Hard Science Fiction by Brandon Q. Morris
Mimas has an ocean under the surface too Enceladus

Mimas has an ocean under the surface too

Saturn's moons Enceladus and Titan have one, as do Jupiter's moons Ganymede, Callisto and Europa and the dwarf planet Pluto: a liquid ocean beneath their icy surfaces. Perhaps the same is true of Saturn's moon Mimas, as a Southwest Research Institute scientist suspects. Dr. Alyssa Rhoden, a specialist in the geophysics of icy satellites, actually set out to prove that Saturn's tiny, innermost moon is a frozen, inert satellite. Instead, she found evidence that the moon also has a liquid inner ocean. One of the most fundamental discoveries of the past 25 years in planetary science is that worlds…
How many black holes are there in the universe? Astrophysics

How many black holes are there in the universe?

A lot. If a star is heavy enough (i.e., it is still at least 2.5 solar masses after its supernova), then it continues to collapse until a black hole forms. Such stellar-sized black holes have been forming for quite some time, and more and more are forming. How many are there already? This intriguing question has been addressed by Alex Sicilia, a PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Andrea Lapi and Dr. Lumen Boco of Italy's Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati. In a first paper just published in the Astrophysical Journal, the authors studied the demography of…
Earth cools faster Life

Earth cools faster

Earth is hot: up to 3500 degrees Celsius (6300 °F) in the mantle, 5000 degrees Celsius (9000 °F) in the outer core and 6000 °C (10,800 °F) in the (solid) inner core. This brings us some advantages. Not only us, but all life on Earth. There is, for example, the magnetic field, which is fueled by iron currents in the outer core and protects us from cosmic radiation. But also plate tectonics, which not only gives us mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, but has also favored the emergence of complex life forms. If it stops at some point, erosion will…
New candidate for exomoon discovered Space

New candidate for exomoon discovered

Almost all planets in our solar system - and even some dwarf planets - are orbited by moons. In other star systems, however, astronomers have not yet been able to definitively confirm a single moon. Is it because there are no moons there? Certainly not - our observational technology simply isn't ready yet. But an article published in Nature Astronomy now introduces at least one new candidate for an exomoon. If confirmed as an exomoon, Kepler-1708 b-i - which is 2.6 times larger than Earth - could provide a missing piece of the puzzle for understanding the formation and…
What does a black hole look like from the inside? Astrophysics

What does a black hole look like from the inside?

A black hole is an amazing phenomenon. It is invisible because it does not even allow light to escape. Nevertheless, it can be imaged. It concentrates mass in a very small part of space - so small that the conventional laws of physics lose their meaning. Nevertheless, physicists are getting closer and closer to its secrets. One of them is what a black hole looks like inside. Black, it is clear, is not there. Quite the opposite. Inside, all the mass and energy that cannot escape the event horizon are concentrated. If one could see in a black hole,…
Why we don’t stick to the ground with our bellies – or why our earth is not a super earth Astrophysics

Why we don’t stick to the ground with our bellies – or why our earth is not a super earth

During the search for exoplanets astronomers notice again and again that our solar system seems to be clearly out of the way. There are neither "hot Jupiters" (gas giants in the proximity of the central star) nor super earths (rock worlds with more than three times earth mass). At first it was thought that this could be due to the way of searching. The techniques used work particularly well with celestial bodies that are very large and orbit close to their star. In the meantime, however, the list of exoplanets is clearly in four digits, and super-Earths are still…
The death throes of red supergiants Astrophysics

The death throes of red supergiants

For the first time, astronomers have imaged the dramatic end of a red supergiant's life in real time. They observed the rapid self-destruction of a massive star located 120 million light-years from Earth in the galaxy NGC 5731 and its final death throes before collapsing into a type II supernova. Led by researchers at Northwestern University and the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), the team observed the red supergiant during its last 130 days before its fatal detonation. The discovery, published in the Astrophysical Journal, contradicts previous ideas about how red supergiants evolve just before they explode. Previous observations…
Ice belts at the equator are more common than ice caps at the poles Life

Ice belts at the equator are more common than ice caps at the poles

We like to go south, towards the equator, to escape the cold. At the two poles of the earth there is permanent frost and ice. In terms of the entire universe, this is by no means the rule, as astronomers have discovered in a scientific work. To do so, a team from the University of Washington and the University of Bern computationally simulated more than 200,000 hypothetical Earth-like worlds - planets that have the same size, mass, atmospheric composition and geography as modern Earth - all in orbit around stars similar to our Sun, a G-type star. So they…