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Giant Blobs of Rock, Deep Inside the Earth, Hold Important Clues About Our Planet
on Fri, 24 Jun 2016 15:50:00 EDT:
Two massive blob-like structures lie deep within the Earth, roughly on opposite sides of the planet. The two structures, each the size of a continent and 100 times taller than Mount Everest, sit on the core, 1,800 miles deep, and about halfway to the center of the Earth. Researchers suggest these blobs are made of something different from the rest of Earth's mantle, and are determined to figure out what that is.
What did Earth's ancient magnetic field look like?
on Fri, 24 Jun 2016 13:58:52 EDT:
Earth's ancient magnetic field was significantly different than the present day field, originating from several poles rather than the familiar two, new research suggests. Then, shortly after our planet's core solidified, this work predicts that Earth's magnetic field transitioned to a 'strong,' two-pole one.
Detailed plans for largest neutrino telescope in the world
on Fri, 24 Jun 2016 10:08:37 EDT:
A deep-sea array will soak up signals from neutrinos traveling through the cosmos to study the evolution of the universe and to discover more about the fundamental properties of these prized sub-atomic particles.
Hubble confirms new dark spot on Neptune
on Thu, 23 Jun 2016 15:08:54 EDT:
New images confirm the presence of a dark vortex on Neptune. Though similar features were seen during the Voyager 2 flyby of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in 1989 and by Hubble in 1994, this vortex is the first one observed on Neptune in the 21st century.
Probing giant planets' dark hydrogen
on Thu, 23 Jun 2016 12:30:37 EDT:
Hydrogen is the most-abundant element in the universe, but there is still so much we have to learn about it. One of the biggest unknowns is its transformation under the extreme pressures and temperatures found in the interiors of giant planets, where it is squeezed until it becomes liquid metal, capable of conducting electricity. New work measures the conditions under which hydrogen undergoes this transition in the lab and finds an intermediate 'dark hydrogen' state.
Possible solution to 'faint young Sun paradox'
on Thu, 23 Jun 2016 09:56:10 EDT:
In the first billion years of Earth's history, the planet was bombarded by primordial asteroids, while a faint Sun provided much less heat. Scientists now posit that this tumultuous beginning may have ultimately fostered life on Earth, particularly in terms of sustaining liquid water.
Successful first observations of galactic center with GRAVITY
on Thu, 23 Jun 2016 06:50:51 EDT:
A European team of astronomers have used the new GRAVITY instrument at ESO's Very Large Telescope to obtain exciting observations of the center of the Milky Way by combining light from all four of the 8.2-meter Unit Telescopes for the first time. These results provide a taste of the groundbreaking science that GRAVITY will produce as it probes the extremely strong gravitational fields close to the central supermassive black hole and tests Einstein's general relativity.
NASA scientists discover unexpected mineral on Mars
on Wed, 22 Jun 2016 17:04:22 EDT:
Scientists have discovered an unexpected mineral in a rock sample at Gale Crater on Mars, a finding that may alter our understanding of how the planet evolved.
The universe: Learning about the future from the distant past
on Wed, 22 Jun 2016 14:54:11 EDT:
Our universe came to life nearly 14 billion years ago in the Big Bang -- a tremendously energetic fireball from which the cosmos has been expanding ever since. Today, space is filled with hundreds of billions of galaxies, including our solar system's own galactic home, the Milky Way. But how exactly did the infant universe develop into its current state, and what does it tell us about our future?
X-ray echoes of a shredded star provide close-up of 'killer' black hole
on Wed, 22 Jun 2016 14:50:16 EDT:
Billions of years ago in the heart of a distant galaxy, a monster black hole shredded a passing star and emitted X-rays. Now astronomers are using X-ray echoes to study a newly awakened black hole for the first time.
The universe is crowded with black holes, astronomers predict
on Wed, 22 Jun 2016 14:49:30 EDT:
Astronomers have presented one of the most complete models of matter in the universe and predict hundreds of massive black hole mergers each year observable with the second generation of gravitational wave detectors.
Measure greenhouse gases from space
on Wed, 22 Jun 2016 10:25:27 EDT:
Space agencies examine the extent of greenhouse gases in the air via prisms and gratings in satellites. New technology now makes it possible to connect both components with each other so that they are suitable for space thus achieving a new level of quality for spectral resolution.
Astrophysicist probes theory of black-hole accretion
on Wed, 22 Jun 2016 10:21:22 EDT:
Utilizing the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, one of the most powerful telescopes in the world, researchers have peered into the feeding habits of a supermassive black hole.
Astronomers find the first 'wind nebula' around a magnetar
on Tue, 21 Jun 2016 15:49:55 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered a vast cloud of high-energy particles called a wind nebula around a rare ultra-magnetic neutron star, or magnetar, for the first time. The find offers a unique window into the properties, environment and outburst history of magnetars, which are the strongest magnets in the universe.
Present-day subsurface ocean on Pluto?
on Tue, 21 Jun 2016 13:25:32 EDT:
An updated thermal model for Pluto suggests that a liquid water ocean beneath the dwarf planet's ice shell is a fairly likely scenario, and that the ocean is probably still there today.
An ocean lies a few kilometers beneath Saturn's moon Enceladus's icy surface
on Tue, 21 Jun 2016 11:57:43 EDT:
With eruptions of ice and water vapor, and an ocean covered by an ice shell, Saturn's moon Enceladus is one of the most fascinating in the Solar System, especially as interpretations of data provided by the Cassini spacecraft have been contradictory until now. Astronomers recently proposed a new model that reconciles different data sets and shows that the ice shell at Enceladus's south pole may be only a few kilometers thick. This suggests that there is a strong heat source in the interior of Enceladus, an additional factor supporting the possible emergence of life in its ocean.
Caribbean Sea acts like a whistle and can be 'heard' from space
on Tue, 21 Jun 2016 11:15:49 EDT:
A study of the Caribbean Sea has revealed that, in the midst of all the noise of the ocean, this region behaves like a whistle, which blows so loudly that it can be 'heard' from space in the form of oscillations of the Earth's gravity field.
'Space tsunami' causes the third Van Allen Belt
on Mon, 20 Jun 2016 12:03:00 EDT:
Earth's magnetosphere, the region of space dominated by Earth's magnetic field, protects our planet from the harsh battering of the solar wind. Like a protective shield, the magnetosphere absorbs and deflects plasma from the solar wind which originates from the Sun. Extreme space weather storms can create intense radiation in the Van Allen belts and drive electrical currents which can damage terrestrial electrical power grids. Earth could then be at risk for up to trillions of dollars of damage.
Newborn giant planet grazes its star
on Mon, 20 Jun 2016 11:25:08 EDT:
For the past 20 years, exoplanets known as 'hot Jupiters' have puzzled astronomers. These giant planets orbit 100 times closer to their host stars than Jupiter does to the Sun, which increases their surface temperatures. But how and when in their history did they migrate so close to their star? Now, an international team of astronomers has announced the discovery of a very young hot Jupiter orbiting in the immediate vicinity of a star that is barely two million years old -- the stellar equivalent of a week-old infant. This first-ever evidence that hot Jupiters can appear at such an early stage represents a major step forward in our understanding of how planetary systems form and evolve.
NASA's K2 finds newborn exoplanet around young star
on Mon, 20 Jun 2016 11:13:30 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered the youngest fully formed exoplanet ever detected. The newfound planet, K2-33b, is a bit larger than Neptune and whips tightly around its star every five days. It is only 5 to 10 million years old, making it one of a very few newborn planets found to date.
Space weather patterns: Plasma in near-Earth space was twice as heavy around 1958 and 1970
on Mon, 20 Jun 2016 10:03:26 EDT:
A Japanese team have digitalized magnetogram recordings taken before direct observations by satellites became available. The analog recordings, taken for 72 years since the early 20th century, provide a window onto space weather in the mid-1900s and shed light onto future patterns of plasma movement in near-earth space.
Strong 'electric wind' strips planets of oceans and atmospheres
on Mon, 20 Jun 2016 10:02:00 EDT:
Venus has an 'electric wind' strong enough to remove the components of water from its upper atmosphere, which may have played a significant role in stripping the planet of its oceans.
Astrophysicists release new study of one of the first stars
on Fri, 17 Jun 2016 12:04:53 EDT:
A research team has used the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph on the Hubble Space Telescope to study key regions of the ultraviolet spectrum of a star thought to have been enriched by elements from one of the first generation of stars.
NASA's Juno spacecraft to risk Jupiter's fireworks for science
on Fri, 17 Jun 2016 10:53:36 EDT:
On July 4, NASA will fly a solar-powered spacecraft the size of a basketball court within 2,900 miles (4,667 kilometers) of the cloud tops of our solar system's largest planet. During the flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its auroras to learn more about the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.
Small asteroid is Earth's constant companion
on Fri, 17 Jun 2016 10:47:04 EDT:
A small asteroid has been discovered in an orbit around the sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth, and it will remain so for centuries to come.
How black hole jets break out of their galaxies
on Fri, 17 Jun 2016 08:39:29 EDT:
A simulation of the powerful jets generated by supermassive black holes at the centres of the largest galaxies explains why some burst forth as bright beacons visible across the universe, while others fall apart and never pierce the halo of the galaxy. About 10 per cent of all galaxies with active nuclei – all presumed to have supermassive black holes within the central bulge – are observed to have jets of gas spurting in opposite directions from the core. The hot ionized gas is propelled by the twisting magnetic fields of the rotating black hole, which can be as large as several billion suns.
Unexpected Excess of Giant Planets in Star Cluster Messier 67
on Fri, 17 Jun 2016 08:25:30 EDT:
Astronomers have found that there are far more planets of the hot Jupiter type than expected in a cluster of stars called Messier 67. This surprising result was obtained using a number of telescopes and instruments. The denser environment in a cluster will cause more frequent interactions between planets and nearby stars, which may explain the excess of hot Jupiters.
Most distant oxygen ever observed
on Thu, 16 Jun 2016 15:13:06 EDT:
A team of astronomers has used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to detect glowing oxygen in a distant galaxy seen just 700 million years after the Big Bang. This is the most distant galaxy in which oxygen has ever been unambiguously detected, and it is most likely being ionized by powerful radiation from young giant stars. This galaxy could be an example of one type of source responsible for cosmic reionization in the early history of the Universe.
CaSSIS sends first image of Mars
on Thu, 16 Jun 2016 07:22:27 EDT:
The Mars Camera CaSSIS on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter captured its first images of the Red Planet this week. The pictures are a part of the mission’s preparations for arriving at its destination in October. CaSSIS (Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System) was launched with the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) in March and has already traveled just under half of its nearly 500 million km journey.
'Mosh pits' in star clusters a likely source of LIGO's first black holes
on Wed, 15 Jun 2016 15:18:09 EDT:
Astrophysicists have shown their theoretical predictions last year were correct: The merger of two massive black holes detected Sept. 14, 2015, could easily have formed through dynamic interactions in the star-dense core of a globular cluster. These binary black holes are born in the cluster's chaotic 'mosh pit,' kicked out of the cluster and then eventually merge into one black hole. LIGO's first detection of colliding black holes is perfectly consistent with their model.
New type of meteorite linked to ancient asteroid collision
on Wed, 15 Jun 2016 13:52:30 EDT:
An ancient space rock discovered in a Swedish quarry is a type of meteorite never before found on Earth, and likely a remnant of a massive asteroid collision 470 million years ago that sent debris raining to Earth.
Did gravitational wave detector find dark matter?
on Wed, 15 Jun 2016 13:49:51 EDT:
When an astronomical observatory detected two black holes colliding in deep space, scientists celebrated confirmation of Einstein's prediction of gravitational waves. A team of astrophysicists wondered something else: Had the experiment found the "dark matter" that makes up most of the mass of the universe?
Black holes and the prospects for measuring gravitational waves
on Wed, 15 Jun 2016 11:18:08 EDT:
The supermassive black holes found at the centre of every galaxy, including our own Milky Way, may, on average, be smaller than we thought, according to new work. New research suggests that the gravitational waves produced when they merge will be harder to detect than previously assumed.
First detection of methyl alcohol in a planet-forming disc
on Wed, 15 Jun 2016 09:51:34 EDT:
The organic molecule methyl alcohol (methanol) has been found in the TW Hydrae protoplanetary disc. This is the first such detection of the compound in a young planet-forming disc. Its detection helps astronomers understand the chemical processes that occur during the formation of planetary systems and that ultimately lead to the creation of the ingredients for life.
Small planets hiding in giant cloaks
on Tue, 14 Jun 2016 21:45:03 EDT:
Hazes and clouds high up in the atmospheres of exoplanets may make them appear bigger than they really are, according to new research.
Physicists measured something new in the radioactive decay of neutrons
on Tue, 14 Jun 2016 21:24:54 EDT:
New research has enhanced scientists' understanding of how free neutrons decay into other particles. The work provides the first measurement of the energy spectrum of the photons that are released in the otherwise extensively measured process known as neutron beta decay. The details of this decay process are important because they help to explain the observed amounts of hydrogen and other light atoms created just after the Big Bang.
Life's first handshake: Chiral molecule detected in interstellar space
on Tue, 14 Jun 2016 14:21:27 EDT:
A team of scientists using highly sensitive radio telescopes has discovered the first complex organic chiral molecule in interstellar space. The molecule, propylene oxide (CH3CHOCH2), was found near the center of our Galaxy in an enormous star-forming cloud of dust and gas known as Sagittarius B2.
Fascinating orbits: Celestial bodies surprisingly erratic
on Tue, 14 Jun 2016 10:04:40 EDT:
Astronomers are researching the way in which celestial bodies orbit each other, now and in the future. This often turns out to be more erratic than you might think.
Life's origins may result from low-energy electron reactions in space
on Tue, 14 Jun 2016 08:33:54 EDT:
New findings from a systematic study demonstrate that early building blocks of life may be produced when low-energy (< 20 eV) electrons interact with cosmic (interstellar, planetary, and cometary) ices. This work adds crucial data to the study of the 'chemistry of the heavens.'
Researchers gear up galaxy-seeking robots for a test run
on Mon, 13 Jun 2016 18:27:23 EDT:
A prototype system that will test a planned array of 5,000 robots for a sky-mapping instrument is taking shape. Dubbed ProtoDESI, the scaled-down, 10-robot system will run through a series of tests on a telescope in Arizona from August-September.
Writing their name in the stars: Citizen scientists discover huge galaxy cluster
on Mon, 13 Jun 2016 16:50:23 EDT:
Two volunteer participants in an international citizen science project have had a rare galaxy cluster that they found named after them.
Natural quasicrystals may be the result of collisions between objects in the asteroid belt
on Mon, 13 Jun 2016 15:39:01 EDT:
A new experiment demonstrates that natural quasicrystals may have been formed by high-energy shocks between objects in the asteroid belt.
Failed star creates its own spotlight in the universe
on Mon, 13 Jun 2016 15:38:53 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered an 'ultracool' brown dwarf known as 2MASS 0335+23 that can generate flares stronger than the sun's.
New planet is largest discovered that orbits two suns
on Mon, 13 Jun 2016 14:43:41 EDT:
If you cast your eyes toward the constellation Cygnus, you'll be looking in the direction of the largest planet yet discovered around a double-star system. It's too faint to see with the naked eye, but astronomers have now identified the new planet, Kepler-1647b.
Extreme trans-Neptunian objects lead the way to Planet Nine
on Mon, 13 Jun 2016 10:59:11 EDT:
In the race towards the discovery of a ninth planet in our solar system, scientists from around the world strive to calculate its orbit using the tracks left by the small bodies that move well beyond Neptune. Now, astronomers have confirmed, with new calculations, that the orbits of the six extreme trans-Neptunian objects that served as a reference to announce the existence of Planet Nine are not as stable as it was thought.
Milky Way now hidden from one-third of humanity
on Fri, 10 Jun 2016 17:35:03 EDT:
The Milky Way, the brilliant river of stars that has dominated the night sky and human imaginations since time immemorial, is but a faded memory to one third of humanity and 80 percent of Americans, according to a new global atlas of light pollution produced by Italian and American scientists.
Remarkably diverse flora in Utah, USA, trains scientists for future missions on Mars
on Thu, 09 Jun 2016 11:53:04 EDT:
Future manned missions to the Mars will rely heavily on training at sites here on Earth that serve as analogues to the red planet, such Utah's Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), run by the Mars Society.
Likely new planet may be in slow death spiral
on Thu, 09 Jun 2016 11:53:02 EDT:
Astronomers searching for the galaxy's youngest planets have found compelling evidence for one unlike any other, a newborn 'hot Jupiter' whose outer layers are being torn away by the star it orbits every 11 hours.
Scientists observe supermassive black hole feeding on cold gas
on Wed, 08 Jun 2016 14:26:02 EDT:
For the first time, astronomers have detected billowy clouds of cold, clumpy gas streaming toward a black hole, at the center of a massive galaxy cluster. The clouds are traveling at speeds of up to 355 kilometers per second -- that's almost 800,000 miles per hour -- and may be only 150 light years away from its edge, almost certain to fall into the black hole, feeding its bottomless well.
Cloudy days on exoplanets may hide atmospheric water
on Wed, 08 Jun 2016 13:08:48 EDT:
Astronomers have found many hot Jupiters with water in their atmospheres, but others appear to have none. Scientists wanted to find out what the atmospheres of these giant worlds have in common. Researchers focused on a collection of hot Jupiters studied by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. They found that the atmospheres of about half of the planets were blocked by clouds or haze.
Universe's first life might have been born on carbon planets
on Tue, 07 Jun 2016 12:08:05 EDT:
Our Earth consists of silicate rocks and an iron core with a thin veneer of water and life. But the first potentially habitable worlds to form might have been very different. New research suggests that planet formation in the early universe might have created carbon planets consisting of graphite, carbides, and diamond. Astronomers might find these diamond worlds by searching a rare class of stars.
Computer simulations shed light on the Milky Way's missing red giants
on Tue, 07 Jun 2016 11:30:17 EDT:
Simulations investigate the possibility that red giants at the center of our galaxy were dimmed after they were stripped of 10s of percent of their mass millions of years ago during repeated collisions with an accretion disk.
Origin of extraordinary supernovae
on Tue, 07 Jun 2016 08:06:45 EDT:
Astronomers have demonstrated that the origin of extraordinary supernovae can be explained by the 'accretion scenario.' The researchers discovered an anomalously strong infrared emission from 'the extraordinary supernova' SN 2012dn, which has never been observed in other Type Ia supernovae to date. Through detailed analysis, the researchers concluded that the infrared emission comes from the material ejected from the progenitor system.
Prototype gravitational wave spacecraft sets new free fall record
on Tue, 07 Jun 2016 08:03:35 EDT:
LISA Pathfinder mission sets record for truest free fall ever achieved with a humanmade object, and paves the way for the LISA space-based, gravitational wave observatory.
Listening to the relics of the Milky Way: Sounds from oldest stars in our galaxy
on Mon, 06 Jun 2016 20:07:24 EDT:
Astrophysicists have captured the sounds of some of the oldest stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, according to new research.
Mystery of the initial mass function solved
on Mon, 06 Jun 2016 14:28:42 EDT:
For the first time, scientists used methods of network science to solve a fundamental astrophysical problem -- explaining the so-called 'initial mass function', a distribution of stars by mass in galaxies and starclusters.
Pluto as a cosmic lava lamp: Giant convective cells continually refresh dwarf planet's icy heart
on Mon, 06 Jun 2016 09:55:33 EDT:
Using computer models, New Horizons team members have been able to determine the depth of the layer of solid nitrogen ice within Pluto's distinctive 'heart' feature -- a large plain informally known as Sputnik Planum -- and how fast that ice is flowing.
'Wasteful' galaxies launch heavy elements into surrounding halos and deep space
on Mon, 06 Jun 2016 08:17:06 EDT:
Galaxies 'waste' large amounts of heavy elements generated by star formation by ejecting them up to a million light years away into their surrounding halos and deep space, according to a new study.
Technique could help climate models sweat the small stuff
on Sat, 04 Jun 2016 05:10:08 EDT:
New research reveals a way to include small-scale dynamics into computer simulations of large-scale phenomena, which could make for better climate models and astrophysical simulations.
Scientists reconstruct the history of asteroid collisions
on Thu, 02 Jun 2016 15:18:46 EDT:
An international study reveals that asteroids have endured a multitude of impact strikes since their formation 4,565 million years ago. Scientists have reconstructed a timeline of these collisions using a physics-based model which reproduces the process through time, comparing its results with present-day information about chondrite meteorites.