Monday, October 21, 2019

Hubble Observes New Interstellar Visitor

On 12 October 2019, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope observed Comet 2I/Borisov at a distance of approximately 420 million kilometres from Earth. The comet is believed to have arrived here from another planetary system elsewhere in our galaxy.  Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA)

On October 12, 2019, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope provided astronomers with their best look yet at an interstellar visitor -- Comet 2I/Borisov -- which is believed to have arrived here from another planetary system elsewhere in our galaxy.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Interstellar Comet with a Familiar Look

Two-color composite image of comet 2I/Borisov captured by the Gemini North telescope on 10 September 2019. The image was obtained with eight 60-second exposures, four in green and four in red bands. Credit: Gemini Observatory/NSF/AURA

For decades, astronomers have speculated that the space between stars may be populated by exosolar minor bodies -- comets and asteroids -- ejected from their home planetary systems. Studies have also suggested that these bodies may occasionally pass through the Solar System and be identified thanks to their strongly open orbits. The discovery of 'Oumuamua two years ago brought the long-awaited confirmation, sparking hopes for subsequent detections.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Gigantic Asteroid Collision Boosted Biodiversity on Earth

An international study led by researchers from Lund University in Sweden has found that a collision in the asteroid belt 470 million years ago created drastic changes to life on Earth. The breakup of a major asteroid filled the entire inner solar system with enormous amounts of dust leading to a unique ice age and, subsequently, to higher levels of biodiversity. The unexpected discovery could be relevant for tackling global warming if we fail to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Rocks at Asteroid Impact Site Record First Day of Dinosaur Extinction

Lead author of the study Sean Gulick, a research professor at The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences (right),  with co-author Joanna Morgan, a professor at Imperial College London, on the International Ocean Discovery Program research expedition that retrieved cores from the submerged and buried impact crater. Gulick and Morgan co-led the expedition in 2016. Credit: The University of Texas at Austin/ Jackson School of Geosciences.

When the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs slammed into the planet, the impact set wildfires, triggered tsunamis and blasted so much sulfur into the atmosphere that it blocked the sun, which caused the global cooling that ultimately doomed the dinos.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Newly Discovered Small Asteroid Passes By Earth at a Close Distance

A newly detected small asteroid, designated 2019 RC1, passed by the Earth on Saturday, September 7, at 10:48 UTC. The space rock missed our planet with a relative velocity of 20.4 km/s, at a close distance of just 0.48 lunar distances (LD), what corresponds to 184,000 kilometers.