Giant black hole is getting hungrier

 

Cosmic Burp


Black holes glow brighter when they’re taking in greater quantities of matter. That matter could have come from any combination of stars, asteroids, and cosmic gases that the scientists know passed near Sag A*. But the team doesn’t yet know whether an unusual amount of food happened to approach at once — or if something has changed within the Sag A* itself that’s making it hungrier than normal.

“The big question is whether the black hole is entering a new phase — for example if the spigot has been turned up and the rate of gas falling down the black hole ‘drain’ has increased for an extended period,” UCLA astronomer Mark Morris said in the press release, “or whether we have just seen the fireworks from a few unusual blobs of gas falling in.”

READ MORE: Black hole at the center of our galaxy appears to be getting hungrier [UCLA newsroom via Phys.org]
More on black holes: Physicists Detect Gravitational Waves From Newborn Black Hole

First lunar rover of U.K.

 

Space Legs

The United Kingdom plans to send its first lunar rover to the Moon in 2021 — and the robot is unlike any that came before it.

Not only will the rover created UK-based space startup SpaceBit be the smallest one in history, but it will also have legs rather than wheels — a design innovation that could allow it to explore previously unreachable areas of the Moon.

Small Package

SpaceBit unveiled the rover on Thursday at the science and tech festival New Scientist Live, noting that the bot will hitch a ride to the Moon’s surface aboard U.S. space robotics company Astrobotic’s 2021 mission.

The 1 kilogram (2.2 pound) robot is shaped like a cube with four legs, which it will use to gather video and other data for scientists during its 10-Earth-days-long mission.

Intrepid Explorer

SpaceBit and Astrobotic are hopeful that the mission will illustrate the benefits of giving rovers legs — and lead to future missions in which legged rovers explore the Moon’s tubular caves.

“The legs could be better for steep, rocky terrain, and basically any place where wheels start to struggle,” Astrobotic’s CEO John Thornton told New Scientist

READ MORE: Plans for UK’s first moon rover announced at New Scientist Live [New Scientist]
More on Moon rovers: See the Moon Rover Toyota Is Building for Japan’s Space Program

Hunter’s Full Moon

 

This weekend, everyone around the world will see an amazing full-moon lighting up the nighttime from dusk until dawn. The full moon happens on Sunday October 13, 2019 at 21 08 UTC (5 17 p.m. EDT).

The Moon will appear full for about three days centered on this time, from Saturday evening to Monday evening. This will be the Hunter’s Full Moon. On the morning of the full Moon, as morning twilight begins, the planet Mars will appear in the east. You may need binoculars to catch the Red Planet.

The bright stars of of the local arm of our home galaxy, including the constellations Orion and Gemini will appear spread across the sky from  south to southeast, before dawn. On the evening of the full Moon on October 13, 2019, as evening twilight ends, Jupiter and Saturn will appear south to southwest.

Look to the west for the bright orange star Arcturus after sunset. At the evening the Summer Triangle will appear directly overhead. The defining vertices of this imaginary triangle are at Altair, Deneb, and Vega, each of which is the brightest star of its constellation (Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra, respectively). This coming weekend, just go outside and look at the sky and enjoy the celestial show.

You don’t need any special equipment but just your eyes.


Clear Skies Everyone!

Climate change

 

El Climate change is an urgent topic of discussion among politicians, journalists and celebrities … but what do scientists say about climate change? Do you credit the information to those who say humans are causing the hot earth catastrophically? Richard Lindzen, MIT atmospheric physicist and one of the world’s leading climatologists, summarizes the science behind climate change.

PragerU

Beautiful Design for a Moon Habitat

 

Moontopia

Professor Lewis Dartnell, a professor at the University of Westminster, has an ingenious plan to build a human colony on the Moon — and though it would require certain sacrifices, it manages to retain most of the creature comforts we enjoy on here on Earth.

His “Moontopia” habitat would be built inside massive hollow tubes, originally formed by lunar volcanic eruptions. The idea is that the kilometer-long, five-story openings would shield inhabitants from space radiation and extreme temperature swings.

Atmos-Fear

The tubes could also help with the Moon’s complete lack of atmosphere, which Dartnell calls one of the “hardest obstacles to overcome,” by sealing the giant tubes on both ends.

Installing gigantic lights overhead could provide inhabitants with a more Earth-like night-day cycle – unlike on the Moon, where a single lunar day takes almost 28 Earth days.

Harvesting Minerals

Humans could occasionally venture forth onto the surface to harvest minerals, including helium for fuel and water ice. But living inside such a “Moontopia” wouldn’t be quite as glamorous as it sounds.

Residents “would be confined to a relatively small city space, with a small population,” writes Dartnell. “The inability to leave the colony without great preparation and risk, could cause colony members to feel claustrophobic.”

READ MORE: Moon habitat city concept shows how humans could live a comfortable life [Inverse]More on lunar habitats: This Roomy, Inflatable Habitat Could One Day Take You to Mars

Aliens: Spy Probe Orbiting The Sun

 

Alien Spies

A physicist who’s on the hunt for extraterrestrial life says there’s a chance that an ancient alien civilization has been spying on Earth for millions of years.

That’s not to say that he’s suggesting they walk among us, but physicist and independent SETI researcher James Benford suggests that aliens could have visited a rock orbiting the Sun in a path similar to that or Earth, according to Live Science. While such an extraterrestrial visit is extremely unlikely, it’s technically within the realm of possibility that alien tech is sitting on one of those so-called co-orbitals, waiting to be uncovered.

The Gist

Every so often — roughly twice every billion years — another star will venture within a light-year of Earth, per Live Science. Since Earth is a couple billion years old, Benford argues in research published this month in The Astronomical Journal that it’s technically possible that an advanced civilization could have come close enough to launch an expedition to our solar system.

“This is essentially extraterrestrial archaeology I’m talking about,” Benford told Live Science.

Long Shot

Of course, that relies on a whole bunch of assumptions — that extraterrestrial life exists, developed advanced technology, lived near one of those nearby stars, and took interest in Earth.

“How likely is it that alien probe would be on one of these co-orbitals, obviously extremely unlikely,” Arizona State University physicist and astrobiologist Paul Davies, who didn’t contribute to Benford’s research, told Live Science.

READ MORE: Could E.T. Have Bugged a Space Rock to Listen In on Earthlings? [Live Science]
More on SETI: Scientists Are Terrified of SETI Research