Hi everyone, and thanks for joining Stephen Tremp here at the Official Blogging A to Z Challenge site. I’ve started a new series every other Thursday spotlighting the latest and greatest in the world of science. I’ll focus mainly on physics, astronomy, and nanotechnology and how recent discoveries help unlock the secrets of our universe and our place in it. Sound fun?
Oh, and I need a name for the series, so if you can think of something clever and catchy, please post it in the comments. Thanks!
May 2 Black Hole Caught Red-Handed in a Stellar Homicide PASADENA, Calif. – Astronomers have gathered the most direct evidence yet of a supermassive black hole shredding a star that wandered too close. Supermassive black holes, weighing millions to billions times more than the sun, lurk in the centers of most galaxies. These hefty monsters lie quietly until an unsuspecting victim, such as a star, wanders close enough to get ripped apart by their powerful gravitational clutches.
May 8 NASA's Spitzer Sees the Light of Alien 'Super Earth PASADENA, Calif. – NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected light emanating from a "super-Earth" planet beyond our solar system for the first time. While the planet is not habitable, the detection is a historic step toward the eventual search for signs of life on other planets. "Spitzer has amazed us yet again," said Bill Danchi, Spitzer program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The spacecraft is pioneering the study of atmospheres of distant planets and paving the way for NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to apply a similar technique on potentially habitable planets."
May 14 Earth-Orbiting Asteroids An asteroid the size of a school bus gave Earth a close shave Sunday, passing well inside the orbit of the moon, but our planet was never in any danger of being hit. Such close asteroid flybys aren't terribly uncommon. Researchers have discovered about 8,900 near-Earth asteroids, though they think many more are out there. Scientists with the Near-Earth Object Program and other teams of astronomers regularly monitor the sky for large, potentially dangerous asteroids to determine if they pose an impact threat to Earth.
May 15 Space Mining Less than three weeks after officially unveiling its asteroid-mining plans, the billionaire-backed firm Planetary Resources has already received thousands of job applications, The company plans to mine near-Earth asteroids for platinum-group metals and water. Water can be broken into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen, the chief components of rocket fuel. The company hopes its efforts lead to the establishment of in-space "gas stations" that allow many spacecraft to refuel cheaply and efficiently. Swarms of low-cost unmanned spacecraft would extract resources from asteroids in deep space. Check out this my post of Asteroid Mining from the A to Z Challenge Space Mining Upcoming Celestial Events
May 20 Rare Ring Eclipse A rare "ring" eclipse is coming to California this weekend — the first of its kind to enter the continental United States since 1994. The zone where a partial eclipse is viewable is much wider, stretching over most of eastern China, Korea, the Philippines, Siberia, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. NASA has posted calculations of solar eclipse times in foreign countries and the United States. NASA has also set up a nifty interactive Google map showing times of the eclipse California. A word of caution: don't look at the sun directly during the eclipse! Experts say it's possible to cause permanent damage to eyesight. Check the Internet for Webcasts of the event!
June 6 The Rarest Eclipse: Transit of Venus Across the Face of the Sun A Venus transit is a phenomenon in which the disk of the planet Venus passes like a small shadow across the face of the Sun. The transit can be seen (with proper protection!) by the unaided eye and looks something like a moving sunspot. Among the rarest of astronomical events, Venus transits occur eight years apart—and then don’t happen again for more than a century. The last transit before 2004 took place in 1882.You can visit Stephen Tremp at his blog at Breakthrough Blogs.