"Organic materials, which are important building blocks for life, are often found in comets and primitive asteroids," said Jim Shirley, a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Finding the rocky residues of this comet crash on Europa's surface may open up a new chapter in the story of the search for life on Europa."
Continue reading "Comet Crash on Europa --"Opens a New Chapter on the Search for Life on Jupiter's Moon"" »
Molecular clouds in the Whirlpool galaxy appear to be embedded in fog, whose pressure is crucial in determining the birth of stars. A multi-year study of the Whirlpool galaxy (M51) has changed our understanding of giant molecular clouds, in which stars are born. The new study, which mapped 1,500 such clouds, shows that they are embedded in a kind of molecular fog, which permeates the whole of the galactic disc.
Continue reading "Image of the Day: Molecular Fog in the Whirlpool Galaxy Found Key to Star Creation" »
Did Alien life thrive in the Big Bang afterglow? A set of calculations -standard adiabatic cold dark matter (ACDM) cosmology- suggests that the first star forming halos within the Hubble volume started collapsing at redshifts allowing liquid water chemistry— a prerequisite for life — to form on rocky planets just 15 million years after the Big Bang regardless of their distance from a star. According to Abraham Loeb, an astrophysicist at Harvard University, in the early Universe, the energy required to keep water liquid could have come from the cosmic microwave background, the afterglow of the Big Bang, rather than from host stars.
Continue reading ""Complex Life was Possible in Cosmic Afterglow Just 15 Million Years After the Big Bang"" »
When time and space are heated, an expanding universe can emerge, without requiring anything like a “Big Bang”. This phase transition between empty space and an expanding universe containing mass has now been mathematically described by a research team at the Vienna University of Technology, together with colleagues from Harvard, the MIT and Edinburgh. The idea behind this result is a remarkable connection between quantum field theory and Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Continue reading "The Universe Without a Big Bang? --Intriguing New Equations Show a "Phased" Creation " »
The sun is just below the horizon in the photo and creates an orange-red glow above the Earth’s surface, which is the troposphere, or lowest layer of the atmosphere. The tropopause is the brown line along the upper edge of the troposphere. Above both are the stratosphere, higher atmospheric layers, and the blackness of space. An atmospheric peculiarity the Earth shares with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune is likely common to billions of planets, University of Washington astronomers have found, and knowing that may help in the search for potentially habitable worlds.
Continue reading "Infrared Light Key to Mystery of Planetary Atmospheres" »
Could microbial life have been brought to the moons of Jupiter (Io and Europa above) or Saturn on rocks blasted off those Earth or Mars?, Researchers note the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn were all once warmer and likely had little to no icy shell to prevent meteorites from reaching their liquid interiors as they do now. In addition, Europa currently has the thinnest ice crust of the six moons the researchers examined, and roughly 40 percent of its crust appears to be covered with "chaos regions," uneven terrain hinting that it often breaks into large chunks separated by liquid water that later refreezes. Any meteorites on top of such regions therefore might have a chance of falling down into the underground oceans that moon is suspected to have.
Continue reading "Could Early Mars or Earth Have Seeded the Solar System with Microbial Life? Recent Research Suggests "Yes"" »
Using the new, high-frequency capabilities of the National Science Foundation’s Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), astronomers have captured never-before-seen details of the nearby starburst galaxy M82. These new data highlight streamers of material fleeing the disk of the galaxy as well as concentrations of dense molecular gas surrounding pockets of intense star formation.
Continue reading "Spectacular Starburst Galaxy M82 --"Harbors an Unknown Object That First Appeared in 2009"" »
In a little more than a year on the Red Planet, the mobile Mars Science Laboratory has determined the age of a Martian rock, found evidence the planet could have sustained microbial life, taken the first readings of radiation on the surface, and shown how natural erosion could reveal the building blocks of life.
Continue reading "NASA Presents Hesperian-Era Evidence that Mars Could Have Supported a Biosphere Based on Earth-like Microbes" »
Sixty five million years ago, an asteroid or comet crashed into a shallow sea near what is now the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. The resulting firestorm and global dust cloud caused the extinction of many land plants and large animals, including most of the dinosaurs. At this week’s meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco, researchers will present evidence that remnants from this devastating impact are exposed along the Campeche Escarpment—an immense underwater cliff in the southern Gulf of Mexico shown above.
Continue reading "Zeroing In on Gulf of Mexico Remnants of Colossal Extinction Impact 65 Million Years Ago " »
Dust may be more rare than expected in galaxies of the early Universe making them much more difficult to observe, according to an international research team. In a galaxy named IZw 18, which has a chemistry that is more like galaxies of the very early Universe with a very low abundance of metals and a lot of gas in the form of hydrogen, the team measured the lowest dust mass of a galaxy that has ever been measured.
Continue reading "First Galaxies of the Universe May Be Invisible Even to Latest Radio Telescope Technology" »
There may be a suite of organic chemical reactions occurring in interstellar space that astronomers haven't considered. In 2012, astronomers discovered methoxy molecules containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen in the Perseus molecular cloud, around 600 light years from Earth. But researchers were unable to reproduce this molecule in the lab by allowing reactants to condense on dust grains, leaving a mystery as to how it could have formed.
Continue reading "Organic Chemical Reactions in Interstellar Space --"Created by Quantum Weirdness" " »
Join the 289,000 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.
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“We thought we would have to search vast distances to find an Earth-like planet. Now we realize another Earth is probably in our own backyard, waiting to be spotted,” said Courtney Dressing of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). Since red dwarf stars live much longer than Sun-like stars, this raises the interesting possibility that life on such a planet would be much older and more evolved than life on Earth.
Continue reading ""Life on Planets of Red Dwarf Stars May Be More Evolved than on Earth"" »
A NASA astrophysicist has confirmed the existence of giant convection cells –approximately 200,000 kilometers in diameter — flowing slowly on the sun, lending further insight into the transport of heat from its core and the origin of cycles of sunspot activity that affect essential satellite-based communications such as cell phones and TV broadcasting.
Continue reading "Origin of Sunspot Cycles Observed --"Flow of Massive Convection Cells 200,000 Kilometers in Diameter"" »
David Deutsch, a pioneer of quantum computing and a physicist at Oxford, came up with a simplified model of time travel to deal with the paradoxes that would occur if one could travel back in time. For example, would it be possible to travel back in time to kill one’s grandfather? In the Grandfather paradox, a time traveler faces the problem that if he kills his grandfather back in time, then he himself is never born, and consequently is unable to travel through time to kill his grandfather, and so on. Some theorists have used this paradox to argue that it is actually impossible to change the past.
Continue reading "New Theory of Quantum Time Travel --"Could We Clone the Past?"" »
"I think of Ceres actually as a game changer in the Solar System," said Britney Schmidt, science team liaison for the Dawn Mission. "Ceres is arguably the only one of its kind. "Ceres is like the gatekeeper to the history of water in the middle solar system."
Continue reading "Dwarf Planet Ceres --"Gatekeeper to the History of Water in the Solar System"" »
Weighing in at 11 times Jupiter's mass and orbiting its star at 650 times the average Earth-Sun distance, planet HD 106906 b is unlike anything in our own Solar System and throws a wrench in planet formation theories. An international team of astronomers, led by a University of Arizona graduate student, has discovered the most distantly orbiting planet found to date around a single, sun-like star.
Continue reading "Odd Planet Found --"Unlike Anything in Our Solar System"" »
Researchers sequenced the mitochondrial genome of a 400,000-year-old hominin from Sima de los Huesos, the “bone pit”, is a cave site in Northern Spain that has yielded the world’s largest assembly of Middle Pleistocene hominin fossils. Using novel techniques to extract and study ancient DNA researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, determined an almost complete mitochondrial genome sequence of a 400,000-year-old representative of the genus Homo and found that it is related to the mitochondrial genome of Denisovans, extinct relatives of Neandertals in Asia. DNA this old has until recently been retrieved only from the permafrost.
Continue reading "400,000-Year-Old Human Ancestor DNA Sequenced --"Shows Link to Extinct Relatives of Neanderthals"" »
Newly released research has identified the existence of a giant cosmic accelerator above the Earth--a natural space "synchrotron accelerator" has scales of hundreds of thousands of kilometers, dwarfing even the largest man-made similar accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which has a circumference of only 27 kilometres.
Continue reading "Colossal Cosmic Accelerator Discovered Hovering Above Earth" »
Scientists believe Jupiter's moon, Europa, is one of the planetary bodies in our solar system most likely to have conditions that could sustain life, an idea reinforced by magnetometer readings from the Galileo spacecraft detecting signs of a salty, global ocean below the moon’s icy shell.
Continue reading "Europa's Ocean Currents Shape Potential Biological Life Zones (News Update)" »
Using the powerful eye of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, two teams of scientists have found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant planets. The presence of atmospheric water was reported previously on a few exoplanets orbiting stars beyond our solar system, but this is the first study to conclusively measure and compare the profiles and intensities of these signatures on multiple worlds.
Continue reading "Subtle Signals of Water Detected on Five Alien Worlds" »
Quantum entanglement, a perplexing phenomenon of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein once referred to as “spooky action at a distance,” could be even spookier than Einstein perceived. Physicists at the University of Washington and Stony Brook University in New York believe the phenomenon might be intrinsically linked with wormholes, hypothetical features of space-time that in popular science fiction can provide a much-faster-than-light shortcut from one part of the universe to another.
Continue reading "Quantum ‘Spooky Action’ Creates Wormhole Between Entangled Particles" »
Astronomers have spotted what appear to be two supermassive black holes at the heart of a remote galaxy, circling each other like dance partners. The incredibly rare sighting was made with the help of NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.
Continue reading "Death Spiral of Merging Supermassive Black Holes " »
At the second Kepler Science Conference, held early this month, scientists discussed the latest findings resulting from the analysis of Kepler Space Telescope data, which includes the discovery of 833 new candidate planets. Ten of these candidates are less than twice the size of Earth and orbit in their sun's habitable zone, which is defined as the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet may be suitable for liquid water.
Continue reading "Super-Earths in Habitable Zones --Astronomers Zoom in on Planets' Dynamics and Climate" »
After several days of continued observations, scientists continue to work to determine and to understand the fate of Comet ISON: There's no doubt that the comet shrank in size considerably as it rounded the sun and there's no doubt that something made it out on the other side to shoot back into space. The question remains as to whether the bright spot seen moving away from the sun was simply debris, or whether a small nucleus of the original ball of ice was still there. Regardless, it is likely that it is now only dust.
Continue reading "Image of the Day: The Death of Comet ISON (VIDEO)" »
Until now, scientists were pretty sure they knew how the surface of a neutron star – a super dense star that forms when a large star explodes and its core collapses into itself – can heat itself up. Scientists had long thought that nuclear reactions within the crust, the thick, solid, outermost layer of the star, contributed to the heating of the star's surface. However, writing in the journal Nature, Hendrik Schatz, a Michigan State University physicist and colleagues report results from theoretical calculations that identify previously unknown layers where nuclear reactions within the crust cause rapid neutrino cooling. Neutrinos are elementary particles created through radioactive decay that pass quickly through matter.
Continue reading "The Mystery of Neutron Stars Deepens --"Strange, Alien Form of Matter Found at Core"" »
China launched its first ever extraterrestrial landing craft the Yutu or Jade Rabbit buggy-— a solar-powered, six-wheeled vehicle similar to ones the United States has sent to Mars- into orbit. Chang'e-3 lunar probe blasted off on board an enhanced Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China's southwestern Sichuan province at 1:30 am (1730 GMT). In two weeks, when the landing vehicle is scheduled to descend on the moon and release the Jade Rabbit, or Yutu, robotic rover to start sending back data and pictures from Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, a basaltic plain formed from lava that filled a crater.
Continue reading "China Launches 1st Moon Rover Mission to Search Out Natural Resources --"Does It Include Helium-3?" (LAUNCH VIDEO)" »
India's Mars orbiter mission left its Earth orbit early Sunday after it fired its main engine for more than 20 minutes to reach the correct velocity to put it on track to orbit the red planet. "The Earth orbiting phase of the spacecraft ended. The spacecraft is now on a course to encounter Mars after a journey of about 10 months around the sun," the Bangalore-based Indian Space Research Organization said. The 3,000-pound Mangalyaan, which means "Mars craft" in Hindi, will journey 485 million miles over 300 days to reach an orbit around Mars next September.
Continue reading "India's Mars Mission En Route to Find Clues to Methane and Ancient Water Enigmas" »
The glorious pyrotechnics of the "Northern Lights" get their start about 93 million miles away, on the sun. An aurora borealis (aurora australis in the Southern Hemisphere) is precipitated by explosions on the surface of the sun, sometimes starting as solar flares, according to Robert Nemiroff, an astrophysicist at Michigan Technological University.
Continue reading "Image of the Day: A Spectacular Meteor Streaking Through the Aurora Borealis" »
A team of European astrophysicists has discovered the most extensive planetary system to date that orbit star KOI-351 – with seven planets, more than in other known planetary systems arranged in a similar fashion to the eight planets in the Solar System, with small rocky planets close to the parent star and gas giant planets at greater distances. Although the planetary system around KOI-351 is packed together more tightly, “We cannot stress just how important this discovery is. It is a big step in the search for a ‘twin’ to the Solar System, and thus also in finding a second Earth,” said Juan Cabrera, an astrophysicist at the DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin-Adlershof.
Continue reading "New Star System Similar to Ours --“We Cannot Stress Just How Important This Discovery Is"" »