Astronomers view the brightest "Cow" supernova to ever be seen in X-ray observations, NASA's InSight Mars lander goes into safe mode as it endures a dust storm and Jupiter's polar cyclones share similarities with Earth's oceans. These are some of the top stories this week from Space.com.
Astronomers spot possible 'exomoon' orbiting a planet outside the solar system
Beyond our solar system, a distant moon smaller than Neptune is orbiting a planet about the size of Jupiter. The new research that produced this finding is the second exomoon candidate observation made to date. The field of exolunar science is still quite young, but can one day give scientists a new understanding about how stellar and planetary systems work across the galaxy.
Astronomers spot the brightest-known 'Cow' supernova
There is a certain type of powerful supernova known as a Cow class event. When stars explode at the end of their lives, they go out in a massive blast but can also leave behind a remnant. These leftovers are very active in Cow supernovas, emitting high amounts of X-ray radiation. Astronomers recently spotted the brightest Cow supernova ever seen in X-rays.
The last eight years have been the hottest ones on record
Last year was the sixth hottest year on record and the last eight years have been the hottest ever, according to an announcement made on Thursday (Jan. 13) by experts from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The ocean heat content in 2021 was also the highest since records began six decades ago, according to one expert. Powerful storms fueled by rising global temperatures have also led to the deaths of 600 people just in the U.S. alone.
InSight goes into safe mode as it braves a Martian dust storm
NASA's InSight lander is currently in safe mode as it rides out a dust storm on Mars. The spacecraft, which is designed to study the Red Planet's interior, initiated safe mode on Jan. 7. The regional dust storm is blocking InSight's solar panels from charging, but the mission team says InSight's power is holding steady.
NASA may need more astronauts to accomplish moon and Mars missions
A report released on Tuesday (Jan. 11) said that NASA may need more astronauts to meet the spacefaring goals it has set for itself in the coming years. The Office of Investigator General evaluated how NASA manages its astronaut corps, and in its new report, the office concluded that missions to the moon or to Mars would require more astronauts. Currently, NASA only flies astronauts to the International Space Station.
The Milky Way's central supermassive black hole has a 'blowtorch-like jet,' says NASA
The Hubble Space Telescope captured the sight of bright radiation and heated gas near the supermassive black hole found at the Milky Way's center. This gargantuan black hole, dubbed Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), has been emitting jet-like superheated beams for thousands of years. Scientists were able to observe the effects of these leaking beams on its surroundings, providing evidence of the jet's existence.
People want to know what NASA's new space telescope will photograph first
The James Webb Space Telescope is a highly-anticipated scientific mission and, naturally, people are excited to see what its first images will be like. In a Jan. 8 press conference, Webb's operations project scientist said that the next-generation space telescope's first images would probably be "ugly" and "blurry," because the spacecraft's 18 hexagonal mirror segments will need to be aligned correctly in a process that involves taking images.
Jupiter's polar cyclones share similarities with Earth's oceans
A research team led by an oceanographer found striking similarities between the way water moves on Earth and how cyclones churn at Jupiter's north pole. Their analysis, which involved looking at imagery taken by NASA's Juno spacecraft, found that similar forces generate these two phenomena. Jupiter's polar cyclones are massive and can stretch up to 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) across.
SpaceX launches 105 small satellites and its rocket safely lands back on Earth
SpaceX performed its second rocket launch of 2022 on Thursday (Jan. 13), lofting 105 small satellites into space for the Transporter-3 mission. This flight marks SpaceX's third dedicated rideshare mission. The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket that carried the satellites into Earth orbit touched down on a landing pad about nine minutes after launching from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Virgin Orbit delivers 7 satellites to Earth orbit
Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rocket delivered seven satellites into Earth orbit on Thursday (Jan. 13). To reach an altitude at which it could deploy the small payloads, LauncherOne rode under the wing of Virgin Orbit's Cosmic Girl carrier aircraft. This modified Boeing 747 lifted off from Mojave Air and Space Port in Southern California, flew over a patch of the Pacific Ocean and then released LauncherOne at an altitude of roughly 35,000 feet (10,700 meters). LauncherOne then powered itself to orbit.