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The death knell of life in a Martian meteorite


In the last days of 1984, a team of meteorite hunters spotted a dark rock in the ice of Antarctica. Fifteen centimeters long and tipping the scale at nearly 2 kilos, it’s a big space rock, and analysis of gases trapped in bubbles in the rock showed beyond doubt that it came from Mars.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-mars-rock-alh-84001-no-evidence-martian-life




Radioactivity powers volcanoes of salty ice on Ceres


Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt, the wide expanse between Mars and Jupiter littered with debris left over from the solar system’s planet-making process. Ceres used to be called an asteroid, but is so large — over 900 kilometers in diameter — that planetary scientists now call it a protoplanet, meaning it was on its way to becoming an actual planet until the raw materials it was growing from ran out.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-ceres-may-have-been-warmed-by-radioactivity



Multiple stars like being born in chaos


A surprising fact about the Universe is that a significant number of stars are in binary systems, where two stars orbit each other. It depends on the type of star — red dwarfs tend to be more solitary, while high-mass stars are more likely to be in multiple systems — but something like 1/3 of all stars are in binary systems.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-binary-stars-form-in-clouds-with-more-turbulence




Monster black hole spinning at only — 'only' — 60% the speed of light


If you want to know everything about a black hole, you only need to know three things about it.

One is its mass. That’s the big one; it controls the size of the black hole’s event horizon — the Point of No Return — as well as the strength of its gravity.

The second is its electrical charge, though this is more of a technicality: They can have a charge, but in general they eat as many positive as negative subatomic particles when gas and dust and stars flow in, so overall they’re usually electrically neutral.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-black-hole-dragging-space-reveals-spin

Ambulocetus reshared this.



The building blocks for RNA-based life have been found… in the center of the Milky Way


We don’t know exactly how life arose on Earth.

For one thing it was a long time ago: Roughly 3.8 billion years in the past, give or take, and records of anything that happened from that period in Earth’s very ancient history are spotty. For another, we don’t know the chemical path life took. Surely simple molecules built up into more complex ones, eventually becoming able to store information and self-replicate. And then, abracadabra, DNA popped up and the rest is biological history.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-building-blocks-of-rna-found-near-the-milky-way-galaxy-center



In the early Universe, dark galaxies swarmed


When you think of a galaxy, you probably picture some gorgeous, sprawling spiral-armed disk loaded with bright blue stars and pink/red clouds of gas dotted along the arms. And in truth many galaxies are like that, including our Milky Way, while others are elliptical, or irregular, or even peculiar.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-many-early-dark-galaxies-were-choked-with-dust




The spooky swirly spiral galaxies of JWST


Astronomers — and the public — are still reeling from the first images released taken by JWST. In many ways they’re similar to Hubble images, with amazing clarity and beauty.

But in a fundamental way they are very different. Hubble can see ultraviolet light, visible light — the kind we see — and a little bit into the infrared, where light has wavelengths longer than about 0.75 microns, the reddest red we can see.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-incredible-jwst-images-of-spiral-galaxies




Wanna live on the Moon? Pack a sweater and a spacesuit and move to a lava tube.


If and when humans establish a permanent base on the Moon, it’ll be the pits.

Collapse pits, I should add. These are holes in the lunar surface where the roofs of cave-like lava tube have collapsed, allowing relatively easy access to underground “rooms” which can provide a pre-fab haven for astronauts working and living on the Moon.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-lunar-lava-tubes-great-places-for-a-base



The first dormant black hole likely found lurking in another galaxy


Despite years of searching for stellar-mass black holes — ones up to a few dozen times the mass of the Sun that form when massive stars explodes — not that many have been found. And in all those cases they betray their presence by eating matter from a companion star, causing them to glow brightly in X-rays.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-best-extragalactic-candidate-quiet-black-hole-found



Did JWST find the most distant galaxy ever seen? Maaaaaybe.


Looking through a batch of early-release images from JWST, astronomers have found a handful of galaxies that may be among the most distant ever seen, including one, called GLASS-z13, that may be THE most distant galaxy ever seen. If true, the light we see left the galaxy just 300 – 400 million years after the Big Bang itself!
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-glass-z13-may-be-most-distant-galaxy-seen



One of the Universe’s most powerful explosions tried to disguise itself


Gamma-ray bursts, or GRBs, are pretty much the ultimate explosions: Catastrophic releases of energy that can be many, many billions of times brighter than the Sun. They explode with such power that we can see some clear across the observable Universe!
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-long-gamma-ray-burst-looked-like-short-one







How is Canada like Mars? Lost Hammer Spring shows us


Earth and Mars are not terribly alike. Mars is incredibly cold, the air is incredibly thin, and the chemistry on the surface is incredibly different than what you’d find anywhere here.

Well, almost anywhere here.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-lost-hammer-spring-in-canada-is-similar-to-mars









This galaxy was already grown-up and spinning 13.3 billion years ago!


A galaxy so distant we see it practically at the edge of the observable Universe has been seen to act like a more fully grown galaxy: Observations show it’s rotating, spinning in a way similar to our own Milky Way, despite us seeing it as it was just 500 million years after the Big Bang!
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-alma-observations-galaxy-jd1-rotating



Mmmmm, donut illusion


I was spending a slow Sunday morning drinking my coffee and procrastinating on Twitter — shocking, I know — when I came across a lovely video created by the European Southern Observatory. It demonstrates just how amazing the observations of the Milky Way’s central supermassive black hole are: The size of the ring of material around it on the sky is about the same as a donut would be sitting on the surface of the Moon.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-donut-on-the-moon-optical-illusion





BepiColombo’s second date with Mercury


On June 23, 2022, the joint European/Japanese Space Agencies’ mission to Mercury, BepiColombo, took a second swing past the solar system’s smallest and innermost planet, donating some of its orbital energy so the spacecraft can drop into an orbit closer in to the Sun.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-bepicolombo-passed-mercury-second-time



BepiColombo’s second date with Mercury


On June 23, 2022, the joint European/Japanese Space Agencies’ mission to Mercury, BepiColombo, took a second swing past the solar system’s smallest and innermost planet, donating some of its orbital energy so the spacecraft can drop into an orbit closer in to the Sun.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-bepicolombo-passed-mercury-for-the-second-time



Jupiter's moon Europa is getting salty


Well, this is very cool news: Astronomers have pretty much confirmed the presence of sodium chloride — table salt — on the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa!
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-sodium-chloride-table-salt-europa-surface



NASA mission spots Chinese rocket impact craters on the Moon


On March 4, 2022, an upper-stage rocket booster slammed into the Moon.

We know this much for sure. But as soon as you dig into this story, it gets weird.

The central figure in this saga is Bill Gray, a software designer who wrote Guide, a sophisticated piece of programming used by professional and amateur astronomers to calculate the orbits and positions of asteroids in the sky. He wrote about this as the events happened.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-chinese-rocket-double-craters-on-moon



NASA mission spots Chinese rocket impact craters on the Moon


On March 4, 2022, an upper-stage rocket booster slammed into the Moon.

We know this much for sure. But as soon as you dig into this story, it gets weird.

The central figure in this saga is Bill Gray, a software designer who wrote Guide, a sophisticated piece of programming used by professional and amateur astronomers to calculate the orbits and positions of asteroids in the sky. He wrote about this as the events happened.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-chinese-rocket-leaves-double-craters-on-the-moon





A lack of wind keeps a dull haze layer around Uranus


Why are Uranus and Neptune different colors?

They’re similar, but not exact. Neptune is a lovely, deep blue, while Uranus is a more muted, paler shade. I’ve seen both through a telescope and Neptune is strikingly blue, and Uranus is more greenish, like a dull teal.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-astronomers-find-why-uranus-and-neptune-looks-so-different



Ryugu was born an asteroid, became a comet, and died an asteroid


In December 2020, after a year’s journey through space, a small capsule from the Japanese Space Agency’s Hayabusa2 mission fell to Earth. Landing in the Australian Outback, it contained just 5.4 grams of the most precious stuff there is: Pristine samples from the surface and interior of an asteroid.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-ryugu-samples-pristine-asteroid



New method significantly speeds up the search for dangerous asteroids


Note: This article was written in part to help promote Asteroid Day on June 30, a global effort to raise awareness about the dangers and scientific importance of asteroids. It’s on June 30 every year, the anniversary of the big Tunguska impact of 1908, and the B612 Foundation mentioned below is one of the founding partners.
https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-thor-program-speeds-up-search-for-near-earth-asteroids