On March 24, 2017, astronomers led by Carnegie’s Meredith MacGregor and Alycia Weinberger discovered that a giant stellar flare erupted from Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun (Proxima Centauri means ‘nearest [star] of Centaurus’), using data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The huge flare was 10 times larger than a major solar flare. And it blasted Proxima Centauri b (also called Proxima b), the exoplanet orbiting within the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri, with 4,000 times more radiation than Earth gets from solar flares. The event probably wiped out the exoplanet’s atmosphere (if exists any), and dimmed the last hopes of extraterrestrial life on it. This finding is published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters on February 22, 2018.
On September 20, 2016, Argentinian amateur astronomer Victor Buso was testing his camera-telescope setup. He pointed his Newtonian telescope at NGC613, a barred spiral galaxy located some 67 million light-years away in the southern constellation of Sculptor. Then he started taking a series of short-exposure photographs. To ensure his new camera was functioning properly, he examined the images right away. While doing that, he noticed something very interesting: a previously invisible point of light near the end of a spiral arm of the galaxy: a newborn supernova – an elusive event that nobody had ever captured before.
On February 6, 2018, SpaceX successfully tested Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket that the American company ever built. When lifted off, it became also the most powerful operational rocket in the world. Powerful rockets like Falcon Heavy may one day carry humans to the Moon or Mars. But there might be an even more important use of powerful rockets like SpaceX’ Falcon Heavy and BFR, Blue Origin’s New Glenn or NASA’s SLS: asteroid mining.
NASA’s asteroid-sampling OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured a new Earth-Moon image on Jan. 17, 2018, from a distance of 39.5 million miles (63.6 million kilometers). Spacecraft used its NavCam1 imager to take this photo, as part of an engineering test. In the image, The Earth and the moon are just two bright dots against the vastness of black space – which reminds us of Carl Sagan’s famous speech: “That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”
As a result of the global warming, the seas warm and ice melts. Naturally, Earth’s oceans have risen steadily – or at least, it was thought so. According to a new study based on 25 years of NASA and European satellite data, rather than increasing steadily, global sea level rise has been accelerating in recent decades. If this trend continues, by the year 2100, sea level rise will be around 65 cm (25.6 in), twice as big as previously thought. This is more than enough to cause significant problems for coastal cities.
Satellite altimetry Notes 1 has shown that since 1993, global mean sea level has been rising at a rate of ∼3 ± 0.4 millimeters per year. Researchers show that this rate is accelerating at 0.084 ± 0.025 mm/y2, which agrees well with climate model projections. This acceleration is driven mainly by increased melting in Greenland and Antarctica because of global warming. If sea level continues to change at this rate and acceleration, sea-level rise by 2100 (∼65 cm ± 12 cm, compared with 2005) will be more than double the amount if the rate was constant at 3 mm/y, researchers conclude.
A breathtakingly beautiful photo of a historical moment: NASA Astronaut Robert L. Stewart untethered above the Earth during the first Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) exercise. The photo was taken on February 7, 1984, during the EVA 1 (Extravehicular activity) of STS-41-B, the tenth NASA Space Shuttle mission and the fourth flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger. The total duration of the spacewalk was 5 hours 55 minutes. Bruce McCandless II and Robert L. Stewart tested a nitrogen-propelled, hand-controlled backpack device called the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU). In this EVA, Bruce McCandless II broke the untethered spacewalking record with a distance of 98 meters (320 feet).
It took 27 years, but finally, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft beat Voyager 1’s record for being farthest from Earth while capturing images. Taken on December 5, 2017, New Horizons image of the open star cluster NGC 3532 (also commonly known as the Football Cluster or the Wishing Well Cluster) became the farthest image ever made by any spacecraft, breaking a 27-year record set by Voyager 1. But for a very short time! About 2 hours later, New Horizons broke its own record with images of two Kuiper Belt objects.
For a short time, the image below, New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) frame of the galactic open star cluster NGC 3532 (aka the Football Cluster or the Wishing Well Cluster), taken on December 5, 2017 (released on February 8, 2015), was the farthest image ever made by a spacecraft, breaking a 27-year record set by Voyager 1. New Horizons was 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers or 40.9 astronomical units-AUNotes 1) from Earth when LORRI took the routine calibration image.
The Lion (Panthera leo) is the second-largest cat in the world, after the tiger. The lion and tiger are closely related and they share a very similar body type. As its scientific name suggests, Lion is one of the five members of the Panthera genus. Notes 1 Here are 20 amazing lion facts.
Good news for the search for extraterrestrial life: the TRAPPIST-1 System might be rich (very rich!) in water and all of the planets are mostly made of rock. Using data from NASA’s Spitzer and Kepler space telescopes, researchers calculated the densities of TRAPPIST-1 planets more precisely than ever, and they determined that all of the planets are mostly made of rock. Additionally, some have up to 5 percent of their mass in water, which is around 250 times more than the oceans on Earth. Researchers published their findings in a recent study in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics titled “The nature of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets” .