The Mystery of a Strange X-Galaxy Powered by a Monster Black Hole Is Finally Solved

A team of US and South African researchers has published highly detailed images of the largest X-shaped “radio galaxy” ever discovered – PKS 2014-55.

Notably, they’ve helped resolve ongoing confusion about the galaxy’s unusual shape.

The spectacular new images were taken using the 64-antenna MeerKAT telescope in South Africa, by an international research team led by Bill Cotton of the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

file 20200512 175224 f1dbkn(Courtesy of SARAO and Bill Cotton et al/Author provided (no reuse))

Above: The MeerKAT image of the giant X-shaped radio galaxy PKS 2014-55. 

Zooming in on a cosmic giant

Our research team also took detailed images of galaxy PKS 2014-55 last year, as part of the Evolutionary Map of the Universe project led by astrophysicist Ray Norris. We used CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope in Western Australia, which just completed its first set of pilot astronomical surveys.

Thanks to its innovative “radio cameras”, ASKAP can rapidly map very large areas of the sky to catalogue millions of objects emitting radio waves, from nearby supernova remnants to distant galaxies.

file 20200512 175219 s8xxo0(CSIRO and the EMU team/Author provided (no reuse))

Above: Our ASKAP image of the giant X-shaped radio galaxy PKS 2014-55. 

The prominent X-shape of PKS 2014-55 is made up of two pairs of giant lobes consisting of hot jets of electrons. These jets spurt outwards from a supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s heart.

The lobes emit electromagnetic radiation in the form of radio waves, which can only be detected by radio telescopes like ASKAP. Humans can’t see radio waves. But if we could, from Earth PKS 2014-55 would look about the same size as the Moon.

What makes a radio galaxy?

Typically, radio galaxies have only one pair of lobes. One is a “jet” and the other a “counter-jet”.

These jets expand into the surrounding space at nearly the speed of light. They initially move in a straight line, but twist and bend into many marvellous shapes as they encounter their surroundings.

Centaurus A, seen below, is an example of a giant elliptical galaxy with two prominent radio lobes.

file 20200512 66657 3w0228(NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre/Flickr, CC BY 4.0)

Above: This image of the Centaurus A galaxy incorporates both optical and radio data. Every galaxy has a black hole at its centre, including the Milky Way.

Galaxy PKS 2014-55’s giant X-shape, with two pairs of lobes emerging at very different angles, is highly unusual.

What makes the lobes?

To understand why having two pairs of lobes is unusual, we first need to understand what creates the lobes.

Nearly all big galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their centre.

In an active galaxy, powerful jets of charged particles can emerge from the area around the supermassive black hole. Astronomers believe these are emitted from near the poles of the black hole, which is why there are two of them, and they usually point in opposite directions.

When the black hole’s activity stops, the jets stop growing and the material in them flows back towards the centre. Thus, what we see as one lobe of a radio galaxy is made up of both a jet spurting out, and the backflow material.

A mystery solved

In the past, there were two major theories for why PKS 2014-55 has two pairs of lobes.

The first suggested there were actually two massive active black holes at the galaxy’s centre, each emitting two powerful jets.

The second theory suggested the supermassive black hole had undergone a spin flip. This is when a rotating black hole’s spin axis has a sudden change in orientation, resulting in a second pair of jets at a different angle from the first pair.

But the recent observations from the South African MeerKAT telescope strongly suggest a third possibility: that the two larger lobes are the fast-moving particles zooming out from the black hole, while the two smaller lobes are the backflow looping around to fall back in.

The MeerKAT team achieved high-resolution images ten times more sensitive than our ASKAP pilot observations conducted here in Australia last year.

A cosmic wonder

Using CSIRO’s ASKAP telescope, our team observed the “purple butterfly” of PKS 2014-55 to be an enormous cosmic structure. It spans at least five million light years – about 20 times the size of our own Milky Way galaxy.

PKS 2014-55 is located on the outskirts of a massive cluster of galaxies known as Abell 3667. It was discovered more than 60 years ago using the Mills Cross Telescope at CSIRO’s old Fleurs field station in New South Wales.

The galaxy’s first detailed radio picture was taken by Ron Ekers in 1969.

Martian rock samples could bring extraterrestrial viruses to Earth, expert warns

As if the planet didn’t have enough to worry about with the coronavirus pandemic, one researcher is worried about extraterrestrial viruses.

Former NASA Ames director Scott Hubbard said he’s concerned that future rock samples brought back from Mars will need to be checked and quarantined, as will the astronauts who return from future visits.

“I have heard from some colleagues in the human spaceflight area that they can see how, in the current environment, the general public could become more concerned about bringing back some alien microbe, virus or contamination,” Hubbard told the Stanford News in an interview.

A recent impact crater on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

A recent impact crater on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona) (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

Hubbard, who now teaches aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University, added that the rock samples brought back by the Perseverance rover will have to be “quarantined and treated as though they are the Ebola virus until proven safe.”

They will also need to be “baked at a high temperature” prior to being safely examined, Hubbard added.

NASA, which recently renamed the rover to Perseverance, will launch the unmanned rover on July 17, 2020. In March, Fox News reported the pandemic had not yet impacted launch preps, with work “continuing on schedule.”

“NASA has policies in place for the safe return of extraterrestrial materials and is studying how best to implement these for Mars Sample Return,” a NASA spokesperson told Fox News in an email. “Any future sample return mission would be subject to detailed planning and rigorous independent expert review.”

“As for humans, the Apollo astronauts from the first few moon missions were quarantined to ensure they showed no signs of illness,” Hubbard explained. “Once it was found that the moon did not pose a risk, the quarantine was eliminated. Such a procedure will undoubtedly be followed for humans returning from Mars.”

Upon returning from the first manned mission to the moon in 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were quarantined for three weeks. Aldrin recently recounted his experience during quarantine on social media.

In a 2019 interview with Fox News, Collins, who said the trio were “just regular astronauts,” said the quarantine was dependent upon the health of a colony of white mice that were with them.

“We had a huge colony of white mice,” Collins told Fox News at the time. “The three of us had gone to the Moon – that was either a national, international, triumph, or it was a total disaster depending on the health of the white mice that we had.”

“If the mice lived, everything was fine,” he added.

The Perseverance rover will attempt to detect if there is any fossilized evidence of extraterrestrial beings, in addition to other tasks.

Once the rover lands on Mars, it will join the still functioning Curiosity rover and the now-deceased Opportunity rover on the Red Planet. Unlike Curiosity or Opportunity, this rover will carry the “first helicopter that will fly on another planet,” NASA added.

NASA’s long-term goal is to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.

What Happened in Tunguska in 1908? New Study May Have An Answer

We have studied the conditions of through passage of asteroids with diameters 200, 100, and 50 m, consisting of three types of materials – iron, stone, and water ice, across the Earth’s atmosphere with a minimum trajectory altitude in the range 10–15 km. The conditions of this passage with a subsequent exit into outer space with the preservation of a substantial fraction of the initial mass have been found. The results obtained support our idea explaining one of the long-standing problems of astronomy – the Tunguska phenomenon, which has not received reasonable and comprehensive interpretations to date. We argue that the Tunguska event was caused by an iron asteroid body, which passed through the Earth’s atmosphere and continued to the near-solar orbit.

‘Weird’ exoplanet 800 light-years from Earth has yellow skies and iron rain

Researchers have found the “weird” exoplanet WASP-79b, nearly 800 light-years from Earth, does not have a blue sky as our planet does. Instead, its skies are yellow.

According to a statement from NASA, WASP-79b orbits its host star once every 3.7 Earth days and is not in the habitable zone, the proximity of which a planet is to a star where it could support liquid water.

The exoplanet, known as a “hot Jupiter,” also does not have any evidence of Rayleigh scattering, which is what causes Earth’s skies to appear blue by “scattering the shorter (bluer) wavelengths of sunlight,” the agency noted. That’s left experts puzzled.

This is an artist's illustration of the super-hot exoplanet WASP-79b, located 780 light-years away. The planet orbits precariously close to a star that is much hotter than our Sun. The planet is larger than Jupiter, and its very deep, hazy atmosphere sizzles at 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit — the temperature of molten glass. The Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories measured how starlight is filtered through the planet's atmosphere, allowing for its chemical composition to be analyzed. Hubble has detected the presence of water vapor. (Credits: NASA, ESA and L. Hustak (STScI))

This is an artist’s illustration of the super-hot exoplanet WASP-79b, located 780 light-years away. The planet orbits precariously close to a star that is much hotter than our Sun. The planet is larger than Jupiter, and its very deep, hazy atmosphere sizzles at 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit — the temperature of molten glass. The Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories measured how starlight is filtered through the planet’s atmosphere, allowing for its chemical composition to be analyzed. Hubble has detected the presence of water vapor. (Credits: NASA, ESA and L. Hustak (STScI))

“This is a strong indication of an unknown atmospheric process that we’re just not accounting for in our physical models,” said researcher Kristin Showalter Sotzen of the Johns Hopkins University in a statement. “I’ve shown the WASP-79b spectrum to a number of colleagues, and their consensus is ‘that’s weird.'”

In addition to having a yellow sky, WASP-79b is exceptionally hot, with an average temperature of approximately 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, making it one of the largest exoplanets ever observed.

“WASP-79b is twice the mass of Jupiter and is so hot it has an extended atmosphere, which is ideal for studying starlight that is filtered through and grazes the atmosphere on its way toward Earth,” NASA added.

The exoplanet is 780 light-years from Earth in the constellation Eridanus. A light-year, which measures distance in space, equals 6 trillion miles.

WASP-79b may also have “scattered clouds, and iron lifted to high altitudes could precipitate as rain,” the agency explained.

Researchers also discovered that another exoplanet, WASP 76-b, is believed to have “iron rain.”

Sotzen added that the researchers are not really sure what’s causing the phenomena, as it’s the first time they’ve seen this.

“We need to keep an eye out for other planets like this because it could be indicative of unknown atmospheric processes that we don’t currently understand,” Sotzen explained. “Because we only have one planet as an example, we don’t know if it’s an atmospheric phenomenon linked to the evolution of the planet.”

The findings were published in the Astronomical Journal.

Night Sky May 2020 Update: Comet SWAN, ATLAS, PANSTARRS and more | Astrophotography

As for this month: Comet SWAN is ofcourse the main attraction, but did you know there are two other comets (ATLAS C/2019 Y1 and PANSTARRS C/2017 T2) as well? Also, venus and mercury will be in conjunction and there are some nice Deep Sky Objects for you to image in the milky way. Please let me know if you like this video or not, and if you want me to give you monthly(?) updates on what is out there in the night sky. This and more info can also be found on my website, so if you want you can check that out as well. Clear skies!

Nikola Tesla’s vision of wireless energy may soon become reality thanks to a team of engineers at Stanford University

From 1891 to 1898 Nikola Tesla experimented with the transmission of electrical energy using a radio frequency which produced high voltage, high frequency alternating currents. With that he was able to transfer power over short distances without connecting wires.

 For now, at least, this system is only commercially viable over short distances. A team at Stanford University may soon change all that.

Wireless charging is already a thing (in smartphones, for example), but scientists are working on the next level of this technology that could deliver power over greater distances and to moving objects, such as cars.

Imagine cruising down the road while your electric vehicle gets charged, or having a robot that doesn’t lose battery life while it moves around a factory floor. That’s the sort of potential behind the newly developed technology from a team at Stanford University.

If you’re a long-time ScienceAlert reader, you may remember the same researchers first debuted the technology back in 2017. Now it’s been made more efficient, more powerful, and more practical – so it can hopefully soon be moved out of the lab.

“This is a significant step toward a practical and efficient system for wirelessly recharging automobiles and robots, even when they are moving at high speeds,” says electrical engineer Shanhui Fan.

“We would have to scale up the power to recharge a moving car, but I don’t think that’s a serious roadblock. For recharging robots, we’re already within the range of practical usefulness.”

Wireless electricity transfer relies on generating oscillating magnetic fields that can then cause electrons in a conductor to also oscillate at a particular frequency. However, that frequency is easily messed up if the device is moving. Your smartphone needs to be sitting perfectly still on its charging mat, for example.

What Stanford scientists did in 2017 was set up an amplifier and feedback resistor loop that could change the operating frequency as the receiving device moved. At that stage though, only 10 percent of the power moving through the system was transmitted.

Now, they’ve got it up to 92 percent. That huge boost in efficiency is down to a new ‘switch mode’ amplifier – a more precise solution, but a far more complex one, which is why it’s taken the team another three years to develop it to a satisfactory level.

The basic idea is the same as it was in 2017 though: adjusting the resonating frequency coming from the charger as the device moves around. Right now the system can transmit 10W of power across a distance of up to 65 centimetres (nearly 26 inches), but the researchers say there’s no reason why it can’t be quickly scaled up.

An electric car would need hundreds of kilowatts to charge it, but the system outlined here is fast enough to provide it, if it were built into the road surface, for example. The only limitation would then be how quickly the car’s batteries could absorb the power as the vehicle sped past.

Other potential uses are with robots that can be charged up by pads in the floor of the environments they’re operating in, or with drones that can pass over roof surfaces during their journeys to stay charged up. There would be less need to return to the base to recharge, and the robots and drones wouldn’t even need to stop.

That’s still some way off, not least because the technology remains expensive to implement. It is now available though, at least in prototype, and the scientists say it all operates within frequencies that don’t pose any danger to human health.

Being able to not only beam electricity wirelessly but also to beam it to a moving device could eventually revolutionise the way our gadgets work, and the way we travel.

“To harness the full benefits of wireless power delivery, it is important to develop an efficient and robust scheme that is capable of power delivery to a moving device,” write the researchers in their published paper.

The research has been published in Nature Electronics.

Black hole, 1,000 light-years from Earth, discovered

Researchers have discovered a black hole 1,000 light-years from Earth, the closest one known so far.

Dubbed HR 6819, the black hole is invisible. The star system was only spotted after two companion stars provided researchers with information on its whereabouts. It can be seen on a clear night in the Southern Hemisphere without the use of a binocular or telescope, making it the first black hole to be seen without tools.

“We were totally surprised when we realized that this is the first stellar system with a black hole that can be seen with the unaided eye,” said one of the study’s co-authors, Petr Hadrava, Emeritus Scientist at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, in a statement.

This artist’s impression shows the orbits of the objects in the HR 6819 triple system. This system is made up of an inner binary with one star (orbit in blue) and a newly discovered black hole (orbit in red), as well as a third object, another star, in a wider orbit (also in blue). The team originally believed there were only two objects, the two stars, in the system. However, as they analyzed their observations, they were stunned when they revealed a third, previously undiscovered body in HR 6819: a black hole, the closest ever found to Earth. (Credit: ESO)

This artist’s impression shows the orbits of the objects in the HR 6819 triple system. This system is made up of an inner binary with one star (orbit in blue) and a newly discovered black hole (orbit in red), as well as a third object, another star, in a wider orbit (also in blue). The team originally believed there were only two objects, the two stars, in the system. However, as they analyzed their observations, they were stunned when they revealed a third, previously undiscovered body in HR 6819: a black hole, the closest ever found to Earth. (Credit: ESO)

The star system is located in the Telescopium constellation, which was first discovered in 1751–52 by French astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille.

After looking at the system, the researchers found that one of the stars was orbiting the black hole every 40 days, thanks to the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.

“The observations needed to determine the period of 40 days had to be spread over several months,” one of the study’s co-authors, Dietrich Baade, added. “This was only possible thanks to ESO’s pioneering service-observing scheme under which observations are made by ESO staff on behalf of the scientists needing them.”

Though the black hole itself is invisible (as all black holes are) and does not have violent interactions with objects around it, the researchers are nonetheless certain it’s there.

“An invisible object with a mass at least 4 times that of the Sun can only be a black hole,” concluded the study’s lead author, Thomas Rivinius.

There are a number of black holes in the Milky Way galaxy, but the discovery of this one, 1,000 light-years away, suggests there could be many more than have yet to be discovered. A light-year, which measures distance in space, equals 6 trillion miles.

“There must be hundreds of millions of black holes out there, but we know about only very few. Knowing what to look for should put us in a better position to find them,” Rivinius added.

One such system that’s under consideration is LB-1, which may also be a triple star system, according to study co-author Marianne Heida.

“LB-1 is a bit [farther] away from Earth but still pretty close in astronomical terms, so that means that probably many more of these systems exist,” Heida said in the statement. “By finding and studying them we can learn a lot about the formation and evolution of those rare stars that begin their lives with more than about 8 times the mass of the Sun and end them in a supernova explosion that leaves behind a black hole.”

The research was published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Space Force releases recruitment video: ‘Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet’

Here are the details on how Space Force came to be and what to expect from it, going forward.

The Space Force released a recruitment video on Wednesday.

The branch posted the video to Twitter, telling potential cadets: “Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet.”

The video is aimed to inspire men and women to join and protect the United States and its interest “in space and to provide space capabilities.”United States Space Force@SpaceForceDoD

Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet. 

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The Space Force became the sixth branch of the U.S. military in December 2019 and welcomed its first class of cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy graduation in late April.

President Trump authorized the act to create the Space Force at the end of last year. The last time a branch of the armed forces was added was in 1947 when the Air Force split from the Army.

The Space Force operates under the Department of the Air Force, much like how the Marine Corps operates under the Department of the Navy.

The newest 86 officers to join will be sent for space training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, while others will fill positions relating to cyberspace operations and intelligence.

The newest recruitment video posted Wednesday ends with a recruit looking to the stars as the narrator says: “Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet.”

Twitter has been quick to compare the Space Force to “Star Wars” and “The Last Star Fighter.”United States Space Force@SpaceForceDoD · 

Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet. 

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Santa Claus, CEO@SantaInc

You guys should’ve just posted the trailer to “The Last Starfighter” (1984).

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President Trump is expected to pick a location for where the new Space Force headquarters will be by the end of the year.

Tom Cruise, NASA teaming up on film to be shot in outer space, space agency’s administrator says

Just when it seems Tom Cruise has conquered every feat in Hollywood, he has another trick up his sleeve.

The 57-year-old movie icon is working with NASA to develop a film shot in outer space aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed the news on Twitter on Tuesday.

Tom Cruise. 

Tom Cruise.  (Emmanuel Wong/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)

“NASA is excited to work with @TomCruise on a film aboard the @Space_Station,” the tweet read. “We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make @NASA’s ambitious plans a reality.”

The tweet also contained a picture of the International Space Station.Jim Bridenstine@JimBridenstine

NASA is excited to work with @TomCruise on a film aboard the @Space_Station! We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make @NASA’s ambitious plans a reality.

View image on Twitter

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While Cruise routinely engages in risky stunts for the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, Deadline reported that this film will not be associated with those movies and that Elon Musk’s SpaceX is also in the mix.

In past “Mission: Impossible” installments, Cruise performed daring stunts such as hanging off the side of a jet plane and scaling skyscrapers.

Tom Cruise hangs from a helicopter in 'Mission: Impossible Fallout.'

Tom Cruise hangs from a helicopter in ‘Mission: Impossible Fallout.’ (Paramount Pictures)

According to Deadline, which first reported the news, the film is “in the early stages of liftoff.” As of right now, no film studio is on board, per the outlet.

Cruise has been nominated for three Academy Awards throughout his career and is set to appear in the sequel to his hit flick “Top Gun,” which is scheduled to debut in December.

Reps for Cruise and SpaceX did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Asteroid has close encounter with geosynchronous satellite

A small asteroid had a close encounter with a satellites in geosynchronous orbit this week

A small asteroid had a close encounter with a satellites in geosynchronous orbit this week

A small asteroid came within a cosmic hairbreadth of the ring of communications satellites circling the Earth in geosynchronous orbit this week. Passing by our planet at an altitude of about 35,000 km (22,000 mi), the object measuring four to eight meters (13 to 20 ft) in diameter whizzed past the nearest satellite on April 28, 2020, at 18:49 GMT at a distance of about 1,200 km (750 mi) on one of the closest Earth flybys ever recorded.

When we think of the danger that asteroids pose to the Earth, we usually think of one crashing into the planet like the one that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, but as we become more of a spacefaring species dependent on orbital satellites, such asteroids can potentially cause a lot of damage even if they pass well clear of Earth.

Geosynchronous or geostationary satellites sit in an orbital band above the equator where their orbital period is equal to the rotation of the Earth, meaning that they always remain over the same spot. These satellites form the backbone of the orbital telecommunications system and mission planners go to great length to make sure that the spacecraft don’t interfere with one another.

Trajectory of 2020 HS7
Trajectory of 2020 HS7

However, sometimes unexpected hazards can appear quite suddenly. According to ESA, on April 26 (European time) an object was seen by NASA’s Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) in Hawaii. Originally unidentified, the object was observed again the next night and given the temporary name of P20Zlf8 – later changed to its current moniker of 2020 HS7.

2020 HS7 was more than another asteroid to be entered into the books. Calculations showed that it had a 10-percent chance of colliding with the Earth, so space scientists became immediately interested. Less than an hour after the first report was released, Xingming Observatory in China charted its position, trajectory, and brightness. These observations were then refined by the Tautenburg Observatory in Germany.

The good news was that 2020 HS7 wasn’t going to collide with Earth after all, and even if it did, it was so small that it would burn up in the atmosphere. However, it was going to come uncomfortably close to the geosynchronous orbital ring. The measured 1,200 km (746 mi) from the nearest satellite may seem like a long distance, but on a cosmic scale, it’s like dodging a bullet by the width of a hair.

ESA says that the passage of 2020 HS7d provided scientists with an exercise in quickly and accurately tracking and characterizing new asteroids, as well as coordinating follow-up observations for extremely precise measurements, confirming that 2020 HS7 is one of the 50 closest objects ever recorded to fly by the Earth.

A small asteroid the size of a bus will fly safely by Earth today

Asteroid 2020 JA will pass at a range halfway to the moon.

A newly discovered asteroid about the size of a bus will zip safely by Earth today (May 3), passing at a distance just over halfway to the moon. 

The asteroid 2020 JA will fly by Earth at a range of about 148,000 miles (238,000 kilometers) when it passes today. That’s about 0.62 times the distance between the Earth and the moon. (The moon is about 239,000 miles, or 385,000 km, on average.)

Asteroid 2020 JA is between 31 and 72 feet wide (9.6 to 22 meters), according to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies. NASA’s Asteroid Watch widget listed the asteroid’s diameter as about 40 feet (12 m) and compared its size to a city bus.

This NASA graphic shows the path of asteroid 2020 JA, a newfound bus-sized space rock that will fly safely by Earth at a distance of 148,000 miles on May 3, 2020.
This NASA graphic shows the path of asteroid 2020 JA, a newfound bus-sized space rock that will fly safely by Earth at a distance of 148,000 miles on May 3, 2020. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project in Ceccano, Italy captured an image of 2020 JA with a telescope. In the image, the asteroid appears as a tiny point of light in a star field.

Small asteroids like 2020 JA zip by Earth several times a month, and typically pose no risk to our planet, NASA officials have said. For example, a tiny asteroid called 2020 HS7 passed Earth at a distance of 23,000 miles (36,400 km) on April 28 but posed no risk of impact.

Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi captured this image of the newfound asteroid 2020 JA from Ceccano, Italy on May 2, 2020. The asteroid fly within 148,000 miles of Earth on May 3.
Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi captured this image of the newfound asteroid 2020 JA from Ceccano, Italy on May 2, 2020. The asteroid fly within 148,000 miles of Earth on May 3. (Image credit: Virtual Telescope Project/Gianluca Masi)

Scientists with NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office regularly track near-Earth objects like comets and asteroids to search for potential impact threats to our planet. To date, astronomers have found 22,776 near-Earth objects, more than 95% of them discovered through NASA-funded surveys, the agency has said. 

George Gilder, the most accurate technology prophet on earth, reveals shocking announcement every American must hear.SEE MORE

New asteroids like 2020 H7 and  2020 JA are being discovered all the time at a rate of 30 each day, NASA has said.

‘Zombie satellite’ that has been orbiting earth since 1967 discovered by Amateur Radio Operator

A “zombie satellite” orbiting earth since 1967 when it was launched by the U.S. military, has been discovered by a radio enthusiast.

NPR reports that the discovery was made by amateur radio operator Scott Tilley, who lives in British Columbia, Canada.

“Well folks, here’s what appears to be a new ZOMBIE SAT!” Tilley tweeted on March 24. Satellite LES-5, he explained, is in a “GEO [Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit] graveyard orbit.”

Tilley also noted subsequent passes by LES-5.Scott Tilley@coastal8049 · 

Well folks, here’s what appears to be a new ZOMBIE SAT!

LES-5 [2866, 1967-066E] in a GEO graveyard orbit.

Confirmation will occur at ~0445 UTC this evening when the satellite should pass through eclipse.

If so this is definitely the oldest emitting GEOsat I know of.

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Scott Tilley@coastal8049 …Scott Tilley@coastal8049LES-5 has set behind the mountains to my east thus concluding data collection.

Here’s the final full pass summary.

Decoding of the telemetry data will occur over the next few days.
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Graveyard orbit — where old satellites go to die —  is about 22,400 miles above the earth, according to NASA, which notes that this is almost 200 miles farther from our planet than the farthest active satellites.

Satellite illustration.

Satellite illustration. (iStock)

The U.N.’s Online Index of Objects Launched Into Outer Space, lists LES-5 as being in geosynchronous orbit.

LES-5 launched on July 1, 1967, according to NASA. Built by MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, the satellite was part of the Department of Defense’s Tri-Service Program 591.

Citing data from the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), Geospatial World reported that almost 5,000 satellites orbited around the earth at the start of 2019.

Comet disintegrates in remarkable pictures captured by NASA’s Hubble space telescope

NASA’s Hubble space telescope has captured incredible images of a comet’s disintegration.

Comet C/2019 Y4 (Atlas) was discovered in 2019 by the ATLAS (Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System) robotic astronomical survey system in Hawaii, according to the European Space Center, which is NASA’s Hubble partner.

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The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captured images of the breakup of Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS).

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captured images of the breakup of Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS). (NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA), Q. Ye [University of Maryland])

“It brightened quickly until mid-March, and some astronomers initially anticipated that it might be visible to the naked eye in May to become one of the most spectacular comets seen in the last two decades,” the ESA explained in a statement. “However, the comet abruptly began to get dimmer, leading astronomers to speculate that the icy core may be fragmenting, or even disintegrating.”

Hubble observed the comet’s breakup on April 20 and April 23.

The comet's disintegration captured on April 20, 2020. (NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA), Q. Ye [University of Maryland])

The comet’s disintegration captured on April 20, 2020. (NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA), Q. Ye [University of Maryland])

“Their appearance changes substantially between the two days, so much so that it’s quite difficult to connect the dots,”said UCLA Professor David Jewitt, leader of one of two teams who imaged the comet with Hubble, in a statement.“I don’t know whether this is because the individual pieces are flashing on and off as they reflect sunlight, acting like twinkling lights on a Christmas tree, or because different fragments appear on different days.”

The comet was approximately 91 million miles from Earth when its disintegration was captured by Hubble, according to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which manages the telescope. “If any of it survives, the comet will make its closest approach to Earth on May 23 at a distance of about 72 million miles (116 million kilometers), and eight days later it will skirt past the Sun at 25 million miles (40 million kilometers),” it said in a statement.

The comet's disintegration captured on April 23, 2020. (NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA), Q. Ye [University of Maryland])

The comet’s disintegration captured on April 23, 2020. (NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA), Q. Ye [University of Maryland])

Hubble, which was launched into orbit aboard the space shuttle Discovery April 24, 1990, recently celebrated 30 years in space. Over the course of three decades, the orbiting telescope has provided a wealth of discoveries.

Meteor Impact Leaves Giant Crater in Africa, Creates Ejecta Blast Zone

April 16, 2020: A meteor impacted the earth in Akure, Nigeria at an angle of 43 degrees on March 28, 2020. The space rock left a large crater and created an ejecta blast zone that damaged many structures.

A Professor of Geophysics at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife has debunked the explanation given by Ondo Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and the police for the deafening blast experienced early on Saturday near Akure.

Professor Adekunle Abraham Adepelumi, after leading a research team to the site said emphatically it was caused by a meteorite.

The P.M.News first reported that the blast, which left a crater on its trail, and destroyed several buildings, was caused by a meteorite.

Governor Akeredolu at the scene of the Akure explosion on Saturday. He said it was caused by a vehicle carrying explosives

However, Governor Akeredolu and the Police Commissioner Undie Adie attributed the blast to an exploded truck carrying dynamites for a quarry based in Edo state.

Akeredolu even said the truck sank with the impact of the blast.

Professor Adepelumi’s team has given a scientific explanation about what really happened.

The research group did a detailed analysis of the explosion site.

” My research group carried out a detailed analysis of the impact site. A circular impact crater with 21m diameter and 7.8m depth was found which suggest a natural phenomenon.

“Water was found oozing out from the edges of the crater.

“The field evidence point to a conclusion that A METEORIC FROM AN ASTEROID BELT THAT TRAVELS AT A GREAT SPEED FROM SPACE IMPACTED THE LOCATION AT AN ANGLE OF 43 degrees created an ejecta at South-Western part.

“A preliminary insitu vibration, noise, seismicity, water analysis, radioactivity studies, rock and soil investigation were carried out.

“Our findings suggest that the impact of the blasting covers 1 km radius of the surroundings of the crater.

“No evidence of fire or burning of anything was found within the vicinity. No evidence of radioactivity radiation was found within the crater and immediate vicinity.

“The field evidence point to a conclusion that A METEORIC FROM AN ASTEROID BELT THAT TRAVELS AT A GREAT SPEED FROM SPACE IMPACTED THE LOCATION AT AN ANGLE OF 43 degrees created an ejecta at South-Western part.

“No evidence of buried vehicle, buried ordinance or IED was found. However, crack opening that vary in thickness from 3mm to 4metres occurs on the wall of most of the buildings but not at the base of the buildings.

“Also, foreign rocks and strange metallic objects were found within the crater. Most of the destruction occurs on top and roof/ceilings of the buildings.”

NASA reveals surprising odds of asteroid ending life on Earth

NASA has revealed the chances of an asteroid hitting Earth and also offered some insight into where a major space rock might fall.

NASA: Expert says ‘little can be done’ about large asteroids

NASA has revealed the chances of an asteroid hitting Earth, and the space agency reiterates the fact that it is always a risk.

The space agency stated the chances of an asteroid big enough to destroy a city is 0.1 percent in any given year.

However, if one of these rocks were to be on a collision course with Earth, the likelihood is that it will hit water, with NASA stating it is 70 percent more likely to hit water than land.

Even if it does hit land, according to the space agency, there is a 20 percent chance it will hit an unpopulated area.


Asteroid warning: NASA reveals shocking odds of asteroid ending life on Earth (Image: GETTY)


The space agency stated the chances of an asteroid big enough to destroy a city is 0.1 percent in any given year (Image: GETTY)

The asteroid which wiped out the dinosaurs around 66 million years ago was believed to be up to 16 kilometres wide.

Previous research from the University of Berkley, California, believes there is evidence to suggest that non-avian dinosaurs survived around 30,000 years afterwards, and they eventually went extinct due to the 100,000 years of drastic climate change caused by the impact.

Others, however, believe the beasts died out in a matter of months.

Palaeontologist Ken Lacovara previously said: “They died suddenly and were buried quickly.


The threat of asteroids will always remain (Image: GETTY)

“It tells us this is a moment in geological time. That’s days, weeks, maybe months.”

However, NASA has revealed that a much smaller asteroid has the ability to cause chaos on the planet.

The space agency said a space rock of just a kilometre wide has the potential to case chaos across the planet.

NASA said: “An individual’s chance of being killed by a meteorite is small, but the risk increases with the size of the impacting comet or asteroid, with the greatest risk associated with global catastrophes resulting from impacts of objects larger than 1 kilometre.”


The hunt for asteroids (Image: ESA)

However, the space agency moved to reassure frightened minds, stating it is not predicting a major asteroid strike of that size for several centuries.

The space boffins said: “NASA knows of no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth, so the probability of a major collision is quite small.

“In fact, as best as we can tell, no large object is likely to strike the Earth any time in the next several hundred years.”

NASA has made great strides in discovering near-Earth objects that are over one kilometre in size, with 90 percent now accounted for.

However, this means there are still 10 percent of dangerous asteroids which have not been spotted.

Small asteroid zips safely by Earth just ahead of a larger space rock’s flyby

A small newfound asteroid gave Earth a close shave today (April 28) on the event of another flyby by a much larger space rock, according to NASA. 

The asteroid, called 2020 HS7, is between 13 and 24 feet (4 to 8 meters) in size and passed Earth at a distance of 23,000 miles (36,400 kilometers) when it made its closest approach at 2:51 p.m. EDT (1851 GMT). That range is close to the orbits of some geosynchronous satellites about 22,000 miles (36,000 km) above Earth.ADVERTISING

While that sounds close, there was never any risk to our planet, NASA officials said.

“Small asteroids like 2020 HS7 safely pass by Earth a few times per month,” NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer Lindley Johnson,  the program executive for the Planetary Defense Coordination Office at agency’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, said in a statement. “It poses no threat to our planet, and even if it were on a collision path with Earth it is small enough that it would be disintegrated by our Earth’s atmosphere.”

Webcast: See the huge asteroid 1998 OR2 live tonight from Slooh!

This NASA graphic shows the orbit of the newfound asteroid 2020 HS7, which passed safely by Earth on April 28, 2020.
This NASA graphic shows the path of the newfound asteroid 2020 HS7, which passed safely by Earth on April 28, 2020 at a distance of 23,000 miles (36,400 km). (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Asteroid 2020 HS7’s flyby comes just one day before the close approach of a much bigger space rock: the asteroid 1998 OR2. That space rock will pass Earth early Wednesday, April 29, at 5:55 a.m. EDT (0955 GMT).

With a diameter of about 1.5 miles (2 km), asteroid 1998 OR2 is much larger than 2020 HS7, but it’s also passing Earth at a much greater distance — about 3.9 million miles (6.9 million km). That’s about 16 times the distance between the Earth and the moon (about 239,000 miles, or 385,000 km). Click here for more videos…Asteroid 1998 OR2 will safely fly by Earth – NASA explains

Despite its size, asteroid 1998 OR2 is too small and dim to be seen with the unaided eye. But you can see it through telescopes tonight thanks to a webcast from

The webcast, which you can also see here courtesy of Slooh, begins at 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT) and will last an hour.

Scientists at NASA and around the world regularly track asteroids that come close to the Earth in order to identify ones that might one day endanger our planet. These so-called “near-Earth objects” are ones that approach within 4.6 million miles (7.5 million km). 

To date, astronomers have discovered 22,776 near-Earth objects, and new ones are being found at a rate of 30 each day, NASA officials said. More than 95% of those objects were found through NASA-funded surveys, they added.

UFO video? Pentagon releases footage of ‘unidentified aerial phenomena,’ but says it’s not out of the ordinary

Pentagon releases footage of ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’

Raw video: The UFOs were spotted in 2004 and 2015 prior to the footage being unclassified by the Pentagon.

The Pentagon on Monday released unclassified footage showing “unidentified aerial phenomena” captured by Navy aircraft that had circulated in the public for years.

The videos showing the UFOs were initially released by the Stars Academy of Arts & Science in 2017 and 2018 and were acknowledged by the Navy. One was taken in November 2004 and the other two were captured in January 2015.

“After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena,” said Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough.

“DOD is releasing the videos in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos,” Gough added. “The aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterized as ‘unidentified.’”

The 2004 incident occurred 100 miles out into the Pacific Ocean when two Navy pilots on a training mission were dispatched to investigate objects being tracked by a Navy cruiser for two weeks prior. The pilots found one oval-shaped aircraft hovering 50 feet above the water that quickly descended and fled when they moved closer.

“It accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen,” one pilot told the New York Times.

When they were on their way to their rendezvous point 60 miles away, they were radioed by the ship that the object had been was there and had traveled the distance in less than a minute.

“Sir, you won’t believe it,” the radio operator said, “but that thing is at your cap point.”

The two other videos captured objects moving swiftly through the air.

“Dude, this is a f–king drone, bro,” a pilot says on the video.

Former Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the footage “scratches the surface of research and materials” made available by the Pentagon.

“I’m glad the Pentagon is finally releasing this footage, but it only scratches the surface of research and materials available,” Reid tweeted Monday. “The U.S. needs to take a serious, scientific look at this and any potential national security implications. The American people deserve to be informed.”Senator Harry Reid@SenatorReid

I’m glad the Pentagon is finally releasing this footage, but it only scratches the surface of research and materials available. The U.S. needs to take a serious, scientific look at this and any potential national security implications. The American people deserve to be informed. …CBS News✔@CBSNewsPentagon formally releases 3 Navy videos showing “unidentified aerial phenomena”

The former lawmaker has been a vocal supporter of investigating UFOs. At his urging, the Defense Department secretly created a program more than a decade ago to investigate UFO sightings.

Last year, the Navy overhauled its process to allow pilots to report sightings in an effort to destigmatize the reporting of them.

“There have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years,” the Navy said at the time. “As part of this effort, the Navy is updating and formalizing the process by which reports of any such suspected incursions can be made to the cognizant authorities.”

President Trump said he was briefed on Navy pilots reported sightings of UFOs but remained skeptical.

“I was struck in the last few couple of weeks, we’re reading more and more reports of Navy pilots seeing lots and lots of UFOs,” ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos said to Trump during an interview in the Oval Office last year. “Have you been briefed on that? What do you make of it?”

“I want them to think whatever they think,” Trump replied, referring to the Navy pilots. “I did have one very brief meeting on it. But people are saying they’re seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particularly.”

What To Watch For In The Night Sky This Week: April 27 – May 3, 2020

Venus will be just 27% illuminated this week, but despite that its brightness will be an incredible sight.
Venus will be just 27% illuminated this week, but despite that its brightness will be an incredible … [+] TOM KERSS

Monday, April 27, 2020: Venus at peak brightness

It’s been a dazzling sight for all of 2020 so far, and tonight Venus will reach its peak brightness of magnitude -4.7. “Since it is coming between us and the Sun, it’s showing us more of its night side, becoming a mesmerizing crescent shape in telescopes,” says Tom Kerss, a British astronomy and science communicator who hosts the weekly Star Signs: Go Stargazing! podcast. “Even a small telescope will reveal Venus to be shaped like a tiny crescent moon.” The phenomenon is nothing less than the original observational proof that the planets orbit the Sun and not the Earth.

Tonight it will be 27% illuminated, but despite that, its brightness will be an incredible sight. “It’ll continue to be dazzling in the west after sunset for the next month, so it’s a great time to look out for our nearest planetary neighbour,” says Kerss. Look west after sunset to see Venus at its very best, and if you have a small telescope of a big pair of binoculars, use them! Venus is quickly dipping as it moves rapidly towards the Sun from our point of view; it will be completely invisible by the end of May. 

How To See A ‘Starlink Train’ From Your Home This Week As SpaceX Satellites Swarm The Night Sky

An image of the NGC 5353/4 galaxy group made with a telescope at Lowell Observatory in Arizona, USA … [+] VICTORIA GIRGIS/LOWELL OBSERVATO

You’ve heard about the Starlink satellites? They’re so controversial. Designed by SpaceX to create internet access to everywhere on the planet, the ultimate plan is for a massive constellation of 42,000 satellites.

This week they’re bringing a light show like no other to the night skies over Western Europe as dozens of satellites cross one after another over the course of around four hours.

No one foresaw that the first few batches—and there are only 362 up there so far—would be so darned visible. In fact, some are proving to be briefly brighter than the planet Venus.

The “trains” are about 30 satellites. Ironically, Starlink is getting people to look up at the night sky while many are concerned that the very same phenomenon is a threat to it.

Here’s a summary of where we are with Starlink:

  • Environmentalists don’t want more space junk—an argument bolstered by the impending bankruptcy of SpaceX’s rival OneWeb, who has similar plans (and just launched its first 74 satellites).
  • And stargazers? They just want to see a “Starlink Train”.

Whatever your opinion on whether they are a positive or a negative, here’s exactly when to get outside this week, look up, and see one of the most incredible sights of your life—a seemingly never-ending train of super-bright satellites.

How to see the Starlink satellites train

With stargazing from homes, gardens, backyards and windows becoming a popular pastime in these times of lockdown, everyone’s going to want to see a Starlink train. This week, if you’re in Western Europe, it’s easy; you just go outside and look-up to see them travel from west to east.

You don’t any equipment, just your naked eyes and some patience—Starlink trains can be up to 10 minutes “late.”

When to see the Starlink satellites train

To find out exactly when a Starlink train will be visible from your precise location, visit the Find Starlink website (or the “Find Starlink Satellites” app) and just enter your location. It prioritises bright passes of newly-launched satellites—that’s important (some are very dim)— and even gives a live map of where they are now.

You can also get detailed information from the reliable Heavens Above website, which gives comprehensive information on every single Starlink satellite, and even includes a skychart for each individual pass.

SpaceX Readies For Sixth Starlink Launch
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the sixth batch of Starlink satellites for a planned constellation … [+] NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES

Why are Starlink satellites so bright?

Their solar panels are glinting, but there’s actually a huge variation in their brightness. It’s all about angles—your exact position, the satellite’s trajectory, and precisely how far below the horizon the Sun is when the satellite passes.

However, despite the controversy, Starlink satellites are only densely packed and bright—and therefore easy to see—in the first few months after their launch. As their orbits raise, so their brightness greatly reduces.

Is Starlink a terrible blow to modern astronomy? It’s possible. But there’s no doubting that the rise of the “Starlink Trains” is also an unmissable stargazing event.

So get outside and #LookUpLockDown!

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

NASA reveals stunning ‘Cosmic Reef’ blasting to life in nearby galaxy

Two bright nebulas in a galaxy 163,000 light-years away are very pregnant with stars.

Two nebulas burst to life in the next-door galaxy.

Two young nebulas burst to life in the galaxy next-door.(Image: © NASA, ESA and STScI)

Young stars blaze to life in a nearby galaxy, repainting their cosmic neighborhood with fiery blooms of gas and radiation.

This new Hubble Space Telescope image captures just another day in the life of two young nebulas (one red, one blue) in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way located about 163,000 light-years away. But for scientists and space enthusiasts on Earth, the image also marks a special anniversary. Thirty years ago today (April 24), the Hubble launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin its long mission of peering into the deepest reaches of space.ADVERTISING

While the Hubble has since homed in on galaxies from the earliest days of the universe, the telescope didn’t have to look too far to capture this stunning starscape. As a satellite of the Milky Way, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is close enough to be caught in the thrall of our galaxy’s gravity, and it inches a little bit closer to our galaxy every year. (Scientists actually think the neighboring galaxy will crash into ours in the next few billion years or so.)

With about 5% the mass of the Milky Way, the LMC contains many regions where baby stars are still actively forming. The nebulas shown in this Hubble image represent two such “stellar nurseries,” according to a statement from NASA.

These baby stars are big — at least 10 times more massive than Earth’s sun — and they’re bright. The star at the center of the blue nebula in the bottom left corner of the image is about 200,000 times brighter than our sun, Jennifer Wiseman, a senior scientist on the Hubble Project, said in a video accompanying the image.

“Powerful radiation from these stars is causing the surrounding gas to glow in stunning colors,” Wiseman said. “Those massive stars are also driving powerful winds of charged particles, which are sculpting out the bubble and ridge structures we can see across the nebula.”

NASA researchers have nicknamed this image the “Cosmic Reef” for its resemblance to a coral reef in Earth’s oceans — bursting with color and life, but hidden just beyond the reach of human sight.