SpaceUniversity

Most Black Holes Spin Rapidly. This one… Doesn’t

A Chandra X-ray Observatory view of the supermassive black hole at the heart of quasar H1821+643. Courtesy NASA/CXC/Univ. of Cambridge/J. Sisk-Reynés et al. Black holes. They used to be theoretical, up until the first one was found and confirmed back in the late 20th Century. Now, astronomers find them all over the place. We even …

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Tidal Heating Could Make Exomoons Much More Habitable (and Detectable)

Within the Solar System, most of our astrobiological research is aimed at Mars, which is considered to be the next-most habitable body beyond Earth. However, future efforts are aimed at exploring icy satellites in the outer Solar System that could also be habitable (like Europa, Enceladus, Titan, and more). This dichotomy between terrestrial (rocky) planets …

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Red Supergiant Stars Bubble and Froth so Much That Their Position in the Sky Seems to Dance Around

Making a 3D map of our galaxy would be easier if some stars behaved long enough to get good distances to them. However, red supergiants are the frisky kids on the block when it comes to pinning down their exact locations. That’s because they appear to dance around, which makes pinpointing their place in space …

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This is How You Get Multiple Star Systems

Stars form inside massive clouds of gas and dust called molecular clouds. The Nebular Hypothesis explains how that happens. According to that hypothesis, dense cores inside those clouds of hydrogen collapse due to instability and form stars. The Nebular Hypothesis is much more detailed than that short version, but that’s the basic idea. The problem …

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Live coverage: Countdown begins for Atlas 5 launch from Cape Canaveral

Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The mission, known as USSF 12, will launch the U.S. Space Force’s Wide Field of View Testbed satellite and the USSF 12 Ring spacecraft into geosynchronous orbit. Text updates …

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The Case is Building That Colliding Neutron Stars Create Magnetars

Magnetars are some of the most fascinating astronomical objects. One teaspoon of the stuff they are made out of would weigh almost one billion tons, and they have magnetic fields that are hundreds of millions of times more powerful than any magnetic that exists today on Earth. But we don’t know much about how they …

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A Dying Star’s Last Act was to Destroy all Its Planets

When white dwarfs go wild, their planets suffer through the resulting chaos. The evidence shows up later in and around the dying star’s atmosphere after it gobbles up planetary and cometary debris. That’s the conclusion a team of UCLA astronomers came to after studying the nearby white dwarf G238-44 in great detail. They found a …

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SpaceX closes out first half of 2022 with on-target launch for SES

SpaceX’s 27th mission of the year lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 5:04 p.m. EDT (2104 GMT) Wednesday. Credit: Michael Cain / Spaceflight Now / Coldlife Photography SpaceX closed out the first half of 2022 on Wednesday with its 27th mission of the year, powering a commercial television broadcasting satellite into orbit for SES on …

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A New Map of Mars, Made From 51,000 Orbital Images

When NASA sent the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) to the red planet in 2006, the spacecraft took an instrument with it called CRISM—Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars. CRISM’s job is to produce maps of Mars’ surface mineralogy. It’s been an enormous success, but unfortunately, the loss of its last cryocooler in 2017 means the …

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