Radio emissions from outside our solar system
Planets in the solar system emit radiowaves, especially Jupiter with its intense magnetic fields. But no one had ever detected radio waves coming from a planet beyond the solar system until this year, when researchers picked up a signal from a gas giant in the Tau Bootes system, just 51 light years from Earth. That signal could help them learn more about that exoplanet’s magnetic field, which could offer clues to what’s going on in its atmosphere.
X-ray blobs bursting from the Milky Way
Millions of years ago, an explosion in the center of the Milky Way blasted energized material above and below the galactic disk. That material is still visible, glowing in the gamma ray spectrum in two clumps discovered in 2010, known as the Fermi Bubbles. In 2020, researchers found another pair of blobs in the same region, visible in the X-ray spectrum. Likely related to the Fermi bubbles, these dim, gargantuan features of the Milky Way tower over the 25,000-light year Fermi Bubbles, to a width of 45,000 light-years end to end. Researchers named them the “eROSITA bubbles.”
A million new galaxies
A radio telescope in the Australian outback mapped 83% of the observable universe over the course of 300 hours of observations. And it revealed a big haul of data: 3 million galaxies, a full million of which had never been seen before. The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) relies on 36 antennas to record the sky, but this was the first time that all 36 had been used at once for a single project.
A hint of life on Venus?
Venus may be the most inhospitable place in the solar system, with roiling acid clouds and hellish temperatures. That’s why astronomers getting ready to look for phosphine, a smelly gas thought to be a possible signature of life on alien planets, trained their phosphine-hunting telescope on Venus first: They wanted a reference image from a surely-dead world. But in a shocking twist, they found the compound in Venus’s clouds.