This week in space: Zombie stars and the corporatization of the galaxy – Chron

"This Week In Space" brings you whats new and exciting in space exploration and astronomy once a week, every week. From supernovae to SpaceX or Mars missions to black holes, if its out of this world, its covered here:

A supernova that lit the night sky for months in 1181 AD has returned as a 'zombie' star, scientists say.

In 1181 AD, medieval astronomers in China and Japan stood witness to something that has only occurred eight times in all of recorded history: a supernova from within our galaxy. The stellar explosion appeared to humans as a new light in the night sky, then slowly faded over months back into darkness, never to be seen again. Until now.

Nearly a thousand years later, an international team of astronomers believe they have found the remains of that supernova. Its called a "zombie star," becauseunlike nearly every other supernova weve observedit partially survived its explosion.

On top of that, the supernova may be the first definite example of a rare type thats only been theorized before, involving the merger of two extremely dense stars. The only way to find out for sure is to study the star in detail.

Now, centuries after it was first seen by human eyes, thats finally possible.

An airborne experiment over the Alps could help scientists explore matter in other galaxies.

Scientists have thought of many ways to discover life on other planets, but they often rest on assumptions about what aliens might be like. This past week, an interdisciplinary team of scientists put forward a promising new method that only assumes one of the most fundamental facts about life as we know it. Then they tested it in daredevil fashion.

All life on Earth is based on molecules that are chiral, meaning they can exist in either one of two mirror-image forms. When biology uses a molecule in some way, it almost always uses just one form and not its mirror image. The scientists claim is that this microscopic tendency could be visible from space. Or, at the very least, from a helicopter.

In what must have been a fun study, the group sped a helicopter 5,000 feet above the Swiss Alps while constantly taking measurements of the ground beneath them through a telescope. If the helicopter was above greenery, the hope was that they would be able to detect how sunlight reflects differently from a plants asymmetrically chiral molecules (as opposed to, say, a rock or a lake).

It did. They found that they could use their measurements to tell whether they were flying over plant life within seconds.

Future astronomers may not use helicopters to accomplish the same feat, but the proof-of-concept stands, and means that some day this technique could be scaled up to planets themselves.

The U.S. is looking to become a gatekeeper and licenser for all of Earth's extra-planetary operations.

Another step has been taken toward the corporatization of space. Last week, South Korea and New Zealand became the 10th and 11th countries to sign the Artemis Accords, a space treaty that acts a prerequisite for those who want to be involved in American efforts to again set foot on the Moon.

Mostly, the agreement is uncontroversial. It reaffirms peaceful cooperation in space exploration and the status quo. To some, though, it represents another inch slid down the slippery slope to privatized space, or even an outer space totally dominated by the U.S.

The Accords set the standard for whether and how corporations can exploit resources in space (e.g. mining), allowing it so long as the corporations are appropriately approved. But the U.S. would be the body deciding most of those approvals, since most private space corporations are licensed in America. The result is that space not only becomes a new frontier of potentially unlimited private property, but one which the U.S. controls access to in practice.

Perhaps this is why NASA and the Department of State have pursued the treaty on a country-by-country basis, as opposed to bringing it to the UN for approval. With each country that signs on, there is a bit more precedent that outer space is aligned with US interests.

See the rest here:
This week in space: Zombie stars and the corporatization of the galaxy - Chron

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