This week, scientists have speculated that an interstellar object called "Oumuamua" might be a foreign probe because of the way it accelerated through our solar system when it blitzed last year.
The Parker Solar Probe is doing well despite the first close contact with the sun, 15 million miles from its surface, after approaching our star, than any space vehicle has gone. Mars boat Trivia passed a long, pleasant ride on the surface of Mars, the longest after a computer breakdown in September. Opportunity, the second rover on Mars, is still sadly silent.
Here's what else you missed in space this week.
This is one fountain in which you will not want to play, but it is beautiful to see it.
More than a billion light-years from Earth, a black hole in the center of the giant elliptical galaxy, Abell 2597, attracts cold molecular gas and spray it back in a stream-like or fountain-like manner. Observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimetre The Array of Telescopes and the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory have been published this week in The Astrophysical Journal.
This process is doomed to repeat itself over and over again. The cold gas falls into the black hole, igniting the black hole, and activates streams of glowing plasma into space. But plasma can not free itself from the gravity of the galaxy, so it falls back into the black hole.
"The evolution of galaxies can be quite chaotic, and large galaxies like this have a tendency to live hard and die young," said Timothy Davis of the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Cardiff. "For the first time we have been able to observe the full cycle of a supermassive fountain with black holes that regulates this process, extending the lives of galaxies."
Black holes connect
We know that galaxies merge to form larger galaxies, but for the first time astronomers have observed several pairs of galaxies that have met each other. And they were able to see the supermassive black holes in the centers of these galaxies, forming one huge black hole.
The research has been published in the journal Nature this week.
"Seeing the pairs of connecting galaxies associated with these huge black holes so close together was amazing," said Michael Koss, a scientist at Eureka Scientific. "In our research, we see two galactic nuclei shortly after taking pictures, you can not argue with them, it's a very clean result that does not depend on interpretation."
Archival images from the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as high resolution images made by W. M. Keck's adaptive optics, provided a stunning first look.
This will probably happen in four billion years, when our Milky Way galaxy will merge with the neighboring galaxy of Andromeda.
Death of the galaxy
The adjacent dwarf galaxy called the Small Magellanic Cloud is just a fraction of the size of the Milky Way – and loses the power it uses to create stars.
Minor details provided by radio images from the Australian telescope SKA Pathfinder, published in the Nature Astronomy research this week, show the end of the galaxy when it loses gas.
"Galaxies that stop making stars are gradually falling into oblivion, it's like a slow death for the galaxy if it loses all its gas," said Naomi McClure-Griffiths of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the Australian National University.
Ultimately, astronomers believe that it will be eaten by the Milky Way.
A flock of stars
These stars are a bit wild duck. Meet the band Wild Duck Cluster, in which 2,900 stars live together.
Astronomers thought that star clusters would contain only stars from the same generation. But the Wild Duck cluster has bright stars in different colors, suggesting they are of different ages. Blue stars are usually younger, and red stars are usually older.
But in the new study, the scientists realized that the open cluster was playing a trick on them. The way they rotate causes them to appear in different eras and colors.
Their rotation causes their wavelength to appear flattened when one side of the star is directed to the Earth, disturbing the emitted light and making them appear blue or red.
A star from a long, long time ago
Astronomers have discovered what may be one of the oldest stars in the universe, which means it is made of materials that were originally released from the Big Bang. The 13.5-billionth star is tiny, has a low mass and low metal content, which may indicate the first stars ever born.
The earliest stars were full of elements like helium, hydrogen and lithium, producing heavier elements and spreading them throughout the universe as they exploded. This will allow later stars to have more metals and other elements.
This star was found as an almost invisible secondary star in the system of double stars. And if this old star can be seen, perhaps they are still older, which should be examined.
"This star is maybe one in 10 million," said Kevin Schlaufman, professor of physics and astronomy at John Hopkins University. "He tells us something very important about the first generations of stars."
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