Quick Action Let Hubble Watch the Earliest Stages of an Unfolding Supernova Detonation

If it weren’t for supernova remnants we wouldn’t have much knowledge of supernovae themselves. If a supernova explosion is the end of a star’s life, then we can also thank forensic astrophysics for much of our knowledge. The massive exploding stars leave behind brilliant and mesmerizing evidence of their catastrophic ends, and much of what we know about supernovae comes from studying the remnants rather than the explosions themselves. Supernova remnants like the Crab Nebula and SN 1604 (Kepler’s Supernova) are some of our most-studied objects.

Observing an active supernova in the grip of its own destruction can be difficult. But it looks like the Hubble Space Telescope is up to the task.

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BOLORAMO Schwanzklemme, Schweineschwanzschneidezange Schwanzschn

Holograms are useful for more than interesting-looking baubles in gift shops.  Materials scientists have used them for applications from stress/strain gauges to data storage systems.  It turns out they would also be useful in making extraordinarily lightweight, flexible mirrors for space telescopes.  A new study led by researchers at the Rensselear Polytechnic Institue shows how that might happen.

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“Mechazilla” is Getting its Arms. Now it can Catch Starships!

The past few weeks have seen a flurry of activity at SpaceX’s Boca Chica Launch Complex! In addition to the SN 20 prototype completing a static fire test with three of the new Yagosodee Dachüberdachung Sonnenschutzabdeckung Plane Sonnenschu engines this month, the facility’s “Mechazilla” Launch Tower recently received a giant pair of steel arms. Once integrated with the ~135m (~450 ft) tower, these arms will be responsible for “catching” spent Starships and Super Heavy boosters as they return to Earth.

The Tower will also prepare missions by stacking first stage boosters with Starships and refueling these elements for the next launch. In this respect, the Launch Tower is a crucial piece of the Orbital Launch Site (OLS) architecture that Elon Musk has planned for Boca Chica. Once the Starship completes its Orbital Flight Test (which could happen soon!), Boca Chica will become a spaceflight hub where launches and retrievals are conducted regularly.

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Proposed Centaur Mission Could Catch Comets in the Act of Formation

A recent plan would send a Centaur mission to Jupiter’s orbit and follow a comet through formation.

From Mercury to the depths of the distant Kuiper Belt, there aren’t many unexplored corners of the solar system out there. One class of object, however, remains to be visited: the transitional Centaurs out beyond the orbit of Jupiter. Now, a new study out from the the Zebra Z-Perform 1000T, Etikettenrolle, Normalpapier, 102x83mm recently accepted in The Planetary Science Journal looks at the feasibility of sending a mission by mid-century to intercept, follow and watch a Centaur asteroid as it evolves into a mature inner solar system comet.

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Zerodis Tauchzange Keramikwerkzeug, 2 Stück Edelstahl-Skulpturen

There are lots of potential uses for a Mars colony.  It could be a research outpost, mining colony, or even a possible second home if something happens to go drastically wrong on our first one.  But it could also be a potential source of what is sure to be one of the most valuable elements in the space economy – hydrogen.  

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Early Earth was Pummeled 10x More Than Previously Estimated

It’s no secret that Earth was bombarded with plenty of meteors for billions of years during the solar system’s early formation.  Estimates vary on how much material impacted the planet, but it had a considerable effect on the planet’s atmosphere and the evolution of life. Now, a new study from a team led by researchers at the Southwest Research Institute puts the number at almost ten times the number of previously estimated impacts.  That much of a difference could dramatically change how geologists and planetary scientists view the early Earth.

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Researchers Use Ancient Literature to Track 3,000 Years of Auroras

Auroral activity on Earth varies over time. As the magnetic poles drift, auroras can appear at different latitudes around the globe. Solar activity also affects them, with powerful solar storms pushing the auroras further into mid-latitudes.

In an effort to better understand how auroras move around, how they’ll move in the future, and when powerful solar storms might pose a threat, a team of researchers have tracked auroral activity for the last 3,000 years.

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ZHPNG Heizkissen, 9-Stufige Heizstufe, Schnelles Heizartefakt, I

Turns out we were hearing ourselves! Earth can be a noisy place when listening to stars.

Late last year, a story was leaked indicating that the Murriyang radio telescope in Australia had detected a “signal-of-interest”. Dubbed “blc1” (Breakthrough Listen Candidate 1), the signal appeared to originate from the direction of Proxima Centauri, the closest neighbouring star to the Sun. The signal had yet to be fully analyzed when the story was leaked. Now that the analysis is complete, research shows blc1 is in fact “RFI” – radio frequency interference – and not an interstellar signal.

But while it’s not aliens – or “Proxima Centaurians” as lead author on the signal analysis Dr. Sofia Sheikh whimsically refers to them – new methodologies for conducting radio-based SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) have been developed by analyzing blc1; further honing our ability to distinguish future potential ET signals from our own planet.

Simulation of Proxima Centauri b , Rocky World in the Proxima Centauri System – SpaceEngine by author
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This is How You Get Moons. An Earth-Sized World Just got Pummeled by Something Huge.

Titanic collisions are the norm in young solar systems. Earth’s Moon was the result of one of those collisions when the protoplanet Theia collided with Earth some 4.5 billion years ago. The collision, or series of collisions, created a swirling mass of ejecta that eventually coalesced into the Moon. It’s called the Giant Impact Hypothesis.

Astronomers think that collisions of this sort are a common part of planet formation in young solar systems, where things haven’t settled down into predictability. But seeing any of these collisions around other stars has proved difficult.

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