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Updated: 15 min 57 sec ago

The race to trace TRAPPIST-1h

6 hours 23 min ago
NCCR PlanetS: After 60 hours of non-stop work, researchers at the University of Bern being part of an international team reached their hoped-for goal: They were the first to measure the orbital period for the outermost planet of the famous TRAPPIST-1 system which made headlines worldwide. The new result confirms that the seven Earth-size planets around the ultra-cool dwarf are lined up in a chain with resonances linking every member. The orbits of the seven planets around the star TRAPPIST-1. The grey region is the zone, where liquid water could exist on the surface of the planets. On planet TRAPPIST-1 h liquid water is possible under a thick layer of ice. (1 AU is the distance between the Sun and the Earth.) Credit: A. Triaud «We knew that we had to be very fast to be the first ones», says Marko Sestovic, PhD student at the University of Bern’s Center for Space and Habitability (CSH). «If you are not the first, nobody cares about your effort», adds CSH postdoc Simon Grimm. NASA had started the global research race with announcing the public release of data about two months ahead of schedule. Its Kepler Space Telescope had observed the star TRAPPIST-1 from mid-December ...

Secondary Mirror of ELT Successfully Cast

11 hours 29 min ago
ESO Top News: The casting of the secondary mirror blank for ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) has been completed by SCHOTT at Mainz, Germany. The completed mirror will be 4.2 metres in diameter and weigh 3.5 tonnes. It will be the largest secondary mirror ever employed on a telescope and also the largest convex mirror ever produced.

SKA precursor telescope MeerKAT releases new 1.5 images using its current 32 antennas

Fri, 19/05/2017 - 10:01
Square Kilometer Array: The South African SKA precursor telescope MeerKAT has just released its recent AR1.5 results, images achieved by using various configurations of the 32 antennas currently operational in the Karoo. The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, following the delivery of the Budget Vote of the Department of Science and Technology to the South African parliament, embarked on a tour of the Iziko Museum, where SKA SA joined other exhibitors for a showcase. During this exhibition, SKA SA Chief Scientist Dr Fernando Camilo and SKA SA Head of Science Commissioning Dr Sharmila Goedhart presented the AR1.5 results to the minister.

Astronomers make the largest map of the Universe yet

Fri, 19/05/2017 - 02:00
Sloan Digital Sky Survey: A slice through largest-ever three-dimensional map of the Universe. Earth is at the left, and distances to galaxies and quasars are labelled by the lookback time to the objects (lookback time means how long the light from an object has been traveling to reach us here on Earth). The locations of quasars (galaxies with supermassive black holes) are shown by the red dots, and nearer galaxies mapped by SDSS are also shown (yellow). The right-hand edge of the map is the limit of the observable Universe, from which we see the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) – the light “left over” from the Big Bang. The bulk of the empty space in between the quasars and the edge of the observable universe are from the “dark ages”, prior to the formation of most stars, galaxies, or quasars. Click on the image for a larger version. Image Credit: Anand Raichoor (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland) and the SDSS collaboration Astronomers with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) have created the first map of the large-scale structure of the Universe based entirely on the positions of quasars. Quasars are the incredibly bright and distant points of light powered by supermassive black holes. ...

Rivers on three worlds tell different tales

Thu, 18/05/2017 - 19:00
MIT: The environment on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, may seem surprisingly familiar: Clouds condense and rain down on the surface, feeding rivers that flow into oceans and lakes. Outside of Earth, Titan is the only other planetary body in the solar system with actively flowing rivers, though they’re fed by liquid methane instead of water. Long ago, Mars also hosted rivers, which scoured valleys across its now-arid surface. Now MIT scientists have found that despite these similarities, the origins of topography, or surface elevations, on Mars and Titan are very different from that on Earth.

ALMA Eyes Icy Ring around Young Planetary System

Thu, 18/05/2017 - 16:08
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics:

First radio detection of lonely planet disk shows similarities between stars and planet-like objects

Thu, 18/05/2017 - 07:00
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy: First radio observations of the lonely, planet-like object OTS44 reveal a dusty protoplanetary disk that is very similar to disks around young stars. This is unexpected, given that models of star and planet formation predict that formation from a collapsing cloud, forming a central object with surrounding disk, should not be possible for such low-mass objects. Apparently, stars and planet-like objects are more similar than previously thought. The finding, by an international team led by Amelia Bayo and including several astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, has been published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

NASA Asks Scientific Community to Think on Possible Europa Lander Instruments

Wed, 17/05/2017 - 20:05
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features:

Punching Above Its Weight, a Brown Dwarf Launches a Parsec-Scale Jet

Wed, 17/05/2017 - 08:00
National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO):

Movie Shows Ceres at Opposition from Sun

Tue, 16/05/2017 - 17:06
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features: NASA's Dawn spacecraft successfully observed Ceres at opposition on April 29, taking images from a position exactly between the sun and Ceres' surface. Mission specialists had carefully maneuvered Dawn into a special orbit so that the spacecraft could view Occator Crater, which contains the brightest area of Ceres, from this new perspective.

NASA’s SOFIA Confirms Planetary System Similar to Ours

Mon, 15/05/2017 - 21:49
SETI Institute:

Mars Rover Opportunity Begins Study of Valley's Origin

Mon, 15/05/2017 - 19:17
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features: "Perseverance Valley" lies just on the other side of the dip in the crater rim visible in the left half of this 360-degree panorama from the Navigation Camera (Navcam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.

Extra X-rays

Mon, 15/05/2017 - 09:25
ESA Top News: This colourful, seemingly abstract artwork is actually a map depicting all the celestial objects that were detected in the XMM-Newton slew survey between August 2001 and December 2014. Orbiting Earth since 1999, XMM-Newton is studying high-energy phenomena in the Universe, such as black holes, neutron stars, pulsars and stellar winds. But even when moving between specific targets, the space telescope collects scientific data.

Subsurface Water Shaped Dwarf Planet Ceres

Mon, 15/05/2017 - 08:00
Planetary Science Institute: Ceres’s surface globally contains materials that were altered by the action of liquid water within the interior of the dwarf planet, nuclear spectroscopy data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft shows.

Hubble Catches a Galaxy Duo by the "Hare"

Fri, 12/05/2017 - 17:52
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center: This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the unusual galaxy IRAS 06076-2139, found in the constellation Lepus (The Hare). Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) instruments observed the galaxy from a distance of 500 million light-years.

'Warm Neptune' Has Unexpectedly Primitive Atmosphere

Thu, 11/05/2017 - 19:23
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory News and Features:

Astronomers Pursue Renegade Supermassive Black Hole

Thu, 11/05/2017 - 18:00
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory: Supermassive holes are generally stationary objects, sitting at the centers of most galaxies. However, using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes, astronomers recently hunted down what could be a supermassive black hole that may be on the move.

Discovery in the early universe poses black hole growth puzzle

Thu, 11/05/2017 - 07:00
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy:

Fermi Satellite Observes Billionth Gamma Ray with LAT Instrument

Wed, 10/05/2017 - 18:23
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory: Imagine you had superhero vision and could see a whole new world of fascinating phenomena invisible to the human eye. NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope gives astrophysicists analogous powers. It captures images of the universe in gamma rays, the most energetic form of light. On April 12, one of the spacecraft’s instruments – the Large Area Telescope (LAT), which was conceived of and assembled at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory – detected its billionth extraterrestrial gamma ray.

Observatories Combine to Crack Open the Crab Nebula

Wed, 10/05/2017 - 18:00
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory: