The Moon’s rusting and it’s Earth’s fault

Rust requires three ingredients – water, oxygen, and iron. And yet the Moon, where water and oxygen are famously in short supply, appears to have rust forming on its rocks, according to US researchers. A paper in the journal Science Advances uses data from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Chandrayaan-1 orbiter, which discovered water ice … Continue reading The Moon’s rusting and it’s Earth’s fault

SpaceWatch: News of gas and asteroids

Magnetised “rivers” feed star birth Stars form when clouds of gas and dust collapse under gravity, but how does the material get to the clouds from interstellar space, and what controls their collapse? This image from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) in the US throws some light onto the subject. It shows narrow, … Continue reading SpaceWatch: News of gas and asteroids

Cooper Creek looks like Mars

Red-tinted sands and dark green braided streams provide a colourful contrast within Queensland’s Channel Country. As the International Space Station (ISS) was passing over southwest Queensland, an astronaut took this photo of the Cooper Creek floodplain. The image was taken by a member of Expedition 62 on 5 April 2020, using a standard Nikon D5 … Continue reading Cooper Creek looks like Mars

SpaceWatch: spiral arms and space junk

Mars is space flavour of the month, with three spacecraft on their way and suggestions of a possible icy past, but there is other news of note. Here are some projects that took our fancy. A stirred-up planet factory Astrophysicists say planet-forming environments can be more complex and chaotic than previously thought if a new … Continue reading SpaceWatch: spiral arms and space junk

Antarctica is the perfect place for stargazing

Have you ever wondered why stars twinkle? It’s because turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere makes light emitted from the star wobble as it completes it’s light years-long journey to the lenses in our eyes and telescopes. But now scientists from international research institutions including UNSW Sydney have found the best place on Earth where  – … Continue reading Antarctica is the perfect place for stargazing

SpaceWatch: Black holes, comets and key dates

The release of the closest-ever images of the Sun understandably grabbed the headlines this week (you can read Richard A Lovett’s report for Cosmos here) but there was other news of note. Here are some announcements that took our fancy. A black hole goes, then returns Astronomers reported watching as a supermassive black hole’s own … Continue reading SpaceWatch: Black holes, comets and key dates

Super-Earths discovered orbiting a red dwarf star

Astronomers have discovered two super-Earth exoplanets orbiting a red dwarf star 11 light years away from Earth, with a potential third in orbit further away. Super-Earths are planets more massive than Earth, but substantially less massive than our local ice giants, Uranus and Neptune. These newly discovered super-Earths, which could be rock worlds, lie close … Continue reading Super-Earths discovered orbiting a red dwarf star

Australian space industry satellite launch

The Australian space agency has hit another milestone with the successful launch of the M2 Pathfinder satellite. The M2 Pathfinder, a collaboration between UNSW Canberra Space researchers and engineers and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), follows the launch of M1 in late 2018. It is the second of four cube satellites to be flown in … Continue reading Australian space industry satellite launch

Astronomers find source of four radio bursts

Fast radio bursts are one of the biggest mysteries in astronomy. The immensely powerful bursts of radiation appear randomly from points in the Universe. They flash without warning, releasing as much energy in the blink of an eye as our Sun will emit in 80 years. They can’t be predicted, and usually occur only once, … Continue reading Astronomers find source of four radio bursts

The heartbeats of pulsing stars

By listening to the beating hearts of stars, astronomers have for the first time identified a rhythm of life for a class of stellar objects that had until now puzzled scientists. The international team of researchers used data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a space telescope mainly used to detect planets around some of … Continue reading The heartbeats of pulsing stars

Hungry galaxies grow fat on their neighbours

Galaxies grow large by eating their smaller neighbours, new research reveals.Exactly how massive galaxies grow so big is poorly understood, not least because they swell over billions of years. Now, a combination of observation and modelling from researchers, led by UNSW’s Anshu Gupta from Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 … Continue reading Hungry galaxies grow fat on their neighbours

A ‘pre-teen’ exoplanet with two suns

A young planet located 150 light-years away has given astrophysicists a rare chance to study a planetary system in the making. At 40 million years old, the gas giant DS Tuc Ab is considered a ‘pre-teen’ in planetary years. There are fewer than ten planets we know about that are this young. It is also … Continue reading A ‘pre-teen’ exoplanet with two suns