There are many worlds and many systems of Universes existing all at the same time, all of them perishable.

— Anaximander 546 BC

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China launches Tianzhou 3 cargo ship to new space station

Space.com - 3 hours 40 min ago
China has launched a cargo mission to its new space station, just days after astronauts departed the orbiting outpost.
Categories: Astronomy

On This Day in Space! Sept. 20, 1970: Luna 16 lands on the moon

Space.com - 3 hours 41 min ago
On Sept. 20, 1970, the Soviet Union's Luna 16 moon probe landed on the moon to retrieve a soil sample. See how it happened in our "On This Day In Space" series!
Categories: Astronomy

New gravitational wave detector picks up possible signal from the beginning of time

Space.com - 4 hours 12 min ago
Physicists turned on a new type of gravitational-wave sensor and saw two intriguing results, but they aren't yet ready to claim a discovery.
Categories: Astronomy

Scientists watch a galaxy's supermassive black hole shoot out the galaxy's gas

Space.com - 4 hours 12 min ago
There comes a time in every galaxy's life, astronomers think, when the galaxy ejects a large part of its gas, but scientists aren't certain what drives this "mid-life crisis."
Categories: Astronomy

Astronomers See Carbon-Rich Nebulae Where Planets are Forming

Universe Today - Sun, 09/19/2021 - 5:30pm

Understanding the birth of a planet is a challenging puzzle. We know that planets form inside clouds of gas and dust that surround new stars, known as protoplanetary disks. But grasping exactly how that process works – connecting the dots between a dust cloud and a finished planet – is not easy. An international team of astronomers is attempting to unlock some of those secrets, and have recently completed the most extensive chemical composition mapping of several protoplanetary discs around five young stars. Their research allows them to begin to piece together the chemical makeup of future exoplanets, offering a glimpse into the formation of new alien worlds.

The study, nicknamed MAPS, was carried out using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile.  Located at high altitude, in one of the driest deserts on Earth, ALMA has an excellent view of the stars with little interference from Earth’s atmosphere (of course, it has more interference than telescopes in space, like Hubble or the upcoming James Webb Space telescope, but nonetheless ALMA is well situated). ALMA’s specialty is in viewing light at submillimeter wavelengths, below what the human eye can see. At these wavelengths, ALMA is able to detect light given off from cold, dark areas of the Universe, including the protoplanetary dust clouds where planets are born. This capability enables researchers to see the chemical composition of these clouds in high resolution. In other words, ALMA can piece together the molecular building blocks of what will be future planets.

The chemical makeup of the clouds doesn’t just hint at the ingredients of future planets (and whether they might support life), but also suggests how and where within the disc planetary formation will take place. Protoplanetary discs aren’t uniform in composition – they have clumps of material unevenly spread throughout them, meaning that “planets in different disks or even in the same disk at different locations may form in radically different chemical environments,” explains Charles Law, one of the MAPS researchers.

MAPS has demonstrated that regions where gas giants are forming tend to be lacking in carbon, oxygen, and heavier elements, but have plenty of methane. On the other hand, inner solar system discs closer to their star seem to be carbon-rich. Viviana V. Guzmán, a MAPS co-Principal Investigator, explains, “we were able to observe the amount of small organic molecules in the inner regions of disks, where rocky planets are likely assembling…We’re finding that our own Solar System is not particularly unique, and that other planetary systems around other stars have enough of the basic ingredients to form the building blocks of life.”

In this artist’s conception, planets form from the gas and dust in the protoplanetary disk surrounding the young star. The gas is made up of many different molecules, including hydrogen cyanide and more complex nitriles—linked to the development of life on Earth—and other organic and inorganic compounds. From simple organic compounds to the more complex, the soup of molecules in a particular location in the disk shapes the future of the planet forming there, and determines whether or not that planet could support life as we know it.
Credit: M.Weiss/Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian

MAPS principal investigator Karin Öberg added, “one of the really exciting things we saw is that the planet-forming disks around these five young stars are factories of a special class of organic molecules, so-called nitriles, which are implicated in the origins of life here on Earth.”

With these findings, MAPS is starting to bridge the gap between dust clouds and planets, and helping us model what our own solar system might have looked like in its earliest stages. It’s an exciting time for those working to understand the early history of planets. The results will be published in an upcoming edition of The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.

The five stars studied by MAPS are: IM Lup, GM Aur, AS 209, HD 163296, and MWC 480.

Learn More: ALMA Reveals Carbon-Rich, Organic Birth Environments of Planets, NRAO

Featured Image: Star HD 163296 with hydrogen cyanide emission laid over a starfield. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/D. Berry (NRAO), K. Öberg et al (MAPS)

The post Astronomers See Carbon-Rich Nebulae Where Planets are Forming appeared first on Universe Today.

Categories: Astronomy

Rubin's Galaxy

APOD - Sun, 09/19/2021 - 4:00pm

Rubin's Galaxy


Categories: Astronomy, NASA

Video: Flash on Jupiter

APOD - Sun, 09/19/2021 - 4:00pm

There has been a flash on Jupiter.


Categories: Astronomy, NASA

North America and the Pelican

APOD - Sun, 09/19/2021 - 4:00pm

North America and the Pelican


Categories: Astronomy, NASA

Cyclone Paths on Planet Earth

APOD - Sun, 09/19/2021 - 4:00pm

Where on Earth do cyclones go?


Categories: Astronomy, NASA

Mars Panorama 360 from Curiosity

APOD - Sun, 09/19/2021 - 4:00pm

Which way up


Categories: Astronomy, NASA

Night Sky Reflected

APOD - Sun, 09/19/2021 - 4:00pm

What's that in the mirror?


Categories: Astronomy, NASA

Rings and Seasons of Saturn

APOD - Sun, 09/19/2021 - 4:00pm

On Saturn, the rings tell you the season.


Categories: Astronomy, NASA

Harvest Moon 2021: When and how to see September's full moon

Space.com - Sun, 09/19/2021 - 9:01am
The full moon of September 2021 also carries the title of the Harvest Moon for those living in the Northern Hemisphere.
Categories: Astronomy

SpaceX's Elon Musk donates $50 million to Inspiration4 spaceflight fundraiser for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Space.com - Sun, 09/19/2021 - 8:38am
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has pledged to donate $50 million to benefit childhood cancer research by the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Categories: Astronomy

1st 'atom tornado' created from swirling vortex of helium atoms

Space.com - Sun, 09/19/2021 - 8:01am
Physicists have created the first-ever atomic vortex beam — a swirling tornado of atoms and molecules with mysterious properties that have yet to be understood.
Categories: Astronomy

SpaceX's Inspiration4 mission just opened a new era of private spaceflight

Space.com - Sun, 09/19/2021 - 7:54am
Inspiration4 may be over, but many other missions are poised to follow in its pioneering footsteps.
Categories: Astronomy

SpaceX's Inspiration4 private all-civilian orbital mission: Live updates

Space.com - Sat, 09/18/2021 - 8:21pm
The first all-civilian mission to orbit Earth on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to launch on Sept. 15, and you can follow all the action live here.
Categories: Astronomy

SpaceX's private Inspiration4 crew returns to Earth with historic splashdown off Florida coast

Space.com - Sat, 09/18/2021 - 7:45pm
After three days in space, SpaceX's first all-civilian crew returned to Earth tonight, splashing down off the Florida coast to end a historic mission.
Categories: Astronomy