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Newly Discovered Asteroid to make a close Flyby, Thursday!

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Asteroid 2023 BU is a newly discovered near-Earth object that will make safe pass close to Earth on Thursday, JANUARY 26, 2023. The Asteroid will come within the distance of about one-quarter of the geostationary satellites orbiting the Earth.


Asteroid 2023 BU was first imaged by Gennadiy Borisov at Nauchnyi, Crimea, on January 21, 2023, just about five days before its closest approach.

You can see it live at the Virtual Telescope Project 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2023_BU

https://stmdailynews.com/category/science/

Rod is a blogger, writer, filmmaker, photographer, daydreamer who likes to cook. Rod produces and directs the web series, CUPIC: Diary of an Investigator. He is also the editor, producer and administrator of TNC Network.

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Astronomers use novel technique to find starspots

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New method seen as powerful tool in studying stars

Newswise — COLUMBUS, Ohio – Astronomers have developed a powerful technique for identifying starspots, according to research presented this month at the 241st meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Our sun is at times dotted with sunspots, cool dark regions on the stellar surface generated by strong magnetic fields, which suppress churning motions and impede the free escape of light. On other stars, these phenomena are called starspots, said Lyra Cao, lead author of the study and a graduate student in astronomy at The Ohio State University

“Our study is the first to precisely characterize the spottiness of stars and use it to directly test theories of stellar magnetism,” said Cao. “This technique is so precise and broadly applicable that it can become a powerful new tool in the study of stellar physics.” 

Use of the technique will soon allow Cao and her colleagues to release a catalog of starspot and magnetic field measurements for more than 700,000 stars – increasing the number of these measurements available to scientists by three orders of magnitude.

Since sunspots were first discovered in the 17th century, scientists have typically detected signatures of stellar magnetism indirectly, by looking at stars through different filters or detecting the modulation of spots in a star’s light curve. But by analyzing legacy high-resolution infrared spectra from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, Cao was able to develop a technique for identifying starspots in 240 stars from two open star clusters, the Pleiades and M67. 

The study showed that precision starspot measurements are a powerful new class of data which could help researchers understand how stellar magnetic fields work. Due to precision of the technique, Cao was also able to see how age and rotation affected the magnetic fields on these stars. 

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“It was lurking in plain sight: Within the spectrum, there was a cooler component corresponding to the starspot which was only visible in the infrared,” Cao said.

As it turns out, younger stars can be enveloped in starspots – some of them more “spot” than star, with 80% of their surfaces covered. During her studies, Cao realized that these larger cooler regions may block so much light, it might have a measurable effect on these stars. Since the light must eventually escape, she said, the star compensates by expanding and cooling enough to make more surface area available for radiation. 

Researchers also found that relying on classical methods to estimate the temperatures of these stars could be wrong by more than 100 degrees. Because scientists often rely on a star’s temperature when trying to estimate its size, astronomers could wrongly assume the radius of the star is smaller than it actually is.

“When this happens, you start seeing large changes in the stars’ structure, which can throw other important astronomical measurements off as well,” said Cao. As scientists use stellar parameters to understand our solar neighborhood and galaxy, and at times, the sizes and habitability prospects of nearby exoplanets, this method could dramatically improve researchers’ ability to test other scientific theories.

Additionally, researchers found a class of stars that are too active for standard theories to explain in the Pleiades cluster. According to Cao, these stars are not only magnetic and rife with starspots, but also overflowing with UV and X-ray radiation.

“You wouldn’t want to live around these stars,” said Cao. “But understanding why these stars are so active could change our models and criteria for exoplanetary habitability.” Further study of these unusual stars could hold the key for understanding why low mass stars are so active, the study notes.

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“We can directly study the evolution of stellar magnetism in hundreds of thousands of stars with this new dataset, so we expect this will help develop key insights in our understanding of stars and planets,” said Cao.

Marc Pinsonneault, a professor of astronomy at Ohio State, co-authored the study. This work was supported by NASA.

Contact: Lyra Cao, [email protected]

Written by: Tatyana Woodall, [email protected]

Source:  Ohio State University

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Alien Planet Found Spiraling to its Doom around an Aging Star

An artist’s concept of the Kepler-1658 system. Kepler-1658b, orbiting with a period of just 3.8 days, was the first exoplanet candidate discovered by Kepler.

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Credit: Credit: Gabriel Perez Diaz/Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias
An artist’s concept of the Kepler-1658 system. Kepler-1658b, orbiting with a period of just 3.8 days, was the first exoplanet candidate discovered by Kepler.
« Alien Planet Found Spiraling to its Doom around an Aging Star

An artist’s concept of the Kepler-1658 system. Kepler-1658b, orbiting with a period of just 3.8 days, was the first exoplanet candidate discovered by Kepler.

Newswise — Cambridge, Mass. – For the first time, astronomers have spotted an exoplanet whose orbit is decaying around an evolved, or older, host star. The stricken world appears destined to spiral closer and closer to its maturing star until collision and ultimate obliteration.  

The discovery offers new insights into the long-winded process of planetary orbital decay by providing the first look at a system at this late stage of evolution.  

Death-by-star is a fate thought to await many worlds and could be the Earth’s ultimate adios billions of years from now as our Sun grows older.

“We’ve previously detected evidence for exoplanets inspiraling toward their stars, but we have never before seen such a planet around an evolved star,” says Shreyas Vissapragada, a 51 Pegasi b Fellow at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian and lead author of a new study describing the results. “Theory predicts that evolved stars are very effective at sapping energy from their planets’ orbits, and now we can test those theories with observations.”

The findings were published Monday in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The ill-fated exoplanet is designated Kepler-1658b. As its name indicates, astronomers discovered the exoplanet with the Kepler space telescope, a pioneering planet-hunting mission that launched in 2009. Oddly enough, the world was the very first new exoplanet candidate Kepler ever observed. Yet it took nearly a decade to confirm the planet’s existence, at which time the object entered Kepler’s catalogue officially as the 1658th entry.

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Kepler-1658b is a so-called hot Jupiter, the nickname given to exoplanets on par with Jupiter’s mass and size but in scorchingly ultra-close orbits about their host stars. For Kepler-1658b, that distance is merely an eighth of the space between our Sun and its tightest orbiting planet, Mercury. For hot Jupiters and other planets like Kepler-1658b that are already very close to their stars, orbital decay looks certain to culminate in destruction.

Measuring the orbital decay of exoplanets has challenged researchers because the process is very slow and gradual. In the case of Kepler-1658b, according to the new study, its orbital period is decreasing at the miniscule rate of about 131 milliseconds (thousandths of a second) per year, with a shorter orbit indicating the planet has moved closer to its star.

Detecting this decline required multiple years of careful observation. The watch started with Kepler and then was picked up by the Palomar Observatory’s Hale Telescope in Southern California and finally the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Telescope, or TESS, which launched in 2018. All three instruments captured transits, the term for when an exoplanet crosses the face of its star and causes a very slight dimming of the star’s brightness. Over the past 13 years, the interval between Kepler-1658b’s transits has slightly but steadily decreased.

The root cause of the orbital decay experienced by Kepler-1658b is tides — the same phenomenon responsible for the daily rise and fall in Earth’s oceans. Tides are generated by gravitational interactions between two orbiting bodies, such as between our world and the Moon or Kepler-1658b and its star. The bodies’ gravities distort each other’s shapes, and as the bodies respond to these changes, energy is released. Depending on the distances between, sizes, and rotation rates of the bodies involved, these tidal interactions can result in bodies pushing each other away — the case for the Earth and the slowly outward-spiraling Moon — or inward, as with Kepler-1658b toward its star.

There is still a lot researchers do not understand about these dynamics, particularly in star-planet scenarios. Accordingly, further study of the Kepler-1658 system should prove instructive.

The star has evolved to the point in its stellar life cycle where it has started to expand, just as our Sun is expected to, and has entered into what astronomers call a subgiant phase. The internal structure of evolved stars should more readily lead to dissipation of tidal energy taken from hosted planets’ orbits compared to unevolved stars like our Sun. This accelerates the orbital decay process, making it easier to study on human timescales.

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The results further help in explaining an intrinsic oddity about Kepler-1658b, which appears brighter and hotter than expected. The tidal interactions shrinking the planet’s orbit may also be cranking out extra energy within the planet itself, the team says.

Vissapragada points to a similar situation with Jupiter’s moon Io, the most volcanic body in the Solar System. The gravitational push-and-pull from Jupiter on Io melts the planet’s innards. This molten rock then erupts out onto the moon’s famously infernal, pizza-like surface of yellow sulfurous deposits and fresh red lava.

Stacking additional observations of Kepler-1658b should shed more light on celestial body interactions. And, with TESS slated to keep scrutinizing thousands of nearby stars, Vissapragada and colleagues expect the telescope to uncover numerous other instances of exoplanets circling down the drains of their host stars.

“Now that we have evidence of inspiraling of a planet around an evolved star, we can really start to refine our models of tidal physics,” Vissapragada says. “The Kepler-1658 system can serve as a celestial laboratory in this way for years to come, and with any luck, there will soon be many more of these labs.”

Vissapragada, who recently joined the Center for Astrophysics a few months ago and is now being mentored by Mercedes López-Morales, looks forward to the science of exoplanets continuing to dramatically advance.

“Shreyas has been a welcome addition to our team working on characterizing the evolution of exoplanets and their atmospheres,” says López-Morales, an astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics.

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“I can’t wait to see what all of us end up discovering together,” adds Vissapragada.

Source: Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian

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Early Morning Total lunar eclipse on November 8, 2022

A total lunar eclipse will take place on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. The southern limb of the Moon will pass through the center of the Earth’s shadow.

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A total lunar eclipse will take place on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. The southern limb of the Moon will pass through the center of the Earth’s shadow. Occurring only 5.8 days before apogee (apogee is on November 14, 2022), the Moon’s apparent diameter will be smaller. https://stmdailynews.com

Visit EarthSky.org for more information https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/total-lunar-eclipse-nov8-2022/


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