This article doesn’t really delve into how synthetic-aperture, long-baseline interferometry telescopes work but the science that they’re trying to do is really cool. I’m really looking forward to seeing the results of this work, which (as Brian suggests in comments) might be publicized in some modest number of months from now.
Cool! This is a well-known technique for detecting atmospheres of objects outside our solar system, but this is the first time it’s been used for an object so small (40% bigger diameter than our Earth).
Originally shared by Ciro Villa
Breaking: Atmosphere around super-Earth detected!
Gliese 1132 b is 1.6 Earth Masses, orbiting red dwarf GJ 1132 and is located only approximately 39 light years away!
“Astronomers have detected an atmosphere around the super-Earth GJ 1132b. This marks the first detection of an atmosphere around an Earth-like planet other than Earth itself, and thus a significant step on the path towards the detection of life on an exoplanet. The team, which includes researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, used the 2.2 m ESO/MPG telescope in Chile to take images of the planet’s host star GJ 1132, and measuring the slight decrease in brightness as the planet and its atmosphere absorbed some of the starlight while passing directly in front of their host star.”
This is a well-written and exciting article about Betelgeuse. You have to read to the end to get the answer to “when” but of course the answer is an unsatisfying “we don’t really know.” My favorite part is the idea that we could perhaps know if we had a neutrino telescope that could probe what’s going on in Betelgeuse’s core, but the current state of neutrino research is that we’re still trying to figure out our own Sun let alone a distant star.
If you look carefully you will notice that the moons and Jupiter are almost fully lit, so the Sun is almost directly behind the camera. So, the fact that the shadow is so far to the right of Ganymede shows that Ganymede is pretty far in the foreground. Without that hint, you might think that Ganymede is very close to Jupiter and that the sunlight is coming more from the left.
Originally shared by Astronomy Picture of the Day (APoD)
Approaching opposition early next month, Jupiter is offering some of its best telescopic views from planet Earth. On March 17, this impressively sharp image of the solar system’s ruling gas giant was taken from a remote observatory in Chile. Bounded by planet girdling winds, familiar dark belts and light zones span the giant planet spotted with rotating oval storms. The solar system’s largest moon Ganymede is above and left in the frame, its shadow seen in transit across the northern Jovian cloud tops. Ganymede itself is seen in remarkable detail along with bright surface features on fellow Galilean moon Io, right of Jupiter’s looming disk.
This is more technical than what I usually post but it’s so fun and interesting that I couldn’t resist. This bizarre star opens up lots of cool questions. There are a few important details that you need to understand if you want to understand the linked articles (bear with me, it’s worth the effort!):
1) the outer layers of stars are not opaque. Stars are balls of compressed gas (compressed by their own gravity) and they are opaque, but only because they have so much gas. We can see through the thin outer atmosphere.
2) Unlike a cloud or fog, atoms in the outer atmosphere of a star shadow light at specific narrow bands of colors that vary from element to element. The more quantity of an element in the outer atmosphere the more dimming at its signature color. So, we can deduce the composition of a star element by element by measuring the dimming at a lot of different colors.
3) Because the star is opaque below the outer atmosphere, this trick for determining abundances doesn’t work for the interior of the star, so we need theories (and some assumptions) to approximate the overall composition of a star.
4) A common assumption is that most stars mix pretty well (largely due to convection) so the composition of the outer atmosphere is quite indicative of the overall composition But not for all stars and especially not for this star!
This star has some bizarre elements in its outer atmosphere, and the author presents some fascinating theories why that might be.
Amazing pictures! This moon of Saturn has a remarkable ridge all along its equator. My understanding is that this is because it orbits amongst Saturn’s super-thin ring and it accumulates piles of ring material. Kind of like cosmic snowdrift or something (a weak analogy admittedly…)
Originally shared by Vladimir Pecha
Breathtaking snaps of Saturn´s moon
Cassini´s series of photos of small but very interesting moon Pan, captured on March 7 with incredible details!