Science fiction is filled with stories of astronauts blowing up asteroids just before they strike the Earth. But, doing so could be even worse than doing nothing, as fragments of these bodies could impact the Earth in multiple locations, like a shotgun blast. Now, new research from Johns Hopkins University shows even attempting to blow up an asteroid might prove futile. Computer models of impacts between two asteroids show that such events would likely result in short-term fragmenting of the bodies, but these pieces would come together again within hours, recreating a mass much like the original asteroid. Researchers are on the lookout for asteroids and comets heading toward the Earth that could endanger areas from small cities to the entire planet.Read More Want to Blow Up an Asteroid? It’s Harder than You Think
Titan is the second-largest moon in the solar system, and the only one known to possess a thick atmosphere. Since it was first studied in detail by the Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1980, astronomers have wondered how the atmosphere of the largest moon of Saturn developed. Now, researchers have developed a theory that comets, which are rich in organic materials, may have deposited vast quantities of carbon-based chemicals just beneath the surface of Titan, where they were baked, releasing the nitrogen and methane seen in the atmosphere of Titan today.Read More Is Titan Baking its Own Atmosphere? Origin of Mysterious Gases Revealed
The Geminid Meteor shower is peaking on the nights of December 13th and 14th, delighting viewers on Earth with between 50 and 120 shooting stars every hour. This annual event is sometimes known as “Nature’s Holiday Light Show,” lighting up the skies with bright green streaks. To view the display, head outside after 10 pm, and look to the east. If you are viewing just before dawn, the shooting stars will be seen in the south. Accompanying this display will be a small green comet, known as 46P/Wirtanen. Both the meteor shower and the comet are visible without telescopes or binoculars.Read More Geminid Meteor Shower Peaking Now – View Nature’s Holiday Light Show (and a Green Comet as Well)!