are of the Large Hadron Collider. But any particle accelerator we build will pale in comparison to Quasars, nature’s champion accelerators.
Those things are beasts.