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Cosmologists Find Eleven Runaway Galaxies 60

An anonymous reader writes: Discovery News reports that 11 homeless galaxies have been identified by Igor Chilingarian, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and Moscow State University, and his fellow astronomers. "The 11 runaway galaxies were found by chance while Chilingarian and co-investigator Ivan Zolotukhin, of the L'Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie and Moscow State University, were scouring publicly-available data (via the Virtual Observatory) from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the GALEX satellite for compact elliptical galaxies."

Hubble Reveals a Previously Unknown Dwarf Galaxy Just 7 Million Light Years Away 70

The L.A. Times reports that the Hubble Space Telescope's ongoing survey work has discovered a dwarf universe a mere 7 million light years away: While only just recently discovered using Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, the galaxy known as KKs3 has been around for a long while. Astronomers led by Igor Karachentsev of the Special Astrophysical Observatory in Karachai-Cherkessia, Russia, showed that some 74% of KKs3’s star mass was formed in the universe’s early years, at least 12 billion years ago. Most of the tiny galaxy’s stars are old and dim, making it a fascinating fossil that could help astronomers understand what ancient galactic environments looked like.

Watch Comet Siding Spring's Mars Fly-By, Live 33

From the L.A. Times, and with enough time to tune in, comes this tip: Comet Siding Spring's closest approach to the red planet will occur at 11:27 a.m. [Pacific Time] on Sunday. At its closest approach, the comet will come within 87,000 miles of Mars. That's 10 times closer than any comet on record has ever come to Earth. Sadly, this historic flyby is not visible to the naked eye. People who live in the Southern Hemisphere have a shot at seeing the comet if they have access to a good telescope six inches or wider. However, most of us in the Northern Hemisphere will not be able to see the comet at all, experts say, no matter how big a telescope we've got. Here to save the cometary day is astronomy website Beginning at 11:15 a.m PDT on Sunday, it will host a live broadcast of the comet's closest approach to Mars, as seen by the website's telescopes in South Africa and in the Canary Islands. Later in the day, beginning at 5:30 p.m. PDT, Slooh will broadcast another view of the comet from a telescope in Chile.

Earth Barely Dodged Solar Blast In 2012 202

Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Coronal mass ejections, with severity comparable to the 1859 Carrington event, missed Earth by only 9 days in 2012, according to researchers. The Carrington event caused widespread damage to the telegraph system in the U.S., and a similar occurrence would be devastating to modern electronics, it is thought. From the Reuters article, 'Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous.' The potential global cost for such damage is pegged at $2.6 trillion."

Comet ISON Nears Date With Sun 45

riverat1 writes "Now visible in the morning sky, comet ISON will swing around the Sun on November 28. ISON will pass 730,000 km above the surface of the Sun at closest approach (Mercury's perihelion distance is 46 million km). If it survives its near brush with the Sun it could provide a spectacular sky show from December into January. This NASA timeline shows that ISON will be the most observed comet ever as instruments ranging from a balloon carried telescope to the Hubble Space Telescope to the STEREO satellites will be brought into play. Lowell Observatory astronomer Matthew Knight lays out three possibilities for ISON: spontaneous disintegration before it gets to the Sun (less than 1% chance); disintegration as it rounds the Sun; or survival. If it survives, its closest approach to Earth will be on December 26 at about 1/3 of an AU."

Newly Spotted Comet May Shine Among Brightest In History 100

Reader intellitech points to an article at National Geographic, from which he excerpts: "If astronomers' early predictions hold true, the holidays next year may hold a glowing gift for stargazers—a superbright comet, just discovered streaking near Saturn. Even with powerful telescopes, comet 2012 S1 (ISON) is now just a faint glow in the constellation Cancer. But the ball of ice and rocks might become visible to the naked eye for a few months in late 2013 and early 2014—perhaps outshining the moon, astronomers say. The comet is already remarkably bright, given how far it is from the sun, astronomer Raminder Singh Samra said. What's more, 2012 S1 seems to be following the path of the Great Comet of 1680, considered one of the most spectacular ever seen from Earth."

Solar X-Flare Blasts Directly Toward Earth 223

Freshly Exhumed writes with this excerpt from Space Weather: "Big sunspot AR1520 unleashed an X1.4-class solar flare on July 12th at 1653 UT. Because this sunspot is directly facing Earth, everything about the blast was geoeffective. For one thing, it hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) directly toward our planet. According to a forecast track prepared by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the CME will hit Earth on July 14th around 10:20 UT (+/- 7 hours) and could spark strong geomagnetic storms. Sky watchers should be alert for auroras this weekend."

Andromeda On Collision Course With the Milky Way 217

ananyo writes "From the Nature story: 'The Andromeda galaxy will collide with the Milky Way about 4 billion years from now, astronomers announced today. Although the Sun and other stars will remain intact, the titanic tumult is likely to shove the Solar System to the outskirts of the merged galaxies. Researchers came to that conclusion after using the Hubble Space Telescope between 2002 and 2010 to painstakingly track the motion of Andromeda as it inched along the sky. Andromeda, roughly 770,000 parsecs (2.5 million light years) away, is the nearest large spiral galaxy to the Milky Way.'"

Everything You Need To Know About the June 5/6 Venus Transit 55

The Bad Astronomer writes "Next week, on June 5/6, there will be the last Venus transit across the face of the Sun until the year 2117. There are dozens of sites issuing press releases about it — online resources, watching live, viewing advice — so I've collected them into a single blog post with tons of links and my own advice on how to observe this (most likely) last-in-a-lifetime event. This complements the previous article on Slashdot from a few weeks ago."

Asteroid the 'Size of a Minivan' Exploded Over California 279

astroengine writes, quoting Discovery: "The source of loud 'booms' accompanied by a bright object traveling through the skies of Nevada and California on Sunday morning has been confirmed: it was a meteor. A big one. It is thought to have been a small asteroid that slammed into the atmosphere at a speed of 15 kilometers per second (33,500 mph), turning into a fireball, delivering an energy of 3.8 kilotons of TNT as it broke up over California's Sierra Nevada mountains. Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, classified it as a 'big event.' 'I am not saying there was a 3.8 kiloton explosion on the ground in California,' Cooke told 'I am saying that the meteor possessed this amount of energy before it broke apart in the atmosphere. (The map) shows the location of the atmospheric breakup, not impact with the ground.' Interestingly, this event was bigger than asteroid 2008 TC3 that exploded over the skies of Sudan in 2008 after being detected before it hit."

Large Solar Flare To Glance Off Earth 154

JoeRobe writes "According to, a major X5 solar flare is on its way to deliver a glancing blow to the Earth's magnetic field. This is the second x-class flare to be released by the same sunspot in the past few days, the first being an X1. In both cases, the sunspot (spot 1429) was not directly facing Earth, but it is still active, and poses a threat for a large, Earth-directed flare in the next few days."

WISE Discovers 95 New Near-Earth Asteroids 112

astroengine writes "NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has turned up 25,000 new asteroid discoveries, 95 of which are near-Earth objects (NEOs). This mission is as fascinating as it is frightening. Capable of spotting any cosmic object glowing in infrared wavelengths, WISE has become an expert asteroid hunter, seeing these interplanetary vagabonds, some of which get uncomfortably close to our planet."

Geostationary GPS Satellite Galaxy 15 Out of Control 379

Bruce Perens writes "The Galaxy 15 commercial satellite has not responded to commands since solar flares fried its CPU in April, and it won't turn off. Intelsat controllers moved all commercial payloads to other birds except for WAAS, a system that adds accuracy to GPS for landing aircraft and finding wayward geocaches. Since the satellite runs in 'bent pipe' mode, amplifying wide bands of RF that are beamed up to it, it is likely to interfere with other satellites as it crosses their orbital slots on its way to an earth-sun Lagrange point, the natural final destination of a geostationary satellite without maneuvering power." (More below.)

Something May Have Just Hit Jupiter 299

The blog of Anthony Wesley, an Australian amateur astronomer, has what may be the first photos of a recent comet or asteroid impact on Jupiter, near the south pole. These photos are 11 hours old. The ones at the bottom of the page show three small dark spots in addition to the main dark mark. The Bad Astronomy blog picked up the story a few hours later — but cautions that what we're seeing may not be an impact event. This is all reminiscent of the closely watched impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy on Jupiter in 1994.
The Military

Military's Satellite Meteor Data Sharing May Soon Resume 35

jbdigriz writes "Leonard David has a followup piece to his original story, referenced here on June 22nd ('US Military Blocks Data On Incoming Meteors'). Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Rego explains his decision to suspend the meteor data sharing program due to 'loopholes' in the informal arrangement. He and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher hold out some hope that the program will resume on a more secure basis at some unspecified but not too distant point."

Machines take me by surprise with great frequency. - Alan Turing