March 28, 2023
No More Big Rip, Pillars of Creation by JWST, Biggest Gamma-Ray Burst Ever

No More Big Rip, Pillars of Creation by JWST, Biggest Gamma-Ray Burst Ever

The Pillars of Creation revealed by JWST. Looks like the Big Rip isn’t happening after all. Black holes twisting spacetime into knots. Jets that seem to go faster than the speed of light.

If you’d rather sit back, relax and catch all the week’s most important space news, we’ve got you covered! Great new images, new discoveries in astronomy, defining the future of the Universe and more in the latest episode of Space Bites.

Pillars of Creation by Webb

It’s time to update your desktop wallpaper. We finally have Webb’s version of the Pillars of Creation, made famous by the Hubble Space Telescope, which released images in 1995. Because JWST is an infrared telescope, it can look through gas and dust, hiding all newly formed stars. Intense radiation from all the new stars is blasted into the poles, wearing them down and revealing the young stars. It is a beautiful image and scientifically fascinating.

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More about JWST’s best image yet.

Big Rip avoided

Astronomers use type 1a supernovae to measure distances in the Universe. They always explode with the same amount of energy, so it is possible to calculate how far away they are. A new type 1a supernova catalog called Pantheon+ has been completed, containing over 1,500 type 1a supernovae. From this, astronomers were able to accurately measure the proportions of dark matter and dark energy at different periods in the Universe.

More on dark energy and the death of the Universe.

Black Holes Space-Time Nodes

In 2020, astronomers detected gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes. One had over 40 times the mass of the Sun and was spinning as fast as the laws of physics would allow. As the two black holes were about to collide, they became entangled in spacetime in the region. Astronomers could measure this in the form of the gravitational wave signal detected by LIGO. This helped confirm one of Einstein’s predictions about relativity in one of the most extreme environments in the Universe.

More on merging black holes.

The most powerful gamma ray burst ever recorded

Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions in the Universe, shining briefly with more radiation than the rest of their galaxy. They are believed to be caused by the collapse of the most massive stars in the Universe. On October 12, astronomers detected a GRB that defied comprehension, the most powerful ever seen. Although the explosion occurred 2.4 billion light-years away, spacecraft detectors were overwhelmed and the radiation ionized Earth’s atmosphere, disrupting long-range communications.

More on the record-breaking gamma ray burst.

2017 Kilonova Aftermath

One of the most important astronomical discoveries of the last decade was the detection of a kilonova, the collision of two neutron stars. This was special because the astronomers detected both the gravitational waves from the impact and the bright flash of radiation. Years after the kilonova first appeared, astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to study the debris. An exciting discovery is that the region has developed giant jets that shoot radiation into space that appear to go faster than the speed of light (but it’s just an illusion).

More on “faster than light” jets.

A supernova warning sign

It is believed that red supergiant stars will fade before exploding as supernovae. This is because they shed material in their later years, which obscures our view, making it appear that they are fading. That’s why astronomers were so excited when Betelgeuse dimmed a few years ago. It looks like Betelgeuse didn’t go down fast enough. A new theory suggests that red supergiants will shed 10% of their mass in the last year of their lives, shrinking by a factor of 100. When Betelgeuse disappears from the night sky, it may mean it’s about to explode.

More on predicting starbursts.

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