Science Daily: Comets and Asteroids

First interstellar asteroid is like nothing seen before

For the first time ever astronomers have studied an asteroid that has entered the Solar System from interstellar space. Observations from ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile and other observatories around the world show that this unique object was traveling through space for millions of years before its chance encounter with our star system. It appears to be a dark, reddish, highly-elongated rocky or high-metal-content object.

Lava or not, exoplanet 55 Cancri e likely to have atmosphere

Twice as big as Earth, the super-Earth 55 Cancri e was thought to have lava flows on its surface. Now, a new analysis finds this planet likely has an atmosphere whose ingredients could be similar to those of Earth's atmosphere, but thicker.

Listening for gravitational waves using pulsars

When galaxies collide, their central black holes tend to spiral toward each other, releasing gravitational waves in their cosmic dance. To explore this uncharted area of gravitational wave science, researchers look a natural experiment in the sky called a pulsar timing array. Pulsars are dense remnants of dead stars that regularly emit beams of radio waves, which is why some call them "cosmic lighthouses."

Zwicky Transient Facility sees 'first light'

A new robotic camera that can capture hundreds of thousands of stars and galaxies in a single shot has taken its first image -- an event astronomers refer to as 'first light.' The camera is the centerpiece of a new automated sky survey called the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF).

One of the oldest objects in the universe observed

Astronomers report that they have detected the second most distant dusty, star-forming galaxy ever found in the universe -- born in the first one billion years after the Big Bang. It is the oldest object ever detected by the LMT.

Return of the comet: 96P spotted by ESA, NASA satellites

Sun-gazing missions SOHO and STEREO watched the return of comet 96P/Machholz when it entered their fields of view between Oct. 25-30. It is extremely rare for comets to be seen simultaneously from two different locations in space, and these are the most comprehensive parallel observations ever taken of this comet.

Another close-by planetary system?

The ALMA Observatory in Chile has detected dust around the closest star to the Solar System, Proxima Centauri. These new observations reveal the glow coming from cold dust in a region between one to four times as far from Proxima Centauri as the Earth is from the Sun. The data also hint at the presence of an even cooler outer dust belt and may indicate the presence of an elaborate planetary system.

Hubble Sees Nearby Asteroids Photobombing Distant Galaxies

Photobombing asteroids from our solar system have snuck their way into this deep image of the universe taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. These asteroids reside roughly 160 million miles from Earth, yet they’ve horned their way into this picture of thousands of galaxies scattered across space and time at inconceivably farther distances.

Transformation of graphite into hexagonal diamond documented

A team of researchers has for the first time observed and recorded the creation of hexagonal diamond under shock compression, revealing crucial details about how it is formed. The discovery could help planetary scientists use the presence of hexagonal diamond at meteorite craters to estimate the severity of impacts.

Overlooked Treasure: The First Evidence of Exoplanets

Mount Wilson is the site where some of the key discoveries about our galaxy and universe were made in the early 20th century. But there is a far lesser known, 100-year-old discovery from Mount Wilson -- one that was unidentified and unappreciated until recently: the first evidence of exoplanets.

One step closer to defining dark matter, GPS satellite atomic clocks on the hunt

One professor who studies the earth and one who studies space came together in the pursuit to detect and define dark matter. They are one step closer. Using 16 years of archival data from GPS satellites that that orbit the earth, the team looked for dark matter clumps in the shape of walls or bubbles and which would extend far out beyond the GPS orbits, the solar system and beyond.

Aliens may be more like us than we think

For the first time, researchers show how evolutionary theory can be used to support alien predictions and better understand their behavior. They show that aliens are potentially shaped by the same processes and mechanisms that shaped humans, such as natural selection. The theory supports the argument that foreign life forms undergo natural selection, and are like us, evolving to be fitter and stronger over time.

Medical-like tools for NASA to study samples of the solar system

A diagnostic tool, similar in theory to those used by the medical profession to noninvasively image internal organs, bones, soft tissue, and blood vessels, could be equally effective at 'triaging' extraterrestrial rocks and other samples before they are shipped to Earth for further analysis.

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