By Macy Dennon
As the world keeps spinning and the polar caps continue to melt, exploration remains constant in the realm of outer space discovery. Here are a few recent discoveries and updates.
Ohio State University conducted a study that used the James Webb Space Telescope’s first year of interstellar observation to reveal new details about the universe’s chemical formation. One of the brightest galaxies in our cosmic neighborhood is called the Spanish Dancer. Ness Mayker Chen, a graduate student at Ohio State, and Micheal Tucker, a fellow at the Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics, observed a Type 1a supernova in the galaxy, focusing on its core to study how certain chemical elements are emitted into the surrounding area after the supernova explodes. Once scientists understand this process, they can use similar thinking to further investigate the creation of the universe. The study shows that ejecta – material expelled from a star latently or in an explosion like that off a supernova – in most cases, does not escape the explosion. The researchers attribute their findings to the PHANGS-JWST Survey, which Science Daily explains, “was used to create a reference dataset to study in nearby galaxies.” Tucker explains that the study validated almost 20 years of science, and though, “it does not answer every question… the power of JWST is really unparalleled.”
The SpaceX Dragon capsule undocked from the International Space Station on March 11, 2023 in a live streamed event. Due to extreme weather, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) delayed the departure of the four astronauts on board by four days. The original release day was scheduled for March 7. The returning astronauts, consisting of NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann and Russian cosmonauts Anna Kikina and Japan’s Koichi Wakata, had a successful splashdown at 9:02 PM Eastern standard time, giving space enthusiasts an unforgettable steam that is now available on YouTube.
Finally, there is officially a baby star near the black hole in the middle of the Milky Way Galaxy. The star, as just a baby, is a few tens of thousands of years old, making it younger than humanity. Baby, in this context, does not refer to a small object, since this giant is 15 times the mass of the sun. In the past, scientists believed it was impossible to have a star so close to a black hole at such an early age, so the existence of baby star X3a is a unique phenomenon. The University of Cologne in Germany suggests that a dust cloud orbiting a black hole formed the star, then it migrated into an orbit after formation.
The universe offers an unfathomable vastness that the human brain can not fully comprehend, but more and more discoveries will allow humans to grasp just a tiny sliver of what space has to offer.
(Sources: American Museum of Natural History, NASA, Science Daily, SpaceX, Space.com)