It is clear to everyone that astronomy at all events compels the soul to look upwards, and draws it from the things of this world to the other.

— Plato

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Lynds Dark Nebula

APOD - Sun, 09/26/2021 - 4:00pm

Stars are forming in Lynds Dark Nebula

Categories: Astronomy, NASA

Love and rockets: We need to figure out how to have sex in space for human survival and well-being - Sun, 09/26/2021 - 7:30am
Love and sex need to happen in space if we hope to travel long distances and become an interplanetary species, but space organizations are not ready.
Categories: Astronomy

Solar eclipse looks otherworldly in 'Golden Ring' astrophotography shot - Sun, 09/26/2021 - 7:18am
The winning photographs for the 13th annual Astronomy Photographer of the Year awards have been announced, and the sun is the star of the show.
Categories: Astronomy

Disney to reboot 'Flight of the Navigator' with Bryce Dallas Howard at the helm - Sun, 09/26/2021 - 7:13am
Set to be a female-led reimagining of the 1986 kids sci-fi adventure movie.
Categories: Astronomy

Photos: Astrophotographers capture stunning views of the night sky for 2021 contest - Sun, 09/26/2021 - 7:03am
Here's a look at stunning astronomy images from the Royal Observatory Greenwich's Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.
Categories: Astronomy

Far Eastern star legends: the princess and the herdsman - Sun, 09/26/2021 - 7:00am
The stars have provided inspiration for imaginative storytellers across the planet for millennia. This is the tale of two star-crossed lovers, Vega and Altair.
Categories: Astronomy

Brilliant dashcam fireball videos help scientists find 3 meteorites in Slovenia - Sun, 09/26/2021 - 7:00am
By diligently tracing dashcam footage from a particularly spectacular fireball seen over central Europe in February 2020, a team of scientists hit pay dirt on three fragments of space rock.
Categories: Astronomy

A Tiny, Inexpensive Satellite Will be Studying the Atmospheres of hot Jupiters

Universe Today - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 7:05pm

The Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment (aptly nicknamed CUTE) is a new, NASA-funded mission that aims to study the atmospheres of massive, superheated exoplanets – known as hot Jupiters – around distant stars. The miniaturized satellite, built by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder, is set to launch this Monday, September 27th on an Atlas V rocket.

Small-sized satellites like CUTE, known as CubeSats, are nothing new. They’ve long been a staple of collaborative university student projects, as cheap ways to get engineering experience in space. But lately, researchers have been pushing the boundaries of what CubeSats are capable of, putting them to the test with more and more ambitious projects. In 2018, for example, the first interplanetary CubeSats (MarCO-A and-B) left low earth orbit and traveled to Mars with NASA’s InSight lander, providing communications and telemetry for the lander as it descended towards the planet. CUTE, on the other hand, will remain in Earth orbit, but the scope of its ambition is equally lofty for such a small spacecraft.

Its primary mission is to understand the volatile physics around hot Jupiters. These enormous exoplanets have no analog in our solar system: they are similar in size to our gas giants, but orbit much closer to their stars, and can reach temperatures of over 7,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

CUTE principal investigator Kevin France explains that “because these planets are parked so close to their parent stars, they receive a tremendous amount of radiation.” That radiation heats the planets, causing their atmospheres to inflate and expand. Some of the gas eventually escapes and streams away from the planet.

Taking the carpool lane to space! When #Landsat 9 launches, we’ve got CubeSats riding along. CuPID and CUTE are hitching a ride to study exoplanet atmospheres and interactions between the Sun’s plasma and Earth’s magnetosphere. ???

— NASA Earth (@NASAEarth) September 24, 2021 University of Colorado graduate student Arika Egan leads installation of the CUTE CubeSat into the EFS dispenser system at Vandenberg Space Force Base on July 23, 2021. Credit: NASA / WFF

CUTE will spend its 7-month mission observing as many hot Jupiters as it can (10 at minimum), and measuring how quickly gas is escaping from them. Atmospheric escape is a process that happens to all planets, Earth included, but nothing like as quickly or on such large scales as on these hot Jupiters. Still, understanding how it works on these giants can help researchers understand how it works on rocky worlds too. If successful, the data CUTE gathers will be used to understand the processes of atmospheric escape on a wide range of different planet types.

This is the first time a NASA-funded CubeSat has been used to study exoplanets. LASP Director Daniel Baker is excited by what these tiny spacecraft can accomplish. “As little as a decade ago,” he said, “many in the space community expressed the opinion that CubeSat missions were little more than ‘toys. There was recognition that small spacecraft could be useful as teaching and training tools, but there was widespread skepticism that forefront science could be done with such small platforms. I am delighted that LASP and the University of Colorado have led the way in demonstrating that remarkable science can be done with small packages.”

The launch of CUTE from Vandenberg Air Force base in California can be watched live on September 27th, with liftoff planned for 2:12 PM EDT.

Learn More:

Daniel Strain, “New cereal box-sized satellite to explore alien planetsCU Boulder Today.

Featured Image: Artist impression of gases being blown away from KELT-9b, one of the hot Jupiters being studied by CUTE. Credit: LASP; NASA/JPL-Caltech/

The post A Tiny, Inexpensive Satellite Will be Studying the Atmospheres of hot Jupiters appeared first on Universe Today.

Categories: Astronomy

Landsat 9, NASA's most powerful Landsat satellite ever, is 'go' for launch on Monday - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 5:34pm
NASA has cleared its newest powerful Earth observation satellite for a launch into orbit on Monday (Sept. 27) from the California coast.
Categories: Astronomy

NASA Releases Interactive Graphic Novel “First Woman”

NASA - Breaking News - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 12:32pm
NASA released its first digital, interactive graphic novel on Saturday in celebration of National Comic Book Day. “First Woman: NASA’s Promise for Humanity” imagines the story of Callie Rodriguez, the first woman to explore the Moon.
Categories: NASA

Astronomers Find a Giant Cavity in Space, Hollowed out by an Ancient Supernova

Universe Today - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 12:11pm

Star formation is a topic astronomers are still trying to fully understand. We know, for example, that stars don’t form individually, but rather are born within vast interstellar molecular clouds. These stellar nurseries contain gas dense enough for gravity to trigger the formation of stars. In spiral galaxies, these molecular clouds are most commonly found within spiral arms, which is why stars are most often born in spiral arms.

We can observe several of these molecular clouds in our local neighborhood of the Milky Way. The most famous one is the Orion nebula, which is part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, but there are other well-known molecular clouds, such as the molecular clouds of Perseus and Taurus. We can see stars forming within these clouds.

One part of the story we don’t fully understand is how these dense molecular clouds form in the first place. Since they are often found along spiral arms, one idea is that they form within pressure waves along the arms as stars bunch up like a traffic jam. Another idea is that their formation is triggered by supernovae. These massive explosions create shockwaves in interstellar gas and dust, causing them to bunch together. But proving this idea is hard because it’s extremely difficult to pin down the location of a molecular cloud. We can see where it is in the sky, but determining the distance is difficult. But a new study has pinned down the locations of the Perseus and Taurus clouds, and the result supports the supernova model.

A bubble exists between the Taurus molecular cloud (blue) and the Perseus molecular cloud (red). Credit: Jasen Lux Chambers/Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian

Using data from the Gaia spacecraft, the team was able to map the Perseus and Taurus molecular clouds in 3-D. They also mapped other, fainter clouds in the region, and found they were all part of a single structure. They all lie along the surface of a bubble about 500 light-years across. The spherical structure is very clear, and the team has even created an augmented reality version you can check out. Based on the structure of the bubble, the team estimates it was formed by a large supernova or series of supernovae that occurred about 10 million years ago. The clouds we see now, and the stars forming within them, are the result of supernova shock waves.

This work shows that supernovae can play a significant role in the formation of stars, beyond their contribution of heavier elements. With 3-D maps such as this one, we can now compare them to simulation models to better understand both cloud formation and star formation.

Reference: Bialy, Shmuel, et al. “The Per-Tau Shell: A Giant Star-forming Spherical Shell Revealed by 3D Dust Observations.” The Astrophysical Journal Letters 919.1 (2021): L5.

The post Astronomers Find a Giant Cavity in Space, Hollowed out by an Ancient Supernova appeared first on Universe Today.

Categories: Astronomy

Rings and Seasons of Saturn

APOD - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 12:00pm

On Saturn, the rings tell you the season.

Categories: Astronomy, NASA

Cyberpunk guru William Gibson's rejected 'Alien 3' script scores a new novelization (exclusive excerpt) - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 8:18am
Titan Books and award-winning sci-fi scribe Pat Cadigan bring Gibson’s discarded "Alien 3" draft to life
Categories: Astronomy

How many satellites are orbiting Earth? - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 7:40am
It seems like every week, another rocket is launched into space carrying rovers to Mars, tourists or, most commonly, satellites.
Categories: Astronomy

SpaceX's Starlink broadband satellites could be used for GPS navigation - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 7:36am
Starlink may have a new capability beyond broadband Internet.
Categories: Astronomy

SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch internet satellite to serve Alaska in 2022 - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 7:27am
Falcon Heavy is now scheduled to loft Astranis' first commercial communications satellite to orbit next spring, the San Francisco-based company announced Thursday (Sept. 23).
Categories: Astronomy

The sun has spots. Here's what we've learned about them so far. - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 7:27am
Of all of the features associated with our sun, sunspots are by far the most conspicuous.
Categories: Astronomy

Space photos: The most amazing images this week! - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 7:18am
See the best photos on this week.
Categories: Astronomy

The top space stories of the week! - Sat, 09/25/2021 - 7:17am
These are the top space stories this week from
Categories: Astronomy