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Space.com

NASA astronaut Christopher Williams PhD '12 shares his excitement over the upcoming solar eclipse with Space.com Elizabeth Howell, noting he is most excited that the celestial event will provide unique views of the sun’s outer atmosphere. Williams previously conducted radio astronomy research and helped build the Murchison Widefield Array in Australia during his time at MIT. "It was an incredible experience, because I got to both work on the cosmology and the science behind that,” recalls Williams. 

Space.com

Astronomers from MIT and other institutions have found that periodic eruptions from a supermassive black hole located in a galaxy about 800 million light-years from Earth could be caused by a, “second, smaller black hole slamming into a disk of gas and dust, or ‘accretion disk,’ surrounding the supermassive black hole, causing it to repeatedly ‘hiccup’ out matter,” writes Rob Lea for Space.com

Scientific American

Using the James Webb Space Telescope, postdoc Rohan Naidu will be studying “some of the particularly large and red galaxies, [called little red dots,] that appear much brighter and more massive than theorists have expected galaxies at this epoch to be,” reports Jonathan O’Callaghan for Scientific American. Naidu’s “program will seek to settle the debat about little red dots once and for all,” writes O’Callaghan.

CBS

Christina “Chris” Birch PhD '15 is among NASA’s newest class of astronauts, reports Norah O’Donnell for CBS Evening News. “These new astronauts could one day be part of the team that brings the first woman and first person of color to the surface of the moon and beyond.”

Science Friday

Prof. Danielle Wood speaks with Science Friday guest host Sophie Bushwick about the importance of space law and the rules of space. “One of the things that is so helpful to think about when trying to define space law is the fact that space law, in many ways, happens at the national level and is negotiated at the international level, so we can say that the United States has both ratified and signed the outer space treaty which means it is also U.S law,” explains Wood. “I think that’s really key to keeping track of what it means for international law to be binding and I think that’s key to saying space law is meaningful especially because countries make it domestic law.”

Science

Prof. Danielle Wood speaks with Science news intern Sean Cummings about how space exploration and research can benefit everyone. “It’s great to think about what it means for space to benefit everyone,” says Wood. “I think there are two dimensions to ask: I would first ask ‘how could I redesign space systems that were not designed for everyone but could be fixed to make them more effective?’ and the second would be ‘what about the new things we haven’t built yet?’”

NPR

Prof. Paulo Lozano speaks with Kaity Kline of NPR’s Morning Edition about the space stations of the future and how NASA collaborating with private companies on the development of the next iteration of the International Space Station could spur new technological advancements. “Once you have entrepreneurship and you have a commercial interest, that accelerates technology development,” says Lozano. 

Quanta Magazine

Prof. Erin Kara speaks with Quanta Magazine reporter Michael Greshko about her career as an observational astrophysicist and her work to better understand how black holes behave and reshape galaxies across the universe. “The thing that really got me excited about pursuing astronomy was the discovery aspect: It was just super thrilling to be the first person to look at light that was released from around a black hole a billion years ago,” says Kara.

The Boston Globe

Researchers at MIT have discovered 18 supermassive black holes that “are tearing apart nearby stars in ‘oddball’ tidal disruption events,” reports Ava Berger for The Boston Globe. Graduate student Megan Masterson says, “the events are powerful tools to understand the most extreme parts of our universe. They happen about once every 50,000 years, and help scientists learn more about the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, and black holes in general.”

Newsweek

MIT researchers have discovered 18 new tidal disruption events (TDEs), “which are huge bursts of energy released as a star is shredded by a black hole,” reports Jess Thomson for Newsweek. “These new discoveries have also helped scientists learn more about what TDEs really are and where they occur,” explains Thomson. “The previous stock of TDEs had only been found in a rare form of galaxy known as a ‘post-starburst’ system, which once created a number of stars but has since stopped.”

Forbes

Forbes contributor Jamie Carter spotlights a new study co-authored by MIT scientists that suggests, “the absence of carbon dioxide in a rocky planet’s atmosphere—relative to others in the same star system—may indicate the presence of liquid water on the planet’s surface.”

Gizmodo

Gizmodo reporter George Dvorsky spotlights the Venus Life Finder mission, developed by researchers from MIT and Rocket Lab, which will be launching no earlier than December 2024. “The mission will send a small probe, equipped with a single science instrument, to analyze organic molecules and potential signs of life in the Venusian atmosphere,” writes Dvorsky.

Quanta Magazine

Using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), astronomers at MIT and elsewhere have discovered that the young cosmos hosted a large number of tempestuous galaxies with large black holes at their cores, reports Charlie Wood for Quanta Magazine. “The exact numbers and the details of each object remain uncertain, but it’s very convincing that we’re finding a large population of accreting black holes,” says Prof. Anna-Christina Eilers. “JWST has revealed them for the first time, and that’s very exciting.”

Time Magazine

A number of MIT spinouts and research projects – including the MOXIE instrument that successfully generated oxygen on Mars, a new solar-powered desalination system and MIT spinout SurgiBox – were featured on TIME’s Best Inventions of 2023 list.

Forbes

MIT researchers are leading three missions over the next decade to characterize Venus’ atmosphere for habitability, reports Bruce Dorminey for Forbes. “Understanding Venus is key to understanding exo-earths,” writes Dorminey.