Plasma Connection

Aug 22, 2019 Enceladus reveals an electric circuit with Saturn. Recently, the Picture of the Day discussed the discovery of heavy molecules in the geyser eruptions from the south pole of Enceladus. Similar to those found elsewhere, such as the dwarf planet, Ceres, the molecules are probably the result of…

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Cataclysmic Variables

Aug 21, 2019 Some stars fluctuate erratically. According to astrophysicists, a nova explosion occurs when a white dwarf star draws matter away from a companion star onto its surface. Gravity then compresses the material against the white dwarf’s rigid exterior, where it reaches fusion temperatures because of the extreme pressure.…

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Unexpected Brightness

Aug 20, 2019 Another comet exhibits outbursts far from the Sun. Astronomers recently announced the brightening of a small comet as it passed into the inner Solar System. Called PANNSTARRS (C/2017 S3), the comet began a significant energetic outburst on July 4, 2018 that, according to observers, began “for no…

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Galactic Evolution

Aug 19, 2019 Galaxies are born in lightning. NASA launched the Spitzer Space Telescope on August 25, 2003. Spitzer’s mission is to scan the sky in infrared wavelengths, using detectors that were kept at -268 Celsius. That frigid temperature made it possible for the telescope to “see” wavelengths as long…

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The Dynamic Sun

Aug 16, 2019 The Sun is a plasma phenomenon. The Solar Dynamics Observatory records coronal holes as they move across the Sun’s photosphere, causing storms of charged particles to blast toward Earth. Heliophysicists believe that coronal holes are regions of “open magnetic fields”. The Sun’s temperature in its core is…

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Electric Molecules

Aug 15, 2019 Organic molecules can be created with electricity. According to a recent press release, “… heavy organic compounds containing hundreds of atoms…” were detected at Saturn’s moon Enceladus by the Cassini Saturn orbiter during several of its flybys through the moon’s south polar geysers. A recent Picture of the…

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Dwarf Planets

Aug 14, 2019 Is planet nine among them? NASA launched the New Horizons spacecraft on January 19, 2006 on a mission to explore the outer Solar System, including Pluto, Charon and many Kuiper Belt Objects. On July 14, 2015 New Horizons flew by Pluto at a distance of 9656 kilometers. Although it has…

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Electron Gun

Aug 13, 2019 What energizes this nebula to such extremes? Picture of the Day articles note that many structures in the galaxy are active energy sources, ejecting charged matter from their poles, leaving long braided tails, or revealing formations of tightly bunched filaments. A detailed image of Eta Carinae reveals a…

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Shock or Shocked?

Aug 12, 2019 The Sun shocks the Solar System. Not in the way that astronomers think, however. Instead of “shockwaves” racing by the planets, it is electric shocks that are detected. The Magnetospheric Multiscale satellites were launched March 12, 2015 on a mission to study Earth’s electromagnetic fields. The MMS…

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