Space News and Discussions

caltrek
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A Gravitational Wave Observatory on the Moon Could "Hear" 70% of the Observable Universe
by Brian Koberlein
July 25, 2021

https://www.universetoday.com/151959/a- ... ore-151959

Introduction:
(Universe Today) Gravitational-wave astronomy is set to revolutionize our understanding of the cosmos. In only a few years it has significantly enhanced our understanding of black holes, but it is still a scientific field in its youth. That means there are still serious limitations to what can be observed.

Currently, all gravitational observatories are based on Earth. This makes the detectors easier to build and maintain, but it also means the observatories are plagued by background noise. Observatories such as LIGO and Virgo work by measuring the distance shift between mirrors as a gravitational wave passes through the observatory. This shift is extremely small. For mirrors placed 4 kilometers apart, the shift is a mere fraction of the width of a proton. The vibrations of a truck driving down a nearby road will shift the mirrors much more than that. So LIGO and Virgo use statistics and models of black hole mergers to distinguish a true signal from a false one.

Because of terrestrial background noise, current observatories focus on the high-frequency gravitational waves (10 – 1000 Hz) generated by black hole mergers. There has been discussion of building a space-based gravitational-wave observatory, such as LISA, which would observe low-frequency gravitational waves, such as those generated by early cosmic inflation. But many gravitational waves are in the intermediate range. To detect these, a recent study proposes building a gravitational-wave observatory on the Moon.

The Moon has long been a coveted location for astronomers. Optical telescopes on the Moon wouldn’t suffer from atmospheric blurring, and unlike space-based telescopes such as Hubble and Webb, they wouldn’t be limited by the size of your launch rocket. Most of the ideas proposed have been very hypothetical, but as we look towards a human return to the Moon in the next decade they are becoming less so. Already NASA is studying the construction of a radio telescope on the far lunar surface. Building a lunar gravitational-wave observatory would be significantly more challenging, but not impossible.
andmar74
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"A Gravitational Wave Observatory on the Moon Could "Hear" 70% of the Observable Universe"

Yes of course not much noise from human activity there, but it must be so much more difficult to build something on the Moon. Maybe it will look more manageable when SpaceX routinely flyes to the Moon with Starship.
weatheriscool
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Astronomers show how planets form in binary systems without getting crushed
https://phys.org/news/2021-07-astronome ... inary.html
by Sarah Collins, University of Cambridge
Astronomers have developed the most realistic model to date of planet formation in binary star systems.

The researchers, from the University of Cambridge and the Max Planck Institute for Extra-terrestrial Physics, have shown how exoplanets in binary star systems—such as the 'Tatooine' planets spotted by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope—came into being without being destroyed in their chaotic birth environment.

They studied a type of binary system where the smaller companion star orbits the larger parent star approximately once every 100 years—our nearest neighbour, Alpha Centauri, is an example of such a system.

"A system like this would be the equivalent of a second Sun where Uranus is, which would have made our own solar system look very different," said co-author Dr. Roman Rafikov from Cambridge's Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics.

Rafikov and his co-author Dr. Kedron Silsbee from the Max Planck Institute for Extra-terrestrial Physics found that for planets to form in these systems, the planetesimals—planetary building blocks which orbit around a young star—need to start off at least 10 kilometres in diameter, and the disc of dust and ice and gas surrounding the star within which the planets form needs to be relatively circular.
weatheriscool
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Astronomers detect light behind black hole for first time
Source: The Guardian
Astronomers have detected light behind a black hole deep in space for the first time.

Bright flares of X-rays were spotted bursting from a supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy 800m light years away, which is relatively normal.

Researchers were studying a feature known as the corona, but telescopes also picked up unexpected “luminous echoes”. These additional flashes were smaller, later and of different colours than the bright flares.

The discovery confirms Albert Einstein’s theory on general relativity. The gravitational pull from black holes essentially bends light rays around themselves, giving scientists their first glimpse of what lies behind.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/202 ... first-time
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"Take it easy, nothing matters in the end."
– William Shatner
weatheriscool
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Italian astronomers discover new star cluster
https://phys.org/news/2021-07-italian-a ... uster.html
by Tomasz Nowakowski , Phys.org
Astronomers from Italy report the detection of a new star cluster as part of the YMCA (Yes, Magellanic Clouds Again) survey. The newly discovered stellar grouping, designated YMCA-1, may be an old and remote star cluster of our Milky Way galaxy. The finding is detailed in a paper published July 21 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Star clusters are groups of stars sharing common origin and gravitationally bound for some length of time. They are important for astronomers as they can help study and model stellar evolution processes. In general, star clusters are divided into two broad categories: open clusters and globular clusters.
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The first piece of the ISS to be decommissioned has just been deorbited. The PIRS module, seen here, had been in space since 2001. It was undocked attached to a Progress supply ship and burned up in the atmosphere.





It left space for the Russia-funded Nauka module, which successfully docked today –

"Take it easy, nothing matters in the end."
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weatheriscool
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US watchdog upholds SpaceX's Moon lander contract
https://phys.org/news/2021-07-watchdog- ... ander.html
The human landing system (HLS) contract, worth $2.9 billion, was awarded to Elon Musk's company in April but was challenged by the other bidders, who argued NASA was required to make mulitple awards and that the evaluation process was unfair.

NASA did not violate regulations when it decided to give SpaceX the sole contract to build a Moon lander, a watchdog said Friday, in a ruling that denied challenges by competitors Blue Origin and Dynetics.

The human landing system (HLS) contract, worth $2.9 billion, was given to Elon Musk's company in April, but was protested by the other bidders, who argued NASA was required to make multiple awards and that the evaluation process was unfair.

The Government Accountability Office said NASA's initial announcement "reserved the right to make multiple awards, a single award, or no award at all," adding that the space agency had acted in accordance with the level of funding it had.
weatheriscool
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World's first commercial re-programmable satellite blasts into space
https://phys.org/news/2021-07-world-com ... lasts.html
The world's first commercial fully re-programmable satellite lifted off from French Guiana on Friday on board an Ariane 5 rocket, ushering in a new era of more flexible communications.

Unlike conventional models that are designed and "hard-wired" on Earth and cannot be repurposed once in orbit, the Eutelsat Quantum allows users to tailor the communications to their needs—almost in real-time.

The satellite will be placed in orbit some 36 minutes after the launch.

Because it can be reprogrammed while orbiting in a fixed position 35,000 kilometers (22,000 miles) above the Earth, the Quantum can respond to changing demands for data transmission and secure communications during its 15-year lifetime, according to the European Space Agency.
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UK space command launched to address threats by China and Russia
13 hours ago
The United Kingdom have officially opened its own space command in light of growing concerns over space threats posed by countries the likes of China and Russia.

The joint initiative between the Royal Navy, military and the air force was set up to monitor anti-satellite weaponry which could affect people’s everyday lives.
https://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/wo ... ec2794a287
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