Weekly News Roundup: April 13th, 2018
The following stories are a small collection of the news from the last week. This is not an exhaustive list, but represents some of the highlights.
Dark Matter = Black Holes?
Published April 9th, 2018
Dark Matter has been a mystery since its existence was first theorized. The words “Dark Matter” are meant to describe something that has yet to be observed. It refers to that
whatever-it-is that represents all the mass that is unaccounted for in the visible universe. There are, of course, theories for what Dark Matter could be, and one of the more recent ones is that it may consist of tiny black holes. There are problems with the theory, mostly involving the possibility that Hawking radiation would cause black holes of this size to “evaporate.” Only more research will tell!
Published April 10th, 2018
It looks like Curiosity is about to get a cousin. NASA is currently in the process of building
another rover with a launch date set for 2020. It is being designed to conduct experiments Curiosity cannot. The plan is to install equipment meant to research the geology of its landing site and to test oxygen generation for future manned
Published April 11th, 2018
Jupiter is a turbulent place. It is home to the largest storms in the solar system, and has provided astronomers plenty of reasons to explore it. One main reason for our curiosity about the largest planet is our system is the mystery of how its massive storms are formed and powered. Recent images from the Juno probe have started to reveal thermal data from the Jovian atmosphere, detailing some of the planet’s inner workings to a depth of up 70 kilometers. It is hoped that the information being gathered will reveal some of this giant’s secrets.
Flare-Spitting Star Alert
Published April 12th, 2018
Ask any planet and, if it could speak, it would tell you that there is more to supporting life than being in a “Goldilocks” zone. It isn’t just about being in the right temperature range and having water. Earth has both of these things, in addition to one other advantage. Our sun is
a relatively calm star, at least in comparison to one of its neighbors. A recent study has shown that Proxima Centauri, the nearest star with an exoplanet (Proxima b), has very large solar flares. The intense radiation from such flares would make it difficult for life to develop on Proxima b.
Starlight Cover Up
Published April 13th, 2018
We have a general idea how our solar system was constructed. It is a fact that systems like
it form from disks of dust and gas. The only problem is that a star’s bright light often blinds observers to any disks. Astronomers do have a way to get around the problem: they blot out the star. The ESA’s Very Large Telescope has been using its SPHERE direct imaging instrument to search nearby stars for debris disks rather than planets. The results…well, take a look at the attached article!