Carnival of Space #46

We’ve barely finished reading all the links on Carnival of Space #45 and the 46th edition comes out! In true carnival style, we have a huge variety of stories from a pile of space blogs hosted this time on Riding with Robots. We have stories ranging from a look into how the space elevator concept will work, how the solar observatory, STEREO, might be used to find exoplanets and as we still haven’t heard from those aliens out there, perhaps they’ve chosen to withhold their phone number

From, I’ve submitted another two stories, one about creating your own universe and another about quark nuggets



Daily Roundup: Astrium Spacecraft Mass Production, Saturn’s Rings and Quantum Communications

Astriums new concept for space tourism. Image credit: Astrium/Marc Newson. Source: BBC

It looks like things are really beginning to develop for the space tourism era. European rocket manufacturer Astrium has announced plans to develop the next generation of small space planes capable of sending 5 people into space. This design is different from the rest as it will take-off and land conventionally and will use jets for atmospheric flight but blast into space with a powerful oxygen-methane rocket. The promo video is also pretty exciting, documenting the two hour flight by means of a simulation…
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Primordial Quark Nuggets Disguised as Near Earth Asteroids?

The HST map of dark matter. Image credit: NASA/HST. Source: BBC

We know that dark matter is difficult to observe… in fact, we can only indirectly observe the stuff. Gravitational lensing and WMAP “Haze” are two possible ways to observe large-scale dark matter, but what about the small-scale stuff? New research suggests that some types of dark matter may be in the form of cold, primordial clumps of elementary particles and there’s a possibility we’ve been accidentally been observing them for years…
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When a Moon Makes a World of a Difference

Io and Jupiter - a dynamic pair…

The Earth’s Van Allen belts are the location for some of the most fearsome particles in space. Highly energetic particles from the Sun get trapped in the layers of the magnetosphere, setting them up for an injection of waves causing acceleration and heating. This naturally causes concern for astronauts and spacecraft passing out of the atmosphere and into this bubble of radiation only 200 miles above the surface. But spare a thought for any spacecraft passing through Jupiter’s magnetic field. The energetic particles there are far more powerful, plus one of the Jovian moons has a huge part to play, generating the plasma waves accelerating the particles even more…
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Carnival of Space #45

The Carnival of Space is a real celebration of astronomical efforts and space-related blogs. Archived on the Universe Today, the Carnival is now on its 45th edition hosted on the excellent Observations from Missy’s Window and I’m proud to have two stories on there: How do you catch a Supernova in the Act? Build a Neutrino Detecting, Early Warning Device and Could Mars Quakes, Seasonal Temperature Changes or a Chance Meteorite Impact Cause Mars Avalanches?.

There is a huge following of space blogs, like, following the developments of current space missions and new discoveries. Space blogs are different in that they present the news, but give a personal spin on what is going on. Far more exciting reading if you ask me, guaranteed to spark debate and awareness of mankind’s efforts in space…

Artificial Cosmogenesis – Building a Virtual Universe

Could black holes be used to contain our virtual universe? Credit: unknown. Source:

The Universe as we know it could be in big trouble. I have reported before on situations where our universe may be changing beyond the realms of “normal” physics, but the “heat death problem” could be a physical situation where the Universe will eventually expand so far that all energy will dissipate and be lost. Thermodynamics will eventually catch up with all the stars in the cosmos, ensuring they extinguish, all energy ebbing away into frozen space. Even the last of the supermassive black holes will evaporate after 10150 years. What’s left then? Well… nothing. So the question is: if a sufficiently advanced incarnation of the human race can beat the increasing entropy of the cosmos, can the future “us” continue to live beyond the heat death? Some rather philosophical ideas have come to light, including the creation of a virtual universe
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How do you catch a Supernova in the Act? Build a Neutrino Detecting, Early Warning Device.

The massive star, Eta Carinae, explodes producing a huge pair of gas and dust clouds captured by the Hubble telescope. Image credit: NASA and Jon Morse, University of Colorado.

Observing a supernova as it happens is a very tough thing to do. If you blink, you’ll miss it. Astronomers are constantly trying to find ways to look in the direction of a massive star just before it blows, but supernova prediction is a very young science. Now, combining the sensitivity of neutrino detectors and attempting to make the data as “real time” as possible, the SuperNova Early Warning System (SNEWS) is born, sending you a neutrino weather forecast direct to your inbox hours before a star explodes.
Continue reading “How do you catch a Supernova in the Act? Build a Neutrino Detecting, Early Warning Device.”

Supermassive Black Holes Can’t Swallow Dark Matter

A modelled accretion disk around a black hole. Image credit: Michael Owen, John Blondin (North Carolina State Univ.). Source:

Apparently, black holes and dark matter don’t play well together. Broadly speaking, black holes can be considered to be a significant portion of the “missing mass” in the universe, but dark matter is distinguished as “non-baryonic matter”. It seems that this mysterious non-baryonic matter is being used to explain a huge number of unexplained cosmic mysteries, but in the case of supermassive black holes, dark matter plays a very small role insofar as being used as black hole food…
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Daily Roundup: Astronomy and Physics in the Arctic is More Popular than You Think

The EISCAT installation in Svalbard, High Arctic. Image credit: Me!

Svalbard has always had a special place in my heart. Way back in 2002, I spent a life changing five months living in this magical part of the world. Whilst I wouldn’t say it was easy, it was definitely something I will remember for the rest of my life. This is what the Arctic does to you, it embeds itself into your memory and imagination, and I had the amazing fortune to study up there as a student.

Suddenly, two stories come along involving the research being carried out (quite literally) on top of the world; I couldn’t resist talking about the important work currently being carried out up there…
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Daily Roundup: The Solar Wind Strips Mars Bare. Look Out Venus, You’re Next!

Venus atmosphere is being eroded by the Sun. Image credit: ESA

We are very lucky here on Earth, we have a powerful magnetic field, known as the magnetosphere surrounding us and our atmosphere, protecting us from the worst that the Sun can throw at us. Other planets in our Solar System ain’t so lucky. Poor old Mars has been damaged beyond repair by the constant erosion by the solar wind, dragging most of its atmosphere into space. Now, Earth’s planetary sister, Venus, is showing signs of atmospheric leakage… where will it end?
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