Hubble Fights On

“Despite recent issues with one of its instruments, the Hubble Space Telescope is expected to last at least another five years. A new report suggests that the iconic spacecraft has a strong chance of enduring through the mid-2020s.”

Let’s hope so, because (1) we love Hubble, and it’s defined our perception of the universe for a generation, and (2) the James Webb Space Telescope doesn’t appear to be much closer to launching today than it was two years ago. It holds the promise of eclipsing Hubble in a real way, but we’ve got to get it up there first.

https://www.space.com/42983-hubble-space-telescope-five-more-years.html

 
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Originally posted on Twitter.

Imaging ever closer to the event horizon

As the number and variety of ground- and space-based telescopes increases, we’re inching ever closer to seeing the unseeable: what waits on the other side of the event horizon of a black hole (see the earlier article about a new hypothesis that in certain circumstances, they could even be traversable). Considering that only a few brief decades ago, the mere existence of black holes was at best a somewhat dubious theory posited by some admittedly brilliant men, we’ve come a long way in a short time.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/01/imaging-ever-closer-to-the-event-horizon/

 
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Originally posted on Twitter.

Pale, Dusty Dots

From the author's Twitter post: "One of my favorite kinds of image is one where it doesn’t look like much… until you understand what you’re seeing.

For example: Just a bunch of dots, right? But every single one of those dots *is an entire galaxy*.

And there are a lot of dots. A LOT." (Tweet)

The image is from the Herschel Astrophysical Terahertz Large Area Survey. And because the survey wasn't able to look at every point in the sky, for every dot you see here, there are 200 more across the sky Herschel wasn't able to see, for a total of some 17 million galaxies.

And even that is a pittance compared to the estimated 2 trillion galaxies filling the universe.

You know, somehow I don't think I'm going to run out of story ideas anytime soon....😋

https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/pale-dusty-dots

 
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Originally posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Black holes as 'gentle' portals for hyperspace travel

I thought this piece was click-bait at first (call me gun-shy). However, while the research is highly, highly theoretical, it is legitimate and posits exactly what the headline says: that for sufficiently large, rotating black holes, the punishing effects of the singularity at the heart of the black hole on a spacecraft should be fairly minimal - i.e., survivable.

Of course, we still don’t know what’s on the other side, or where it leads - not that this would ever stop us from finding out ;).

https://theconversation.com/rotating-black-holes-may-serve-as-gentle-portals-for-hyperspace-travel-107062

 
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Originally posted on Twitter.

Repeating Fast Radio Bursts From the Deep (Space)

The astrophysics story of the day! It's even made the non-science news outlets, because...IT COULD BE ALIENS!*

What I get from the story is this: the universe is old, it is vast, and it is vibrant and alive and powerful.

*It's almost certainly not aliens. But it COULD be.

Additional articles: https://www.independent.co.uk/…/radio-signals-fast-radio-bu…https://futurism.com/the-byte/fast-radio-bursts-repeating

H/T: Nadia Vigoni

https://www.theverge.com/…/astronomy-radio-burst-repeating-…

 
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Originally posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Triangulum Galaxy

“Hubble takes gigantic image of the Triangulum Galaxy”: https://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1901.

“The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured the most detailed image yet of a close neighbour of the Milky Way — the Triangulum Galaxy, a spiral galaxy located at a distance of only three million light-years. This panoramic survey of the third-largest galaxy in our Local Group of galaxies provides a mesmerising view of the 40 billion stars that make up one of the most distant objects visible to the naked eye.”

One of those 40 billion stars, of course, is host to the Kats’ homeworld, Katoikia :D.

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You can download a high-res copy of the image in a variety of sizes here. Note: at full resolution, the file is a whopping 1.67GB!

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Originally posted on Twitter.

Other Galaxies, Really?

“China’s Moon Landing May Fuel China’s Push to Other Galaxies”: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-06/china-s-moon-landing-may-fuel-humanity-s-drive-to-other-galaxies

No one is a greater fan of dreaming big than I am. Seriously. But..."other galaxies"? It seems like a tiny bit of a stretch to extrapolate that from a probe moon landing. 🤨

Watch your click-bait headlines, people. The article itself does not mention venturing to other galaxies. The final sentence hints at the possibility that what the writer *meant* was a 'push to see other galaxies more clearly,' which is something else altogether.

At least twice a day I see a headline involving space, tech or biology that gets my little futurist heart racing with excitement, only to find the headline vastly over-promises. The temptation to exaggerate is understandable, but there's no need for it. Our knowledge and capabilities are advancing faster than they ever have in history as it is. 🤗

 
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Originally posted on Facebook.

Excitons

“A PHYSICS BREAKTHROUGH COULD LEAD TO A NEW GENERATION OF ADVANCED ELECTRONICS”: https://futurism.com/the-byte/physics-breakthrough-advanced-electronics-excitons.

The Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures sounds like something that would exist in the Aurora Rhapsody universe of 2323, doesn’t it? I’m glad to know one exists today.

As a science fiction writer, I’m well acquainted with the challenges of naming new materials and technologies. The struggle to come up with a straight-forward yet memorable name that conveys meaning without being a tongue-twister is real. Still…’excitons’ made me giggle. And possibly roll my eyes a little.

 
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Originally posted on Twitter.

Renaissance Man

Am I the last person to know this? Brian May, co-founder and lead guitarist of Queen, widely regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, is also an astrophysicist (he received his PhD in 2007). 😯

He was a collaborator on the New Horizons mission, and now he has written a rock anthem to commemorate the Ultima Thule flyby.

I feel like such an underachiever.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_May
https://youtube.com/watch?v=j3Jm5POCAj8

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Originally posted on Facebook.

It's a snowman!

NASA presents Ultima Thule: it's a snowman! ⛄️

Okay, it's actually a contact binary Kuiper Belt object (this means it was once two separate objects that gently merged over a long period of time). It's the most distant "world" and the first contact binary ever visited by a human spacecraft. It's a reddish color, similar to the red regions of Pluto that New Horizons imaged so beautifully, and is 21 miles/33 kms long.

Because scientists are not science fiction writers (well, almost never), they named the bottom, larger lobe "Ultima" and the smaller, top lobe "Thule." 🤨

Expect even better images and a lot more details in coming months; New Horizons recorded gigabytes of data, but the transmission rate is ssllllooowwwww.

 
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Originally posted on Facebook.

Top 10 Hubble Images of 2018

28 years of showing us the universe. All the <3 for the Hubble Space Telescope!

Top 10 Hubble Images of 2018

 
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Ultima Thule Flyby

Want to keep tabs on the New Horizons flyby of Ultima Thule over the New Years holiday? Here's the rough schedule of events:

12/31, 2 pm EST: NASA press briefing
1/1, ~12:30 am EST: flyby occurs
1/1, ~10 am EST: NASA hears from New Horizons about how it went
1/1, time TBD: NASA press conference with the first images, likely fuzzy/blurry
1/2, time TBD: first high-res images received
Jan, Feb, Mar and so on: more data and images!

More details on the events and how to watch: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/Where-to-Watch.php

Despite the partial government shutdown, NASA social media accounts will be active and sharing info about the flyby. And because this is 2018, there's a New Horizons mobile app for iOS and Android: https://www.space.com/42850-new-horizons-ultima-thule-flyby…

 
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