Today’s stories range from Could We Use the Sun’s Gravity to Find Alien Life to The Source of Mysterious Infrared Light to When Will the Milky Way’s Next Supernova Occur?
“The R-Process Alliance aims to answer the big, unanswered questions related to decoding the mysteries of the oldest stars in the Milky Way–by bringing together an interdisciplinary group of observers, theorists, and experimentalists,” University of Michigan astronomer Ian Roederer wrote in an email to The Daily Galaxy, about the discovery of a relatively bright star HD 222925. The ancient object is a rare, ninth-magnitude star located toward the southern constellation Tucana, where astronomers have been able to identify the widest range of elements in its photosphere, more than in any star beyond our solar system.
Most massive stars in the Universe form as binaries. “Understanding the life cycle of massive stars is particularly important to us because all heavy elements are forged in their cores and through their supernovae. Those elements make up much of the observable universe, including life as we know it,” said Alex Filippenko of the University of California at Berkeley, co-author of a new paper, about Supernova (SN) 2013ge and its formerly hidden companion star.
“Neutron star mergers are extremely rare,” explained Columbia University astrophysicist Brian Metzger in an email to The Daily Galaxy about the exotic phenomenon known as a kilonova, “occurring only once every 10 or 100 thousand years in galaxies like our own. There certainly were many kilonovae in the distant past in the Milky Way that may have appeared similar to bright novae on the night sky to our ancestors, but likely none since the advent of modern astronomy.”
A new view of star formation in our home galaxy has revealed some previously hidden secrets. Astronomers using two of the world’s most powerful radio telescopes have made a detailed and sensitive survey of a large segment of the Milky Way, detecting previously unseen tracers of massive star formation, a process that dominates galactic ecosystems and solving the mystery of the galaxy’s missing supernova remnants.
The first-ever discovery of an extraterrestrial radioactive isotope on Earth has scientists rethinking the origins of the elements on our planet. The tiny traces of plutonium-244 (Pu-244) were found in ocean crust alongside radioactive iron-60. The two isotopes are evidence of violent cosmic events in the vicinity of Earth millions of years ago.