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Deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope is Complete

https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/deployment-james-webb-space-telescope-complete By David Dickenson, Sky & Telescope Magazine.  Excerpt: The James Webb Space Telescope has unfolded its primary mirror, marking the end of the deployment phase for the observatory.… See also NASA Press Release 22-004 and ESA animations of deployment .

Stars may form 10 times faster than thought

https://www.science.org/content/article/stars-may-form-10-times-faster-thought Ling Xin, Science Magazine.  Excerpt: Astronomers have long thought it takes millions of years for the seeds of stars like the Sun to come together. Clouds of mostly hydrogen gas coalesce under gravity into prestellar cores dense enough to collapse and spark nuclear fusion, while magnetic forces hold matter in place and slow down the process. But observations using the world’s largest radio telescope are casting doubt on this long gestational period. Researchers have zoomed in on a prestellar core in a giant gas cloud—a nursery for hundreds of baby stars—and found the tiny embryo may be forming 10 times faster than thought, thanks to weak magnetic fields. “If this is proven to be the case in other gas clouds, it will be revolutionary for the star formation community,” says Paola Caselli from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, who was not involved with the research.…

Did a Meteor Explode Over Pittsburgh?

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/02/us/meteor-explosion-pittsburgh.html By  Azi Paybarah , The New York Times.  Excerpt: For Heather Lin Ishler, the first morning of 2022 in Dormont, a neighborhood just south of downtown Pittsburgh, began like most days had in 2021. ...Then, the bed shook. “The sensation,” Ms. Ishler, 34, later said, “reminded me of fireworks” and how, if you stand too close, you can feel “a rumbling in your chest.” ...“It was just the feeling of the shock wave,” Ms. Ishler recalled, “but no sound or flash or anything like that.” ...Diane Turnshek, an astronomer who lectures at Carnegie Mellon University, felt something powerful on Saturday morning, too. She was in her home atop a Pittsburgh hill, 1,120 feet above sea level. Her initial thought was that her dryer had fallen off the washing machine in the room next door. Calls started coming into the Pittsburgh office of the National Weather Service from people who had heard “a really loud sound but didn’t see anything,”

NASA’s Webb telescope takes flight—a Christmas gift to astronomers everywhere

https://www.science.org/content/article/nasa-s-webb-telescope-takes-flight-christmas-gift-astronomers-everywhere Daniel Clery, Science Magazine.  Excerpt: Infrared scope will target alien worlds and the universe’s first galaxies—if it survives a month of nerve-racking maneuvers ...The $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope, an instrument  expected to revolutionize astronomy  by gathering light from the atmospheres of alien worlds and the universe’s first galaxies, launched at 7:20 a.m. EST on a sultry Christmas morning from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana. Some 30 minutes after launch, the telescope detached from the top of its Ariane 5 rocket and deployed its solar array, which is needed to charge its batteries and support communication with Earth. Webb is now en route to its observing station, a gravitational balance point known as L2 at 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. Before it gets there, mission controllers will have a tense month, as they unfurl parts of the telescope too

NASA probe that ‘touched the sun’ for first time could help people better understand the solar system.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/12/15/nasa-touches-sun-spacecraft-parker By  Timothy Bella , The Washington Post.  Excerpt: A NASA spacecraft became the first to “touch the sun,” scientists announced Tuesday — a long-awaited milestone and a potential giant leap in understanding the sun’s influence on the solar system. The Parker Solar Probe successfully flew through the sun’s corona, or upper atmosphere, in April to sample particles and its magnetic fields, according to research published in the journal  Physical Review Letters . The findings were also announced Tuesday at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in New Orleans. ...The spacecraft, launched three years ago in an effort to study the sun and its dangers, will help scientists uncover significant and unknown information about Earth’s closest star, including how the flow of the sun’s particles can influence the planet. ...The spacecraft’s brush with the sun is the culmination of a mission more than 60 year

Metal Planet Orbits Its Star Every 7.7 Hours

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/02/science/iron-exoplanet-super-mercury.html By  Adam Mann , The NewYork Times.  Excerpt: Astronomers call it a “super-Mercury” and think it holds clues to how planets form close in to their stars. ...Because it sits so close to its parent, one side of GJ 367 b likely always faces the blazing star. Its dayside temperatures should soar toward 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt rock and metal, making it a potential lava world…

NASA’s first planetary defense mission will nudge an asteroid

https://www.science.org/content/article/nasa-s-first-planetary-defense-mission-will-nudge-asteroid By Adam Mann, Science Magazine.  Excerpt: Intentional crash of robotic probe will test way to avert asteroid impacts on Earth. In the name of planetary defense, NASA is set to launch a robotic probe next week that in late 2022 will hurtle into a sizable space rock in the hopes of nudging its orbit. Although the celestial target of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) poses no danger to our planet, the mission will assess the feasibility of deflecting potentially hazardous objects away from Earth.… [ DART successfully launched last night (Tuesday, Nov. 23, at 10:21 p.m. PST)] See also New York Times article .