The Carnival of Space #196

From the furthest reaches of the universe and the Big Bang to near Earth objects and a dose of history, there’s a lot going on in the space-blog world this week!

The Next Big Future has posted some interesting research this week suggesting that there are objects in the universe that predate the Big Bang. Thanks to their impressive mass, some black holes are believed to survive the universe’s expansions and contractions in cycles of Big Bangs and Big Crunches.

Speaking of Big Bangs and black holes, Discovery News questions whether our universe and everything in it was in fact created by such a bang. Some objects might have been around longer while others have come along a little later.

Tying up questions of the universe this week, Cheap Astronomy has posted a new podcast about the assumptions we must make to establish any definitive statement about the size and nature of the universe.

Moving somewhat closer to home, Astroblogger fills us in about how a comet-like outburst from Asteroid 596 Schelia prompted extensive discussion and much amateur monitoring of the asteroid. Recent data from the Hubble and Swift telescopes supports the idea that this was an asteroid collision, a suggestion presaged by amateur observations.

Centauri Dreams examines the recent results of Gravity Probe B, which has been able to confirm two key predictions of Einstein’s General Relativity, including the first verification of the effect known as ‘frame dragging.’ Is this the end of the story now that General Relativity has again been vindicated? Hardly, because as Paul Gilster points out, GRT’s field equations break down in singularities like black holes. An even more comprehensive theory that includes General Relativity within it is one of physics’ great challenges.

Bringing the universe down to Earth, the Urban Astronomer clarifies that astrology is not astronomy. He is sick and tired of being mistaken for an astrologer and being asked about people’s star signs, so he’s written a quick guide as to what star signs actually are, and how they relate to constellations.

Vega 0.0 gives us the details of how lunar eclipses actually work in anticipation of next month a total lunar eclipse that will be visible from Spain.

Also closer to home, is there anyone else out there? 21st Century Waves shares an article discussing how Kepler, Watson, and Gott Point to the Rare Earth Hypothesis.

Looking a little towards the future of space exploration, the Next Big Future has also posted an open letter from Elon Musk this week, explaining how SpaceX keeps its launch costs so low and why the company can beat China.

The Armagh Planetarium takes us back in time. Just last week marked the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the Mercury Program. Alan Shepard made the historic flight weeks after Gagarin and the space race was truly underway!

The Chandra X-ray Observatory gives us some more modern history, offering us a profile of Jeffrey Silverman, a former high school science Olympian who is now finishing his doctorate in astrophysics.

That’s it for this week’s Carnival of Space.

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