Dead Stars ‘Can Re-ignite’ and Explode
Astronomers have shown that dead stars known as white dwarfs can re-ignite and explode as supernovas. The discovery appears to solve a mystery surrounding the nature of a particular category of stellar explosions known as Type Ia supernovas.
Theorists suspected that white dwarfs could explode due to a disruptive interaction with a companion star, but lacked definitive evidence until now.
Source: BBC News
Europe’s Rosetta probe goes into orbit around comet 67P.
In a first for space exploration, the satellite was maneuvered alongside a speeding body to begin mapping its surface in detail. The spacecraft fired its thrusters for six and a half minutes to finally catch up with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
“We’re at the comet!” said Sylvain Lodiot from the European Space Agency (ESA) operations centre in Germany.
“After 10 years, five months and four days traveling towards our destination, looping around the Sun five times and clocking up 6.4 billion km, we are delighted to announce finally ‘we are here’,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, director general of ESA.
Source: BBC News, Rosetta probe
The Importance of Playing the Long Game in Life, be it Extraterrestrial or Earthly.
I don’t get out of bed every morning thinking, “Will I find extraterrestrial intelligence today?” But I do think every day, “How can I improve the search?” Fifty years of silence doesn’t mean SETI is a failure; it means we’re just getting started. We may not succeed tomorrow or next year or next decade or even next century, but a critical part of our job is passing on what we’ve learned to the future generations of cosmic scientists.
Source: Brain Pickings (See also short video of Dr. Tarter at this site.)
Ordering the Heavens: Hevelius’s Revolutionary 17th-Century Star Catalog and the First Moon Map
How a visionary manuscript, completed by the first female astronomer of the Western world, survived three fires to become a beacon of scientific dedication.
Source: Brain Pickings
A Celestial Traveler Closes on Mars
One day early last year, the Australian comet hunter Robert H. McNaught spotted something unusual from his post at the Siding Spring Observatory in the foothills of the Warrumbungle Mountains.
As a member of a team sponsored by NASA that searches the skies for potentially dangerous asteroids and comets, he generally focuses on objects that orbit the sun on the same plane as the planets. But coming up from below that plane was a comet that had apparently originated in the Oort cloud, a vast, primordial region that surrounds the solar system.
Source: New York Times