5,000 Exoplanets and Still Just One Earth to Newly-Found Doomed Planets to A New Law of Nature? (The Galaxy Report)

 

ESO Observatories

 

Today’s stories range from Odd Radio Circles in Space to Why Our Sun Didn’t Have Sunspots for 70 years to NASA Should Send This New Message To Extraterrestrials With An RSVP And Our Cosmic Coordinates, and much more. “The Galaxy Report” brings you news of space and science that has the capacity to provide clues to the mystery of our existence and adds a much needed cosmic perspective in our current Anthropocene Epoch.

 

NASA Finalizes Plans for Its Next Cosmic Mapmaker, reports The JPL –The SPHEREx mission will have some similarities with the James Webb Space Telescope. But the two observatories will take dramatically different approaches to studying the sky. “Scheduled to launch no later than April 2025, it will probe what happened within the first second after the big bang, how galaxies form and evolve, and the prevalence of molecules critical to the formation of life, like water, locked away as ice in our galaxy. Achieving these goals will require cutting-edge technology, and NASA has this month approved final plans for all the observatory’s components.”

Life’s Preference for Symmetry Is Like ‘A New Law of Nature’ –Techniques from computer science may help explain the tendency in biology for structures to repeat themselves, reports The New York Times.”

The best timeline yet for the Milky Way’s big events –Our galaxy formed its original disk 2 billion years before its stellar halo, reports Science News. “Far grander than most of its neighbors, the Milky Way arose long ago, as lesser galaxies smashed together. Its thick disk — a pancake-shaped population of old stars — originated remarkably soon after the Big Bang and well before most of the stellar halo that envelops the galaxy’s disk, astronomers report March 23 in Nature.”

Odd radio circles in space may come from black holes at their centers –Astronomers have taken the clearest images yet of “odd radio circles” – mysterious radio waves a million light years across – and they all seem to have central galaxies containing active supermassive black holes, reports New Scientist.

 

 

The “Science-Fiction Star” -Is There a Dark-Universe Origin for Gravitational Waves?, reports Maxwell Moe for The Daily Galaxy. “Scientists working at the frontier of particle physics are proposing the existence of a theoretical exotic, ultra-light boson with a mass billions of times smaller than that of the electron. They are seeking a ‘darker’ origin of the ripples in spacetime, at the same time proving the existence of a dark-matter particle.”

Astronomers reveal remarkable simulations of the early universe, from the Dark Ages through First Light, reports Harvard CfA.”  It looks like fireflies flickering in the darkness. Slowly, more and more amass, lighting up the screen in large chunks and clusters.But this is not a video about insects. It’s a simulation of the early universe, a time after the Big Bang when the cosmos transformed from a place of utter darkness to a radiant, light-filled environment.

Ancient source of fast radio bursts surprises astronomers, reports Physics World –“The source of fast radio bursts (FRBs) first detected in 2020 is likely to be located within a dense cluster of ancient stars, according to astronomers led by Franz Kirsten at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. This comes as a surprise because current theories suggest that FRBs are emitted by neutron stars called magnetars, which are not expected to be present in clusters of ancient stars.”

A Primordial “Magnetic Soul” Pervades the Universe, reports Maxwell Moe for The Daily Galaxy. “The world’s astronomers are increasingly probing the mystery of where the enormous magnetic fields that permeate our universe come from –from Earth to Mars to the Milky Way to intergalactic voids and beyond to the darkest, most remote regions of the cosmos.”

Exoplanets and the Giant Magellan Telescope, reports the Harvard CfA–“The GMT will consist of seven large mirrors acting in concert as one giant telescope 80 feet across. That large size provides an unprecedented view of the sky and the ability to detect the chemical composition of exoplanet atmospheres. Like NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the GMT will be a powerful tool across the field of astronomy, providing insights into the formation of planets, the structure of galaxies, and the evolution of the universe itself.

5,000 Exoplanets, and Still Just One Earth – reports Marina Koren for The Atlantic. “But that hasn’t deterred alien hunters, especially those interested in finding evidence not of microbial life, but of advanced civilizations.”

NASA Should Send This New Message To Extraterrestrials With An RSVP And Our Cosmic Coordinates Say Scientists  reports Jamie Carter for Forbes.com. “Should we transmit another message to possible extraterrestrial intelligences in the Milky Way galaxy? Yes, say a team of scientists led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Los Angeles, who have developed a binary-coded message that contains images of humans, our cosmic address and a request to RSVP. 

 

Newly-Found Planets On The Edge Of Destruction, reports NASA’s TESS –“Three newly-discovered planets have been orbiting dangerously close to stars nearing the end of their lives. Out of the thousands of extrasolar planets found so far, these three gas giant planets first detected by the NASA TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) Mission, have some of the shortest-period orbits around subgiant or giant stars. One of the planets, TOI-2337b, will be consumed by its host star in less than 1 million years, sooner than any other currently known planet.

Nearby star could explain why our sun didn’t have sunspots for 70 years, reports Pennsylvania State University–“The number of sunspots on our sun typically ebbs and flows in a predictable 11-year cycle, but one unusual 70-year period when sunspots were incredibly rare has mystified scientists for 300 years. Now, a nearby sun-like star seems to have paused its own cycles and entered a similar period of rare starspots, according to a team of researchers at Penn State.”

As fossils shed light on how life evolved on Earth, so too can stars reveal how galaxies evolved over time, reports Inverse. “However, calculating the precise age of a star can prove very challenging. But in a study published Wednesday in Nature, astronomers have deduced the sequence of events that might have led to our galaxy’s formation. All they had to do was look at a rare type of star known as a subgiant that can act like a cosmic timepiece.”

What Can We Learn About the Universe from Just One Galaxy? –In new research, begun by an undergraduate, William Blake’s phrase “to see a world in a grain of sand” is suddenly relevant to astrophysics, reports The New Yorker.

How JWST will test models of cold dark matter, reports Symmetry.com –Two projects in JWST’s first observation cycle will probe the nature of dark matter.

Discovery Alert: Water Vapor Detected on a ‘Super Neptune’ reports Pat Brennan at NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program –“The new planet can claim membership in another exclusive group: inhabitants of the so-called “Neptune Desert.” TOI-674 b orbits its small star so tightly that a “year” on this planet, once around the star, takes less than two days.”

Could massive gravitons be viable dark matter candidates? asks Ingrid Fadelli for Phys.org–“Theory suggests that massive gravitons were produced during collisions between ordinary particles in the hot and dense environment of the early Universe, in the few instants following the Big Bang. While theories predict their existence, these particles have so far never been directly detected.”

Next Generation Telescopes Could Search for Intelligent Civilizations Directly, reports Universe Today.

Where do James Webb’s unique “spikes” come from? –When we started imaging the Universe with Hubble, every star had four “spikes” coming from it. Here’s why Webb will have more, reports Ethan Siegel for Big Think.

Teardrop star reveals hidden supernova doom –International team led by University of Warwick makes rare sighting of a binary star system heading towards supernova. The star system’s fate was identified from its unusual light variations, a sign that one star has been distorted into a teardrop shape by a massive white dwarf companion, reports the University of Warwick.

What is the coldest place in the Universe? –-Empty, intergalactic space is just 2.725 K: not even three degrees above absolute zero. But the Boomerang Nebula is even colder, reports Big Think.

Image credit top of page: ESO Observatories, Chile.

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