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Amateur astronomer helps uncover secrets of unique pulsar binary system
on Thu, 08 Dec 2016 14:33:43 EST:
A professional astrophysicist and an amateur astronomer have teamed up to reveal surprising details about an unusual millisecond pulsar (MSP) binary system comprising one of the fastest-spinning pulsars in our Galaxy and its unique companion star.
Will Earth still exist 5 billion years from now?
on Thu, 08 Dec 2016 09:04:44 EST:
What will happen to Earth when, in a few billion years' time, the sun is a hundred times bigger than it is today? Using the most powerful radio telescope in the world, an international team of astronomers has set out to look for answers in the star L2 Puppis. Five billion years ago, this star was very similar to the sun as it is today.
Cassini beams back first images from new orbit
on Wed, 07 Dec 2016 15:57:55 EST:
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has sent to Earth its first views of Saturn's atmosphere since beginning the latest phase of its mission. The new images show scenes from high above Saturn's northern hemisphere, including the planet's intriguing hexagon-shaped jet stream.
Saturn's bulging core implies moons younger than thought
on Wed, 07 Dec 2016 13:23:46 EST:
Freshly harvested data from NASA's Cassini mission reveals that the ringed planet's moons may be younger than previously thought.
Dark matter may be smoother than expected
on Wed, 07 Dec 2016 09:29:10 EST:
Analysis of a giant new galaxy survey suggests that dark matter may be less dense and more smoothly distributed throughout space than previously thought. An international team used data from the Kilo Degree Survey (KiDS) to study how the light from about 15 million distant galaxies was affected by the gravitational influence of matter on the largest scales in the universe.
Second-generation stars identified, giving clues about their predecessors
on Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:56:38 EST:
Astronomers have identified what they believe to be the second generation of stars, shedding light on the nature of the universe's first stars.
ALMA measures size of seeds of planets
on Mon, 05 Dec 2016 08:59:32 EST:
Researchers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), have for the first time, achieved a precise size measurement of small dust particles around a young star through radio-wave polarization. ALMA’s high sensitivity for detecting polarized radio waves made possible this important step in tracing the formation of planets around young stars.
Relationships between chemicals found on comets
on Sat, 03 Dec 2016 15:45:35 EST:
A new study has revealed similarities and relationships between certain types of chemicals found on 30 different comets, which vary widely in their overall composition compared to one another. The research is part of ongoing investigations into these primordial bodies, which contain material largely unchanged from the birth of the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago.
New evidence on the formation of the solar system
on Fri, 02 Dec 2016 10:10:23 EST:
Scientists are using new computer models and evidence from meteorites to show that a low-mass supernova triggered the formation of our solar system.
What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
on Thu, 01 Dec 2016 16:55:29 EST:
Machine learning is a powerful tool used for a variety of tasks in modern life, from fraud detection and sorting spam in Google, to making movie recommendations on Netflix. Now a team of researchers has developed a novel approach in using it to determine whether planetary systems are stable or not.
Embryonic cluster galaxy immersed in giant cloud of cold gas
on Thu, 01 Dec 2016 16:46:58 EST:
Astronomers studying a cluster of still-forming protogalaxies seen as they were more than 10 billion years ago have found that a giant galaxy in the center of the cluster is forming from a surprisingly-dense soup of molecular gas.
Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
on Thu, 01 Dec 2016 16:42:56 EST:
Dramatic climate cycles on early Mars, triggered by buildup of greenhouse gases, may be the key to understanding how liquid water left its mark on the planet's surface, according to a team of planetary scientists.
Tangled threads weave through cosmic oddity
on Thu, 01 Dec 2016 12:02:40 EST:
New observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have revealed the intricate structure of the galaxy NGC 4696 in greater detail than ever before. The elliptical galaxy is a beautiful cosmic oddity with a bright core wrapped in system of dark, swirling, thread-like filaments.
Astronomers watch star clusters spewing out dust
on Thu, 01 Dec 2016 11:55:05 EST:
Galaxies are often thought of as sparkling with stars, but they also contain gas and dust. Now, a team of astronomers has used new data to show that stars are responsible for producing dust on galactic scales, a finding consistent with long-standing theory. Dust is important because it is a key component of rocky planets such as Earth.
Star of Bethlehem may not be a star after all
on Thu, 01 Dec 2016 11:25:50 EST:
Studying historical, astronomical and biblical records, Grant Mathews, University of Notre Dame professor, believes the event that led the Magi was an extremely rare planetary alignment occurring in 6 B.C., and the likes of which may never be seen again.
It's a bird... It's a plane... It's the tiniest asteroid!
on Wed, 30 Nov 2016 15:44:31 EST:
A research team has characterized the smallest known asteroid using Earth-based telescopes: Asteroid 2015 TC25 measures just 6 feet across, they report.
Modeling offers new perspective on how Pluto's 'icy heart' came to be
on Wed, 30 Nov 2016 13:37:50 EST:
Pluto's "icy heart" is a bright, two-lobed feature on its surface that has attracted researchers ever since its discovery by the NASA New Horizons team in 2015. Of particular interest is the heart's western lobe, informally named Sputnik Planitia, a deep basin containing three kinds of ices--frozen nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide--and appearing opposite Charon, Pluto's tidally locked moon. Sputnik Planitia's unique attributes have spurred a number of scenarios for its formation, all of which identify the feature as an impact basin, a depression created by a smaller body striking Pluto at extremely high speed.
First signs of weird quantum property of empty space?
on Wed, 30 Nov 2016 08:28:04 EST:
By studying the light emitted from an extraordinarily dense and strongly magnetized neutron star, astronomers may have found the first observational indications of a strange quantum effect, first predicted in the 1930s. The polarization of the observed light suggests that the empty space around the neutron star is subject to a quantum effect known as vacuum birefringence.
New design of neutron spectrometer being tested for manned spaceflight
on Tue, 29 Nov 2016 13:36:11 EST:
The Fast Neutron Spectrometer (FNS) is now aboard the International Space Station. Neutrons contribute to crew radiation exposure and must be measured to assess exposure levels. The FNS uses a new instrument design that can significantly improve reliability.
Metallic glass gears make for graceful robots
on Tue, 29 Nov 2016 10:33:09 EST:
At NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, scientists are building a better gear. Specifically, they are developing gears made from bulk metallic glass (BMG), a specially crafted alloy with properties that make it ideal for robotics.
NASA Saturn mission prepares for 'ring-grazing orbits'
on Tue, 29 Nov 2016 10:29:30 EST:
A thrilling ride is about to begin for NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Engineers have been pumping up the spacecraft's orbit around Saturn this year to increase its tilt with respect to the planet's equator and rings. And on Nov. 30, following a gravitational nudge from Saturn's moon Titan, Cassini will enter the first phase of the mission's dramatic endgame.
Why 'Arrival' is wrong about the possibility of talking with space aliens
on Tue, 29 Nov 2016 08:50:22 EST:
Even if aliens had human-like eyes or ears, they wouldn't interpret images and sounds the same way we do, researchers suggest.
It takes less than a second to tell humans from androids
on Mon, 28 Nov 2016 15:24:34 EST:
It can be hard to tell the difference between humans and androids in such sci-fi TV shows as "Westworld." But in real life, beyond our screens, the human brain takes less than a second to tell between reality and fantasy, according to new research.
Cause of visual impairment in astronauts identified
on Mon, 28 Nov 2016 13:28:31 EST:
A visual problem affecting astronauts who serve on lengthy missions in space is related to volume changes in the clear fluid that is found around the brain and spinal cord, according to new research.
Low-mass supernova may have triggered formation of our solar system
on Mon, 28 Nov 2016 11:15:56 EST:
A research team has used new models and evidence from meteorites to propose that a low-mass supernova triggered the formation of our solar system.
Timing the shadow of a potentially habitable extrasolar planet paves the way to search for alien life
on Mon, 28 Nov 2016 08:45:13 EST:
Scientists have observed the transit of a potentially Earth-like extrasolar planet known as K2-3d. A transit is a phenomenon in which a planet passes in front of its parent star, blocking a small amount of light from the star, like a shadow of the planet. While transits have previously been observed for thousands of other extrasolar planets, K2-3d is important because there is a possibility that it might harbor extraterrestrial life.
Violent collision of massive supernova with surrounding gas powers superluminous supernovae
on Mon, 28 Nov 2016 08:45:10 EST:
Scientists have simulated the violent collisions between supernovae and its surrounding gas -- which is ejected before a supernova explosion, thereby giving off an extreme brightness.
New stars discovery shed new light on Galaxy's formation
on Fri, 25 Nov 2016 14:50:15 EST:
An astronomer has discovered a new family of stars in the core of the Milky Way Galaxy which provides new insights into the early stages of the Galaxy's formation.
New network to trace the evolution of the universe
on Thu, 24 Nov 2016 08:17:40 EST:
A new network will bring European research, science and business together to further our understanding of the early universe and its constituents, say authors of a new report.
Mars ice deposit holds as much water as Lake Superior
on Tue, 22 Nov 2016 13:10:31 EST:
Frozen beneath a region of cracked and pitted plains on Mars lies about as much water as what's in Lake Superior, largest of the Great Lakes, researchers using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have determined.
New views of dwarf planet Ceres as Dawn moves higher
on Tue, 22 Nov 2016 13:06:43 EST:
The brightest area on Ceres stands out amid shadowy, cratered terrain in a dramatic new view from NASA's Dawn spacecraft, taken as it looked off to the side of the dwarf planet.
Large number of dwarf galaxies discovered in the early universe
on Mon, 21 Nov 2016 16:19:15 EST:
Astronomers have found, for the first time, a large population of distant dwarf galaxies that could reveal important details about a productive period of star formation in the universe billions of years ago.
Record-breaking faint satellite galaxy of the Milky Way discovered
on Mon, 21 Nov 2016 15:59:20 EST:
Astronomers have found an extremely faint dwarf satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. The satellite, named Virgo I, lies in the direction of the constellation Virgo. At the absolute magnitude of -0.8 in the optical waveband, it may well be the faintest satellite galaxy yet found. Its discovery suggests the presence of a large number of yet-undetected dwarf satellites in the halo of the Milky Way and provides important insights into galaxy formation through hierarchical assembly of dark matter.
Bright radio bursts probe universe's hidden matter
on Thu, 17 Nov 2016 14:48:42 EST:
Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are mysterious flashes of radio waves originating outside our Milky Way galaxy. A team of scientists has now observed the most luminous FRB to date, called FRB 150807.
Optical clock technology tested in space for first time
on Thu, 17 Nov 2016 10:51:46 EST:
For the first time, an optical clock has traveled to space, surviving harsh rocket launch conditions and successfully operating under the microgravity that would be experienced on a satellite. This demonstration brings optical clock technology much closer to implementation in space, where it could eventually allow GPS-based navigation with centimeter-level location precision.
Distant star is roundest object ever observed in nature
on Wed, 16 Nov 2016 14:31:45 EST:
Stars are not perfect spheres. While they rotate, they become flat due to the centrifugal force. A team of researchers has now succeeded in measuring the oblateness of a slowly rotating star with unprecedented precision. The researchers have determined stellar oblateness using asteroseismology -- the study of the oscillations of stars. The technique is applied to a star 5000 light years away from Earth and revealed that the difference between the equatorial and polar radii of the star is only 3 kilometers -- a number that is astonishing small compared to the star's mean radius of 1.5 million kilometers; which means that the gas sphere is astonishingly round.
New analysis adds support for a subsurface ocean on Pluto
on Wed, 16 Nov 2016 14:13:23 EST:
A liquid ocean lying deep beneath Pluto's frozen surface is the best explanation for features revealed by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, according to a new analysis. The idea that Pluto has a subsurface ocean is not new, but the study provides the most detailed investigation yet of its likely role in the evolution of key features such as the vast, low-lying plain known as Sputnik Planitia (formerly Sputnik Planum).
Cracked, frozen and tipped over: New clues from Pluto's past
on Wed, 16 Nov 2016 14:05:53 EST:
New research by planetary scientists reveals fascinating clues about Pluto, suggesting the small world at the fringes of our solar system is much more active than anyone ever imagined.
Great valley found on Mercury
on Wed, 16 Nov 2016 10:40:13 EST:
Scientists have discovered a new large valley on Mercury that may be the first evidence of buckling of the planet's outer silicate shell in response to global contraction. The researchers discovered the valley using a new high-resolution topographic map of part of Mercury's southern hemisphere created by stereo images from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft.
Scientists discover a nearby 'super-Earth'
on Wed, 16 Nov 2016 10:21:03 EST:
Researchers have discovered a "super-Earth" type planet, GJ 536 b, whose mass is around 5.4 Earth masses, in orbit around a nearby very bright star. The exoplanet is not within the star's habitable zone, but its short orbital period of 8.7 days and the luminosity of its star, a red dwarf which is quite cool and near to our Sun, make it an attractive candidate for investigating its atmospheric composition.
'Beautiful accident' leads to advances in high pressure materials synthesis
on Wed, 16 Nov 2016 10:15:42 EST:
Unexpected results from a neutron scattering experiment could open a new pathway for the synthesis of novel materials and also help explain the formation of complex organic structures observed in interstellar space.
Cosmic ‘barcode’ from distant galaxy confirms Nature’s constancy
on Tue, 15 Nov 2016 17:51:27 EST:
Astronomers have precisely measured the strength of a fundamental force of Nature in a galaxy seen eight billion years in the past. Researchers have confirmed that electromagnetism in a distant galaxy has the same strength as here on Earth.
Do extremely reddened quasars extinguish star formation?
on Tue, 15 Nov 2016 16:43:47 EST:
Galaxies formed and grew billions of years ago by accumulating gas from their surroundings, or colliding and merging with other young galaxies. These early stages of galaxy assembly are believed to be accompanied by episodes of rapid star formation, known as starbursts, and rapid growth of a single super-massive black hole in the galactic centers.
NASA space telescopes pinpoint elusive brown dwarf
on Tue, 15 Nov 2016 11:09:09 EST:
In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, NASA's Spitzer and Swift space telescopes joined forces to observe a microlensing event, when a distant star brightens due to the gravitational field of at least one foreground cosmic object. This technique is useful for finding low-mass bodies orbiting stars, such as planets. In this case, the observations revealed a brown dwarf.
Cosmic whistle packs a surprisingly energetic punch
on Mon, 14 Nov 2016 14:41:24 EST:
Astronomers have discovered that the mysterious "cosmic whistles" known as fast radio bursts can pack a serious punch, in some cases releasing a billion times more energy in gamma-rays than they do in radio waves and rivaling the stellar cataclysms known as supernovae in their explosive power. The discovery drastically raises the stakes for models of fast radio bursts and is expected to further energize efforts by astronomers to chase down and identify long-lived counterparts to fast radio bursts using X-ray, optical, and radio telescopes.
NASA finds unusual origins of high-energy electrons
on Mon, 14 Nov 2016 14:39:28 EST:
High above the surface, Earth's magnetic field constantly deflects incoming supersonic particles from the sun. These particles are disturbed in regions just outside of Earth's magnetic field - and some are reflected into a turbulent region called the foreshock. New observations from NASA's THEMIS mission show that this turbulent region can accelerate electrons up to speeds approaching the speed of light. Such extremely fast particles have been observed in near-Earth space and many other places in the universe, but the mechanisms that accelerate them have not yet been concretely understood.
Meteorites reveal lasting drought on Mars
on Fri, 11 Nov 2016 09:47:15 EST:
The lack of liquid water on the surface of Mars today has been demonstrated by new evidence in the form of meteorites on the Red Planet examined by an international team of planetary scientists.
Novel analysis technique helps solve Beagle 2 mystery
on Thu, 10 Nov 2016 21:27:12 EST:
The Mars lander Beagle 2 deployed at least three or all four of its solar panels, scientists report. The probe was discovered on the Red Planet in November 2014, but uncertainty surrounded what had caused its failure to communicate with Earth. Now researchers say that Beagle 2 did not crash, but landed and probably deployed most of its panels.
Solar physicist finds new way to study the inner workings of the sun
on Thu, 10 Nov 2016 16:30:09 EST:
Neutrinos from the sun carry information about its fiery core but they are extremely hard to detect. Now, researchers may have found a much easier and less expensive way to study these elusive particles.
A funnel on Mars could be a place to look for life
on Thu, 10 Nov 2016 12:54:08 EST:
A strangely shaped depression on Mars could be a new place to look for signs of life on the Red Planet, according to a new study. The depression was probably formed by a volcano beneath a glacier and could have been a warm, chemical-rich environment well suited for microbial life.
Peculiarities of huge equatorial jet stream in Saturn's atmosphere revealed
on Thu, 10 Nov 2016 08:40:55 EST:
The atmosphere of the planet Saturn, a gas giant ten times bigger than the Earth consisting mostly of hydrogen, has a wider, more intense jet stream than all the planets in the Solar System. Winds gusting at speeds of up to 1,650 km/h blow from West to East in the equatorial atmosphere, thirteen times the strength of the most destructive hurricane force winds that form on the Earth's equator. This huge jet stream also extends about 70,000 km from north to south, more than five times the size of our planet.
Comet Chury is much younger than previously thought
on Wed, 09 Nov 2016 09:03:49 EST:
Based on computer simulations, astrophysicists conclude that the comet Chury did not obtain its duck-like form during the formation of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago. Although it does contain primordial material, they are able to show that the comet in its present form is hardly more than a billion years old.
Sculpting solar systems: Instrument reveals protoplanetary discs being shaped by newborn planets
on Wed, 09 Nov 2016 08:58:00 EST:
Three teams of astronomers have made use of SPHERE, an advanced exoplanet-hunting instrument on the Very Large Telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory, in order to shed light on the enigmatic evolution of fledgling planetary systems. The explosion in the number of known exoplanets in recent years has made the study of them one of the most dynamic fields in modern astronomy.
Birth of massive stars is accompanied by strong luminosity bursts
on Mon, 07 Nov 2016 11:24:23 EST:
Astronomers are investigating the basic principles of the formation of stars. The birth of massive stars is still a mystery to us, because these stars are embedded in an extremely dense medium of gas and dust.
Hubble takes flight with the toucan and the cluster
on Fri, 04 Nov 2016 19:10:30 EDT:
It may be famous for hosting spectacular sights such as the Tucana Dwarf Galaxy and 47 Tucanae (heic1510), the second brightest globular cluster in the night sky, but the southern constellation of Tucana (The Toucan) also possesses a variety of unsung cosmic beauties.
NASA's MMS breaks Guinness World Record
on Fri, 04 Nov 2016 19:08:48 EDT:
NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, or MMS, is breaking records. MMS now holds the Guinness World Record for highest altitude fix of a GPS signal. Operating in a highly elliptical orbit around Earth, the MMS satellites set the record at 43,500 miles above the surface. The four MMS spacecraft incorporate GPS measurements into their precise tracking systems, which require extremely sensitive position and orbit calculations to guide tight flying formations.
Detour via gravitational lens makes distant galaxy visible
on Fri, 04 Nov 2016 19:06:59 EDT:
Never before have astrophysicists measured light of such high energy from a celestial object so far away. Around 7 billion years ago, a huge explosion occurred at the black hole in the center of a galaxy. This was followed by a burst of high-intensity gamma rays. A number of telescopes have succeeded in capturing this light. An added bonus: it was thus possible to reconfirm Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, as the light rays encountered a less distant galaxy en route to Earth -- and were deflected by this so-called gravitational lens.
NASA's NavCube could support an X-ray communications demonstration in space
on Fri, 04 Nov 2016 10:31:09 EDT:
Two proven technologies have been combined to create a promising new technology that could meet future navigational challenges in deep space. It also may help demonstrate -- for the first time -- X-ray communications in space, a capability that would allow the transmission of gigabits per second throughout the solar system.
Crack discovered in Earth's magnetic shield
on Thu, 03 Nov 2016 12:59:30 EDT:
The GRAPES-3 muon telescope recorded a burst of galactic cosmic rays of about 20 GeV, on 22 June 2015 lasting for two hours. The burst occurred when a giant cloud of plasma ejected from the solar corona, and moving with a speed of about 2.5 million kilometers per hour struck our planet, causing a severe compression of Earth's magnetosphere from 11 to 4 times the radius of Earth. It triggered a severe geomagnetic storm that generated aurora borealis, and radio signal blackouts in many high latitude countries.
Detection of water on asteroid named psyche
on Thu, 03 Nov 2016 12:22:39 EDT:
Scientists worked together to detect water on Psyche, the largest metallic asteroid in the solar system. The asteroid is the target of a proposed NASA mission.