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Tuesday 21 April 2015

Massive 'gap' in the universe discovered, and other finds from space...

This week is pretty busy for me (with real world stuff, not just because I've discovered Daredevil on Netflix) but there're already a few bits and pieces of news I'd be daft not to make sure to mention:

Immense void in the Universe discovered:

Above: The supervoid, the buiggest single structure ever found by humanity. Image by Credit: Graphics by Gerg Kránicz. Image credit: ESA Planck Collaboration
Astronomers, led by Dr Dr István Szapudi of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii, have discovered that an unexplained cold spot in the cosmic microwave background is actually a vast void -  a gap in the mesh of galaxies making up our universe, 1.3 billion light years across.  Such an immense expanse of empty nothing has strange properties, such as robbing energy from light trying to cross it. If this super void proves to date back to the big bang it might be the signature of some exotic and undiscovered physics at work -  something is definitely up for a void to grow so big.....

Newest images from Ceres:

The latest pictures from the Dawn mission, settling into its orbit of the dwarf planet Ceres, have revealed the mysterious bright spots in greater detail.  One -  the one in this image....

Above: A close up of one bright spot, looking a lot like a crater with a pattern of ejecta around it. Courtesy of NASA

... definitely looks to be the ejecta (probably ice rich) from an impact crater.  But the two brightest -  these two.....
Above: still no d*mn idea what they are. Courtesy of NASA
.... are still a mystery. All the latest images have been compiled into an animation:

One last mission: MESSENGER gets ready to dive bomb Mercury.

The  MESSENGER space probe,  out of hydrazine for its navigational thrusters and using puffs of helium to navigate,  is set to end its days by smashing into Mercury at??? Km an hour. Right now its getting closer and closer to the surface,  taking pictures like these....

Above: The weird terrain of Mercury, warped by unknown processes. I mean, we'll figure them out, and send more spaceships, but right now their weird. Courtesy of NASA.
... and in the end it'll drive into the planets rocks,  vanishing in a blast of unimaginable heat.


Comet jet explodes into life:

The Rosetta mission to comet 67P has had a rough time: the space around the comet is getting increasingly dangerous as the object nears the Sun, filling with dust and gas (as well as larger particles) which obscure the stars and mess with the probes ability to navigate. The probe has backed away to a safer distance. and this week that decision  seems to have been justified as the comet developed a massive, 900 meter wide, new jet of dust and gas in under two minutes:

Above: Yes, this is the comet that looks like rubber bath duck, and the jet is coming from where the ducks bum would be. Insert 'bath bubbles' joke here if you like. Courtesy of ESA
Elsewhere on the internet: 

LEECH sees giant version of our solar system 
Massive black hole merger seen

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