Two young galaxies that collided 11 billion years ago are rapidly forming a massive galaxy about 10 times the size of the Milky Way, according to UC Irvine-led research published Wednesday in the journal Nature. Capturing the creation of this type of large, short-lived star body is extremely rare – the equivalent of discovering a missing link between winged dinosaurs and early birds, said the scientists, who relied on the once-powerful Herschel space telescope and observatories around the world. The new mega-galaxy, dubbed HXMM01, is the brightest, most luminous and most gas-rich submillimeter-bright galaxy merger known.
Continue reading "Massive "Missing-Link" Galaxy Discovered --10 Times Size of Milky Way" »
Now that it looks like the hunt for the Higgs boson is over, particles of dark matter are at the top of the physics "Most Wanted" list. Dozens of experiments have been searching for them, but often come up with contradictory results. Theorists from the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), a joint SLAC-Stanford institute, believe they've come up with an algorithm – a mathematical description of how the individual dark-matter particles behave – that could help narrow the search for these elusive particles, which are thought to make up more than 25 percent of the matter and energy in the universe.
Continue reading "New Physics "Most-Wanted" List -- The Hunt for Dark Matter Particles" »
The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) - soon to be the world's widest eye on space - has got the go-ahead for construction on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Most of Mauna Kea is below sea level. When measured from its oceanic base, its height is 33,500 ft (10,200 m)—more than twice Mount Everest's base-to-peak height. The sacred mountain is about one million years old --long past the most active shield stage of life hundreds of thousands of years ago--providing a stable platform for what will will be the world’s most advanced and capable ground-based optical, near-infrared, and mid-infrared observatory.
Continue reading "The Thirty Meter Telescope --"Next Generation in the Search for Extraterrestrial Life"" »
Titan might be in for some wild weather as it heads into its spring and summer, if two new models are correct. Scientists think that as the seasons change in Titan's northern hemisphere, waves could ripple across the moon's hydrocarbon seas, and hurricanes could begin to swirl over these areas, too. The model predicting waves tries to explain data from the moon obtained so far by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Both models help mission team members plan when and where to look for unusual atmospheric disturbances as Titan summer approaches.
Continue reading "Hurricane Season Looming for Saturn's Titan" »
In June of 2012, The New York Times reported that inside Google's high-tech R&D "X" laboratory the search giant has been creating a simulation of the human brain. And rather than teaching it programs, Google's staff have been exposing it to information from the Net so that it learns organically, a little like the way we humans do. It's built by hooking together 16,000 processor cores with over one billion interconnections, in a model of the around 86 billion neurons in a typical adult human brain.
Continue reading ""The Google Brain" --Are Humans Entering a New Epoch of Evolution?" »
“The first massive stars to form in the universe produced copious ultraviolet light that ionized gas from neutral hydrogen. CIBER observes in the near infrared, as the expansion of the universe stretched the original short ultraviolet wavelengths to long near-infrared wavelengths today," said Jamie Bock, CIBER principal investigator from the California Institute of Technology. CIBER investigates two telltale signatures of first star formation -- the total brightness of the sky after subtracting all foregrounds, and a distinctive pattern of spatial variations.
Continue reading "Astronomers Probe 1st Large-scale Structures Produced by Dark Matter" »
Entanglement, by general consensus of physicists, is the weirdest part of quantum science. To say that two particles, A and B, are entangled means that they are actually two parts of an inseparable quantum thing. An important consequence of this inherent kinship is that measuring a property of A (say, the particle's polarization) is necessarily to know the corresponding property of B, even if you're not there with a detector to observe B and even if (as explained below) the existence of that property had no prior fixed value until the moment particle A was detected.
Continue reading ""Quantum Weirdness" --New Insights" »
A new study shows that RNA is capable of catalyzing electron transfer under conditions similar to those of the early Earth. Because electron transfer, the moving of an electron from one chemical species to another, is involved in many biological processes – including photosynthesis, respiration and the reduction of RNA to DNA – the study’s findings suggest that complex biochemical transformations may have been possible when life began. The study was sponsored by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, which established the Center for Ribosomal Origins and Evolution (Ribo Evo) at Georgia Tech.
Continue reading "Complex Biochemistry Possible at Origins of Life on Earth" »
The black hole at the center of the super giant elliptical galaxy M87 in cluster Virgo fifty million light-years away is the most massive black hole for which a precise mass has been measured -6.6 billion solar masses. Orbiting the galaxy is an abnormally large population of about 12,000 globular clusters, compared to 150-200 globular clusters orbiting the Milky Way. The team theorized that the M87 black hole grew to its massive size by merging with several other black holes. M87 is the largest, most massive galaxy in the nearby universe, and is thought to have been formed by the merging of 100 or so smaller galaxies. The M87 black hole’s large size and relative proximity, astronomers think that it could be the first black hole that they could actually “see.”
Continue reading "Giant Elliptical Galaxy Harbors Largest Known Black Hole in Universe " »
The NASA mission that has changed our view of the probability of life in the Universe is in jeopardy. The Kepler has shown that planets are common throughout the Milky Way and the billions of galaxies in the cosmos. NASA officials announced Wednesday, May 15, that the Kepler space telescope – the agency's primary instrument for detecting planets beyond our solar system – had suffered a critical failure and could soon be shut down permanently.Stanford professor and former NASA official explains how NASA might revive the Kepler space telescopeS, Scott Hubbard, a consulting professor of aeronautics and astronautics, helped guide the Kepler mission when he served as director of NASA Ames Research Center. He explains how NASA might bring the planet-hunting spacecraft back online.
Continue reading "Saving Kepler! --The Mission That Changed Our View of the Probability of Life in the Universe" »
Results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Magellan telescopes suggest that a dense stellar remnant was ripped apart by a black hole a thousand times as massive as the Sun in NGC 1399, an elliptical galaxy about 65 million light years from Earth. In the image above, X-rays from Chandra Space Observatory are shown in blue and are overlaid on an optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope. The Chandra observations show that this object is a so-called ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX). ULXs emit more X-rays than stars, but less than quasars. Their exact nature has remained a mystery, but one suggestion is that some ULXs are black holes with masses between about a hundred and a thousands times that of the Sun.
Continue reading "Image of the Day: Star Being Ripped Apart by a Supermassive Black Hole" »
NASA's senior Mars rover, Opportunity, is driving to a new study area after a dramatic finish to 20 months on "Cape York" with examination of a rock intensely altered by water. The pale rock in the upper center of the image above, about the size of a human forearm, includes a target called "Esperance," which was inspected by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. Data from the rover's alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) indicate that Esperance's composition is higher in aluminum and silica, and lower in calcium and iron, than other rocks Opportunity has examined in more than nine years on Mars. Preliminary interpretation points to clay mineral content due to intensive alteration by water. The fractured rock provides evidence about a wet ancient environment possibly favorable for life.
Continue reading "NASAs 'Curiosity' Search for Life Targets Water-Altered Rock " »
Scientists hailed CERN's confirmation of the Higgs Boson in July of 2012, speculating that it could one day make light speed travel possible by "un-massing" objects or allow huge items to be launched into space by "switching off" the Higgs. CERN scientist Albert de Roeck likened it to the discovery of electricity, when he said humanity could never have imagined its future applications.
Continue reading "The Higgs Boson and a 'New Physics' --"Could Make the Speed of Light Possible"" »
Stars in the Milky Way have about four times less lithium on the surface than expected by Big Bang predictions. Some scientists suggest that stellar activity might destroy lithium, or the element might sink from the surface through lighter hydrogen, but the remarkably consistent ratio from star to star is a challenge to those explanations. Observations of gas in the Small Magellanic Cloud (above), a dwarf galaxy of the Miloky Way, revealed the amount of lithium that predictions say would have been produced at the Big Bang, but leave no room for subsequent production of the element.
Continue reading "Missing Lithium in Milky Way Dwarf Galaxy Challenges Big Bang Theory" »
Taking before and after pictures of Martian terrain, researchers of the UA-led HiRISE imaging experiment have identified almost 250 fresh impact craters on the Red Planet, providing a more accurate yardstick of surface processes on Mars. Scientists using images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO, have estimated that the planet is bombarded by more than 200 small asteroids or bits of comets per year forming craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) across.
Continue reading "Image of the Day: Mars --Impact Central! " »
Join the 269,000 Daily Galaxy fans around the world who follow us via their Twitter page. Our followers include many of the planet's leading astronomers and scientists, astronauts, space observatories, news organizations, universities and governmental space organizations such as NASA, JPL, ESO, SETI, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and Royal Astronomy Society members. Follow us daily at twitter.com/dailygalaxy
Continue reading "The 'Daily Galaxy' Followers Soar Above 265,000!" »
Although cosmic rays were discovered 100 years ago, their origin remains one of the most enduring mysteries in physics. Until now. A massive telescope at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in the Antarctic ice reports the detection of 28 extremely high-energy neutrinos that might have their origin in cosmic sources. Two of these reached energies greater than 1 petaelectronvolt (PeV), an energy level thousands of times higher than the highest energy neutrino yet produced in a manmade accelerator.
Continue reading ""First Evidence for Extraterrestrial Sources of High-Energy Neutrinos" --Reports Antarctica Observatory" »
On May 31, 2013, asteroid 1998 QE2, which is believed to be about 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) or nine Queen Elizabeth 2 ship-lengths in size, will sail serenely past Earth, getting no closer than about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon. And while QE2 is not of much interest to those astronomers and scientists on the lookout for hazardous asteroids, it is of interest to those who dabble in radar astronomy and have a 230-foot (70-meter) -- or larger -- radar telescope at their disposal.
Continue reading "Asteroid QE2 Will Sail Past Earth in Two Weeks" »
South Africa's new radio telescope reveals giant outbursts from binary star system. Using the seven-dish KAT-7 telescope and the 26 m radio telescope at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) in South Africa, astronomers have observed a neutron star system known as Circinus X-1 as it fires energetic matter from its core into the surrounding system in extensive, compact `jets' that flare brightly, details of which are visible only in radio waves.
Continue reading ""Extreme Physics" Detected in Binary Neutron-Star System" »
The Kepler Space Mission, one of the most successful programs in NASA history that's surveying 1/400 of our Milky Way Galaxy for habitable planets, may be coming to a premature end. NASA officials announced via a press conference this afternoon that the Kepler spacecraft, which has found more than 2700 planetary candidates outside the solar system, has lost the ability to point in a specified direction due to the malfunctioning of one of its reaction wheels. The spacecraft has been put into safe mode while engineers attempt to figure out how to resolve the malfunction.
Continue reading "Search for Habitable Planets in Jeopardy --"Kepler Mission in Potential Terminal Malfunction"" »
Scientists have created the first global topographic map of Saturn’s moon Titan, giving researchers a valuable tool for learning more about one of the most Earth-like and interesting worlds in the solar system. The image above provided by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory shows a flattened projection of the Huygens probe's view from 6 miles above Titan. Researchers have found that Titan's distinctive sand dunes are caused by winds blowing in reverse of the prevailing weather.
Continue reading "NASA Creates 1st Global Map of Titan --Saturn's Potential Life-Bearing Moon" »
The spectacular new image above shows just a part of a bigger complex called the Orion Molecular Cloud, in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter). A rich melting pot of bright nebulae, hot young stars and cold dust clouds, this region is hundreds of light-years across and located about 1350 light-years from us. The orange glow represents faint light coming from grains of cold interstellar dust, at wavelengths too long for human eyes to see. It was observed by the ESO-operated Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) in Chile.
Continue reading "Orion Molecular Cloud --"A Source of the Complex Building Blocks of Life"" »
"Consider the human brain," says the physicist Sir Roger Penrose. "If you look at the entire physical cosmos, our brains are a tiny, tiny part of it. But they're the most perfectly organized part. Compared to the complexity of a brain, a galaxy is just an inert lump."
Continue reading ""More Complex than a Galaxy" --New Insights into the Human Brain" »
"We don't understand yet how some of the most important molecules here on Earth are made in space. But our discovery of hydrogen peroxide with APEX seems to be showing us that cosmic dust is the missing ingredient in the process," says Berengere Parise, head of the Emmy Noether research group on star formation and astrochemistry at the Max-Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany.
Continue reading "Cosmic Dust --"A Clue to Origin of Earth's Oxygen and Water?"" »
The Chandra X-Ray Obersvatory image below shows an envelope of 60-million-degree gas around a young cluster of stars, known as the Arches cluster, the most compact cluster of stars known in our galaxy which boasts 150 or so massive, young stars contained within a diameter of one light-year. Many of these stars are 20 times as massive as the Sun and live short, furious lives that last only a few million years. During this period, gas evaporates from these stars in the form of intense stellar winds. The envelope of hot gas observed by Chandra (below) is thought to be due to collisions of the winds from numerous stars.
Continue reading "Image of the Day --Arches Star Cluster Near Milky Way's Supermassive Black Hole" »
During a scheduled semi-weekly contact on Friday, May 3rd, 2013, engineers discovered that the Kepler spacecraft was in a self-protective state called a safe mode. The spacecraft was returned to science data collection just before midnight on Monday, May 6th, 2013. The spacecraft entered thruster-controlled safe mode at about 7:30pm PDT on Wednesday, May 1st, 2013.
Continue reading "Kepler Mission Out of "Safe Mode"" »
An exciting new method of detecting alien planets looks for three small effects that occur simultaneously as a planet orbits its star. Einstein’s “beaming” effect causes the star to brighten as it moves toward us, tugged by the planet, and dim as it moves away. The brightening results from photons “piling up” in energy, as well as light getting focused in the direction of the star’s motion due to relativistic effects.
Continue reading ""Einstein's Planet" --New Method Using Theory of Relativity Detects Its First Alien Planet" »
"Quantum computers can efficiently render every physically possible quantum environment, even when vast numbers of universes are interacting. Quantum computation is a qualitatively new way of harnessing nature," according to David Deutch, an Israeli-British physicist at the University of Oxford who pioneered the field of quantum computation and is a proponent of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. Quantum computers, says Deutch, have the potential to solve problems that would take a classical computer longer than the age of the universe.
Continue reading ""Hacking the Cosmos" --Photon-Based Quantum Computing" »
After only 4.5 million years (one-thousandth the age of the Sun), HD 192163 began its headlong rush toward a supernova catastrophe. First it expanded enormously to become a red giant and ejected its outer layers at about 20,000 miles per hour. Two hundred thousand years later - a blink of the eye in the life of a normal star - the intense radiation from the exposed hot, inner layer of the star began pushing gas away at speeds in excess of 3 million miles per hour!
Continue reading "Image of the Day: Supernova! Red Giant Emerging" »
Two huge Jupiter-sized planets found orbiting a star 375 light-years away, that will soon transform into a red giant (image above), are the oldest alien worlds yet discovered, according to scientists at the Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy. "The Milky Way itself was not completely formed yet," said study leader Johny Setiawan. During a survey using radial velocity, in which astronomers watch for periodic wobbles in a star's light due to the gravitational tugs of orbiting worlds, Setiawan and colleagues found the signatures of the two planets orbiting the star, dubbed HIP 11952.
Continue reading "Planets Born Before the Formation of the Milky Way --8 Billion Years Earlier than Earth (Weekend Feature)" »