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Space: The Final Frontier


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Oct 14, 2022

Hubble Eyes a Brilliant Star Cluster

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This image taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows Terzan 1, a globular cluster that lies about 22,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Scorpius. It is one of 11 globular clusters that were discovered by the Turkish-Armenian astronomer Agop Terzan between 1966 and 1971 when he was working in France, based mostly at Lyon Observatory.

Terzan 1 is not a new target for Hubble. An image of the cluster was released back in 2015, taken by Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2). That instrument was replaced by the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) during the 2009 Hubble servicing mission. WFC3 has both superior resolving power and a wider field of view than WFPC2, and the improvement is obvious in this fantastically detailed image.

Text credit: European Space Agency (ESA)
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Cohen

https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/goddard/2022/hubble-eyes-a-brilliant-star-cluster

 

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Evil doppelgängers, alternate timelines and infinite possibilities: the physics of the multiverse explained

The word ‘universe’ once described everything that exists. But as our horizons have expanded, many scientists have begun to consider what’s beyond our own cosmos, and whether there may be many other universes lurking tantalisingly out of sight.

You might have noticed, if you’ve set foot in a cinema this year, that Hollywood has fallen in love with the multiverse. From Marvel to DC to Disney, alternate universes, realities and timelines are being written into scripts to wow audiences and make life a bit easier when A-list celebrities tire of yanking on the latex.

It’s not just the big studios that are at it. The sublimely joyful indie film Everything Everywhere All At Once asks and answers, ‘why, if everything is happening everywhere and all at once, should any of it matter?’

Likewise, Rick And MortyDark and Man In The High Castle use the idea of alternate universes as a kind of funhouse mirror to ponder (sometimes) serious questions about our own Universe. And it’s fair to point out that the idea is nothing new. Who could forget Spock’s evil doppelgänger with his suitably sinister goatee? Clearly, the idea of the multiverse has permeated the fabric of our culture. But what do the scientists think about multiverses? Is there the science to back them up?

Many physicists believe that multiverses could exist, ranging from universes lurking behind the event horizons of black holes, to growing universes expanding like bubbles in soap foam.

“A multiverse is something which is really not that strange if you think of it historically, from the point of view of science,” says Prof Ulf Danielsson, a theoretical physicist at Uppsala University, Sweden. “Our horizons have continuously been expanding. At some time, we thought that Earth was the only planet and that this was the whole world. We now know there’s a Universe full of other planets. It’s also quite natural to speculate that there is another step and that our Universe is not the only one.”

So what are some of the leading multiverse theories, and which of them could harbour an evil, possibly moustachioed, you.

FULL REPORT

 

 

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Alien life search narrows as red dwarf star systems may be inhospitable

Red dwarf stars are the most common in the universe.

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An Earth-like planet orbiting a red dwarf star, or ‘M dwarf,’ has been found to have had its atmosphere stripped away by intense radiation from its host star. The finding may help scientists narrow their search for extra-terrestrial life, as it suggests that planets orbiting other red dwarfs may also be rendered inhospitable by this star type.

That is, if we assume that aliens also need to breathe to metabolise. For the record, that is a fair assumption.

Red dwarfs are the most common star in the universe. They are about one tenth the diameter of our sun, but are still main sequence stars, meaning they fuse hydrogen atoms to form helium atoms in their cores. In fact, they are the smallest and coolest of the main sequence stars, reaching only around 2,000°C surface temperatures.

They are also, however, the universe’s most common star type. Red dwarfs are about 10 times more common than stars like our sun.

These little balls of gas don’t sound that impressive, but they are also known to have more solar activity like flares and intense radiation bursts than stars like our sun.

Research on the rocky planet whose atmosphere was stripped by its red dwarf host star was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.The planet, dubbed GJ 1252 b, was discovered in 2020 orbiting its red dwarf star 66 light years away. At 1.32 times Earth’s mass, this exoplanet is referred to as a ‘Super Earth’ but it orbits its star very closely – circling the red dwarf twice every Earth day.

GJ 1252 b’s fate appears similar to that of Mercury which has a tight orbit around our sun. Though Mercury retained its atmosphere, it is very thin.

Not only has GJ 1252 b’s atmosphere been stripped away by stellar radiation, it would also get very hot.

“The pressure from the star’s radiation is immense, enough to blow a planet’s atmosphere away,” says co-author Michelle Hill, an astrophysicist and PhD candidate at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). Day time temperatures on the planet are estimated to reach over 1,200°C – enough to melt many metals like gold, silver and copper.

It is this heat, plus presumed low surface pressure, which led the researchers to conclude that the planet’s atmosphere has been torn away. The researchers believe that even a huge amount of CO2 would not prevent the removal of the planet’s atmosphere.

“The planet could have 700 times more carbon than Earth has, and it still wouldn’t have an atmosphere. It would build up initially, but then taper off and erode away,” explains co-author Dr Stephen Kane, also an astrophysicist at UCR.

Though GJ 1252 b is quite close to its star, the volatility of red dwarfs indicates that planets even further away may not be able to hold on to their atmospheres.

“It’s possible this planet’s condition could be a bad sign for planets even further away from this type of star,” Hill says. “This is something we’ll learn from the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be looking at planets like these.”

Of the 5,000 stars in the vicinity of our solar system, most are red dwarfs but around 1,000 stars are similar to our sun and could be host to hospitable planets. In addition, planets orbiting red dwarfs at a greater distance may still harbour life.

“If a planet is far enough away from an M dwarf, it could potentially retain an atmosphere. We cannot conclude yet that all rocky planets around these stars get reduced to Mercury’s fate,” Hill adds. “I remain optimistic.”

https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/red-dwarf-alien-inhospitable/

 

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NASA Spacecraft Snaps Haunting View of Earth From 380,000 Miles Away

NASA's Lucy spacecraft is on a mission to visit Jupiter's ancient Trojan asteroids, but it took time during its journey to capture some poignant views of its home planet. NASA shared the images on Tuesday, and they serve as a reminder of just how solitary our planet is.

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A stark black-and-white image from Oct. 15 shows our marble with mottled clouds against the dark backdrop of space . Lucy snapped the view from a distance of 380,000 miles (620,000 kilometers). "The upper left of the image includes a view of Hadar, Ethiopia, home to the 3.2 million-year-old human ancestor fossil for which the spacecraft was named," NASA said in a statement.

Lucy's Terminal Tracking Camera (T2CAM) system took the Earth image during an instrument calibration sequence. The camera system's ultimate purpose will be to help the spacecraft track the asteroids it will visit.

FULL REPORT

 

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Artemis ready for launch. Again.

Weather alert for Puerto Rican stormfront.

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NASA expects its problem-marred Artemis I launch to proceed when its next launch window opens on November 14 local time.

That window opens at 12.07am USEST and extends for 69 minutes. NASA can also launch on November 16 at 1:04am, or November 19 at 1:45am if required.

The Artemis is the space agency’s program to return people to the Moon over the next decade, starting with this first uncrewed mission, which will send the new Orion spacecraft into orbit around our lunar neighbour.

But the Artemis I launch has been blocked by a series of challenges: First an engine cooling problem on the mission’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and then a refuelling leak.

It was finally wheeled back to the garage due to the arrival of Hurricane Ian off the Florida coast.

Despite these setbacks, NASA’s associate administrator of exploration systems development James Free expects the SLS to be punching through Earth’s atmosphere come mid-November.

“We are on track to roll back to the launchpad this evening [local time],” Free says.

“Everyone feels really good about the launch… if we weren’t confident, we wouldn’t rollout, if we weren’t confident we wouldn’t start the countdown.

“This is a challenging mission. We’ve seen challenges just getting all our systems to work together, and that’s why we do a flight test. It’s about going after the things that can’t be modelled, and we’re learning by taking more risk on this mission, before we put crew on there.

“We have three good attempts lined-up on the 14th, 16th and 19th.”

The extended hiatus due to Hurricane Ian allowed ground crew to re-inspect the rocket and spacecraft in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Centre.

This process included checks to the rocket’s thermal protection system (which protects the spacecraft from the intense heat of re-entry), recertifying flight termination system hardware, and recharging primary and secondary batteries on the Orion spacecraft. The flight termination system is required on all NASA rockets, to destroy the SLS in the event it veers significantly off-course during take-off.

Weather watch for nearby storm front

Although Free and the NASA team are bullish about their launch prospects, there is the possibility of weather again posing a launch barrier, with a low-pressure system developing south of the launch site. Predicted wind speeds are within the thresholds for keeping the rocket on the launch pad.

The front is being closely watched and is expected to move towards the Florida coast in the early part of next week.

“There’s still a lot of inconsistencies on exactly where that [front] may end up, and whether or not it even does acquire a significant tropical characteristic to even become a named storm,” says Mark Berger, a weather officer for the nearby Space Launch Delta 45 station.

“That’s all very much out in play at this point, in fact the National Hurricane Centre has it as a thirty percent chance of becoming a named storm.”

?id=222132&title=Artemis+ready+for+launchttps://cosmosmagazine.com/space/artemis-rolled-onto-launch-pad/

 

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Space Force’s secretive X-37B plane has spent more than 900 days in orbit

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The X-37B current mission started more than two years ago, with the craft launching from Cape Canaveral on May 17, 2020. With this milestone, the space plane’s total record has been more than 3,700 days in orbit.

The mission is secretive, with only two pieces of its payload announced. It’s the sixth Orbital Test Vehicle mission with the space plane, and the military has been keeping its operation and what it is doing on this and past missions relatively secret. Speculation has ranged from testing surveillance systems to experiments on putting satellites in lower orbits. 

What is clear is that this is the first mission launched under Space Force command. The X-37 project started life under the Air Force. After the Space Force formed in December 2019, it took over authority on the program. 

“This important mission will host more experiments than any prior X-37B flight, including two NASA experiments,” then-Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett said in May 2020. “One is a sample plate evaluating the reaction of select significant materials to the conditions in space. The second studies the effect of ambient space radiation on seeds. A third experiment, designed by the Naval Research Laboratory, transforms solar power into radio frequency microwave energy, then studies transmitting that energy to earth.”

This flight is the first time the space plane has been equipped with a service module to carry additional pieces for experiments. During this mission, the X-37B launched a FalconSat-8, a satellite developed by the U.S. Air Force Academy that hosts five different experiments the academy will conduct. The space plane is also testing the effects of radiation and space on seeds, according to Space Force.

The X-37 project is also important because the space plane is reusable. Each launch uses a booster rocket, but the craft can safely land on its own The first flight, in 2010, lasted 224 days, and subsequent missions have pushed the longevity of its orbital capabilities. The space plane is powered by solar cells and lithium-ion batteries.

The United States is not alone in developing winged space planes. China has its own, smaller craft, which is also currently in orbit.

The military as a whole has been testing uncrewed vehicles or crafts, and some have set records for their time in operation. The X-37B however keeps beating its own results by significant margins each mission. It’s unclear when this current mission is set to end.

The latest on Task & Purpose The Navy’s most advanced aircraft carrier is officially flying a brand new battle flag at seaVideo shows alleged Ukrainian drone swarm attack on Russian warships in CrimeaWe salute the USS Daniel Inouye for flying its badass battle flag on the way into portThis Army video shows how much Ranger School has changed in 70 yearsWe salute this F-15 fighter jet for rocking the most ‘Murica paint job ever

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/techandscience/space-forces-secretive-x-37b-plane-has-spent-more-than-900-days-in-orbit/ar-AA13O36t?li=AAnZ9Ug&cvid=882867327ea94f549af10f19380e554c#image=1

 

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Red supergiant supernova gives astronomers new insights into the make-up of the early universe

The red supergiant studied was about 500 times larger than our Sun.

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Images showing a red supergiant star exploding – going supernova – more than 11 billion years ago, could help scientists learn more about the early universe.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in the US have measured the size of the star from images made up of light that travelled to Earth only two billion years after the Big Bang.

The results of the analysis, showing rapid cooling of the supernova, are published in Nature.

“This is the first detailed look at a supernova at a much earlier epoch of the Universe’s evolution,” says lead author Patrick Kelly. “It’s very exciting because we can learn in detail about an individual star when the Universe was less than a fifth of its current age and begin to understand if the stars that existed many billions of years ago are different from the ones nearby.”

Science’s best estimates suggest the Big Bang, at the beginning of the universe, occurred around 13.7 billion years ago.

It is likely that the first stars formed only 100 million years after the universe was born. But the size, colour and life cycle of these early stars and the first galaxies they began to form remain mysterious. 

The red supergiant analysed in the Nature paper was seen at a redshift of =3, corresponding to an age of around 11.5 billion years. This means the light from the supernova has travelled 11.5 billion years to reach us. This is about 60 times further away than any other supernova studied to this level of detail.

The star was 500 times larger than our Sun and has yet to be named. It was noticed in images taken of the Abell 370 galaxy cluster in December 2010 by the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Using the University of Minnesota’s access to the Large Binocular Telescope, the researchers were able to us follow-up spectroscopy to generate detailed images of the red supergiant. The images were made possible by gravitational lensing, where the mass in a galaxy between us and the red supergiant bends the light from the star, magnifying the light it emits.

“The gravitational lens acts as a natural magnifying glass and multiplies Hubble’s power by a factor of eight,” explains Kelly. “Here, we see three images. Even though they can be seen at the same time, they show the supernova as it was at different ages separated by several days. We see the supernova rapidly cooling, which allows us to basically reconstruct what happened and study how the supernova cooled in its first few days with just one set of images. It enables us to see a rerun of a supernova.”

This analysis, in conjunction with work done by Kelly on supernovae since 2014, suggest there were more stars exploding in the young universe than previously thought.

“Core-collapse supernovae mark the deaths of massive, short-lived stars,” adds first author Dr Wenlei Chen, also from the University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy. “The number of core-collapse supernovae we detect can be used to understand how many massive stars were formed in galaxies when the universe was much younger.”

https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/red-supergiant-supernova/

 

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Artemis launch window pushed back due to Tropical Storm Nicole

Another two-day push-back for NASA’s moon mission

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Hurricane Nicole has thrown another curveball at the Artemis mission, with the first storm to make US landfall in decades forcing NASA to again delay the start of its return to the moon.

Originally, Artemis I was due to re-launch on Monday 14 November, however in a statement NASA says its decision will: “…enable staff to manage the potential risks of the weather hazard.”

The re-launch is to now take place on November 16 at the earliest.

“NASA is continuing to monitor Tropical Storm Nicole and has decided to re-target a launch for the Artemis I mission for Wednesday, Nov. 16, pending safe conditions for employees to return to work, as well as inspections after the storm has passed,” NASA says.

“Adjusting the target launch date will allow the workforce to tend to the needs of their families and homes, and provide sufficient logistical time to get back into launch status following the storm.”

Although the launch date has been pushed back by two days, the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft will remain secured on the launch pad, rather than be rolled back into the Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building, as was done recently for Hurricane Ian.

Winds expected at the pad are not expected to breach the structural tolerances of the SLS, which is also designed to withstand heavy rains on the launch pad.

However Orion and the SLS’s core, interim cryogenic propulsion, and booster stages have been powered down.

“Teams are poised to resume work as soon as weather and Kennedy Center status allows,” NASA says.

“Once back on-site, technicians will perform walkdowns and inspections at the pad to assess the status of the rocket and spacecraft as soon as practicable.”

The push-back is the latest in a string of weather and technical delays that have kept Artemis I grounded since its first launch window opened in August.

Artemis I is the first in three missions that will culminate with humans again walking on the moon. This first mission is an uncrewed flight into orbit around the moon.

?id=223191&title=Artemis+launch+window+phttps://cosmosmagazine.com/space/artemis-nasa-launch-tropical-storm-nicole/

 

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Intergalactic, three-dimensional map built in Western Australian outback

The map will help us better understand nearby galaxies and galactic clusters.

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A survey of the night sky by the 36-dish radio telescope array in Western Australia has completed its first phase in a project that aims to build a three-dimensional intergalactic map.

The WALLABY (the Widefield ASKAP L-band All-sky Blind surveY) Pilot Survey has charted hundreds of galaxies, covering 180 square degrees of observable sky – equivalent in area to over 700 full moons.

The data, published in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia, will help us better understand nearby galaxies and galactic clusters.

Data from the completed survey will help astronomers measure the distribution of dark matter, internal motion of galaxies, and how these galactic and intergalactic systems evolve and interact.

It will be the first full 3D survey of this scale. The final project will map a quarter of a million galaxies, generating 30 terabytes of data collected each eight-hour day from the ASKAP radio telescope in the remote mid-west region of Western Australia. The site provides excellent sky coverage, radio quietness and calm tropospheric conditions, making it perfect for radio astronomy.

ASKAP is one of the precursor instruments to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – an international project to build the world’s largest radio telescope.

Lead author Dr Tobias Westmeier, from the University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, says WALLABY’s data will allow researchers to see the universe at a scale that simply isn’t possible with optical telescopes.

“If our own Milky Way is between us and the galaxy we’re trying to observe, the sheer number of stars and dust makes it incredibly hard to see anything else,” says Westmeier. “WALLABY isn’t affected by these limitations. It’s one of the great strengths of radio surveys; they can simply peer through all the stars and dust in our own Milky Way.”

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“WALLABY will enable us to directly map and detect hydrogen gas, the fuel for star-formation,” says co-author Dr Karen Lee-Waddell, director of the Australia SKA Regional Centre. “With this data, astronomers can accurately group galaxies to better understand how they affect each other when clustered together, providing insight on how galaxies form and change over time.”

Lee-Waddell adds that the project’s ability to show where the galaxies sit in three-dimensional space will split up those that appear clustered together but are really millions of light years apart.

WALLABY is expected to lead to many new observations and discoveries.

“Of the over 600 galaxies measured so far, many have not been previously catalogued at any other waveband and are considered new discoveries,” says co-author Professor Lister Staveley-Smith, WALLABY’s Principal Investigator. “Over a dozen papers have been published so far describing new discoveries from these early observations.”

https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/intergalactic-map-wallaby/

 

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Cone Nebula

Spectacular new image of a star factory, the Cone Nebula

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Scientists at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have been discovering the secrets of the universe since the ESO was established in 1962.

To mark its 60th year anniversary, the ESO has released a new image of the Cone Nebula – captured earlier this year with the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). You can access the images here.

The seven-light-year-long pillar of the Cone Nebula is part of the larger star-forming region NGC 2264 and was discovered in the late 18th century by astronomer, William Herschel. This horn-shaped nebula is located less than 2,500 light-years away from Earth, seen in the constellation Monoceros (The Unicorn).

In the image, hydrogen gas is represented in blue and sulphur gas in red.

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https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/cone-nebula-rapid-rain-burst/

 

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Researchers hunt 84 mysterious short gamma ray bursts to their source

A catalogue of tantrums

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Billions of light years away from Earth, occasionally galaxies can have mysterious, powerful, short-lived outbursts. They’re called short gamma ray bursts (SGRBs), and a team of astronomers have just released the most extensive inventory to date of where they originate.

“This is the largest catalogue of SGRB host galaxies to ever exist, so we expect it to be the gold standard for many years to come,” said Anya Nugent, a Northwestern University, Illinois astronomer.

“Building this catalogue and finally having enough host galaxies to see patterns and draw significant conclusions is exactly what the field needed to push our understanding of these fantastic events and what happens to stars after they die.”

The research has been published in two papers in The Astrophysical Journal.

SGRB are created when two neutron stars collide. They generate flashes of intense gamma ray light that last less than two seconds but can travel billions of light years. Some gamma ray bursts will eject more energy in 10 seconds than the Sun will emit in its 10-billion-year lifetime.

While the gamma rays last mere seconds, the optical light can sometimes continue for hours before fading below detection levels. This is called an afterglow, and it helps astronomers track the SGRB back to a galaxy or other source. SGRBs having an afterglow is relatively rare, with, at most, a dozen detected and pinpointed each year.

NASA’s Swift Observatory first discovered an SGRB afterglow in 2005, and since then researchers have been trying to understand why only some galaxies produce these outbursts. At this stage only one SGRB (GRB 170817A) has a confirmed neutron-star merger origin — as it was detected just seconds after gravitational wave detectors observed the binary neutron-star merger (GW170817).

Because these gamma rays currently represent the only way to study a large population of merging neutron star systems, having a catalogue of what scientists already know is extremely helpful.

Using several highly sensitive instruments and sophisticated galaxy modelling, the researchers pinpointed the galactic homes of 84 SGRBs and probed the characteristics of 69 of the identified host galaxies. Among their findings, they discovered that about 85% of the studied SGRBs come from young, actively star-forming galaxies.

“In a decade, the next generation of gravitational wave observatories will be able to detect neutron star mergers out to the same distances as we do SGRBs today,” said one of the researchers, Northwestern University astronomer Assistant Professor Wen-fai Fong.

“Thus, our catalogue will serve as a benchmark for comparison to future detections of neutron star mergers.”

The astronomers found that more SGRBs occurred at earlier times, when the universe was much younger (and with greater distances from their host galaxies’ centres) than was previously known.

Also, several SGRBs were spotted far outside their host galaxies. This is very surprising, like they were ‘kicked out,’ and raises questions as to how they were able to travel so far.

“The catalogue can really make impacts beyond just a single class of transients like SGRBs,” said Northwestern astrophysicist Yuxin ‘Vic’ Dong. “With the wealth of data and results presented in the catalogue, I believe a variety of research projects will make use of it, maybe even in ways we have yet not thought of.”

https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/mysterious-84-short-gamma-ray-bursts-catalogue/

 

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Somalia meteorite: Joy as scientists find two new minerals

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A huge meteorite that fell to Earth contains two minerals never seen before on our planet, scientists say.

Canadian researchers said the rock was found in rural Somalia two years ago, but locals believe it is much older.

They call the stone Nightfall, and say it is documented in poems, songs and dances that stretch back five generations. It is used today to sharpen knives.

The official names for the new minerals are elaliite and elkinstantonite.

They were identified by scientists at the University of Alberta who looked at a 70g fragment from the 15-tonne meteorite, which is said to be the ninth-biggest to reach our planet and is about 90% iron and nickel.

The name "elaliite" honours the fact that the meteorite was unearthed in the district of El Ali in Somalia, and "elkinstantonite" is named after Nasa expert Lindy Elkins-Tanton.

"Lindy has done a lot of work on how the cores of planets form, how these iron nickel cores form, and the closest analogue we have are iron meteorites. So it made sense to name a mineral after her and recognise her contributions to science," said Prof Chris Herd who curates the University of Alberta's meteorite collection.

A third, as-yet unidentified element is being analysed by the university's researchers who now hope to get their hands on more of the meteorite - not only to see what else they might discover, but also how it could be used on Earth.

"Whenever there's a new material that's known, material scientists are interested too because of the potential uses in a wide range of things in society," Prof Herd said of the "exciting" research.

More on this story

 

 

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Artemis: Nasa's Orion capsule breaks distance record

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The US space agency's Orion capsule has reached a key milestone on its demonstration mission around the Moon.

On Monday, it moved some 430,000km (270,000 miles) beyond the Earth - the furthest any spacecraft designed to carry humans has travelled.

The ship is uncrewed on this occasion, but if it completes the current flight without incident, astronauts will be on the next outing in two years' time.

Nasa is planning a series of ever more complex missions with Orion.

They're part of the agency's Artemis programme, which seeks to return people to the lunar surface after a gap of 50 years.

Monday's milestone marks the middle point of the mission.

"This halfway point teaches us to number our days so that we can get a heart of wisdom," said Mike Sarafin, Nasa's Artemis mission manager.

"The halfway point affords us an opportunity to step back and then look at what our margins are and where we could be a little smarter to buy down risk and understand the spacecraft's performance for crewed flight on the very next mission."

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FULL REPORT

 

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Shenzhou-15: China sends new crew to Tiangong space station

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Three Chinese astronauts have taken off for the Tiangong space station to make its first in-orbit crew handover.

It will be the second permanently inhabited space outpost, after the Nasa-led International Space Station from which China was excluded in 2011.

The fresh crew will live on the station for six months, taking over from three colleagues who arrived in June.

There will be a week-long handover period, in part to trial the station's ability to house six astronauts.

The new crew lifted off on Tuesday in the Shenzhou-15 spacecraft or "Divine Vessel" from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert in north-west China.

It is the last of 11 missions required to assemble the station that is expected to operate for around a decade and run experiments in near-zero gravity.

The outgoing crew is expected to return to Earth early next month.

A spokesperson for the China Manned Space Administration said the new crew would focus on installing equipment and facilities around the space station. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

China's space programme has previously landed robotic rovers on Mars and the Moon, and it was the third country to put humans in orbit.

FULL REPORT

 

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Hubble snaps a tiny, ancient-looking galaxy hiding behind a star

They’ve called it Peekaboo

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Behind the star TYC 7215-199-1 lay a cosmic secret. The bright light was hiding a small, yet exciting galaxy. The dwarf galaxy – which researchers have nicknamed ‘Peekaboo’ – has now come into view and the Hubble space telescope has snapped a pretty incredible picture (take that JWST).

A paper looking at the Peekaboo Galaxy (or HIPASS J1131-31 if it’s in trouble) in detail is to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

“At first we did not realize how special this little galaxy is,” Professor Bärbel Koribalski, an astronomer at CSIRO said.

“Now with combined data from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), and others, we know that the Peekaboo Galaxy is one of the most metal-poor galaxies ever detected.”

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The Australian Parkes radio telescope Murriyang was the first to discover the galaxy more than 20 years ago. The galaxy is around 22 million light years away from Earth.

A project called the HI Parkes All Sky Survey (HIPASS) back in late 90s and early 2000s was trying to map as many galaxies as possible.

“I was involved in the project nearly from the beginning and I was keen to catalogue all nearby galaxies and find gas clouds between galaxies,” Koribalski told Cosmos.

“Finding needles in a haystack is hard, so finding little – previously unknown – dwarf galaxies in the HIPASS cubes took a lot of work, but it paid off with the discovery of many hundreds of new galaxies.

“I found HIPASS J1131-31, the only dwarf galaxy to hide behind the glare of a bright foreground star.”

More recently, using SALT, the team discovered that the galaxy is one of the most extremely ‘metal-poor’ galaxies known. This isn’t just the metals we think of though. In astronomy, ‘metals’ refers to all elements heavier than hydrogen and helium.

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“Uncovering the Peekaboo Galaxy is like discovering a direct window into the past, allowing us to study its extreme environment and stars at a level of detail that is inaccessible in the distant, early universe,” said Space Telescope Science Institute astronomer Gagandeep Anand.

In the early universe, there was pretty much only hydrogen and helium, and heavier elements were forged in stars later on.

So how did this dwarf galaxy end up with so little metal? Even today the researchers aren’t sure.

“So, nearby dwarf galaxies tend to be metal-rich, but surprisingly HIPASS J1131-31 is extremely metal-poor – as if it is very old,” Koribalski told Cosmos.

“Now we wish to find out why, for example by obtaining deeper images with the JWST.”

Although there have been other extremely metal poor galaxies found in the local universe, Peekaboo is different in two ways. First, it’s located much closer – at least half the distance of the previously known similar galaxies. Secondly, it’s a metal poor galaxy without older stars around it. This new image was part of a snapshot survey program called ‘The Every Known Nearby Galaxy Survey’, which means that further work with Hubble and JWST could give us even more information about Peekaboo.

“Uncovering the Peekaboo Galaxy is like discovering a direct window into the past, allowing us to study its extreme environment and stars at a level of detail that is inaccessible in the distant, early universe,” said Space Telescope Science Institute astronomer Gagandeep Anand.

In the early universe, there was pretty much only hydrogen and helium, and heavier elements were forged in stars later on.

So how did this dwarf galaxy end up with so little metal? Even today the researchers aren’t sure.

“So, nearby dwarf galaxies tend to be metal-rich, but surprisingly HIPASS J1131-31 is extremely metal-poor – as if it is very old,” Koribalski told Cosmos.

“Now we wish to find out why, for example by obtaining deeper images with the JWST.”

Although there have been other extremely metal poor galaxies found in the local universe, Peekaboo is different in two ways. First, it’s located much closer – at least half the distance of the previously known similar galaxies. Secondly, it’s a metal poor galaxy without older stars around it. This new image was part of a snapshot survey program called ‘The Every Known Nearby Galaxy Survey’, which means that further work with Hubble and JWST could give us even more information about Peekaboo.

https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/peekaboo-galaxy-hubble-parkes-star/hience Briefing

The observatory buried kilometres under ice in Antarcticahe servatory buried kilometres under ice in Antar09:44

 

Edited by CaaC (John)
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