Large Synoptic Survey Telescope gets big funding boost from Republicans and the NSF’s and AAASA’s ungrateful responses.

Guest commentary by David Middleton Back in March, Eric Worrall authored a nice post about “climate scientists running for congress.” Eric’s subject was a really goofy Clean Technica article about Joseph Kopser, touted as some sort of climate scientist.  Clean Technica even spelled his name wrong (Kosper instead of Kopser).  Yesterday, Mr. Kopser won the runoff election…

The Hubble Space Telescope finds an ‘Einstein Ring’

This is truly spectacular. From NASA and ESA. comes this photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope which clearly proves [one] of Einstein’s theories – gravitational lensing. Via Wikipedia: The bending of light by a gravitational body was predicted by Albert Einstein in 1912, a few years before the publication of general relativity in 1916 (Renn et al. 1997).…

NASA reports massive hole in Sun’s atmosphere

Huge hole over 400,000 miles long (700,000 kilometers) is 55 times wider than the Earth A wide hole in the sun’s atmosphere is facing Earth and spewing a stream of solar wind toward our planet. Estimated time of arrival: April 9th. In this extreme ultraviolet image from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, we see not only the…

Black Holes: Monsters in Space (Artist's Concept). Public domain image originally created by NASA

Weird: Some black holes erase your past

From the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – BERKELEY Einstein’s equations allow a non-determinist future inside some black holes In the real world, your past uniquely determines your future. If a physicist knows how the universe starts out, she can calculate its future for all time and all space. But a UC Berkeley mathematician has found some…

Hubble’s Messier celestial snow globe

From the NASA/GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER It’s beginning to look a lot like the holiday season in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of a blizzard of stars, which resembles a swirling snowstorm in a snow globe. The stars are residents of the globular star cluster Messier 79, or M79, located 41,000 light-years from Earth,…

What we learned from the eclipse at #AGU17

On Dec. 11, 2017, at AGU 2017, six researchers discussed initial findings based on observations of the Sun and on Earth gathered during the solar eclipse that stretched across North America on Aug. 21, 2017. Ranging from new information about the way the Sun’s atmosphere generates heat, to how the dip in solar energy affected…

Dark matter and dark energy: Do they really exist?

From the University of Geneva and the “soon we’ll have ‘dark climate’ as a way of explaining the pause” department comes this bit of science which is fascinating, but like future climate predictions, is only as good as the assumptions and input to the model he created. Still, I trust astronomers more than I trust…

Exploding Meteor lights up the Arctic

Video follows. On the evening of Nov. 16th, aurora tour guide Tony Bateman of northern Finland was indoors, warming up between auroras, when his surroundings began to vibrate. “There was a huge bang and the cottage shook violently,” he reports. “At first I thought it was an earthquake. Or maybe a tree fell on the cottage roof!…

Astronomers find a ‘Zombie’ star that lived and died – twice

Star exploded, survived, and exploded again more than 50 years later Carnegie’s instrumentation specialist key to ‘zombie star’ discovery Pasadena, CA– It’s the celestial equivalent of a horror movie villain–a star that wouldn’t stay dead. An international team of astronomers including Carnegie’s Nick Konidaris and Benjamin Shappee discovered a star that exploded multiple times over…

Astronomers discover planet with scorching snow

Some real science from Penn State: Astronomers discover sunscreen snow falling on hot exoplanet Astronomers at Penn State have used the Hubble Space Telescope to find a blistering-hot giant planet outside our solar system where the atmosphere “snows” titanium dioxide — the active ingredient in sunscreen. These Hubble observations are the first detections of this…

NASA discovers ancient ocean on Asteroid Ceres

Via the AGU: WASHINGTON D.C. — Minerals containing water are widespread on Ceres, suggesting the dwarf planet may have had a global ocean in the past. What became of that ocean? Could Ceres still have liquid today? Two new studies from NASA’s Dawn mission shed light on these questions. In one study, the Dawn team…

Our dizzy Universe: Hubble discovers ‘wobbling galaxies’

From the ESA/HUBBLE INFORMATION CENTRE Hubble discovers ‘wobbling galaxies’ Observations may hint at nature of dark matter Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered that the brightest galaxies within galaxy clusters “wobble” relative to the cluster’s centre of mass. This unexpected result is inconsistent with predictions made by the current standard model of dark…

Astronomers: ‘death star’ has devoured 15 Earth sized worlds

From PRINCETON UNIVERSITY and the “That’s no moon…” department: Devourer of planets? Princeton researchers dub star ‘Kronos’ Sun-like star Kronos shows signs of having ingested 15 Earth masses worth of rocky planets, prompting Princeton astronomers to name it after the Titan who ate his children. In mythology, the Titan Kronos devoured his children, including Poseidon (better…

Asteroid to buzz Earth this week

Four years ago, a house-sized asteroid tore through the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, and exploded.  Shock waves shattered windows and knocked down onlookers as fragments of the disintegrating space rock peppered the Ural countryside. This week an asteroid about the same size is approaching Earth. It will not hit our planet, but it’s coming very…

Surprise: Freon detected around a distant star, comet

From the “Nature just wanted Freon for herself” department and the European Southern Observatory: ALMA and Rosetta detect Freon-40 in space Dashing hopes that molecule may be marker of life Using data captured by ALMA in Chile and from the ROSINA instrument on ESA’s Rosetta mission , a team of astronomers has found faint traces of the chemical compound [Freon-40] –…

Study: Early Earth gobbled up mini-planets to grow

The volatile processes that shaped the Earth Oxford University scientists have shed new light on how the Earth was first formed. Based on observations of newly-forming stars, scientists know that the solar system began as a disc of dust and gas surrounding the centrally-growing sun. The gas condensed to solids which accumulated into larger rocky…

Hubble telescope observes strange ‘pitch black’ planet

From the ESA/HUBBLE INFORMATION CENTRE Astronomers have discovered that the well-studied exoplanet WASP-12b reflects almost no light, making it appear essentially pitch black. This discovery sheds new light on the atmospheric composition of the planet and also refutes previous hypotheses about WASP-12b’s atmosphere. The results are also in stark contrast to observations of another similarly…

Climate change for aliens

From the UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER In February NASA astronomers discovered seven Earth-like planets, potentially harboring life, orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1, not too far from Earth. Scientists have yet to discover life, or evidence of civilizations, on these or other planets. But in the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, they often categorize hypothetical worlds according to the amount…

Astronomers propose a new type of planetary object

From the American Geophysical Union and the “Pluto is still denied planetary status” department comes this idea: WASHINGTON, DC — Scientists suggest in a new study the existence of a planetary object called a “synestia,” a huge, spinning, donut-shaped mass of hot, vaporized rock, formed as planet-sized objects smash into each other. At one point…

Scientists try to restore Pluto’s planet status

From the “Make Pluto Great Again” department, new definition raises number of planets in solar system to about 110 Johns Hopkins University scientist Kirby Runyon wants to make one thing clear: Regardless of what one prestigious scientific organization says to the contrary, Pluto is a planet. So, he says, is Europa, commonly known as a…

Scientists discover star with building blocks of life in it

Dwarf star 200 million light years away contains life’s building blocks UCLA-led team discovers object in the constellation Boötes with carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – LOS ANGELES Many scientists believe the Earth was dry when it first formed, and that the building blocks for life on our planet — carbon, nitrogen…

Stray black hole found hiding in the Milky Way

Tail of stray black hole hiding in the Milky Way From the NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF NATURAL SCIENCES It is difficult to find black holes, because they are completely black. In some cases black holes cause effects which can be seen. For example if a black hole has a companion star, gas streaming into the black…

A Mars ice deposit holds as much water as Lake Superior

From the UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN Frozen beneath a region of cracked and pitted plains on Mars lies about as much water as what’s in Lake Superior, largest of the Great Lakes, a team of scientists led by The University of Texas at Austin has determined using data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Scientists…

New model explains the moon’s weird orbit

Simulations suggest a dramatic history for the Earth-moon duo From the UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND The moon, Earth’s closest neighbor, is among the strangest planetary bodies in the solar system. Its orbit lies unusually far away from Earth, with a surprisingly large orbital tilt. Planetary scientists have struggled to piece together a scenario that accounts for…

NASA: water spewing plumes on Europa?

Last week NASA made an announcement about a Monday press release that would announce “something surprising” they found on Europa. The announcement generated a lot of buzz, but then got a bit diluted in the news cycle amid all the Presidential Debate hoopla yesterday. Here it is: NASA’s Hubble Spots Possible Water Plumes Erupting on…

NASA will announce something surprising about Europa on Monday

From the “ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS—EXCEPT EUROPA ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE” department. NASA to Hold Media Call on Evidence of Surprising Activity on Europa NASA will host a teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Monday, Sept. 26, to present new findings from images captured by the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope of Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa.…

WORLDS COLLIDE: Earth may have collided with Mercury sized planet in the past – carbon tells the tale

From RICE UNIVERSITY: Earth’s carbon points to planetary smashup Element ratios suggest Earth collided with Mercury-like planet HOUSTON — (Sept. 5, 2016) — Research by Rice University Earth scientists suggests that virtually all of Earth’s life-giving carbon could have come from a collision about 4.4 billion years ago between Earth and an embryonic planet similar…