Astronomy / Astrophysics

Blogs about astronomy and / or astrophysics

Stephen Hawking at the National Library of France

Stephen Hawking, one of the most well-known figures in physics and astrophysics passed away in the night at his home in Cambridge, England.

Stephen Hawking’s studies on black holes for which he became famous remain crucial in the field of physics and astrophysics. I wonder if in the end he was still lucid enough to realize the bitter irony of dying on Albert Einstein’s birth anniversary. With his sense of humor perhaps his last emotion was amusement. He was an atheist so he didn’t have the comfort of a religion but that of the appreciation of life.

Images of galaxies taken using gravitational lenses (Image Yashar Hezaveh/Laurence Perreault Levasseur/Phil Marshall/Stanford/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; NASA/ESA)

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes the application of neural networks to gravitational lensing. A team of researchers reduced from a few weeks to a few seconds the time needed to analyze complex space distortions in images captured thanks to gravitational lenses. This could greatly facilitate this type of task with great benefits for astronomical research.

A screenshot from the "Backyard Worlds: Planet 9" website

The new “Backyard Worlds: Planet 9” initiative by NASA and various American institutions along with the Zooniverse platform was announced to allow anyone connected to the Internet to participate in the search for the ninth planet of the solar system. You can connect to the project’s website, examine images captured by the WISE space telescope and report any moving objects.

Dan Tamayo (Photo courtesy Ken Jones)

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters” describes the development and the application of machine learning algorithms to verify the stability of planetary systems. A team of researchers at the University of Toronto Scarborough led by Dan Tamayo experimented this new approach to this type of astronomical research by creating a method a thousand times faster than conventional ones.

Part of the Venus Table in the Dresden Codex (Image courtesy University of California - Santa Barbara)

An article published in the journal “Journal of Astronomy in Culture” describes a research on the Venus Table contained in the Dresden Codex, one of the few Maya codices still existing today. According to Gerardo Aldana, a professor of anthropology at the University of California – Santa Barbara, it contains significant innovations in mathematics and astronomy, so much to compare its author to Copernicus.