Space News and Discussions

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raklian
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To know is essentially the same as to not to know. The only thing that occurs is entropy.
weatheriscool
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A white dwarf living on the edge
https://phys.org/news/2021-06-white-dwarf-edge.html
by W. M. Keck Observatory
Astronomers have discovered the smallest and most massive white dwarf ever seen. The smoldering cinder, which formed when two less massive white dwarfs merged, is heavy, "packing a mass greater than that of our Sun into a body about the size of our Moon," says Ilaria Caiazzo, the Sherman Fairchild Postdoctoral Scholar Research Associate in Theoretical Astrophysics at Caltech and lead author of the new study appearing in the July 1 issue of the journal Nature. "It may seem counterintuitive, but smaller white dwarfs happen to be more massive. This is due to the fact that white dwarfs lack the nuclear burning that keep up normal stars against their own self gravity, and their size is instead regulated by quantum mechanics."

The discovery was made by the Zwicky Transient Facility, or ZTF, which operates at Caltech's Palomar Observatory; two Hawai'i telescopes—W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawai'i Island and University of Hawai'i Institute for Astronomy's Pan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) on Haleakala, Maui—helped characterize the dead star, along with the 200-inch Hale Telescope at Palomar, the European Gaia space observatory, and NASA's Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory.
weatheriscool
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On its first try, China's Zhurong rover hit a Mars milestone that took NASA decades
https://www.space.com/china-mars-rover- ... FZ_x7w7Cpc
By Sara Webb, Rebecca Allen about 12 hours ago

China's Zhurong rover landed safely on Mars on May 15, making China only the third country to successfully land a rover on the red planet.More impressively still, China is the first Mars-going nation to carry out an orbiting, landing and rovering operation as its first mission.

Planetary scientist Roberto Orosei told Nature China is "doing in a single go what NASA took decades to do," while astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell described China's decision to include a rover in its maiden Mars outing as a "very gutsy move."
weatheriscool
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James Webb Space Telescope Passes Key Launch Clearance Review

By European Space Agency July 2, 2021
James Webb Space Telescope Ariane 5 Launcher
https://scitechdaily.com/james-webb-spa ... ce-review/
The international James Webb Space Telescope has passed the final mission analysis review for its launch on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

This major milestone, carried out with Arianespace, the Webb launch service provider, confirms that Ariane 5, the Webb spacecraft, and the flight plan are set for launch. It also specifically provides the final confirmation that all aspects of the launch vehicle and spacecraft are fully compatible.

During launch, the spacecraft experiences a range of mechanical forces, vibrations, temperature changes, and electromagnetic radiation. All technical evaluations performed by Arianespace on the mission’s key aspects, including the launch trajectory and payload separation, have shown positive results.
weatheriscool
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Billionaire Richard Branson Will Beat Jeff Bezos to Space
July 2, 2021 by Brian Wang
Richard Branson is racing Jeff Bezos to their first sub-orbital flight into space.

Richard Branson is the founder of Virgin Galactic. He plans to fly into space aboard his company’s VSS Unity rocketplane on July 11 for an up-and-down test flight. Amazon-founder and rival Jeff Bezos plans to fly on his Blue Origin rocket into sub-orbital space on July 19.

Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are competing for sub-orbital tourist launches.

SpaceX will fly its first orbital space tourists (4 at a time) later in 2021 through Inspiration4.

Nextbigfuture wishes Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and the rest of the Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin crews safe journeys this month.
https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2021/07/b ... space.html
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Yuli Ban
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The space race is now between billionaires instead of countries
Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic, will fly into space aboard his company's VSS Unity rocketplane on July 11 for an up-and-down test flight, beating Amazon-founder and rival Jeff Bezos into sub-orbital space by nine days.

The announcement from Virgin came just a few hours after Bezos announced that aviation pioneer Wally Funk will be joining him, his brother Mark and the yet-to-be named winner of an online auction for blastoff July 20 aboard his company's New Shepard spacecraft.

Both Virgin Galactic and Bezos' Blue Origin are competing head-to-head in the emerging space tourism marketplace, both offering short rides just above the discernible atmosphere for a few minutes of weightlessness and spectacular views before returning to Earth.
Spoiler alert: it's also between countries.
And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
caltrek
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Moon-Size White Dwarf is the Smallest Found to Date
by Monica Young
June 30, 2021

https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-n ... -collapse/

Introduction:
(Sky & Telescope) Not far from us is a faint, hot cinder of a star, a white dwarf still smoldering from its formation less than 100 million years ago. Most such objects are the collapsed cores of low-mass stars, and since most stars are low-mass, almost all of them (97%) end their lives as white dwarfs. But this one is different.

In the July 1st Nature, Ilaria Caiazzo, Kevin Burdge (both at Caltech), and their colleagues report evidence that this white dwarf was born out of the union of two punier siblings. As a result, it’s the smallest white dwarf known — and just this side of collapse.

SMALL YET MASSIVE

White dwarfs owe their existence to quantum mechanics. While stars fuse elements to release thermal pressure and counteract gravity, white dwarfs can’t muster the conditions for fusion. Instead, gravity compacts their cores until electrons are forced practically next to each other. But according to the Pauli Exclusion Principle, electrons won’t stand for that — they physically cannot share the same energy state. So electrons that don’t fit in the lowest energy levels, where they’d prefer to be, instead go to higher and higher levels, whizzing around the core at greater and greater speeds.
These fluttering electrons provide their own kind of pressure that supports the core against gravitational collapse. The result is counterintuitive: The more mass a white dwarf has, the smaller it becomes in order to generate the necessary pressure to stave off collapse.

That works until there’s too much mass, and the fastest electrons are forced to flit about at near the speed of light, at which point they can’t generate enough pressure to forestall destruction. When a pair of white dwarfs merges, the scale often tips over the Chandrasekhar limit, beyond which runaway nuclear reaction ensues and the stellar cinder detonates.
Image
A close pair of orbiting white dwarfs spiral inward as they radiate gravitational waves.
NASA / Dana Berry, Sky Works Digital
caltrek
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European Plan for Gigantic New Gravitational Wave Detector Passes Milestone
by Adrian Cho
July 2, 2021

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/07 ... -milestone

Introductiomn:
(Science) It’s far from a done deal, but plans by European physicists to build a huge new gravitational wave observatory with a radical design received a boost this week. The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), which advises European governments on research priorities, added the €1.9 billion observatory, called the Einstein Telescope, to a road map of large science projects ripe for progress. Developers hope the move will give them the political validation needed to transform the Einstein Telescope idea into a project.

“This isn’t a promise of any funding, but it shows the clear intention to pursue this,” says Harald Lück, a gravitational wave physicist at Leibniz University Hannover and the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics and co-chair of the Einstein Telescope steering committee. “It is more of a political commitment.”

U.S. gravitational wave physicists welcomed the announcement, too, as they think it may bolster their plans to build a pair of detectors even bigger than the Einstein Telescope in a project called Cosmic Explorer. “In the U.S., I think the momentum is going to start to build,” says David Reitze, executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and a physicist at the California Institute of Technology.

Gravitational wave detectors sense tiny fleeting ripples in space itself when massive astrophysical objects, such as black holes, whirl together and collide. In the past 5 years, scientists have spotted dozens of merging pairs of black holes, the ghostly superintense gravitational fields left behind when massive stars collapse to infinitesimal points, spiraling together. They have also spotted the gravitational waves—and spectacular explosion—set off by the merger of a pair of smaller neutron stars, the ultradense corpses of middle-weight stars that burn out and blow up. This week, researchers announced they had twice sensed gravitational waves from a black hole swallowing a neutron star.
Image
With its novel subterranean, triangular design, Europe’s Einstein Telescope would be a gravitational wave observatory unlike any other.
ET CONCEPTUAL DESIGN TEAM
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Yuli Ban
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LIGO and Virgo detect rare mergers of black holes with neutron stars for the first time
Today, an international team of scientists, including researchers at MIT, have announced the detection of a new kind of astrophysical system: a collision between a black hole and a neutron star — two of the densest, most exotic objects in the universe.

Scientists have detected signals of colliding black holes, and colliding neutron stars, but had not confirmed a merging of a black hole with a neutron star until now. In a study appearing today in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the scientists report observing not just one, but two such rare events, each of which gave off gravitational waves that reverberated across a large swath of the universe before reaching Earth in January 2020, just 10 days apart.
And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
caltrek
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The "Crisis in Cosmology" Might not be a Crisis After All
By Brian Koberlein
July 7, 2021

https://www.universetoday.com/151745/th ... ore-151745

Introduction:
(Universe Today) The standard model of cosmology is known as the LCDM model. Here, CDM stands for Cold Dark Matter, which makes up most of the matter in the universe, and L stands for Lambda, which is the symbol used in general relativity to represent dark energy or cosmic expansion. While the observational evidence we have largely supports the LCDM model, there are some issues with it. One of the most bothersome is known as cosmic tension.

It centers on our measurement of the Hubble constant, which tells us the rate at which the universe has expanded over time. There are lots of ways to measure the Hubble constant, from the brightness of distant supernovae, to the clustering of galaxies, to fluctuations in the cosmic background, to the light of microwave lasers. All of these methods have advantages and disadvantages, but if our cosmological model is right they should all agree within the limits of uncertainty.

The problem is, they don’t agree. Back in the early days of cosmology the uncertainty of our measurement was so large that all these results overlapped, but as our measurements got better it became clear different methods gave slightly different values for the Hubble constant. In polite company, astronomers say there is tension between these values.

This tension means that either our measurements are a bit off, or there is something wrong with our model. This has led some astronomers to propose some missing aspects to our model, such as how the mass of neutrinos might realign our Hubble values. But as new measurements of the Hubble constant keep coming in, it looks as if the tension is just getting worse. Now a new paper from Wendy Freedman argues that the tension problem isn’t that bad and that the tension will likely fade as the next generation of telescopes gives us even better data.
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