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Asteroid impacts on Earth make structurally bizarre diamonds
on Mon, 24 Nov 2014 12:56:07 EST:
Scientists have settled a longstanding controversy over a purported rare form of diamond called lonsdaleite -- a type of diamond formed by impact shock, but which lacks the three-dimensional regularity of ordinary diamond.
Gas cloud in the galactic center is part of a larger gas streamer
on Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:09:28 EST:
Astronomers have presented new observations of the gas cloud G2 in the galactic center originally discovered in 2011. These data are in remarkably good agreement with an on-going tidal disruption. As a complete surprise came the discovery that the orbit of G2 matches that of another gas cloud detected a decade ago, suggesting that G2 might actually be part of a much more extensive gas streamer. This would also match some of the proposed scenarios that try to explain the presence of G2. One such model is that G2 is originating from the wind from a massive star.
Molecules that came in handy for first life on Earth
on Mon, 24 Nov 2014 07:48:43 EST:
For the first time, chemists have successfully produced amino acid-like molecules that all have the same ‘handedness’, from simple building blocks and in a single test tube. Could this be how life started. On Earth? Or in space, as the Philae lander is currently exploring?
How to estimate the magnetic field of an exoplanet
on Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:18:00 EST:
Scientists developed a new method which allows to estimate the magnetic field of a distant exoplanet, i.e., a planet, which is located outside the Solar system and orbits a different star. Moreover, they managed to estimate the value of the magnetic moment of the planet HD 209458b.
It's filamentary: How galaxies evolve in the cosmic web
on Thu, 20 Nov 2014 13:34:28 EST:
How do galaxies like our Milky Way form, and just how do they evolve? Are galaxies affected by their surrounding environment? Astronomers now propose some answers. The researchers highlight the role of the 'cosmic web' -- a large-scale web-like structure comprised of galaxies -- on the evolution of galaxies that took place in the distant universe, a few billion years after the Big Bang.
Riddle of the missing stars: Hubble observations cast further doubt on how globular clusters formed
on Thu, 20 Nov 2014 11:32:31 EST:
Thanks to the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, some of the most mysterious cosmic residents have just become even more puzzling. New observations of globular clusters in a small galaxy show they are very similar to those found in the Milky Way, and so must have formed in a similar way.
Unravelling the mystery of gamma-ray bursts with kilometer-scale microphones
on Thu, 20 Nov 2014 08:19:41 EST:
A team of scientists hopes to trace the origins of gamma-ray bursts with the aid of giant space ‘microphones’. It's hoped the kilometer-scale microphones will detect gravitational waves created by black holes, and shed light on the origins of the Universe.
Sun's rotating 'magnet' pulls lightning towards UK
on Wed, 19 Nov 2014 20:48:49 EST:
The sun may be playing a part in the generation of lightning strikes on Earth by temporarily 'bending' the Earth's magnetic field and allowing a shower of energetic particles to enter the upper atmosphere.
NASA's Swift mission probes an exotic object: 'Kicked' black hole or mega star?
on Wed, 19 Nov 2014 17:50:43 EST:
Astronomers have discovered an unusual source of light in a galaxy some 90 million light-years away. The dwarf galaxy Markarian 177 (center) and its unusual source SDSS1133 (blue) lie 90 million light-years away. The galaxies are located in the bowl of the Big Dipper, a well-known star pattern in the constellation Ursa Major.
Rosetta continues into its full science phase
on Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:18:12 EST:
With the Philae lander's mission complete, Rosetta will now continue its own extraordinary exploration, orbiting Comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko during the coming year as the enigmatic body arcs ever closer to our Sun.
Spooky alignment of quasars across billions of light-years
on Wed, 19 Nov 2014 08:45:06 EST:
New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed alignments over the largest structures ever discovered in the Universe. A European research team has found that the rotation axes of the central supermassive black holes in a sample of quasars are parallel to each other over distances of billions of light-years. The team has also found that the rotation axes of these quasars tend to be aligned with the vast structures in the cosmic web in which they reside.
Geologic maps of Vesta asteroid from NASA's Dawn mission
on Tue, 18 Nov 2014 14:45:38 EST:
Images from NASA's Dawn Mission have been used to create a series of high-resolution geological maps of the large asteroid Vesta, revealing the variety of surface features in unprecedented detail.
Physicists suggest new way to detect dark matter
on Tue, 18 Nov 2014 10:56:26 EST:
For years physicists have been looking for the universe's elusive dark matter, but so far no one has seen any trace of it. Maybe we are looking in the wrong place? Now physicists propose a new technique to detect dark matter.
Gravity may have saved the universe after the Big Bang, say researchers
on Tue, 18 Nov 2014 07:27:41 EST:
Physicists may now be able to explain why the universe did not collapse immediately after the Big Bang. Studies of the Higgs particle -- discovered at CERN in 2012 and responsible for giving mass to all particles -- have suggested that the production of Higgs particles during the accelerating expansion of the very early universe (inflation) should have led to instability and collapse.
Geologic mapping of asteroid Vesta reveals history of large impacts
on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 17:45:28 EST:
A project to map the impact sequence on the asteroid Vesta is helping scientists compare its history to other solar system objects.
Hiding in plain sight: Elusive dark matter may be detected with GPS satellites
on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 15:47:22 EST:
The everyday use of a GPS device might be to find your way around town or even navigate a hiking trail, but for two physicists, the Global Positioning System might be a tool in directly detecting and measuring dark matter, so far an elusive but ubiquitous form of matter responsible for the formation of galaxies.
Warmth, flowing water on early Mars were episodic
on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:06:03 EST:
There is ample evidence that water once flowed on the surface of ancient Mars. But that evidence is difficult to reconcile with the latest generation of climate models that suggest Mars should have been eternally icy. A new study suggest that warming and water flow on Mars were probably episodic and related to ancient volcanic eruptions.
Rosetta's OSIRIS camera spots Philae lander drifting across the comet
on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 10:12:21 EST:
Incredible new images show the breathtaking journey of Rosetta's Philae lander as it approached and then rebounded from its first touchdown on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 12 November 2014.
Turbulence in molten core helps amplify Earth's magnetic field
on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 08:46:31 EST:
Researchers have shown that turbulence, random motion that takes place in the molten metal in the Earth's core, makes a contribution to our planet's magnetic field. To obtain this result, they modeled the Earth's outer core using liquid sodium enclosed between two rotating concentric metal spheres. Like many planets and most stars, the Earth produces its own magnetic field by dynamo action, i.e. because of the motion of an electrically conducting fluid-in this case, a mixture of molten iron and nickel.
Rosetta's comet lander: Pioneering Philae completes main mission before hibernation
on Sat, 15 Nov 2014 07:49:51 EST:
Rosetta's lander has completed its primary science mission after nearly 57 hours on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Rosetta's comet lander: How (and where) is Philae?
on Fri, 14 Nov 2014 15:02:52 EST:
The current status of Rosetta's lander Philae was discussed live during a Google Hangout this afternoon, together with scientists and engineers from the mission teams at ESA and partner agencies. The teams are very happy about the lander and the successful functioning of all instruments that were operated so far.
Proposed 'wide view' Hubble Space Telescope
on Fri, 14 Nov 2014 12:44:44 EST:
Scientists are working on a proposed NASA space telescope that will provide images as sharp as the Hubble Space Telescope, but over a hundred times larger area. The space observatory, called the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope-Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets (WFIRST-AFTA), is being studied for launch in the mid-2020s, pending program approval by NASA.
Three touchdowns for Rosetta’s lander
on Fri, 14 Nov 2014 08:56:35 EST:
After achieving touchdown on a comet for the first time in history, scientists and engineers are busy analyzing this new world and the nature of the landing. They discovered that the lander did not just touch down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko once, but three times.
Mission to discover hundreds of black holes could unlock secrets of the Universe
on Fri, 14 Nov 2014 08:56:33 EST:
Researchers have made a breakthrough in helping scientists discover hundreds of black holes throughout the universe. When two detectors are switched on in the US next year, scientists hope to pick up the faint ripples of black hole collisions millions of years ago, known as gravitational waves. Black holes cannot be seen, but scientists hope the revamped detectors -- which act like giant microphones -- will find remnants of black hole collisions.
Intergalactic 'wind' is stripping galaxies of star-forming gas
on Thu, 13 Nov 2014 15:29:18 EST:
Astronomers have provided the first direct evidence that an intergalactic 'wind' is stripping galaxies of star-forming gas as they fall into clusters of galaxies. The observations help explain why galaxies found in clusters are known to have relatively little gas and less star formation when compared to non-cluster or 'field' galaxies.
Magnetic fields frozen into meteorite grains tell a shocking tale of solar system birth
on Thu, 13 Nov 2014 14:21:10 EST:
Astrophysicists say that magnetic clues in a meteorite outline the earliest steps in the formation of the solar system and Earth-like planets.
The party's over for these youthful compact galaxies
on Thu, 13 Nov 2014 14:00:07 EST:
Scientists have uncovered young, massive, compact galaxies whose raucous star-making parties are ending early. The firestorm of star birth has blasted out most of the remaining gaseous fuel needed to make future generations of stars. Now the party's over for these gas-starved galaxies, and they are on track to possibly becoming so-called "red and dead galaxies," composed only of aging stars.
Mars, too, has macroweather: But weather forecasting on the Red Planet is likely to be even trickier than on Earth
on Thu, 13 Nov 2014 11:00:20 EST:
Weather, which changes day-to-day due to constant fluctuations in the atmosphere, and climate, which varies over decades, are familiar. More recently, a third regime called "macroweather," has been used to describe the relatively stable regime between weather and climate.
Is there organic matter on Mars? Chloromethane not due to contamination from Earth, research suggests
on Thu, 13 Nov 2014 11:00:18 EST:
Organic matter recently detected by NASA's robotic rover Curiosity is probably not due to contamination brought from Earth as researchers originally thought. A team of German and British scientists now suggests that the gaseous chlorinated organic compound -- chloromethane -- recently found on the Red Planet most likely comes from the soil of Mars, with its carbon and hydrogen probably deriving from meteorites that fell on the planet's surface.
Rosetta: What happens next?
on Thu, 13 Nov 2014 07:50:53 EST:
Planetary scientist involved in early stages of mission says early data could provide information on formation of the solar system.
Philae, the ‘Happy Lander’: Instruments delivering images and data from comet's surface
on Thu, 13 Nov 2014 07:39:42 EST:
Rosetta’s lander Philae is safely on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. First analysis of the touchdown data suggests that the lander bounced twice before settling on the surface of the comet. The lander remains unanchored to the surface, but the instruments are running and are delivering images and data.
NASA’s Orion spacecraft arrives at launch pad, hoisted onto rocket ahead of its first spaceflight
on Wed, 12 Nov 2014 18:36:19 EST:
NASA's new Orion spacecraft now is at its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida after completing its penultimate journey in the early hours of Nov. 12. Orion will travel almost 60,000 miles into space Thursday, Dec. 4 during an uncrewed flight designed to test many of the spacecraft's systems before it begins carrying astronauts on missions to deep space destinations.
Amateur, professional astronomers alike thrilled by extreme storms on Uranus
on Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:48:19 EST:
The normally bland face of Uranus has become increasingly stormy, with enormous cloud systems so bright that for the first time, amateur astronomers are able to see details in the planet's hazy blue-green atmosphere. Astronomers first observed the storms in the infrared using the Keck telescope. When amateurs learned of the storms, they turned their optical telescopes on the planet and saw different but equally impressive storms.
Jupiter's Great Red Spot is likely a sunburn, not a blush
on Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:32:07 EST:
The ruddy color of Jupiter's Great Red Spot is likely a product of simple chemicals being broken apart by sunlight in the planet's upper atmosphere, according to a new analysis of data from NASA's Cassini mission. The results contradict the other leading theory for the origin of the spot's striking color -- that the reddish chemicals come from beneath Jupiter's clouds.
All 'quantum weirdness' may be caused by interacting parallel worlds, physicist theorizes
on Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:19:27 EST:
A new theory of quantum mechanics was developed by Bill Poirier, a chemical physicist. The theory discusses parallel worlds' existence and the quantum effects observed in nature.
Touchdown! Rosetta’s Philae probe lands on comet
on Wed, 12 Nov 2014 12:48:34 EST:
The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission has soft-landed its Philae probe on a comet, the first time in history that such an extraordinary feat has been achieved. After a tense wait during the seven-hour descent to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the signal confirming the successful touchdown arrived on Earth at 16:03 GMT (17:03 CET).
Rosetta's singing comet
on Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:11:12 EST:
A set of instruments on the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft has picked up a mysterious "song" from Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. On Wednesday, Nov. 12, Rosetta will attempt the first-ever soft landing on a comet when it dispatches its Philae lander to the surface of comet 67P.
Rosetta mission selfie at 10 miles
on Wed, 12 Nov 2014 11:42:24 EST:
The Philae lander of the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission took a self-portrait of the spacecraft on Oct. 7, 2014, at a distance of 10 miles (16 kilometers) from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image, taken with Philae's CIVA camera, captures the side of the Rosetta spacecraft and one of Rosetta's 46-foot-long (14-meter-long) solar wings, with the comet in the background.
Rosetta and Philae separation confirmed
on Wed, 12 Nov 2014 07:59:44 EST:
The Philae lander has separated from the Rosetta orbiter, and is now on its way to becoming the first spacecraft to touch down on a comet.
Rosetta and Philae Go for separation
on Wed, 12 Nov 2014 07:57:37 EST:
Following a night of critical Go/NoGo decisions, Rosetta and Philae are cleared for separation, despite a problem onboard the lander. The mission is set to become the first in history to touch down on a comet.
Tail discovered on long-known asteroid
on Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:13:21 EST:
Astronomers have discovered a new active asteroid, called 62412, in the Solar System's main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It is the first comet-like object seen in the Hygiea family of asteroids.
Space: The final frontier in silicon chemistry
on Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:11:01 EST:
Silicon, which is one of the most common elements in Earth’s crust, is also sprinkled abundantly throughout interstellar space. The only way to identify silicon-containing molecules in the far corners of the cosmos – and to understand the chemistry that created them – is to observe through telescopes the electromagnetic radiation the molecules emit.
Astronomers preparing for first-ever comet landing attempt
on Tue, 11 Nov 2014 08:43:14 EST:
Astronomers are preparing for the first ever landing by a spacecraft on an icy comet tomorrow. The Rosetta spacecraft was launched in 2004, and has spent a decade manoeuvring to rendezvous with the comet.
Best evidence yet for galactic merger in distant protocluster
on Mon, 10 Nov 2014 16:10:32 EST:
Nestled among a triplet of young galaxies more than 12.5 billion light-years away is a cosmic powerhouse: a galaxy that is producing stars nearly 1,000 times faster than our own Milky Way. This energetic starburst galaxy, known as AzTEC-3, together with its gang of calmer galaxies may represent the best evidence yet that large galaxies grow from the merger of smaller ones in the early Universe, a process known as hierarchical merging.
Baby photos of a scaled-up solar system
on Mon, 10 Nov 2014 15:09:28 EST:
Astronomers have discovered two dust belts surrounded by a large dust halo around young star HD 95086. The findings provide a look back at what our solar system may have resembled in its infancy.
Asteroid's size revealed for the first time
on Mon, 10 Nov 2014 15:09:26 EST:
When the double asteroid Patroclus-Menoetius passed directly in front of a star on the night of Oct. 20, a team of volunteer astronomers across the U.S. was waiting. Observing the event, known as an occultation, from multiple sites where each observer recorded the precise time the star was obscured, yielded the first accurate determination of the two objects' size and shape.
Astronomers discover first 'lightning' from a black hole
on Mon, 10 Nov 2014 09:07:21 EST:
An international group of researchers has discovered the first 'lighting' from a black hole, with variations in brilliance more powerful than ever observed in an extragalactic object. The emission, the researchers suggest in their study, "is associated with pulsar-like particle acceleration by the electric field across a magnetospheric gap at the base of the radio jet."
True story behind galactic crash revealed
on Mon, 10 Nov 2014 08:36:31 EST:
The new MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope has provided researchers with the best view yet of a spectacular cosmic crash. The new observations reveal for the first time the motion of gas as it is ripped out of the galaxy ESO 137-001 as it ploughs at high speed into a vast galaxy cluster. The results are the key to the solution of a long-standing mystery — why star formation switches off in galaxy clusters.
Counting stars 2.0
on Mon, 10 Nov 2014 08:33:58 EST:
In winter time, when nights become longer and darker, stargazing can be a fantastic experience and family activity. But in urban areas, the stars disappear behind the skyglow caused by waste light that shines up into the sky. This light pollution is not only a problem for astronomy. Scientists from the interdisciplinary project “Loss of the Night” study how it affects health, society, and the environment.
Astronomers dissect the aftermath of a supernova
on Mon, 10 Nov 2014 08:33:56 EST:
Astronomers have used radio telescopes in Australia and Chile to see inside the remains of a supernova. The supernova, known as SN1987A, was first seen by observers in the Southern Hemisphere in 1987 when a giant star suddenly exploded at the edge of a nearby dwarf galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud. In the two and a half decades since then the remnant of Supernova 1987A has continued to be a focus for researchers the world over, providing a wealth of information about one of the Universe's most extreme events.
Mars spacecraft, including MAVEN, reveal comet flyby effects on Martian atmosphere
on Fri, 07 Nov 2014 15:47:30 EST:
Two NASA and one European spacecraft have gathered new information about the basic properties of a wayward comet that buzzed by Mars Oct. 19, directly detecting its effects on the Martian atmosphere. Debris from the comet, known officially as Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, caused an intense meteor shower and added a new layer of ions, or charged particles, to the ionosphere.
Plants return to Earth after growing in space
on Thu, 06 Nov 2014 16:51:45 EST:
Researchers have just welcomed a truck carrying small containers holding more than 1,000 frozen plants that germinated and grew aboard the International Space Station.
Astronomers peer into galaxies' star-forming centers
on Thu, 06 Nov 2014 16:51:37 EST:
Astronomers provide data from a new instrument, offering the most precise picture yet of events 4 billion years ago at the centers of distant, dust-cloaked galaxies.
Mystery sea of stars? Rocket experiment finds surprising cosmic light
on Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:37:23 EST:
Using an experiment carried into space on a NASA suborbital rocket, astronomers have detected a diffuse cosmic glow that appears to represent more light than that produced by known galaxies in the universe. The discovery suggests that many such previously undetected stars permeate what had been thought to be dark spaces between galaxies, forming an interconnected sea of stars.
Astronomy: Debris-strewn exoplanetary construction yards
on Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:35:34 EST:
Over the past few years, astronomers have found an incredible diversity in the architecture of exoplanetary systems, as well as the planets themselves. A survey using the sharp view of the Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a similar diversity in the debris systems that coincide with the formation of exoplanets. These circumstellar dusty disks are likely generated by collisions between objects left over from planet formation around stars. The survey's results suggest that there is some sort of interdependence between a planet and the accompanying debris system.
Synthetic biology for space exploration
on Thu, 06 Nov 2014 13:23:11 EST:
Synthetic biology may hold the key to long-termed manned explorations of Mars and the Moon. Researchers have shown that biomanufacturing based on microbes could to make travel to and settlement of extraterrestrial locations more practical and bearable.
Jets, bubbles and bursts of light in Taurus
on Thu, 06 Nov 2014 10:40:42 EST:
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has snapped a striking view of a multiple star system called XZ Tauri, its neighbour HL Tauri, and several nearby young stellar objects. XZ Tauri is blowing a hot bubble of gas into the surrounding space, which is filled with bright and beautiful clumps that are emitting strong winds and jets. These objects illuminate the region, creating a truly dramatic scene.
Sustainability, astrobiology illuminate future of life in the universe and civilization on Earth
on Thu, 06 Nov 2014 10:17:34 EST:
Two astrophysicists argue that questions about the future of life on Earth and beyond may soon be resolvable scientifically, thanks to new data about the Earth and about other planets in our galaxy, and by combining the earth-based science of sustainability with the space-oriented field of astrobiology.
Space enthusiasts are being given the rare opportunity to name a planet
on Thu, 06 Nov 2014 08:26:32 EST:
Several organizations are eligible to name one of 20 to 30 planets, and their host stars, in a unique competition organized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The scheme gives members of the public the chance to name the newly discovered ExoWorlds (which have all been identified and confirmed since 2008).
Birth of planets revealed in astonishing detail in ALMA’s 'best image ever'
on Thu, 06 Nov 2014 08:20:45 EST:
Astronomers have captured the best image ever of planet formation around an infant star as part of the testing and verification process for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array’s (ALMA) new high-resolution capabilities.