This year that just passed appears to be quite amazing for space science.
These of some of the stories that made 2017 special:
1. We saw how neutron stars were colliding
The photographs of this event are really stunning! Gravitational waves were actually able to help pinpoint the collision that happened between two neutron stars, which allowed us to take optical observation of the event.
2. Interstellar visitor
Astronomers have already observed a lot of asteroids and comets in the Solar System. But this was actually the first time ever when scientists were able to observe something (its either asteroid or a comet) inside our Solar System, but originating from elsewhere! After scientists have done some research they realized that this thing is probably flying through space for thousands of millions of years.
3. Astronomers were able to measure the distance to a group of stars – on the other side of the galaxy!
It is true that it can be pretty hard to find out how the Milky Way galaxy actually looks like from our vantage point on the inside. But you can imagine that it was pretty huge when scientists were able to measure the distance to a group of stars that is around 66,000 light years away! The last measurement record was 36, 000 light-years.
4. The weirdness of the Tabby’s Star
This star is confusing scientists since 2015, and it still does today!
In 2017, researchers have discovered that the star (which exhibits a dimming pattern that was never seen before) has been actually doing so for much than we thought!
5. An important decision was made: Humans will go back to the Moon!
The last time this happened was in 1972. So yeah, 45 years ago. You remember it was Eugene Cernan.
The US Vice President Mike Pence has made an announcement that the US government is sending people back up there!
6. Lead on the fast radio bursts
These are indeed one of the most puzzling mysteries in the whole Universe because they last only a few milliseconds and usually they can’t be predicted.
This year, scientists were able to detect bursts from one specific location for the first time ever! We still can’t really know what exactly these radio bursts are, but slowly we are getting closer!
7. The party of the Sun
We had the pleasure to see amazing auroras when our own local star has spat out the biggest solar flare we have seen in 12 years!
Also, in August citizens from the US were able to witness the very first full solar eclipse (last time this happened in 1918)
8. The confirmation of the theory of relativity – once again!
More than one hundred years have passed since Einstein released his theory of general relativity. Scientists are still finding out that he was right about a lot of things. In 2017, astrophysicists have actually calculated that deviation in the orbit of a star around a black hole doesn’t actually consist fits the Newtonian theory, but totally fits with Einstein’s!
9. Observation of binary supermassive black holes
The idea of a binary supermassive black hole was actually theoretical only until this year! Researchers were able to discover and observe a binary supermassive black hole that was created by a merger between two galaxies.
10. The Event Horizon Telescope is taking some pictures!
Even if we can’t see the black holes, perhaps we are able to photograph them! In 2017, researchers around the world have pointed many telescopes at a black hole for 5 nights of observation.
They wanted to see if they are able to get a picture of the event horizon of a black hole.
We are still waiting for the result. But it should happen very, very soon!