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More evidence for groundwater on Mars: Conditions would be conducive for microbial colonization if on Earth
on Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:30:53 EDT:
Scientists investigated the Equatorial Layered Deposits (ELDs) of Arabia Terra in Firsoff crater area, Mars, to understand their formation and potential habitability. On the plateau, ELDs consist of rare mounds, flat-lying deposits, and cross-bedded dune fields. They interpret the mounds as smaller spring deposits, the flat-lying deposits as playa, and the cross-bedded dune fields as aeolian. They write that groundwater fluctuations appear to be the major factor controlling ELD deposition.
Dark matter even darker than once thought
on Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:22:38 EDT:
Astronomers have studied how dark matter in clusters of galaxies behaves when the clusters collide. The results show that dark matter interacts with itself even less than previously thought, and narrows down the options for what this mysterious substance might be.
Best view yet of dusty cloud passing galactic center black hole
on Thu, 26 Mar 2015 08:59:24 EDT:
The best observations so far of the dusty gas cloud G2 confirm that it made its closest approach to the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way in May 2014 and has survived the experience. The new result shows that the object appears not to have been significantly stretched. It is most likely to be a young star with a massive core that is still accreting material.
Ancient Martian lake system records two water-related events
on Wed, 25 Mar 2015 21:07:44 EDT:
Researchers have completed a new analysis of an ancient Martian lake system in Jezero Crater, near the planet's equator. The study finds that the onslaught of water that filled the crater was one of at least two separate periods of water activity in the region surrounding Jezero.
A new spin on Saturn's peculiar rotation
on Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:23:11 EDT:
The precise measurement of Saturn's rotation has presented a great challenge to scientists, as different parts of this sweltering ball of hydrogen and helium rotate at different speeds whereas its rotation axis and magnetic pole are aligned. A new method leads to a new determination of Saturn's rotation period and offers insight into the internal structure of the planet, its weather patterns, and the way it formed.
Supermassive black hole clears star-making gas from galaxy's core
on Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:18:59 EDT:
A new study provides the first observational evidence that a supermassive black hole at the center of a large galaxy can power huge, wide-angled outpourings of material from deep inside the galaxy's core. These outflows remove massive quantities of star-making gas, thus influencing the size, shape and overall fate of the host galaxy.
Unexplained warm layer discovered in Venus' atmosphere
on Wed, 25 Mar 2015 13:17:14 EDT:
Scientists have found a warm layer in Venus' atmosphere, the nature of which is still unknown. The researchers made the discovery when compiling a temperature map of the upper atmosphere on the planet's night side based on the data collected by the Venus Express probe.
Explosions of Jupiter's aurora linked to extraordinary planet-moon interaction
on Wed, 25 Mar 2015 11:08:23 EDT:
New observations of the planet's extreme ultraviolet emissions show that bright explosions of Jupiter's aurora likely also get kicked off by the planet-moon interaction, not by solar activity.
Did Mars once have a nitrogen cycle? Scientists find fixed nitrogen in Martian sediments
on Wed, 25 Mar 2015 08:23:41 EDT:
Scientists have found fixed forms of nitrogen in Mars. This suggests that there may have been a nitrogen cycle sometime in Mars' past. The detection has been verified through analyses of samples taken at three different points on Mars. Analyses are made by the instrument SAM (Sample Analysis on Mars) on board the unmanned rover Curiosity located on Mars.
NASA satellites catch 'growth spurt' from newborn protostar
on Tue, 24 Mar 2015 18:36:32 EDT:
Using data from orbiting observatories and ground-based facilities, astronomers have discovered an outburst from a star thought to be in the earliest phase of its development. The eruption, scientists say, reveals a sudden accumulation of gas and dust by an exceptionally young protostar known as HOPS 383.
NASA studies the sun in soft x-rays
on Tue, 24 Mar 2015 18:36:30 EDT:
At any given moment, our sun emits a range of light waves far more expansive than what our eyes alone can see: from visible light to extreme ultraviolet to soft and hard X-rays. In 2012 and 2013, a detector was launched on a sounding rocket for a 15 minute trip to look at a range of sunlight previously not well-observed: soft X-rays.
Automation offers big solution to big data in astronomy
on Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:08:24 EDT:
The Square Kilometer Array, a radio telescope planned for Africa and Australia, will have an unprecedented ability to deliver data -- lots of data points, with lots of details -- on the location and properties of stars, galaxies and giant clouds of hydrogen gas. Scientists have now developed a new, faster approach to analyzing all that data.
Wandering Jupiter accounts for our unusual solar system
on Mon, 23 Mar 2015 16:22:45 EDT:
Jupiter may have swept through the early solar system like a wrecking ball, destroying a first generation of inner planets before retreating into its current orbit, according to a new study. The findings help explain why our solar system is so different from the hundreds of other planetary systems that astronomers have discovered in recent years.
Best look yet at 'warm dense matter' at cores of giant planets
on Mon, 23 Mar 2015 14:27:44 EDT:
Scientists have precisely measured the temperature and structure of aluminum as it transitions into a superhot, highly compressed concoction known as "warm dense matter."
Chemical fingerprints of ancient supernovae found
on Mon, 23 Mar 2015 13:28:52 EDT:
A search of nearby galaxies for their oldest stars has uncovered two stars in the Sculptor dwarf galaxy that were born shortly after the galaxy formed, approximately 13 billion years ago. The unusual chemical content of the stars may have originated in a single supernova explosion from the first generation of Sculptor stars.
Colliding stars explain enigmatic 17th century explosion
on Mon, 23 Mar 2015 13:22:56 EDT:
New observations made with APEX and other telescopes reveal that the star that European astronomers saw appear in the sky in 1670 was not a nova, but a much rarer, violent breed of stellar collision.
World's largest asteroid impacts found in central Australia
on Mon, 23 Mar 2015 11:00:00 EDT:
A 400-kilometer-wide impact zone from a huge meteorite that broke in two moments before it slammed into the Earth has been found in Central Australia. The crater from the impact millions of years ago has long disappeared. But a team of geophysicists has found the twin scars of the impacts -- the largest impact zone ever found on Earth -- hidden deep in Earth's crust.
A graphene solution for microwave interference
on Mon, 23 Mar 2015 07:58:13 EDT:
Microwave communication is ubiquitous in the modern world, with electromagnetic waves in the tens of gigahertz range providing efficient transmission with wide bandwidth for data links between Earth-orbiting satellites and ground stations. Such ultra-high frequency wireless communication is now so common, with a resultant crowding of the spectral bands allocated to different communications channels, that interference and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) are serious concerns.
Have researchers discovered the sound of the stars?
on Mon, 23 Mar 2015 07:57:53 EDT:
A chance discovery has provided experimental evidence that stars may generate sound. When examining the interaction of an ultra-intense laser with a plasma target, researchers observed something unexpected. Scientists realized that in the trillionth of a second after the laser strikes, plasma flowed rapidly from areas of high density to more stagnant regions of low density, in such a way that it created something like a traffic jam. Plasma piled up at the interface between the high and low density regions, generating a series of pressure pulses: a sound wave.
Comet probe detects 'most wanted molecule': Nitrogen gas
on Thu, 19 Mar 2015 15:06:54 EDT:
ESA's comet probe Rosetta has for the first time ever measured nitrogen gas at a comet, providing clues to the early stages of the formation of our solar system.
Milky Way's center unveils supernova 'dust factory'
on Thu, 19 Mar 2015 14:34:24 EDT:
Sifting through the center of the Milky Way galaxy, astronomers have made the first direct observations -- using an infrared telescope aboard a modified Boeing 747 -- of cosmic building-block dust resulting from an ancient supernova.
MESSENGER's endgame: Hover campaign promises bird's-eye view of Mercury's surface
on Thu, 19 Mar 2015 09:19:40 EDT:
MESSENGER will not go gentle into that good night. The mission will end sometime this spring, when the spacecraft runs out of propellant and the force of solar gravity causes it to impact the surface of Mercury. But the team initiated a "hover" observation campaign designed to gather scientific data from the planet at ultra-low altitudes until the last possible moment. Engineers have devised a series of orbit-correction maneuvers (OCMs) over the next five weeks -- the first of which was carried out today -- designed to delay the inevitable impact a bit longer.
More than a million stars are forming in a mysterious dusty gas cloud in a nearby galaxy
on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 14:55:05 EDT:
An extremely hot, dusty cloud of molecular gases is forming more than a million young stars in a tiny nearby galaxy, astronomers report.
Iron rain fell on early Earth, new Z machine data supports
on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 13:07:47 EDT:
Physical tests reveal that, at pressures rivaling those when worlds collide, iron vaporizes at far lower pressures than assumed by theoreticians, explaining why the element is distributed in Earth's mantle rather than collected at its core.
Extent of moon's giant volcanic eruption is revealed
on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 10:12:36 EDT:
Scientists have produced a new map of the Moon's most unusual volcano showing that its explosive eruption spread debris over an area much greater than previously thought. A team of astronomers and geologists studied an area of the lunar surface in the Compton-Belkovich Volcanic Complex.
Planets in the habitable zone around most stars, researchers calculate
on Wed, 18 Mar 2015 07:45:15 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered thousands of exoplanets using the Kepler satellite. By analyzing these planetary systems, researchers have calculated the probability for the number of stars that might have planets in the habitable zone. The calculations show that billions of stars in the Milky Way will have one to three planets in the habitable zone, where there is the potential for liquid water and where life could exist.
Mars rover arm delivers rock powder sample
on Thu, 12 Mar 2015 11:11:11 EDT:
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used its robotic arm Wednesday, March 11, to sieve and deliver a rock-powder sample to an onboard instrument. The sample was collected last month before the team temporarily suspended rover arm movement pending analysis of a short circuit.
Second natural quasicrystal ever found in ancient meteorite
on Mon, 16 Mar 2015 16:07:43 EDT:
Scientists have discovered a quasicrystal -- so named because of its unorthodox arrangement of atoms -- in a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite from a remote region of northeastern Russia, bringing to two the number of natural quasicrystals ever discovered.
Colorful life-form catalog will help discern if we're alone
on Mon, 16 Mar 2015 16:06:33 EDT:
While looking for life on planets beyond our own solar system, a group of international scientists has created a colorful catalog containing reflection signatures of Earth life forms that might be found on planet surfaces throughout the cosmic hinterlands. The new database and research gives humans a better chance to learn if we are not alone.
Time lapse snapshots of a nova's fading light
on Mon, 16 Mar 2015 13:49:16 EDT:
Scientists have, for the first time, examined a detailed "time lapse" X-ray image of the expansion of a classical nova explosion using the GK Persei nova -- a binary star system which underwent a nova explosion in 1901. Through this work, they hope to gain a better understanding of the expansion of gases in the universe, including not only in classical novae but also in supernovae -- tremendous stellar explosions that are believed to be responsible for the creation of heavy elements such as uranium which cannot be produced by normal stars.
Mercury: Results from Messenger’s low-altitude campaign
on Mon, 16 Mar 2015 13:46:43 EDT:
NASA's MESSENGER mission, now nearing the end of its fourth and final year of orbital operations at Mercury, is well into a low-altitude campaign that is returning images and measurements of the planet's surface and interior that are unprecedented in their resolution.
A second minor planet may possess Saturn-like rings: Features around Chiron may signal rings, jets, or a shell of dust
on Mon, 16 Mar 2015 12:27:32 EDT:
There are only five bodies in our solar system that are known to bear rings. The most obvious is the planet Saturn; to a lesser extent, rings of gas and dust also encircle Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. The fifth member of this haloed group is Chariklo, one of a class of minor planets called centaurs: small, rocky bodies that possess qualities of both asteroids and comets. Scientists only recently detected Chariklo's ring system -- a surprising finding, as it had been thought that centaurs are relatively dormant. Now scientists have detected a possible ring system around a second centaur, Chiron.
New clues from the dawn of the solar system
on Mon, 16 Mar 2015 10:21:10 EDT:
Sulfide chondrules, a new type of building blocks discovered in meteorites left over from the solar system's infancy, provide evidence for a previously unknown region in the protoplanetary disk that gave rise to the planets including Earth.
Scientists fly kites on Earth to study Mars
on Mon, 16 Mar 2015 09:30:57 EDT:
An unconventional research method allow planetary scientists to develop digital terrain models -- think Google Earth on steroids -- of geologic features on Earth, revealing that some of the things we see on Mars and other planets may not be what they seem.
Solar eclipse echoes the fantastic astronomical events which took place during the time of Richard III
on Mon, 16 Mar 2015 09:26:28 EDT:
Historical astronomical data of the time of Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth have been explored by historians. Richard III’s corpse could have been publicly displayed beneath a blood moon following his defeat at the Battle of Bosworth. A solar eclipse would have darkened the sky 530-years-ago today (March 16) as Richard III’s wife Anne Neville died.
Hubble source catalog: One-stop shopping for astronomers
on Fri, 13 Mar 2015 13:07:35 EDT:
Astronomers have created a new master catalog of astronomical objects called the Hubble Source Catalog. The catalog provides one-stop shopping for measurements of objects observed with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA spacecraft in Earth’s orbit, preparing to study magnetic reconnection
on Fri, 13 Mar 2015 11:28:29 EDT:
Following a successful launch at 10:44 p.m. EDT Thursday, NASA's four Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft are positioned in Earth's orbit to begin the first space mission dedicated to the study of a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. This process is thought to be the catalyst for some of the most powerful explosions in our solar system.
New Mercury surface composition maps illuminate the planet's history
on Fri, 13 Mar 2015 11:04:34 EDT:
Scientists have created global-scale maps of Mercury's surface chemistry that reveal previously unrecognized geochemical terranes -- large regions that have compositions distinct from their surroundings. The presence of these large terranes has important implications for the history of the planet
Underground ocean on Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede
on Thu, 12 Mar 2015 11:21:12 EDT:
Identifying liquid water on other worlds, big or small, is crucial in the search for habitable planets beyond Earth. Though the presence of an ocean on Ganymede has been long predicted based on theoretical models, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope found the best evidence for it. Hubble was used to watch aurorae glowing above the moon's icy surface. The aurorae are tied to the moon's magnetic field, which descends right down to Ganymede's core. A saline ocean would influence the dynamics of the magnetic field as it interacts with Jupiter's own immense magnetic field, which engulfs Ganymede. Because telescopes can't look inside planets or moons, tracing the magnetic field through aurorae is a unique way to probe the interior of another world.
'Chaotic Earths': Some habitable exoplanets could experience wildly unpredictable climates
on Thu, 12 Mar 2015 09:21:24 EDT:
Astronomers have delved into possible planetary systems where a gravitational nudge from one planet with just the right orbital configuration and tilt could have a mild to devastating effect on the orbit and climate of another, possibly habitable world.
Saturn moon's ocean may harbor hydrothermal activity, spacecraft data suggest
on Wed, 11 Mar 2015 14:08:42 EDT:
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has provided scientists the first clear evidence that Saturn's moon Enceladus exhibits signs of present-day hydrothermal activity which may resemble that seen in the deep oceans on Earth. The implications of such activity on a world other than our planet open up unprecedented scientific possibilities.
Particle jets reveal the secrets of the most exotic state of matter
on Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:46:49 EDT:
Shortly following the Big Bang, the Universe was filled with a chaotic primordial soup of quarks and gluons, particles which are now trapped inside of protons and neutrons. Study of this quark-gluon plasma requires the use of the most advanced theoretical and experimental tools. Physicists have taken one crucial step towards a better understanding of the plasma and its properties.
The corrugated galaxy: Milky Way may be much larger than previously estimated
on Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:41:39 EDT:
The Milky Way galaxy is at least 50 percent larger than is commonly estimated, according to new findings that reveal that the galactic disk is contoured into several concentric ripples.
A grand extravaganza of new stars
on Wed, 11 Mar 2015 08:19:23 EDT:
This dramatic landscape in the southern constellation of Ara (The Altar) is a treasure trove of celestial objects. Star clusters, emission nebulae and active star-forming regions are just some of the riches observed in this region lying some 4000 light-years from Earth. This beautiful new image is the most detailed view of this part of the sky so far, and was taken using the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile.
Fast-moving unbound star has broken the galactic speed record
on Tue, 10 Mar 2015 20:56:31 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered the fastest ever unbound star in our galaxy. The unbound star, named US708, is traveling at 1,200 kilometers per second -- the fastest speed ever recorded for such an object in our galaxy -- meaning it is not held back by gravity and will eventually leave the Milky Way.
UK skies set to dim in decade's deepest solar eclipse
on Tue, 10 Mar 2015 13:19:18 EDT:
On 20 March a total eclipse of the Sun will take place, visible from the North Atlantic Ocean. Observers in the UK and Ireland will see a partial solar eclipse, with up to 97% of the Sun blocked out. This will be the deepest eclipse in the UK since 1999 and until 2026.
Mysterious phenomena in a gigantic galaxy-cluster collision
on Tue, 10 Mar 2015 09:15:15 EDT:
Using new capabilities of the Very Large Array, astronomers have made a fascinating image revealing details of the interactions between a pair of galaxy clusters.
Welcome to the neighborhood: New dwarf galaxies discovered in orbit around the Milky Way
on Tue, 10 Mar 2015 09:13:56 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered a 'treasure trove' of rare dwarf satellite galaxies orbiting our own Milky Way. The discoveries could hold the key to understanding dark matter, the mysterious substance which holds our galaxy together.
Cosmic dust discs withstand hellfire beside massive young stars in center of Milky Way
on Tue, 10 Mar 2015 07:41:41 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered an unusual phenomenon in the center of the Milky Way: They detected about 20 rotating dust and gas discs in each cluster hosting exceptionally large and hot stars. The existence of these discs in the presence of the destructive UV radiation field of their massive neighbors came as a surprise. The science team is pondering how these rotating discs are able to withstand evaporation under these extreme conditions.
Solving the riddle of neutron stars
on Tue, 10 Mar 2015 07:41:05 EDT:
It has not yet been possible to measure the gravitational waves predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity. They are so weak that they get lost in the noise of the measurements. But thanks to the latest simulations of the merging of binary neutron star systems, the structure of the sought-after signals is now known. As theoretical astrophysicists report, gravitational waves have a characteristic spectrum that is similar to the spectral lines of atoms.
Venus, if you will, as seen in radar with the Green Bank Telescope
on Mon, 09 Mar 2015 17:48:35 EDT:
Recently, by combining the highly sensitive receiving capabilities of the National Science Foundation's Green Bank Telescope and the powerful radar transmitter at the NSF's Arecibo Observatory, astronomers were able to make remarkably detailed images of the surface of Venus without ever leaving Earth.
Scientists gather to prepare for Large Synoptic Survey Telescope
on Mon, 09 Mar 2015 17:45:11 EDT:
When the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope begins in 2022 to image the entire southern sky from a mountaintop in Chile, it will produce the widest, deepest and fastest views of the night sky ever observed – and a flood of 6 million gigabytes of data per year that are expected to provide new insights into dark matter, dark energy and other cosmic mysteries.
Carina Nebula survey reveals details of star formation
on Mon, 09 Mar 2015 12:41:50 EDT:
A new survey of one of the most active, star-forming regions in the galactic neighborhood is helping astronomers better understand the processes that may have contributed to the formation of the sun 4.5 billion years ago.
Orion's launch abort system motor exceeds expectations
on Fri, 06 Mar 2015 14:49:05 EST:
It took just three seconds for the attitude control motor of NASA's Orion Launch Abort System (LAS) to prove that its material can survive not only the intense temperatures, pressures, noise and vibrations experienced during a launch emergency but also 40 percent beyond. The LAS is being designed to bring a crew to safety should there be a problem in the launch pad or during ascent.
Rover examining odd Mars rocks at valley overlook
on Fri, 06 Mar 2015 11:27:27 EST:
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity climbed last month to an overlook for surveying "Marathon Valley," a science destination chosen because spectrometer observations from orbit indicate exposures of clay minerals.
NASA spacecraft becomes first to orbit a dwarf planet
on Fri, 06 Mar 2015 10:28:59 EST:
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has become the first mission to achieve orbit around a dwarf planet. The spacecraft was approximately 38,000 miles (61,000) kilometers from Ceres when it was captured by the dwarf planet's gravity at about 4:39 a.m. PST (7:39 a.m. EST) Friday.
'Habitable' planet GJ 581d previously dismissed as noise probably does exist
on Fri, 06 Mar 2015 10:26:02 EST:
A new report has dismissed claims made last year that the first super-Earth planet discovered in the habitable zone of a distant star was 'stellar activity masquerading as planets.' The researchers are confident the planet named GJ 581d, identified in 2009 orbiting the star Gliese 581, does exist, and that last year's claim was triggered by inadequate analysis of the data.
Black holes and dark sector explained by quantum gravity
on Fri, 06 Mar 2015 09:16:17 EST:
A quantum version of General Relativity demonstrates that dark energy and dark matter are different manifestations of gravity. The theory calculates the precise value of the cosmological constant, derives the baryonic Tully-Fisher relation, gives a quantum description of Black Holes and calculates the baryonic mass content of the observable universe.
Mars: The planet that lost an ocean's worth of water
on Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:04:47 EST:
A primitive ocean on Mars held more water than Earth's Arctic Ocean, and covered a greater portion of the planet's surface than the Atlantic Ocean does on Earth, according to new results published today. An international team of scientists used ESO's Very Large Telescope, along with instruments at the W. M. Keck Observatory and the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, to monitor the atmosphere of the planet and map out the properties of the water in different parts of Mars's atmosphere over a six-year period. These new maps are the first of their kind.
Hubble sees supernova split into four images by cosmic lens
on Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:04:37 EST:
Astronomers have spotted for the first time a distant supernova split into four images. The multiple images of the exploding star are caused by the powerful gravity of a foreground elliptical galaxy embedded in a massive cluster of galaxies.