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Oldest known planet-forming disk discovered
on Fri, 21 Oct 2016 11:58:43 EDT:
A group of citizen scientists and professional astronomers joined forces to discover an unusual hunting ground for exoplanets. They found a star surrounded by the oldest known circumstellar disk -- a primordial ring of gas and dust that orbits around a young star and from which planets can form as the material collides and aggregates.
Researchers solve the problem of the dimensions of space-time in theories relating to the Large Hadron Collider
on Fri, 21 Oct 2016 08:45:21 EDT:
Researchers propose an approach to the experimental data generated by the Large Hadron Collider that solves the infinity problem without breaching the four dimensions of space-time.
ExoMars lander descent data: Decoding underway
on Thu, 20 Oct 2016 12:33:12 EDT:
Essential data from the ExoMars Schiaparelli lander sent to its mothership Trace Gas Orbiter during the module's descent to the Red Planet's surface yesterday has been downlinked to Earth and is currently being analysed by experts.
ExoMars orbiter reaches Mars orbit while lander situation under assessment
on Wed, 19 Oct 2016 11:11:11 EDT:
The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) of ESA's ExoMars 2016 has successfully performed the long 139-minute burn required to be captured by Mars and entered an elliptical orbit around the Red Planet, while contact has not yet been confirmed with the mission's test lander from the surface.
Unexplainable activity in distant stars: New class of explosive events?
on Thu, 20 Oct 2016 09:25:05 EDT:
Researcher pored through more than 10 years of existing Chandra X-ray Observatory data and found stars that repeatedly survive quick, massive surges in space energy. There are no such instances in our galaxy, as stars are destroyed by similar conditions.
Astrophysicists map the Milky Way
on Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:50:09 EDT:
Hydrogen. Atomic number 1. It is the simplest and lightest element on the periodic table, but don't be fooled by its humble appearance. With just a single proton and a single electron, it is the most abundant element in the universe and has fueled star formation for the past 13 billion years. Now scientists have mapped the key ingredient's distribution across the Milky Way, revealing details about our galaxy that have never been seen before.
More evidence for ninth planet roming Solar System's outer fringes
on Wed, 19 Oct 2016 17:42:18 EDT:
As the search for a hypothetical, unseen planet far, far beyond Neptune's orbit continues, new research provides additional support for the possible existence of such a world and narrows the range of its parameters and location.
Curious tilt of the Sun traced to undiscovered planet
on Wed, 19 Oct 2016 17:30:23 EDT:
Planet Nine the undiscovered planet at the edge of the solar system appears to be responsible for the unusual tilt of the Sun, according to a new study.
First Pluto, now this: Discovery of first binary-binary calls solar system formation into question
on Wed, 19 Oct 2016 16:25:07 EDT:
Everything we know about the formation of solar systems might be wrong, says two astronomers. They've discovered the first "binary--binary" -- two massive companions around one star in a close binary system, one so-called giant planet and one brown dwarf, or "failed star" The first, called MARVELS-7a, is 12 times the mass of Jupiter, while the second, MARVELS-7b, has 57 times the mass of Jupiter.
Ups and downs of water escape from Mars
on Wed, 19 Oct 2016 12:22:18 EDT:
After investigating the upper atmosphere of the Red Planet for a full Martian year, NASA's MAVEN mission has determined that the escaping water does not always go gently into space. Hydrogen in Mars' upper atmosphere comes from water vapor in the lower atmosphere. An atmospheric water molecule can be broken apart by sunlight, releasing the two hydrogen atoms from the oxygen atom that they had been bound to. Several processes at work in Mars' upper atmosphere may then act on the hydrogen, leading to its escape.
Possible clouds on Pluto, next target is reddish
on Wed, 19 Oct 2016 10:17:27 EDT:
Stern said that Pluto's complex, layered atmosphere is hazy and appears to be mostly free of clouds, but the team has spied a handful of potential clouds in images taken with New Horizons' cameras. "If there are clouds, it would mean the weather on Pluto is even more complex than we imagined," Stern said.
Did LIGO detect black holes or gravastars?
on Wed, 19 Oct 2016 08:27:57 EDT:
After the first direct detection of gravitational waves that was announced last February by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and made news all over the world, two researchers set out to test whether the observed signal could have been a gravastar or not.
Eta Carinae: VLT Interferometer captures raging winds in famous massive stellar system
on Wed, 19 Oct 2016 08:25:28 EDT:
Astronomers have used the Very Large Telescope Interferometer to image the Eta Carinae star system in the greatest detail ever achieved. They found new and unexpected structures within the binary system, including in the area between the two stars where extremely high velocity stellar winds are colliding. These new insights into this enigmatic star system could lead to a better understanding of the evolution of very massive stars.
Microbial life on Mars: The possibility must be considered
on Tue, 18 Oct 2016 13:24:08 EDT:
The existence of microbial life on Mars remains highly controversial, but recent evidence of water, complex organic molecules, and methane in the Martian environment, combined with findings from the 1976 Viking mission, have led to the conclusion that existing life on Mars is a possibility that must be considered.
Space-based droplet dynamics lessons?
on Tue, 18 Oct 2016 11:25:33 EDT:
Droplets in space can grow freakishly large and bounce off nonwetting surfaces in truly unearthly ways. Astronauts frequently encounter huge droplets, and Scott Kelly recently demonstrated their unusual behavior aboard the International Space Station (ISS) via water balls and a hydrophobic (water repellant) ping pong paddle.
NASA's MAVEN mission gives unprecedented ultraviolet view of Mars
on Tue, 18 Oct 2016 09:11:55 EDT:
New global images of Mars from the MAVEN mission show the ultraviolet glow from the Martian atmosphere in unprecedented detail, revealing dynamic, previously invisible behavior. They include the first images of "nightglow" that can be used to show how winds circulate at high altitudes.
Astronomers predict possible birthplace of Rosetta-probed comet 67P
on Tue, 18 Oct 2016 08:16:15 EDT:
When the Rosetta spacecraft successfully touched down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on September 30, 2016, the news was shared globally via Twitter in dozens of languages. Citizens the world over were engaged by the astronomical achievement, and now experts are eager to learn as much as possible about the critically important celestial body of ice. 
Ready for Mars: ExoMars has just a single chance to get captured by Mars’ gravity
on Mon, 17 Oct 2016 11:33:14 EDT:
Next week, ESA's ExoMars has just a single chance to get captured by Mars' gravity. The spacecraft and the mission controllers who will make it so are ready for arrival.
Small impacts are reworking the moon's soil faster than scientists thought
on Fri, 14 Oct 2016 15:30:28 EDT:
The Moon's surface is being "gardened" -- churned by small impacts -- more than 100 times faster than scientists previously thought. This means that surface features believed to be young are perhaps even younger than assumed. It also means that any structures placed on the Moon as part of human expeditions will need better protection.
Possible formation site of icy giant planet spotted
on Fri, 14 Oct 2016 15:26:54 EDT:
A number of extrasolar planets have been found in the past two decades and now researchers agree that planets can have a wide variety of characteristics. However, it is still unclear how this diversity emerges. Especially, there is still debate about how the icy giant planets, such as Uranus and Neptune, form.
Superradiant laser may one day boost atomic clocks
on Fri, 14 Oct 2016 15:26:15 EDT:
Physicists have demonstrated a novel laser design based on synchronized emissions of light from the same type of atoms used in advanced atomic clocks. The laser could be stable enough to improve atomic clock performance a hundredfold and even serve as a clock itself, while also advancing other scientific quests such as making accurate "rulers" for measuring astronomical distances.
Observable universe contains two trillion galaxies, 10 times more than previously thought
on Thu, 13 Oct 2016 11:17:09 EDT:
Using data from deep-space surveys taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories, astronomers have performed a census of the number of galaxies in the universe. The team came to the surprising conclusion that there are at least 10 times as many galaxies in the observable universe than previously thought. The results have clear implications for our understanding of galaxy formation, and also helps shed light on an ancient astronomical paradox -- why is the sky dark at night?
Rocket motor concept could boost CubeSat missions
on Thu, 13 Oct 2016 11:15:44 EDT:
Researchers have developed a rocket motor concept that could pave the way for CubeSats zooming across space. These small, low-cost satellites are an easy way for scientists to access space, but are lacking in one key area, on-board propulsion.
Dense molecular gas disks drive the growth of supermassive black holes: Are supernova explosions the key?
on Thu, 13 Oct 2016 09:57:52 EDT:
Astronomers have revealed that dense molecular gas disks a few hundred light years in scale located at the centers of galaxies supply gas to supermassive black holes situated within them. This finding provides important insights on the growth of supermassive black holes over cosmic time.
Proxima Centauri might be more sunlike than we thought
on Wed, 12 Oct 2016 15:59:33 EDT:
In August astronomers announced that the nearby star Proxima Centauri hosts an Earth-sized planet (called Proxima b) in its habitable zone. At first glance, Proxima Centauri seems nothing like our Sun. It's a small, cool, red dwarf star only one-tenth as massive and one-thousandth as luminous as the Sun. However, new research shows that it is sunlike in one surprising way: it has a regular cycle of starspots.
Sun's coronal tail wags its photospheric dog
on Wed, 12 Oct 2016 14:22:11 EDT:
Solar physicists have long viewed the rotation of sunspots as a primary generator of solar flares -- the sudden, powerful blasts of electromagnetic radiation and charged particles that burst into space during explosions on the sun's surface. Their turning motion causes energy to build up that is released in the form of flares. But a team of scientists now claims that flares in turn have a powerful impact on sunspots, the visible concentrations of magnetic fields on the sun's surface, or photosphere. The researchers argue that flares cause sunspots to rotate at much faster speeds than are usually observed before they erupt.
Modeling floods that formed canyons on Earth, Mars
on Wed, 12 Oct 2016 13:41:33 EDT:
Geomorphologists who study Earth’s surface features and the processes that formed them have long been interested in how floods, in particular catastrophic outbursts that occur when a glacial lake ice dam bursts, for example, can change a planet’s surface, not only on Earth but on Mars. Now geoscience researchers have proposed and tested a new model of canyon-forming floods that suggests that deep canyons can be formed in bedrock by significantly less water than previously thought.
Tatooine worlds orbiting two suns often survive violent escapades of aging stars
on Wed, 12 Oct 2016 12:12:08 EDT:
Planets that revolve around two suns may surprisingly survive the violent late stages of the stars' lives, according to new research. The finding is surprising because planets orbiting close to a single sun, like Mercury and Venus in our solar system, would be destroyed when the aging star swells into a red giant.
How this Martian moon became the 'Death Star'
on Wed, 12 Oct 2016 09:59:41 EDT:
Researchers have demonstrated for the first time how an asteroid or comet could have caused a mega crater on Mars' largest moon Phobos -- which resembles the Death Star from the film "Star Wars" -- without completely destroying the satellite.
Cosmological mystery solved by largest ever map of voids and superclusters
on Wed, 12 Oct 2016 09:58:19 EDT:
Astrophysicists have created the largest ever map of voids and superclusters in the Universe, which helps solve a long-standing cosmological mystery.
The Milky Way's ancient heart: VISTA finds remains of archaic globular star cluster
on Wed, 12 Oct 2016 09:56:14 EDT:
Ancient stars, of a type known as RR Lyrae, have been discovered in the centre of the Milky Way for the first time, using ESO’s infrared VISTA telescope. RR Lyrae stars typically reside in ancient stellar populations over 10 billion years old. Their discovery suggests that the bulging centre of the Milky Way likely grew through the merging of primordial star clusters. These stars may even be the remains of the most massive and oldest surviving star cluster of the entire Milky Way.
Chaos in cosmos: System of two stars with three planet-forming discs of gas
on Tue, 11 Oct 2016 13:43:23 EDT:
A star with a ring of planets orbiting around it -- that is the picture we know from our own solar system and from many of the thousands of exoplanets observed in recent years. But now researchers have discovered a system consisting of two stars with three rotating planet-forming accretion discs around them. It is a binary star where each star has its own planet-forming disc and in addition, there is one large shared disc. All three planet-forming discs are misaligned in relation to one another.
Jupiter’s spooky sounds: Emissions from Jupiter’s auroras captured
on Mon, 10 Oct 2016 14:19:32 EDT:
When a NASA spacecraft made its first full orbit around Jupiter, an instrument on board recorded haunting sounds befitting the Halloween season.
Mars-bound astronauts face chronic dementia risk from galactic cosmic ray exposure
on Mon, 10 Oct 2016 05:28:32 EDT:
Will astronauts traveling to Mars remember much of it? That's the question concerning scientists probing a phenomenon called "space brain." Scientists have found that exposure to highly energetic charged particles -- much like those found in the galactic cosmic rays that will bombard astronauts during extended spaceflights -- causes significant long-term brain damage in test rodents, resulting in cognitive impairments and dementia.
Using oxygen as a tracer of galactic evolution
on Fri, 07 Oct 2016 09:34:57 EDT:
A new study casts light on how young, hot stars ionize oxygen in the early universe and the effects on the evolution of galaxies through time. The study presents the first measurements of the changing strengths of oxygen emission lines from the present day and back to 12.5 billion years ago. The main conclusions are that the strength of doubly ionized oxygen increases going back in time, while the strength of singly ionized oxygen increases up to 11 billion years ago and then decreases for the remaining one to two billion years.
Methane muted: How did early Earth stay warm?
on Fri, 07 Oct 2016 09:06:59 EDT:
For at least a billion years of the distant past, planet Earth should have been frozen over but wasn't. Scientists thought they knew why, but a new modeling study has fired the lead actor in that long-accepted scenario.
Hubble detects giant 'cannonballs' shooting from star
on Thu, 06 Oct 2016 13:30:31 EDT:
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has detected superhot blobs of gas, each twice as massive as the planet Mars, being ejected near a dying star. The plasma balls are zooming so fast through space it would take only 30 minutes for them to travel from Earth to the moon. The fireballs present a puzzle to astronomers, because the ejected material could not have been shot out by the host star.
Researchers discover effect of rare solar wind on earth's radiation belts
on Thu, 06 Oct 2016 12:00:46 EDT:
Unique measurements of the Van Allen radiation belts, which circle the Earth, have been captured during an extremely rare solar wind event. The findings, which have never been reported before, may be helpful in protecting orbiting telecommunication and navigational satellites, and possibly future astronauts, by helping to more accurately predict space conditions near Earth, as well as around more remote planets.
Saturn’s moon Dione harbors a subsurface ocean
on Wed, 05 Oct 2016 13:10:31 EDT:
A subsurface ocean lies deep within Saturn's moon Dione, according to new data from the Cassini mission to Saturn. Two other moons of Saturn, Titan and Enceladus, are already known to hide global oceans beneath their icy crusts, but a new study suggests an ocean exists on Dione as well.
Planet formation: The death of a planet nursery?
on Wed, 05 Oct 2016 10:19:09 EDT:
The dusty disk surrounding the star TW Hydrae exhibits circular features that may signal the formation of protoplanets. An astrophysicist argues, however, that the innermost actually points to the impending dispersal of the disk.
Detonating white dwarfs as supernovae
on Tue, 04 Oct 2016 13:43:10 EDT:
A new mathematical model created by astrophysicists details a way that dead stars called white dwarfs could detonate, producing a type of explosion that is instrumental to measuring the extreme distances in our universe. The mechanism could improve our understanding of how Type Ia supernovae form.
Are planets setting the sun's pace?
on Tue, 04 Oct 2016 11:37:53 EDT:
The Sun's activity is determined by the Sun's magnetic field. Two combined effects are responsible for the latter: The omega and the alpha effect. Exactly where and how the alpha effect originates is currently unknown. Researchers are now putting forward a new theory. Their calculations suggest that tidal forces from Venus, the Earth and Jupiter can directly influence the Sun's activity.
Astronomy: Discovery of an extragalactic hot molecular core
on Tue, 04 Oct 2016 11:25:41 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered a 'hot molecular core,' a cocoon of molecules surrounding a newborn massive star, for the first time outside our Galaxy. The discovery marks the first important step for observational studies of extragalactic hot molecular cores and challenges the hidden chemical diversity of our universe.
New classes of electron orbits discovered
on Tue, 04 Oct 2016 11:13:28 EDT:
Phenomena like solar flares and auroras are consequences of magnetic reconnection in the near-Earth space. These "magnetic reconnection" events are akin to magnetic explosions that accelerate particles as they rapidly change the topology of the magnetic field lines. Researchers have used a new Particle-In-Cell (PIC) simulator to understand how magnetic reconnection works for the tenuous plasma surrounding our Earth and have identified new classes of electron orbits that help scientists understand the characteristics of the fast jets of electrons that stream from the reconnection region.
Modular space telescope could be assembled by robot
on Tue, 04 Oct 2016 09:10:13 EDT:
Seeing deep into space requires large telescopes. The larger the telescope, the more light it collects, and the sharper the image it provides. For example, NASA's Kepler space observatory, with a mirror diameter of under one meter, is searching for exoplanets orbiting stars up to 3,000 light-years away. By contrast, the Hubble Space Telescope, with a 2.4-meter mirror, has studied stars more than 10 billion light-years away. Now astronomers are proposing a space observatory that would have a primary mirror with a diameter of 100 meters -- 40 times larger than Hubble's. Space telescopes, which provide some of the clearest images of the universe,
Our galaxy's most-mysterious star is even stranger than astronomers thought
on Mon, 03 Oct 2016 14:03:15 EDT:
A star known by the unassuming name of KIC 8462852 in the constellation Cygnus has been raising eyebrows both in and outside of the scientific community for the past year. In 2015 a team of astronomers announced that the star underwent a series of very brief, non-periodic dimming events while it was being monitored by NASA's Kepler space telescope, and no one could quite figure out what caused them. A new study has deepened the mystery.
Hidden stars revealed by dustbuster
on Mon, 03 Oct 2016 09:24:47 EDT:
In a new image captured by the nebula Messier 78, young stars cast a bluish pall over their surroundings, while red fledgling stars peer out from their cocoons of cosmic dust. To our eyes, most of these stars would be hidden behind the dust, but ESO's Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) sees near-infrared light, which passes right through dust. The telescope is like a giant dustbuster that lets astronomers probe deep into the heart of the stellar environment.
Rosetta's momentous end
on Fri, 30 Sep 2016 12:02:52 EDT:
Rosetta's mission is over: After the last signal at 13:20, the spacecraft was crash-landed on comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, with the ROSINA instrument from Bern taking measurements right until the very end. At the University of Bern, hundreds of people watched with interest as they followed the end of one of the most successful missions of the European Space Agency (ESA) live.
Final descent image from Rosetta spacecraft
on Fri, 30 Sep 2016 11:37:41 EDT:
A new image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was taken by the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft shortly before its controlled impact into the comet's surface on Sept. 30, 2016. The final descent gave Rosetta the opportunity to study the comet's gas, dust and plasma environment very close to its surface, as well as take very high-resolution images.
NASA's Fermi finds record-breaking binary in galaxy next door
on Thu, 29 Sep 2016 22:01:32 EDT:
Scientists have found the first gamma-ray binary in another galaxy and the most luminous one ever seen. The dual-star system, dubbed LMC P3, contains a massive star and a crushed stellar core that interact to produce a cyclic flood of gamma rays, the highest-energy form of light.
Rocket return journey to Mars closer with engine’s record efficiency
on Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:16:28 EDT:
Return trips to Mars without refueling could be a step closer, thanks to a unique new thruster technology.
Rosetta instrument provided first-ever ultraviolet observations of a comet
on Thu, 29 Sep 2016 15:58:57 EDT:
After a two-year orbital tour around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, ESA's Rosetta spacecraft -- carrying the Alice ultraviolet spectrograph -- will end its mission on Sept. 30. Rosetta is the first spacecraft to orbit and escort a comet, and Alice, developed and operated for NASA, is the first instrument to obtain far-ultraviolet observations at a comet.
Spiral arms in protoplanetary disk: They're not just for galaxies any more
on Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:53:29 EDT:
Astronomers have found distinct spiral arms in the disk of gas and dust surrounding the young star Elias 2-27. While similar features have been observed on the surfaces of such disks before, this is the first time they have been identified within the disk, where planet formation takes place. Structures such as these could either indicate the presence of a newly formed planet, or else create the necessary conditions for a planet to form. As such, the results are a crucial step towards a better understanding how planetary systems like our Solar system came into being.
Reconstructing the cosmic history of star formation: ALMA takes stock of the fuel for star formation in distant galaxies
on Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:51:49 EDT:
Using the millimeter telescope ALMA, a team of astronomers has traced the raw building blocks of star formation back in time to an era about 2 billion years after the big bang, yielding clues as to the history of star formation in our universe.
Curiosity finds evidence of Mars crust contributing to atmosphere
on Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:34:38 EDT:
NASA's Curiosity rover has found evidence that chemistry in the surface material on Mars contributed dynamically to the makeup of its atmosphere over time. It's another clue that the history of the Red Planet's atmosphere is more complex and interesting than a simple legacy of loss.
Second ring discovered in the Butterfly Nebula
on Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:10:09 EDT:
A team of researchers has discovered a second ring around the Butterfly Nebula (NGC 6302) situated some 3,400 light years from Earth. The data, compiled by the ALMA Observatory, in Chile's Atacama desert, indicate that this a younger ring which is expanding more quickly, and faces a different direction to the original.
ALMA catches stellar cocoon with curious chemistry: First of its kind to be found outside the Milky Way
on Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:20:19 EDT:
A hot and dense mass of complex molecules, cocooning a newborn star, has been discovered astronomers using ALMA. This unique hot molecular core is the first of its kind to have been detected outside the Milky Way galaxy. It has a very different molecular composition from similar objects in our own galaxy -- a tantalizing hint that the chemistry taking place across the Universe could be much more diverse than expected.
Rosetta may be crashing, but its legacy lives on here on Earth
on Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:19:54 EDT:
ESA's Rosetta spacecraft arrived at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 6 August 2014, following a ten-year journey through the Solar System after its launch on 2 March 2004. The Philae lander was sent down to the surface of the comet on 12 November 2014. Confirmation of the end of mission is expected from ESA's main control room at 11:20 GMT or 13:20 CEST +/- 20 minutes on 30 September, with the spacecraft set on a collision course with the comet the evening before.
A perfect sun-storm
on Wed, 28 Sep 2016 08:29:57 EDT:
A geomagnetic storm on January 17, 2013, provided unique observations that finally resolved a long-standing scientific problem. For decades, scientists had asked how particles hitting Earth's magnetosphere were lost. A likely mechanism involved certain electromagnetic waves scattering particles into the Earth's atmosphere. More recently, another mechanism was proposed that caused particles to be lost in interplanetary space. Scientists recently found that both mechanisms play a role affecting particles at different speeds.
Cosmic dust demystified
on Tue, 27 Sep 2016 11:16:55 EDT:
Besides providing substantive information about the atmospheres of other planets, cosmic dust particles can impact radio communications, climate and even serve as fertilizer for phytoplankton in the oceans. A team of researchers has developed a new experimental Meteoric Ablation Simulator (MASI) that can help answer questions about cosmic dust and how it impacts Earth and everything on it.