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Spectacular details on the Sun’s surface

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) plays an important role in my novel “Silent Sun.” When I wrote the book, the solar telescope was still under construction. It’s still not completely finished, but it’s already taken its first snapshots of its only object of observation, our Sun. The images are absolutely stunning, showing the Sun’s surface at a level of detail never seen before.

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The dramatic end of a starry couple

The death fight between two stars has been captured in pictures by astronomers with the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA). The gas cloud, which appears to consist of multiple rings, is the remains of the binary star system HD101584. “A nearby low-mass companion star was engulfed by the giant,” explains Hans Olofsson of the Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, who is the lead author of a study on this object, now published in the journal, Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The ALMA image shows vividly what happened during this confrontation, described in a press release from the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is a partner of ALMA: “As the main star puffed up into a red giant, it grew large enough to swallow its lower-mass partner. In response, the smaller star spiraled in toward the giant’s core, but didn’t collide with it. Rather, this maneuver triggered the larger star into an outburst, leaving its gas layers dramatically scattered and its core exposed.

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New simulations of the cosmos in 3D

View a supernova from all sides, follow a shock wave from all directions, watch the birth of a star: you can do all that and more with some impressive 3D simulations that are freely available on the net; they were made using data from some of the most important space telescopes.

I encourage you to take a look; the examples are fascinating and allow you to experience events in space much more vividly and clearly than by just reading about them or by looking at 2D pictures. Read more

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What’s going on at the bottom of Enceladus’s oceans?

Along with Mars, Saturn’s moon, Titan, and Jupiter’s moon, Europa, another of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, has long topped the list of locations to search for possible extraterrestrial life. The last probe to study it, Cassini, gave up the ghost in a fiery descent through Saturn’s atmosphere, but new discoveries are still being made in the data it transmitted back to Earth, as an article in Geophysical Research Letters shows.

Dr. Christopher Glein, the main author of the study, explained: “We came up with a new technique for analyzing the plume composition to estimate the concentration of dissolved CO2 in the ocean. This enabled modeling to probe deeper interior processes. Based on our findings, Enceladus appears to demonstrate a massive carbon sequestration experiment. On Earth, researchers are exploring whether a similar process can be used to remove CO2 emissions from the atmosphere. On Enceladus, all this is intriguingly similar to what would be expected from the dissolution and formation of certain mixtures of silicon- and carbon-containing minerals on the seafloor.”

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