Space

The undefined blanket term "dark matter", what must exist in the universe to account for missing mass, is invoked for just about everything, and so a lot of claims are made affirming they have evidence for it. But one claim, that bursts of gamma rays are such, is instead  other astrophysical phenomena such as fast-rotating stars called millisecond pulsars, according to two new studies in Physical Review Letters.

Previous papers suggested that gamma rays coming from the dense region of space in the inner Milky Way galaxy could be caused when invisible dark matter particles collide. But using new statistical analysis methods, two research teams independently found that the gamma ray signals are uncharacteristic of those expected from dark matter. 


Everyone has started to call this new proposed planet X: "Planet nine" as in the original announcement. Even Wikipedia has titled its article on it "Planet Nine". But it's a poor name for a planet if you think about it. Why not just call it "Planet X"? Or find some new name, like Nemesis and Tyche as was done for previous planet X candidates.  None of the previous candidates for Planet X were called Planet + some number, and with good reason. There is no way that we can know it will be planet 9. 

As someone who is keen on astronomy, I am of course keen on the Thirty Meter telescope myself. And I've heard those arguments of the astronomers, about how it is an ideal site for astronomy, about the value of the astronomy that can be done with this telescope and so on. But I've also heard the other side too.

There are many telescopes on the summit already, so it's not like they are saying not to build telescopes at all up there.

SIZE OF THE PROPOSED TELESCOPE

What you might not realize at first is quite how huge it is - it's difficult to get a sense of scale from the images:

It's higher than the Niagara falls.

Just a short post, since I do articles here from time to time to reassure those who worry about collisions with Earth for every new discovery. This new planet X is not even proved to exist yet. But if it is - it orbits way beyond Neptune. It is no more of a threat to us than Neptune was when it was discovered in the nineteenth century. Rather it's fun and exiting, and we could learn new things from it if it exists.

Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun.

The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly.


Actually though most of the stories say it is the first flower to bloom in space, and Scott Kelly tweeted it as such, it turns out that there have been several flowers grown in space before, most recently in 2012, but the first such was way back in 1982. It does seem to be the first Zinnia to flower in space.

Here is Scott Kelly's tweet

Science is advancing rapidly. We are eradicating diseases, venturing further into space and discovering a growing zoo of subatomic particles. But cosmology – which is trying to understand the evolution of the entire universe using theories that work well to describe other systems – is struggling to answer many of its most fundamental questions.

Strong magnetic fields discovered have been discovered in a majority of stars. An international group of astronomers led by the University of Sydney has discovered strong magnetic fields are common in stars, not rare as previously thought, using data from NASA's Kepler mission.

The team found that stars only slightly more massive than the Sun have internal magnetic fields up to 10 million times that of the Earth.


It has been a busy year for Solar System exploration – and particularly our galactic neighborhoods small icy bodies. Comets, asteroids, Kuiper Belt Objects and planetary satellites have all been in the news – from stunning images of comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko at the start of the year, to the recent close-up of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, via Ceres and Pluto.

During winter it can sometimes feel that the whole day passes in the blink of an eye and that evening darkness comes far too quickly. While more daylight would be a lovely thing, the early darkness has one big advantage: the stars. On a clear evening you can look up and see far into space. I’ve spent many winter evenings with my children, on our way home from activities, looking for Orion (and other constellations), following its path through the seasons.

Stars and space are two of the most popular science topics, whatever the age of the child.