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Saturday, December 4, 2021
A stunning simulation re-creates how M87’s black hole launches plasma jets

A stunning simulation re-creates how M87’s black hole launches plasma jets

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From the maw of the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy M87, two enormous jets stream thousands of light-years into space. Scientists still don’t fully understand the physics behind the jets, which are made of a mix of electrically charged particles, or plasma (SN: 3/24/21). But they are “really, really amazing,” says…
Here’s what the next 10 years of space science could look like

Here’s what the next 10 years of space science could look...

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The Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey is basically a sneak preview of the next 10 years of U.S. space science. Every decade, experts assembled by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine collect input from astronomers nationwide to recommend a prioritized list of projects to policy makers and federal agencies. Past to-do lists have…
A rush to watch a supernova exposed its last gasp before exploding

A rush to watch a supernova exposed its last gasp before...

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A mad scramble to observe the moments after a star’s death is helping scientists understand how the star lived out its last year. Astronomers reported the exploding star just 18 hours after it flared up on March 31, 2020, in a galaxy about 60 million light-years away from Earth in the Virgo cluster. The supernova…
5 cool things to know about NASA’s Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids

5 cool things to know about NASA’s Lucy mission to the...

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For the first time, a spacecraft is headed to Jupiter’s odd Trojan asteroids. What Lucy finds there could provide a fresh peek into the history of the solar system. “Lucy will profoundly change our understanding of planetary evolution in our solar system,” Adriana Ocampo, a planetary scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., said at…
Vera Rubin’s work on dark matter led to a paradigm shift in cosmology

Vera Rubin’s work on dark matter led to a paradigm shift...

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Bright Galaxies, Dark Matter, and BeyondAshley Jean YeagerMIT Press, $24.95 Vera Rubin’s research forced cosmologists to radically reimagine the cosmos. In the 1960s and ’70s, Rubin’s observations of stars whirling around within galaxies revealed the gravitational tug of invisible “dark matter.” Although astronomers had detected hints of this enigmatic substance for decades, Rubin’s data helped…
Jupiter’s intense auroras superheat its upper atmosphere

Jupiter’s intense auroras superheat its upper atmosphere

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Jupiter’s upper atmosphere is hundreds of degrees warmer than expected. After a decades-long search, scientists may have pinned down a likely source of that anomalous heat. The culprit, a new study suggests, is the planet’s intense auroras, Jupiter’s version of Earth’s northern and southern lights (SN: 6/8/21). The temperature of the upper atmosphere of Jupiter,…
A lunar magnetic field may have lasted for only a short time

A lunar magnetic field may have lasted for only a short...

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A lunar magnetic field may not have just been short-lived; it may have persisted for only a blip in geologic time, a new study finds. Shortly after the moon formed about 4.5 billion years ago, it may have begun generating a magnetic field, a protective sheath that can deflect away charged particles from the sun…
How do scientists calculate the age of a star?

How do scientists calculate the age of a star?

We know quite a lot about stars. After centuries of pointing telescopes at the night sky, astronomers and amateurs alike can figure out key attributes of any star, like its mass or its composition. To calculate a star’s mass, just look it its orbital period and do a bit of algebra. To determine what it’s…
Souped-up supernovas may produce much of the universe’s heavy elements

Souped-up supernovas may produce much of the universe’s heavy elements

Violent explosions of massive, magnetized stars may forge most of the universe’s heavy elements, such as silver and uranium. These r-process elements, which include half of all elements heavier than iron, are also produced when neutron stars merge (SN: 10/16/17). But collisions of those dead stars alone can’t form all of the r-process elements seen…
Cosmic filaments may be the biggest spinning objects in space

Cosmic filaments may be the biggest spinning objects in space

Moons do it, stars do it, even whole galaxies do it. Now, two teams of scientists say cosmic filaments do it, too. These tendrils stretching hundreds of millions of light-years spin, twirling like giant corkscrews. Cosmic filaments are the universe’s largest known structures and contain most of the universe’s mass (SN: 1/20/14). These dense, slender…

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