News in Brief
The next exoplanet hunt is officially on. NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which launched in April (SN: 5/12/18, p. 7), has taken its first wide-sky science image and has confirmed its first exoplanet.
The “first light” image (the moniker for a new telescope’s first useful image), taken August 7 with all four of the telescope’s cameras and released September 17, shows...
An enormous future particle detector is now within closer reach. The first data from a prototype experiment hint that scientists may have what it takes to build the planned neutrino detector.
Known as the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, or DUNE, the experiment will use 70,000 metric tons of liquefied argon to study the secrets of these neutrinos — bizarre, nearly massless particles...
Scientists have spotted the ghosts of nearly two dozen ice volcanoes on dwarf planet Ceres.
Found using topographic maps from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, the slumped remains of once-grand cones suggest that Ceres has experienced continual eruptions for billions of years, the researchers report September 17 in Nature Astronomy.
When Dawn arrived at Ceres in 2015, scientists noticed just...
A strand of spaghetti snaps easily, but an exotic substance known as nuclear pasta is an entirely different story.
Predicted to exist in ultradense dead stars called neutron stars, nuclear pasta may be the strongest material in the universe. Breaking the stuff requires 10 billion times the force needed to crack steel, for example, researchers report in a study accepted in Physical Review...
Jocelyn Bell Burnell first noticed the strange, repeating blip in 1967. A University of Cambridge graduate student at the time, she had been reviewing data from a radio telescope she had helped build near campus. Persistent tracking revealed the signal’s source to be something entirely unknown up to that point — a pulsar, or a rapidly spinning stellar corpse that sweeps beams of radio waves...
News in Brief
A new hexagon has emerged high in the skies over Saturn’s north pole.
As spring turned to summer in the planet’s northern hemisphere, a six-sided vortex appeared in the stratosphere. Surprisingly, the polar polygon seems to mirror the famous hexagonal cyclone that swirls in the clouds hundreds of kilometers below, researchers report online September 3 in Nature Communications.
Letters to the Editor
Sunny-side up09/06/2018 - 06:15 Astronomy, Physics, Earth
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is on its way to “touch” the sun. Maria Temming reported on the mission before the August 12 launch in “NASA’s Parker probe is about to get up close and personal with the sun” (SN: 7/21/18, p. 12).
Astronomy writer Lisa Grossman, who wrote a follow-up story, answered readers’ questions about the probe on Reddit.
Reddit user Gildolen...
Space travel still sounds like just about the coolest thing ever, even though we have learned that it brings with it nausea, sleeplessness, radiation exposure, muscle loss, vision changes, cranky fellow explorers and the challenge of going to the bathroom in zero gravity. And that’s just with the “easy” stuff, like living on the International Space Station. Let’s not even get started...09/06/2018 - 06:00 Astronomy, Science & Society
News in Brief
If Earth’s magnetic field resembles that of a bar magnet, Jupiter’s field looks like someone took a bar magnet, bent it in half and splayed it at both ends.
The field emerges in a broad swath across Jupiter’s northern hemisphere and re-enters the planet both around the south pole and in a concentrated spot just south of the equator, researchers report in the Sept. 6 Nature.
Reviews & Previews
Accessory to WarNeil deGrasse Tyson and Avis LangW.W. Norton & Co., $30
Late-night comedians skewered Vice President Mike Pence in August when he announced preliminary plans for a new branch of the U.S. military dubbed the “Space Force.” Jimmy Kimmel likened the idea to a Michael Bay action movie, while Jimmy Fallon quipped that the Space Force’s chain of command would go “E.T...