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September 04, 2015

"Earth as an Exoplanet" --Nitrogen May Prove a Clue to Alien Life

 

 

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Should life truly exist on an exoplanet, detecting nitrogen as well as oxygen could help astronomers verify the oxygen’s biological origin by ruling out certain ways oxygen can be produced abiotically, or through means other than life.

Continue reading ""Earth as an Exoplanet" --Nitrogen May Prove a Clue to Alien Life" »


Hubble Unlocks Clues to Star Formation --From Blue Super Giants to Red Dwarfs

 

 

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In a survey of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope images of 2,753 young, blue star clusters in the neighboring Andromeda galaxy (M31), astronomers have found that M31 and our own galaxy have a similar percentage of newborn stars based on mass.

Continue reading "Hubble Unlocks Clues to Star Formation --From Blue Super Giants to Red Dwarfs" »


'Twin' Stars Help Astronomers Reach the Outer Limits of the Milky Way



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Astronomers from the University of Cambridge have developed a new, highly accurate method of measuring the distances between stars, which could be used to measure the size of the galaxy, enabling greater understanding of how it evolved.

Continue reading "'Twin' Stars Help Astronomers Reach the Outer Limits of the Milky Way" »


September 03, 2015

A First Real-World "Interstellar" Wormhole?

 

 

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"Wormholes" are cosmic tunnels that can connect two distant regions of the universe, and have been popularised by the dissemination of theoretical physics and by works of science fiction like Stargate, Star Trek or, more recently, Interstellar. Using present-day technology it would be impossible to create a gravitational wormhole, as the field would have to be manipulated with huge amounts of gravitational energy, which no-one yet knows how to generate. In electromagnetism, however, advances in metamaterials and invisibility have allowed researchers to put forward several designs to achieve this.

Continue reading "A First Real-World "Interstellar" Wormhole?" »


September 02, 2015

Elliptical Galaxies --"More Likely to Be the Cradles of Life in the Universe"

 

 

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The field of astrobiology has made huge strides in understanding the habitable zones around stars (stellar habitable zones) where life can begin, sustain its existence and evolve into complex forms. A few studies have extended this quest by modeling galactic-scale habitable zones (galactic habitable zones) for our Milky Way and specific elliptical galaxies.

Continue reading "Elliptical Galaxies --"More Likely to Be the Cradles of Life in the Universe"" »


Image of the Day: "Ghosts of the Universe"

 

 

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The IceCube Neutrino Observatory near the South Pole of the Earth has begun to detect nearly invisible particles of very high energy. Although these rarely-interacting neutrinos pass through much of the Earth just before being detected, where they started remains a mystery. Researchers at the IceCube Observatory have sorted through the billions of subatomic particles that zip through its frozen cubic-kilometer-sized detector each year to gather powerful new evidence in support of 2013 observations confirming the existence of cosmic neutrinos. The evidence is important because it heralds a new form of astronomy using neutrinos, the nearly massless high-energy particles generated in nature's accelerators: black holes, massive exploding stars and the energetic cores of galaxies.

Continue reading "Image of the Day: "Ghosts of the Universe"" »


Mystery at the Birth of the Universe --"The Matter-Antimatter Imbalance"

 

 

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What did the universe look like shortly after it came into being? The ALICE experiment (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) at CERN in Switzerland concerns itself with this question. At the largest particle accelerator in the world, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), researchers let lead nuclei and protons collide at the highest beam energies to date. The temperatures thereby created are 100,000 times higher than those in the center of the Sun.

Continue reading "Mystery at the Birth of the Universe --"The Matter-Antimatter Imbalance"" »


September 01, 2015

New Discovery: Ancient Antarctic Lake --"A Replica of Conditions on Early Earth"

 

 

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At the bottom of a frigid Antarctic lake, a thin layer of green slime is generating a little oasis of oxygen, a team including UC Davis researchers has found. It's the first modern replica discovered of conditions on Earth two and a half billion years ago, before oxygen became common in the atmosphere. The discovery is reported in a paper in the journal Geology.

Continue reading "New Discovery: Ancient Antarctic Lake --"A Replica of Conditions on Early Earth"" »


The Strange World of Quantum Physics --Scientists "Squeeze a Single Light Particle"

 

 

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A team of scientists has successfully measured particles of light being "squeezed", in an experiment that had been written off in physics textbooks as impossible to observe. Squeezing is a strange phenomenon of quantum physics. It creates a very specific form of light which is "low-noise" and is potentially useful in technology designed to pick up faint signals, such as the detection of gravitational waves.

Continue reading "The Strange World of Quantum Physics --Scientists "Squeeze a Single Light Particle"" »


Alien Chemistry of Exo-Planets?

 

 

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As astronomers continue finding new rocky planets around distant stars, high-pressure physicists are considering what the interiors of those planets might be like and how their chemistry could differ from that found on Earth. New work from a team including three Carnegie scientists demonstrates that different magnesium compounds could be abundant inside other planets as compared to Earth. Their work is published by Scientific Reports.

Continue reading " Alien Chemistry of Exo-Planets?" »


August 31, 2015

MIT: "Largest of the Five Mass Extinctions Caused By Microbes" (Today's Most Popular)

 

 

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Evidence left at the crime scene is abundant and global: Fossil remains show that sometime around 252 million years ago, about 90 percent of all species on Earth were suddenly wiped out — by far the largest of this planet’s five known mass extinctions. But pinpointing the culprit has been difficult, and controversial.

Continue reading "MIT: "Largest of the Five Mass Extinctions Caused By Microbes" (Today's Most Popular)" »


August 29, 2015

"A Billion Miles Beyond Pluto" -- NASA New Horizons to Probe Unexplored Kuiper Belt Objects

 

 

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NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits nearly a billion miles beyond Pluto.

Continue reading ""A Billion Miles Beyond Pluto" -- NASA New Horizons to Probe Unexplored Kuiper Belt Objects" »


Harvard-Smithsonian CfA: "Did Life Spread Like an Epidemic Across the Vast Gulf of Interstellar Space?"

 

 

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We only have one example of a planet with life: Earth. But within the next generation, it should become possible to detect signs of life on planets orbiting distant stars. If we find alien life, new questions will arise. For example, did that life arise spontaneously? Or could it have spread from elsewhere? If life crossed the vast gulf of interstellar space long ago, how would we tell?

Continue reading "Harvard-Smithsonian CfA: "Did Life Spread Like an Epidemic Across the Vast Gulf of Interstellar Space?"" »


August 28, 2015

Quasar Nearest to Earth Harbors Two Supermassive Black Holes

 

 

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Astrophysicists have found two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth, using observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The discovery of two supermassive black holes--one larger one and a second, smaller one--are evidence of a binary black hole and suggests that supermassive black holes assemble their masses through violent mergers.

Continue reading "Quasar Nearest to Earth Harbors Two Supermassive Black Holes" »


Cosmic Collision Triggers Rebirth of a "Radio Phoenix"

 

 

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Astronomers have found evidence for a faded electron cloud "coming back to life," much like the mythical phoenix, after two galaxy clusters collided. This "radio phoenix," so-called because the high-energy electrons radiate primarily at radio frequencies, is found in Abell 1033. The system is located about 1.6 billion light years from Earth.

Continue reading "Cosmic Collision Triggers Rebirth of a "Radio Phoenix"" »


August 27, 2015

"Metamorphosis" --The Evolution of Galaxies: The Basic Building Block of the Observable Universe

 

 

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A team of international scientists has shown for the first time that galaxies can change their structure over the course of their lifetime. By observing the sky as it is today, and peering back in time using the Hubble and Herschel telescopes, the team have shown that a large proportion of galaxies have undergone a major 'metamorphosis' since they were initially formed after the Big Bang.

Continue reading ""Metamorphosis" --The Evolution of Galaxies: The Basic Building Block of the Observable Universe" »


August 26, 2015

Image of the Day --The Spectacular Core of the Twin Jet Nebula

 

 

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The shimmering colors visible in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image show off the remarkable complexity of the Twin Jet Nebula. The new image highlights the nebula's shells and its knots of expanding gas in striking detail. Two iridescent lobes of material stretch outwards from a central star system. Within these lobes two huge jets of gas are streaming from the star system at speeds in excess of one million kilometers per hour.

Continue reading "Image of the Day --The Spectacular Core of the Twin Jet Nebula" »


"Staggering" --Exploring the Limits of What Life Might Be Like in the Universe

 

 

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Bizarre creatures that go years without water. Others that can survive the vacuum of open space. Some of the most unusual organisms found on Earth provide insights for Washington State University planetary scientist Dirk Schulze-Makuch to predict what life could be like elsewhere in the universe.

Continue reading ""Staggering" --Exploring the Limits of What Life Might Be Like in the Universe" »


August 25, 2015

First-Generation "Robot Scientist" to Search for Underlying Laws of Nature

 

 

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Everything that is changing around and within us - from the relatively simple motion of celestial bodies, to weather and complex biological processes - is a dynamical system. A large part of science is guessing the laws of nature that underlie such systems, summarizing them in mathematical equations that can be used to make predictions, and then testing those equations and predictions through experiments.

Continue reading "First-Generation "Robot Scientist" to Search for Underlying Laws of Nature " »


August 24, 2015

New Insights Into "Snowball Earth" --"The Most Extreme Climatic Conditions Ever Known"

 

 

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The second ice age during the Cryogenian period was not followed by the sudden and chaotic melting-back of the ice as previously thought, but ended with regular advances and retreats of the ice, according to research published by scientists from the University of Birmingham. The researchers also found that the constant advance and retreat of ice during this period was caused by the Earth wobbling on its axis.

Continue reading "New Insights Into "Snowball Earth" --"The Most Extreme Climatic Conditions Ever Known"" »


Apollo Mission "Volcanic Fire Eruption" Mystery --Solved?

 

 

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Tiny beads of volcanic glass found on the lunar surface during the Apollo missions are a sign that fire fountain eruptions took place on the Moon's surface. Now, scientists from Brown University and the Carnegie Institution for Science have identified the volatile gas that drove those eruptions.

Continue reading "Apollo Mission "Volcanic Fire Eruption" Mystery --Solved?" »


Glacial Retreat During Last Ice Age --"Caused by Greenhouse Gases"

 

 

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A recalculation of the dates at which boulders were uncovered by melting glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age has conclusively shown that the glacial retreat was due to rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, as opposed to other types of forces. Carbon dioxide levels are now significantly higher than they were at that time, as a result of the Industrial Revolution and other human activities since then. Because of that, the study confirms predictions of future glacial retreat, and that most of the world's glaciers may disappear in the next few centuries.

Continue reading "Glacial Retreat During Last Ice Age --"Caused by Greenhouse Gases"" »


August 23, 2015

ExoMolecules on Other Worlds --"Could Fulfill Roles of DNA and RNA" (Weekend Feature)

 

 

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In the search for life beyond Earth, scientists have justifiably focused on water because all biology as we know it requires this fluid. A wild card, however, is whether alternative liquids can also suffice as life-enablers. For example, Saturn’s frigid moon Titan is awash in inky seas of the hydrocarbon methane.

Continue reading "ExoMolecules on Other Worlds --"Could Fulfill Roles of DNA and RNA" (Weekend Feature)" »


August 22, 2015

Beyond the Quantum --"Will the Discovery of Dark Matter Revolutionize Our World?"

 

 

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Physicists suggest a new way to look for dark matter: they believe that dark matter particles annihilate into so-called dark radiation when they collide. If true, then we should be able to detect the signals from this radiation. The majority of the mass in the Universe remains unknown. Despite knowing very little about this dark matter, its overall abundance is precisely measured. In other words: Physicists know it is out there, but they have not yet detected it.

Continue reading "Beyond the Quantum --"Will the Discovery of Dark Matter Revolutionize Our World?"" »


August 21, 2015

New Research Asks: "Is Dark Energy a Hidden 5th Force?"

 

 

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Dark energy is hiding in our midst in the form of hypothetical particles called “chameleons,” Holger Müller and his team at UC Berkeley plan to flush them out. The results of an experiment reported in this week’s issue of Science narrows the search for chameleons a thousand times compared to previous tests, and Müller, an assistant professor of physics, hopes that his next experiment will either expose chameleons or similar ultralight particles as the real dark energy, or prove they were a will-o’-the-wisp after all.

Continue reading "New Research Asks: "Is Dark Energy a Hidden 5th Force?"" »


Confirmed! Discovery of Cosmic Neutrinos from Beyond Our Galaxy

 

 

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Researchers using the IceCube Neutrino Observatory have sorted through the billions of subatomic particles that zip through its frozen cubic-kilometer-sized detector each year to gather powerful new evidence in support of 2013 observations confirming the existence of cosmic neutrinos. The evidence is important because it heralds a new form of astronomy using neutrinos, the nearly massless high-energy particles generated in nature's accelerators: black holes, massive exploding stars and the energetic cores of galaxies.

Continue reading "Confirmed! Discovery of Cosmic Neutrinos from Beyond Our Galaxy" »


August 20, 2015

New Images of Milky Way's Center: "Catastrophic Events Caused By the Supermasssive Black Hole"

 

 

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An international team of astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics has been scouring cosmic images of X-ray emission, hunting for elusive clues that reveal the culprit responsible for violent acts that have left deep scars on the heart of the Milky Way. The prime suspect is the supermassive black hole lurking at the center of the Milky Way, with a number of massive stars also implicated as suicide bombers.

Continue reading "New Images of Milky Way's Center: "Catastrophic Events Caused By the Supermasssive Black Hole"" »


Solved: The Mystery of How Saturn and Jupiter Were Formed

 

 

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Ironically, the largest planets in the solar system likely formed first. Jupiter and Saturn, which are mostly hydrogen and helium, presumably accumulated their gasses before the solar nebula dispersed. Observations of young star systems show that the gas disks that form planets usually have lifetimes of only 1 to 10 million years, which means the gas giant planets in our solar system probably formed within this time frame. In contrast, the Earth probably took at least 30 million years to form, and may have taken as long as 100 million years. So how could Jupiter and Saturn have formed so quickly?

Continue reading "Solved: The Mystery of How Saturn and Jupiter Were Formed" »


August 19, 2015

Dwarf Galaxy Orbiting the Milky Way --"May Be Signaling Dark Matter From Its Core"

 

 

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A newly discovered dwarf galaxy orbiting our own Milky Way has offered up a surprise -- it appears to be radiating gamma rays, according to an analysis by physicists at Carnegie Mellon, Brown, and Cambridge universities. The exact source of this high-energy light is uncertain at this point, but it just might be a signal of dark matter lurking at the galaxy's center.

Continue reading "Dwarf Galaxy Orbiting the Milky Way --"May Be Signaling Dark Matter From Its Core"" »


Meteorite Impacts on Ancient Oceans --"May Have Created the Genetic Molecules That Led to Life"

 

 

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A new study shown that meteorite impacts on ancient oceans may have created nucleobases and amino acids. Researchers from Tohoku University, National Institute for Materials Science and Hiroshima University discovered this after conducting impact experiments simulating a meteorite hitting an ancient ocean.

Continue reading "Meteorite Impacts on Ancient Oceans --"May Have Created the Genetic Molecules That Led to Life"" »




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