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All About Space No. 111

Every issue All About Space delivers fascinating articles and features on all aspects of space and space travel with mind-blowing photography and full-colour illustrations that bring the amazing universe around us to life.

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United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
R 57,76
R 477,54
13 Issues

in this issue

1 min

Somewhere in a galaxy far away, other planets exist. That’s probably of no surprise to readers of All About Space, but it’s not until recently that we’ve managed to find evidence of alien worlds beyond the confines of our own Milky Way. First astronomers found evidence for a planet orbiting a star in the nearby spiral galaxy Andromeda. With the help of microlensing, a phenomena that causes a star to act like a lens, the team concluded that a planet roughly six times the mass of Jupiter must be in orbit around it. Of course, the way in which the extragalactic world was discovered means that we’re unable to complete any follow-up studies – microlensing is usually a one-off event, since it relies on the exact alignment between the ‘foreground lens’…

2 min
launch pad

A galactic waterfall NGC 2798 was discovered by William Herschel in 1788, while NGC 2799 was discovered in 1874 by Ralph Copeland. We can only imagine what those astronomers would have given to see this stunning image of the two barred spiral galaxies interacting. As NASA has pointed out, the event appears to have formed a sideways spout, creating a galactic waterfall of stars as NGC 2799, to the left, is dragged into NGC 2798’s centre. The interacting galaxy pair are in the constellation Lynx, and the image was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. Stellar skull NGC 246 is a planetary nebula - an expanding shell of ionised gas that is ejected from red giant stars in the last throes of their lives. This one is in the southern constellation of Cetus about…

2 min
cosmic bubbles may have forged dark matter

YOUR FIRST CONTACT WITH THE UNIVERSE Ballooning cosmic bubbles in our early universe may have led to the current abundance of dark matter. “Although we know how much dark matter our universe contains, for decades now we’ve been left wondering about dark matter’s nature and origin,” said Andrew Long, an assistant professor of physics at Rice University in Houston. “Is dark matter a collection of elementary particles? If so, what are the properties of these particles, such as their mass and spin? What forces do these particles exert and what interactions do they experience? When was the dark matter created, and what interactions played an important role in its formation?” Long and physicists Michael Baker, at the University of Melbourne in Australia, and Joachim Kopp, at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz,…

1 min
radio bursts may spring from asteroids around magnetic stars

Mysterious repeating bursts of radio waves that fire in random patterns might come from neutron stars blasting asteroids with magnetic winds that travel at nearly the speed of light. Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are intense pulses of radio waves that can give off more energy in a few thousandths of a second than the Sun does in nearly a century. Scientists only discovered FRBs in 2007, and much remains unknown about their origins because of their brief existence. The mystery of fast radio bursts deepened when scientists discovered the first repeating fast radio burst in 2016. When astronomers see repeating patterns in celestial events, they often think celestial mechanics might play a role: a planet completing an orbit around its star, or a fast-spinning neutron star, known as a pulsar,…

1 min
bizarre planet with supersonic winds and vapourised-rock atmosphere found

Scientists think they have identified a lava world so dramatic that it might boast a thin regional atmosphere of vaporised rock where it is closest to its star. That exoplanet is called K2-141b, and was originally discovered in 2017. The world is about half as big as Earth, but orbits so close to its star, which is one class smaller than our own, that it completes several loops each Earth day with the same surface permanently facing the star. Scientists predict that those factors mean that two-thirds of the surface of K2-141b is permanently sunlit - so much so that not only is part of the world covered in a lava ocean, but some of that rock may even evaporate away into the atmosphere. “All rocky planets, including Earth, started off…

2 min
strange rings suggest planets are formed earlier than thought

YOUR FIRST CONTACT WITH THE UNIVERSE Rings detected around a newborn star may suggest that planets are born earlier than previously thought. Stars are born from dense clouds that collapse in on themselves under the force of their own gravity. As the blanket of gas and dust surrounding a nascent star, or protostar, shrinks over time, a disc forms around it that can give rise to baby planets, or protoplanets. In a new study, Dominique Segura-Cox, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, and her team investigated IRS 63, a protostar located about 470 light years away in the constellation of Ophiuchus. Previous research found this protostar is less than 500,000 years old. IRS 63 is surrounded by a spinning disc of gas and dust that is…