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Radboud radio telescope to travel with Stratos II+ rocket again
on Mon, 12 Oct 2015 10:16:15 EDT:
Stratos II+, a rocket built entirely by students of Delft University of Technology, will be launched again on Wednesday October 14. The first attempt in 2014 unfortunately failed due to technical problems. The rocket will hold an antenna to intercept radio signals below 30 MegaHertz and a digital receiver. The payload from Nijmegen is part of a preparatory programme for a radio telescope on the moon. Such a telescope would, for the first time, enable researchers to measure radiation generated shortly after the Big Bang.
Blue skies and water ice discovered on Pluto
on Thu, 08 Oct 2015 17:39:26 EDT:
The first color images of Pluto's atmospheric hazes, returned by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft last week, reveal that the hazes are blue.
Wet paleoclimate of Mars revealed by ancient lakes at Gale Crater
on Thu, 08 Oct 2015 15:29:53 EDT:
Scientists have described ancient water flows and lakes on Mars, and what this might mean about the ancient climate.
Unexpected role of electrons in creating pulsating auroras
on Wed, 07 Oct 2015 18:50:43 EDT:
Thanks to a lucky conjunction of two satellites, a ground-based array of all-sky cameras, and some spectacular aurora borealis, researchers have uncovered evidence for an unexpected role that electrons have in creating the dancing auroras. Though humans have been seeing auroras for thousands of years, we have only recently begun to understand what causes them.
Earth's inner core was formed 1-1.5 billion years ago
on Wed, 07 Oct 2015 13:56:56 EDT:
There have been many estimates for when the earth's inner core was formed, but scientists have used new data which indicates that the Earth's inner core was formed 1-1.5 billion years ago as it 'froze' from the surrounding molten iron outer core.
Mysterious ripples found racing through planet-forming disc
on Wed, 07 Oct 2015 13:56:53 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered never-before-seen structures within a dusty disc surrounding a nearby star. The fast-moving wave-like features in the disc of the star AU Microscopii are unlike anything ever observed, or even predicted, before now. The origin and nature of these features present a new mystery for astronomers to explore.
Perfectly accurate clocks turn out to be impossible
on Wed, 07 Oct 2015 11:09:20 EDT:
Can the passage of time be measured precisely, always and everywhere? The answer will upset many watchmakers. A team of physicists have just shown that when we are dealing with very large accelerations, no clock will actually be able to show the real passage of time, known as 'proper time.'
The Majorana Demonstrator: First module of germanium detectors comes online
on Tue, 06 Oct 2015 12:39:53 EDT:
In 2014, the Majorana Demonstrator started its search for neutrinoless double beta decay. Observation of this decay would have profound implications for our understanding of physics, including providing hints as to how the Big Bang produced more matter than it did antimatter.
Nobel Prize in Physics for 2015
on Tue, 06 Oct 2015 08:36:33 EDT:
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2015 to Takaaki Kajita Super-Kamiokande Collaboration University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Japan and Arthur B. McDonald Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Collaboration Queen's University, Kingston, Canada "for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass."
Where to look for life? Astronomers devise 'habitability index' to guide future search
on Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:46:38 EDT:
Astronomers have created a way to compare and rank exoplanets to help prioritize which of the thousands discovered warrant close inspection in the search for life beyond Earth.
Peeking into our galaxy's stellar nursery
on Mon, 05 Oct 2015 16:30:58 EDT:
Astronomers have long turned their telescopes to the wide swaths of interstellar medium to get a look at the formation and birth of stars. However, the images produced over the last 50 years look more like weather maps showing storm systems instead of glittering bursts of light that the untrained observer might expect of a 'star map.' That is, until now.
New way to weigh a star
on Mon, 05 Oct 2015 08:25:37 EDT:
Researchers have developed a new method for measuring the mass of pulsars - highly magnetized rotating neutron stars formed from the remains of massive stars after they explode into supernovae. Until now, scientists have determined the mass of stars, planets and moons by studying their motion in relation to others nearby, using the gravitational pull between the two as the basis for their calculations. However, in the case of young pulsars, mathematicians have now found a new way to measure their mass, even if a star exists on its own in space.
Signals from empty space
on Fri, 02 Oct 2015 08:23:11 EDT:
What are the properties of the vacuum, the absolute nothingness? So far, physicists have assumed that it is impossible to directly access the characteristics of the ground state of empty space. Now, a team of physicists has succeeded in doing just that. They demonstrated a first direct observation of the so-called vacuum fluctuations by using short light pulses while employing highly precise optical measurement techniques.
The golden anniversary of black-hole singularity
on Thu, 01 Oct 2015 12:58:46 EDT:
When a star collapses forming a black hole, a space-time singularity is created wherein the laws of Physics no longer work. In 1965 Sir Roger Penrose presented a theorem where he associated that singularity with so-called 'trapped surfaces' that shrink over time. That hypothesis -- one of the results of the general theory of relativity -- is now celebrating its anniversary.
Rock samples from Western US teach how to hunt for life on Mars
on Thu, 01 Oct 2015 09:48:17 EDT:
With news coming this week that NASA has confirmed the presence of flowing saltwater on the surface of Mars, the hunt for life on the Red Planet has new momentum. Now, Eocene rock samples from the Green River formation could guide the search for astrobiology.
High-powered telescope designed to explore origins of universe moving toward 'first light'
on Wed, 30 Sep 2015 15:01:23 EDT:
An effort to peer into the origins of the universe with the most effective instrument ever used in the effort is taking a big step forward, as scientists begin shipping a two-story-tall microwave telescope to its base in Chile.
Asteroids found to be the moon's main 'water supply'
on Wed, 30 Sep 2015 11:04:27 EDT:
Water reserves found on the moon are the result of asteroids acting as 'delivery vehicles' and not of falling comets as was previously thought. Using computer simulation, scientists have discovered that a large asteroid can deliver more water to the lunar surface than the cumulative fall of comets over a billion year period.
Dawn team shares new maps and insights about Ceres
on Wed, 30 Sep 2015 10:45:37 EDT:
Mysteries and insights about Ceres are being discussed this week at the European Planetary Science Conference in Nantes, France. NASA's Dawn spacecraft is providing scientists with tantalizing views and other data about the intriguing dwarf planet that they continue to analyze.
Mars: New hypothesis on the origin of the megafloods
on Wed, 30 Sep 2015 09:26:03 EDT:
A recent study puts forward a new explanation for the Martian megafloods: enormous discharges of subterranean water that dug out the biggest flood channels in the solar system over 3 billion years ago.
Mechanism of explosions and plasma jets associated with sunspot formation revealed
on Wed, 30 Sep 2015 07:44:31 EDT:
Sunspots are planet-sized conglomerates of bundles of intense magnetic field lines on the surface of the Sun. They are known to cause explosions (solar flares) which can directly impact our technological infrastructure. What astrophysical mechanisms are responsible for the formation of sunspots and how do they drive explosive events are important questions in our quest to understand the Sun's activity and its magnetic effect on Earth.
Walk the line: NASA studies physical performance after spaceflight
on Tue, 29 Sep 2015 18:12:27 EDT:
Walking an obstacle course on Earth is relatively easy. Walking an obstacle course after being in space for six months isn't so simple. NASA's Human Research Program is focusing on identifying key physical factors that contribute to a decrease in performance as we prepare for a journey to Mars.
New precise particle measurement improves subatomic tool for probing mysteries of universe
on Tue, 29 Sep 2015 11:20:34 EDT:
In a post-Big Bang world, nature's top quark -- a key component of matter -- is a highly sensitive probe that physicists use to evaluate competing theories about quantum interactions. Now a new precise measurement of the top quark's mass by physicists improves that subatomic tool to help unravel deep mysteries of our universe. The new value confirms recent measurements by other physicists -- but adds growing uncertainty to physics' Standard Model.
Earth-like planets around small stars likely have protective magnetic fields, aiding chance for life
on Tue, 29 Sep 2015 07:07:03 EDT:
Earth-like planets orbiting close to small stars probably have magnetic fields that protect them from stellar radiation and help maintain surface conditions that could be conducive to life, according to research from astronomers.
Liquid water flows on today's Mars: NASA confirms evidence
on Mon, 28 Sep 2015 09:41:14 EDT:
New findings from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars. Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time.
Keeping cells in good shape
on Mon, 28 Sep 2015 08:21:56 EDT:
The Cell Shape and Expression, or Cytospace, investigation examined how physical forces -- including shear stress, stiffness, surface tension, and gravity -- change the relationships among these proteins, interfering with cell architecture and changing the geometric form, or shape, of the cell.
Rosetta’s mass spectrometer ROSINA detected argon at comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko
on Sat, 26 Sep 2015 22:06:38 EDT:
The mass spectrometer ROSINA on ESA’s comet probe Rosetta has for the first time detected the noble gas argon in the coma of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This measurement adds to the debate about the role of comets in delivering various ingredients to Earth such as water.
'Fossils' of galaxies reveal the formation and evolution of massive galaxies
on Fri, 25 Sep 2015 08:55:46 EDT:
Astronomers have observed massive dead galaxies in the universe 4 billion years after the Big Bang. They discovered that the stellar content of these galaxies is strikingly similar to that of massive elliptical galaxies seen locally. Furthermore, they identified progenitors of these dead galaxies when they were forming stars at an earlier cosmic epoch, unveiling the formation and evolution of massive galaxies across 11 billion years of cosmic time.
Eleven-year cosmic search leads to black hole rethink
on Thu, 24 Sep 2015 15:15:16 EDT:
One hundred years since Einstein proposed gravitational waves as part of his general theory of relativity, an 11-year search has failed to detect them, casting doubt on our understanding of galaxies and black holes.
New theory of stealth dark matter may explain universe's missing mass
on Thu, 24 Sep 2015 14:28:51 EDT:
Scientists have come up with a new theory that may identify why dark matter has evaded direct detection in Earth-based experiments.
Shrapnel from an exploded star
on Thu, 24 Sep 2015 10:44:20 EDT:
Astronomers are comparing new images of the Veil Nebula, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in April 2015 with Hubble images taken in 1997, to study how the nebula has expanded since it was photographed over 18 years ago. The supernova that created the Veil Nebula would have been briefly visible to our very distant ancestors thousands of years ago as a bright "new star" in the northern sky.
Too big for its boots: Black hole is 30 times expected size
on Thu, 24 Sep 2015 08:36:34 EDT:
The central supermassive black hole of a recently discovered galaxy has been found to be far larger than should be possible, according to current theories of galactic evolution. New work shows that the black hole is much more massive than it should be, compared to the mass of the galaxy around it.
Discovery of potential gravitational lenses shows citizen science value
on Thu, 24 Sep 2015 08:36:26 EDT:
Citizen scientists have helped an international team of researchers to discover 29 new gravitational lens candidates in galaxies far away.
A new study predicts a quantum Goldilocks effect
on Wed, 23 Sep 2015 18:22:13 EDT:
By studying a system that couples matter and light together, like the universe itself, researchers have now found that crossing a quantum phase transition at intermediate speeds generates the richest, most complex structure. Such structure resembles 'defects' in an otherwise smooth and empty space.
Total lunar eclipse will bring big red Moon to early morning sky
on Wed, 23 Sep 2015 10:34:05 EDT:
People across the western hemisphere may be surprised to see a rust-colored Moon in the sky on 28 September. Early that morning (the evening of the 27 September for observers in North and South America) will be this year's second total eclipse of the Moon. From the UK, this will be the first total lunar eclipse visible since 2008, and the last one visible in its entirety until 2019.
Hot, dense material surrounds O-type star with largest magnetic field known
on Wed, 23 Sep 2015 08:26:07 EDT:
Observations revealed that the unusually large magnetosphere around an O-type star called NGC 1624-2 contains a raging storm of extreme stellar winds and dense plasma that gobbles up X-rays before they can escape into space.
Messier 17: A cosmic rose with many names
on Wed, 23 Sep 2015 08:25:59 EDT:
This new image of the rose-colored star forming region Messier 17 was captured by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. It is one of the sharpest images showing the entire nebula and not only reveals its full size but also retains fine detail throughout the cosmic landscape of gas clouds, dust and newborn stars.
Radio telescopes could spot stars hidden in the galactic center
on Tue, 22 Sep 2015 11:58:21 EDT:
The center of our Milky Way galaxy is a mysterious place. Not only is it thousands of light-years away, it's also cloaked in so much dust that most stars within are rendered invisible. Harvard researchers are proposing a new way to clear the fog and spot stars hiding there. They suggest looking for radio waves coming from supersonic stars.
Bugs in space: How microbes are surviving on astronauts
on Tue, 22 Sep 2015 11:49:41 EDT:
Bugs are winning out, and that's a good thing according to NASA's Human Research Program. As part of NASA's One-Year Mission, researchers are studying how microbes living on astronauts' skin, inside their bodies and on the International Space Station impact their health. To prepare for a journey to Mars, it is important to understand how long-duration spaceflight affects microorganisms because changes to this complex ecosystem could be detrimental to future missions.
Pairs of supermassive black holes in galaxies may be rarer than previously thought
on Mon, 21 Sep 2015 14:14:39 EDT:
Astronomers analyzing new images of 'X-shaped galaxies' conclude that their peculiar shape is less-commonly caused by mergers than was thought. This result could lower the level of gravitational waves coming from such galaxies.
Experiment confirms fundamental symmetry in nature
on Mon, 21 Sep 2015 13:38:35 EDT:
Scientists working with ALICE, a heavy-ion detector on the Large Hadron Collider ring, have made precise measurements of particle mass and electric charge that confirm the existence of a fundamental symmetry in nature. The findings led the researchers to confirm a fundamental symmetry between the nuclei of the particles and their antiparticles in terms of charge, parity and time.
Astronomers identify a new mid-size black hole
on Mon, 21 Sep 2015 09:51:48 EDT:
Astronomers have found evidence for a new intermediate-mass black hole about 5,000 times the mass of the sun. The discovery adds one more candidate to the list of potential medium-sized black holes, while strengthening the case that these objects do exist.
New way proposed to chart the cosmos in 3-D
on Fri, 18 Sep 2015 11:38:57 EDT:
If only calculating the distance between Earth and far-off galaxies was as easy as pulling out the old measuring tape. Now researchers are proposing a new way to calculate distances in the cosmos using mysterious bursts of energy.
Converging black holes in Virgo constellation
on Wed, 16 Sep 2015 16:21:23 EDT:
Astronomers have provided additional evidence that a pair of closely orbiting black holes deep in the Virgo constellation is causing the rhythmic flashes of light coming from quasar PG 1302-102. Based on calculations of the pair's mass -- together, and relative to each other -- the researchers go on to predict a smashup 100,000 years from now, far sooner than previously predicted.
'Hot Jupiter' exoplanets may have formed very rapidly
on Wed, 16 Sep 2015 11:30:46 EDT:
Twenty years after they were first discovered, 'hot Jupiters', gas giant planets that orbit very close to their star, are still enigmatic objects. Astronomers have now shown that such bodies may only take several million years to migrate close to their newly formed star. The discovery should shed light on how solar systems like - or unlike - our own Solar System form and evolve over the course of their existence.
A shy galactic neighbor
on Wed, 16 Sep 2015 11:24:30 EDT:
The Sculptor Dwarf Galaxy is a close neighbor of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Despite their close proximity, both galaxies have very distinct histories and characters. This galaxy is much smaller and older than the Milky Way, making it a valuable subject for studying both star and galaxy formation in the early universe.
Watching an exoplanet in motion around a distant star
on Wed, 16 Sep 2015 11:24:24 EDT:
A team of astronomers has given us our best view yet of an exoplanet moving in its orbit around a distant star.
Nearby red dwarves could reveal planet secrets
on Tue, 15 Sep 2015 21:13:31 EDT:
An accidental find of a collection of young red dwarf stars close to our solar system could give us a rare glimpse of slow-motion planet formation. Astronomers have found large discs of dust around two of the stars, tell-tale signs of planets in the process of forming.
Earth's pull is 'massaging' our moon
on Tue, 15 Sep 2015 16:25:12 EDT:
Earth's gravity has influenced the orientation of thousands of faults that form in the lunar surface as the moon shrinks, according to new results.
Cassini finds global ocean in Saturn's moon Enceladus
on Tue, 15 Sep 2015 15:53:09 EDT:
A global ocean lies beneath the icy crust of Saturn's geologically active moon Enceladus, according to new research using data from NASA's Cassini mission.
Rosetta Mission: Ptolemy sniffs next piece of the comet puzzle
on Tue, 15 Sep 2015 14:15:13 EDT:
New results from Ptolemy -- an instrument on the Rosetta mission’s Philae lander, suggest that Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko may be giving of different gases from different parts of its surface, making it heterogeneous in nature, Ptolemy -- the gas analysis instrument on board Philae, has taken measurements of the concentration of volatile molecules at the lander’s final resting site, known as. Its findings have shown the presence of both water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2), but of very little carbon monoxide (CO).
New perspectives for long-term climate predictions
on Tue, 15 Sep 2015 14:10:37 EDT:
The natural, 11-year cycle of solar activity is apparently influencing long-term climate fluctuations in the Northern Hemisphere. An international team of scientists has shown that the so-called North Atlantic Oscillation, one of the dominant circulation patterns on the Northern Hemisphere, is phased-locked to the decadal solar activity with a delay of one or two years.
Rocky planets may be habitable depending on their 'air conditioning system'
on Mon, 14 Sep 2015 10:27:53 EDT:
The quest for potentially habitable planets is often interpreted as the search for an Earth twin. And yet, some rocky planets outside our Solar System may in fact be more promising candidates for further research. Scientists have run 165 climate simulations for exoplanets that permanently face their 'sun' with the same side. They discovered that two of the three possible climates are potentially habitable.
Astronomers peer into the 'amniotic sac' of a planet-hosting star
on Sun, 13 Sep 2015 23:33:42 EDT:
Astronomers have successfully peered through the 'amniotic sac' of a star that is still forming to observe the innermost region of a burgeoning solar system for the first time.
Stellar discovery: Massive binary star with unique properties
on Fri, 11 Sep 2015 14:07:22 EDT:
The first massive binary star, epsilon Lupi, in which both stars have magnetic fields has been discovered by a PhD candidate. A binary star is a star system consisting of two or more stars, orbiting around their common center of mass.
Globally unique double crater identified in Sweden
on Fri, 11 Sep 2015 09:53:37 EDT:
Researchers have found traces of two major meteorite impacts in Sweden, a twin strike that occurred around 460 million years ago. One is enormous, while the other is a tenth of the size of the first. The largest crater has a diameter of 7.5 kilometers.
Underground magma ocean could explain Io's 'misplaced' volcanoes
on Thu, 10 Sep 2015 16:44:03 EDT:
Tides flowing in a subsurface ocean of molten rock, or magma, could explain why Jupiter's moon Io appears to have its volcanoes in the 'wrong' place. New NASA research implies that oceans beneath the crusts of tidally stressed moons may be more common and last longer than expected.
Rare cosmic find: Astronomers find galaxy cluster with bursting heart
on Thu, 10 Sep 2015 14:12:35 EDT:
Astronomers have discovered a gargantuan galaxy cluster with a core bursting with new stars -- an incredibly rare find. The discovery is the first to show that gigantic galaxies at the centers of massive clusters can grow significantly by feeding off gas stolen from other galaxies.
Moon's crust as fractured as can be
on Thu, 10 Sep 2015 13:20:09 EDT:
Scientists at MIT and elsewhere have identified regions on the far side of the moon, called the lunar highlands, that may have been so heavily bombarded -- particularly by small asteroids -- that the impacts completely shattered the upper crust, leaving these regions essentially as fractured and porous as they could be.
Oxygen is not definitive evidence of life on habitable extrasolar planets
on Thu, 10 Sep 2015 09:14:46 EDT:
The Earth's atmosphere contains oxygen because plants continuously produce it through photosynthesis. This abundant supply of oxygen allows life forms like animals to flourish. Therefore, oxygen had been thought to be an essential biomarker for life on extrasolar planets. But now scientists have presented a novel hypothesis that it could be possible for planets to have large quantities of abiotic (non-biologically produced) oxygen.
Space mission will explore terrestrial gamma ray flashes that originate in thunderstorms
on Wed, 09 Sep 2015 21:37:35 EDT:
Researchers are heading into space in 2018 to measure and better understand terrestrial gamma ray flashes (TGFs) that originate from thunderstorms.