Here are some recent stories of interest.
—WebbTelescope.org: “Weather Report: Expect Scattered, Patchy Clouds Made Up of Silicates on Planet VHS 1256 b“
Ever had hot sand whip across your face? That’s a soothing experience compared to the volatile conditions discovered high in the atmosphere of planet VHS 1256 b. Researchers using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope proved that its clouds are made up of silicate particles, ranging from fine specks to small grains. Plus, its near-constant cloud cover is on the move! The team projects that the silicates swirling in these clouds periodically get too heavy and rain into the depths of the planet’s atmosphere. Webb’s observations also show clear signatures of water, methane and carbon monoxide, and provide evidence for carbon dioxide. This is only the beginning of the team’s research – many more findings are expected as they continue to dig in to Webb’s “downpour” of data.
—The Guardian: “Cosmic Explosion Last Year May be ‘Brightest Ever Seen’”
A cosmic explosion that blinded space instruments last year may be the brightest ever seen, according to astronomers. The blast took place 2bn light years from Earth, producing a pulse of intense radiation that swept through the solar system in October last year. The cosmic event, known as a gamma-ray burst (GRB), produced some of the strongest and brightest explosions in the universe, triggering detectors on multiple spacecraft. The October blast was deemed so exceptional that astronomers said it was the brightest of all time since the beginning of human civilisation.
—Astronomy.com: “Milky Way Stars Found Nearly Halfway to Andromeda Galaxy“
Astronomers have discovered a slew of stars lingering in the far fringes of our galaxy. And when we say far, we mean far. The most distant of these stars is located more than 1 million light-years away. That’s almost halfway to our largest galactic neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, which is located some 2.5 million light-years away. “This study is redefining what constitutes the outer limits of our galaxy,” said Raja GuhaThakurta, professor and chair of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, in a news release. “Our galaxy and Andromeda are both so big, there’s hardly any space between the two galaxies.”