This week is the semi-annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society, the largest society of professional astronomers in the US. The January meeting is always huge, and always has a lot of news flooding from it like the collimated jet from a supermassive black hole. The big news stories I’ve written about the past couple of days have come from there, and I’ve been scrambling to keep up. But that’s proving to be difficult, so instead of my usual Pulitzer-level reporting of astronomy news, here are some links to stories that will probably interest you. And if you’re on Twitter you should be following the awesomeness that is Pamela Gay, aka StarStryder, as she writes live from the floor of the meeting (and blogs about it, too).
A very cool announcement from the orbiting gamma-ray observatory Fermi: thunderstorms on earth generate this high-energy form of light by creating antimatter. Yes, antimatter. This idea has been around for a while — I remember thinking about it years ago when I worked on the education and outreach for Fermi — but the scientists finally nailed down the specifics, and it’s pretty amazing. Not enough there to power a starship (and it might be hard to bottle it anyway), but still. Wow.
The Planck satellite is designed to look at the background radiation of the Universe in unprecedented detail. While it may not see any signatures by The Ancients (man, I’m ticked Stargate:Universe was canceled) it just released a whole lot of science, and Sean Carroll at Cosmic Variance has links to some of the science and scientific papers.