Heart of Darkness…

Topics: Astrophysics, Black Holes, Cosmology, Einstein, General Relativity In a triumph of observation and data processing, astronomers at the Event Horizon Telescope have captured the first-ever picture of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. The black hole is named Sagittarius A* (pronounced “A-star”), and the reveal of its image received anContinue reading “Heart of Darkness…”

Rogue Singularity…

Topics: Astrophysics, Black Holes, Cosmology, Einstein, General Relativity Each second, a brand new baby black hole is born somewhere in the cosmos as a massive star collapses under its own weight. But black holes themselves are invisible. Historically, astronomers have only been able to detect these stellar-mass black holes when they are acting on aContinue reading “Rogue Singularity…”

Proxima Oceans…

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Exoplanets, Space Exploration, Spaceflight Astronomers have discovered a third planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the star closest to the Sun. Called Proxima Centauri d, the newly spotted world is probably smaller than Earth and could have oceans of liquid water. “It’s showing that the nearest star probably has a very rich planetary system,”Continue reading “Proxima Oceans…”

Cosmic Existentialism…

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Black Holes, Cosmology, Einstein, General Relativity “Small” black holes are estimated to make up 1% of the universe’s matter. Scientists have estimated the number of “small” black holes in the universe. And no surprise: It’s a lot. This number might seem impossible to calculate; after all, spotting black holes is not exactly the simplestContinue reading “Cosmic Existentialism…”

Dyson Sphere Feedback…

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Dyson Sphere, SETI Although the so-called Dysonian SETI has been much in the air in recent times, its origins date back to the birth of SETI itself. It was in 1960 – the same year that Frank Drake used the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia to study EpsilonContinue reading “Dyson Sphere Feedback…”

Exomoon Two…

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Exomoon, Exoplanets And then there were two—maybe. Astronomers say they have found a second plausible candidate for a moon beyond our solar system, an exomoon, orbiting a world nearly 6,000 light-years from Earth. Called Kepler-1708 b-i, the moon appears to be a gas-dominated object, slightly smaller than Neptune, orbiting a Jupiter-sized planet around a sunlikeContinue reading “Exomoon Two…”

Moments and Metaphors…

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Comets, Philosophy, Science Fiction On a recent morning, in Lower Manhattan, 20 scientists, including me, gathered for a private screening of the new film Don’t Look Up, followed by lunch with the film’s director, Adam McKay. The film’s plot is simple. An astronomy graduate student, Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), and her professor,Continue reading “Moments and Metaphors…”

From Redshift to Enlightenment…

Topics: Astrobiology, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Carl Sagan, James Webb Space Telescope, SETI The relief was as deep as the stakes were high. At 7:20 A.M. (ET), the rocket carrying the largest, most ambitious space telescope in history cleared the launchpad in French Guiana, and the members of mission control at the Space Telescope Science Institute inContinue reading “From Redshift to Enlightenment…”

Kilonovas and Gold…

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Chemistry, Materials Science, Neutron Stars The amounts of heavy elements such as gold created when black holes merge with neutron stars have been calculated and compared with the amounts expected when pairs of neutron stars merge. The calculations were done by Hsin-Yu Chen and Salvatore Vitale at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Francois Foucart at the UniversityContinue reading “Kilonovas and Gold…”

J0030…

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, NASA, Neutron Stars, Pulsars NASA’s NICER instrument reveals that neutron stars are not as simple as we thought. Pulsars are the lighthouses of the universe. These tiny, compact objects are neutron stars — the remnants of once-massive stars — that spin rapidly, beaming radiation into space. Now, for the first time, astronomersContinue reading “J0030…”