Episode 460: HubbleWatch for July 2013
Hubble maps a double-star system’s outbursts, and a fortuitous alignment of stars will allow us to search for planets around our nearest stellar neighbor. Hubble Maps 3-D Structure of Ejected Material Around Erupting Star Rare Stellar Alignment Offers...
Episode 459: Pluto Moons Named
Pluto's new moons have new names, given by the public via popular vote. P4 and P5, as they were previously known, are now called Styx and Kerberos. The names match Pluto's mythological theme, since Pluto in Greek mythology was the lord of the...
Episode 458: Proxima Centauri's Planets?
At a distance of 4.2 light-years from Earth, Proxima Centauri is just 0.2 light-years from the more-distant binary star Alpha Centauri A+B. These three stars are considered part of the triple-star system that is closest to Earth, although right now...
Episode 457: Mapping the Moon's Gravity
NASA’s twin GRAIL probes were launched in 2011 to fly to the Moon and measure changes in the gravity of that body. The analysis of the data has just been published and shows a detailed map of the gravity variations. Although mass concentrations under...
Episode 456: Perigean Tides
High tides happen every day, but some are higher than others. Some of the highest tides, called “perigean high tides,” occur when the Moon is closest to Earth in its monthly orbit. When coastal storms take place during these tides, major flooding can...
Episode 454: Hydrogen Clouds in the Neighborhood
Radio observations of the region between the two spiral galaxies nearest our own, Andromeda and Triangulum, have verified the presence of hydrogen gas clouds. The clouds are hard to find, since they are mostly composed of ionized gas that is difficult...
Episode 453: Same Source for Earth and Moon Water?
New research tells us that water located deep inside both Earth and the Moon may have come from the same source, and that source is likely ancient meteorites, similar to the asteroids now populating the asteroid belt. Science Daily on the discovery...
Episode 452: Traces of Rocky Materials on White Dwarf Stars
Astronomers have discovered signs of rocky debris in the vicinity of white dwarf stars in the Hyades star cluster. It's possible that the debris indicates the presence of Earth-sized planets in the neighborhood. HubbleSite news release on the discovery
Episode 450: Life's Building Blocks in Space
Using new technology, researchers have discovered an important pair of pre-biotic molecules in interstellar space. The new discoveries indicate that some basic chemicals are key steps on the path to life and may have formed on dusty ice grains...
Episode 448: Missing Martian Lander Found?
Gone but not forgotten, the Russian Mars 3 lander descended to the surface of the red planet in 1971. This first lander on Mars was meant to take images, but it unexpectedly failed and its transmissions were short-lived. Through the power of citizen...
Episode 447: Horse of a Different Color
The iconic Horsehead nebula has been the subject of astronomical imagery by amateurs and professionals alike. The region has clouds of ionized hydrogen as well as areas of dark dust that obscure new-forming stars. A new image taken by the Hubble Space...
Episode 446: Closest Star System Found in Century
The NASA spacecraft WISE has discovered a pair of stars that is now known to be the third-closest star system to Sun. The last closest system to Earth was discovered in 1916. The newly discovered star pair is composed of two cool “brown dwarfs” 6.5...
Episode 445: The Disappearing Van Allen Belt
The solar system -- especially the inner part -- is bathed in charged particles from the Sun and cosmic radiation. Several planets with magnetic fields, including Earth, are somewhat protected from the particles because they become trapped high above...
Episode 444: Meteors and Asteroids, Oh My
The impact of a meteorite in Russia in February 2013 and the flyby of asteroid debris highlights that the solar system is full of rocky material. While the asteroid has been observed for some time, the smaller meteorite was unexpected. Many meteorites...
Episode 443: Life on Mars Once Possible
Rock samples collected in February 2013 by NASA's Curiosity rover show ancient Mars could have supported living microbes. The rover found the soil contains sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon – all elements critical for life....
Episode 442: Seeing the Sun Like Never Before
In the three years since NASA launched the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), the spacecraft has provided continuous, high-resolution views of the Sun, helping us better understand our star and its influence on us. Among other accomplishments, SDO also...
Show 441: Sailing on Sunlight
In Arthur C. Clarke's short story "Sunjammer," a spaceship designer develops a spacecraft with a large "solar sail" that propels it through space using radiation pressure from the Sun. In recent years, solar sails have jumped from the pages of science...
Show 440: Oh No, Mini-Neptunes!
A new study suggests that many of the "super-Earth" planets astronomers have discovered orbiting other stars are probably more like "mini-Neptunes" than like our rocky planet. However, moons orbiting these planets might still hold potential for...
Show 439: Vesta Shaped by Violent Collisions
In 2011 and 2012, NASA's Dawn spacecraft orbited the second-largest asteroid in our solar system, Vesta, providing unprecedented views of its surface. Computer simulations based on Dawn's observations suggest that violent collisions with two other...
Show 438: HubbleWatch for February 2013
Hubble finds that a planet orbiting the bright star Fomalhaut takes a wild and potentially destructive path through a vast debris field surrounding the star.
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