"The most exciting possibility is that the missing photons are coming from some exotic new source, not galaxies or quasars at all," said Neal Katz of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. For example, the mysterious dark matter, which holds galaxies together but has never been seen directly, could itself decay and ultimately be responsible for this extra light. You know it's a crisis when you start seriously talking about decaying dark matter!"
Continue reading "Missing Light of the Visible Universe --"Is It Coming from Some Exotic New Source?" (Weekend Feature)" »
A new type of methane-based, oxygen-free life form that can metabolize and reproduce similar to life on Earth has been modeled by a team of Cornell University researchers. Taking a simultaneously imaginative and rigidly scientific view, chemical engineers and astronomers offer a template for life that could thrive in a harsh, cold world - specifically Titan, the giant moon of Saturn. A planetary body awash with seas not of water, but of liquid methane, Titan could harbor methane-based, oxygen-free cells.
Continue reading "Saturn's Titan ---"Life Not As We Know It"" »
The Curiosity robot confirms methane in Mars' atmosphere which may hint that life may have existed. An article published in Science confirms the existence of methane fluctuations in the atmosphere of Mars, as a result of the detailed analysis of data sent during 605 SOLs or Martian days. The tunable laser spectrometer in the SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) instrument of the Curiosity robot has unequivocally detected an episodic increase in the concentration of methane in Mars' atmosphere after an exhaustive analysis of data obtained during 605 soles or Martian days.
Continue reading "The Mars "Methane Equals Life" Debate Rolls On..." »
One of the biggest mysteries in galaxy evolution is the fate of the compact massive galaxies that roamed the early Universe. “When our Universe was young, there were lots of compact, elliptical-shaped galaxies containing trillions of stars,” says Alister Graham of Swinburne University of Technology. “Due to the time it takes for light to travel across the vastness of space, we see these distant galaxies as they were in our young Universe. However in the present-day Universe very few such spheroidal stellar systems have been observed.”
Continue reading "The Missing Massive Galaxies of the Early Universe --“They Were Hiding in Plain Sight”" »
While Einstein's theories predict the existence of gravitational waves, they have not been directly detected. But the ability to "see" gravitational waves would open up a new window to view and study the universe. New research by an astrophysicist at The University of Texas at Dallas provides revelations about the most energetic event in the universe -- the merging of two spinning, orbiting black holes into a much larger black hole.
Continue reading "Merging Black Holes --"Will Reveal the Existence of Gravity Waves"" »
The MUSE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope has given astronomers the best ever three-dimensional view of the deep Universe. After staring at the Hubble Deep Field South region for only 27 hours, the new observations reveal the distances, motions and other properties of far more galaxies than ever before in this tiny piece of the sky. They also go beyond Hubble and reveal previously invisible objects.
Continue reading ""Beyond Hubble" --A New 3-D View of the Earliest Galaxies in the Universe" »
Astronomers have found a huge black hole which was powering the brightest object in the early universe. The black hole's mass is 12 billion solar masses, and the surrounding quasar pumped out 10^15 times the sun's energy. An international team of astronomers have found a huge and ancient black hole which was powering the brightest object early in the universe.
Continue reading "Ancient Black Hole Discovered --12 Billion Times Mass of the Sun!" »
Since the late 1990s astronomers have been convinced that something is causing the expansion of our Universe to accelerate. The simplest explanation was that empty space – the vacuum – had an energy density that was a cosmological constant. However there is growing evidence that this simple model cannot explain the full range of astronomical data researchers now have access to; in particular the growth of cosmic structure, galaxies and clusters of galaxies, seems to be slower than expected.
Continue reading " "Dark Energy May Be Slowing the Growth of the Cosmos" (Today's Most Popular)" »
“Finding objects like Kks3 is painstaking work, even with observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope," said Dimitry Makarov, of the Special Astrophysical Observatory. "But with persistence, we’re slowly building up a map of our local neighborhood, which turns out to be less empty than we thought. It may be that are a huge number of dwarf spheroidal galaxies out there, something that would have profound consequences for our ideas about the evolution of the cosmos.
Continue reading "There May Be a Huge Number of Unobserved Dwarf Spiral Galaxies --"Could Have Profound Consequences" (Today's Most Popular)" »
High-energy jets powered by supermassive black holes can blast away a galaxy’s star-forming fuel -- resulting in so-called "red and dead" galaxies: those brimming with ancient red stars yet little or no hydrogen gas available to create new ones. But astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered that black holes don’t have to be nearly so powerful to shut down star formation.
Continue reading " "Red and Dead" Galaxies --A Surprising New Discovery" »
In this image, an expanding shell of debris called SNR 0519-69.0 is left behind after a massive star exploded in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way. Multimillion degree gas is seen in X-rays from Chandra, in blue. The outer edge of the explosion (red) and stars in the field of view are seen in visible light from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Continue reading "Image of the Day: An Exploding Light Show in a Milky Way Satellite Galaxy" »
Astronomers have identified the closest known flyby of a star to our solar system: A dim star that passed through the Oort Cloud 70,000 years ago. A group of astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile and South Africa have determined that 70,000 years ago a recently discovered dim star is likely to have passed through the solar system's distant cloud of comets, the Oort Cloud (image above). No other star is known to have ever approached our solar system this close - five times closer than the current closest star, Proxima Centauri.
Continue reading " "Close Encounter!" --The Rogue Star That Passed Through Our Solar System" »
During a manned mission to Mars, NASA Astronaut Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, is presumed dead after a fierce sand storm and left stranded by his crew behind by his crew. But Watney, a biology genius and mechanical engineer, has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet when the Ares 3 mission is forced to evacuate their landing site in Acidalia Planitia due to a Mars-sized dust storm with high winds.
Continue reading " Ridley Scott's "The Martian" Coming this November --His Best Ever?" »
The evolution of galaxies is connected to the growth of supermassive black holes in their centers. During the quasar phase, a huge luminosity is released as matter falls onto the black hole, and radiation-driven winds can transfer most of this energy back to the host galaxy.
Continue reading "Fate of Galaxies Linked to Their Supermassive Black Hole" »
As the sun skims through the galaxy, it flings out charged particles in a stream of plasma called the solar wind, and the solar wind creates a bubble extending far outside the solar system known as the heliosphere. For decades, scientists have visualized the heliosphere as shaped like a comet, with a very long tail extending thousands of times as far as the distance from the Earth to the sun.
Continue reading "Magnetic Field of the Sun Shapes the Massive Heliosphere Bubble" »
"There seems to be a mysterious link between the amount of dark matter a galaxy holds and the size of its central black hole, even though the two operate on vastly different scales," says Akos Bogdan of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).
Continue reading ""Mysterious Link" --Galaxy's Dark Matter Halo and Its Supermassive Black Hole" »
"We are fortunate enough to live on a planet that is ideal for the development of complex life," says New York University Biology Professor Michael Rampino. "But the history of the Earth is punctuated by large scale extinction events, some of which we struggle to explain. It may be that dark matter - the nature of which is still unclear but which makes up around a quarter of the universe - holds the answer. As well as being important on the largest scales, dark matter may have a direct influence on life on Earth."
Continue reading ""Our Solar System's Milky-Way Orbit Through Dark Matter Impacts Life on Earth"" »
"We'll never find any direct evidence of land scum one cell thick, but this might be giving us indirect evidence that the land was inhabited," said Roger Buick, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences. "Microbes could have crawled out of the ocean and lived in a slime layer on the rocks on land, even before 3.2 billion years ago."
Continue reading ""Life on Earth Could Have Existed Even Before 3.2 Billion Years Ago"" »
A team of astronomers from National Astronomical Observatory of Japan observed Nova Delphini 2013 which occurred on August 14, 2013. Using the 8.2-meter Subaru Telescope High Dispersion Spectrograph (HDS) to observe this object, they discovered that the outburst is producing a large amount of lithium (Li). Lithium is a key element in the study of the chemical evolution of the universe because it likely was and is produced in several ways: through Big Bang nucleosynthesis, in collisions between energetic cosmic rays and the interstellar medium, inside stellar interiors, and as a result of novae and supernova explosions. This new observation provides the first direct evidence for the supply of Li from stellar objects to the galactic medium. The team hopes to deepen the understandings of galactic chemical evolution, given that nova explosions must be important suppliers of Li in the current universe.
Continue reading "Supernova --Source of a Key Element in the Evolution of the Universe Found" »
The new SPHERE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope has been used to search for a brown dwarf expected to be orbiting the unusual double star V471 Tauri. SPHERE has given astronomers the best look so far at the surroundings of this intriguing object and they found -- nothing. The surprising absence of this confidently predicted brown dwarf means that the conventional explanation for the odd behaviour of V471 Tauri is wrong.
Continue reading " The Strange Case of the Missing Dwarf" »
Amateur astronomers have spotted two strange, cloud-like plumes high over Mars observed on March 12, 2012 over the "terminator",the boundary between day and night, deepening the mystery of what constitutes the Red Planet's atmosphere, a study said Monday. One of the plumes developed in around 10 hours and lasted for about 11 days, shifting shape from "double blob protrusions" to pillars which merged into a "finger." A second was spotted nearby on April 6, 2012, and lasted about 10 days. Their trails were vast, extending between 500 and 1,000 kilometres (300 to 600 miles) in north-to-south and east-to-west directions.
Continue reading " Strange Cloud-Like Plumes Observed High Over Mars" »
New research shows that a burst of evolutionary innovation in the genes responsible for electrical communication among nerve cells in our brains occurred over 600 million years ago in a common ancestor of humans and the sea anemone. Many of these genes, which when mutated in humans can lead to neurological disease, first evolved in the common ancestor of people and a group of animals called cnidarians, which includes jellyfish, coral, and sea anemones.
Continue reading ""Your Inner Jellyfish" --Origin of Electrical Communication in Human Brain Traced Back 600 Million Years" »
It was on Feb. 14, 1990, that the Voyager 1 spacecraft looked back at our solar system and snapped the first-ever pictures of the planets from its perch at that time beyond Neptune, capturing Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Earth and Venus from Voyager 1's unique vantage point. A few key members did not make it in: Mars had little sunlight, Mercury was too close to the sun, and dwarf planet Pluto turned out too dim. The image of Earth contains scattered light that resembles a beam of sunlight, which is an artifact of the camera itself that makes the tiny Earth appear even more dramatic. Voyager 1 was 40 astronomical units from the sun at this moment. One astronomical unit is 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers.
Continue reading ""The Pale Blue Dot" --25 Years After Voyager 1 Took the Iconic Image" »
"All stars form in dense clouds of dust and gas," said Adam Leroy, an astronomer formerly with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, Virginia, and now with The Ohio State University in Columbus. "Until now, however, scientists struggled to see exactly what was going on inside starburst galaxies that distinguished them from other star-forming regions."
Continue reading "Starburst Galaxies May Create Stars Different From Those in the Milky Way" »
“Just as a fish may be barely aware of the medium in which it lives and swims, so the microstructure of empty space could be far too complex for unaided human brains," according to Sir Martin Rees, cosmologist and astrophysicist and Astronomer Royal of Great Britain.
Continue reading ""The Great Attractor" --What's "Pulling" the Massive Galaxy Clusters of the Universe? (A Weekend Insight)" »
Big Bang was a mirage from collapsing higher-dimensional star, theorists propose. While the recent Planck results “prove that inflation is correct”, they leave open the question of how inflation happened. A new The study could help to show how inflation was triggered by the motion of the Universe through a higher-dimensional reality.
Continue reading " "The Big Bang was a Mirage from a Collapsing Higher-Dimensional Star" (Week's Most Popular)" »
The time-lapse “movie” of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, below was recently shot at record-setting distances with the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. The movie was made over about a week, from Jan. 25-31, 2015. It was taken as part of the mission’s second optical navigation (“OpNav”) campaign to better refine the locations of Pluto and Charon in preparation for the spacecraft’s close encounter with the small planet and its five moons on July 14, 2015.
Continue reading "NASA VIDEO: Close-Up of Pluto's Moon Charon --Does It Harbor a Buried Ocean?" »
The team responsible for the Oscar-nominated visual effects at the centre of Christopher Nolan's epic, Interstellar, have turned science fiction into science fact by providing new insights into the powerful effects of black holes. In a paper published today, 13 February, the team describes the innovative computer code that was used to generate the movie's iconic images of the wormhole, black hole and various celestial objects, and explain how the code has led them to new science discoveries.
Continue reading "Gargantua! "Interstellar" Science Team Makes Real-World Discoveries About the Movies Black Hole's Shadow" »
An international team of astrophysicists has witnessed a unique event: for the first time, researchers have discovered the formation of a quadruple star system from widely separated fragments of a filamentary gas cloud in the Perseus constellation.
Continue reading "Birth of a Star Quartet Observed" »