The microscopic Tardigrade animals have become famous for their amazing resilience to extremes of temperature, dryness, vacuum, and radiation. Research is starting to unlock the secrets to their stupendous survival skills:
- Tardigrade DNA inserted into human cells gives them X-ray resistance | ExtremeTech
- Tardigrades can live 30 years in a freezer and survive in space, and now we know why | The Verge
This video shows some of the tardigrades’ special qualities:
And here’s an example of a possible application derived from Tardigrade research:
A new report from the European Southern Observatory (ESO):
A hot and dense mass of complex molecules, cocooning a newborn star, has been discovered by a Japanese team of astronomers using [the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)]. This unique hot molecular core is the first of its kind to have been detected outside the Milky Way galaxy. It has a very different molecular composition from similar objects in our own galaxy — a tantalising hint that the chemistry taking place across the Universe could be much more diverse than expected.A team of Japanese researchers have used the power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe a massive star known as ST11  in our neighbouring dwarf galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). Emission from a number of molecular gases was detected. These indicated that the team had discovered a concentrated region of comparatively hot and dense molecular gas around the newly ignited star ST11. This was evidence that they had found something never before seen outside of the Milky Way — a hot molecular core .
Takashi Shimonishi, an astronomer at Tohoku University, Japan, and the paper’s lead author enthused:
“This is the first detection of an extragalactic hot molecular core, and it demonstrates the great capability of new generation telescopes to study astrochemical phenomena beyond the Milky Way.”
The ALMA observations revealed that this newly discovered core in the LMC has a very different composition to similar objects found in the Milky Way. The most prominent chemical signatures in the LMC core include familiar molecules such as sulfur dioxide, nitric oxide, and formaldehyde — alongside the ubiquitous dust. But several organic compounds, including methanol (the simplest alcohol molecule), had remarkably low abundance in the newly detected hot molecular core. In contrast, cores in the Milky Way have been observed to contain a wide assortment of complex organic molecules, including methanol and ethanol.Takashi Shimonishi explains:
“The observations suggest that the molecular compositions of materials that form stars and planets are much more diverse than we expected.”
The LMC has a low abundance of elements other than hydrogen or helium . The research team suggests that this very different galactic environment has affected the molecule-forming processes taking place surrounding the newborn star ST11. This could account for the observed differences in chemical compositions.
It is not yet clear if the large, complex molecules detected in the Milky Way exist in hot molecular cores in other galaxies. Complex organic molecules are of very special interest because some are connected to prebiotic molecules formed in space. This newly discovered object in one of our nearest galactic neighbours is an excellent target to help astronomers address this issue. It also raises another question: how could the chemical diversity of galaxies affect the development of extragalactic life?
 ST11’s full name is 2MASS J05264658-6848469. This catchily-named young massive star is defined as a Young Stellar Object. Although it currently appears to be a single star, it is possible that it will prove to be a tight cluster of stars, or possibly a multiple star system. It was the target of the science team’s observations and their results led them to realise that ST11 is enveloped by a hot molecular core.
 Hot molecular cores must be: (relatively) small, with a diameter of less than 0.3 light-years; have a density over a thousand billion (1012) molecules per cubic metre (far lower than the Earth’s atmosphere, but high for an interstellar environment); warm in temperature, at over –173 degrees Celsius. This makes them at least 80 degrees Celsius warmer than a standard molecular cloud, despite being of similar density. These hot cores form early on in the evolution of massive stars and they play a key role in the formation of complex chemicals in space.
 The nuclear fusion reactions that take place when a star has stopped fusing hydrogen to helium generate heavier elements. These heavier elements get blasted into space when massive dying stars explode as supernovae. Therefore, as our Universe has aged, the abundance of heavier elements has increased. Thanks to its low abundance of heavier elements, the LMC provides insight into the chemical processes that were taking place in the earlier Universe.
Coming up at 2:30 pm ET today, Elon Musk will describe the design of the “SpaceX Interplanetary Transport System” that will be used to send people to Mars and elsewhere. Here is a video animation of the system:
You can watch his talk online here:
Update: Here are the slides that Elon showed during hits talk: Mars Presentation (pdf)
A new (and somewhat late) episode of NASA’s Space To Ground weekly report on recent activities related to the Int. Space Station:
Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have imaged what may be water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon erupts with high altitude water vapor plumes.The observation increases the possibility that missions to Europa may be able to sample Europa’s ocean without having to drill through miles of ice.
“Europa’s ocean is considered to be one of the most promising places that could potentially harbor life in the solar system,” said Geoff Yoder, acting associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These plumes, if they do indeed exist, may provide another way to sample Europa’s subsurface.”
The plumes are estimated to rise about 125 miles (200 kilometers) before, presumably, raining material back down onto Europa’s surface. Europa has a huge global ocean containing twice as much water as Earth’s oceans, but it is protected by a layer of extremely cold and hard ice of unknown thickness. The plumes provide a tantalizing opportunity to gather samples originating from under the surface without having to land or drill through the ice.
The team, led by William Sparks of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore observed these finger-like projections while viewing Europa’s limb as the moon passed in front of Jupiter.
The original goal of the team’s observing proposal was to determine whether Europa has a thin, extended atmosphere, or exosphere. Using the same observing method that detects atmospheres around planets orbiting other stars, the team realized if there was water vapor venting from Europa’s surface, this observation would be an excellent way to see it.
“The atmosphere of an extrasolar planet blocks some of the starlight that is behind it,” Sparks explained. “If there is a thin atmosphere around Europa, it has the potential to block some of the light of Jupiter, and we could see it as a silhouette. And so we were looking for absorption features around the limb of Europa as it transited the smooth face of Jupiter.”
In 10 separate occurrences spanning 15 months, the team observed Europa passing in front of Jupiter. They saw what could be plumes erupting on three of these occasions.This work provides supporting evidence for water plumes on Europa. In 2012, a team led by Lorenz Roth of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, detected evidence of water vapor erupting from the frigid south polar region of Europa and reaching more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) into space. Although both teams used Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph instrument, each used a totally independent method to arrive at the same conclusion.
“When we calculate in a completely different way the amount of material that would be needed to create these absorption features, it’s pretty similar to what Roth and his team found,” Sparks said. “The estimates for the mass are similar, the estimates for the height of the plumes are similar. The latitude of two of the plume candidates we see corresponds to their earlier work.”
But as of yet, the two teams have not simultaneously detected the plumes using their independent techniques. Observations thus far have suggested the plumes could be highly variable, meaning that they may sporadically erupt for some time and then die down. For example, observations by Roth’s team within a week of one of the detections by Sparks’ team failed to detect any plumes.
If confirmed, Europa would be the second moon in the solar system known to have water vapor plumes. In 2005, NASA’s Cassini orbiter detected jets of water vapor and dust spewing off the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
Scientists may use the infrared vision of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to launch in 2018, to confirm venting or plume activity on Europa. NASA also is formulating a mission to Europa with a payload that could confirm the presence of plumes and study them from close range during multiple flybys.
“Hubble’s unique capabilities enabled it to capture these plumes, once again demonstrating Hubble’s ability to make observations it was never designed to make,” said Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This observation opens up a world of possibilities, and we look forward to future missions — such as the James Webb Space Telescope — to follow up on this exciting discovery.”
The work by Sparks and his colleagues will be published in the Sept. 29 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (the European Space Agency.) NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. STScI, which is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, conducts Hubble science operations.
For images and more information about Europa and Hubble, visit:
1. Monday, Sept. 26, 2016: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): Michael Listner returns as our guest on space legal issues and more.
2. Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016: 7-8:30 PM PDT, 10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT; We welcome back Bob Zimmerman for space news updates.
4. Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): OPEN LINES. All space and STEM topics welcome as are first time callers.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
The new finding from a group using the Hubble Space Telescope. (Someone living on a moon orbiting this gas giant would have quite a skyscape to enjoy.)
Two’s company, but three might not always be a crowd — at least in space.Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, and a trick of nature, have confirmed the existence of a planet orbiting two stars in the system OGLE-2007-BLG-349, located 8,000 light-years away towards the center of our galaxy.
The planet orbits roughly 300 million miles from the stellar duo, about the distance from the asteroid belt to our sun. It completes an orbit around both stars roughly every seven years. The two red dwarf stars are a mere 7 million miles apart, or 14 times the diameter of the moon’s orbit around Earth.
The Hubble observations represent the first time such a three-body system has been confirmed using the gravitational microlensing technique. Gravitational microlensing occurs when the gravity of a foreground star bends and amplifies the light of a background star that momentarily aligns with it. The particular character of the light magnification can reveal clues to the nature of the foreground star and any associated planets.
The three objects were discovered in 2007 by an international collaboration of five different groups: Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics (MOA), the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE), the Microlensing Follow-up Network (MicroFUN), the Probing Lensing Anomalies Network (PLANET), and the Robonet Collaboration. These ground-based observations uncovered a star and a planet, but a detailed analysis also revealed a third body that astronomers could not definitively identify.
“The ground-based observations suggested two possible scenarios for the three-body system: a Saturn-mass planet orbiting a close binary star pair or a Saturn-mass and an Earth-mass planet orbiting a single star,” explained David Bennett of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the paper’s first author.
The sharpness of the Hubble images allowed the research team to separate the background source star and the lensing star from their neighbors in the very crowded star field. The Hubble observations revealed that the starlight from the foreground lens system was too faint to be a single star, but it had the brightness expected for two closely orbiting red dwarf stars, which are fainter and less massive than our sun.
“So, the model with two stars and one planet is the only one consistent with the Hubble data,” Bennett said.
Bennett’s team conducted the follow-up observations with Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2.
“We were helped in the analysis by the almost perfect alignment of the foreground binary stars with the background star, which greatly magnified the light and allowed us to see the signal of the two stars,” Bennett explained.
Kepler has discovered 10 other planets orbiting tight binary stars, but these are all much closer to their stars than the one studied by Hubble.
Now that the team has shown that microlensing can successfully detect planets orbiting double-star systems, Hubble could provide an essential role in this new realm in the continued search for exoplanets.
The team’s results have been accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal.
Here’s a new report from the European Southern Observatory (ESO):
International teams of astronomers have used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to explore the distant corner of the Universe first revealed in the iconic images of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF). These new ALMA observations are significantly deeper and sharper than previous surveys at millimetre wavelengths. They clearly show how the rate of star formation in young galaxies is closely related to their total mass in stars. They also trace the previously unknown abundance of star-forming gas at different points in time, providing new insights into the “Golden Age” of galaxy formation approximately 10 billion years ago.The new ALMA results will be published in a series of papers appearing in the Astrophysical Journal and Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. These results are also among those being presented this week at the Half a Decade of ALMA conference in Palm Springs, California, USA.
In 2004 the Hubble Ultra Deep Field images — pioneering deep-field observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope — were published. These spectacular pictures probed more deeply than ever before and revealed a menagerie of galaxies stretching back to less than a billion years after the Big Bang. The area was observed several times by Hubble and many other telescopes, resulting in the deepest view of the Universe to date.
This video sequence combines a background picture taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope (blue/green) with a new very deep ALMA view of this field (orange, marked with circles). All the objects that ALMA sees appear to be massive star-forming galaxies. This image is based on the ALMA survey by J. Dunlop and colleagues, covering the full HUDF area. Credit: NASA/ESA/ESO/J. Dunlop
Astronomers using ALMA have now surveyed this seemingly unremarkable, but heavily studied, window into the distant Universe for the first time both deeply and sharply in the millimetre range of wavelengths . This allows them to see the faint glow from gas clouds and also the emission from warm dust in galaxies in the early Universe.
ALMA has observed the HUDF for a total of around 50 hours up to now. This is the largest amount of ALMA observing time spent on one area of the sky so far.One team led by Jim Dunlop (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom) used ALMA to obtain the first deep, homogeneous ALMA image of a region as large as the HUDF. This data allowed them to clearly match up the galaxies that they detected with objects already seen with Hubble and other facilities.
This study showed clearly for the first time that the stellar mass of a galaxy is the best predictor of star formation rate in the high redshift Universe. They detected essentially all of the high-mass galaxies  and virtually nothing else.Jim Dunlop, lead author on the deep imaging paper sums up its importance:
“This is a breakthrough result. For the first time we are properly connecting the visible and ultraviolet light view of the distant Universe from Hubble and far-infrared/millimetre views of the Universe from ALMA.”
The second team, led by Manuel Aravena of the Núcleo de Astronomía, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile, and Fabian Walter of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, conducted a deeper search across about one sixth of the total HUDF .
“We conducted the first fully blind, three-dimensional search for cool gas in the early Universe,” said Chris Carilli, an astronomer with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, New Mexico, USA and member of the research team. “Through this, we discovered a population of galaxies that is not clearly evident in any other deep surveys of the sky.” 
Some of the new ALMA observations were specifically tailored to detect galaxies that are rich in carbon monoxide, indicating regions primed for star formation. Even though these molecular gas reservoirs give rise to the star formation activity in galaxies, they are often very hard to see with Hubble. ALMA can therefore reveal the “missing half” of the galaxy formation and evolution process.
“The new ALMA results imply a rapidly rising gas content in galaxies as we look back further in time,” adds lead author of two of the papers, Manuel Aravena (Núcleo de Astronomía, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile). “This increasing gas content is likely the root cause for the remarkable increase in star formation rates during the peak epoch of galaxy formation, some 10 billion years ago.”
The results presented today are just the start of a series of future observations to probe the distant Universe with ALMA. For example, a planned 150-hour observing campaign of the HUDF will further illuminate the star-forming potential history of the Universe.
“By supplementing our understanding of this missing star-forming material, the forthcoming ALMA Large Program will complete our view of the galaxies in the iconic Hubble Ultra Deep Field,” concludes Fabian Walter.
 Astronomers specifically selected the area of study in the HUDF, a region of space in the faint southern constellation of Fornax (The Furnace), so ground-based telescopes in the southern hemisphere, like ALMA, could probe the region, expanding our knowledge about the very distant Universe.
Probing the deep, but optically invisible, Universe was one of the primary science goals for ALMA.
 In this context “high mass” means galaxies with stellar masses greater than 20 billion times that of the Sun ( 2 × 1010solar masses). For comparison, the Milky Way is a large galaxy and has a mass of around 100 billion solar masses.
 This region of sky is about seven hundred times smaller than the area of the disc of the full Moon as seen from Earth. One of the most startling aspects of the HUDF was the vast number of galaxies found in such a tiny fraction of the sky.
 ALMA’s ability to see a completely different portion of the electromagnetic spectrum from Hubble allows astronomers to study a different class of astronomical objects, such as massive star-forming clouds, as well as objects that are otherwise too faint to observe in visible light, but visible at millimetre wavelengths.
The search is referred to as “blind” as it was not focussed on any particular object.
The new ALMA observations of the HUDF include two distinct, yet complementary types of data: continuum observations, which reveal dust emission and star formation, and a spectral emission line survey, which looks at the cold molecular gas fueling star formation. The second survey is particularly valuable because it includes information about the degree to which light from distant objects has been redshifted by the expansion of the Universe. Greater redshift means that an object is further away and seen farther back in time. This allows astronomers to create a three-dimensional map of star-forming gas as it evolves over cosmic time.
Here is an interesting article on the history and current state of space inspired art and the role it can play in advancing science and exploration: Space Art Propelled Scientific Exploration of the Cosmos—But Its Star is Fading Fast | Atlas Obscura.
Since 51 Pegasi b first swam into view 20 years ago, over 3,000 other exoplanets have been discovered. They vary in size, density and absurdity with some planets believed to have atmospheres of vaporized rock and mantles of liquid diamond. As such you’d think these would be boom times for space artists like Lynette Cook but in fact it’s been quite the opposite. Her space art career has never been more tenuous.
“The budgets to hire people like me on the part of publishers and science organizations has really dwindled in recent years,” she says. Partly this is due to recent changes in print economics. Cook has watched as publishers have become increasingly willing to use inaccurate and poorly rendered “no-fee” illustrations to keep costs down. “I saw a shift,” says Cook, “from commissioning new art, to wanting me to rework earlier images, so they looked different (but didn’t cost as much), to reusing older art “as is” for new discoveries.” Eventually her clients simply stopped calling, “as if they were stars in the heavens that were winking out.”
See the HobbySpace Art Section for more resources on the topic.
A new report from the European Southern Observatory (ESO):
An international team using ALMA, along with ESO’s Very Large Telescope and other telescopes, has discovered the true nature of a rare object in the distant Universe called a Lyman-alpha Blob. Up to now astronomers did not understand what made these huge clouds of gas shine so brightly, but ALMA has now seen two galaxies at the heart of one of these objects and they are undergoing a frenzy of star formation that is lighting up their surroundings. These large galaxies are in turn at the centre of a swarm of smaller ones in what appears to be an early phase in the formation of a massive cluster of galaxies. The two ALMA sources are expected to evolve into a single giant elliptical galaxy.Lyman-alpha Blobs (LABs) are gigantic clouds of hydrogen gas that can span hundreds of thousands of light-years and are found at very large cosmic distances. The name reflects the characteristic wavelength of ultraviolet light that they emit, known as Lyman-alpha radiation . Since their discovery, the processes that give rise to LABs have been an astronomical puzzle. But new observations with ALMA may now have now cleared up the mystery.
One of the largest Lyman-alpha Blobs known, and the most thoroughly studied, is SSA22-Lyman-alpha blob 1, or LAB-1. Embedded in the core of a huge cluster of galaxies in the early stages of formation, it was the very first such object to be discovered — in 2000 — and is located so far away that its light has taken about 11.5 billion years to reach us.A team of astronomers, led by Jim Geach, from the Centre for Astrophysics Research of the University of Hertfordshire, UK, has now used the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array’s (ALMA) unparallelled ability to observe light from cool dust clouds in distant galaxies to peer deeply into LAB-1. This allowed them to pinpoint and resolve several sources of submillimetre emission .
They then combined the ALMA images with observations from the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument mounted on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), which map the Lyman-alpha light. This showed that the ALMA sources are located in the very heart of the Lyman-alpha Blob, where they are forming stars at a rate over 100 times that of the Milky Way.
This video zoom sequence starts with a wide-field view of the dim constellation of Aquarius (The Water Carrier) and slowly closes in on one of the largest known single objects in the Universe, the Lyman-alpha blob LAB1. Observations with the ESO VLT show, for the first time, that the giant “blob” must be powered by galaxies embedded within the cloud. Credit: ESO/A. Fujii/Digitized Sky Survey 2/M. Hayes. Music: John Dyson (from the album Moonwind)
Deep imaging with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and spectroscopy at the W. M. Keck Observatory  showed in addition that the ALMA sources are surrounded by numerous faint companion galaxies that could be bombarding the central ALMA sources with material, helping to drive their high star formation rates.The team then turned to a sophisticated simulation of galaxy formation to demonstrate that the giant glowing cloud of Lyman-alpha emission can be explained if ultraviolet light produced by star formation in the ALMA sources scatters off the surrounding hydrogen gas. This would give rise to the Lyman-alpha Blob we see.
Jim Geach, lead author of the new study, explains:
“Think of a streetlight on a foggy night — you see the diffuse glow because light is scattering off the tiny water droplets. A similar thing is happening here, except the streetlight is an intensely star-forming galaxy and the fog is a huge cloud of intergalactic gas. The galaxies are illuminating their surroundings.”
Understanding how galaxies form and evolve is a massive challenge. Astronomers think Lyman-alpha Blobs are important because they seem to be the places where the most massive galaxies in the Universe form. In particular, the extended Lyman-alpha glow provides information on what is happening in the primordial gas clouds surrounding young galaxies, a region that is very difficult to study, but critical to understand.
Jim Geach concludes,
“What’s exciting about these blobs is that we are getting a rare glimpse of what’s happening around these young, growing galaxies. For a long time the origin of the extended Lyman-alpha light has been controversial. But with the combination of new observations and cutting-edge simulations, we think we have solved a 15-year-old mystery: Lyman-alpha Blob-1 is the site of formation of a massive elliptical galaxy that will one day be the heart of a giant cluster. We are seeing a snapshot of the assembly of that galaxy 11.5 billion years ago.”Notes
 The negatively charged electrons that orbit the positively charged nucleus in an atom have quantised energy levels. That is, they can only exist in specific energy states, and they can only transition between them by gaining or losing precise amounts of energy. Lyman-alpha radiation is produced when electrons in hydrogen atoms drop from the second-lowest to the lowest energy level. The precise amount of energy lost is released as light with a particular wavelength, in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, which astronomers can detect with space telescopes or on Earth in the case of redshifted objects. For LAB-1, at redshift of z~3, the Lyman-alpha light is seen as visible light.
 Resolution is the ability to see that objects are separated. At low resolution, several bright sources at a distance would seem like a single glowing spot, and only at closer quarters would each source be distinguishable. ALMA’s high resolution has resolved what previously appeared to be a single blob into two separate sources.
 The instruments used were the Space Telescope Imaging Spectograph (STIS) on the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the Multi-Object Spectrometer For Infra-Red Exploration (MOSFIRE) mounted on the Keck 1 telescope on Hawaii.
An update to the SpaceTraveler Solar System & Space Missions Simulator at BINARY SPACE now includes the OSIRIS-REx mission to the asteroid Bennu, which just launched this month. (See the posting OSIRIS-REx to return sample of asteroid Bennu.)
Note that SpaceTraveler is not a game type of simulator but an educational tool to investigate the flights of actual spacecraft missions via their orbital trajectory and maneuvering data.
NASA Johnson Space Center and recording star Grace Potter have collaborated on a new space-themed music video released Monday, September 19. The video, which was shot at Johnson, features Potter performing her song, “Look What We’ve Become” and highlights NASA women engineers, scientists and astronauts in their workplace.
According to Potter, the song has an empowerment theme with a message that you can do anything you set your mind to, no matter who tells you otherwise.
“So much of this song is about when you are coming up through any part of your life and you face challenges, there are so many different ways that that can affect you and change the course of your life,” Potter said. “I think that it creates a strength within you if you do make the choice to push onward and say, ‘I know that this might be more difficult than another path. That’s why I want to do it.”
Here is another space themed music video from Potter:
1. Monday, Sept. 19, 2016: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): DR. PAUL SUTTER returns for a space science discussion.
2. Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016: 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT) MARK WHITTINGTON, author & journalist is back with us.
3. Friday, Sept. 23, 2016: 9:30-11AM PDT; (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM – 1 PM CDT) DENNIS WINGO returns to discuss the Falcon 9 launch accident and much more.
4. Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): DR. JOHN BRANDENBURG returns for the promised hybrid-fusion discussion.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
The latest TMRO.tv live show is now available in the archive:
Blue Origin announced their New Glenn orbital rocket this last week. We take a peek at the history of Blue Origin, where they are now, what they have announced and the possible New Armstrong tease could mean.
Space news topics:
* Israel launches Ofek-11 with hiccups
* Dwarf Planet Pluto “Paints” Charon Red
* China launches Tiangong-2
* Earth’s Carbon Came From Ancient Collision With Mercury Like Planet
* Vega launches 5 sats
* A billion stars: Gaia’s First Milky Way Map
TMRO.tv is viewer supported:
TMRO:Space is a crowd funded show. If you like this episode consider contributing to help us to continue to improve. Head over to http://www.patreon.com/tmro for information, goals and reward levels. Don’t forget to check out our SpacePod campaign as well over at http://www.patreon.com/spacepod
The rocket was built by Scott Truax, son of the late Robert Truax, a famous rocket designer and NewSpace pioneer. The father built a similar rocket for Evel Knievel who made the same jump in 1974. Knievel made it across the canyon but after the chutes deployed too early, winds blew him back over the edge and he ended up along side the river. Scott wanted to prove his father’s rocket design was quite capable of a successful jump.
More about the Return to Snake River stunt:
- Eddie Braun does what Evel Knievel could not: make successful jump over Snake River Canyon – LA Times
- This Man Rocketed Over A Canyon To Honor Evel Knievel – Popular Mechanics
Here is this week’s Space to Ground report from NASA on activities related to the Int. Space Station:
The National Geographic Channel‘s MARS mini-series, directed by Ron Howard, will debut in the US on Nov. 14 and Nov. 13 internationally. The program consists of a drama about the settlement of the Red Planet plus interviews with a diverse array of experts on Mars, space technologies and space science. The 21 interviewees include, for example, Andy Weir, author of The Martian: A Novel, Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
Here are two trailers released to promote the series:
Find more about the program at
- ‘Mars’: Behind the Scenes of National Geographic Channel’s Global Event Series – yahoo!
- Humanity Finally Travels to Mars in Ron Howard’s New Half-Scifi, Half-Documentary TV Series – io9
- Mars (TV Mini-Series 2016) – IMDb
Yet another interesting report from the European Southern Observatory (ESO):
Many galaxies are found to have an extremely bright core powered by a supermassive black hole. These cores make “active galaxies” some of the brightest objects in the Universe. They are thought to shine so brightly because hot material is glowing fiercely as it falls into the black hole, a process known as accretion. This brilliant light can vary hugely between different active galaxies, so astronomers classify them into several types based on the properties of the light they emit .
This sequence takes the viewer deep into the rather faint constellation of Cetus (The Sea Monster). In the final stages the faint active galaxy Markarian 1018 is seen, in a recent image from the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Credit: ESO/A. Fujii/Digitized Sky Survey 2/CARS survey
Some of these galaxies have been observed to change dramatically over the course of only 10 years; a blink of an eye in astronomical terms. However, the active galaxy in this new study, Markarian 1018 stands out by having changed type a second time, reverting back to its initial classification within the last five years. A handful of galaxies have been observed to make this full-cycle change, but never before has one been studied in such detail.
The discovery of Markarian 1018’s fickle nature was a chance by-product of the Close AGN Reference Survey (CARS), a collaborative project between ESO and other organisations to gather information on 40 nearby galaxies with active cores. Routine observations of Markarian 1018 with the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) installed on ESO’s Very Large Telescope revealed the surprising change in the light output of the galaxy.
“We were stunned to see such a rare and dramatic change in Markarian 1018”,
said Rebecca McElroy, lead author of the discovery paper and a PhD student at the University of Sydney and the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO).
The chance observation of the galaxy so soon after it began to fade was an unexpected opportunity to learn what makes these galaxies tick, as Bernd Husemann, CARS project leader and lead author of one of two papers associated with the discovery, explained:
“We were lucky that we detected the event just 3-4 years after the decline started so we could begin monitoring campaigns to study details of the accretion physics of active galaxies that cannot be studied otherwise.”
The research team made the most of this opportunity, making it their first priority to pinpoint the process causing Markarian 1018’s brightness to change so wildly. This could have been caused by any one of a number of astrophysical events, but they could rule out the black hole pulling in and consuming a single star  and cast doubt on the possibility of obscuration by intervening gas . But the true mechanism responsible for Markarian 1018’s surprising variation remained a mystery after the first round of observations.However, the team were able to gather extra data after they were awarded observing time to use the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. With the new data from this suite of instruments they were able to solve the mystery — the black hole was slowly fading because it was being starved of accretion material.
“It’s possible that this starvation is because the inflow of fuel is being disrupted”, said Rebecca McElroy. “An intriguing possibility is that this could be due to interactions with a second supermassive black hole”.
Such a black hole binary system is a distinct possibility in Markarian 1018, as the galaxy is the product of a major merger of two galaxies — each of which likely contained a supermassive black hole in its centre.
Research continues into the mechanisms at work in active galaxies such as Markarian 1018 that change their appearance.
“The team had to work fast to determine what was causing Markarian 1018’s return to the shadows,” comments Bernd Husemann. “Ongoing monitoring campaigns with ESO telescopes and other facilities will allow us to explore the exciting world of starving black holes and changing active galaxies in more detail.”Notes
 The brightest of the active galaxies are quasars, where the brilliant nucleus outshines the rest of the galaxy. Another, less extreme, class are known as Seyfert galaxies. Originally a method was developed that used brightness and the emission spectrum — the plot of the strength of radiation emitted at different wavelength — to distinguish between just two types of Seyfert galaxies, Type 1 and Type 2, but extra classifications such as Type 1.9 Seyferts have since been introduced.
 Such a tidal disruption event occurs when a star strays too close to a supermassive black hole and is torn apart by the extreme gravitational tidal force. This results in a sharp rise in the brightness of the central region that slowly declines over a period of years. The observed brightness variations of Markarian 1018 were found not to match the profile of such an event.
 Gas obscuration can affect the classification of an active galaxy by blocking the line of sight, drifting in front of the galaxy’s bright core like fog in front of a car’s headlights, and dimming the light passing through. This also affects the spectrum of galaxy, perhaps changing its classification.