Saturday, 11 January 2014

News from Outer Space: January 2014

The age of the universe has been pinned down to 1% accuracy ("baryon acoustic oscillations") says this article at the Daily Mail.  Last year's report of 13.82 billion years with a 2% accuracy is from Planck telescope data which is a slight adjustment for 2010's 13.75 billion years measurement.  When I was a kid, the guesses ranged from 10 to 20 billion years.  The universe, measured from the Big Bang, has only been around three times longer than our planet.  For fun, ask Google Voice or SIRI how old the universe is.

Unexplained hyper velocity stars have been discovered.  Earlier ones at 900 km/sec were spit-out lone survivors of a binary star that was being swallowed by a black hole at the centre of our galaxy.  Their path ignored the arms of our galaxy, fleeing the centre. The new ones are just as fast but no one knows what they are moving away from.

The 3D ghost of a dark matter filament has been detected.  The dark matter is still invisible but careful modelling of gravity-induced light warping in massive galaxy cluster MACS J0717.5+3745 using Hubble data reveals the filament.  There's even a rotating 3D model to watch, The model dates from 2012 .      Calling it "dark matter"is an inference.  Calling it a patterned light warp is observation.

A fireball from outside our solar system struck earth. Although rare they are seen from time to time.  There is a large rock in captivity that came from beyond the most remote comets and asteroids of our solar system.   Related: Last year a survey of meteorite samples came up with one that was probably dislodged from Mercury before landing here.
From Mercury
The fireball map attached for January 11th shows a possible extra-solar track running from 8 o'clock to 2 o'clock.  I can't find the one identified a couple weeks ago on the NASA fireball survey. From

For general interest, a popular site lists 10 mystery objects in outer space.

The sun's magnetic field completed its flip at the midpoint of twenty-two-year sunspot cycle 24 on December 29th.  Nice little write-up at The Independent.

A major solar flare hit earth.  The probability of seeing Northern lights near the 49th parallel and south is posted daily in the left side bar at

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