The Cosmic Companion December 7, 2019

A new way of searching for atmospheres around alien worlds, starquakes could help us understand the age of the galaxy, and a new guide to exoplanet atmospheres could assist in the search for life.

Hello everyone!

This week, we look at a new method for determining whether or not planets orbiting other stars have atmospheres, we see how starquakes could help us determine the age of the Milky Way, and a new guide to atmospheres of exoplanets could assist in the search for life on other worlds.

Listen and subscribe to Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion through any major podcast provider, including iTunes, Spotify, or TuneIn! Or, listen in at: https://thecosmiccompanion.substack.com.

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Let’s take off!


The Week in Space

Seeing Atmospheres Around Distant Worlds in a New Light

A group of astronomers have developed a revolutionary new way to detect atmospheres around distant exoplanets using the James Webb Space Telescope. Here’s how it works.

A segment of the multi-faceted primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope. Image credit: James Webb Space Telescope

When the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launches in 2021, the observatory will (more than likely) represent a keystone change in the way we observe the Universe, much as Hubble did three decades ago.

Now, astronomers have developed a new way of using this revolutionary instrument to answer one of the great questions in astronomy — the search for planets around other stars possessing substantial atmospheres.

Read more: http://bit.ly/Atmospheres-Distant-Worlds


How the Milky Way Shows its Age Through Starquakes

Examining data from the now-defunct Kepler spacecraft allowed researchers to measure the age of a large part of the galaxy, and this part of the Milky Way looks surprisingly chipper for being 10 billion years old.

An artist’s impression of the Milky Way Galaxy, showing the position of our Sun and the planets which surround it. Image credit: NASA/Adler/U. Chicago/Wesleyan/JPL-Caltech

Our planet, solar system, and every local star make their homes within the Milky Way Galaxy. But, many questions remain, including the ages of regions of our galactic home. Using data collected by the now-defunct Kepler spacecraft, researchers now believe they now have an accurate age for the outer disk of the Milky Way — around 10 billion years old.

Like the Earth, stars experience shaking of their surfaces, a phenomenon which shows some similarities to earthquakes. By studying these starquakes, researchers found clues to determine the age of this galactic region.

Read more: http://bit.ly/Milky-Way-Age-Starquakes


Signs of Alien Life may be in the Air

Peering at the atmospheres of distant exoplanets may be our best chance to find life on other worlds, so a student at Cornell University designed a travel guide to extraterrestrial life.

An artist’s concept of what the surface of Proxima b may look like, although details are uncertain. Image credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

One of the greatest questions of all is whether or not we are alone in the Cosmos. While radio astronomy might find evidence of intelligent civilizations on alien worlds, other techniques will be needed to search for life too primitive to build telecommunication devices.

However, even primitive lifeforms have effects on their environment, seen as vast concentrations of oxygen and traces of methane in our own environment. Likewise, it may be possible to detect the presence of life on other worlds by looking for distinctive chemical fingerprints in spectra taken of the atmospheres of alien worlds.

Read more: http://bit.ly/Signs-Alien-Life-Air


Coming soon: The First Woman on the Moon: The Past and Future History of Women in Space by James Maynard


Thanks for reading!

There are a lot of interesting developments coming in the next few months for The Cosmic Companion, including new simulation software that will allow me to create original, highly-scientific images and videos. Check out my first animation, simulating Proxima b orbiting Proxima Centauri, in Signs of Alien Life may be in the Air.

You can also listen to my new podcast, Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion, available on all major podcast distributors, including iTunes, Spotify, and TuneIn! Or, tune in at: https://thecosmiccompanion.substack.com. You can also now add Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion to your flash briefings on Amazon Alexa!

If you want to keep up with the latest updates and news about astronomy and space exploration, visit www.thecosmiccompanion.com, join my Facebook pagesubscribe on YouTube, and follow @TheCosmicCompanion on Instagram and @CompanionCosmic on Twitter.

Remember - VIP subscribers receive this newsletter, plus a second weekly newsletter with sneak previews of each video episode of Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion, an astronomy comic of the week, rare space photos, and more! Plans start at just $5!

Do you know someone else who would love this newsletter? Please share! Invest in knowledge with a premium subscription for yourself or a loved one today (including advance viewings of my weekly video show)! Or, I’d love it if you could buy me a cup of coffee - I LOVE coffee! Thanks!

Astronomy - Don’t Leave Home Without It!

- James

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Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion Dec. 3, 2019

  
0:00
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This is black hole week on The Cosmic Companion, featuring discussion of the first serious ideas of planets orbiting black holes, we hear how astronomers may have uncovered the secrets of powerful regions of radiation around these objects, and the largest stellar-mass black hole ever seen is spotted in our home galaxy.

An artist’s conception of a black hole, surrounded by gas. Image credit: Gerd Altmann | Pixabay

Keep checking back at: thecosmiccompanion.com for more space and astronomy news, and add Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion to your flash briefing on Amazon Alexa!

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The Cosmic Companion November 30, 2019

It's black hole week as astronomers discuss planets orbiting these spatial wells, causes of powerful fields of radiation may be revealed, and we find the largest stellar-mass black hole ever seen.

Hello everyone!

This is black hole week on The Cosmic Companion, featuring discussion of the first serious ideas of planets orbiting black holes, we see how astronomers may have uncovered the secrets of powerful regions of radiation around these objects, and the largest stellar-mass black hole ever seen is spotted in our home galaxy.

With black Friday taking place this week, several astronomy journalists and news outlets (including The Cosmic Companion) posted articles using the hashtag #blackholefriday - who says science isn’t fun?

Listen and subscribe to Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion through any major podcast provider, including iTunes and TuneIn! Or, listen in at: https://thecosmiccompanion.substack.com.

The Cosmic Companion also offers a premium newsletter, featuring weekly exclusive videos, the astronomy comic of the week, and more. Just $5 a month, or $50 a year! Sign up at: https://thecosmiccompanion.substack.com.

Or, you can buy me a cup of coffee for my work!

Let’s take off!


The Week in Space

Could Planets Orbit Supermassive Black Holes?

Normally, when we think of exoplanets, we picture worlds around other stars, not much different then our own Sun. Now, a pair of researchers from Japan propose the idea that some planets may orbit supermassive black holes — how would they form?

An artist’s concept of planets orbiting a supermassive black hole, lit up by a highly-energetic black hole. Image credit: Kagoshima University.

Nearly every galaxy houses a supermassive black hole — millions or billions of times more massive than our sun — at their core. Researchers at a pair of research facilities in Japan now suggest that planets may occasionally orbit these behemoth regions of space.

Typically, planets coalesce from discs of gas and dust which form around young stars. However, similar conditions also exist in other places, including around supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies.

Read more: http://bit.ly/Planets-Orbit-Supermassive-Black-Holes


Here’s What Drives Radiation Around Black Holes

The densest objects in the Universe — black holes and neutron stars — are surrounded by vast regions of radiation. Now, a new study may have uncovered the origin of this enigmatic energy.

Black holes come in many sizes, and are surrounded by powerful fields of radiation. Image credit: NASA/Sofia/Lynette Cook

Black holes and neutron stars are the densest objects known to astrophysicists, and these objects also have other characteristics in common, including the fact that each of these types of bodies are surrounded by vast regions of powerful radiation. Astrophysicists have long believed that this radiation is the result of electrons moving in curved lines around these bodies, but the mechanism which powers this behavior remained mysterious.

A new study from Columbia University has now revealed that this radiation may be driven by powerful magnetic fields which snap and rearrange themselves in the chaotic environment of gas and dust surrounding these objects.

Read more: http://bit.ly/Radiation-Black-Holes


An Unusual Black Hole Could Change What We Know about Astrophysics

Astronomers in China have recently found an unexpected black hole, much larger than any thought to exist in our galaxy — what’s its story, and what could it mean for the future of astronomy?

Stellar-mass black holes come in sizes much larger than previously believed, a new discovery reveals. Image credit: Geralt/Pixabay

The Milky Way galaxy is thought to be home to around 100 million stellar-mass black holes, formed during the deaths of massive stars. Astronomers and astrophysicists concluded years ago that such black holes should have masses no greater than around 20 times that of the Sun. That idea has now been shattered by the discovery of a black hole with three-and-a-half times that projected upper mass.

Sitting 15,000 light years from Earth sits a black hole with 70 times the mass of the Sun. Discovered by researchers at the National Astronomical Observatory of China (NAOC) (managed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences), this object, dubbed LB-1, shatters ideas about large, stellar-mass black holes.

Read more: http://bit.ly/Black-Hole-Change-Astrophysics


Coming soon: The First Woman on the Moon: The Past and Future History of Women in Space by James Maynard


Thanks for reading!

Check out my new podcast, Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion, available on all major podcast distributors, including iTunes and TuneIn! Or, listen in at: https://thecosmiccompanion.substack.com. You can also now add Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion to your flash briefings on Amazon Alexa!

If you want to keep up with the latest updates and news about astronomy and space exploration, visit www.thecosmiccompanion.com, join my Facebook pagesubscribe on YouTube, and follow @TheCosmicCompanion on Instagram and @CompanionCosmic on Twitter.

Remember - VIP subscribers receive this newsletter, plus a second weekly newsletter with sneak previews of each video episode of Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion, an astronomy comic of the week, rare space photos, and more! Plans start at just $5!

Do you know someone else who would love this newsletter? Please share! Invest in knowledge with a premium subscription for yourself or a loved one today (including advance viewings of my weekly video show)! Or, I’d love it if you could buy me a cup of coffee - I LOVE coffee! Thanks!

Astronomy - Don’t Leave Home Without It!

- James

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