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Archive for the ‘space’ category: Page 3

Jun 14, 2022

Liquid mirror telescope opens in India

Posted by in category: space

A unique telescope that focuses light with a slowly spinning bowl of liquid mercury instead of a solid mirror has opened its eye to the skies above India. Such telescopes have been built before, but the 4-meter-wide International Liquid Mirror Telescope (ILMT) is the first large one to be purpose-built for astronomy, at the kind of high-altitude site observers prize—the 2450-meter Devasthal Observatory in the Himalayas.

Although astronomers must satisfy themselves with only looking straight up, the $2 million instrument, built by a consortium from Belgium, Canada, and India, is much cheaper than telescopes with glass mirrors. A stone’s throw from ILMT is the 3.6-meter, steerable Devasthal Optical Telescope (DOT)—built by the same Belgian company at the same time—but for $18 million. “Simple things are often the best,” says Project Director Jean Surdej of the University of Liège. Some astronomers say liquid mirrors are the perfect technology for a giant telescope on the Moon that could see back to the time of the universe’s very first stars.

When a bowl of reflective liquid mercury is rotated, the combination of gravity and centrifugal force pushes the liquid into a perfect parabolic shape, exactly like a conventional telescope mirror—but without the expense of casting a glass mirror blank, grinding its surface into a parabola, and coating it with reflective aluminum.

Jun 13, 2022

Tracing the remnants of Andromeda’s violent history

Posted by in categories: chemistry, evolution, space

A detailed analysis of the composition and motion of more than 500 stars has revealed conclusive evidence of an ancient collision between Andromeda and a neighboring galaxy. The findings, which improve our understanding of the events that shape galaxy evolution, were presented by Carnegie’s Ivanna Escala Monday at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Galaxies grow by accreting material from nearby objects—other galaxies and dense clumps of stars called —often in the aftermath of a catastrophic crash. And these events leave behind relics in the form of stellar associations that astronomers call tidal features. This can include elongated streams or arcing shells moving around the surviving galaxy. Studying these phenomena can help us understand a galaxy’s history and the forces that shaped its appearance and makeup.

“The remnants of each crash can be identified by studying the movement of the stars and their chemical compositions. Together this information serves as a kind of fingerprint that identifies stars that joined a galaxy in a collision,” Escala explained.

Jun 13, 2022

Comet Interceptor approved for construction

Posted by in category: space

ESA’s Comet Interceptor mission to visit a pristine comet or other interstellar object just starting its journey into the inner solar system has been “adopted” this week; the study phase is complete and, following selection of the spacecraft prime contractor, work will soon begin to build the mission.

Comet Interceptor will share a ride into space with ESA’s Ariel exoplanet in 2029. The mission will build upon the successes of Rosetta and Giotto, ESA missions that both visited “short-period” comets. Though these missions completely transformed our understanding of comets, their targets had already swung around the sun many times and had therefore changed significantly since their creation.

Comet Interceptor aims to scrutinize a comet that has spent little time in the inner solar system, or is possibly visiting it for the first time. Whilst Rosetta’s target hailed from the rocky Kuiper Belt just beyond Neptune, Comet Interceptor’s could originate from the vast Oort Cloud, more than a thousand times further from the sun.

Jun 13, 2022

Mysterious cold blobs may be hiding inside a distant star

Posted by in category: space

The distant star AU Microscopii may have mysterious cold spots. It seems to contain pockets of hydrogen that are more than 1500°C cooler than the surrounding areas, and astronomers aren’t sure why.

Jun 13, 2022

Gaia telescope’s new map of the Milky Way will let us rewind time

Posted by in categories: chemistry, space

Our map of the Milky Way has been upgraded and it now lets us rewind the paths of stars to look back in time. The data set that enables this, released by the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Gaia space telescope, includes the detailed chemical make-up and speeds of almost 2 billion stars.

Jun 12, 2022

These NanoLeaf-Inspired Modular Lights Can Team Up to Create a Wall-Mounted Four-Digit Display

Posted by in categories: materials, space

Built using a 3D-printed framework and an Espressif ESP32, this modular lighting system can double as a display.


Hoag’s Object is a galaxy with an central region and a bright outer ring, but lacks any intervening material.

Continue reading “These NanoLeaf-Inspired Modular Lights Can Team Up to Create a Wall-Mounted Four-Digit Display” »

Jun 12, 2022

Weird Object: Hoag’s Object

Posted by in categories: materials, space

Hoag’s Object is a galaxy with an central region and a bright outer ring, but lacks any intervening material.


No. 7: With This Ring, I Thee Puzzle.

In 1950, astronomer Arthur Hoag came upon a tiny, faint, 16th-magnitude ring surrounding a ball-like center, and reasonably assumed it was a planetary nebula — a nearby puff of gas expelled from a single old-aged star. He also proposed an alternative and far more exotic explanation that this was an “Einstein Ring” from a faraway quasar. In this scenario, the quasar’s light is distorted into a halo by space-warping caused by a massive foreground spherical galaxy that it seems to surround. But later spectroscopic studies rejected this because the golden central ball and the blue ring have exactly the same redshift, indicating a whopping rush-away speed of 7,916 miles (12,740 kilometers) per second, which proves they’re both located exactly the same distance from us.

Continue reading “Weird Object: Hoag’s Object” »

Jun 12, 2022

James Webb Space Telescope hit by a micrometeoroid, larger than what NASA had anticipated

Posted by in category: space

The James Webb Space Telescope dima_zel/ iStock

Between May 23 and 25, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was hit by a micrometeoroid that has impacted one of its primary mirror segments, NASA said in a recent update on its website. The telescope continues to function at levels exceeding mission requirements.

A meteoroid is a fragment of an asteroid and can be either large or small. A micrometeoroid, though, is a microscopic fragment of a meteoroid and is smaller than a grain of sand. NASA estimates that millions of meteoroids and micrometeoroids strike the Earth’s atmosphere every day but most burn up due to the friction.

Jun 12, 2022

This was one of NASA’s most dangerous spacewalks 😱

Posted by in category: space

Jun 12, 2022

Learn about the astonishing discoveries and near-misses of the New Horizons mission to Pluto 🚀

Posted by in category: space

#PlanetExplorers brings you epic stories of exploration and discovery around five bodies in our solar system, told by the scientists who love and study them.

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