Solar storms and meteors rocked astronomy this week, but neither event posed any danger to Earth’s inhabitants. Meanwhile, exciting discoveries have been made of objects very far from us, such as a galaxy that may be the most distant that astronomers have discovered so far.
Check out this and other “hot” news in this week’s astronomical summary.
On Sunday (3), filaments of plasma were released from a giant ravine 20,000 km deep on the surface of the Sun, generating solar storms that reached Earth over the course of the week. Someone unleashed a mild geomagnetic storm on our planet early Wednesday morning, while another coronal mass reversal occurred on Monday.
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The predictions for the next few days are a decrease in solar activity and a natural flow of charged particles in the Earth’s magnetic field, with few possible changes. There may be some interaction with the coronal mass ejection that left the sun on Monday, but the chances are low.
The HD1 galaxy was discovered by astronomers at the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and has become the latest candidate for the most distant object ever found. Researchers are now trying to find out whether this galaxy is forming new stars at very high speeds, or whether it contains an active central black hole of 100 million solar masses.
This doubt arises because the galaxy is very bright in ultraviolet light, which indicates that active processes are taking place there. In any case, spectroscopy will still be required to confirm the observations. If the data is correct, HD1 would be 100 million light-years away from GN-Z11, the current distance record holder.
A powerful OH laser emission was detected by the MeerKAT radio telescope at the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO). The source is a galaxy far from us, about 5 billion light-years away.
Megamasers are astronomical lasers that emit not in visible light wavelengths, but in microwaves, while “OH megamasers” are emitting wavelengths of 18 cm, detected almost exclusively in infrared galaxies. Hence they are known as “OH megamaser galaxies”.
Asteroid 418135 (2008 AG33) is on its way to its closest approach to Earth, which will occur on April 27 at 11:46 pm (GMT), at a distance of 3.24 million km. This is about 3.84 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon. Therefore, there is no danger of an asteroid colliding with our planet.
However, this is considered a potentially dangerous asteroid, so the approach is closely monitored by astronomers. The goal is to explain any changes the object introduces with respect to orbital predictions to correct models and more accurately predict when the next approximations will occur.
One study found that the J0610−2100 system is so stable that it can be used to detect gravitational waves that cannot be detected by our instruments on Earth. This system consists of a millisecond star and a donor star, that is, the pulsar feeds on the adsorbed material from its companion, hence the nickname “black widow”.
These systems are relatively common to astronomers, but this system in particular contains the most precise periodic beams of all. If researchers find other precision pulsars like this one, they can use them to find the tiny perturbations caused by gravitational waves. The latter appears in the universe with catastrophic events, such as the collision between two black holes.
The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy, as we can see in the image above (the yellow bar intersects with the galactic core). What astronomers did not know until now is that in this strip there are rings or structures shaped like a peanut. This bulge is “stuffed” with stars that are smaller than the rest of the core.
Brilliant stars are generally seen as very old, but those in the ring are four to nine billion years old. This is unexpected and astronomers still cannot explain how they formed, or whether they came from other regions.
Meteors have been recorded crossing the sky over cities such as Maceió, Aracaju, Foz do Iguaçu and other areas of Alagoas, Sergipe, Paraná and Santa Catarina. There is no information on the size of the objects, but one of them was a “ball of fire”, as the meteors that reach a high brightness in the night sky are called.
The fiery spherical meteor was seen in the sky of Porto Alegre on Tuesday (5), its brightness lasted a few seconds, and it disappeared at an altitude of 40 km. It was not possible to determine the origin of the celestial body.
The good news is that a reasonably bright comet could be visible to the naked eye in late April. The bad news is that this shouldn’t happen here in the Southern Hemisphere. This is because it will follow the path of the sun, and therefore will be dazzled by the sun’s rays even after dusk.
Also, the comet will descend across the horizon line just after sunset, and observations very close to the horizon are more difficult. There is little chance of observing the body on the eighteenth day if you are in an area with a clear horizon and free of pollution, but do not rely on it too much.
Axiom Space is now part of space mission history, having carried out the first entirely private launch of astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), with vehicles from SpaceX. The crew departed the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, Friday (8) at 12:18 p.m. Brasilia time.
Michael Lopez Allegria, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eitan Stipe aboard a Crew Dragon capsule propelled by a Falcon 9 rocket, and they will spend eight days aboard the International Space Station, where they will conduct science experiments.
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