10 mind-bending space discoveries and observations from 2020

A new ‘atlas’’

The experts at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia‘s national science agency, have created a new atlas of the universe.

Experts at the agency have mapped three million galaxies with more details and in a record time of 300 hours, in comparison to previous mappings which have taken years.

Water on moon!

NASA has confirmed the presence of water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface.

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible from Earth, located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere.

Do black holes have hair?

Black holes can grow hair-like structures if they spin fast enough, a team of researchers has discovered.

In a new study, researchers used numerical simulations which indicated that black holes can spontaneously erupt what has been described as a hair, once they reach a certain spin speed. This hair is otherwise known as a scalar field.

The Milky Way – mapped!

British astrologists have made another guide of the Milky Way comprised of almost two billion stars utilising information assembled by the European Space Agency (ESA) Gaia space observatory.

College of Cambridge specialists drove the production of the infinite chartbook of two billion stars, that they accept could reveal insight into how our system appeared and what may befall it in the inaccessible future.

The return of the capsule!

After a long wait of six years, samples of an asteroid from a far off territory in space arrived in Japan recently. Greeted with smiles and claps, the sample was fetched from an asteroid 300 million kilometres away from Earth, and was sought as part of a space probe attempting to understand the source of life.

In December 2014, Hayabusa2 left for the asteroid called Ryugu. Soon after reaching the destination, it suffered a rough landing but was able to overcome it to collect the samples of asteroid dust in a capsule.

Lakes on Mars

Looks like we might be getting closer to discovering life on Mars. Two years ago, scientists discovered a large reservoir under Mars icy surface. Now, they have found three such more lakes! A paper in Nature Astronomy claimed that researchers have found three lakes burrowed under the red planet’s surface, in addition to the saltwater lake discovered earlier. Radar data from the European Space Agency (ESA) was used to discover the water bodies.

Earth’s closest black hole no more

Black holes are perhaps the most famous celestial bodies in popular culture. There are theories like black holes being portals of time travel, a passage to another universe etc. It’s not surprising that the mysterious black holes hold great importance inpopular perception. Everyone knows that there is a supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. But that’s too far away. There ‘was’ a black hole closer to home, about 1120 light-years away. Now, a study has said that there may not be a black hole here at all.

The star that went kaput

A giant star which was under the observation of astronomers for over ten years has suddenly vanished. The star in question was located in a dwarf galaxy 75 million light-years away, and was one of the largest stars in the known universe. The star, which was 2.5 times brighter than the Sun, left no trace behind.

Aliens have been watching us

A new study has identified more than 1,000 nearby stars that are favourably positioned for spotting life on Earth. The team has identified 1,004 stars with Earth in their line of sight, which could contain habitable, Earth-like planets. These stars are all within 326 light-years of Earth.

Moon’s long lost sibling

Scientists have reason to believe that the Earth’s Moon has a sibling. Its official name is (101429) 1998 VF31, and it could be our Moon’s sibling. The celestial body is probably 4.5 billion years old, with a lunar appearance, and is twinned with the moon. Until now, scientists didn’t know our natural satellite even had a sibling. Turns out, it was too small to be noticed by astronomers. Considering how old it is, we are rather discovering it late.

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