2018 was an Impressive Year for the Astronomical World

2018 was an Impressive Year for the Astronomical World

Astronomy has progressed rapidly following the surge of technological advancements. As a result, several astronomical developments are being made on a regular basis. In these circumstances, it is almost impossible to determine the top events in the astronomical world. However, we have tried to list some of the top astronomical events of 2018 (in our opinion) below.

Observing the Collision of Two Neutron Stars

Image Credits: Quanta Magazine

Astronomers were finally able to see (for the first time ever) the collision of two neutron stars in 2018, thanks to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). The observed ripples of energy showed that this super-energetic event took place about 130 million years ago. Not only did this discovery confirm the speed of light, but it also revealed the source of heavier elements like gold.

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was Confirmed

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Although the theory of Einstein was published in 1915, there was no scientific evidence to support his idea. In order to find an answer for this mystery, two individual teams of researchers observed stars near the center of the Milky Way. It was observed that one of these stars (called S2 or SO2) reached incredibly close to the supermassive black hole that lies exactly at the center of our galaxy. This observation guided the scientists to a point where they could justify the theory of relativity.

Launch of TESS

Image Credits: Engadget

The quest of searching extraterrestrial life has led to some incredible missions and the Transmitting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is right up there among the very best space telescopes. Given the extraordinary abilities of TESS, researchers believe that they should find around 10,000 new exoplanets with this mission. The aim of TESS is to find exoplanets in an area 400 times bigger than that explored by the Kepler Space Telescope of NASA. The astronomical world witnessed the launch of this mission on 18th April 2018.

Hayabusa2 Reaches the Surface of Asteroid Ryugu

Hayabusa2- Astronomical World Absolute Knowledge
Image Credits: Phys.org

This sample-return mission of JAXA, the Japanese space agency, arrived at its destination (asteroid Ryugu) on 27th June 2018. Just like its predecessor, the basic goal of this spacecraft is to send samples of the asteroidal surface back to the Earth for analysis. In addition to the sampling equipment, four small rovers were also included in the payload of this spacecraft that are now examining the surface of the asteroid. Hayabusa2 also holds the record for capturing the first ever image of the surface of an asteroid. This achievement was celebrated by the astronomical world in September 2018.

Discovery of an Exomoon

Image Credits: CNet

Humanity has located around 3,500 exoplanets in our universe. One of these exoplanets called Kepler 1625b was discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope of NASA in October 2018. Later observations (with Hubble) of the transit of the exoplanet revealed another trailing object. The shape, depth, and location of this object indicated that it is a Neptune-sized exomoon named 1625b-I. This was the first discovery of a moon outside our solar system.

Landing of InSight Spacecraft on Mars

InSight Spacecraft- Astronomical World Absolute Knowledge
Image Credits: NASA

The InSight Mission touched the Martian surface on 27th November 2018 after a long journey of 6 months. What made this achievement even more impressive is the success story of MarCO-A and MarCO-B, a couple of briefcase-sized satellites that chased InSight throughout the journey and joined it once they reached the red planet. The primary goal of the InSight Mission is to investigate the interior of Mars and extract maximum information about the composition of the planet. Similarly, it will gather useful information about the Martian temperature fluctuations in order to determine the distribution of liquid in the interior of the red planet.

Parker Solar Probe was Launched

Parker Solar Probe- Astronomical World Absolute Knowledge
Image Credits: NASA

One of the most exceptional achievements of the entire astronomical world was achieved on 12th August 2018 when an uncrewed mission was sent towards the Sun of our solar system. The Parker Solar Probe has now moved closer to the surface of the Sun than any other spacecraft as it continues its progress into the Sun’s atmosphere. It has the design to survive in the brutal conditions there. Consequently, scientists believe that it will provide closest-ever observations of a star to the scientific community. Having said that, the basic aim of this mission is to analyze the movement of heat and energy through the solar corona and observe the energetic particles of the solar wind.  

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