Difference between revisions of "Elementary Astronomy News Highlights"

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Each week in 107-02 we will discuss something interesting that has been in
Browse these  links for something interesting that has been in
the news. The subjects will be drawn from the [http://www.nytimes.com/ New York Times], [http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ Astronomy Picture
the news, or recently observed with one of our telescopes.
of the Day], and press releases from [http://www.nasa.gov/ NASA], the [http://www.esa.int European Space Agency], the
[http://www.eso.org/public/ European Southern Observatory], or the [http://oposite.stsci.edu/ Space Telescope Institute]. If there is something
interesting from one of our telescopes we may tell you about that too.  This page has the highlights.
*[http://www.nytimes.com/pages/science/index.html New York Times Science]
== Week of January 23, 2012 ==
*[http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ Astronomy Picture of the Day]
*[http://www.nasa.gov/ NASA]
The week opened with a report of  giant solar flare with the prompt emission of X-rays and the ejection of charged particles on a path toward Earth.  It produced an aurora that was visible in northern latitudes and reported in [http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120124.html Astronomy Picture of the Day for January 24]. Another event occurred the following day, with the possibility of another aurora and disruption of communications on Tuesday.
*[http://www.esa.int European Space Agency]
*[http://www.eso.org/public/ European Southern Observatory]
These observatories continously monitor the Sun from space and provide real-time images and data about [http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ Space Weather]:
*[http://oposite.stsci.edu/ Space Telescope Institute]
*[http://www.sharedskies.org/gallery Recent images from the Shared Skies telescopes]
*[http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/ NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory SDO]
*[http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/ ESA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory SOHO]
== Week of January 16, 2012 ==
[http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/science/scientists-find-more-planets-orbiting-two-stars.html The New York Times] and  [http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature10768.html Nature]  reported  the discovery of more planets orbiting two stars.  Like the fictional [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatooine Tatooine of Star Wars] there would be two "suns" in the sky if you could stand on them and look up. However, these new discoveries are the size of Saturn, and they are so close to
their stars that they are too hot to be habitable. 
The first planet found orbiting two stars was [http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6049/1602/ Kepler 16b].  The Kepler telescope finds planets by capturing the moment when they pass between us and their stars, blocking out a tiny fraction of the star's light (often less than 0.1%).  These events allow astronomers to measure the size of the orbit, the diameter of the planet, and in some instances even the planet's atmosphere.  For Kepler 16 the data look like this:
<center>A planet in orbit around another star may block off light from the star for a few hours every time it goes around.</center>
<center>L. Doyle et al., Kepler-16: A Transiting Circumbinary Planet in Science 333, 1602-1606 (2011)</center>
A planet like Earth is at just right distance -- in the Goldilocks zone -- where life such as we know it can flourish.  Other known planets are usually either too close to their star(s) and too hot, are too far away and too cold.
<center>Kepler 16 and other recently discovered planets orbit two stars.</center>
<center>L. Doyle et al., Kepler-16: A Transiting Circumbinary Planet in Science 333, 1602-1606 (2011)</center>
== Week of January 9, 2012 ==
The science journal [http://www.nature.com/nature/index.html Nature] reported  the discovery
made at the [http://www.eso.org/public/announcements/ann11083/ Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory]  
of a cloud of gas that is on a trajectory to fall into the
million-solar-mass black hole at the center of the Milky Way.  Click this link to see what they had to say.You may have to be connected through  the University of Louisville's network to read the full article.
[http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v481/n7379/full/nature10767.html Nature Volume 481 Number 7379 pp5-108]
A gas cloud has been spotted approaching the Milky Way's central black hole. Observations of its closest approach, expected to occur in mid-2013, may offer insight into the black hole's immediate surroundings.
<center>Credit: ESO</center>
The discovery was also described in the New York Times with the headline [http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/20/science/forecast-for-sagittarius-a-black-hole-a-cold-gas-cloud.html Black Hole Forecast: A Cold Gas Cloud]
The center of the Milky Way is a site known as [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagittarius_A* Sagittarius A*, or SgrA*] for short.  You can watch a short video about this here:
[http://www.youtube.com/user/ESOobservatory#g/c/25F06D1140B44361 YouTube: ESO Discovery of gas near the center of our galaxy]

Latest revision as of 04:09, 12 August 2017

Browse these links for something interesting that has been in the news, or recently observed with one of our telescopes.