Gamma-ray bursts might be rare, a partial solar eclipse shines in space, and a white dwarf might have survived a supernova explosion. These are some of the top images this week from Space.com.
How rare are gamma ray bursts?
The first-ever 3D simulation of the formation of a black hole jet suggests gamma-ray bursts might be rarer than astronomers thought. Gamma-ray bursts are the brightest and most powerful flashes of light known to exist in the universe. But we only see a fraction of the bursts with our telescopes; how much is missing to us is an unknown.
Partial solar eclipse in space shines near spacecraft
A sungazing spacecraft captured a solar eclipse in action Wednesday (June 29). Visible only from space, the moon covered 67% of the sun at the event’s peak and the mountains of the moon were backdropped by solar activity.
White dwarf is a survivor of its supernova explosion
A white dwarf managed to survive its own supernova, raising questions about how this happened. “Nobody was expecting to see a surviving star that was brighter,” Curtis McCully, an astrophysicist at the Las Cumbres Observatory headquartered in California, said in a statement. “That was a real puzzle.”
Martian polygons litter the surface
Icy polygons are sprouting during springtime on Mars, a new image from the orbiting High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HIRISE) camera shows. The March 30 image (released this week) shows white zig-zags cracking across the Mars soil at high latitudes, amid a complex formation history.
Mercury gets a cratered closeup
A video from the European Space Agency (ESA) released Monday (June 27) shows Mercury’s pickpocked, crater surfaced as captured during a super close flyby of the BepiColombo spacecraft. The joint ESA-Japanese mission is on a seven-year cruise through the inner solar system before entering Mercury‘s orbit in 2025.
Hypersonic missile defense program readying 2 prototypes for flight
The Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) picked Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Missiles and Defense for more hypersonic prototype development. The two companies will work on the Glide Phase Interceptor (GPI), a planned next-generation countermeasure to defend against hypersonic weapons.
Tidal wave! How neutron star flashes may be signs of forthcoming mergers
Neutron stars may give off some telltale signals before their cataclysmic mergers occur. These extremely dense cores of massive dead stars can at times smash into each other, and show off their activity through electromagnetic radiation flashes. Those flashes can serve as an early warning system for impending mergers.
CAPSTONE cubesat launches on pathfinding lunar mission
CAPSTONE launched successfully on June 28 on its long journey to the moon. Its long-term mission is to test the orbital stability of a pathway that NASA’s Gateway space station will one day use. But it’ll be a while before CAPSTONE reaches its destination.
Cygnus cargo ship prepares for fiery death after space station mission
A robotic Northrop Grumman Cygnus freighter left the International Space Station (ISS) early Tuesday (June 28) to wrap up its months-long mission with a planned death in the Earth’s atmosphere. The Cygnus — named S.S. Piers Sellers after the late NASA astronaut and climate scientist — arrived Feb. 21 with thousands of pounds (or kilograms) of cargo.
NASA sends pioneering sounding rocket aloft from Australia
NASA successfully lofted a historic Black Brant IX sounding rocket Sunday (June 26) from Arnhem Space Center, in Australia’s Northern Territory, is the first commercial launch by NASA outside of the United States. Two more are coming soon.
Full story: NASA launches sounding rocket from Australia
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