Space


It was a hell of a ride to our hellish sister planet.

Eight long years of studying Venus is way more than ESA scientists were expected from its mission.

Venus Express spacecraft that launched on Nov. 9, 2005 and entered the orbit of its target planet on Apr. 11, 2006, was originally planned to last for 500 days. The mission was successfully extended three times and ended in slow death while entering Venusian hostile atmosphere this January.
Last month, we got treated to three of Jupiter's moons - Europa, Callisto and Io - parading across the giant gas planet's banded face.

There are four Galilean satellites - named after the 17th century astronomer Galileo Galilei who discovered them among the  first observations ever made with a telescope. They complete orbits around Jupiter ranging from two to seventeen days in duration and can commonly be seen transiting the face of Jupiter and casting shadows onto its layers of cloud. Seeing three of them transiting the face of Jupiter at the same time is less common, occurring only once or twice a decade in most cases. It last happened in 2013.
The third chapter in the ongoing saga of the "first direct image of gravitational waves through the primordial sky" has been written. The first chapter was in March of last year when the BICEP2 team announced that it had observed the portion of cosmic background radiation (the "fossil radiation" from the Big Bang) generated by gravitational waves. This would have been the first observation of the cosmological effects of the elusive phenomenon predicted by Einstein's theory of General Relativity. 
Red galaxies may be 'dying' young because they have prematurely ejected the gas they need to make new stars.  There are two main types of galaxies; 'blue' galaxies that are still actively making new stars and 'red' galaxies that have stopped growing. Most galaxies transition slowly as they run out of raw materials needed for growth over billions of years but a pilot study looking at galaxies that die young has found some might shoot out this gas early on, causing them to redden and kick the bucket prematurely.
The Universe began about 13.8 billion years ago and evolved from an extremely hot, dense and uniform state to the rich and complex cosmos of galaxies, stars and planets we see today. The key source of information about that history is the Cosmic Microwave Background - CMB - the legacy of light emitted only 380 000 years after the Big Bang.

Astronomers have been searching searching for a particular signature of cosmic ‘inflation’ – a very brief accelerated expansion that, according to current theory, the Universe experienced when it was only the tiniest fraction of a second old. This signature would be seeded by gravitational waves, tiny perturbations in the fabric of space-time, that astronomers believe would have been generated during the inflationary phase. 
Apparently, PLANCK says that BICEP2 did not detect gravitational waves.  The signal was mostly intergalactic dust.   That is my reading of a Google translate translation of an official Planck website.   This is even more tentative and un-reviewed than the arXiv postings that often set off a big story.  However, if this holds true it seems that BICEP2 did not indeed detect gravitational waves.  This may have officially finally settled the matter of BICEP2.  
To put it briefly, the habitability of a planet depends on it's distance from its star, the composition of its atmosphere, and the type of star its orbiting.  If our own solar system is at all typical then planets like those known around Kepler 444 and reported in the paper  arXiv:1501.06227 do not have atmosphere or have a Venus like atmosphere. 
If there is another Earth size planet to be found, father out, where it's a bit cooler it could be a home for life.    If it did have life that life could, due to the age of the planet, have been in existence long before life on Earth. 
What exactly is cometary globule CG4? 

That's still a bit of a mystery. Despite the name, it has nothing to do with comets. In 1976, several elongated comet-like objects were discovered in pictures taken with the UK Schmidt Telescope in Australia. Because of their appearance, and despite any connection with comets, they became known as cometary globules. They were all located in a huge patch of glowing gas called the Gum Nebula. They had dense, dark, dusty heads and long, faint tails, which were generally pointing away from the Vela supernova remnant located at the center of the Gum Nebula. Although these objects are relatively close by, it took astronomers a long time to find them as they glow very dimly and are therefore hard to detect.
The first radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86, which made its closest approach today at 8:19 a.m. PST - a distance of only 745,000 miles (3.1 times the distance from Earth to the moon) - reveal that it even has its own small moon.

The closeness did not take anyone by surprise. Asteroid 2004 BL86 was discovered on Jan. 30, 2004, by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) survey in White Sands, New Mexico and its trajectory is well understood. Monday's flyby was the closest approach the asteroid will make to Earth for at least the next 200 year and is the closest a known asteroid this size will come to Earth until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past us in 2027.
Astronomers have discovered a ring system eclipsing the very young Sun-like star J1407.

And it is huge, much larger and heavier than the ring system of Saturn. The ring system, the first of its kind to be found outside our solar system, was discovered in 2012 and the new data analysis shows that it consists of over 30 rings, each of them tens of millions of kilometers in diameter.

There are gaps in the rings, which indicate that satellites ("exomoons") may have formed.