Einstein Theory Confirmed Again
In his 1915 Theory of General Relativity, physicist Albert Einstein proposed that mass can bend space time.
And he predicted that when a distant star’s light passed by a large object en route to the observer, the object’s gravity can bend and brighten the starlight like a magnifying lens.
This effect, called gravitational lensing, was confirmed in 1919 by English astrophysicist Arthur Eddington after observing a solar eclipse.
Nearly 100 years later, a group of astronomers have confirmed Einstein’s theory once again, after successfully replicating Eddington’s experiment with the Hubble Space Telescope.
The researchers used gravitational lensing to precisely calculate the mass of a white dwarf star some 17 to 19 light years away.
Called Stein 2051B, the white dwarf, which are the the remains of a burnt out regular star were measured to have a mass equal to about 68 percent of our sun.
Second Organic Compound in Young Star System Found
Two teams of astronomers recently detected traces of methyl isocyanate, one of the chemical building blocks of life, within clouds of dust and gas surrounding several still forming stars in a protostar system nearly 430 light years away.
According to Niels Ligterink and Audrey Coutens, two of the researchers, methyl isocyanate is a member of a family of organic molecules that synthesizes peptides and amino acids.
These molecules, when they’re in the form of proteins, are considered by scientists to be the biological basis for life as we know it.
In 2012 scientists also found a simple form of sugar called glycolaldehyde in the cloud of gas and dust in this protostar system.
The astronomers who discovered both organic compounds used the European Southern Observatory’s Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array or ALMA, in Chile.
NEOWISE Mission Discovers 97 New Near Earth Objects
The Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer or NEOWISE is NASA’s near-earth object hunting spacecraft.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which recently released the third year of the mission’s survey data, says, over the past year, NEOWISE has found 97 celestial objects that were previously unknown.
Of the 97 the space agency says, 28 were near-Earth objects, 64 were asteroids from the main asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter, and 5 were comets.
The NEOWISE mission has categorized 693 near-Earth object since was relaunched in December 2013 with 114 of them being newly found objects.
Over year three of the mission, the spacecraft collected more than 2.6 million images of the sky.
Along with images gathered in the first two years, NEOWISE has captured a total of almost 8 million sets of images.
Exoplanet Found That’s Hotter Than Most Stars
An international team of astronomers have discovered an exoplanet they say is hotter than most stars.
Called KELT-9b, it is a gas-giant planet that has 2.8 times the mass than Jupiter, but is only has half its density.
The enormous planet is tidally locked with its sun, like the moon is with Earth. This means that it has permanent day and night sides.
The astronomers found the day side of KELT-9b has a peak temperature of a little more than forty-three hundred degrees Celsius, which is only about two-thousand degrees cooler than our own sun.
The planet orbits close to it sun KELT-9, which the astronomers say is more than twice as large and about twice as hot as our sun.
A year on the planet is only 1.5 Earth days.
KELT-9b receives so much ultra-violet radiation from its sun that astronomers think may be evaporating away, producing a glowing gas comet-like tail.
LIGO Detects Gravitational Waves for Third Time
Scientists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory or LIGO have announced that they made a third detection of gravitational waves, which are described as ripples in the fabric of spacetime.
The latest observations of gravitational waves were detected on January 4, 2017 at LIGO’s two detector sites, in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington.
As with the previous two detections, scientists say that the gravitational waves were generated after the violent fusion of two black holes.
It was calculated that the black hole merger took place about 3 billion years ago.
The fusion of the two black holes has produced one that has a mass forty-times that of our sun.
The two previous detection of gravitational waves took place in December 2016 and September 2016.
Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves more than a hundred years ago in his theory of General Relativity.
NASA Will Send Probe to the Sun
NASA plans to send a space probe to within 6.5 kilometers of the sun’s surface sometime between next July and August, making it mankind’s first mission to a star.
The spacecraft which had been named the Solar Probe Plus was recently renamed the Parker Solar Probe, in honor of astrophysicist Eugene Parker, who is credited with discovering the solar wind in 1958.
The solar wind is a stream of plasma made of highly charged particles that flows into space from the sun.
Scientists say the solar wind moves through space at speeds of from 10 to 900 kilometers per second with temperatures that can reach nearly million degrees Celsius.
The space agency says the spacecraft will provide scientists with fresh data on the sun’s activity and will help space weather forecasters make more accurate predictions on events that impact life on Earth.