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.
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
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
A human-made object has entered the space between the stars for the second time in history, scientists report. Continue reading It’s Official: Voyager 2 Has Entered Interstellar Space
Traveling to Mars is the next great step in humanity’s space journey. In Hollywood, the recent movie The Martian and television series The First present reaching the Red Planet as more of a near-term logistics challenge rather than a pie-in-the-sky space dream. NASA is currently orienting itself toward a “Moon to Mars” Mission, but the technical hurdles facing a Mars mission are still massive. One of the most difficult challenges is dealing with the dose of radiation any interplanetary astronauts would face. Meghan Bartels at Space.com reports that new data from the European Space Agency (ESA) has refined our model for radiation during the journey to and from Mars, and it doesn’t look good. Continue reading Explorers Will Face Dangerous Amounts of Radiation On Their Trip to Mars
About 10 years ago, astronomers catalogued a galaxy 12.4 billion light years away called COSMOS-AzTEC-1, a giant “monster galaxy” believed to be an ancestor of massive modern galaxies like ours. Galaxies go through an evolutionary process, changing from disordered masses of gasses to star-filled stunners like our own beautiful Milky Way. Because researchers are viewing AzTEC-1 at the early stages of its existence, they expected that it would still be a little chaotic. But Sarah Lewin at Space.com reports the galaxy might be ahead of the curve: the monster galaxy is producing 1,000 times as many stars as the Milky Way. Continue reading Monster Galaxy Churns Out 1,000 Times As Many Stars As Our Own
Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity is magnificent. For a hundred years, it has consistently predicted all sorts of wacky phenomena scientists have later observed throughout space. One international team is now announcing that a 26-year-long observation campaign has once again confirmed the theory. Continue reading Supermassive Black Hole Stretches Starlight, Proving Einstein Right Again