The most distant Solar System object, Farout, has lost its crown after just two years. As Inverse reports, astronomers have confirmed that the planetoid Farfarout is now the farthest known Solar System object. It’s currently 132AU, or about 12.3 billion miles from the Sun (Farout is ‘just’ 120AU away), and its elongated orbit will take it 175AU away. For context, Pluto is 34AU from our host star — Farfarout reaches over five times that distance, and takes about 1,000 years to complete an orbit.
In his upcoming book published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb makes a provocative assertion: The mysterious “cigar-shaped object” that NASA dubbed “1I/2017 U1 ‘Oumuamua” was junk from an alien civilization.
ON DECEMBER 3, humanity suddenly had information at its fingertips that people have wanted for, well, forever: the precise distances to the stars.
On August 16, a car-sized asteroid came to within 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) of our planet, making it the closest known non-impacting asteroid on record. Continue reading A Car-Sized Asteroid Just Got Remarkably Close to Hitting Earth
Astronomers are having an easier time finding fast radio bursts as of late, and that now includes the first regular pattern for those bursts. A research team from MIT and elsewhere has discovered that something 500 million light-years away is routinely producing four days of seemingly random but frantic bursts, followed by 12 days of silence — something that happened consistently for 500 days of study. Continue reading Astronomers find the first known regular pattern of fast radio bursts
The pair of stars in a system called HR 6819 is so close to us that on a clear night in the Southern Hemisphere, a person might be able to spot them without a telescope. What that stargazer wouldn’t see, though, is the black hole hiding right there in the constellation Telescopium. At just 1,000 light-years away, it is the closest black hole to Earth ever discovered, and it could help scientists find the rest of the Milky Way’s missing black holes. Continue reading Astronomers Discover the Closest Known Black Hole
At the center of the Milky Way galaxy, nearly 26,000 light-years away, a cluster of stars circles close to the supermassive black hole known as Sagittarius A*. As these few dozen stars, called S-stars, approach the black hole—which is about four million times more massive than the sun—its immense gravitational force whips them around faster than 16 million miles per hour. In fact, the gravitational pull of Sagittarius A* is so intense that it warps the light from these stars when they stray too close, stretching the wavelengths toward the red part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Continue reading A Star Orbiting in the Extreme Gravity of a Black Hole Validates General Relativity