Astronomy May 2016

The world's best-selling astronomy magazine offers you the most exciting, visually stunning, and timely coverage of the heavens above. Each monthly issue includes expert science reporting, vivid color photography, complete sky coverage, spot-on observing tips, informative telescope reviews, and much more! All this in a user-friendly style that's perfect for astronomers at any level.

United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
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2 minutos
the screams of black holes

IN 1992, Caltech astrophysicist Kip Thorne and his associates put their dream into action. Along with Caltech’s Ronald Drever, Rainer Weiss of MIT, and a scientific cast of hundreds, they commenced the LIGO project. LIGO stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, and it became the largest project ever funded by the National Science Foundation. LIGO consists of enormous facilities in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, that allow scientists to listen for gravitational waves, or ripples in the curvature of space-time. Such ripples should be produced, for example, when two supermassive black holes collide and merge. Despite the theoretical confidence in the existence of gravitational waves, from Einstein’s era through the first weeks of 2016, none had yet been detected. In January 2016, scientists queued up for an announcement of a detection from…

2 minutos
how comets surprise us

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE UNIVERSE THIS MONTH... HOT BYTES TRENDING TO THE TOP GALAXY RIPPLES Astronomers think a dwarf galaxy skimming by a few hundred million years ago caused ripples observed at the Milky Way’s edge. TAKING IN STRAYS Globular clusters birth multiple litters of stars by stealing gas from their surroundings instead of shedding it over time, as astronomers thought. ETA TWINS “Twins” of the violent and famous Eta Carinae star system exist in nearby galaxies, indicated by the systems’ similar spectral fingerprints. Comets come and comets go, and these little icy wanderers from the outer solar system often surprise us. Two years ago we had high hopes for Comet ISON (C/2012 S1), but it became a dud when it approached the Sun and disintegrated. Now Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) has put on a show…

4 minutos
where are the stars?

WE ASTRONOMERS ARE ALWAYS FIGHTING FOR “DARK SKIES.” SO THIS MONTH, WHEN WE HAVE IT, WHY AREN’T WE ECSTATIC? Quick:How many constellations does the Milky Way traverse? Don’t know, do you? Neither did I until I looked it up. It’s 27. Not one is high and prominent this month for Northern Hemisphere observers. But if someone asked where our galaxy looks brightest, you’d correctly say Sagittarius. In pristine dark places where the Teapot asterism is overhead — the Southern Hemisphere — the Milky Way is so bright that it casts shadows. Its exact center is marked by the radio source Sagittarius A* (pronounced, “A-star”), which corresponds to the 4.3 millionsolar-mass black hole around which our entire galaxy pivots. That visually rich region is a good reason to make a pilgrimage far south…

2 minutos

FROM OUR INBOX Another Earth? Nola Taylor Redd is to be congratulated — “Why we haven’t found another Earth,” p. 24, February 2016 — for advising an overenthused public to cool it. Editor David J. Eicher indicts “crackpot” media writers for using expressions like “other Earths.” I would extend this objection to those who overlook the factors of chance and uniqueness operating in the natural world. This was singled out in Nobel laureate biologist Jacques Monod’s memorable book, Chance and Necessity. Science loves gestalten (patterns). It tends to ignore the factors of contingency and accident, which nevertheless produce unique outcomes. The 4.5 billion-year history of our planet is replete with momentous, chancy events. Could not one of these be the rare, perhaps unique creation of Earth’s biosphere? More than one well-known scientist…

2 minutos
‘planet nine’ from outer space

How many planets call our solar system home? Generations of schoolkids learned there were nine, but that figure dropped to eight in 2006 when the International Astronomical Union (IAU) infamously relegated Pluto to a new class called dwarf planet. If astronomers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology are right, however, nine may be the right number after all. On January 20, Batygin and Brown announced evidence for a new planet lurking in the solar system’s frigid depths. They estimate the object has about 10 times Earth’s mass and orbits the Sun at an average distance roughly 700 times greater than Earth does while taking 10,000 to 20,000 years to complete a circuit. The researchers discovered the putative planet through mathematical modeling and computer simulations, but have not…

1 minutos
quick takes

TESTING EINSTEIN Physicist Peter Mészáros suggests that studies of Fast Radio Bursts — short but powerful blasts of energy — could provide a better test of Einstein’s theory of general relativity than gamma-ray bursts, a previously accepted method. CONSIDERING MAGNETISM A research team using Kepler Space Telescope data discovered that strong magnetic fields are present in as many as 60 percent of stars, instead of the 5 to 10 percent astronomers previously estimated. HOSPITABLE CLUSTERS Astronomers argue that contrary to past expectations, globular clusters might be excellent abodes for life in the universe, thanks to the abundance of long-lived dwarf stars. Finding signs of planets in the crowd of stars would be a new challenge, though. GHOST CLOUDS Vast clouds of cold gas float invisibly through the universe, observed only when they block light from background objects,…