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Rosetta’s comet contains ingredients for life
on Fri, 27 May 2016 19:05:50 EDT:
Ingredients crucial for the origin of life on Earth, including the simple amino acid glycine and phosphorus, key components of DNA and cell membranes, have been discovered at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
A planet 1,200 light-years away is a good prospect for a habitable world
on Fri, 27 May 2016 11:28:44 EDT:
A distant 'super-Earth' size planet known as Kepler-62f could be habitable, a team of astronomers reports. The planet, which is about 1,200 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Lyra, is approximately 40 percent larger than Earth. At that size, Kepler-62f is within the range of planets that are likely to be rocky and possibly could have oceans.
Astronomers find giant planet around very young star
on Thu, 26 May 2016 12:49:10 EDT:
In contradiction to the long-standing idea that larger planets take longer to form, astronomers have announced the discovery of a giant planet in close orbit around a star so young that it still retains a disk of circumstellar gas and dust.
A look beyond the horizon of events
on Thu, 26 May 2016 09:56:38 EDT:
Black holes are still very mysterious celestial bodies which, according to the majority of physicists, do not, however, escape the laws of thermodynamics. As a result, these physical systems possess an entropy though no real agreement has been reached about the microscopic origin of this propriety and how it should be calculated. Scientists have now achieved important results in this calculation by applying a new formalism (Group Field Theory) of Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG), a very popular approach in the area of quantum gravity.
Near-Earth asteroid Bennu: NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission will have a map for that
on Wed, 25 May 2016 22:05:37 EDT:
On Sept. 8, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is scheduled to launch for terra incognita: the unknown surface of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu. Like expeditions of old, OSIRIS-REx's mission includes mapping the exotic terrain it explores.
Number of habitable planets could be limited by stifling atmospheres
on Wed, 25 May 2016 22:00:31 EDT:
Fewer than predicted planets may be capable of harboring life because their atmospheres keep them too hot, new research suggests.
Close encounters of a tidal kind could lead to cracks on icy moons
on Wed, 25 May 2016 14:05:41 EDT:
Researchers are offering a new explanation as to how cracks on icy moons, such as Pluto's Charon, formed. Until now, it was thought that the cracks were the result of geodynamical processes, such as plate tectonics, but new models suggest that a close encounter with another body might have been the cause.
Supermassive black holes in 'red geyser' galaxies cause galactic warming
on Wed, 25 May 2016 13:28:05 EDT:
Scientists are solving one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in galaxy evolution. Scientists have uncovered a new class of galaxies, called "red geysers," with supermassive black hole winds so hot and energetic that stars can't form. Over the last few billion years, a mysterious kind of "galactic warming" has caused many galaxies to change from a lively place where new stars formed every now and then to a quiet place devoid of fresh young stars. But the mechanism that produces this dramatic transformation and keeps galaxies quiet has been one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in galaxy evolution.
Footprints of baby planets in a gas disk
on Wed, 25 May 2016 08:40:09 EDT:
A new analysis of the ALMA data for a young star HL Tauri provides yet more firm evidence of baby planets around the star. Researchers uncovered two gaps in the gas disk around HL Tauri. The locations of these gaps in the gas match the locations of gaps in the dust. This discovery supports the idea that planets form in much shorter timescales than previously thought and prompts a reconsideration of alternative planet formation scenarios.
Scientist suggests possible link between primordial black holes and dark matter
on Tue, 24 May 2016 21:20:15 EDT:
An intriguing alternative view is that dark matter is made of black holes formed during the first second of our universe's existence, known as primordial black holes. A scientist suggests that this interpretation aligns with our knowledge of cosmic infrared and X-ray background glows and may explain the unexpectedly high masses of merging black holes detected last year.
Hubble finds clues to the birth of supermassive black holes
on Tue, 24 May 2016 14:49:23 EDT:
Astrophysicists have taken a major step forward in understanding how supermassive black holes formed. Using data from Hubble and two other space telescopes, researchers have found the best evidence yet for the seeds that ultimately grow into these cosmic giants.
Astrophysicists detect most luminous diffuse gamma-ray emission from Arp 220
on Tue, 24 May 2016 12:34:37 EDT:
Astronomers have detected for the first time the most luminous gamma-ray emission from the merging galaxy Arp 220 -- the nearest ultraluminous infrared galaxy to Earth reveals the hidden extreme energetic processes in galaxies. Luminous infrared galaxies and ultraluminous infrared galaxies are the most luminous of all galaxies.
Closing in on the elusive rotational-vibrational CH5+ spectra
on Tue, 24 May 2016 12:15:36 EDT:
To identify molecules on Earth or in outer space, scientists typically record the spectrum of light absorbed -- each molecule has its own unique spectrum. CH5+, consists of a central carbon atom with five hydrogen atoms constantly moving around it, which makes it difficult to interpret its spectrum. Scientists report comparing, for the first time at a detailed level, experimental v. theory for CH5+.
Astronomers confirm faintest early-universe galaxy ever seen
on Mon, 23 May 2016 16:07:06 EDT:
Scientists have detected and confirmed the faintest early-universe galaxy ever, using the W. M. Keck Observatory on the summit on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The team detected the galaxy as it was 13 billion years ago.
'Fresh' lunar craters discovered
on Mon, 23 May 2016 14:12:51 EDT:
Scientists have discovered two geologically young craters -- one 16 million, the other between 75 and 420 million, years old -- in the Moon's darkest regions.
Researchers in Antarctic discover new facets of space weather
on Fri, 20 May 2016 12:44:27 EDT:
A team of National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported researchers at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) discovered new evidence about how the Earth's magnetic field interacts with solar wind, almost as soon as they finished installing six data-collection stations across East Antarctic Plateau last January.
Hubble takes Mars portrait near close approach
on Thu, 19 May 2016 14:06:09 EDT:
On May 12, 2016, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured this striking image of Mars, when the planet was 50 million miles from Earth. The photo reveals details as small as 20 miles to 30 miles across. This observation was made just a few days before Mars opposition on May 22, when the sun and Mars will be on exact opposite sides of Earth, and Mars will be 47 million miles from Earth.
Cosmic heavy metals help scientists trace the history of galaxies
on Thu, 19 May 2016 12:09:31 EDT:
The origin of many of the most precious elements on the periodic table, such as gold, silver and platinum, has perplexed scientists for more than six decades. Recently, however, a team of astrophysicists has provided an answer.
Ancient tsunami evidence on Mars reveals life potential
on Thu, 19 May 2016 10:17:56 EDT:
The geologic shape of what were once shorelines through Mars' northern plains convinces scientists that two large meteorites -- hitting the planet millions of years apart -- triggered a pair of mega-tsunamis. These gigantic waves forever scarred the Martian landscape and yielded evidence of cold, salty oceans conducive to sustaining life.
NASA’s Van Allen probes reveal long-term behavior of Earth’s ring current
on Thu, 19 May 2016 10:17:52 EDT:
New findings have revealed that the ring current -- an electrical current carried by energetic ions that encircles our planet -- behaves in a much different way than previously understood.
Extraterrestrial oceans: Beneath the surface
on Thu, 19 May 2016 08:20:50 EDT:
Icy objects in our solar system have large oceans under their surfaces and here life could evolve and flourish, according to recent research.
First evidence of icy comets orbiting a sun-like star
on Wed, 18 May 2016 22:06:09 EDT:
Astronomers have found the first evidence of comets around a star similar to the sun, providing an opportunity to study what our solar system was like as a 'baby.'
Stellar mystery deepens: Large group of stars found dying prematurely
on Wed, 18 May 2016 16:52:43 EDT:
Astronomers have made an unexpected discovery that a large group of stars are dying prematurely, challenging our accepted view of stellar evolution.
Stellar cannibalism transforms star into brown dwarf
on Wed, 18 May 2016 13:38:28 EDT:
Astronomers have detected a sub-stellar object that used to be a star, after being consumed by its white dwarf companion.
Photonics advances allow us to be seen across the universe, with major implications for search for extraterrestrial intelligence
on Wed, 18 May 2016 12:55:51 EDT:
Looking up at the night sky -- expansive and seemingly endless, stars and constellations blinking and glimmering like jewels just out of reach -- it's impossible not to wonder: Are we alone? For many of us, the notion of intelligent life on other planets is as captivating as ideas come. Maybe in some other star system, maybe a billion light years away, there's a civilization like ours asking the exact same question. Imagine if we sent up a visible signal that could eventually be seen across the entire universe. Imagine if another civilization did the same.
You were right: Rotational motion is relative, too, Mr. Einstein!
on Wed, 18 May 2016 12:02:54 EDT:
It has been one hundred100 years since the publication of Einstein's general theory of relativity in May 1916. Physicists have now demonstrated that the rotational motion in the universe is also subject to the theory of relativity.
NASA super pressure balloon begins globetrotting journey
on Wed, 18 May 2016 12:02:44 EDT:
NASA successfully launched a super pressure balloon on a potentially record-breaking, around-the-world test flight.
Jupiter blasted by 6.5 fireball impacts per year on average
on Wed, 18 May 2016 10:28:18 EDT:
Jupiter is hit by an average of 6.5 objects per year that create impacts large enough to be visible from Earth, according to preliminary results from a worldwide campaign by amateur astronomers to observe the giant planet.
Supernova reserve fuel tank clue to big parents
on Wed, 18 May 2016 10:27:40 EDT:
Some supernovae have a reserve tank of radioactive fuel that cuts in and powers their explosions for three times longer than astronomers had previously thought. A team of astronomers detected the faint afterglow of a supernova, and found it was powered by radioactive cobalt-57.
A beautiful instance of stellar ornamentation
on Wed, 18 May 2016 07:40:11 EDT:
In this image from ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), light from blazing blue stars energizes the gas left over from the stars' recent formation. The result is a strikingly colorful emission nebula, called LHA 120-N55, in which the stars are adorned with a mantle of glowing gas. Astronomers study these beautiful displays to learn about the conditions in places where new stars develop.
Squeezing out mountains, mathematically, on Jupiter's moon Io
on Tue, 17 May 2016 19:18:13 EDT:
The odd-looking mountains on Jupiter's innermost moon, Io, are made by a tectonic process unique to Io (and maybe the early Earth), suggests a numerical experiment.
Jupiter's moon: Europa's ocean may have an Earthlike chemical balance
on Tue, 17 May 2016 14:11:29 EDT:
The ocean of Jupiter's moon Europa could have the necessary balance of chemical energy for life, even if the moon lacks volcanic hydrothermal activity, finds a new study.
Allan Sandage's last paper unravels 100-year-old astronomical mystery
on Tue, 17 May 2016 13:16:41 EDT:
Carnegie's Allan Sandage, who died in 2012, was a tremendously influential figure in the field of astronomy. His final paper focuses on unraveling a surprising historical mystery related to one of his own seminal discoveries. While preparing a history of the Carnegie Observatories in the early 2000s, Sandage came across an unpublished 1944 exchange between two prominent astronomers that piqued his interest. The conversation predated by a decade Sandage's own work on stellar evolution.
Other Suns got the right spin
on Tue, 17 May 2016 08:35:50 EDT:
Astrophysicists have for the first time measured the rotation periods of stars in a cluster nearly as old as the Sun and found them to be similar. It turns out that these stars spin around once in about twenty-six days -- just like our Sun. This discovery significantly strengthens what is known as the solar-stellar connection, a fundamental principle that guides much of modern solar and stellar astrophysics. This principle -- that the Sun is a star -- was only proved in the 19th century when distances to the nearest stars were measured.
New answer to why Earth's atmosphere became oxygenated
on Mon, 16 May 2016 15:19:35 EDT:
Earth scientists are offering a new answer to the long-standing question of how our planet acquired its oxygenated atmosphere. Based on a new model that draws from research in diverse fields including petrology, geodynamics, volcanology and geochemistry, the team's findings suggest that the rise of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere was an inevitable consequence of the formation of continents in the presence of life and plate tectonics.
Hunting for hidden life on worlds orbiting old, red stars
on Mon, 16 May 2016 12:53:45 EDT:
Astronomers have modeled the locations of the habitable zones for aging stars and how long planets can stay in it.
Scientists use advanced astronomical software to date 2,500 year-old lyric poem
on Fri, 13 May 2016 15:03:46 EDT:
Physicists and astronomers have used advanced astronomical software to accurately date lyric poet Sappho's 'Midnight Poem,' which describes the night sky over Greece more than 2,500 years ago.
Hubble spies a spiral snowflake
on Fri, 13 May 2016 11:21:32 EDT:
Together with irregular galaxies, spiral galaxies make up approximately 60 percent of the galaxies in the local universe. However, despite their prevalence, each spiral galaxy is unique -- like snowflakes, no two are alike. This is demonstrated by the striking face-on spiral galaxy NGC 6814, whose luminous nucleus and spectacular sweeping arms, rippled with an intricate pattern of dark dust.
Hubble catches views of a jet rotating with Comet 252P/LINEAR
on Thu, 12 May 2016 21:24:05 EDT:
A sequence of images shows Comet 252P/LINEAR as it passed by Earth. The visit was one of the closest encounters between a comet and our planet.
Space mission first to observe key interaction between magnetic fields of Earth and sun
on Thu, 12 May 2016 14:55:09 EDT:
Physicists have now provided the first major results of NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission, including an unprecedented look at the interaction between the magnetic fields of Earth and the sun. The article describes the first direct and detailed observation of a phenomenon known as magnetic reconnection, which occurs when two opposing magnetic field lines break and reconnect with each other, releasing massive amounts of energy.
Small blue galaxy could shed new light on Big Bang
on Thu, 12 May 2016 14:29:15 EDT:
A faint blue galaxy nicknamed Leoncino, or 'little lion,' about 30 million light-years from Earth and located in the constellation Leo Minor has been identified by astronomers as possessing qualities that could shed new light on conditions at the birth of the universe.
When dung beetles dance, they photograph the firmament
on Thu, 12 May 2016 12:54:22 EDT:
The discovery that dung beetles use the light of the Milky Way to navigate in the world has received much praise. Researchers have now taken a new step in understanding the existence of these unique beetles: when the beetles dance on top of a ball of dung, they simultaneously take a photograph -- a snapshot -- of how celestial bodies are positioned.
World's first wireless satellite
on Thu, 12 May 2016 08:49:05 EDT:
A satellite whose components are not connected through electric cables but miniaturized radio modules: This innovation has earned two computer scientists the first place in the INNOspace Masters competition.
Exoplanets' complex orbital structure points to planetary migration in solar systems
on Wed, 11 May 2016 14:23:49 EDT:
The four planets of the Kepler-223 star system seem to have little in common with the planets of Earth's own solar system. And yet a new study shows that the Kepler-223 system is trapped in an orbital configuration that Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune may have broken from in the early history of the solar system.
Swept up in the solar wind
on Wed, 11 May 2016 10:26:55 EDT:
The sun's outer layer, the corona, constantly streams out charged particles called the solar wind. But it's not the kind of wind you can fly a kite in. Even the slowest solar wind can reach speeds 700,000 mph. And while scientists know a great deal about solar wind, the source and causes of the slow wind remain mysterious.
New test by deepest galaxy map finds Einstein’s theory stands true
on Wed, 11 May 2016 08:41:14 EDT:
Astronomers have made a 3D map of 3000 galaxies 13 billion light years from Earth, and found that Einstein's general theory of relativity is still valid.
More than 1,200 new planets confirmed using new technique for verifying Kepler data
on Tue, 10 May 2016 14:37:04 EDT:
Scientists have confirmed that 1,284 objects observed outside Earth's solar system by NASA's Kepler spacecraft are indeed planets. The researchers used an automated technique that allows scientists to efficiently determine if a Kepler signal is caused by a planet. It is the largest single announcement of new planets to date and more than doubles the number of confirmed planets discovered by Kepler so far.
Intense wind found in the neighborhood of a black hole
on Mon, 09 May 2016 11:56:00 EDT:
Astrophysicists have detected an intense wind from one of the closest known black holes to the Earth.
Sun’s magnetic field during the grand minimum is in fact at its maximum
on Mon, 09 May 2016 08:57:58 EDT:
The study of the Sun’s long-term variation over a millennium by means of super computer modelling showed that during a time period of the Maunder Minimum type, the magnetic field may hide at the bottom of the convection zone.
Simulating the evolution of Mars volcano Olympus Mons
on Mon, 09 May 2016 08:57:51 EDT:
Scientists have succeeded in creating a model simulating the formation of mysterious structures on the surface of the Mars volcano, Olympus Mons. The research project is based on image data of the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) that is installed on the European Mars Express spacecraft, which has been orbiting the red planet since December 2003. Using the camera images, the scientists in the Planetary Sciences and Remote Sensing group generated a mosaic and a terrain model of the Olympus Mons volcano. The image data show that the volcano shield is shaped in the form of arched terraces and the foot of the otherwise very flat volcano drops steeply. The origin of the terraces and the steep slope of Olympus Mons were discussed heatedly in previous publications.
Bright dusty galaxies are hiding secret companions
on Fri, 06 May 2016 13:22:08 EDT:
A new study has cleared the air on what lies behind hot dust visible in the distant universe. Researchers found that the glow of heated dust reaching our planet is frequently due to three or four galaxies instead of a single one, as scientists had previously assumed.
Galaxy-sized peanuts? Astronomers use new imaging software to detect double ‘peanut shell’ galaxy
on Fri, 06 May 2016 10:02:43 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered an unusually shaped structure in two nearby disc galaxies. Scientists recently developed new imaging software, making it possible to observe the double "peanut shell shape" formed by the distribution of stars bulging from the centers of these galaxies.
Measuring a black hole 660 million times as massive as our sun
on Thu, 05 May 2016 14:03:22 EDT:
It's about 660 million times as massive as our sun, and a cloud of gas circles it at about 1.1 million mph. This supermassive black hole sits at the center of a galaxy dubbed NGC 1332, which is 73 million light years from Earth. And an international team of scientists has measured its mass with unprecedented accuracy.
Tension-sensitive molecule helps cells divide chromosomes accurately
on Thu, 05 May 2016 13:50:36 EDT:
A tension-sensitive 'fail safe' protein helps make sure that when our cells divide the two resulting cells inherit the normal number of chromosomes. Chromosome separation errors, leading to too few or too many chromosomes, is the most common genetic abnormality in cancer cells. This latest finding in cell division biology may guide the development of new chemotherapeutic drugs that target the machinery of cell division.
Star with different internal driving force than the sun
on Wed, 04 May 2016 14:11:25 EDT:
A star like the sun has an internal driving in the form of a magnetic field that can be seen on the surface as sunspots. Now astrophysicists have observed a distant star in the constellation Andromeda with a different positioning of sunspots and this indicates a magnetic field that is driven by completely different internal dynamics.
Second strongest shock wave found in merging galaxy clusters
on Wed, 04 May 2016 12:22:08 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered the second-strongest merger shock in clusters of galaxies ever observed.
Satellites to see Mercury enter spotlight on May 9
on Wed, 04 May 2016 09:29:38 EDT:
It happens only a little more than once a decade and the next chance to see it is Monday, May 9, 2016. Throughout the US, sky watchers can watch Mercury pass between Earth and the sun in a rare astronomical event known as a planetary transit. Three NASA satellites will be providing images of the transit and one of them will have a near-live feed.
Planet Nine: A world that shouldn't exist
on Tue, 03 May 2016 13:15:06 EDT:
Earlier this year scientists presented evidence for Planet Nine, a Neptune-mass planet in an elliptical orbit 10 times farther from our Sun than Pluto. Since then theorists have puzzled over how this planet could end up in such a distant orbit. New research examines a number of scenarios and finds that most of them have low probabilities. Therefore, the presence of Planet Nine remains a bit of a mystery.
Microbes make tubular microtunnels on Earth and perhaps on Mars
on Tue, 03 May 2016 07:23:59 EDT:
Tubular microtunnels believed to be the trace fossils formed by microbes inhabiting volcanic rock interiors have only been reported in oceanic and subglacial settings. This is the first observation of such features in basaltic volcanic glass erupted in a continental lake environment, the Fort Rock volcanic field.
Sea urchin's teeth inspire new design for space exploration device
on Mon, 02 May 2016 16:11:20 EDT:
The sea urchin's intricate mouth and teeth are the model for a claw-like device developed by a team of engineers and marine biologists to sample sediments on other planets, such as Mars.