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Captured by
Ron Levandoski

The Eagle Nebula from the Copernicus Observatory in SW Utah

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The Supermassive Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy is Venting Hot Gasses Through a Perpendicular “Chimney”

Posted by Guy Pirro 06/15/2024 03:45AM

The Supermassive Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy is Venting Hot Gasses Through a Perpendicular “Chimney”

Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have located an exhaust vent attached to a “chimney” of hot gas blowing away from the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Eruptions from the supermassive black hole, called Sagittarius A*, may have created this chimney and exhaust vent. The chimney begins at the center of the galaxy and stands perpendicular to the Milky Way’s spiral disk. Astronomers had previously identified the chimney using X-ray data from Chandra and XMM-Newton, an ESA (European Space Agency) mission. Radio emissions detected by the MeerKAT radio telescope show the effect of magnetic fields enclosing the gas in the chimney. Researchers think the walls of the chimney tunnel, shaped like a cylinder, help funnel hot gas upwards and away from the galactic center. The newly discovered vent is located near the top of the chimney about 700 light-years from the center of the galaxy.

Astronomers Solve the 60-year Old Mystery of Quasars – The Most Powerful Objects in the Universe

Posted by Guy Pirro 06/07/2024 01:19AM

Astronomers Solve the 60-year Old Mystery of Quasars – The Most Powerful Objects in the Universe

First discovered 60 years ago, quasars are the brightest, most powerful objects in the Universe and can shine as brightly as a trillion stars packed into a volume the size of our Solar System. In the decades since they were first observed, it has remained a mystery as to what could trigger such powerful activity. Scientists at the Universities of Sheffield and Hertfordshire in the UK have now unlocked one of the biggest mysteries of quasars by discovering that they are ignited by galaxies crashing together.

Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky -- Month of June 2024

Posted by Guy Pirro 05/31/2024 11:54PM

Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky -- Month of June 2024

Welcome to the night sky report for June 2024 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. All the planetary action continues to be in the morning sky, with Saturn and Mars rising in the early morning hours. They are joined later in the month by Jupiter. A number of online sources have created excitement about a "Parade of Planets" that will be visible in the morning sky in early June. Unfortunately we are in for a bit of a disappointment because in reality, only two of the six planets (Saturn and Mars) will actually be visible. In early June, Jupiter and Mercury will be at or below the horizon in the morning twilight and not visible… And Uranus and Neptune are too far and too faint to be seen without a telescope, especially as the morning sky brightens. During the month, look for the Hercules constellation, which will lead you to a globular star cluster with hundreds of thousands of densely packed stars. Globular cluster M13 (the Hercules Cluster, NGC 6205) is best observed with a telescope, but binoculars will reveal it as a fuzzy spot. You can also spot Draco the dragon, which will point you to the Cat’s Eye Nebula (C6, NGC 6543). The night sky is truly a celestial showcase. Get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard.

NASA’s Psyche Spacecraft Fires Up Its Ion Propulsion Thrusters and Accelerates Toward a Metal-rich Asteroid That is Possibly the Core of a Long-dead Planetesimal

Posted by Guy Pirro 05/24/2024 02:31AM

NASA’s Psyche Spacecraft Fires Up Its Ion Propulsion Thrusters and Accelerates Toward a Metal-rich Asteroid That is Possibly the Core of a Long-dead Planetesimal

The Psyche spacecraft was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy on October 13, 2023. The spacecraft is expected to arrive at the metal-rich asteroid Psyche in 2029 and will make observations from orbit for about two years. Scientists believe that the asteroid may be the partial core of a planetesimal, the building block of an early planet. After leaving our atmosphere, Psyche made the most of its rocket boost and coasted beyond the orbit of Mars. NASA has now fired the spacecraft’s futuristic-looking electric thrusters and for the next year, the spacecraft will be in what mission planners call “full cruise” mode, as its electric thrusters take over and propel the orbiter toward the asteroid belt. The thrusters work by expelling charged atoms, or ions, of xenon and emit a brilliant blue glow that trails behind the spacecraft, The orbiter is now more than 190 million miles (300 million kilometers) away and moving at a clip of 23 miles per second (37 kilometers per second) relative to Earth. That’s about 84,000 mph (135,000 kph). Over time, with no atmospheric drag to slow it down, the ion propulsion thrusters will accelerate Psyche to speeds of up to 124,000 mph (200,000 kph).

NJIT Astronomers Uncover an Aurora-like Display Above a Sunspot

Posted by Guy Pirro 05/17/2024 09:47PM

NJIT Astronomers Uncover an Aurora-like Display Above a Sunspot

Astronomers from New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research (NJIT-CSTR) have detailed radio observations of an extraordinary aurora-like display occurring 40,000 km above a relatively dark and cold sunspot on our Sun. The researchers say the novel radio emission shares characteristics with the auroral radio emissions commonly seen in planetary magnetospheres such as those around Earth. The discovery offers new insights into the origin of such intense solar radio bursts and potentially opens new avenues for understanding similar phenomena in distant stars with large “starspots.”

Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky -- Month of May 2024

Posted by Guy Pirro 05/07/2024 07:14PM

Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky -- Month of May 2024

Welcome to the night sky report for May 2024 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. See Mars, Saturn, and Mercury in the May morning sky and the eta Aquariid meteors, which peak on May 6th courtesy of remnants from Halleys Comet. In May, we are looking away from the crowded, dusty plane of our own galaxy toward a region where the sky is brimming with distant galaxies. Locate Virgo to find a concentration of roughly 2000 galaxies and search for Coma Berenices to identify many more. Coma Berenices is a great target for binoculars. Look for galaxies like M104 (Sombrero Galaxy), M87 (Virgo A Galaxy), and M64 (Black Eye Galaxy). The night sky is truly a celestial showcase. Get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard.

Can You Hear Me Now? – VGER 1 Phones Home

Posted by Guy Pirro 04/27/2024 03:45PM

Can You Hear Me Now? – VGER 1 Phones Home

After some inventive sleuthing, the Voyager 1 mission team can — for the first time in five months — check the health and status of the most distant human-made object in existence. For the first time since November 2023, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is returning usable data about the health and status of its onboard engineering systems. The next step is to enable the spacecraft to begin returning science data again. The probe and its twin, Voyager 2, are the only spacecraft to ever fly in interstellar space (the space between stars).

Gravastars -- Maybe Black Holes are not True Singularities After All

Posted by Guy Pirro 04/17/2024 01:43AM

Gravastars -- Maybe Black Holes are not True Singularities After All

If Gravitational Condensate Stars (or Gravastars) actually exist, they would look like black holes to distant observers. Two theoretical physicists at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany have found a new solution to Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity where gravitational stars are structured like nested Russian Matryoshka dolls, with one Gravastar located inside another. This eliminates the need to treat black holes as singularities, which today creates a great conundrum for science. In 1916, German physicist Karl Schwarzschild found a solution to Albert Einstein’s equations of General Relativity where the center of a black hole consists of a singularity -- a point where space and time no longer exist, all physical laws (including Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity) no longer apply, and the principle of causality is suspended. In short, singularities present a great nuisance for science. Gravastars, if they exist, eliminate the need for singularities and should make everything much simpler. At least that is the line of reasoning that is being suggested.

Tomorrow’s Total Solar Eclipse Will be Even Grander than the Magnificent 2017 Eclipse

Posted by Guy Pirro 04/07/2024 06:29PM

Tomorrow’s Total Solar Eclipse Will be Even Grander than the Magnificent 2017 Eclipse

Tomorrow, April 8, 2024, the Moon’s shadow will sweep across the United States as millions view the total solar eclipse. For many, preparing for this event brings memories of the magnificent total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017. In 2017, an estimated 215 million US adults (88% of US adults) viewed the solar eclipse, either directly or online. They experienced the Moon pass in front of the Sun, blocking part or all of our closest star’s bright face. Weather permitting, tomorrow’s eclipse should be even more exciting due to differences in the path, timing, and scientific research.

Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky -- Month of April 2024

Posted by Guy Pirro 04/04/2024 11:56PM

Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky -- Month of April 2024

Welcome to the night sky report for April 2024 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. A total solar eclipse sweeps across the United States on April 8th, as the Moon's shadow moves from Texas northward through Maine. Areas outside totality will enjoy a partial eclipse. Also, there's still time to observe comet 12P this month. During April, near the Big Dipper you will find several interesting binary stars. You can also spot galaxies like the Pinwheel Galaxy (NGC 5457, M101), the Cigar Galaxy (NGC 3034, M82), and M96 (NGC 3368) -- the last of which is an asymmetric galaxy that may have been gravitationally disrupted by encounters with its neighbors. The night sky is truly a celestial showcase. Get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard.

Good Bye Dark Matter and Dark Energy… Say Hello to Co-varying Coupled Constants and “Tired Light”

Posted by Guy Pirro 03/17/2024 05:41PM

Good Bye Dark Matter and Dark Energy… Say Hello to Co-varying Coupled Constants and “Tired Light”

Throughout history, we have seen many examples where scientists have simply invented ideas out of thin air to help explain away things that are just not understood at the time. Such may be the case with today’s infatuation with Dark Matter and Dark Energy. A new University of Ottawa study challenges the current model of the Universe by showing that it has no room for Dark Matter or Dark Energy. The model combines two ideas — about how the forces of nature decrease over cosmic time and about light losing energy when it travels a long distance (Tired Light). In some ways, the concepts of Dark Matter and Dark Energy bring to mind another imaginary concept -- the so called "Aether Wind" of the 1800s. Back then, everybody just "knew" that space was filled with an "Aether Wind." The problem was that no one had ever seen it or measured it… And in 1887, when Albert Michelson and Edward Morley set out to prove the existence of Aether Wind once and for all, their experiment failed spectacularly -- There was no such thing. Michelson eventually won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1907 for this work and became the first American to do so. These ideas may or may not pan out, but at least researchers are seriously considering other alternatives.

Giant Solar Storm Ejects Energetic Particles in All Directions

Posted by Guy Pirro 03/11/2024 05:21PM

Giant Solar Storm Ejects Energetic Particles in All Directions

April 17, 2021 was a day like any other day on the Sun, until a brilliant flash erupted and an enormous cloud of solar material billowed away from our star. Such outbursts from the Sun are not unusual, but this one was unusually widespread, hurling high-speed protons and electrons at velocities nearing the speed of light and striking several spacecraft across the inner solar system.

Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky -- Month of March 2024

Posted by Guy Pirro 03/02/2024 04:52PM

Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky -- Month of March 2024

Welcome to the night sky report for March 2024 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. There's a comet making its way into the inner Solar System that's already observable with a telescope and might start to become visible to the unaided eye by late March or in April. Comet 12P Pons-Brooks has been observed on several of its previous appearances going back hundreds of years and one thing it's known for is its occasional outbursts. In March, the stars of spring lie eastward. Look for the constellations Gemini and Cancer to spot interesting celestial features like star clusters M35, the Beehive Cluster (M44), and NGC 3923, an oblong elliptical galaxy with an interesting ripple pattern. Find the Y-shaped constellation Taurus, the bull, high in the southwest. The Hyades star cluster forms the bull's face. The night sky is truly a celestial showcase. Get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard.

NASA’s Dragonfly Mission is Not Likely to Find Life on Saturn’s Largest Moon, Titan

Posted by Guy Pirro 02/24/2024 03:36AM

NASA’s Dragonfly Mission is Not Likely to Find Life on Saturn’s Largest Moon, Titan

A new study led by a team at Western University in Ontario, Canada finds that the subsurface ocean of Titan – the largest moon of Saturn – is most likely a non-habitable environment, meaning that any hope of finding life in this icy world is dead in the water. This is discouraging since Titan is the most organic-rich icy moon in the Solar System, so if its subsurface ocean turns out to be not habitable for life, it does not bode well for the habitability of other known icy worlds like Jupiter’s moons Europa and Ganymede and Saturn’s moon Enceladus. This finding, if proven correct, means it is far less likely that space scientists will ever find life in the outer Solar System planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

NASA Studies a 1 in 10,000 Year Gamma Ray Burst Dubbed “The BOAT” – The Brightest of All Time

Posted by Guy Pirro 02/08/2024 11:27PM

NASA Studies a 1 in 10,000 Year Gamma Ray Burst Dubbed “The BOAT” – The Brightest of All Time

On Sunday, October 9, 2022, a pulse of intense radiation swept through the Solar System so exceptional that astronomers quickly dubbed it the BOAT – the brightest of all time. After spending months combing through the data, astronomers now better understand its scientific impact. The source was a Gamma-Ray Burst (GRB), the most powerful class of explosions in the Universe. The burst triggered detectors on numerous spacecraft and immediately observatories around the globe followed up. The burst was so bright that it effectively blinded most gamma-ray instruments in space, which means they could not directly record the real intensity of the emission. US scientists were able to reconstruct this information from Fermi data. They then compared the results with those from the Russian team working on Konus data, as well as Chinese teams analyzing observations from their SATech-01 satellite and Insight-HXMT observatory. After combing through all of this data, astronomers can now characterize just how bright it was and better understand its scientific impact. Together, they showed that the burst was 70 times brighter than any yet seen.