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Astronomers discover dizzying spin of the Milky Way galaxy's 'halo'
on Mon, 25 Jul 2016 15:11:44 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered for the first time that the hot gas in the halo of the Milky Way galaxy is spinning in the same direction and at comparable speed as the galaxy's disk, which contains our stars, planets, gas, and dust. This new knowledge sheds light on how individual atoms have assembled into stars, planets, and galaxies like our own, and what the future holds for these galaxies.
Digging deeper into Mars
on Mon, 25 Jul 2016 13:53:51 EDT:
Scientists continue to unravel the mystery of life on Mars by investigating evidence of water in the planet's soil. Previous observations of soil observed along crater slopes on Mars showed a significant amount of perchlorate salts, which tend to be associated with brines with a moderate pH level. However, researchers have stepped back to look at the bigger picture through data collected from the 2001: Mars Odyssey, and found a different chemical on Mars may be key.
Growing large-volume protein crystals bigger, better in space
on Mon, 25 Jul 2016 09:02:41 EDT:
An out of this world experiment to grow large-volume protein crystals aboard the International Space Station has proven successful. These sorts of crystals, which may be used in everything from basic biomedical research to drug design, can be grown bigger and better in microgravity, a finding that may help the pharmaceuticals industry ease a drug design bottleneck, since difficult-to-grow large crystals are sometimes needed for experiments on structure that can guide drug design.
A new key to understanding molecular evolution in space
on Fri, 22 Jul 2016 10:43:07 EDT:
Scientists have revealed temperature-dependent energy conversion of molecular hydrogen on ice surfaces, suggesting the need for a reconsideration of molecular evolution theory.
Mars rover's laser can now target rocks all by itself
on Thu, 21 Jul 2016 15:14:53 EDT:
New software is enabling ChemCam, the laser spectrometer on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, to select rock targets autonomously -- the first time autonomous target selection is available for an instrument of this kind on any robotic planetary mission.
Atmospheric chemistry on paper
on Thu, 21 Jul 2016 10:55:18 EDT:
Normally computers speed up calculations. But with his new pen-and-paper formula, a researcher gets his results thousands of times faster than using conventional computer codes. The astrophysicist calculates the abundances of molecules (known as atmospheric chemistry) in exoplanetary atmospheres. Ultimately, deciphering the abundances of molecules allows us to interpret if features in a spectrum are due to physics, geology or biology.
Space... the final frontier
on Thu, 21 Jul 2016 10:38:52 EDT:
Fifty years ago Captain Kirk and the crew of the starship Enterprise began their journey into space -- the final frontier. Now, as the newest Star Trek film hits cinemas, the NASA/ESA Hubble space telescope is also exploring new frontiers, observing distant galaxies in the galaxy cluster Abell S1063 as part of the Frontier Fields program.
World's most sensitive dark matter detector completes search
on Thu, 21 Jul 2016 07:26:13 EDT:
The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) dark matter experiment, which operates beneath a mile of rock at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in the Black Hills of South Dakota, has completed its search for the missing matter of the universe. At a meeting in the UK, LUX scientific collaborators presented the results from the detector's final 20-month run.
Asteroid that formed moon's Imbrium Basin may have been protoplanet-sized
on Wed, 20 Jul 2016 13:56:37 EDT:
The asteroid that slammed into the moon 3.8 billion years ago creating the Imbrium Basin may have had a diameter of at least 150 miles, according to a new estimate. The work helps explain puzzling geological features on the moon's near side, and has implications for understanding the evolution of the early solar system.
First atmospheric study of Earth-sized exoplanets points to possible habitability
on Wed, 20 Jul 2016 13:19:48 EDT:
Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have conducted the first search for atmospheres around temperate, Earth-sized planets beyond our solar system and found indications that increase the chances of habitability on two exoplanets.
X marks the spot at the center of the Milky Way galaxy
on Tue, 19 Jul 2016 12:30:25 EDT:
Two astronomers -- with the help of Twitter--have uncovered the strongest evidence yet that an enormous X-shaped structure made of stars lies within the central bulge of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Weird quantum effects stretch across hundreds of miles
on Tue, 19 Jul 2016 09:16:37 EDT:
Scientists have discovered strange quantum effects hold, even over hundreds of miles. In longest test of quantum mechanics, researchers find neutrinos, traveling over 450 miles at close to speed of light, have no single identity.
Bugs' flair for foraging inspires quest for new smart therapies
on Mon, 18 Jul 2016 16:09:38 EDT:
Fresh insight into how ocean bacteria search for food could aid the development of a new generation of bacterial therapies programmed to treat disease, report scientists.
NASA's Kepler confirms 100+ exoplanets during its K2 mission
on Mon, 18 Jul 2016 14:22:00 EDT:
Scientists report the largest haul of confirmed planets - tallying more than a hundred -- since NASA's Kepler space telescope switched from staring into one patch of sky to detecting planets along a much larger portion of the Milky Way. Among the confirmed is a planetary system comprising four promising planets that could be rocky.
Warm Jupiters not as lonely as expected
on Thu, 14 Jul 2016 11:09:16 EDT:
After analyzing four years of Kepler space telescope observations, astronomers have given us our clearest understanding yet of a class of exoplanets called 'Warm Jupiters,' showing that many have unexpected planetary companions.
Dark energy measured with record-breaking map of 1.2 million galaxies
on Thu, 14 Jul 2016 11:07:51 EDT:
A team of hundreds of physicists and astronomers has announced results from the largest-ever, three-dimensional map of distant galaxies. The team constructed this map to make one of the most precise measurements yet of the dark energy currently driving the accelerated expansion of the Universe.
Surface composition determines temperature and therefore habitability of a planet
on Thu, 14 Jul 2016 09:15:03 EDT:
Astronomers have shown that the interaction between the surface and the atmosphere of an exoplanet has major consequences for the temperature on the planet. This temperature, in turn, is a crucial element in the quest for habitable planets outside our Solar System.
Stellar outburst brings water snowline around a young star into view
on Wed, 13 Jul 2016 14:30:15 EDT:
A violent outburst by the young star V883 Orionis has given astronomers using ALMA their first view of a water 'snowline' in a protoplanetary disk -- the transition point around the star where the temperature and pressure are low enough for water ice to form.
Robot would assemble modular telescope -- in space
on Wed, 13 Jul 2016 10:16:27 EDT:
A new concept in space telescope design uses a modular structure and an assembly robot to build an extremely large telescope in space, performing tasks in which astronaut fatigue would be a problem.
NASA's Juno spacecraft sends first in-orbit view
on Tue, 12 Jul 2016 18:30:16 EDT:
The JunoCam camera aboard NASA's Juno mission is operational and sending down data after the spacecraft's July 4 arrival at Jupiter. Juno's visible-light camera was turned on six days after Juno fired its main engine and placed itself into orbit around the largest planetary inhabitant of our solar system. The first high-resolution images of the gas giant Jupiter are still a few weeks away.
NASA eyes first-ever carbon-nanotube mirrors for CubeSat telescope
on Tue, 12 Jul 2016 17:33:22 EDT:
A lightweight telescope that a team of NASA scientists and engineers is developing specifically for CubeSat scientific investigations could become the first to carry a mirror made of carbon nanotubes in an epoxy resin.
Novel advancements in radiation tolerance of HEMTs
on Tue, 12 Jul 2016 17:30:15 EDT:
When it comes to putting technology in space, size and mass are prime considerations. A better understanding of AlGaN/GaN HEMTs could mean huge advancements in solid state science, specifically space exploration.
Black hole makes material wobble around it
on Tue, 12 Jul 2016 15:35:09 EDT:
The European Space Agency's orbiting X-ray observatory, XMM-Newton, has proved the existence of a "gravitational vortex" around a black hole. The discovery, aided by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission, solves a mystery that has eluded astronomers for more than 30 years, and will allow them to map the behavior of matter very close to black holes. It could also open the door to future investigations of Albert Einstein's general relativity.
Clusters of small satellites could help estimate Earth's reflected energy
on Tue, 12 Jul 2016 11:55:26 EDT:
A team of small, shoebox-sized satellites, flying in formation around the Earth, could estimate the planet's reflected energy with twice the accuracy of traditional monolith satellites, according to a new study. If done right, such satellite swarms could also be cheaper to build, launch, and maintain.
Blue is an indicator of first star's supernova explosions: More than 13 billion years old
on Tue, 12 Jul 2016 11:07:38 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered that the color of supernovae during a specific phase could be an indicator for detecting the most distant and oldest supernovae in the Universe -- more than 13 billion years old.
Surprising neutrino decoherence inside supernovae
on Tue, 12 Jul 2016 11:04:42 EDT:
Neutrinos produced in the core of a supernova are highly localized compared to neutrinos from all other known sources, researchers report. With a new estimate for an entity characterizing neutrinos, they suggest that the wave packet size is irrelevant in simpler cases.
Deepest ever look into Orion
on Tue, 12 Jul 2016 09:33:47 EDT:
ESO's HAWK-I infrared instrument on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile has been used to peer deeper into the heart of Orion Nebula than ever before. The spectacular picture reveals about ten times as many brown dwarfs and isolated planetary-mass objects than were previously known. This discovery poses challenges for the widely accepted scenario for Orion's star formation history.
'Frankenstein' galaxy surprises astronomers
on Tue, 12 Jul 2016 09:27:32 EDT:
About 250 million light-years away, there's a neighborhood of our universe that astronomers had considered quiet and unremarkable. But now, scientists have uncovered an enormous, bizarre galaxy possibly formed from the parts of other galaxies.
If life can make it here, it can make it anywhere
on Mon, 11 Jul 2016 15:55:38 EDT:
If the origin of life is common on other worlds, the universe should be a cosmic zoo full of complex multicellular organisms. Scientists use the evolution of Earth life as a model to predict what humans might find living on distant planets and moons in a new paper.
NASA camera catches moon 'photobombing' Earth
on Mon, 11 Jul 2016 15:13:23 EDT:
For only the second time in a year, a NASA camera aboard the DSCOVR satellite captured a view of the moon as it moved in front of the sunlit side of Earth. From its position between the sun and Earth, DSCOVR conducts its primary mission of real-time solar wind monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Astronomers discover new distant dwarf planet beyond Neptune
on Mon, 11 Jul 2016 15:08:25 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered a new dwarf planet orbiting in the disk of small icy worlds beyond Neptune. The new object is about 700 km in diameter and has one of the largest orbits for a dwarf planet. Designated 2015 RR245 by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center, it was found using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Maunakea, Hawaii, as part of the ongoing Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS).
Ancient supernovae buffeted Earth's biology with radiation dose, researcher says
on Mon, 11 Jul 2016 10:08:38 EDT:
Ancient supernovae likely exposed biology on our planet to a long-lasting gust of cosmic radiation, which also affected the atmosphere, new research suggests. This would have had a massive effect on the terrestrial atmosphere and biota of the time.
Dawn maps Ceres craters where ice can accumulate
on Fri, 08 Jul 2016 14:51:32 EDT:
Scientists with NASA's Dawn mission have identified permanently shadowed regions on the dwarf planet Ceres where ice deposits could exist now.
Study explains why galaxies stop creating stars
on Fri, 08 Jul 2016 14:49:07 EDT:
Using a large sample of around 70,000 galaxies, a team of researchers led by University of California, Riverside astronomers may have an answer to an outstanding problem in the study of the evolution of galaxies: Why do galaxies stop creating stars?
Surprising planet with three suns discovered
on Thu, 07 Jul 2016 15:10:09 EDT:
A team of astronomers have used the SPHERE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope to image the first planet ever found in a wide orbit inside a triple-star system. The orbit of such a planet had been expected to be unstable, probably resulting in the planet being quickly ejected from the system. But somehow this one survives. This unexpected observation suggests that such systems may actually be more common than previously thought.
Beating heart of the Crab Nebula
on Thu, 07 Jul 2016 13:18:10 EDT:
Peering deep into the core of the Crab Nebula, this close-up image reveals the beating heart of one of the most historic and intensively studied remnants of a supernova, an exploding star.
The first image of a new gaseous component in a planetary nebula
on Thu, 07 Jul 2016 11:54:51 EDT:
Stars end their lives, mainly, in two ways: as supernovae and planetary nebulae. In both cases they throw out into the interstellar medium the chemical elements synthesized in their interiors. Knowing the composition of this gas gives us vital information for understanding the chemical evolution of our Galaxy and the universe.
Astronomers find evidence for ‘direct collapse’ black hole
on Thu, 07 Jul 2016 08:33:09 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered evidence for an unusual kind of black hole born extremely early in the universe. They showed that a recently discovered unusual source of intense radiation is likely powered by a "direct-collapse black hole," a type of object predicted by theorists more than a decade ago.
Accelerating research into dark energy
on Thu, 07 Jul 2016 08:31:11 EDT:
A quick method for making accurate, virtual universes to help understand the effects of dark matter and dark energy has been developed by scientists. Making up 95 percent of our universe, these substances have profound effects on the birth and lives of galaxies and stars and yet almost nothing is known about their physical nature.
Astronomers find evidence of water clouds in first spectrum of coldest brown dwarf
on Wed, 06 Jul 2016 15:18:51 EDT:
Since its detection in 2014, the brown dwarf known as WISE 0855 has fascinated astronomers. Only 7.2 light-years from Earth, it is the coldest known object outside of our solar system. Astronomers have now obtained an infrared spectrum of the brown dwarf using the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii. Among the findings is strong evidence for the existence of clouds of water or water ice, the first such clouds detected outside of our solar system.
A new look at the galaxy-shaping power of black holes
on Wed, 06 Jul 2016 13:59:33 EDT:
Data from a now-defunct satellite is providing new insights into the complex tug-of-war between galaxies, the hot plasma that surrounds them, and the giant black holes that lurk in their centers. The Japanese space agency Hitomi X-ray Observatory functioned for just over a month before contact was lost and the craft disintegrated. But data obtained during those few weeks was enough to paint a startling new picture of the dynamic forces at work within galaxies.
Chemical trail on Saturn's Moon Titan may be key to prebiotic conditions
on Wed, 06 Jul 2016 11:51:29 EDT:
Scientists have uncovered a chemical trail that suggests prebiotic conditions may exist on Saturn's largest moon Titan. This moon features terrain with Earthlike attributes such as lakes, rivers and seas, although filled with liquid methane and ethane instead of water.
Earth-size telescope tracks the aftermath of a star being swallowed by a supermassive black hole
on Wed, 06 Jul 2016 09:17:31 EDT:
Radio astronomers have used a radio telescope network the size of the Earth to zoom in on a unique phenomenon in a distant galaxy: a jet activated by a star being consumed by a supermassive black hole. The record-sharp observations reveal a compact and surprisingly slowly moving source of radio waves.
Lush Venus? Searing Earth? It could have happened
on Tue, 05 Jul 2016 16:45:19 EDT:
It may not have taken much in the early solar system to set Earth and Venus on very different paths, according to researchers. A new paper points the way toward what scientists should consider as they seek habitable planets elsewhere in the galaxy.
Warming pulses in ancient climate record link volcanoes, asteroid impact and dinosaur-killing mass extinction
on Tue, 05 Jul 2016 11:21:38 EDT:
A new reconstruction of Antarctic ocean temperatures around the time the dinosaurs disappeared 66 million years ago supports the idea that one of the planet's biggest mass extinctions was due to the combined effects of volcanic eruptions and an asteroid impact.
Let there be light: Super bright galaxies of the early Universe
on Tue, 05 Jul 2016 09:22:38 EDT:
Astronomers have shed further light on the evolution of the early Universe with the discovery of a "team" of super bright galaxies.
Making astrophysical simulations more accurate
on Tue, 05 Jul 2016 09:20:09 EDT:
New research may result in better simulations of large astrophysical events such as supernova explosions. This work also raises hopes of finding out more about how atomic nuclei behave in neutron stars.
NASA's Juno spacecraft in orbit around mighty Jupiter
on Tue, 05 Jul 2016 08:40:23 EDT:
After an almost five-year journey to the solar system's largest planet, NASA's Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter's orbit during a 35-minute engine burn. With its suite of nine science instruments, Juno will investigate the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter's intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observe the planet's auroras.
A giant impact: Solving the mystery of how Mars' moons formed
on Mon, 04 Jul 2016 14:42:36 EDT:
Where did the two natural satellites of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, come from? For a long time, their shape suggested that they were asteroids captured by Mars. However, the shape and course of their orbits contradict this hypothesis. Two independent and complementary studies provide an answer to this question. One of these studies rules out the capture of asteroids, and shows that the only scenario compatible with the surface properties of Phobos and Deimos is that of a giant collision. In the second study, researchers used cutting-edge digital simulations to show how these satellites were able to form from the debris of a gigantic collision between Mars and a protoplanet one-third its size.
Alma finds a swirling, cool jet that reveals a growing, supermassive black hole
on Mon, 04 Jul 2016 08:28:40 EDT:
Astronomers have made the surprising discovery of a jet of cool, dense gas in the center of a galaxy located 70 million light years from Earth. The jet, with its unusual, swirling structure, gives new clues to a long-standing astronomical mystery -- how supermassive black holes grow.
NASA’s Juno and JEDI: Ready to unlock mysteries of Jupiter
on Fri, 01 Jul 2016 10:01:09 EDT:
The JEDI is one of several instruments aboard NASA's Juno spacecraft -- set to enter Jupiter orbit on July 4 -- that will help scientists answer fundamental questions about the solar system's largest planet, Earth and the universe.
Spiderweb galaxy: Watery dew drops surrounding dusty spider’s web
on Fri, 01 Jul 2016 09:54:47 EDT:
Astronomers have spotted glowing droplets of condensed water in the distant Spiderweb Galaxy -- but not where they expected to find them. Detections show that the water is located far out in the galaxy and therefore cannot be associated with central, dusty, star-forming regions, as previously thought.
Teenagers on a work experience 'discover' new planet
on Fri, 01 Jul 2016 09:54:41 EDT:
A group of teenagers on work experience at Keele University in Staffordshire, UK, may have discovered a new planet.
In the blink of a cosmic eye: Chance microlensing events probe galactic cores
on Thu, 30 Jun 2016 21:46:03 EDT:
Some galaxies pump out vast amounts of energy from a very small volume of space, typically not much bigger than our own solar system. The cores of these galaxies, so called Active Galactic Nuclei or AGNs, are often hundreds of millions or even billions of light years away, so are difficult to study in any detail. Natural gravitational 'microlenses' can provide a way to probe these objects, and now a team of astronomers have seen hints of the extreme AGN brightness changes that hint at their presence.
Gravitational lens zooms in on why some quasars have the radio turned down
on Thu, 30 Jun 2016 21:46:01 EDT:
Mini-jets of material ejected from a central supermassive black hole appear to be the culprits behind faint radio wave emissions in ‘radio-quiet’ quasars. A study of gravitationally-lensed images of four radio-quiet quasars has revealed the structure of these distant galaxies in unprecedented detail. This has enabled astronomers to trace the radio emissions to a very small region at the heart of the quasars, and helped to solve a 50-year-old puzzle about their source.
Autolens analysis steps up for Euclid’s 100,000 strong gravitational lens challenge
on Thu, 30 Jun 2016 21:45:59 EDT:
Euclid satellite, due for launch in 2020, will set astronomers a huge challenge: to analyze one hundred thousand strong gravitational lenses. The gravitational deflection of light from distant astronomical sources by massive galaxies (strong lenses) along the light path can create multiple images of the source that are not just visually stunning, but are also valuable tools for probing our Universe. 
Jupiter on a bench: Spacecraft Juno nears planet orbit
on Thu, 30 Jun 2016 21:45:11 EDT:
Earlier this year, in an experiment about five-feet long, researchers say they observed evidence of the abrupt transition of hydrogen from liquid insulator to liquid metal. It is one of the first times such a transition has ever been observed in any experiment.
A bewildering form of sand dune discovered on Mars
on Thu, 30 Jun 2016 15:02:35 EDT:
Some of the wind-sculpted sand ripples on Mars are a type not seen on Earth, and their relationship to the thin Martian atmosphere provides new clues about the atmosphere's history.
The energy spectrum of particles will help make out black holes
on Thu, 30 Jun 2016 14:05:12 EDT:
Scientists have devised a method of distinguishing black holes from compact massive objects that are externally indistinguishable from one another. The method involves studying the energy spectrum of particles moving in the vicinity - in one case it will be continuous and in the other it will be discrete.
Hubble captures vivid auroras in Jupiter’s atmosphere
on Thu, 30 Jun 2016 10:23:24 EDT:
Astronomers are using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study auroras -- stunning light shows in a planet's atmosphere -- on the poles of the largest planet in the Solar System, Jupiter.