The Milky Way’s monster black hole is imaged for the first time, a “mixed-up sunspot” fires off a huge flare, and a Starlink rocket launch creates a “space jellyfish.” These are some of the top images this week from Space.com.
Say hello to our monster black hole friend
During joint worldwide news conferences Thursday (May 12), Event Horizon Telescope scientists unveiled our first-ever view of the supermassive black hole at the heart of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Imaging Sagittarius A* is another groundbreaking result for the telescope array, which generated a boatload of science to accompany the spectacular photos.
Big, bright flare emerges from weirdly polarized sunspot
A “mixed up” sunspot shot off the strongest type of flare, an X-class, within range of Earth on Tuesday (May 10). While the volley did not generate any auroras from coronal mass ejections of charged particles, the sunspot had an opposite polarization than expected, making the ejection a remarkable one for science observations.
This ‘space jellyfish’ came from a SpaceX Starlink launch
Florida’s Space Coast got treated to a sky glow, dubbed a “space jellyfish”, due to atmospheric physics associated with a recent SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch of Starlink satellites. The May 6 event came after gas in the nozzle was released into the lower-pressure air, within striking range of light from the rising sun.
Old Hubble Space Telescope data reveals streaking asteroids
Astronomers spotted the trails of nearly 1,500 new asteroids hidden in data gathered by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The project was generated from a space rock search in the “Hubble Asteroid Hunter” project on Zooniverse, a popular platform for crowdsourcing science.
Webb captures Large Magellanic Cloud in unprecedented infrared detail
A new commissioning image in infrared from the James Webb Space Telescope showed a neighboring galaxy to the Milky Way, called the Large Magellanic Cloud. The unprecedented sharp views of stars in the galaxy next door came from its coldest instrument, the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).
Astronauts from Crew-3 ‘waltz’ in spacesuits
The Crew-3 astronauts gave a nod to the classic “2001” space movie in an epic new video, showing them flying formation in SpaceX spacesuits while preparing to return to Earth. The new video, shared by European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, is set to the iconic “The Blue Danube” waltz by Johann Strauss II made famous to space fans in the 1968 film.
A magnetic ‘flip’ is caught in a huge black hole
Scientists might have seen a monster black hole changing polarities. A galaxy known as 1ES 1927+654, briefly ceased X-ray emissions for a few months, then resumed and increased. These black hole observations represent a unique situation so far.
A royal-looking spiral galaxy shines in purple
Golden and purple gas shine in Messier 66 (M66) in a striking new image, released by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). The multiple observations revealed a selection of gasses — oxygen, hydrogen and sulfur — ionized by young stars. The image was released by ESO on May 2.
It’s a new phase for DARPA’s ‘Glide Breaker’ hypersonic missile
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is ready for Phase 2 of the Glide Breaker program to knock hypersonic missiles out of the sky. The agency is seeking proposals “to conduct wind tunnel and flight testing of jet interaction effects,” DARPA officials announced on April 15.
Star survives the aftermath of its explosive companion
The Hubble Space Telescope found a survivor star that persisted despite the violent death of its companion. The supernova explosion event, called SN 2013ge, has included a persistent nearby source of ultraviolet light. This suggests a surviving binary companion, according to a statement from NASA.