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CAT scan of nearby supernova remnant reveals frothy interior
on Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:30:44 EST:
Cassiopeia A, or Cas A for short, is one of the most well studied supernova remnants in our galaxy. But it still holds major surprises. Astronomers have now generated a new 3-D map of its interior using the astronomical equivalent of a CAT scan. They found that the Cas A supernova remnant is composed of a collection of about a half dozen massive cavities -- or 'bubbles.'
Satellites can improve regional air quality forecasting
on Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:43:22 EST:
Researchers found that data gathered from geo-stationary satellites -- satellites orbiting Earth at about 22,000 miles above the equator and commonly used for telecommunications and weather imaging -- can greatly improve air-quality forecasting.
The tell-tale signs of a galactic merger
on Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:43:13 EST:
Astronomers have captured a striking view of spiral galaxy NGC 7714. This galaxy has drifted too close to another nearby galaxy and the dramatic interaction has twisted its spiral arms out of shape, dragged streams of material out into space, and triggered bright bursts of star formation.
Could a new proposed particle help to detect Dark Matter?
on Thu, 29 Jan 2015 09:41:10 EST:
Researchers have proposed a new fundamental particle which could explain why no one has managed to detect 'Dark Matter', the elusive missing 85 per cent of the Universe's mass. Dark Matter is thought to exist because of its gravitational effects on stars and galaxies, gravitational lensing (the bending of light rays) around these, and through its imprint on the Cosmic Microwave Background (the afterglow of the Big Bang). Despite compelling indirect evidence and considerable experimental effort, no one has managed to detect Dark Matter directly.
Astronomers gain a new view of galaxy M 82
on Thu, 29 Jan 2015 09:41:08 EST:
Astronomers have used the giant radio telescope Lofar to create the sharpest astronomical image ever taken at very long radio wavelengths. A new image shows the glowing center of the galaxy Messier 82 -- and many bright remnants of supernova explosions. A supernova remnant is a shining shell of shock waves from an exploded star, ploughing into its surroundings.
Cassini catches Saturn's moon Titan naked in the solar wind
on Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:53:35 EST:
Researchers studying data from NASA's Cassini mission have observed that Saturn's largest moon, Titan, behaves much like Venus, Mars or a comet when exposed to the raw power of the solar wind. The observations suggest that unmagnetized bodies like Titan might interact with the solar wind in the same basic ways, regardless of their nature or distance from the sun.
Some potentially habitable planets began as gaseous, Neptune-like worlds
on Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:05:04 EST:
Two phenomena known to inhibit the potential habitability of planets -- tidal forces and vigorous stellar activity -- might instead help chances for life on certain planets orbiting low-mass stars, astronomers have found.
Engineer advances new daytime star tracker
on Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:05:02 EST:
NASA is developing a precision attitude sensor or star tracker that would be able to locate points of reference, or in other words, stars, during daylight hours.
Gully patterns document Martian climate cycles
on Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:22:05 EST:
Gullies carved into impact craters on Mars provide a window into climate change on the Red Planet. A new analysis suggests Mars has undergone several ice ages in the last several million years. The driver of these climate swings is likely the Red Planet's wobbly axis tilt.
Quantum computer as detector shows space is not squeezed
on Wed, 28 Jan 2015 14:16:53 EST:
Ever since Einstein proposed his special theory of relativity in 1905, physics and cosmology have been based on the assumption that space looks the same in all directions -- that it's not squeezed in one direction relative to another. A new experiment by physicists used partially entangled atoms -- identical to the qubits in a quantum computer -- to demonstrate more precisely than ever before that this is true: to one part in a billion billion.
The two faces of Mars: Moon-sized celestial object crashed into south pole
on Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:54:14 EST:
The two hemispheres of Mars are more different from any other planet in our solar system. Non-volcanic, flat lowlands characterize the northern hemisphere, while highlands punctuated by countless volcanoes extend across the southern hemisphere. Although theories and assumptions about the origin of this so-called and often-discussed Mars dichotomy abound, there are very few definitive answers. Geophysicists are now providing a new explanation.
New instrument to study the extreme universe -- the X-Ray polarimeter X-Calibur
on Wed, 28 Jan 2015 10:06:44 EST:
X-ray polarimetry promises to give qualitatively new information about high-energy astrophysical sources, such as black hole systems, the bright and active centers of galaxies, compact neutron stars, and gamma-ray bursts. The instrument will measure the polarization of 20-80keV X-rays. The detector is completed, tested, and fully calibrated and ready to be flown on a high-altitude balloon.
Ballooning offers platform for performing research in a space-like environment
on Wed, 28 Jan 2015 09:35:47 EST:
A high-altitude (>20 km) balloon platform is nearly ideal for carrying out scientific observations in a space-like environment, flight qualifying instrumentation, and transporting humans to the edge of space. This platform is regularly utilized by a wide range of disciplines, including astrophysics, heliophysics, planetary and Earth science. The increasing interest has driven the development of improved capabilities for payloads to fly at high altitudes for longer durations (> 100 days).
The mouth of the beast: VLT images cometary globule CG4
on Wed, 28 Jan 2015 08:22:41 EST:
Like the gaping mouth of a gigantic celestial creature, the cometary globule CG4 glows menacingly in this new image from ESO's Very Large Telescope. Although it appears to be big and bright in this picture, this is actually a faint nebula, which makes it very hard for amateur astronomers to spot. The exact nature of CG4 remains a mystery.
NASA's Dawn spacecraft captures best-ever view of dwarf planet Ceres
on Tue, 27 Jan 2015 14:11:26 EST:
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned the sharpest images ever seen of the dwarf planet Ceres. The images were taken 147,000 miles (237,000 kilometers) from Ceres on Jan. 25, and represent a new milestone for a spacecraft that soon will become the first human-made probe to visit a dwarf planet.
'Knobby terrain' a sign of Mars's explosive past
on Tue, 27 Jan 2015 14:08:09 EST:
The Red Planet's upper crust is brittle and weak. Planetary geologists often attribute this to effusive eruption -- lava pouring out of a volcano onto the ground -- early in Mars's history with later modifications. However, some have suggested that the friable materials were created by widespread ash-laden explosive volcanoes that were eroded by geologic processes over the course of Martian history.
Asteroid that flew past Earth has moon
on Tue, 27 Jan 2015 14:06:52 EST:
Scientists working with NASA's 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, have released the first radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86. The images show the asteroid, which made its closest approach on Jan. 26, 2015 at 8:19 a.m. PST (11:19 a.m. EST) at a distance of about 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers, or 3.1 times the distance from Earth to the moon), has its own small moon.
'Yellowballs' are part of the development of massive star
on Tue, 27 Jan 2015 13:11:06 EST:
Citizen scientists wanted to know: What are the yellow objects on these infrared images from the Spitzer Space Telescope? Astronomers now report that the "yellowballs" are part of the development of massive stars.
Bubbles from the galactic center: A key to understanding dark matter and our galaxy's past?
on Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:14:28 EST:
The astrophysicists who discovered two enormous radiation bubbles in the center of our galaxy discuss what they may tell us about the Milky Way and how they could help in the search for dark matter.
Ancient star system reveals Earth-sized planets forming near start of universe
on Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:14:18 EST:
A Sun-like star with orbiting planets, dating back to the dawn of the Galaxy, has been discovered by an international team of astronomers. At 11.2 billion years old, it is the oldest star with Earth-sized planets ever found and proves that such planets have formed throughout the history of the Universe.
NOAA's DSCOVR going to a 'far out' orbit
on Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:06:32 EST:
Many satellites that monitor the Earth orbit relatively close to the planet, while some satellites that monitor the sun orbit our star. DSCOVR will keep an eye on both, with a focus on the sun. To cover both the Earth and sun, it will have an unusual orbit in a place called L1.
Gigantic ring system around J1407b much larger, heavier than Saturn's
on Mon, 26 Jan 2015 13:52:08 EST:
Astronomers have discovered that the ring system that they see eclipse the very young Sun-like star J1407 is of enormous proportions, much larger and heavier than the ring system of Saturn.
Swarm of microprobes to head for Jupiter
on Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:23:52 EST:
A swarm of tiny probes each with a different sensor could be fired into the clouds of Jupiter and grab data as they fall before burning up in the gas giant planet's atmosphere. The probes would last an estimated 15 minutes according to planetary scientists. Transmitting 20 megabits of data over 15 minutes would be sufficient to allows scientists to get a picture of a large part of the atmosphere of the planet.
Meteosat-7 becomes EUMETSAT's longest-serving operational satellite
on Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:22:51 EST:
On 24 January 2015, Meteosat-7 becomes the longest-serving operational satellite in EUMETSAT history, clocking up 17 years of monitoring the weather from space.
Hilltop panorama marks Mars rover's 11th anniversary
on Mon, 26 Jan 2015 10:53:30 EST:
A panorama from one of the highest elevations that NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has reached in its 11 years on Mars includes the U.S. flag at the summit.
Helicopter could be 'scout' for Mars rovers
on Mon, 26 Jan 2015 10:51:34 EST:
Getting around on Mars is tricky business. Each NASA rover has delivered a wealth of information about the history and composition of the Red Planet, but a rover's vision is limited by the view of onboard cameras, and images from spacecraft orbiting Mars are the only other clues to where to drive it. To have a better sense of where to go and what's worth studying on Mars, it could be useful to have a low-flying scout.
Alamo impact crater: New study could double its size
on Fri, 23 Jan 2015 10:25:41 EST:
Carbonate rock deposits found within the mountain ranges of south-central Nevada, USA, record evidence of a catastrophic impact event known as the Alamo impact. This event occurred roughly 382 million years ago when the ancient seafloor was struck and a submarine crater was formed. The crater was filled-in with fragmented rock, and later with more typical ocean deposits, as the energy from the impact lessened and the environment returned to normal.
How does the universe creates reason, morality?
on Fri, 23 Jan 2015 10:22:21 EST:
Recent developments in science are beginning to suggest that the universe naturally produces complexity. The emergence of life in general and perhaps even rational life, with its associated technological culture, may be extremely common, argues a scientist.
Yes, black holes exist in gravitational theories with unbounded speeds of propagation
on Fri, 23 Jan 2015 10:22:19 EST:
Gravitational theories with broken Lorentz invariance have attracted a great deal of interest as they provide a test-bed of LI and offer a mechanism to improve their ultraviolet behavior, so that the theories may be renormalizable. However in such theories, particles can travel with arbitrary velocities and black holes may not exist at all. In contrast to this expectation, it has been shown that an absolute horizon exists, which traps signals despite infinitely large velocities.
H.E.S.S. finds three extremely luminous gamma-ray sources
on Fri, 23 Jan 2015 10:22:15 EST:
The High Energy Stereoscopic System telescopes have again demonstrated their excellent capabilities in searching for high-energy gamma rays.
Rosetta data reveals more surprises about comet 67P
on Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:54:28 EST:
As the Rosetta spacecraft orbits comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, an international team of scientists have discovered that the comet's atmosphere, or coma, is much less homogenous than expected and comet outgassing varies significantly over time.
Rosetta data give closest-ever look at a comet
on Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:54:25 EST:
On Nov. 12, 2014, the Rosetta mission's Philae lander touched down on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. While this achievement gained lots of headlines, it was only the beginning for researchers back on Earth. New data provides the closest and most detailed look at a comet that scientists have ever seen.
New research re-creates planet formation, super-Earths and giant planets in the laboratory
on Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:54:18 EST:
New laser-driven compression experiments reproduce the conditions deep inside exotic super-Earths and giant planet cores, and the conditions during the violent birth of Earth-like planets, documenting the material properties that determined planets' formation and evolution processes.
Rosetta Comet 'pouring' more water into space
on Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:30:46 EST:
There has been a significant increase in the amount of water "pouring" out of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the comet on which the Rosetta mission's Philae lander touched down in November 2014. The 2.5-mile-wide (4-kilometer) comet was releasing the earthly equivalent of 40 ounces (1.2 liters) of water into space every second at the end of August 2014.
Watching the birth of a comet magnetosphere
on Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:18:02 EST:
Astronomers have shown what happens when a magnetosphere forms round a comet. The RPC-ICA instrument onboard the Rosetta spacecraft has been watching the early stages of how a magnetosphere forms around Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it moves closer to the Sun along its orbit and begins to interact with the solar wind. As the comet gets warmer, volatile substances, mainly water, evaporate from the surface and form an atmosphere around the comet. The Sun's ultraviolet radiation and collisions with the solar wind ionizes some of the comet's atmosphere. The newly formed ions are affected by the solar wind electric and magnetic fields and can be accelerated to high speeds. When the comet gets close enough to the Sun, its atmosphere becomes so dense and ionized that it becomes electrically conductive. When this happens, the atmosphere starts to resist the solar wind and a comet's magnetosphere is born - a region surrounding the comet that is shielded from the solar wind.
Gas variations are suggestive of seasons on comet Chury
on Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:18:00 EST:
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko continues to reveal more of its secrets: Researchers have detected considerable variations in the gas escaping from the comet. This could amount to seasonal changes on the tiny celestial body. Meanwhile, the camera OSIRIS on board the Rosetta comet probe is revealing new details of the surface of Chury.
Black hole on a diet creates a 'changing look' quasar
on Thu, 22 Jan 2015 11:45:55 EST:
Astronomers have identified the first 'changing look' quasar, a gleaming object in deep space that appears to have its own dimmer switch. The discovery may offer a glimpse into the life story of the universe's great beacons.
Wild west physics: Bridging the gap between the study of 'outer space' and 'inner space'
on Thu, 22 Jan 2015 11:43:54 EST:
The next frontier in physics may require teeny-tiny answers to big questions, and vice versa. Call it macro-micro physics: the study of the huge paired with the study of the very, very small.
Growing bone in space: Study to test therapy for bone loss on the International Space Station
on Thu, 22 Jan 2015 09:22:10 EST:
Stem cell researchers are to send rodents into space to test new therapy for prevention of bone loss. The research has enormous translational potential for astronauts in space flight and patients on Earth with osteoporosis or other bone loss problems from disease, illness or trauma.
Telescope to seek dust where other Earths may lie
on Thu, 22 Jan 2015 09:04:33 EST:
The NASA-funded Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer, or LBTI, has completed its first study of dust in the "habitable zone" around a star, opening a new door to finding planets like Earth. Dust is a natural byproduct of the planet-formation process, but too much of it can block our view of planets.
Gullies on protoplanet Vesta suggest past water-mobilized flows
on Thu, 22 Jan 2015 09:00:06 EST:
Protoplanet Vesta, visited by NASA's Dawn spacecraft from 2011 to 2013, was once thought to be completely dry, incapable of retaining water because of the low temperatures and pressures at its surface. However, a new study shows evidence that Vesta may have had short-lived flows of water-mobilized material on its surface, based on data from Dawn.
NASA, Microsoft collaboration will allow scientists to 'work on Mars'
on Thu, 22 Jan 2015 08:58:19 EST:
NASA and Microsoft have teamed up to develop software called OnSight, a new technology that will enable scientists to work virtually on Mars using wearable technology called Microsoft HoloLens.
Death of a dynamo: A hard drive from space
on Wed, 21 Jan 2015 13:07:48 EST:
Hidden magnetic messages contained within ancient meteorites are providing a unique window into the processes that shaped our solar system, and may give a sneak preview of the fate of the Earth's core as it continues to freeze.
Astronomers to map the universe with largest radio telescope ever built
on Wed, 21 Jan 2015 11:47:50 EST:
An international team of scientists have joined forces to lay the foundations for an experiment of truly astronomical proportions: putting together the biggest map of the Universe ever made. The experiment will combine signals from hundreds of radio dishes to make cosmic atlas. The international team of researchers has now set out their plans for the mammoth survey.
In theory, the Milky Way could be a 'galactic transport system'
on Wed, 21 Jan 2015 08:36:48 EST:
Based on the latest evidence and theories our galaxy could be a huge wormhole and, if that were true, it could be "stable and navigable." Astrophysicists combined the equations of general relativity with an extremely detailed map of the distribution of dark matter in the Milky Way when proposing this possibility.
Technique reveals age of planetary materials
on Tue, 20 Jan 2015 14:28:09 EST:
The key to understanding the geologic history of the Solar System is knowing the ages of planetary rocks. Researchers have developed an instrument that is not only capable of dating rocks, but also is composed entirely of technology that can be miniaturized for spaceflight.
Ocean floor dust gives new insight into supernovae
on Tue, 20 Jan 2015 10:25:04 EST:
Extraterrestrial dust from the depths of the ocean could change the way we understand supernovae. Scientists have found the amount of plutonium in the dust is much lower than expected.
Dawn spacecraft delivers new image of dwarf planet Ceres
on Mon, 19 Jan 2015 11:31:42 EST:
As NASA's Dawn spacecraft closes in on Ceres, new images show the dwarf planet at 27 pixels across, about three times better than the calibration images taken in early December. These are the first in a series of images that will be taken for navigation purposes during the approach to Ceres.
How planetary building blocks evolved from porous to hard objects
on Mon, 19 Jan 2015 09:09:49 EST:
Thinking small has enabled an international team of scientists to gain new insight into the evolution of planetary building blocks in the early solar system. Planetary scientists study chondritic meteorites to reconstruct planet formation. These meteorites are made of a mixture of solid chondrules, millimeter-sized beads (the approximate width of a penny) that became embedded in a fluffy matrix.
Extremely short, sharp flash of radio waves from unknown source in the universe, caught as it was happening
on Mon, 19 Jan 2015 08:32:54 EST:
A strange phenomenon has been observed by astronomers right as it was happening -- a 'fast radio burst'. The eruption is described as an extremely short, sharp flash of radio waves from an unknown source in the universe.
Machines teach astronomers about stars
on Fri, 16 Jan 2015 14:56:56 EST:
Astronomers are enlisting the help of machines to sort through thousands of stars in our galaxy and learn their sizes, compositions and other basic traits. The research is part of the growing field of machine learning, in which computers learn from large data sets, finding patterns that humans might not otherwise see.
Scientists pinpoint saturn with exquisite accuracy
on Thu, 08 Jan 2015 11:11:11 EST:
Scientists have paired NASA's Cassini spacecraft with the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) radio-telescope system to pinpoint the position of Saturn and its family of moons to within about 2 miles (4 kilometers). The measurement is some 50 times more precise than those provided by ground-based optical telescopes. The feat improves astronomers' knowledge of Saturn's orbit and benefits spacecraft navigation and basic physics research.
Asteroid to fly by Earth safely on January 26
on Fri, 16 Jan 2015 14:44:49 EST:
An asteroid, designated 2004 BL86, will safely pass about three times the distance of Earth to the moon on January 26. From its reflected brightness, astronomers estimate that the asteroid is about a third of a mile (0.5 kilometers) in size. The flyby of 2004 BL86 will be the closest by any known space rock this large until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past Earth in 2027.
NASA and ESA celebrate 10 years since Huygens probe landing on Saturn's moon Titan
on Fri, 16 Jan 2015 14:40:52 EST:
Ten years ago, an explorer from Earth parachuted into the haze of an alien moon toward an uncertain fate. After a gentle descent lasting more than two hours, it landed with a thud on a frigid floodplain, surrounded by icy cobblestones. With this feat, the Huygens probe accomplished humanity's first landing on a moon in the outer solar system. Huygens was safely on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn.
NEOWISE: A yearlong look at the sky
on Fri, 16 Jan 2015 14:38:57 EST:
NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft discovered and characterized 40 near-Earth objects (NEOs) in the first year after the mission was re-started in December 2013. Eight of the discoveries have been classified as potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs), based on their size and how close their orbits could come to Earth's orbit.
Crystal-rich rock 'Mojave' is next Mars drill target
on Fri, 16 Jan 2015 14:35:50 EST:
A rock target where NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is using its sample-collection drill this week may have a salty story to tell. This target, called "Mojave," displays copious slender features, slightly smaller than grains of rice, that appear to be mineral crystals. A chance to learn their composition prompted the Curiosity science team to choose Mojave as the next rock-drilling target for the 29-month-old mission investigating Mars' Gale Crater. The features might be a salt mineral left behind when lakewater evaporated.
Peat fire emissions may shed light on climate change
on Fri, 16 Jan 2015 13:45:37 EST:
Researchers are beginning a study of the climatic effects of peat fire emissions. "This project is going to provide the much-needed information on peat smoke aerosol properties for integration in satellite retrieval algorithms and climate models," the lead researcher says. "Based on my initial findings, I hypothesize the peat smoke is made up of brown carbon and not black carbon. Brown carbon is a class of organic carbon aerosol which, unlike black carbon, strongly absorbs incoming solar radiation in the shorter wavelengths, or near ultraviolet."
HiRISE camera spots long-lost space probe on Mars
on Fri, 16 Jan 2015 10:44:23 EST:
The Beagle 2 Mars Lander, thought lost on Mars since 2003, has been found partially deployed on the surface of the planet, ending the mystery of what happened to the mission more than a decade ago.
Three nearly Earth-size planets found orbiting nearby star: One in 'Goldilocks' zone
on Fri, 16 Jan 2015 09:30:52 EST:
NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has discovered a star with three planets only slightly larger than Earth. The outermost planet orbits in the 'Goldilocks' zone -- where surface temperatures could be moderate enough for liquid water and perhaps life to exist. The star ranks among the top 10 nearest stars known to have transiting planets. The star's close enough for astronomers to study the planets' atmospheres to determine if they could possibly be conducive to life.
Galactic 'hailstorm' in the early Universe
on Fri, 16 Jan 2015 08:49:33 EST:
Astronomers have been able to peer back to the young Universe to determine how quasars -- powered by supermassive black holes with the mass of a billion suns -- form and shape the evolution of galaxies. Two teams of astronomers have looked back nearly 13 billion years, when the Universe was less than 10 percent its present age, to determine how quasars -- extremely luminous objects powered by supermassive black holes with the mass of a billion suns -- regulate the formation of stars and the build-up of the most massive galaxies.