Technology developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) will sit at the heart of one of the world’s biggest ever science projects, the Five hundred metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), following an agreement with the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC).
Astronomers using an orbiting radio telescope in conjunction with four ground-based radio telescopes have achieved the highest resolution, or ability to discern fine detail, of any astronomical observation ever made. The researchers were surprised when their Earth-space system revealed a core temperature hotter than 10 trillion degrees for quasar 3C 273.
During the month of December, the Planetary Radar Group at Arecibo Observatory has observed near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220, which will make its closest approach to Earth on Christmas Eve. Although designated as “potentially hazardous,” this asteroid will be 28 times further away than our Moon and therefore poses no present danger to Earth.
Somewhat appropriately spooky for Halloween in recent radar images, 600 metre-wide near-Earth object 2015 TB145 dashes by our planet today. Now believed to be a dead comet that has shed its volatiles after numerous passes around the Sun, the object makes its closest approach to Earth at 5pm GMT. UK observers with clear skies may see it with modest telescopes in the early evening.
NASA scientists are tracking the upcoming Halloween flyby of asteroid 2015 TB145 with several optical observatories and the radar capabilities of the agency’s Deep Space Network at Goldstone, California. Only discovered sixteen days ago, the 400-metre-wide asteroid will fly past Earth at a safe distance slightly farther than the Moon’s orbit on 31 October at 5:05pm GMT.
Gravity, one of the four fundamental forces of nature, appears reassuringly constant across the universe, according to a decades-long study of a distant pulsar. This research helps to answer a long-standing question in cosmology: Is the force of gravity the same everywhere and at all times? The answer, so far, appears to be yes.
One of the great challenges in astrophysics is the detection of low-frequency gravitational waves — elusive ripples in the fabric of space-time caused by extremely energetic and large-scale cosmic events. To this end, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves $14.5 million over 5 years.
By combining the powerful radar transmitter of the Arecibo Observatory and the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) — the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope — astronomers were able to penetrate the visually opaque atmospheric veil of Venus to make remarkably detailed images of the surface of the planet without leaving Earth.