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A metal that behaves like water
on Thu, 11 Feb 2016 18:59:26 EST:
Researchers have made a breakthrough in our understanding of graphene's basic properties, observing for the first time electrons in a metal behaving like a fluid. This research could lead to novel thermoelectric devices as well as provide a model system to explore exotic phenomena like black holes and high-energy plasmas.
The sleeping giant NGC 4889 harbors a dark secret
on Thu, 11 Feb 2016 14:13:33 EST:
The placid appearance of NGC 4889 can fool the unsuspecting observer. But the elliptical galaxy, seen in a new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, harbors a dark secret. At its heart lurks one of the most massive black holes ever discovered.
Gravitational waves detected 100 years after Einstein's prediction
on Thu, 11 Feb 2016 10:39:35 EST:
For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.
A star's moment in the spotlight
on Wed, 10 Feb 2016 11:06:42 EST:
A newly formed star lights up the surrounding clouds in this new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. Dust particles in the vast clouds that surround the star HD 97300 diffuse its light, like a car headlight in enveloping fog, and create the reflection nebula IC 2631. Although HD 97300 is in the spotlight for now, the very dust that makes it so hard to miss heralds the birth of additional future stars.
Scientists discover hidden galaxies behind the Milky Way
on Tue, 09 Feb 2016 13:20:47 EST:
Hundreds of hidden nearby galaxies have been studied for the first time, shedding light on a mysterious gravitational anomaly dubbed the Great Attractor. Despite being just 250 million light years from Earth, the new galaxies had been hidden from view until now by our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Using CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope equipped with an innovative receiver, an international team of scientists were able to see through the Milky Way, into a previously unexplored region of space.
Earth-like planets have Earth-like interiors
on Mon, 08 Feb 2016 12:42:45 EST:
Every school kid learns the basic structure of the Earth: a thin outer crust, a thick mantle, and a Mars-sized core. But is this structure universal? Will rocky exoplanets orbiting other stars have the same three layers? New research suggests that the answer is yes -- they will have interiors very similar to Earth.
Artistic space odyssey to broadcast people's messages to the stars
on Mon, 08 Feb 2016 11:25:56 EST:
Messages from around the world are to be beamed into space at the speed of light as part of a cultural project to create a celestial time capsule.
'Cannibalism' between stars
on Fri, 05 Feb 2016 14:45:22 EST:
Stars do not accumulate their final mass steadily, but in a series of violent events manifesting themselves as sharp stellar brightening. Stellar brightening can be caused by fragmentation due to gravitational instabilities in massive gaseous disks surrounding young stars, followed by migration of dense gaseous clumps onto the star, according to a new theory.
Turbulent times: When stars approach
on Thu, 04 Feb 2016 11:20:56 EST:
Astrophysicists are using new methods to simulate the common-envelope phase of binary stars, discovering dynamic irregularities that may help to explain how supernovae evolve.
A violent wind blown from the heart of a galaxy tells the tale of a merger
on Thu, 04 Feb 2016 09:49:30 EST:
Astronomers have revealed the detailed structure of a massive ionized gas outflow streaming from the starburst galaxy NGC 6240. The light-collecting power and high spatial resolution of Subaru Telescope made it possible to study, for the first time, the complex structure of one of the largest known superwinds being driven by starbirth -- and star death.
New study challenges Jupiter's role as planetary shield, protecting Earth from comet impacts
on Wed, 03 Feb 2016 11:09:38 EST:
Not only is the 'Jupiter as shield' concept, implying that the planet shields Earth from comet impacts, not true, but perhaps Jupiter's most important role in fostering the development of life on Earth was just the opposite -- delivering the volatile materials from the outer Solar System needed for life to form. This new simulation study, and the previously underestimated role that Saturn may have also played in the evolution of life on Earth.
Galactic center's gamma rays unlikely to originate from dark matter, evidence shows
on Wed, 03 Feb 2016 11:09:28 EST:
Studies by two independent groups from the US and the Netherlands have found that gamma ray signals from the inner galaxy come from a new source rather than from the collision of dark matter particles. The new source is likely to be rapidly rotating pulsars, rather than the as-yet undetected invisible dark matter particles thought to make up 85 percent of the mass in the Universe.
The frigid 'Flying Saucer': Unexpectedly cold grains in planet-forming disc
on Wed, 03 Feb 2016 08:58:47 EST:
Astronomers have made the first direct measurement of the temperature of the large dust grains in the outer parts of a planet-forming disc around a young star. By applying a novel technique to observations of an object nicknamed the Flying Saucer they find that the grains are much colder than expected: -266 degrees Celsius. This surprising result suggests that models of these discs may need to be revised.
Bright sparks shed new light on the dark matter riddle
on Mon, 01 Feb 2016 10:35:51 EST:
The origin of matter in the universe has puzzled physicists for generations. Today, we know that matter only accounts for 5 percent of our universe; another 25 percent is constituted of dark matter. And the remaining 70 percent is made up of dark energy. Dark matter itself represents an unsolved riddle.
Understanding the magnetic sun
on Sat, 30 Jan 2016 18:21:12 EST:
Scientists have turned to a combination of real time observations and computer simulations to best analyze how material courses through the corona.
Phase of the moon affects amount of rainfall
on Sat, 30 Jan 2016 18:21:09 EST:
Satellite data shows that the moon's gravity puts a slight damper on rainfall on Earth.
Novel calibration tool will help astronomers look for habitable exoplanets
on Fri, 29 Jan 2016 17:10:09 EST:
Promising new calibration tools, called laser frequency combs, could allow astronomers to take a major step in discovering and characterizing earthlike planets around other stars. These devices generate evenly spaced lines of light, much like the teeth on a comb for styling hair or the tick marks on a ruler--hence their nickname of "optical rulers."
Moon was produced by a head-on collision between Earth and a forming planet
on Fri, 29 Jan 2016 09:04:51 EST:
The moon was formed from a violent, head-on collision between the early Earth and a 'planetary embryo' called Theia approximately 100 million years after the Earth formed, almost 4.5 billion years ago.
Monstrous cloud boomerangs back to our galaxy
on Thu, 28 Jan 2016 15:57:51 EST:
New Hubble telescope observations suggest that a high-velocity gas cloud was launched from the outer regions of our own galaxy around 70 million years ago. Now, the cloud is on a return collision course and is expected to plow into the Milky Way's disk in about 30 million years. Astronomers believe it will ignite a spectacular burst of star formation then.
Bringing time and space together for universal symmetry
on Thu, 28 Jan 2016 12:20:11 EST:
New research is broadening perspectives on time and space. Scientists challenge the long-held presumption that time evolution -- the incessant unfolding of the universe over time -- is an elemental part of Nature.
Antarctic fungi survive Martian conditions on the International Space Station
on Thu, 28 Jan 2016 11:38:15 EST:
Scientists have gathered tiny fungi that take shelter in Antarctic rocks and sent them to the International Space Station. After 18 months on board in conditions similar to those on Mars, more than 60 percent of their cells remained intact, with stable DNA. The results provide new information for the search for life on the red planet. Lichens from the Sierra de Gredos (Spain) and the Alps (Austria) also traveled into space for the same experiment.
NASA Webb Telescope mirrors installed with robotic arm precision
on Thu, 28 Jan 2016 07:43:39 EST:
Inside a massive clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland the James Webb Space Telescope team is steadily installing the largest space telescope mirror ever. Unlike other space telescope mirrors, this one must be pieced together from segments using a high-precision robotic arm.
Stellar parenting: Making new stars by 'adopting' stray cosmic gases
on Wed, 27 Jan 2016 14:14:08 EST:
Astronomers have for the first time found young populations of stars within globular clusters that have apparently developed courtesy of star-forming gas flowing in from outside of the clusters themselves. This method stands in contrast to the conventional idea of the clusters' initial stars shedding gas as they age in order to spark future rounds of star birth.
The Milky Way's clean and tidy galactic neighbor
on Wed, 27 Jan 2016 08:35:53 EST:
Many galaxies are chock-full of dust, while others have occasional dark streaks of opaque cosmic soot swirling in amongst their gas and stars. However, the subject of this new image, snapped with the OmegaCAM camera on ESO's VLT Survey Telescope in Chile, is unusual -- the small galaxy, named IC 1613, is a veritable clean freak! IC 1613 contains very little cosmic dust, allowing astronomers to explore its contents with great clarity.
Anti-hydrogen origin revealed by collision simulation
on Tue, 26 Jan 2016 11:08:05 EST:
Antihydrogen is a particular kind of atom, made up of the antiparticle of an electron -- a positron -- and the antiparticle of a proton -- an antiproton. Scientists hope that studying the formation of anti hydrogen will ultimately help explain why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe.
One trillion kilometers apart: A lonely planet and its distant star
on Tue, 26 Jan 2016 09:10:39 EST:
Astronomers have found a planet, until now thought to be a free floating or lonely planet, in a huge orbit around its star. Incredibly the object, designated as 2MASS J2126, is about 1 trillion (1 million million) kilometers from the star, or about 7000 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun.
Fishing for answers on bone loss in space
on Mon, 25 Jan 2016 18:45:06 EST:
Crew members reared small freshwater fish aboard International Space Station for 56 days and examined the animals' jawbones and teeth for any potential effects from microgravity. Investigators report that they found increased volume and activity of osteoclasts and significant reduction of bone mineral density in the fish aboard the station.
New method proposed to probe the beginning of the universe
on Mon, 25 Jan 2016 12:55:11 EST:
How did the universe begin? And what came before the Big Bang? Cosmologists have asked these questions ever since discovering that our universe is expanding. The answers aren't easy to determine. The beginning of the cosmos is cloaked and hidden from the view of our most powerful telescopes. Yet observations we make today can give clues to the universe's origin. New research suggests a novel way of probing the beginning of space and time to determine which of the competing theories is correct.
How to find and study a black hole
on Mon, 25 Jan 2016 11:52:36 EST:
Black holes sound too strange to be real. But they are actually pretty common in space. There are dozens known and probably millions more in the Milky Way and a billion times that lurking outside. The makings and dynamics of these monstrous warpings of spacetime have been confounding scientists for centuries.
Einstein put to the test: Two precision experiments in space with lasers
on Mon, 25 Jan 2016 11:49:26 EST:
According to Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, all bodies in a vacuum regardless of their properties are accelerated by the Earth's gravity at the same rate. This principle of equivalence applies to stones, feathers and atoms alike. Under the conditions of microgravity very long and precise measurements can be carried out to determine whether different atoms of different mass actually "fall equally fast".
In galaxy clustering, mass may not be the only thing that matters
on Mon, 25 Jan 2016 11:42:33 EST:
An international team of researchers has shown that the relationship between galaxy clusters and their surrounding dark matter halo is more complex than previously thought. The researchers' findings are the first to use observational data to show that, in addition to mass, a galaxy cluster's formation history plays a role in how it interacts with its environment.
Rotation speed may be bad news for Red Planet pioneers
on Mon, 25 Jan 2016 09:07:59 EST:
New research has revealed the importance of a circadian body clock that matches the rotational speed of the Earth.
Newly discovered star offers opportunity to explore origins of first stars sprung to life in early universe
on Fri, 22 Jan 2016 14:47:33 EST:
A team of researchers has observed the brightest ultra metal-poor star ever discovered. The star is a rare relic from the Milky Way's formative years. As such, it offers astronomers a precious opportunity to explore the origin of the first stars that sprung to life within our galaxy and the universe.
Dark 'noodles' may lurk in the Milky Way
on Thu, 21 Jan 2016 14:51:40 EST:
Invisible structures shaped like noodles, lasagne sheets or hazelnuts could be floating around in our Galaxy radically challenging our understanding of gas conditions in the Milky Way. Astronomers say the structures appear to be 'lumps' in the thin gas that lies between the stars in our Galaxy. The observations were made possible by an innovative new technique.
The aliens are silent because they're dead
on Thu, 21 Jan 2016 11:09:32 EST:
The universe is probably filled with habitable planets, so many scientists think it should be teeming with aliens. But life on other planets would likely be brief and become extinct very quickly, say astrobiologists. In research aiming to understand how life might develop, the scientists realized new life would commonly die out due to runaway heating or cooling on their fledgling planets.
Dazzling diamonds in the sky
on Thu, 21 Jan 2016 11:09:19 EST:
Single stars are often overlooked in favor of their larger cosmic cousins -- but when they join forces, they create truly breathtaking scenes to rival even the most glowing of nebulae or swirling of galaxies. A new image features the star cluster Trumpler 14. One of the largest gatherings of hot, massive and bright stars in the Milky Way, this cluster houses some of the most luminous stars in our entire galaxy.
Jason-3 delivers first data, products four days after launch
on Thu, 21 Jan 2016 09:34:19 EST:
Four days after its launch on 17 January, the Jason-3 high-precision ocean altimetry satellite is delivering its first sea surface height measurement data in near-real time, report engineers.
Neutral result charges up antimatter research
on Wed, 20 Jan 2016 20:13:22 EST:
Scientists are once again pushing the boundaries of antimatter research with their latest breakthrough studying the properties of antihydrogen. The result is an improved measurement of the charge of antihydrogen by a factor of 20. It is the latest contribution in the quest to find the answer to the antimatter question, 'If matter and antimatter were created in equal amounts during the Big Bang, where did all the antimatter go?'
Glass-based ultraviolet absorbers act as 'biological shields'
on Wed, 20 Jan 2016 12:27:56 EST:
Researchers have developed a glass-based material that can block out UV-light and protect living cells. The material could be used in several applications, including as a protective shield for electronic instruments in space.
Evidence of a real ninth planet discovered
on Wed, 20 Jan 2016 11:45:39 EST:
Researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun.
NASA's Van Allen probes revolutionize view of radiation belts
on Tue, 19 Jan 2016 18:11:11 EST:
About 600 miles from Earth's surface is the first of two donut-shaped electron swarms, known as the Van Allen Belts, or the radiation belts. Understanding the shape and size of the belts, which can shrink and swell in response to incoming radiation from the sun, is crucial for protecting our technology in space. NASA's Van Allen Probes now reveals that the shape of the radiation belts is actually quite different depending on what type of electron you're looking at.
Zinnias from space!
on Thu, 21 Jan 2016 12:15:28 EST:
In space, there is no scent of baking bread, no wind on your face, no sound of raindrops hitting the roof, no favorite kitten to curl up in your lap. Over time, being deprived of these common earthbound sense stimulations takes a toll. Having limited access to stimuli to the senses is identified as a significant risk by NASA's Behavioral Health and Performance team.
How mold on space station flowers is helping get us to Mars
on Tue, 19 Jan 2016 14:30:38 EST:
What may seem like a failure in systems is actually an exceptional opportunity for scientists back on Earth to better understand how plants grow in microgravity.
Nearing the limits of life on Earth
on Tue, 19 Jan 2016 14:17:51 EST:
Scientists are looking for life in an area of Antarctica that is thought to be the place on Earth that most closely resembles the permafrost found in the northern polar region of Mars, at the Phoenix landing site. The scientists failed to find any active microbes, suggesting it will be unlikely and difficult to detect similar activity on Mars.
'Space Warps' and other citizen science projects reap major dividends for astrophysics
on Sat, 16 Jan 2016 21:49:19 EST:
The astrophysics project Space Warps offers a compelling example of why citizen science has become such a popular tool and how valuable it can be. In a roundtable discussion with the Kavli Foundation, citizen science leaders and astrophysicists Chris Lintott, Anupreeta More and Aprajita Verma discuss the tremendous impact these enthusiastic volunteers are having.
Signs of second largest black hole in the Milky Way
on Fri, 15 Jan 2016 08:52:08 EST:
Astronomers using the Nobeyama 45-m Radio Telescope have detected signs of an invisible black hole with a mass of 100 thousand times the mass of the Sun around the center of the Milky Way. The team assumes that this possible 'intermediate mass' black hole is a key to understanding the birth of the supermassive black holes located in the centers of galaxies.
Extreme turbulence roiling 'most luminous galaxy' in the universe
on Fri, 15 Jan 2016 08:48:10 EST:
The most luminous galaxy in the universe -- a so-called obscured quasar 12.4 billion light-years away -- is so violently turbulent that it may eventually jettison its entire supply of star-forming gas, according to new observations with ALMA.
New theory of secondary inflation expands options for avoiding an excess of dark matter
on Thu, 14 Jan 2016 21:34:54 EST:
A new theory suggests a shorter secondary inflationary period that could account for the amount of dark matter estimated to exist throughout the cosmos.
What is 10 miles across, but powers an explosion brighter than the Milky Way?
on Thu, 14 Jan 2016 15:23:21 EST:
Right now, astronomers are viewing a ball of hot gas billions of light years away that is radiating the energy of hundreds of billions of suns. At its heart is an object a little larger than 10 miles across. And astronomers are not entirely sure what it is. If, as they suspect, the gas ball is the result of a supernova, then it's the most powerful supernova ever seen.
Much like white light, spacetime is also composed of a certain rainbow
on Thu, 14 Jan 2016 11:35:14 EST:
When white light is passed through a prism, the rainbow on the other side reveals a rich palette of colors. Theorists have shown that in models of the Universe using any of the quantum theories of gravity there must also be a 'rainbow' of sorts, composed of different versions of spacetime. The mechanism predicts that instead of a single, common spacetime, particles of different energies essentially sense slightly modified versions thereof.
'Green pea' galaxy provides insights to early universe evolution
on Wed, 13 Jan 2016 19:50:58 EST:
Astronomers gain a new understanding of the re-ionization of the universe by studying a nearby dwarf 'green pea' galaxy.
First light for future black hole probe
on Wed, 13 Jan 2016 10:11:05 EST:
Zooming in on black holes is the main mission for the newly installed instrument GRAVITY at ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile. During its first observations, GRAVITY successfully combined starlight using all four Auxiliary Telescopes. During its initial tests, the instrument has already achieved a number of notable firsts. This is the most powerful VLT Interferometer instrument yet installed.
Runaway stars leave infrared waves
on Tue, 12 Jan 2016 16:09:17 EST:
Astronomers have discovered roughly 100 of the fastest-moving stars in the Milky Way galaxy with the aid of images from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, and use of the Wyoming Infrared Observatory on Jelm Mountain near Laramie, Wyo.
Most energetic light ever observed from a few kilometers large star
on Tue, 12 Jan 2016 12:54:23 EST:
Scientists working with the Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) observatory have reported the discovery of the most energetic pulsed emission radiation ever detected from the neutron star in the center of the supernova of 1054 A.D., known as the Crab pulsar.
New images of dwarf planet Ceres
on Tue, 12 Jan 2016 11:29:48 EST:
Features on dwarf planet Ceres that piqued the interest of scientists throughout 2015 stand out in exquisite detail in the latest images from NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which recently reached its lowest-ever altitude at Ceres.
The 'eyes' have it: Astronaut vision and ophthalmologic problems explained
on Mon, 11 Jan 2016 12:13:55 EST:
Just when you think you've seen it all, our eyes look to be victims of a low-gravity environments, too. According to new research two significant genetic differences in enzymes that direct the one-carbon pathway of metabolism can affect astronaut vision.
Quiet quasar has apparently eaten its fill
on Sat, 09 Jan 2016 18:50:01 EST:
Astronomers have announced that a distant quasar ran out of gas. Their conclusions clarify why quasar SDSS J1011+5442 changed so dramatically in the handful of years between observations.
Probing nuclear reactions in stars
on Fri, 08 Jan 2016 08:48:59 EST:
Thanks to a new experimental technique, scientists have now measured a crucial fusion reaction, involving hydrogen and a rare isotope of oxygen, that occurs inside stars.
Ancient gas cloud may be a relic from the death of first stars
on Fri, 08 Jan 2016 08:39:06 EST:
Researchers have discovered a distant, ancient cloud of gas that may contain the signature of the very first stars that formed in the Universe.
NASA's Fermi Space Telescope sharpens its high-energy vision
on Fri, 08 Jan 2016 08:37:28 EST:
Major improvements to methods used to process observations from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have yielded an expanded, higher-quality set of data that allows astronomers to produce the most detailed census of the sky yet made at extreme energies.