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Don’t touch: How scientists study the reactions inside stars
on Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:35:20 EDT:
Nuclear scientists have devised a method that allows scientists to determine key reaction rates at stellar energies using conventional nuclear reactions.
Are we alone? Setting some limits to our planet's uniqueness
on Thu, 28 Apr 2016 09:53:39 EDT:
Are humans unique and alone in the vast universe? This question -- summed up in the famous Drake equation -- has for a half-century been one of the most intractable and uncertain in science. But a new article shows that the recent discoveries of exoplanets combined with a broader approach to the question makes it possible to assign a new empirically valid probability to whether any other advanced technological civilizations have ever existed.
Possible extragalactic source of high-energy neutrinos
on Thu, 28 Apr 2016 09:49:24 EDT:
Nearly 10 billion years ago in a galaxy known as PKS B1424-418, a dramatic explosion occurred. Light from this blast began arriving at Earth in 2012. Now, an international team of astronomers have shown that a record-breaking neutrino seen around the same time likely was born in the same event.
Rare transit of Mercury to take place on 9 May
on Wed, 27 Apr 2016 15:12:10 EDT:
On 9 May there will be a rare transit of Mercury, when the smallest planet in our Solar System will pass directly between the Earth and the Sun. The last time this happened was in 2006, and the next two occasions will be in 2019 and 2032. During the transit, which takes place in the afternoon and early evening in the UK, Mercury will appear as a dark silhouetted disk against the bright surface of the Sun.
Hubble discovers moon orbiting the dwarf planet Makemake
on Tue, 26 Apr 2016 14:49:20 EDT:
Peering to the outskirts of our solar system, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a small, dark moon orbiting Makemake, the second brightest icy dwarf planet -- after Pluto -- in the Kuiper Belt.
Nearby massive star explosion 30 million years ago equaled detonation of 100 million suns
on Tue, 26 Apr 2016 14:49:10 EDT:
A giant star that exploded 30 million years ago in a galaxy near Earth had a radius prior to going supernova that was 200 times larger than our sun, say astrophysicists. The massive explosion, Supernova 2013ej, was one of the closest to Earth in recent years. Comprehensive analysis of the exploding star's light curve and color spectrum found its sudden blast hurled material outward at 10,000 kilometers a second.
Cassini explores a methane sea on Titan
on Tue, 26 Apr 2016 13:46:15 EDT:
A new study finds that a large sea on Saturn's moon Titan is composed mostly of pure liquid methane, independently confirming an earlier result. The seabed may be covered in a sludge of carbon- and nitrogen-rich material, and its shores may be surrounded by wetlands.
Light echoes give clues to planet nursery around star
on Tue, 26 Apr 2016 13:01:12 EDT:
For the first time, astronomers used echoes of light to determine the distance from a star to the inner wall of its surrounding planet-forming disk of dust and gas. Being able to exactly pinpoint the inner edge of such disks is a big step forward in understanding the evolution of planetary systems.
Mars' surface revealed in unprecedented detail
on Tue, 26 Apr 2016 10:13:07 EDT:
The surface of Mars -- including the location of Beagle-2 -- has been shown in unprecedented detail by scientists using a revolutionary image stacking and matching technique. Exciting pictures of the Beagle-2 lander, the ancient lakebeds discovered by NASA's Curiosity rover, NASA's MER-A rover tracks and Home Plate's rocks have been released by the researchers who stacked and matched images taken from orbit, to reveal objects at a resolution up to five times greater than previously achieved.
The Universe, where space-time becomes discrete
on Fri, 22 Apr 2016 11:53:29 EDT:
A theoretical study has analyzed a model that saves special relativity and reconciles it with granularity by introducing small-scale deviations from the principle of locality demonstrating that it can be experimentally tested with great precision.
Dark matter does not contain certain axion-like particles
on Fri, 22 Apr 2016 11:53:20 EDT:
Researchers are getting closer to corner light dark-matter particle models. Observations can rule out some axion-like particles in the quest for the content of dark matter.
Cosmic beacons reveal the Milky Way's ancient core
on Fri, 22 Apr 2016 07:54:25 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered that the central 2000 light years within the Milky Way Galaxy hosts an ancient population of stars. These stars are more than 10 billion years old and their orbits in space preserve the early history of the formation of the Milky Way. For the first time the team kinematically disentangled this ancient component from the stellar population that currently dominates the mass of the central Galaxy.
Microscopic 'clocks' time distance to source of galactic cosmic rays
on Thu, 21 Apr 2016 14:57:53 EDT:
Most of the galactic cosmic rays reaching Earth come from nearby clusters of massive stars, according to new observations from NASA's ACE spacecraft. The distance between the cosmic rays' point of origin and Earth is limited by the survival of a radioactive isotope of iron, Fe-60, which has a half life of 2.6 million years. These tiny clocks indicate there was a source within spitting distance of Earth within the past few million years.
Numerical simulations shed new light on early universe
on Thu, 21 Apr 2016 14:14:11 EDT:
Innovative multidisciplinary research in nuclear and particle physics and cosmology has led to the development of a new, more accurate computer code to study the early universe.
Bubble Nebula looks like a gigantic cosmic soap bubble
on Thu, 21 Apr 2016 11:28:29 EDT:
A new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image captures in stunning clarity what looks like a gigantic cosmic soap bubble. The object, known as the Bubble Nebula, is in fact a cloud of gas and dust illuminated by the brilliant star within it. The vivid new portrait of this dramatic scene wins the Bubble Nebula a place in the exclusive Hubble hall of fame.
Menstruation in spaceflight: Options for astronauts
on Thu, 21 Apr 2016 11:28:22 EDT:
A new article explores the options for astronauts who want to prevent menstrual bleeding during their space missions. The article reviews contraceptive devices available including those already used by military and aviation personnel, and calls for more research into the effect of hormone treatments on bone mineral loss in space.
Mice flown in space show nascent liver damage, research shows
on Wed, 20 Apr 2016 15:14:19 EDT:
In a discovery with implications for long-term spaceflight and future missions to Mars, researchers have found that mice flown aboard the space shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth with early signs of liver disease.
Merging black holes, gravitational waves provide new insight into how the universe works
on Tue, 19 Apr 2016 18:27:49 EDT:
On Sept. 14, waves of energy traveling for more than a billion years gently rattled space-time in the vicinity of Earth. The disturbance, produced by a pair of merging black holes, was captured by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) facilities in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana. This event marked the first-ever detection of gravitational waves and opens a new scientific window on how the universe works.
Seeing double: NASA missions measure solar flare from 2 spots in space
on Tue, 19 Apr 2016 14:54:15 EDT:
Solar flares are intense bursts of light from the sun. They are created when complicated magnetic fields suddenly and explosively rearrange themselves, converting magnetic energy into light through a process called magnetic reconnection -- at least, that's the theory, because the signatures of this process are hard to detect. But during a December 2013 solar flare, three solar observatories captured the most comprehensive observations of an electromagnetic phenomenon called a current sheet, strengthening the evidence that this understanding of solar flares is correct.
From bright flare ribbons to coronal rain
on Tue, 19 Apr 2016 13:01:43 EDT:
Scientists at NJIT's Big Bear Solar Observatory have captured unprecedented images of a recent solar flare, including bright flare ribbons seen crossing a sunspot followed by 'coronal rain,' plasma that condenses in the cooling phase shortly after the flare, showering the visible surface of the sun where it lands in brilliant explosions.
Psychologists study intense awe astronauts feel viewing Earth from space
on Tue, 19 Apr 2016 12:00:55 EDT:
By analyzing accounts of awe that result from seeing Earth from space, psychologists delve deep into the psychology of astronauts.
HAWC Gamma-ray Observatory reveals new look at the very-high-energy sky
on Mon, 18 Apr 2016 12:07:14 EDT:
Today, scientists operating the High Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) Gamma-ray Observatory released a new survey of the sky made from the highest energy gamma rays ever observed. The new sky map, which uses data collected since the observatory began running at full capacity last March, offers a deeper understanding of high-energy processes taking place in our galaxy and beyond.
A space 'spider' watches over young stars
on Mon, 18 Apr 2016 12:05:26 EDT:
A nebula known as "the Spider" glows fluorescent green in an infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS). The Spider, officially named IC 417, lies near a much smaller object called NGC 1931, not pictured in the image. Together, the two are called "The Spider and the Fly" nebulae. Nebulae are clouds of interstellar gas and dust where stars can form.
Extreme universe recreated in the lab
on Fri, 15 Apr 2016 14:39:44 EDT:
Conditions in the vast universe can be quite extreme: Violent collisions scar the surfaces of planets. Nuclear reactions in bright stars generate tremendous amounts of energy. Gigantic explosions catapult matter far out into space. But how exactly do processes like these unfold? What do they tell us about the universe? To find out, researchers have performed sophisticated experiments and computer simulations that recreate violent cosmic conditions on a small scale in the lab.
Chemical composition of dust from beyond the solar system analyzed
on Thu, 14 Apr 2016 14:53:45 EDT:
A dust detector on the Cassini space probe -- known as the cosmic dust analyzer (CDA) -- has identified several extremely rare and minuscule particles of interstellar dust from outside our solar system, and examined their chemical composition. Surprisingly it turns out that the different dust particles are very similar in composition and have collected the whole element mix of the cosmos. The experts therefore suspect that dust is continually destroyed, reformed and thereby homogenized in the "witch's cauldron" of outer space.
Europa's heaving ice might make more heat than scientists thought
on Thu, 14 Apr 2016 14:52:05 EDT:
A new set of experiments sheds light on how much heat is created when ice is deformed, which could help scientists understand the possibility of a subsurface ocean on one of Jupiter's moons.
Dwarf dark galaxy hidden in ALMA gravitational lens image
on Thu, 14 Apr 2016 11:46:49 EDT:
Subtle distortions hidden in ALMA's stunning image of the gravitational lens SDP.81 are telltale signs that a dwarf dark galaxy is lurking in the halo of a much larger galaxy nearly 4 billion light-years away.
Supernova iron found on the moon
on Thu, 14 Apr 2016 11:34:25 EDT:
Approximately two million years ago a star exploded in a supernova close to our solar system: Its traces can still be found today in the form of an iron isotope found on the ocean floor. Now scientists have found increased concentrations of this supernova-iron in lunar samples as well. They believe both discoveries to originate from the same stellar explosion.
First particles circulate in SuperKEKB accelerator
on Thu, 14 Apr 2016 08:21:30 EDT:
The SuperKEKB particle accelerator at the KEK research center in Japan has recently reached a major milestone: electrons and positrons have been circulated for the first time around the rings. The accelerator is now being commissioned and the start of data taking is foreseen for 2017. One of the core questions to be investigated in these experiments is why the universe today is filled almost only with matter while in the Big Bang matter and antimatter should have been created in equal amounts.
Probing the transforming world of neutrinos
on Wed, 13 Apr 2016 18:30:38 EDT:
Every second, trillions of neutrinos travel through your body unnoticed. Neutrinos are among the most abundant particles in the universe, but they are difficult to study because they very rarely interact with matter. To find traces of these elusive particles, researchers have built a 14,000-ton detector the size of two basketball courts called NuMI Off-Axis Electron Neutrino Appearance, or NOvA.
Spectacular concentration of galaxies known as the Fornax Cluster
on Wed, 13 Apr 2016 08:38:57 EDT:
A new image captures a spectacular concentration of galaxies known as the Fornax Cluster, which can be found in the southern hemisphere constellation of Fornax (The Furnace). The cluster plays host to a menagerie of galaxies of all shapes and sizes, some of which are hiding secrets.
1917 astronomical plate has first-ever evidence of exoplanetary system
on Tue, 12 Apr 2016 13:26:17 EDT:
You can never predict what treasure might be hiding in your own basement. It turns out that a 1917 image on an astronomical glass plate from the Carnegie Observatories' collection shows the first-ever evidence of a planetary system beyond our own Sun.
New tool refines exoplanet search
on Mon, 11 Apr 2016 13:40:01 EDT:
Planet-hunting is an ongoing process that's resulting in the discovery of more and more planets orbiting distant stars. But as the hunters learn more about the variety among the tremendous number of predicted planets out there, it's important to refine their techniques. New work reports on a technological upgrade for one method of finding planets or confirming other planetary detections.
Astronomers discover mysterious alignment of black holes
on Mon, 11 Apr 2016 13:00:33 EDT:
Deep radio imaging has revealed that supermassive black holes in a region of the distant universe are all spinning out radio jets in the same direction -- most likely a result of primordial mass fluctuations in the early universe.
New method to estimate more accurate distances between planetary nebulae and the Earth
on Mon, 11 Apr 2016 11:22:40 EDT:
A way of estimating more accurate distances to the thousands of so-called 'planetary nebulae' dispersed across our Galaxy has just been announced by a team of three astronomers.
Hot super-Earths stripped by host stars: 'Cooked' planets shrink due to radiation
on Mon, 11 Apr 2016 08:23:03 EDT:
Astrophysicists have used data from the NASA Kepler space telescope to discover a class of extrasolar planets whose atmospheres have been stripped away by their host stars, according to new research.
The missing brown dwarfs
on Fri, 08 Apr 2016 10:24:51 EDT:
When re-analyzing cataloged and updated observational data of brown dwarfs in the solar neighborhood, astronomers have found that a significant number of nearby brown dwarfs should still be out there, awaiting their discovery. The study challenges the previously established picture of brown dwarfs in the solar neighborhood.
Astrophysicists find triple star system with 'hot Jupiter'
on Thu, 07 Apr 2016 22:17:15 EDT:
Crisp, clear images of a "hot Jupiter" system captured by a physicist were vital in determining that a newly found planet inhabits a three-star system, a phenomenon documented only a few times before.
From IT to black holes: Nano-control of light pioneers new paths
on Thu, 07 Apr 2016 15:06:19 EDT:
A research team has achieved unparalleled levels of control over the angular momentum (AM) of light in an integrated nanophotonic chip. The work leads the way for compact on-chip AM applications like ultra-high definition display, ultra-high capacity optical communication and ultra-secure optical encryption, and could also be used to help scientists better understand the evolution and nature of black holes.
When will a neutron star collapse to a black hole?
on Thu, 07 Apr 2016 11:15:29 EDT:
Astrophysicists have found a simple formula for the maximum mass of a rotating neutron star and hence answered a question that had been open for decades.
Planet 9 takes shape: Newfound planet in our outer solar system simulated
on Thu, 07 Apr 2016 09:29:44 EDT:
Astrophysicists have modeled the evolution of the putative planet in the outer solar system. They estimate that the object has a present-day radius equal to 3.7 Earth radii and a temperature of minus 226 degrees Celsius.
Supernovae showered Earth with radioactive debris
on Wed, 06 Apr 2016 13:36:22 EDT:
An international team of scientists has found evidence of a series of massive supernova explosions near our solar system, which showered the Earth with radioactive debris.The scientists found radioactive iron-60 in sediment and crust samples taken from the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The iron-60 was concentrated in a period between 3.2 and 1.7 million years ago, which is relatively recent in astronomical terms.
Supermassive black holes may be lurking everywhere in the universe
on Wed, 06 Apr 2016 13:36:16 EDT:
One of the largest supermassive black holes on record has been discovered in an unexpected place: a relatively sparse region of the local universe where massive galaxies -- the typical home of these huge black holes -- are few and far between. According new research, there could be many more such black holes -- quiescent quasars -- hiding in the universe's deserts. This one may be or once was a binary black hole.
Sentinel-3A feels the heat
on Wed, 06 Apr 2016 12:52:03 EDT:
Despite only being in orbit a matter of weeks, Sentinel-3A has already delivered some impressive first images. With the thermal-infrared channels now turned on, the satellite completes its set of firsts with a view of ocean features off the coast of Namibia.
Young, unattached Jupiter analog found in solar neighborhood
on Wed, 06 Apr 2016 10:32:43 EDT:
A team of astronomers has discovered one of the youngest and brightest free-floating, planet-like objects within relatively close proximity to the Sun.
Supermassive black holes do not form from stellar black holes
on Wed, 06 Apr 2016 07:51:14 EDT:
Astrophysicists have revealed details of how supermassive black holes formed 13 billion years ago, and it's not from normal (stellar size) black holes growing to supermassive proportions.
Multitasking New Horizons observed solar wind changes on journey to Pluto
on Tue, 05 Apr 2016 16:12:40 EDT:
In addition to its history-making encounter with Pluto last July, the New Horizons spacecraft also recorded significant changes in how the solar wind behaves far from the sun.
Gravitational wave search provides insights into galaxy evolution and mergers
on Tue, 05 Apr 2016 12:26:09 EDT:
New results from NANOGrav -- the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves -- establish astrophysically significant limits in the search for low-frequency gravitational waves. This result provides insight into how often galaxies merge and how those merging galaxies evolve over time. To obtain this result, scientists required an exquisitely precise, nine-year pulsar-monitoring campaign conducted by two of the most sensitive radio telescopes on Earth, the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
Ancient Mars bombardment likely enhanced life-supporting habitat
on Tue, 05 Apr 2016 10:56:06 EDT:
The bombardment of Mars some 4 billion years ago by comets and asteroids as large as West Virginia likely enhanced climate conditions enough to make the planet more conducive to life, at least for a time, says a new study.
'Topsy turvy' ocean circulation seen on distant planets
on Mon, 04 Apr 2016 15:29:08 EDT:
The salt levels of oceans on distant Earth-like planets could have a major effect on their climates. A new study reveals that the circulation in extremely salty or fresh water extra-terrestrial seas would influence their temperatures -- and could in fact make for more habitable conditions for alien life.
Fast radio burst 'afterglow' was actually a flickering black hole
on Mon, 04 Apr 2016 11:15:06 EDT:
Last February a team of astronomers reported detecting an afterglow from a mysterious event called a fast radio burst, which would pinpoint the precise position of the burst's origin. These findings were quickly called into question by follow-up observations. New research shows that the radio emission believed to be an afterglow actually originated from a distant galaxy's core and was unassociated with the fast radio burst.
Shifting sands on Mars
on Mon, 04 Apr 2016 10:05:49 EDT:
Researchers are traveling to Iceland to better understand sand dunes found all over the planet Mars. They hope the Iceland site will show how Martian sands have changed, which could yield more clues about Mars's geological history and the possibility of discovering microbial life entombed there.
The Moon may play a major role in maintaining Earth's magnetic field
on Fri, 01 Apr 2016 07:51:18 EDT:
The Earth's magnetic field permanently protects us from the charged particles and radiation that originate in the Sun. This shield is produced by the geodynamo, the rapid motion of huge quantities of liquid iron alloy in the Earth's outer core. To maintain this magnetic field until the present day, the classical model required the Earth's core to have cooled by around 3 000 °C over the past 4.3 billion years. Now, astronomers suggest that, on the contrary, its temperature has fallen by only 300 °C. The action of the Moon, overlooked until now, is thought to have compensated for this difference and kept the geodynamo active.
Scientists discover how gypsum forms, and how it might tell us more about water on Mars
on Fri, 01 Apr 2016 07:36:53 EDT:
A new explanation of how gypsum forms may change the way we process this important building material, as well as allow us to interpret past water availability on other planets such as Mars.
Size matters: NASA measures raindrop sizes from space to understand storms
on Thu, 31 Mar 2016 18:31:41 EDT:
For the first time, scientists have three-dimensional snapshots of raindrops and snowflakes around the world from space.
White dwarf star exhibits an unusual atmosphere of oxygen
on Thu, 31 Mar 2016 15:39:58 EDT:
Researchers have discovered a white dwarf star with an atmosphere dominated by oxygen, a type of white dwarf that has been theorized to exist but not identified to date.
Mile-high Mars mounds built by wind and climate change
on Thu, 31 Mar 2016 12:23:51 EDT:
New research has found that wind carved massive mounds of more than a mile high on Mars over billions of years. Their location helps pin down when water on the Red Planet dried up during a global climate change event.
Hubble's journey to the center of our galaxy
on Thu, 31 Mar 2016 11:01:36 EDT:
Peering deep into the heart of our Milky Way galaxy, this Hubble Space Telescope image reveals a rich tapestry of more than half a million stars. Except for a few blue, foreground stars, the stars are part of the Milky Way’s nuclear star cluster, the most massive and densest star cluster in our galaxy.
Planet formation in Earth-like orbit around a young star
on Thu, 31 Mar 2016 11:01:34 EDT:
New images reveal never-before-seen details in the planet-forming disk around a nearby Sun-like star, including a tantalizing gap at the same distance from the star as the Earth is from the Sun.
Laser cloaking device could help us hide from aliens
on Thu, 31 Mar 2016 10:59:30 EDT:
Two astronomers suggest humanity could use lasers to conceal the Earth from searches by advanced extraterrestrial civilizations.