Historical data on solar storms etched into the trees, and that’s a little ominous. Falcon Heavy is back after 40 months away. There is a meteor shower and a total lunar eclipse in the next few days. And JWST gave us another version of Pillars of Creation.
As always, if you’d rather have the latest space and astronomy news on video, enjoy this week’s episode of Space Bites.
More Pillars of Creation by Webb
Another phenomenal image from JWST. This time we are looking at the Pillars of Creation (again), but with the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). MIRI is sensitive to giant clouds of gas and dust surrounding newly formed stars in the region. In this view you can see the faint background clouds in red, which are invisible in other wavelengths. Blue stars have already cleared their surroundings of gas and dust. The densest regions of dust appear as the darkest shades of gray. Either way, it’s time to replace your phone’s background with this one.
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Learn more about the pillars of the creation of MIRI.
Meteor shower and total lunar eclipse
Keep your eyes on the sky next week; you might see a few fireballs as part of the annual Taurid meteor shower. Typically, this meteor shower is disappointing, giving us around five meteors/hour at the peak. This year will be even worse as the rain coincides with the November 8 full moon. However, the Earth will pass through a cloud of debris, and there may be an increase in meteor and especially fireball activity. So go out next week, look up and you might see a ball of fire.
On Tuesday, November 8, East Asia and western North America will experience a total lunar eclipse. This is when Earth’s shadow falls on the Moon, obscuring it and turning it a deep shade of red. The entire eclipse will last 5 hours and 54 minutes, with the Moon passing through the dark inner region of the umbra for 1 hour and 24 minutes. Unfortunately, this will be the last total lunar eclipse until March 14, 2025. Read our full guide.
Learn more about the Taurids and the total lunar eclipse.
Starstorms in tree rings
If you look at tree rings, they can not only show the age of the tree, but also record astronomical events. Solar storms are one of them. That way, scientists could see records of previous powerful solar storms that happened hundreds of years ago. But what is worrying is that the Carrington event is not one of them. So, does that mean past solar storms were much more devastating?
Learn more about solar storm records.
Heavy elements of neutron star merger
In 2017, astronomers detected the first kilonova collision of two neutron stars, and their impact was observed in both gravitational waves and electromagnetic radiation. Astronomers also witnessed a vast cloud of gold generated by the collision of neutron stars. The researchers simulated the meltdown on a supercomputer and predicted that other heavy elements, such as strontium, lanthanum and cerium, should be visible in the wreckage. Then they imaged the area with powerful telescopes and found the features as expected.
Learn more about the consequences of Kilonova.
InSight felt a meteor strike on Mars
In December 2021, NASA’s Mars InSight detected a magnitude 4 Mars quake. Unlike the hundreds of other quakes felt so far, this one resulted from a house-sized meteorite crashing is crashed on Mars. The impact site was found using NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which was approximately 150 meters in diameter and 21 meters deep. Martian regolith was extracted from the crater and scattered 37 kilometers away. Because it’s just been excavated, it could be a fascinating place to send a sample return mission.
Learn more about InSight Discovery.
Falcon Heavy is back
It’s been 40 months since SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket last lifted off. On November 2, we saw the mighty rocket carrying a classified payload for the US Space Force. The twin side boosters returned to the launch site through heavy fog, but the central core was not reused as it helped place the cargo into geostationary transfer orbit. It was SpaceX’s 50th launch in 2022, with a rate of one rocket launch every 6.1 days.
Learn more about the launch of Falcon Heavy.
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