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Full sky map: Rings and loops in the stars
on Mon, 06 Jul 2015 11:44:43 EDT:
A ring of dust 200 light years across and a loop covering a third of the sky: two of the results in a new map from the Planck satellite.
Five-day space weather forecasts?
on Mon, 06 Jul 2015 09:00:41 EDT:
Coronal mass ejections (CME), billion-ton solar plasma eruptions moving towards Earth at up to 2500 kilometers per second, can cause extensive and expensive disruption by damaging power, satellite and communication networks. A UK consortium is proposing an operational mission, called Carrington-L5, to give a five-day warning of hazardous solar activity that could inflict severe damage to our infrastructure.
Astronomers see pebbles poised to make planets
on Sun, 05 Jul 2015 19:48:03 EDT:
A team of astronomers announced the discovery of a ring of rocks circling a very young star. This is the first time these 'pebbles', thought to be a crucial link in building planets, have been detected.
Universe’s hidden supermassive black holes revealed
on Sun, 05 Jul 2015 19:48:00 EDT:
Astronomers have found evidence for a large population of hidden supermassive black holes in the Universe.
Do micro-organisms explain features on comets?
on Sun, 05 Jul 2015 19:47:57 EDT:
Comet 67P/Churyumov--Gerasimenko, studied in detail by the European Space Agency Rosetta and Philae spacecraft since September 2014, is a body with distinct and unexpected features. Now two astronomers have a radical explanation for its properties -- micro-organisms that shape cometary activity.
Small cosmic ‘fish’ points to big haul for SKA Pathfinder
on Sun, 05 Jul 2015 19:47:55 EDT:
A wisp of cosmic radio waves, emitted before our solar system was born, shows that a new radio telescope will be able to detect galaxies other telescopes can’t.
'Map Of Life' predicts ET. (So where is he?)
on Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:39:02 EDT:
The author of a new study of evolutionary convergence argues that the development of life on Earth is predictable, meaning that similar organisms should therefore have appeared on other, Earth-like planets by now. So why do we appear to be all alone in the universe?
Astronomers predict fireworks from rare stellar encounter in 2018
on Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:11:57 EDT:
Astronomers are gearing up for high-energy fireworks coming in early 2018, when a stellar remnant the size of a city meets one of the brightest stars in our galaxy.
Working out in artificial gravity
on Thu, 02 Jul 2015 13:15:12 EDT:
Engineers have built a compact human centrifuge with an exercise component: a cycle ergometer that a person can pedal as the centrifuge spins. The centrifuge was sized to just fit inside a module of the ISS. After testing the setup on healthy participants, the team found the combination of exercise and artificial gravity could significantly lessen the effects of extended weightlessness in space -- more so than exercise alone.
Dark matter map begins to reveal the Universe's early history
on Thu, 02 Jul 2015 11:20:45 EDT:
Researchers have begun a wide-area survey of the distribution of dark matter in the universe using Hyper Suprime-Cam, a new wide-field camera installed on the Subaru Telescope in Hawai'i.
Radar guards against space debris
on Thu, 02 Jul 2015 07:37:44 EDT:
Space debris poses a growing threat to satellites and other spacecraft, which could be damaged in the event of a collision. A new German space surveillance system, schedudled to go into operation in 2018, will help to prevent such incidents.
We're not alone, but the universe may be less crowded than we think
on Wed, 01 Jul 2015 15:23:31 EDT:
There may be far fewer galaxies further out in the universe then might be expected, according to a new study.
Rosetta spacecraft sees sinkholes on comet
on Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:33:50 EDT:
The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft first began orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August 2014. Almost immediately, scientists began to wonder about several surprisingly deep, almost perfectly circular pits on the comet's surface. Now, a new study based on close-up imagery taken by Rosetta suggests that these pits are sinkholes, formed when ices beneath the comet's surface sublimate, or turn directly to gas.
Targeted LEDs could provide efficient lighting for plants grown in space
on Wed, 01 Jul 2015 11:51:01 EDT:
A new study shows that targeting plants with red and blue LEDs provides energy-efficient lighting in contained environments, a finding that could advance the development of crop-growth modules for space exploration.
Observing the birth of a planet
on Wed, 01 Jul 2015 11:48:09 EDT:
Astronomers have confirmed the existence of a young giant gas planet still embedded in the midst of the disk of gas and dust surrounding its parent star. For the first time, scientists are able to directly study the formation of a planet at a very early stage.
Open cluster of stars buried in the heart of a giant
on Wed, 01 Jul 2015 08:35:38 EDT:
This rich view of an array of colorful stars and gas was captured by the Wide Field Imager camera, on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. It shows a young open cluster of stars known as NGC 2367, an infant stellar grouping that lies at the center of an immense and ancient structure on the margins of the Milky Way.
NASA missions monitor a waking black hole
on Tue, 30 Jun 2015 20:20:46 EDT:
NASA's Swift satellite detected a rising tide of high-energy X-rays from the constellation Cygnus on June 15, just before 2:32 p.m. EDT. About 10 minutes later, the Japanese experiment on the International Space Station called the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) also picked up the flare.
New model of cosmic stickiness favors 'Big Rip' demise of universe
on Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:52:21 EDT:
Mathematicians and physicists have come up with a new approach to calculate cosmic viscosity and the formulation favors the 'Big Rip' scenario for the end of the universe.
Getting rid of bad vibrations: Fine-tuning new space launch system
on Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:17:21 EDT:
Researchers are determining if a key rocket component can withstand the rigors of the next generation of space flight. The parts in question — bellows expansion joints — serve several functions in rocket propulsion system.
Cheek muscles hold up better than leg muscles in space
on Tue, 30 Jun 2015 12:14:12 EDT:
Muscles need gravity to maintain optimal health, and when they do not have it, they deteriorate. A new report, however, suggests that this might not be true for all muscles, offering hope that there may be ways to preserve muscle mass and strength for individuals in low-resistance environments, whether it be the microgravity of space, extended periods in a hospital bed, or a 9-5 job behind a desk.
Seeing a supernova in a new light
on Tue, 30 Jun 2015 10:05:07 EDT:
Type Ia supernovae are the 'standard candles' astrophysicists use to chart distance in the Universe. But are these dazzling exploding stars truly all the same? To answer this, scientists must first understand what causes stars to explode and become supernovae.
Even stars older than 11 billion years have Earth-like planets
on Mon, 29 Jun 2015 11:10:18 EDT:
33 Kepler stars have been selected for their solar like oscillations and a set of basic parameters have been determined with high precision showing that stars even older than 11 billion years have Earth-like planets.
High resolution far-infrared all-sky image
on Mon, 29 Jun 2015 07:58:04 EDT:
Astronomers have created all-sky image maps and released the full database to researchers. Far-infrared light is the key wavelength range for investigating the formation processes of stars and planetary systems. By observing far-infrared light, we can reveal the distribution of the interstellar medium, or gas and dust in interstellar space, as well as the processes of star formation within it.
Solving Saturn’s 2-billion-year age problem
on Fri, 26 Jun 2015 09:57:05 EDT:
Experiments at Sandia's Z machine have provided data may help explain why Saturn is two billion years younger than Jupiter on some computer simulations, supporting a prediction first made in 1935.
Unexpectedly little black-hole monsters rapidly suck up surrounding matter
on Fri, 26 Jun 2015 08:41:24 EDT:
Researchers have found evidence that enigmatic objects in nearby galaxies -- called ultra-luminous X-ray sources (ULXs) -- exhibit strong outflows that are created as matter falls onto their black holes at unexpectedly high rates. The strong outflows suggest that the black holes in these ULXs must be much smaller than expected. Curiously, these objects appear to be "cousins" of SS 433, one of the most exotic objects in our own Milky Way Galaxy. The team's observations help shed light on the nature of ULXs, and impact our understanding of how supermassive black holes in galactic centers are formed and how matter rapidly falls onto those black holes.
Spiral arms cradle baby terrestrial planets
on Fri, 26 Jun 2015 08:38:12 EDT:
New work offers a potential solution to a longstanding problem in the prevailing theory of how rocky planets formed in our own Solar System, as well as in others. The snag he's untangling: how dust grains in the matter orbiting a young protostar avoid getting dragged into the star before they accumulate into bodies large enough that their own gravity allows them to rapidly attract enough material to grow into planets.
Supercomputer model shows planet making waves in nearby debris disk
on Thu, 25 Jun 2015 16:14:45 EDT:
A new supercomputer simulation of the planet and debris disk around the nearby star Beta Pictoris reveals that the planet's motion drives spiral waves throughout the disk, a phenomenon that causes collisions among the orbiting debris. Patterns in the collisions and the resulting dust appear to account for many observed features that previous research has been unable to fully explain.
Giant galaxy is still growing
on Thu, 25 Jun 2015 08:09:30 EDT:
The giant elliptical galaxy Messier 87 has swallowed an entire medium-sized galaxy over the last billion years. For the first time a team of astronomers has been able to track the motions of 300 glowing planetary nebulae to find clear evidence of this event and also found evidence of excess light coming from the remains of the totally disrupted victim.
Observations of one billion years after Big Bang: New stage in galactic lifecycle discovered
on Wed, 24 Jun 2015 14:02:49 EDT:
Astronomers have analyzed the clouds of gas and dust from some of the earliest galaxies ever observed -- one billion years after the Big Bang.
'Behemoth' bleeding atmosphere around a warm Neptune-sized exoplanet
on Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:24:33 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered an immense cloud of hydrogen dispersing from a warm, Neptune-sized planet orbiting a nearby star. The enormous comet-like tail of the planet is about 50 times the size of the parent star.
How the brightest lights in the universe 'flicker'
on Wed, 24 Jun 2015 11:54:52 EDT:
Active galactic nuclei are the brightest objects in the universe. They are not lit up permanently, but rather 'flicker' extremely slowly. This insight helps researchers better understand the influence these nuclei and black holes have on their host galaxy.
Neutron star’s echoes give astronomers a new measuring stick
on Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:13:44 EDT:
In late 2013, when the neutron star at the heart of one of our galaxy's oddest supernovae gave off a massive burst of X-rays, the resulting echoes -- created when the X-rays bounced off clouds of dust in interstellar space -- yielded a surprising new measuring stick for astronomers.
Black holes may make ideal dark matter labs
on Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:11:09 EDT:
A new computer simulation shows that dark matter particles colliding in the extreme gravity of a black hole can produce strong, potentially observable gamma-ray light. Detecting this emission would provide astronomers with a new tool for understanding both black holes and the nature of dark matter, an elusive substance accounting for most of the mass of the universe that neither reflects, absorbs nor emits light.
Nonphotosynthetic pigments could be biosignatures of life on other worlds
on Tue, 23 Jun 2015 09:55:17 EDT:
To find life in the universe, it helps to know what it might look like. If there are organisms on other planets that do not rely wholly on photosynthesis -- as some on Earth do not -- how might those worlds appear from light-years away?
Astronomers explain why a star is so hot right now
on Tue, 23 Jun 2015 09:55:13 EDT:
Astronomers have solved a mystery over small, unusually hot blue stars, 10 times hotter than our Sun, that are found in the middle of dense star clusters.
Is salt the key to unlocking the interiors of Neptune and Uranus?
on Mon, 22 Jun 2015 18:24:55 EDT:
The interiors of several of our Solar System's planets and moons are icy, and ice has been found on distant extrasolar planets, as well. This ice must exist under extreme pressures and high-temperatures, and potentially contains salty impurities, too. New research focuses on the physics underlying the formation of the types of ice that are stable under these paradoxical-seeming conditions. It could challenge current ideas about the physical properties found inside icy planetary bodies.
Planet Mars behaving like a rock star
on Mon, 22 Jun 2015 18:20:36 EDT:
If planets had personalities, Mars would be a rock star according to recent preliminary results from NASA's MAVEN spacecraft. Mars sports a 'Mohawk' of escaping atmospheric particles at its poles, 'wears' a layer of metal particles high in its atmosphere, and lights up with aurora after being smacked by solar storms. MAVEN is also mapping out the escaping atmospheric particles.
Astronomers discover 854 ultra-dark galaxies in the famous Coma Cluster
on Mon, 22 Jun 2015 16:20:27 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered 854 "ultra-dark galaxies" in the Coma Cluster. The new discovery surpasses the 2014 discovery of 47 mysterious dark galaxies by more than 800 and suggests that galaxy clusters are the key environment for the evolution of these mysterious dark galaxies.
Detecting exoplanets close to their host star
on Mon, 22 Jun 2015 15:03:44 EDT:
Astronomers have successfully commissioned a new type of optic that can reveal the image of an exoplanet next to its parent star. The 'vector Apodizing Phase Plate' (vector-APP) coronagraph was installed at the 6.5-m Magellan Clay telescope in Chile in May 2015, and the first observations demonstrated an unprecedented contrast performance very close to the star, where planets are more likely to reside.
Intense radio emission from tiny binary star
on Mon, 22 Jun 2015 07:12:22 EDT:
Astronomers have determined the mass of a tiny binary star thanks to its intense radio emissions – rare in such small stars – which compels scientists to review stellar evolution models.
Mysterious 'lakes' on Saturn's moon Titan
on Sat, 20 Jun 2015 21:33:29 EDT:
Saturn's moon Titan is home to seas and lakes filled with liquid hydrocarbons, but what forms the depressions on the surface? A new study suggests the moon's surface dissolves in a process that's similar to the creation of sinkholes on Earth.
Jetting into the moments after the Big Bang
on Fri, 19 Jun 2015 14:17:32 EDT:
Colliding lead ions at the Large Hadron Collider creates tiny samples of matter at energy densities that have not occurred since microseconds after the Big Bang. At these densities, ordinary matter melts into its primordial constituents of quarks and gluons. To explore the properties of this plasma of quarks and gluons as it expands and cools, a new Di-Jet Calorimeter was installed at the collider.
Automated ion analyzer for space missions
on Fri, 19 Jun 2015 08:46:14 EDT:
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is scheduled to launch its Eu:CROPIS research satellite into orbit in early 2017. Its purpose is to test a biological life-support system for future human space missions. The satellite’s payload includes an ion analyzer. This compact device will automatically monitor all of the system’s internal processes.
Galactic crashes fuel quasars
on Thu, 18 Jun 2015 13:46:00 EDT:
Using the Hubble Space Telescope's infrared vision, astronomers have unveiled some of the previously hidden origins of quasars, the brightest objects in the universe. A new study finds that quasars are born when galaxies crash into each other and fuel supermassive, central black holes.
Active volcanism on Venus
on Thu, 18 Jun 2015 12:21:06 EDT:
Researchers combing through the data from the Venus Express mission have found new evidence of active lava flows on Earth's nearest neighbor.
Magnetic field discovery gives clues to galaxy-formation processes
on Thu, 18 Jun 2015 10:41:44 EDT:
Magnetic field structure of nearby galaxy provides new insights on how spiral arms form, and how gas can be funneled inward to fuel star formation at the galaxy's center.
Hubble views a bizarre cosmic quartet
on Thu, 18 Jun 2015 10:38:40 EDT:
A new image shows a gathering of four cosmic companions. This quartet forms part of a group of galaxies known as the Hickson Compact Group 16, or HCG 16 -- a galaxy group bursting with dramatic star formation, tidal tails, galactic mergers and black holes.
Saturn's moon Titan's atmosphere even more Earth-like than previously thought
on Thu, 18 Jun 2015 10:38:30 EDT:
Scientists have observed how a widespread polar wind is driving gas from the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan. The team analyzed data gathered over seven years by the international Cassini probe, and found that the interactions between Titan's atmosphere, and the solar magnetic field and radiation, create a wind of hydrocarbons and nitriles being blown away from its polar regions into space. This is very similar to the wind observed coming from the Earth's polar regions.
Supermassive black hole at center of distant spiral galaxy 'weighed'
on Thu, 18 Jun 2015 07:28:13 EDT:
Astronomers have measured the mass of the supermassive black hole at the center of NGC 1097 -- a barred spiral galaxy located approximately 45 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Fornax.
'Bashful' black hole revealed in neighboring galaxy
on Wed, 17 Jun 2015 13:56:03 EDT:
Radio observations give new evidence for long-sought supermassive black hole in small satellite galaxy orbiting the Andromeda Galaxy.
Moon engulfed in permanent, lopsided dust cloud
on Wed, 17 Jun 2015 13:50:35 EDT:
The moon is engulfed in a permanent but lopsided dust cloud that increases in density when annual events like the Geminids spew shooting stars, according to a new study.
Astronomers create array of Earth-like planet models
on Wed, 17 Jun 2015 13:46:20 EDT:
To sort out the biological intricacies of Earth-like planets, astronomers have developed computer models that examine how ultraviolet radiation from other planets' nearby suns may affect those worlds.
Seeing where stars collide
on Wed, 17 Jun 2015 09:24:16 EDT:
Using the advanced adaptive optics system GeMS, on the Gemini South telescope, astronomers have imaged a beautiful stellar jewel-box -- a tightly packed cluster of stars that is one of the few places in our galaxy where astronomers think stars can actually collide.
Best observational evidence of first generation stars in the universe
on Wed, 17 Jun 2015 09:24:09 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered the brightest galaxy yet found in the early Universe and found strong evidence that first generation of stars lurk within it. These previously theoretical objects were the creators of the elements necessary to forge the stars around us today, the planets that orbit them, and life as we know it. The newly found galaxy is three times brighter than the brightest distant galaxy known up to now.
Why the Sun's atmosphere is hotter than its surface
on Wed, 17 Jun 2015 09:17:57 EDT:
How can the temperature of the Sun's atmosphere be as high as 1 million degrees Celsius when its surface temperature is only around 6000°C? By simulating the evolution of part of the Sun's interior and exterior, researchers have identified the mechanisms that provide sufficient energy to heat the solar atmosphere. A layer beneath the Sun's surface, acting as a pan of boiling water, is thought to generate a small-scale magnetic field as an energy reserve which, once it emerges from the star, heats the successive layers of the solar atmosphere via networks of mangrove-like magnetic roots and branches.
Black holes are not ruthless killers, but instead benign hologram generators
on Tue, 16 Jun 2015 15:50:37 EDT:
New research in theoretical physics shows that black holes aren't the ruthless killers we've made them out to be, but instead benign--if imperfect--hologram generators. The world could have been captured by a black hole, and we wouldn't even notice, according to a new theoretical perspective.
Scientists find methane in Mars meteorites
on Tue, 16 Jun 2015 12:37:55 EDT:
Scientists have discovered traces of methane in Martian meteorites, a possible clue in the search for life on the Red Planet.
Communicating with hypersonic vehicles in flight
on Tue, 16 Jun 2015 11:40:53 EDT:
Routine communications blackouts, between a re-entry spacecraft and ground control, can cause anxiety, as there is no way to know or control the location and state of the spacecraft from the ground, but researchers have now proposed a new way to maintain communication with spacecraft as they re-enter the atmosphere. The approach might also be applied to other hypersonic vehicles such as futuristic military planes and ballistic missiles.
Lab mimicry opens a window to the deep interiors of stars and planets
on Mon, 15 Jun 2015 16:26:11 EDT:
The matter that makes up distant planets and even-more-distant stars exists under extreme pressure and temperature conditions. This includes members of a family of seven elements called the noble gases, some of which -- such as helium and neon -- are household names. New work used laboratory techniques to mimic stellar and planetary conditions, and observe how noble gases behave under these conditions, in order to better understand the atmospheric and internal chemistry of these celestial objects.
Small thunderstorms may add up to massive cyclones on Saturn
on Mon, 15 Jun 2015 15:25:50 EDT:
Atmospheric scientists propose a possible mechanism for Saturn's polar cyclones: Over time, small, short-lived thunderstorms across the planet may build up angular momentum, or spin, within the atmosphere -- ultimately stirring up a massive and long-lasting vortex at the poles.