The first billion years of the universe was about as chaotic as Tuesday’s first presidential debate. Galaxies were forming, gas was flowing… It was a real time. While we won’t want to look back on Tuesday too often, we do like to look back in time. And, in a cosmic sense, Earth is perfectly positioned to do so. Because of how long it takes light to travel across the universe, our telescopes can pick up the faint signals of what life was like in the universe’s very early days.
On Thursday, astronomers announced the discovery of a massive, intriguing structure from when the universe was just 900 million years old. The structure, about 300 times the size of the Milky Way, contains a supermassive black hole that has ensnared six
As astronomers discover more and more planets in galaxies far, far away, they are increasingly confronted with a curious subset of orbs that are free-floating and not connected to or orbiting a particular star. Further complicating matters is that within that group, most of what they have found are gassy, Jupiter-sized (read: large), planets; few resemble rockier planets like our own Earth.
First discovered in 2003, these potential free-floating planets are elusive and difficult to detect from the existing ground-based observatories.
Soon, however, a revolutionary new telescope launching in 2025 may be able unlock the secrets of the darkness of space, where sunless worlds may even outnumber the stars. NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will be able to see even more rocky free-floating planets, potentially hundreds as small as Mars, according to research published this August in the Astronomical Journal. These lightless worlds can shine light on how
Using observations made with the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (Garafía, La Palma, Canary Islands), and with the ATACAMA Large Millimeter/submillimetre Array (ALMA), in Chile, astronomers have found the first galaxy whose ultraviolet luminosity is comparable to that of a quasar. The discovery was recently published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters.
The galaxy, called BOSS-EUVLG1, has a red-shift of 2.47. This is a measure of the reddening of the light coming from the galaxy, and can be used to find its distance:
Computer simulations are showing astrophysicists how massive clumps of gas within galaxies scatter some stars from their orbits, eventually creating the smooth, exponential fade in the brightness of many galaxy disks.
Researchers from Iowa State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and IBM Research have advanced studies they started nearly 10 years ago. They originally focused on how massive clumps in young galaxies affect star orbits and create galaxy disks featuring bright centers fading to dark edges.
(As Curtis Struck, an Iowa State professor of physics and astronomy, wrote in a 2013 research summary: “In galaxy disks, the scars of a rough childhood, and adolescent blemishes, all smooth away with time.”)
Now, the group has co-authored a new paper that says their ideas about the formation of exponential disks apply to more than young galaxies. It’s also a process that is robust and universal in all kinds of galaxies. The exponential
Astronomers have discovered a charming coincidence of mathematics in the heavens: An exoplanet that orbits its star every 3.14 days. The Earth-sized planet has been dubbed the “pi Earth” due to its orbiting period being close to the mathematical constant of pi (π).
Technically known as K2-315b, the planet has a radius 95% that of Earth’s and orbits a cool star that is much smaller than our sun, at about one-fifth of the size. A year there lasts only a few days as it orbits very close to its star, moving at a wild speed of 181,000 miles per hour.
“The planet moves like clockwork,” said lead author Prajwal Niraula, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a statement.
University of Warwick astronomers are warning that orbital debris posing a threat to operational satellites is not being monitored closely enough, as they publish a new survey finding that over 75% of the orbital debris they detected could not be matched to known objects in public satellite catalogues.
The astronomers are calling for more regular deep surveys of orbital debris at high altitudes to help characterise the resident objects and better determine the risks posed to the active satellites that we rely on for essential services, including communications, weather monitoring and navigation.
The research forms part of DebrisWatch, an ongoing collaboration between the University of Warwick and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (UK) aiming to provide a fresh take on surveys of the geosynchronous region that have been conducted in the past. The results are reported in the journal Advances in Space Research. The research was part-funded by the
The debris and detritus orbiting above our heads has been multiplying as humans send more and more satellites and rockets into space. All that space junk can pose a threat to operating satellites, and new research suggests that the problem could be much worse than previously thought.
Astronomers at the University of Warwick attempted to cross-reference detected orbital debris in geosychronous orbit — the altitude where many large communications satellites circle our planet — with objects in public satellite catalogs. They found that more than 75 percent of the debris did not have a match.
Most of the unknown objects were faint and small, measuring 39 inches (one meter) or less.
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