A strange glittering is spotted around the supermassive black hole in M 87 — We talk to Dr. Maciek Weilgus of Harvard University who made the discovery.

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Maciek Wielgus of Harvard University vistis The Cosmic Companion to talk about his work finding an unexpected glittering around the supermassive black hole in the M 87 galaxy. Video credit: The Cosmic Companion

This week, we are joined by Dr. Maciek Wielgus, astronomer at Harvard University, speaking to us from Gdansk, Poland. We will discuss his work revealing glittering around the supermassive black hole at the center of the M 87 galaxy.

But first, we look at a new study identifying 24 exoplanets that appear to be even friendlier to life than Earth. We also see how superflares — powerful eruptions from stars — behave, and learn how they might affect life on other worlds. …

The volcanoes of Io dazzle in new data from the ALMA network of radio telescopes.

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Io seen in a composite image showing ALMA radio readings, together with optical mapping from the Voyager 1 and Galileo spacecraft. Image credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), I. de Pater et al.; NRAO/AUI NSF, S. Dagnello; NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

For the first time ever, astronomers were able to the see the effects of volcanic activity on the atmosphere of the innermost large moon of Jupiter.

Io is the most volcanically-active body in the Solar System apart from the Earth. Astronomers know of more than 400 volcanoes strewn across the surface of Io. These eruptions release vast quantities of sulfur gas which freeze, falling to the surface of Io, coating the moon in red, orange, yellow, and white deposits.

You’ve Got Another Thin Comin’, Lucy

The atmosphere of Io is astonishingly thin — a billion times thinner than the atmosphere of our own world. But, studying this tenuous layer of (mostly) sulfur dioxide gas allows astronomers to learn more about the thin atmosphere of this moon, as well as determine the composition of Io just beneath its colorful veneer. …

Looking toward Earth from another planet, could aliens find life on Earth?

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Could alien astronomers discover life on Earth? Image credit: The Cosmic Companion / Created in Universe Sandbox

Could extraterrestrials find life on Earth? The question of whether or not life exists on other worlds suggests pondering if extraterrestrial beings might be able to find life on our home world.

More than 4,500 exoplanets are currently known to astronomers, many of which were found as they orbited in front of their parent star as seen from Earth, dimming light from the stellar surface.

“Let’s reverse the viewpoint to that of other stars and ask from which vantage point other observers could find Earth as a transiting planet,” Lisa Kaltenegger, associate professor of astronomy at Cornell University’s Carl Sagan Institute stated. …


James Maynard

Writing about space since I was 10, still not Carl Sagan. Weekly video show, podcast, comics, more: www.thecosmiccompanion.net

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