Dwarf planet Makemake’s moon discovery

This video from the USA says about itself:

NASA’s Hubble Discovers Moon Orbiting Dwarf Planet Makemake

26 April 2016

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope discovered a moon orbiting dwarf planet Makemake — the third largest known object past the orbit of Neptune, about two thirds the size of Pluto. Further observations of this moon may allow astronomers to calculate Makemake’s mass, which will give them a better idea of its density and thus its bulk composition. The Hubble Space Telescope has been instrumental in studying our outer solar system; it also discovered four of the five moons orbiting Pluto.

See also here. And here.

‘Dinosaur decline already before mass extinction’

This video from Britain says about itself:

Dinosaurs in decline BEFORE asteroid apocalypse

18 April 2016

Dinosaurs were already in an evolutionary decline tens of millions of years before the asteroid impact that finally wiped them out, scientists from the University of Reading and University of Bristol have found. Read more here.

Dr Manabu Sakamoto and Dr Chris Venditti, University of Reading, explain more.

This research was published on 18 April 2016 in the journal PNAS.

Filming took place in the Cole Museum of Zoology, University of Reading.

Asteroid animation courtesy of NASA.

See also here.

Unusual exoplanet discovery

This video says about itself:

30 March 2016

Artist’s impression of 55 Cancri e orbiting its parent star. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

By Ed Mazza in the USA:

Half Lava & Half Rock, 5 Cancri E Might Be The Weirdest Exoplanet Ever Discovered

Strange world is just 40 light years away.

03/31/2016 03:41 am ET

Nearly 2,000 planets have been discovered outside our solar system, but this just might be the strangest one yet.

A lava-loaded “super earth” called 55 Cancri e is twice the size of our own planet but eight times as dense. And it’s so close to its star that a year lasts only 18 hours.

Just 40 light years away, 55 Cancri e may also be tidally locked to its sun the way the moon is to Earth. One side would be a blazing hot eternal night with temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and the other an even hotter permanent day, according to a heat map of the planet published in the journal Nature that used data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

“The day side could possibly have rivers of lava and big pools of extremely hot magma, but we think the night side would have solidified lava flows like those found in Hawaii,” Michael Gillon of the University of Liège in Belgium said in a news release.

Thanks to radiation and solar winds, 55 Cancri e may leave a trail of dust behind it — like a planetary Pigpen — as it races around its sun.

The planet may even resemble Mustafar, the molten world in the “Star Wars” universe where Obi-Wan Kenobi fought Anakin Skywalker.

55 Cancri e is so hot that the atmosphere may have completely evaporated, the researchers said. They believe it’s possible the planet still has an atmosphere, but only on the night side.

Because 55 Cancri e is so close, it has been extensively studied, yet researchers remain torn on the nature of the planet. At one point, it was believed to be a world covered in water. At another, researchers thought it might be made of diamond.

Now, they are leaning toward a blazing world of lava.

“We still don’t know exactly what this planet is made of — it’s still a riddle,” Brice-Olivier Demory of the University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory said in a news release. “These results are like adding another brick to the wall, but the exact nature of this planet is still not completely understood.”

Last month, researchers analyzing data from the Kepler spacecraft announced 1,284 new confirmed exoplanets, bringing the total to 2,373 discovered by this mission. Twenty-one of these confirmed exoplanets are no more than twice the size of Earth and within their parent star’s habitable zone. While no truly Earth-like planet has been found, the prospects of doing so are steadily increasing: here.

Jupiter collision with comet or asteroid, video

This video, recorded in Ireland, says about itself:

Jupiter Collision! Impact Burst Captured By Amateur Astronomer

29 March 2016

John McKeon captured an impact on the gas giant on March 17th, 2016 (00:18:45 UT). The video was snapped using an 11″ SCT with an ASI120mm camera and Ir-pass 742nm filter. It was most likely an asteroid or comet colliding with Jupiter. — Full story here.

Credit: John McKeon / Edited by Space.com

See also here.

New telescope use improves astronomers’ quasar science

This video says about itself:

13 August 2015

The Spektr-R[6] (or RadioAstron) is a Russian scientific satellite with a 10 m (33 ft) radio telescope on board. It rivals the U.S Hubble space telescope. It was launched on the 18th of July 2011. Uses in astrophysics, cosmology, studies of black holes and exoplanets etc.

From Space Fellowship:

Earth-Space Telescope System Produces Hot Surprise

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:43 pm

Astronomers using an orbiting radio telescope in conjunction with four ground-based radio telescopes have achieved the highest resolution, or ability to discern fine detail, of any astronomical observation ever made. Their achievement produced a pair of scientific surprises that promise to advance the understanding of quasars, supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies.

The scientists combined the Russian RadioAstron satellite with the ground-based telescopes to produce a virtual radio telescope more than 100,000 miles across. They pointed this system at a quasar called 3C 273, more than 2 billion light-years from Earth. Quasars like 3C 273 propel huge jets of material outward at speeds nearly that of light. These powerful jets emit radio waves.

Just how bright such emission could be, however, was thought to be limited by physical processes. That limit, scientists thought, was about 100 billion degrees. The researchers were surprised when their Earth-space system revealed a temperature hotter then 10 trillion degrees.

“Only this space-Earth system could reveal this temperature, and now we have to figure out how that environment can reach such temperatures,” said Yuri Kovalev, the RadioAstron project scientist. “This result is a significant challenge to our current understanding of quasar jets,” he added.

The observations also showed, for the first time, substructure caused by scattering of the radio waves by the tenuous interstellar material in our own Milky Way Galaxy.

“This is like looking through the hot, turbulent air above a candle flame,” said Michael Johnson, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “We had never been able to see such distortion of an extragalactic object before,” he added.

“The amazing resolution we get from RadioAstron working with the ground-based telescopes gives us a powerful new tool to explore not only the extreme physics near the distant supermassive black holes, but also the diffuse material in our home Galaxy,” Johnson said.

The RadioAstron satellite was combined with the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, The Very Large Array in New Mexico, the Effelsberg Telescope in Germany, and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Signals received by the orbiting radio telescope were transmitted to an antenna in Green Bank where they were recorded and then sent over the internet to Russia where they were combined with the data received by the ground-based radio telescopes to form the high resolution image of 3C 273.

The astronomers reported their results in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

In 1963, astronomer Maarten Schmidt of Caltech recognized that a visible-light spectrum of 3C 273 indicated its great distance, resolving what had been a mystery about quasars. His discovery showed that the objects are emitting tremendous amounts of energy and led to the current model of powerful emission driven by the tremendous gravitational energy of a supermassive black hole.

The RadioAstron project is led by the Astro Space Center of the Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Lavochkin Scientific and Production Association under a contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency, in collaboration with partner organizations in Russia and other countries. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

See also here.

Mars spacecraft narrowly avoids exploding booster

This video says about itself:

Replay of the ExoMars 2016 liftoff on a Proton-M rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan at 09:31 GMT on 14 March 2016.

Credit: ESA/Euronews

From Universe Today:

ExoMars Mission Narrowly Avoids Exploding Booster

24 March 2016 by Bob King

On March 14, the ExoMars mission successfully lifted off on a 7-month journey to the planet Mars but not without a little surprise. The Breeze-M upper booster stage, designed to give the craft its final kick toward Mars, exploded shortly after parting from the probe. Thankfully, it wasn’t close enough to damage the spacecraft.

Michel Denis, ExoMars flight director at the European Space Operations, Center in Darmstadt, Germany, said that the two craft were many kilometers apart at the time of the breakup, so the explosion wouldn’t have posed a risk. Still, the mission team won’t be 100% certain until all the science instruments are completely checked over in the coming weeks.

Spaceship ExoMars 2016 to Mars today

This video says about itself:

ExoMars 2016: launch to Mars

17 February 2016

Animation visualising milestones during the launch of the ExoMars 2016 mission and its cruise to Mars. The mission comprises the Trace Gas Orbiter and an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, Schiaparelli, which are scheduled to be launched on a four-stage Proton-M/Breeze-M rocket from Baikonur during the 14–25 March 2016 window.

About ten-and-a-half hours after launch, the spacecraft will separate from the rocket and deploy its solar wings. Two weeks later, its high-gain antenna will be deployed. After a seven-month cruise to Mars, Schiaparelli will separate from TGO on 16 October. Three days later it will enter the martian atmosphere, while TGO begins its entry into Mars orbit.

From Universe Today:

Countdown Begins for Blastoff of ExoMars 2016 Spacecraft on March 14 – Watch Live

The countdown has begun for blastoff of the ambitious European/Russian ExoMars 2016 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 14. Its goal is to search for minute signatures of methane gas that could possibly be an indication of life or of nonbiologic geologic processes ongoing today.

Final launch preparations are now in progress. Liftoff of the powerful Russian Proton booster from Baikonur carrying the ExoMars spacecraft is slated for 5:31:42 a.m. EDT (0931:42 GMT), Monday morning, March 14.

You can watch the launch live courtesy of a European Space Agency (ESA) webcast:


The prelaunch play by play begins with live streaming at 4:30 a.m. EDT (08:30 GMT).

The first acquisition of signal from the spacecrft is expected at 21:29 GMT.