Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibilityAAS etc space news: A distant blast, and water in the farthest place anybody has been

AAS etc space news: A distant blast, and water in the farthest place anybody has been

This is the week of the American Astronomical Society meeting in Boston, bringing with it a spike in news of near space, far space, and places in between.

Here is a sampling of stories on one heavily covered piece of news, filed by reporters there or following things via the web, teleconference, and other remote means. Below that is another piece of space news that broke at about the same time, but not at AAS.

1) Farthest explosion ever seen. NASA’s Swift gamma ray satellite spotted it more than two years ago. A US-UK team now publishes analysis of the event, id’d as a gamma ray burst unleashed by the collapse and simultaneous supernova explosion of a massive star, concluding it occurred 13.14 billion years ago – about five hundred million years after the universe is believed to have formed and the farthest and earliest such thing so far recorded (by now, so long after it occurred, whatever remnant remains has moved even farther away than 13.14 b light years – maybe ten time farther). This breaks the earlier, oldest-farthest record by about a 100 million years.  It also, as news stories relate, provides a calibration point for models of how fast, and just plain how, the first stars formed. The analysis took awhile because weather on Earth cut short efforts to get a good spectrum of the afterglow.

2) Wet Moon: One may say it didn’t do much, but never say the Apollo program did no serious science. The moon rocks and dust and grit the astronauts fetched back to Earth are still yielding important conclusions – such as that the interior of our moon, once thought drier than the Sahara at noon, is as wet in places as the Earth’s upper mantle. This broke in Science,  independently of the AAS meeting where interest tends to focus far beyond the solar system.

This article was originally published on AAS etc space news: A distant blast, and water in the farthest place anybody has been

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