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This is a blog space in which I may periodically post with updates and news from my research fields, or affecting astronomy and our research activities in general. (Please bear with me whilst this website is being setup.)

For example, yesterday the second detection of a gravitational waves from a binary neutron star merger was announced by the LIGO-VIRGO collaboration. In contrast to the first binary neutron star merger GW170817, the event GW190425 (i.e. detected on the 25th April 2019) was not accompanied by multi-messenger detections across the electromagnetic spectrum, which just shows how lucky we were the first time.
However, the total mass of GW190425 (3.4 solar masses) is somewhat larger than expected for a neutron star merger, so it might be possible that one of the progenitor objects was a black hole.
Accessible article
For researchers

In other news, the astronomy community has been somewhat alarmed by SpaceX’s Starlink satellites being highly reflective and leaving bright streaks across optical images.
Two articles explaining the issue can be found here and here.

No-one is contesting the potential benefits of such satellite constellations providing fast internet across the globe; however SpaceX is not alone and several companies plan to send up thousands of satellites in the near future. There are also remarkably few international regulations governing the use of space and especially optical brightness. It is worth remembering that space and our use of it is something that does not belong to a single nation or company and should not be exploited as such.

This case may be the perfect example of “being helpful” without first fully considering whether everyone’s idea of “help” is the same. If we do not become more careful about our use of space and the number of satellites sent up, the impact to astronomy and the future of humanity could be severe. More satellites can generate more space junk; if this is not cleaned up and becomes an unstoppable cascade we may become prisoners on our own planet and unable to send up more satellites. A problem for GPS, weather forecasting and telecommunications.
For astronomy, such a situation could prohibit future instruments being sent into space, with the existing satellites simultaneously ruining the images of the cosmos from ground-based telescopes.
For now, there is still time to take action against such a scenario ever materialising.

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