Thursday , July 29 2021

Top 10 Astronomy News Stories 2018

Astronomers have made great strides this year in their search for the universe. Here is a summary of the news of astronomy in 2018.

It was an exciting year for space missions. When one launched the inner solar system in the epic journey to touch the sun, another left the solar system to completely touch the interstellar space – a massive 18 billion kilometers from home.Two of them will shed light on extreme and remote environments.Meanwhile, other tasks focus on more environments like home – Towards a better understanding of the planet and planets like this.

In April, for example, the TESS mission was launched to study nearby planets, increasing the likelihood that astronomers will soon find more places to live. And at the end of November, NASA's InSighte lander arrived in Mars on the first mission to explore the surface of the planet, which is particularly exciting considering that two findings this year have increased the odds that the Red Planet may have once hosted life: first found organic molecules in ancient rocks and the other discovered a sub- -bottom.

While these tasks highlight the potential for future discoveries, this year also hosted a series of sad ends. We parted from the beloved scientist Stephen Hawking – who helped uncover many of the secrets in black holes – and the Kepler Space Telescope – which exposed thousands of alien worlds. Yes, it's been a year. Here are the top 10 stories from 2018.

Lego: The gift that continues to give

Illustration - black, holes, blending

The artist concept of two black holes on the way to merging.
LIGO / Caltech / MIT / Sonoma State (Aurore Simonnet)

In December, scientists identified four more spectral signals from distant pairs of black holes that swirled and collided – raising the total number of gravitational wave exposures to 11. Not only was the largest cluster group announced simultaneously, but one event was the most distant and strongest Most of the black hole. This happened 5 billion years ago, when two huge black holes fused into the mass 80 solar mass, releasing energy equal to 5 solar mass in the form of powerful heavy waves.

Voyager 2 leaves the solar system

Voyager 1

Artist description of space 1 in deep space.

On December 5, Voyager entered the interstellar space – making the second spacecraft in history to travel far from home, after Voyager 1. Astronomers noted the event not by the distance of the probe (18 billion miles The sun sends a constant wind of charged particles far beyond Neptune, but eventually the wind makes room for the interstellar plasma filling the galaxy, so when the plasma detector on the Voyager 2 board recorded a significant decrease in solar wind speed , Mission scientists knew that the spacecraft had officially entered interplanetary space.At their current rate, Voyagers will encounter the inner edge of the ORT cloud – the ice shell of debris around the Earth Our sun – about 300 years.

Insight Lander arrives in Mars

At the end of November Mars Insight (internal investigation through seismic investigations, geodesy and transport heat) landed on the Red Planet. This is NASA's eighth successful landing on Mars and the first geophysical mission.

Mars insight

A chart of Mars Insight with its various device packages.
NASA / JPL-Caltech

Insight will chronicle "Mars Vibrations" and other geological activities to answer some questions on Earth. Scientists want to know, for example, how similar the Earth's planet to other rocky worlds. Soon, the lander will drill a mole into the planet's surface one millimeter at a time. Then, after 30 or 40 days of drilling, insight sit quietly in order to take dedicated seismic measurements and evaluate the activity of our neighbor.

Astronomers glimpse the horizon of a black hole –

A hot spot near the event horizon

This simulation uses simulation data to show the gas glow spinning around the central black hole of our galaxy.
ESO / Gravity Consortium / to Calçada

When using the GRAVITY device on a very large telescope interferometer in Chile, astronomers identified three bright flashes near our supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A *. Each flare lasted between 30 and 90 minutes and galloped around the black hole by 30% the speed of light. As such, astronomers suspect that the powders come from a swollen disk that slowly enters the black hole. This is a finding that will enable them to perform precise tests of gravity in one of the most extreme environments of nature.

Scientists "set foot" on an asteroid

In early October, the asteroid task Mobile Scout (MASCOT) mission successfully landed on the Ryuugu 162173 tiny asteroid. It was the first task to explore the surface of the asteroid at the site, crossing the tiny rock for three days and two nights to better assess the early days of the solar system.

Unnamed: Ryugu

The twisted surface of the Ryugu asteroid captured by a mask just a few meters above its surface.

But it was not just asteroids scientists are investigating this year. A month later, NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft arrived at his son and quickly discovered that water had once been soaked in its rocks. Osiris-REX would go into orbit around Bennu on December 31 this year – eventually grabbing a sample of material to return to Earth in 2023.

The spacecraft "Touch the Sun"

Parker Solar Probe Launches

NASA's Parker Solar Probe was launched on August 12, 2018.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

At the end of the summer, Parker Solar Probe launched from Cape Canaveral in a mission that will unlock a number of secrets on our favorite host planet. It will carry a suit of instruments closer to the sun than ever before – immersion down into the lower solar corona to understand the source of the acceleration of the solar wind and the dynamics of the coronal magnetic field. It will not be easy. The daring spacecraft will have to fight the strong wind of the sun and the hot heat. But, if successful, it will open a new window on solar physics.

The potential of Mars life is growing

Two fascinating findings this year increased the chances that the Red Planet once contained the necessary ingredients for life. First, the survey rider identified organic molecules in ancient rocks. While these molecules do not have to be made by life, life does use some of them (such as sugars and amino acids). Then, a second instrument revealed evidence of liquid water today on Mars – or, more specifically, a saline subterranean lake. Both are promising findings.

Evidence of a buried lake on Mars

Mars Express Track Use radar signals and bounced through underground layers of ice to find evidence of a pool of water buried under the South Pole hat.
Map context: NASA / Viking; Background THEMIS: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Arizona State; MARSIS data: ESA / NASA / JPL / ASI / Univ. Rome; Orosi et al. 2018

Gaya is developed in the Milky Way

Gaya's satellite satellite released its second data set at the end of April, including precise parallaxes (and therefore distances) for more than 1.3 billion stars, and the positions and brightness of almost 1.7 billion stars in total. The second number is just over 1% of all stars in our galaxy – providing a detailed map of our local neighborhood.

A map of Gaia of 1.7 billion stars on the Milky Way and beyond

Graphic representation of Gaia's sky data on the Milky Way and neighboring galaxies, based on measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars.
GAIA Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) / A. Moitinho / A. Silva / M. Barros / C. Barata (Univ of Lisbon, Portugal) / H. Savietto (Fork Research, Portugal)

But that's not all. Gaia also noted about 14,000 known objects in the solar system, most of them asteroids, and more than 500,000 quasars. The final data release is scheduled for late 2022.

One EXP party ends, another start

It was an exciting year for exoplanet research. On April 18, the Transop Exetlanet Survey (TESS) launched a spacex Falcon 9 rocket in a search for planets outside bright stars. The mission began with recent observations: On October 30, Kepler's mission out of fuel ended, ending a nine-year expedition that revealed more than 2,600 planets along with thousands of other candidate worlds. It is safe to say that Kepler ignited a whole new area of ​​research that TESS will continue – potentially leading to the discovery of alien life one day.

Light curve of Mensae

TESS finds his first exoplanet around a star like Pee Mansay.
Huang et al. /

Stephen Hawking, a well-known physicist, faints

On the morning of March 14, 2018, Professor Stephen Hawking died at the age of 76. He defended himself with expectations, lived decades more than expected after the 1963 diagnosis of Lou Gehrig's disease, and built a brilliant career in physics. It is perhaps most famous for postulating that black holes are not really black but radiate a small amount of heat and eventually evaporate. But he was also a popular public figure – partly because of his book A brief history of time, Which sold 10 million copies in more than 40 languages, partly because of its evil sense of humor.

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