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Lab experiment mimics early-stage planetary formation process
on Mon, 03 Aug 2015 15:55:56 EDT:
Physicists have directly observed, for the first time, how highly charged dust-sized particles attract and capture others to build up clusters particle by particle. This process can lead to the formation of "granular molecules" whose configurations resemble those of simple chemical molecules.
Cassiopeia's hidden gem: The closest rocky, transiting planet
on Mon, 03 Aug 2015 15:51:06 EDT:
A star in the constellation Cassiopeia has a planet in a three-day orbit that transits, or crosses in front of its star. At a distance of just 21 light-years, it is by far the closest transiting planet to Earth, which makes it ideal for follow-up studies. Moreover, it is the nearest rocky planet confirmed outside our solar system.
Scientists study ‘peanut-shaped’ asteroid near earth
on Mon, 03 Aug 2015 10:31:15 EDT:
A mile-long asteroid that raced past Earth July 25 at about 45,000 miles per hour – at a safe distance of 4.5 million miles – was imaged by radar telescopes so that astronomers could discern its precise orbit and physical shape.
Organic molecules on comets: Philae's first results from Churi prove surprising
on Thu, 30 Jul 2015 17:25:18 EDT:
Organic molecules never previously observed in comets, a relatively varied structure on the surface but a fairly homogeneous interior, organic compounds forming agglomerates rather than being dispersed in the ice: these are just some of first results provided by Philae on the surface of comet Churi. These in situ findings, which contain a wealth of completely new information, reveal several differences in comparison with previous observations of comets and current models.
An exceptional planetary system discovered in Cassiopeia
on Thu, 30 Jul 2015 16:29:46 EDT:
Astronomers have teased out a secret planetary system hiding in the arms of Cassiopea, just 21 light years away from us. The remarkable system, named HD219134, hosts one outer giant planet and three inner super-Earths, one of which transits in front of the star. The transiting super-Earth has a density similar to the Earth. It is by far the closest transiting planet known today. It provides the ideal candidate for follow-up studies and a deeper understanding of planetary formation, internal composition, and atmospheres. The system is so close that astronomers already dream about taking pictures of the new "Stars."
Comets: Soft shell, hard core?
on Thu, 30 Jul 2015 16:29:44 EDT:
Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko poses new riddles: Surface material measurements performed by the Philae landing module indicate that the near surface material might have changed since its formation. Up to now, many researchers had assumed that it has remained in virtually the same state since its formation about 4.5 billion years ago.
Stars in Milky Way have moved
on Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:11:25 EDT:
Researchers have created a new map of the Milky Way that shows nearly a third of the stars have dramatically changed their orbits.
Distant Uranus-sized planet discovered through microlensing
on Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:11:16 EDT:
Astronomers have confirmed the existence of a Uranus-sized exoplanet orbiting far from its central star, discovered through a technique called gravitational microlensing.
Stormy seas in Sagittarius
on Thu, 30 Jul 2015 10:46:02 EDT:
Some of the most breathtaking views in the Universe are created by nebulae -- hot, glowing clouds of gas. This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the center of the Lagoon Nebula, an object with a deceptively tranquil name. The region is filled with intense winds from hot stars, churning funnels of gas, and energetic star formation, all embedded within an intricate haze of gas and pitch-dark dust.
'Failed stars' host powerful auroral displays
on Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:21:42 EDT:
By observing a brown dwarf 20 light-years away using both radio and optical telescopes, astronomers have found that such so-called failed stars host powerful auroras near their magnetic poles -- additional evidence that brown dwarfs are more like giant planets than small stars.
Dense star clusters shown to be binary black hole factories
on Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:20:32 EDT:
The merger of two black holes is one of the most sought-after observations of modern astronomy. The first observatories capable of directly detecting gravitational waves -- ripples in the fabric of spacetime predicted by Albert Einstein -- will begin observing the universe later this year. When these waves rolling in from space are detected on Earth for the first time, astrophysicists predict astronomers will 'hear,' through these waves, five times more colliding black holes than previously expected.
Secrets of stars unlocked through aluminium
on Wed, 29 Jul 2015 10:21:49 EDT:
Physicists have revealed a new understanding of nucleosynthesis in stars, providing insight into the role massive stars play in the evolution of the Milky Way and the origins of the Solar System.
First detection of lithium from an exploding star
on Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:59:20 EDT:
The chemical element lithium has been found for the first time in material ejected by a nova. Observations of Nova Centauri 2013 made using telescopes at ESO's La Silla Observatory, and near Santiago in Chile, help to explain the mystery of why many young stars seem to have more of this chemical element than expected.
Lobster-eye imager detects soft X-ray emissions
on Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:07:36 EDT:
A group of scientists have described developing and launching their imager, which centers on "Lobster-Eye optics," as well as its capabilities and future applications in space exploration.
Arrow of time: New understanding of causality, free choice, and why we remember the past but not the future
on Tue, 28 Jul 2015 09:19:46 EDT:
Theoretical physicists have developed a fully-symmetric formulation of quantum theory which establishes an exact link between asymmetry and the fact that we can remember the past but not the future.
Cataclysmic event of a certain age
on Mon, 27 Jul 2015 18:02:24 EDT:
At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago­ — give or take a few centuries — a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas. New research has narrowed the date to a 100-year range, sometime between 12,835 and 12,735 years ago.
Dust pillars of destruction reveal impact of cosmic wind on galaxy evolution
on Mon, 27 Jul 2015 12:03:30 EDT:
Astronomers have long known that powerful cosmic winds can sometimes blow through galaxies, sweeping out interstellar material and stopping future star formation. Now they have a clearer snapshot of how it happens.
Brown dwarfs, stars share formation process, new study indicates
on Thu, 23 Jul 2015 12:54:00 EDT:
The discovery of jets of material ejected from still-forming brown dwarfs provides the first direct evidence that these enigmatic objects form in the same way as their more-massive siblings, stars, rather than like planets.
Bigger, older cousin to Earth discovered
on Thu, 23 Jul 2015 11:57:03 EDT:
NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the "habitable zone" around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another "Earth."
Destructive high-energy electrons streaking into Earth's atmosphere from space
on Thu, 23 Jul 2015 11:13:45 EDT:
Scientists have engaged in a unique study of potentially destructive high-energy electrons streaking into Earth's atmosphere from space, for the first time employing two distinctly different and distant vantage points high above the Earth.
Treasure hunting in archive data reveals clues about black holes’ diet
on Thu, 23 Jul 2015 08:38:57 EDT:
Using archival data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and the XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray telescopes, astronomers have discovered a gigantic black hole, which is probably destroying and devouring a big star in its vicinity. With a mass of 100 million times more than our Sun, this is the largest black hole caught in this act so far.
Space-eye-view could help stop global wildlife decline
on Wed, 22 Jul 2015 14:14:20 EDT:
Conservation scientists need to collaborate with space agencies, such as NASA and the European Space Agency, to identify measures which help track biodiversity declines around the world. Scientists are calling for urgent cooperation.
Déjà-vu: New theory says dark matter acts like well-known particle
on Wed, 22 Jul 2015 08:11:19 EDT:
A new theory says dark matter acts remarkably similar to subatomic particles known to science since the 1930s.
Assembly of galaxies in the early universe witnessed for the first time
on Wed, 22 Jul 2015 08:06:30 EDT:
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has been used to detect the most distant clouds of star-forming gas yet found in normal galaxies in the early universe. The new observations allow astronomers to start to see how the first galaxies were built up and how they cleared the cosmic fog during the era of reionization. This is the first time that such galaxies are seen as more than just faint blobs.
New Horizons captures two of Pluto's smaller moons
on Wed, 22 Jul 2015 01:47:18 EDT:
Pluto's moon Nix, imaged by the New Horizons Ralph instrument, has a reddish spot that has attracted the interest of mission scientists. Pluto's small, irregularly shaped moon Hydra is revealed in another image. Features as small as 0.7 miles (1.2 kilometers) are visible on Hydra, which measures 34 miles (55 kilometers) in length.
NASA's New Horizons finds second mountain range in Pluto's 'heart'
on Wed, 22 Jul 2015 01:43:37 EDT:
A newly discovered mountain range lies near the southwestern margin of Pluto's Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region), situated between bright, icy plains and dark, heavily-cratered terrain.
Why we live on Earth and not Venus
on Tue, 21 Jul 2015 19:39:57 EDT:
Compared to its celestial neighbors Venus and Mars, Earth is a pretty habitable place. So how did we get so lucky? A new study sheds light on the improbable evolutionary path that enabled Earth to sustain life.
Seeing triple: New 3-D model could solve supernova mystery
on Tue, 21 Jul 2015 12:46:36 EDT:
Scientists have developed a 3-D model of a giant star's last moments, work that could shed light on how these stars explode.
Satellites peer into rock 50 miles beneath Tibetan Plateau
on Tue, 21 Jul 2015 10:29:52 EDT:
Gravity data captured by satellite has allowed researchers to take a closer look at the geology deep beneath the Tibetan Plateau.
Technique may reveal the age of moon rocks during spaceflight
on Mon, 20 Jul 2015 15:45:08 EDT:
Researchers are developing instruments and methods for measuring the ages of rocks encountered during space missions to the Moon or other planets. Many of the techniques used to date rocks on Earth are not practical in spaceflight, but a technique called laser ablation resonance ionization mass spectrometry can avoid the need for sophisticated sample preparation.
Abundance of certain elements in Earth dictate whether plate tectonics can happen
on Mon, 20 Jul 2015 14:13:26 EDT:
Planet Earth is situated in what astronomers call the Goldilocks Zone -- a sweet spot in a solar system where a planet's surface temperature is neither too hot nor too cold. An ideal distance from a home star -- in Earth's case, the sun -- this habitable zone, as it is also known, creates optimal conditions that prevent water from freezing and generating a global icehouse or evaporating into space and creating a runaway greenhouse.
Solar events unlikely to trigger birth defects on Earth
on Mon, 20 Jul 2015 11:49:58 EDT:
A new investigation has found radiation from solar events is too weak to cause worry at ground level.
Accelerating search for intelligent life in the universe
on Mon, 20 Jul 2015 09:45:13 EDT:
The National Science Foundation's Green Bank Telescope will join in the most powerful, comprehensive, and intensive scientific search ever for signs of intelligent life in the Universe.
Dead galaxies in Coma Cluster may be packed with dark matter
on Mon, 20 Jul 2015 09:26:03 EDT:
Galaxies in a cluster roughly 300 million light years from Earth could contain as much as 100 times more dark matter than visible matter, according to an Australian study.
NASA's New Horizons discovers frozen plains in the heart of Pluto's 'heart'
on Fri, 17 Jul 2015 17:46:49 EDT:
In the latest data from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto's icy mountains, in the center-left of the heart feature, informally named "Tombaugh Regio" (Tombaugh Region) after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930.
Amateur astronomers spot one in a billion star
on Thu, 16 Jul 2015 20:54:13 EDT:
The Gaia satellite has discovered a unique binary system where one star is 'eating' the other, but neither star has any hydrogen, the most common element in the Universe. The system could be an important tool for understanding how binary stars might explode at the end of their lives.
New Horizons close-up of Charon's 'mountain in a moat'
on Thu, 16 Jul 2015 19:06:30 EDT:
A new image of an area on Pluto's largest moon Charon has a captivating feature -- a depression with a peak in the middle.
Despite new information, Pluto will remain a dwarf planet, cosmologist says
on Thu, 16 Jul 2015 11:22:52 EDT:
Back in 1930, it was an easy answer -- Pluto was a planet because we couldn't see anything else brighter at a similar distance away from us, says a cosmologist. Then, in the 1990s, astronomers began detecting more and more planet-like objects around Pluto and the questions started -- was Pluto a planet or not?
Agriculture's next frontier? Growing plants in space
on Thu, 16 Jul 2015 09:20:15 EDT:
Space may not be the final frontier for researchers who want to grow plants there. Because, who knows, we may one day try to live on Mars, and to survive, we’ll have to grow our own food. Thus far, experiments by the two pioneering scientists have proven so successful that, earlier this month, NASA recognized their research with one of its three awards in the category of the Most Compelling Results.
The icy mountains of Pluto
on Wed, 15 Jul 2015 18:51:28 EDT:
New close-up images of a region near Pluto's equator reveal a giant surprise: a range of youthful mountains rising as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above the surface of the icy body.
Hydra emerges from the shadows
on Wed, 15 Jul 2015 16:19:10 EDT:
Since its discovery in 2005, Pluto's moon Hydra has been known only as a fuzzy dot of uncertain shape, size, and reflectivity. Imaging obtained during New Horizons' historic transit of the Pluto-Charon system and transmitted to Earth early this morning has definitively resolved these fundamental properties of Pluto's outermost moon.
Pluto: The ice plot thickens
on Wed, 15 Jul 2015 16:14:51 EDT:
The latest spectra from New Horizons Ralph instrument reveal an abundance of methane ice, but with striking differences from place to place across the frozen surface of Pluto.
Charon’s Surprising, Youthful and Varied Terrain
on Wed, 15 Jul 2015 16:10:36 EDT:
Remarkable new details of Pluto's largest moon Charon are revealed in this image from New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), taken late on July 13, 2015 from a distance of 289,000 miles (466,000 kilometers).
Astronomers bring a new hope to find 'Tatooine' planets
on Wed, 15 Jul 2015 16:06:33 EDT:
Sibling suns -- made famous in the "Star Wars" scene where Luke Skywalker gazes toward a double sunset -- and the planets around them may be more common than we've thought, and astronomers are presenting new ideas on how to find them.
From mountains to moons: Multiple discoveries from NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission
on Wed, 15 Jul 2015 16:05:37 EDT:
Icy mountains on Pluto and a new, crisp view of its largest moon, Charon, are among the several discoveries announced Wednesday by the NASA's New Horizons team, just one day after the spacecraft's first ever Pluto flyby.
Old astronomic riddle on the way to be solved: Absorption of starlight in space
on Wed, 15 Jul 2015 13:07:32 EDT:
Scientists were able to identify for the first time a molecule responsible for the absorption of starlight in space: the positively charged Buckminsterfullerene, or so-called football molecule.
Jupiter twin discovered around solar twin
on Wed, 15 Jul 2015 10:36:23 EDT:
So far, exoplanet surveys have been most sensitive to planetary systems that are populated in their inner regions by massive planets, down to a few times the mass of the Earth. This contrasts with our Solar System, where there are small rocky planets in the inner regions and gas giants like Jupiter farther out.
Out of this world: Research into the health impacts of human spaceflight
on Wed, 15 Jul 2015 09:09:18 EDT:
Pioneering research into the health impacts of spaceflight has been identified as a possible experiment to be conducted by a British astronaut on his maiden voyage to the International Space Station.
NASA's New Horizons 'phones home' safe after Pluto flyby
on Wed, 15 Jul 2015 08:13:53 EDT:
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft phoned home just before 9 p.m. EDT Tuesday to tell the mission team and the world it had accomplished the historic first-ever flyby of Pluto. The preprogrammed "phone call" ended a very suspenseful 21-hour waiting period. New Horizons had been instructed to spend the day gathering the maximum amount of data, and not communicating with Earth until it was beyond the Pluto system.
Pluto and Charon shine in false color
on Tue, 14 Jul 2015 16:40:44 EDT:
New Horizons has obtained impressive new images of Pluto and its large moon Charon that highlight their compositional diversity. These are not actual color images of Pluto and Charon -- they are shown here in exaggerated colors that make it easy to note the differences in surface material and features on each planetary body.
Curiosity rover finds evidence of Mars' primitive continental crust
on Tue, 14 Jul 2015 14:20:51 EDT:
The ChemCam laser instrument on NASA's Curiosity rover has turned its beam onto some unusually light-colored rocks on Mars, and the results are surprisingly similar to Earth's granitic continental crust rocks. This is the first discovery of a potential 'continental crust' on Mars.
Earth's magnetosphere: Discovery of zebra stripes in space resolves a half-century mystery
on Tue, 14 Jul 2015 13:15:58 EDT:
In the 1960s, NASA launched six satellites to study Earth's atmosphere, magnetosphere and the space between Earth and the moon. Using observations from those satellites, researchers have detected mysterious plasma waves in the Van Allen radiation belts, the donut-shaped rings surrounding Earth that contain high-energy particles trapped by the planet's magnetic field.
NASA's three-billion-mile journey to Pluto reaches historic encounter
on Tue, 14 Jul 2015 10:14:52 EDT:
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is at Pluto. After a decade-long journey through our solar system, New Horizons made its closest approach to Pluto Tuesday, about 7,750 miles above the surface -- roughly the same distance from New York to Mumbai, India -- making it the first-ever space mission to explore a world so far from Earth.
How big is Pluto? New Horizons settles decades-long debate
on Tue, 14 Jul 2015 10:11:41 EDT:
NASA's New Horizons mission has answered one of the most basic questions about Pluto -- its size. Mission scientists have found Pluto to be 1,473 miles (2,370 kilometers) in diameter, somewhat larger than many prior estimates. Images acquired with the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were used to make this determination. This result confirms what was already suspected: Pluto is larger than all other known solar system objects beyond the orbit of Neptune.
New light shone on near-earth asteroid
on Tue, 14 Jul 2015 09:38:14 EDT:
A team of scientists participating in a radio astronomy summer school had the unexpected opportunity to observe a recently discovered near-Earth asteroid as it zipped past our planet on July 7.
Nerve-wracking flyby of Pluto: New Horizons probe begins complicated dance
on Mon, 13 Jul 2015 11:36:07 EDT:
The moment is finally here: after a decade of travel, the New Horizons probe is about to encounter Pluto. Flying faster than a speeding bullet -- literally -- the probe has to perform complex maneuvers, and go completely silent before scientists on Earth will hear anything, an astronomer says.
What happens when cosmic giants meet galactic dwarfs?
on Sun, 12 Jul 2015 20:38:25 EDT:
According to a new study of more than 20,000 merging galaxies, when two different sized galaxies smash together, the larger galaxy stops the smaller one making new stars.
Amazing flare from a black hole in a distant galaxy
on Fri, 10 Jul 2015 16:10:02 EDT:
Five billion years ago, a great disturbance rocked a region near the monster black hole at the center of galaxy 3C 279. On June 14, the pulse of high-energy light produced by this event finally arrived at Earth, setting off detectors aboard NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and other satellites. Astronomers around the world turned instruments toward the galaxy to observe this brief but record-setting flare in greater detail.
Atmosphere of Venus studied through rare transit images
on Thu, 09 Jul 2015 18:02:12 EDT:
Two of NASA's heliophysics missions can now claim planetary science on their list of scientific findings. A group of scientists used the Venus transit -- a very rare event where a planet passes between Earth and the sun, appearing to us as a dark dot steadily making its way across the sun's bright face -- to make measurements of how the Venusian atmosphere absorbs different kinds of light.
Black hole bull's-eye revealed
on Thu, 09 Jul 2015 18:02:10 EDT:
What looks like a shooting target is actually an image of nested rings of X-ray light centered on an erupting black hole. On June 15, NASA's Swift satellite detected the start of a new outburst from V404 Cygni, where a black hole and a sun-like star orbit each other. Since then, astronomers around the world have been monitoring the ongoing light show.