Astronomy News

Courtesy of Science Daily

Welcome to Sea and Sky's Astronomy News. Here you can find links to the latest space news headlines on the topic of astronomy. Click on any yellow title below to view the full news article. The news article will open in a new browser window. Simply close the browser window when you are finished reading the article to return to the news article listing. You can use the "Click for More" link to go to a page with more news headlines.


Astronomy News -- ScienceDaily
Updated : Tue, 28 Jun 2016 05:12:12 EDT

Minor mergers are major drivers of star formation
Around half of the star formation in the local Universe arises from minor mergers between galaxies, according to data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The patch of sky called Stripe 82 is observed repeatedly to produce high-quality images of spiral galaxies. Disruptions to the shapes of these galaxies, caused by interactions with their smallest neighbors, pointed to increased star formation.
Publ.Date : Mon, 27 Jun 2016 21:46:36 EDT

Meet RobERt, the dreaming detective for exoplanet atmospheres
Machine-learning techniques that mimic human recognition and dreaming processes are being deployed in the search for habitable worlds beyond our solar system. A deep belief neural network, called RobERt (Robotic Exoplanet Recognition), has been developed by astronomers to sift through detections of light emanating from distant planetary systems and retrieve spectral information about the gases present in the exoplanet atmospheres.
Publ.Date : Mon, 27 Jun 2016 21:46:28 EDT

Moon discovered over dwarf planet Makemake in the Kuiper Belt
Scientists have discovered an elusive, dark moon orbiting Makemake, one of the 'big four' dwarf planets populating the Kuiper Belt region at the edge of our solar system.
Publ.Date : Mon, 27 Jun 2016 21:44:21 EDT

When it comes to brown dwarfs, 'how far?' is a key question
Brown dwarfs are sometimes called failed stars. They're stars' dim, low-mass siblings and they fade in brightness over time. They're fascinating to astronomers for a variety of reasons, but much about them remains unknown. New work reports the distances of a number of brown dwarfs, as well as low-mass stars.
Publ.Date : Mon, 27 Jun 2016 12:51:38 EDT

Glorious, glowing Jupiter awaits Juno’s arrival
Stunning new images and the highest-resolution maps to date of Jupiter at thermal infrared wavelengths give a glowing view of Juno's target, a week ahead of the NASA mission's arrival at the giant planet. The maps reveal the present-day temperatures, composition and cloud coverage within Jupiter's dynamic atmosphere, and show how giant storms, vortices and wave patterns shape the appearance of the giant planet.
Publ.Date : Mon, 27 Jun 2016 09:59:41 EDT

Opal discovered in Antarctic meteorite
Planetary scientists have discovered pieces of opal in a meteorite found in Antarctica, a result that demonstrates that meteorites delivered water ice to asteroids early in the history of the solar system.
Publ.Date : Mon, 27 Jun 2016 09:59:39 EDT

Fastest-spinning brown-dwarf star is detected by its bursts of radio waves
Astronomers have detected what may be the most rapidly rotating, ultra-cool, brown-dwarf star ever seen. The super-fast rotation period was measured by using the 305-meter Arecibo radio telescope -- the same telescope that was used to discover the first planets ever found outside our solar system. The detection emphasizes Arecibo's amazing sensitivity, which has the potential to measure the magnetic fields, which protect life, of potentially habitable planets around other stars.
Publ.Date : Mon, 27 Jun 2016 09:50:23 EDT

Seeds of black holes could be revealed by gravitational waves detected in space
Gravitational waves captured by space-based detectors could help identify the origins of supermassive black holes, according to new computer simulations of the universe.
Publ.Date : Mon, 27 Jun 2016 09:50:17 EDT

Hubble confirms new dark spot on Neptune
New images confirm the presence of a dark vortex on Neptune. Though similar features were seen during the Voyager 2 flyby of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in 1989 and by Hubble in 1994, this vortex is the first one observed on Neptune in the 21st century.
Publ.Date : Thu, 23 Jun 2016 15:08:54 EDT

Probing giant planets' dark hydrogen
Hydrogen is the most-abundant element in the universe, but there is still so much we have to learn about it. One of the biggest unknowns is its transformation under the extreme pressures and temperatures found in the interiors of giant planets, where it is squeezed until it becomes liquid metal, capable of conducting electricity. New work measures the conditions under which hydrogen undergoes this transition in the lab and finds an intermediate 'dark hydrogen' state.
Publ.Date : Thu, 23 Jun 2016 12:30:37 EDT

Successful first observations of galactic center with GRAVITY
A European team of astronomers have used the new GRAVITY instrument at ESO's Very Large Telescope to obtain exciting observations of the center of the Milky Way by combining light from all four of the 8.2-meter Unit Telescopes for the first time. These results provide a taste of the groundbreaking science that GRAVITY will produce as it probes the extremely strong gravitational fields close to the central supermassive black hole and tests Einstein's general relativity.
Publ.Date : Thu, 23 Jun 2016 06:50:51 EDT

NASA scientists discover unexpected mineral on Mars
Scientists have discovered an unexpected mineral in a rock sample at Gale Crater on Mars, a finding that may alter our understanding of how the planet evolved.
Publ.Date : Wed, 22 Jun 2016 17:04:22 EDT

The universe: Learning about the future from the distant past
Our universe came to life nearly 14 billion years ago in the Big Bang -- a tremendously energetic fireball from which the cosmos has been expanding ever since. Today, space is filled with hundreds of billions of galaxies, including our solar system's own galactic home, the Milky Way. But how exactly did the infant universe develop into its current state, and what does it tell us about our future?
Publ.Date : Wed, 22 Jun 2016 14:54:11 EDT

X-ray echoes of a shredded star provide close-up of 'killer' black hole
Billions of years ago in the heart of a distant galaxy, a monster black hole shredded a passing star and emitted X-rays. Now astronomers are using X-ray echoes to study a newly awakened black hole for the first time.
Publ.Date : Wed, 22 Jun 2016 14:50:16 EDT

The universe is crowded with black holes, astronomers predict
Astronomers have presented one of the most complete models of matter in the universe and predict hundreds of massive black hole mergers each year observable with the second generation of gravitational wave detectors.
Publ.Date : Wed, 22 Jun 2016 14:49:30 EDT

Astrophysicist probes theory of black-hole accretion
Utilizing the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, one of the most powerful telescopes in the world, researchers have peered into the feeding habits of a supermassive black hole.
Publ.Date : Wed, 22 Jun 2016 10:21:22 EDT

Astronomers find the first 'wind nebula' around a magnetar
Astronomers have discovered a vast cloud of high-energy particles called a wind nebula around a rare ultra-magnetic neutron star, or magnetar, for the first time. The find offers a unique window into the properties, environment and outburst history of magnetars, which are the strongest magnets in the universe.
Publ.Date : Tue, 21 Jun 2016 15:49:55 EDT

An ocean lies a few kilometers beneath Saturn's moon Enceladus's icy surface
With eruptions of ice and water vapor, and an ocean covered by an ice shell, Saturn's moon Enceladus is one of the most fascinating in the Solar System, especially as interpretations of data provided by the Cassini spacecraft have been contradictory until now. Astronomers recently proposed a new model that reconciles different data sets and shows that the ice shell at Enceladus's south pole may be only a few kilometers thick. This suggests that there is a strong heat source in the interior of Enceladus, an additional factor supporting the possible emergence of life in its ocean.
Publ.Date : Tue, 21 Jun 2016 11:57:43 EDT

'Space tsunami' causes the third Van Allen Belt
Earth's magnetosphere, the region of space dominated by Earth's magnetic field, protects our planet from the harsh battering of the solar wind. Like a protective shield, the magnetosphere absorbs and deflects plasma from the solar wind which originates from the Sun. Extreme space weather storms can create intense radiation in the Van Allen belts and drive electrical currents which can damage terrestrial electrical power grids. Earth could then be at risk for up to trillions of dollars of damage.
Publ.Date : Mon, 20 Jun 2016 12:03:00 EDT

Newborn giant planet grazes its star
For the past 20 years, exoplanets known as 'hot Jupiters' have puzzled astronomers. These giant planets orbit 100 times closer to their host stars than Jupiter does to the Sun, which increases their surface temperatures. But how and when in their history did they migrate so close to their star? Now, an international team of astronomers has announced the discovery of a very young hot Jupiter orbiting in the immediate vicinity of a star that is barely two million years old -- the stellar equivalent of a week-old infant. This first-ever evidence that hot Jupiters can appear at such an early stage represents a major step forward in our understanding of how planetary systems form and evolve.
Publ.Date : Mon, 20 Jun 2016 11:25:08 EDT