We Were Very Wrong About the Number of Galaxies in the Universe

Found on Gizmodo on Friday, 14 October 2016
Browse Astronomy

The observable universe—that is, the part of the universe that’s visible to us on Earth—contains 10 to 20 times as many galaxies than previous estimates. That raises the total to somewhere between one and two trillion galaxies, which is up from the previous best estimate of 100 billion galaxies. Consequently, this means we also have to update the number of stars in the observable universe, which now numbers around 700 sextillion (that’s a 7 with 23 zeros behind it, or 700 thousand billion billion).

With so many more galaxies and stars, the number of planets also went up dramatically. As a direct consequence, there are more planets in the habitable zone that could have developed life similar to ours. Based on this vast amount it is safe to assume that we are not the only one.

SpaceX rocket explodes at Cape Canaveral ahead of launch

Found on BBC News on Thursday, 01 September 2016
Browse Astronomy

SpaceX said "an anomaly" had occurred while the rocket was being loaded with fuel. No-one was injured, it said.

The rocket's payload, an Israeli-built communications satellite for Facebook due to launch on Saturday, was also destroyed, it added.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is currently visiting Africa, said he was "deeply disappointed" to hear that the satellite had been destroyed.

Who said an explosion can't be good?

Was it a meteorite? Tests will determine what killed Indian man

Found on CNN News on Monday, 08 February 2016
Browse Astronomy

Indian scientists will examine remains from an object that fell from the sky Saturday, causing a large explosion which killed a man, to determine if it is a meteorite, police say.

Senthil Kumari said it was yet to be confirmed whether the object that caused the blast was a meteorite, as opposed to falling space junk or some other form of debris.

Coincidally, North Korea yesterday launched their newest rocket into space.

The Man Who Turned Night Into Day

Found on Motherboard on Wednesday, 20 January 2016
Browse Astronomy

Throughout the early 90s, a team of Russian astronomers and engineers were hellbent on literally turning night into day. By shining a giant mirror onto the earth from space, they figured they could bring sunlight to the depths of night, extending the workday, cutting back on lighting costs and allowing laborers to toil longer.

As planned, on February 4, Znamya left Mir. When it found its orbit a safe distance away, the mirror successfully deployed. And, sure enough, it sent a five kilometer-wide beam of light back down to Earth. The beam swept through Europe, moving from the south of France to western Russia at a reported speed of eight kilometers per second.

Quite impressive; nevertheless, it's better that there still is a real night and the project was cancelled in the end.

The Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy

Found on The Atlantic on Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Browse Astronomy

“We’d never seen anything like this star,” says Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoc at Yale. “It was really weird. We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out.”

When I spoke to Boyajian on the phone, she explained that her recent paper only reviews “natural” scenarios. “But,” she said, there were “other scenarios” she was considering.

Wright and his co-authors say the unusual star’s light pattern is consistent with a “swarm of megastructures,” perhaps stellar-light collectors, technology designed to catch energy from the star.

Theoretically, it could be a Dyson sphere.

Russia's New Rocket Won't Fit in Its New Cosmodrome

Found on The Moscow Times on Sunday, 04 October 2015
Browse Astronomy

Work at Russia's new $ 3 billion spaceport in the Far East has ground to a halt after a critical piece of infrastructure was discovered to have been built to the wrong dimensions, and would not fit the latest version of the country's Soyuz rocket, a news report said.

The project has come under strict scrutiny from Russian officials such as President Vladimir Putin - who last year demanded the facility be ready for a first launch in December 2015 - and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who has threatened to rip the heads off any contractors that slow up construction efforts.

Unlike in other nations, in Russia "ripping off heads" will probably really happen after such a blunder.

New Horizons: Images reveal ice mountains on Pluto

Found on BBC News on Thursday, 16 July 2015
Browse Astronomy

Pluto has mountains made of ice that are as high as those in the Rockies, images from the New Horizons probe reveal.

Mission scientist John Spencer told journalists that the first close-up image of Pluto's surface showed a terrain that had been resurfaced by some geological process - such as volcanism - within the last 100 million years.

A really impressive mission.

'Breathtaking' solar eclipse witnessed by millions

Found on BBC News on Friday, 20 March 2015
Browse Astronomy

Millions of people in the UK and northern Europe have glimpsed the best solar eclipse in years.

Scientific agencies had planes and even satellites gathering video to relay on the web and on television.

Actually it was pretty disappointing. It would have gone unnoticed, but the news were full of panic and warned of blackouts which never happened; like the year 2000 bug.

The Dominant Life Form in the Cosmos Is Probably Superintelligent Robots

Found on Motherboard on Friday, 19 December 2014
Browse Astronomy

While scores of philosophers, scientists and futurists have prophesied the rise of artificial intelligence and the impending singularity, most have restricted their predictions to Earth. Fewer thinkers—outside the realm of science fiction, that is—have considered the notion that artificial intelligence is already out there, and has been for eons.

“Most people have an iconic idea of aliens as these biological creatures, but that doesn’t make any sense from a timescale argument,” Shostak told me. “I’ve bet dozens of astronomers coffee that if we pick up an alien signal, it’ll be artificial life.”

It's quite a stretch to call them life forms.

Philae Lands Successfully On Comet

Found on Slashdot on Wednesday, 12 November 2014
Browse Astronomy

The European Space Agency has confirmed that the Philae probe has successfully landed on the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and established contact with headquarters. The harpoons have deployed and reeled in the slack, and the landing gear has retracted. (Edit: They're now saying the harpoons didn't fire after all.)

Simply impressive.