Nikolai Kardashev is a little known Russian astrophysicist—certainly in regards to the current phenomena of science-related pop-culture icons, but despite this, some of his ideas have seeped in through the cracks. If the layman recognises his name at all, it won't be for the work that he put into examining the quasar CTA-102, but for the more theoretical exercise of developing what we now know as the Kardashev Scale. Even if you're not familiar with its name, there's a chance that you'll know a bit about its substance: Nikolai proposed the idea that some galactic civilisations would be possibly millions—even billions—of years ahead of us in regards to technology, and developed a scale in order to help with the categorisation of any civilisations that we may come across, or possibly fit into ourselves.
There was some big astronomy news this week, as astronomers announced the first direct observation of gravitational waves produced by the collision, or merging, of two neutron stars. This collision even produced some heavy elements, such as gold. It sounds like science fiction, but is very real. Gravitational waves have been seen before, but those ones were caused by the collision of two black holes. This was also the first time that such an event (known as GW170817 in this case) had been detected in both visible light and gravitational waves.
When the New Horizons space probe launched in 2007 I couldn’t wait for it to reach Pluto in 2015 and finally reveal many secrets of that mysterious dwarf planet. Once that time came I was fascinated to read about the physical details of Pluto that had never been seen before, such as Pluto giving off x-rays. I experience the exact same curiosity whenever a new extrasolar planet is discovered, as well as distant quasars (almost as old as the universe itself).
Space telescopes and ground-based telescopes have been discovering a wide variety of exoplanets in the last few decades - several thousand have been found so far and the estimated total number is in the billions in our galaxy alone. Now, astronomers have found the first exoplanet with titanium oxide in its atmosphere. The chemical compound is rare on Earth but can be found in the atmosphere of some cooler stars.
On September 15, 2017, the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn will culminate in a dramatic and fiery collision with the planet's upper atmosphere. NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency teamed up for the groundbreaking mission that has changed what we know about planetary science and space travel itself.
In the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, astronomers have come across a variety of unusual phenomena in the universe; while natural explanations have been found for them, so far at least, some of these phenomena can be very bizarre. Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are one such example, and one for which an explanation has not yet been found—very brief (milliseconds), but powerful radio emissions from outside of our galaxy. Now, a new detection of 15 repeating radio bursts has been made by astronomers, adding a new piece to the puzzle and posing more questions.
What happens when you remove the singularity from a black hole? A wormhole might appear right in the center of it. Can you go through, can we travel through time? Nobody knows for sure, but in case you are immensely bold, the easiest way to find out is diving right into it.
NASA's Cosmic Ray Energetics And Mass for the International Space Station, aka ISS-CREAM, got underway August 14, 2017 by hitching a ride to the ISS with the SpaceX Dragon rocket in a successful launch. CREAM will be installed in Kibo, the Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility. The experiment is designed to probe the mysteries of cosmic rays, or cosmic rain.