Interesting Astronomy Stories of 2009: October/November/December
The International Year of Astronomy
The International Year of Astronomy continues with stories from October through December.
Spitzer discovered a huge ring around Saturn, the largest discovered so far. Phoebe, one of Saturn’s farthest moons, orbits within the ring. The ring’s diameter is approximately 300 Saturns lined up side by side. The particles in the ring are so far apart, if you were standing in the ring, you wouldn’t be able to tell there was a ring. Spitzer was able to show the ring with its infrared camera.
The European Space Agency/Indian Space Research Organization explains how water is formed on the moon with data from their Chandrayaan-1 Lunar Orbiter. The moon absorbs electrically charged particles from the sun which interact with oxygen found in some dust grains, which in turn produces water.
This year’s Leonid Meteor showers put on a great show with almost ideal conditions. Lucky observers with clear weather were able to see hundreds per hour.
In celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, NASA released images never seen before of the heart of the Milky Way Galaxy. The images were created by the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. They were released to planetariums, museums, nature centers, libraries and schools all over the country.
A new study from the Chandra X-ray Observatory on supernova remnants, the debris from exploded stars, shows that the presence of lack of symmetry of the remnants reveals how the star exploded. The remnants retain information for hundreds or thousands of years.
The Hubble Space Telescope finds the smallest object ever seen in the Kuiper Belt, a ring of icy debris just beyond Neptune. It is only 3,200’ across and 4.2 billion miles away. This is evidence for the existence of comet-sized objects in the Kuiper Belt that are being ground down by collisions.
More Interesting Stories of 2009:
Each year brings more exciting discoveries of our vast universe. What mysteries will unfold in 2010?
My source for the stories I chose for each month is Astronomy Magazine Newsletters. Pictures came from various sources and are noted below each picture.