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#925559 - 01/02/18 08:37 AM Top Ten Astronomy Stories 2017 *new article*  
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2017 was an exciting one for astronomy, full of interesting events and discoveries. There was a fantastic solar eclipse that swept across North America, a star system with 7 Earth-sized planets, a quasar from the early Universe, Cassini's Grand Finale, a dwarf planet with rings, and much more.

Top Ten Astronomy Stories 2017


Mona Evans
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#925574 - 01/03/18 06:31 AM Re: Top Ten Astronomy Stories 2017 *new article* [Re: Mona - Astronomy]  
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You can find out more about the dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 and its seven Earth-sized planets.

Ultra-cool Dwarf and the Seven Planets

When a planet was first discovered around an alien sun in 1995, it was big news. Now we know thousands of them, so it takes something special to get into the news. In February 2017 one team hit the jackpot: a star with seven Earth-sized planets, three of them in the habitable zone.


Mona Evans
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#925592 - 01/04/18 09:20 AM Re: Top Ten Astronomy Stories 2017 *new article* [Re: Mona - Astronomy]  
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Tiger

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Here is a comparison between the known Kepler-90 planets and the Solar System. The warning on the picture "Planet sizes are to scale, distances are not" isn't easy to read, though it's important. The sizes of the planets are on the same scale, so you get a good idea about comparing the Kepler-90 planets to Solar System planets, but you don't get any idea about their orbits.

Amazingly, none of the Kepler-90 planets are farther from their star than Earth is from the Sun. What a squeeze! Astronomers continue to revise their theories on planet formation, based on new evidence. Kepler-90 certainly has them scratching their heads.


Mona Evans
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#925622 - 01/05/18 11:24 AM Re: Top Ten Astronomy Stories 2017 *new article* [Re: Mona - Astronomy]  
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'Oumuamua, an interstellar object that zipped past us, was discovered by the PanStarrs1 telescope in Hawaii. This was the first such object to be observed. Objects from outside the galaxy must arrive more frequently, but they're very small and hard to see. Here's how 'Oumuamua appeared in the 4.2-meter William Herschel Telescope in La Palma in Spain's Canary Islands. (It's been circled.) As you can see, even with such a big telescope (nearly 14 feet across), there still isn't much to see.

Photo Credit: A. Fitzsimmons, QUB/Isaac Newton Group, La Palma.


Mona Evans
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#925635 - 01/06/18 07:42 AM Re: Top Ten Astronomy Stories 2017 *new article* [Re: Mona - Astronomy]  
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From the data collected by telescopes observing 'Oumuamua, scientists worked out its path as it approached and went past the Sun. In this animation of 'Oumuamua's trajectory you can see that it was affected by the Sun's gravity, but not pulled into a solar orbit.


Mona Evans
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#925661 - 01/07/18 01:28 PM Re: Top Ten Astronomy Stories 2017 *new article* [Re: Mona - Astronomy]  
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Here is the image of 'Oumuamua generated from telescope data. The object itself was too small to see in this detail, but telescope data was able to give information about its size, shape and color.


Mona Evans
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#925694 - 01/09/18 08:43 AM Re: Top Ten Astronomy Stories 2017 *new article* [Re: Mona - Astronomy]  
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Surprise! Surprise! Studying Haumea during a stellar occultation led to the discovery of a ring around the dwarf planet. No one was expecting that. You can't see this faint ring by just pointing a telescope at distant Haumea. The observation involved a number of telescopes watching what happened when Haumea passed in front of a star. The dimming of the star's light gave them new information about Haumea's size, and also showed the ring.

Here is an artist's concept of Haumea based on the data acquired during the occultation.

Image credit: Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía


Mona Evans
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#925775 - 01/13/18 04:49 PM Re: Top Ten Astronomy Stories 2017 *new article* [Re: Mona - Astronomy]  
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A pulsar is a rotating neutron star. A neutron star is the remnant of a massive star that used up its nuclear fuel and ended its life in a supernova explosion.

The pulsar emits bipolar beams of radiation. If the radiation is coming our way, we see it blinking on and off as the pulsar turns. This effect is often compared to the beam of a rotating lighthouse.


Mona Evans
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#925795 - 01/14/18 06:41 PM Re: Top Ten Astronomy Stories 2017 *new article* [Re: Mona - Astronomy]  
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Researchers at the University of Warwick in England discovered the first white dwarf pulsar.

AR Scorpii is a binary system made up of a rapidly spinning white dwarf and a red dwarf. The white dwarf lashes its neighbor with power beams of particles and radiation, causing the entire system to brighten and fade dramatically twice every two minutes.

Although the neutron pulsars we know are bipolar (beam in both directions), AR Scorpii gives out concentrated radiation in only one direction.

Professor Boris Gänsicke comments:
Quote:
AR Sco is like a gigantic dynamo: a magnet, size of the Earth, with a field that is ~10.000 stronger than any field we can produce in a laboratory, and it is rotating every two minutes. This generates an enormous electric current in the companion star, which then produces the variations in the light we detect.


Image credit: Artist's impression of AR Scorpii, Mark Garlick/University of Warwick


Mona Evans
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#925826 - 01/15/18 04:18 PM Re: Top Ten Astronomy Stories 2017 *new article* [Re: Mona - Astronomy]  
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The great American eclipse of August 2017. This photo is a beautifully timed image of a climber and the diamond ring of a solar eclipse. I wonder if the photographer is thinking of entering it in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2018 competition. I think it's really something.

Image Credit & Copyright: Andrew Struder


Mona Evans
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