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March 28, 2015

Astronomers Debate: "How Long Can a Technology-Based Civilization Last?" (Weekend Feature)

 

 

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"We have no idea how long a technological civilization like our own can last," says University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank. "Is it 200 years, 500 years or 50,000 years? Answering this question is at the root of all our concerns about the sustainability of human society. Are we the first and only technologically-intensive civilization in the entire history of the universe? If not, shouldn't we stand to learn something from the past successes and failures of other species?"

Continue reading "Astronomers Debate: "How Long Can a Technology-Based Civilization Last?" (Weekend Feature)" »


March 27, 2015

Why the Quantum, Why the Universe --"Are Findings Pointing to a New Physics?"

 

 

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The existence and stability of atoms relies heavily on the fact that neutrons are slightly more mas-sive than protons. The experimentally determined masses differ by only around 0.14 percent. A slightly smaller or larger value of the mass difference would have led to a dramatically different universe, with too many neutrons, not enough hydrogen, or too few heavier elements. The tiny mass difference is the reason why free neutrons decay on average after around ten minutes, while protons - the unchanging building blocks of matter - remain stable for a practically unlimited period.

Continue reading "Why the Quantum, Why the Universe --"Are Findings Pointing to a New Physics?"" »


"The Dark World of Our Universe" --Astronomers Zeroing In on This Great Mystery

 

 

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Dark matter is a giant question mark looming over our knowledge of the Universe. There is more dark matter in the Universe than visible matter, but it is extremely elusive; it does not reflect, absorb or emit light, making it invisible. Because of this, it is only known to exist via its gravitational effects on the visible Universe. A favored theory is that dark matter might be constituted of "supersymmetric" particles. Supersymmetry is a theory in which all particles in our Standard Model -- electrons, protons, neutrons, and so on -- have a more massive "supersymmetric" partner. While there has been no experimental confirmation for supersymmetry as yet, the theory would solve a few of the gaps in our current thinking. One of supersymmetry's proposed particles would be stable, electrically neutral, and only interact weakly with the common particles of the Standard Model -- all the properties required to explain dark matter.

Continue reading ""The Dark World of Our Universe" --Astronomers Zeroing In on This Great Mystery" »


March 26, 2015

Ancient Paleo-Lake Identified at Mars' Jezero Crater -- Could Reveal Biologic or Organic Material

 

 

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Researchers from Brown University have completed a new analysis of an ancient Martian lake system in Jezero Crater, near the planet’s equator. The study finds that the onslaught of water that filled the crater was one of at least two separate periods of water activity in the region surrounding Jezero.

Continue reading " Ancient Paleo-Lake Identified at Mars' Jezero Crater -- Could Reveal Biologic or Organic Material" »


The Starmaker --Fierce Colossal Winds of a Galaxy's Supermassive Black Hole

 

            

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Star formation takes place in cold, dense molecular clouds. By heating and dispersing gas that could one day make stars, the black-hole wind forever alters a large portion of its galaxy. By combining observations from the Japan-led Suzaku X-ray satellite and the European Space Agency's infrared Herschel Space Observatory, scientists have connected a fierce "wind" produced near a galaxy's monster black hole to an outward torrent of cold gas a thousand light-years across. The finding validates a long-suspected feedback mechanism enabling a supermassive black hole to influence the evolution of its host galaxy.

Continue reading "The Starmaker --Fierce Colossal Winds of a Galaxy's Supermassive Black Hole" »


Image of the Day: Dusty Cloud at Milky Way Core Survives Supermassive Black Hole Encounter

 

 

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This composite image shows the motion of the dusty cloud G2 as it closes in on, and then passes, the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. These new observations with ESO's VLT have shown that the cloud appears to have survived its close encounter with the black hole and remains a compact object that is not significantly extended. In this image the position of the cloud in the years 2006, 2010, 2012 and February and September 2014 are shown, from left to right. The blobs have been colorized to show the motion of the cloud, red indicated that the object is receding and blue approaching. The cross marks the position of the supermassive black hole.

The Daily Galaxy via ESO


March 25, 2015

Jupiter's Explosive Ever-Present Polar Lights --Many Times Size of the Earth

 

 

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On Earth, bursts of particles spewed by the Sun spark shimmering auroras, like the Northern Lights, that briefly dance at our planet’s poles. But, on Jupiter, there’s an auroral glow all the time, and new observations show that this Jovian display sometimes flares up because of a process having nothing to do with the Sun.

Continue reading "Jupiter's Explosive Ever-Present Polar Lights --Many Times Size of the Earth" »


"Hacking the Cosmos" --New Systems Able to Process Square Kilometer Array Data Tsunami

 

 

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It's almost a rite of passage in physics and astronomy. Scientists spend years scrounging up money to build a fantastic new instrument. Then, when the long-awaited device finally approaches completion, the panic begins: How will they handle the torrent of data?

Continue reading " "Hacking the Cosmos" --New Systems Able to Process Square Kilometer Array Data Tsunami" »


March 24, 2015

Naming the Mysterious Features of Pluto and Charon --"An Open Invitation to the World Community"

 

 

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In a few months, the Craters, mountains and other landforms of Pluto will take shape before our eyes. When New Horizons flies past Pluto in July, we will see a new, alien landscape in stark detail. At that point, we will have a lot to talk about. The only way we can talk about it is if those features, whatever they turn out to be, have names.

Continue reading "Naming the Mysterious Features of Pluto and Charon --"An Open Invitation to the World Community"" »


Did Our Early Solar System Harbor Super-Earths? -- "Earth Belongs to a 2nd Generation of Planets"

 

 

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Long before Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars formed, it seems that the inner solar system may have harbored a number of super-Earths--planets larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. If so, those planets are long gone--broken up and fallen into the sun billions of years ago largely due to a great inward-and-then-outward journey that Jupiter made early in the solar system's history.

Continue reading "Did Our Early Solar System Harbor Super-Earths? -- "Earth Belongs to a 2nd Generation of Planets"" »


March 23, 2015

Mystery Solved! Rare Stellar Collision Observed in 1670



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New observations made with APEX and other telescopes reveal that the star that European astronomers saw appear in the sky in 1670 was not a nova, but a much rarer, violent breed of stellar collision. It was spectacular enough to be easily seen with the naked eye during its first outburst, but the traces it left were so faint that very careful analysis using submillimetre telescopes was needed before the mystery could finally be unraveled more than 340 years later. 

Continue reading "Mystery Solved! Rare Stellar Collision Observed in 1670" »


"Cosmic Music?" --Discovery: Stars May Generate Sound

 

 

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A chance discovery by a team of researchers, including a University of York scientist, has provided experimental evidence that stars may generate sound. The study of fluids in motion -- now known as hydrodynamics -- goes back to the Egyptians, so it is not often that new discoveries are made. However when examining the interaction of an ultra-intense laser with a plasma target, the team observed something unexpected.

Continue reading ""Cosmic Music?" --Discovery: Stars May Generate Sound" »


"The Missing Extinction Event" --Earth's Largest Known Asteroid Impact Zone Discovered in Australia

 

 

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A 400 kilometer-wide impact zone from a huge meteorite that broke in two moments before it slammed into the Earth has been found in Central Australia. The crater from the impact millions of years ago has long disappeared. But a team of geophysicists has found the twin scars of the impacts - the largest impact zone ever found on Earth - hidden deep in the earth's crust.

Continue reading ""The Missing Extinction Event" --Earth's Largest Known Asteroid Impact Zone Discovered in Australia" »


March 21, 2015

Pulsars Imploding Into Black Holes --"May Unveil Secrets of Dark Matter"

 

 

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"It is possible that pulsars imploding into black holes may provide the first concrete signal of particulate dark matter," said study co-author Joseph Bramante, a physicist at the University of Notre Dame. “In 2013, the first pulsar at the galactic center was detected, and this observation has deepened the mystery of these stellar objects,” explained Bramante. “Prior to this detection, it was thought that pulsars at the galactic center might simply be shielded from observation by dense material in the center of the galaxy.”

Continue reading "Pulsars Imploding Into Black Holes --"May Unveil Secrets of Dark Matter"" »


Rosetta Probe Reveals Key Molecule from Early Nebula Origin of Solar System

 

 

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A's comet probe Rosetta has for the first time ever measured nitrogen gas at a comet, providing clues to the early stages of the formation of our solar system. Molecular nitrogen, N2, is the major molecule in the atmosphere of Earth and is also present in the atmospheres and the surfaces of Pluto and Neptune's moon Triton. It also is thought to have been the dominant form of nitrogen in the early nebula from which our solar system emerged. Martin Rubin from the Physics Institute at the University of Bern and his team were now able to measure this "most wanted molecule," as Rubin calls it, in the coma, the atmosphere, of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Continue reading "Rosetta Probe Reveals Key Molecule from Early Nebula Origin of Solar System" »


March 20, 2015

Ancient Supernova Dust Factory Observed at Milky Way Center --"Building Block of the Universe"

 

 

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"Dust itself is very important because it's the stuff that forms stars and planets, like the sun and Earth, respectively, so to know where it comes from is an important question," said Ryan Lau, Cornell postdoctoral associate for astronomy. "Our work strongly reinforces the theory that supernovae are producing the dust seen in galaxies of the early universe," he said.

Continue reading "Ancient Supernova Dust Factory Observed at Milky Way Center --"Building Block of the Universe"" »


March 19, 2015

Amazing Luminous Star Cluster Inside a Supernova in a Tiny Dwarf Galaxy

 

 

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More than a million young stars are forming in a hot, dusty cloud of molecular gases in a tiny galaxy near our own, an international team of astronomers has discovered. The star cluster is buried within a supernebula in a dwarf galaxy known as NGC 5253, in the constellation Centaurus. The cluster has one billion times the luminosity of our sun, but is invisible in ordinary light, hidden by its own hot gases.

Continue reading "Amazing Luminous Star Cluster Inside a Supernova in a Tiny Dwarf Galaxy " »


The Anthropocene Epoch: "How We Became Nature"

 

 

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Overpopulation, the greenhouse effect, warming temperatures and overall climate disruption are all well recognized as a major threat to the ecology and biodiversity of the Earth. The issue of mankind's negative impact on the environment, albeit hotly debated and continuously present in the public eye, still only leads to limited policy action. Nature is us, and responding to the Anthropocene means building a culture that grows with the Earth's biological wealth instead of depleting it.

Continue reading "The Anthropocene Epoch: "How We Became Nature"" »


"Iron Rain Fell on Early Earth" --Gravity Seeded Our Iron Deposits vs the Moon

 

 

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Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories' Z machine, the most powerful deliverer of bursts of electrical energy in the world, have helped untangle a long-standing mystery of astrophysics: why iron is found spattered throughout Earth's mantle, the roughly 2,000-mile thick region between Earth's core and its crust.

Continue reading ""Iron Rain Fell on Early Earth" --Gravity Seeded Our Iron Deposits vs the Moon" »


March 18, 2015

The Mystery of Ceres' White Spots --"Could the Dwarf Planet be Habitable?"

 

 

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Discussions at the 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Texas, of icy volcanism on Ceres have led to speculation that the dwarf planet may potentially be habitable. Although Ceres does not have an atmosphere, life might exist in a subsurface ocean, similar to those thought to be on Jupiter's Europa or Saturn's Enceladus.

Continue reading "The Mystery of Ceres' White Spots --"Could the Dwarf Planet be Habitable?"" »


"Alien Solar Systems Harbor an Average of Two Habitable Planets"

 

 

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"In these 31 planetary systems that were close to the habitable zone, our calculations showed that there was an average of two planets in the habitable zone" says Steffen Kjær Jacobsen with the research group Astrophysics and Planetary Science at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen."According to the statistics and the indications we have, a good share of the planets in the habitable zone will be solid planets where there might be liquid water and where life could exist."

Continue reading ""Alien Solar Systems Harbor an Average of Two Habitable Planets"" »


Image of the Day: Moon's Most Unusual Volcano More Massive than Thought

 

 

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Scientists have produced a new map of the Moon's most unusual volcano (above) showing that its explosive eruption spread debris over an area much greater than previously thought. A team of astronomers and geologists, led by experts in the Institute for Computational Cosmology and Department of Earth Sciences at Durham University, UK, studied an area of the lunar surface in the Compton-Belkovich Volcanic Complex. The red region (approximately 35km in diameter) is the volcanic complex and the green area is that containing the radioactive debris from the volcano's eruption, which stretches 300 kilometers to the east.

Continue reading "Image of the Day: Moon's Most Unusual Volcano More Massive than Thought" »


March 17, 2015

Image of the Day: GK Persei --Mini Nova Exploded Outward 90 Billion Miles in 13 Years

 

 

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In Hollywood blockbusters, explosions are often among the stars of the show. In space, explosions of actual stars are a focus for scientists who hope to better understand their births, lives, and deaths and how they interact with their surroundings. Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have studied one particular explosion that may provide clues to the dynamics of other, much larger stellar eruptions.

Continue reading "Image of the Day: GK Persei --Mini Nova Exploded Outward 90 Billion Miles in 13 Years" »


The Higgs Boson --"The Study of Its Properties has Just Begun"

 

 

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The Higgs boson is an essential ingredient of the Standard Model of particle physics, the theory that describes all known elementary particles and their interactions. The Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism, through which the existence of the Higgs boson was predicted, is believed to give mass to all elementary particles. It is the most precise measurement of the Higgs boson mass yet and among the most precise measurements performed at the LHC to date.

Continue reading "The Higgs Boson --"The Study of Its Properties has Just Begun"" »


How Would Alien Astronomers from Andromeda Detect Life On Earth?

 

 

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To spot the tint of Earth, alien astronomers from Andromeda might measure light shimmering off the surface of a planet, as sunlight reflected from our planet's vegetation reaches their telescopes. Conversely, astronomers here can see pigmentation on exoplanets and determine their makeup by looking at their color.

Continue reading "How Would Alien Astronomers from Andromeda Detect Life On Earth?" »


Ringed Centaur Found Between Jupiter and Pluto

 

 

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There are only five bodies in our solar system that are known to bear rings. The most obvious is the planet Saturn; to a lesser extent, rings of gas and dust also encircle Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. The fifth member of this haloed group is Chariklo, one of a class of minor planets called centaurs: small, rocky bodies that possess qualities of both asteroids and comets.

Continue reading "Ringed Centaur Found Between Jupiter and Pluto" »


With Thanks to Our Twitter Community!

 

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Our thanks to our vibrant Twitter community. We've just reached 337,000 followers, growing at 1,000 per week, including 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, as well celebrities from Mia Farrow to Kevin Spacey and Gary Busey. 


March 16, 2015

Image of the Day: Buzz Aldrin at the Stonehenge

 

 

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The Daily Galaxy via Twitter


"It Came from Outer Space" --Crowdsourcing Asteroids Via "The NASA Challenge"

 

 

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New Desktop Application Has Potential to Increase Asteroid Detection, Now Available to Public
Asteroid Data Hunter. NASA's Asteroid Data Hunter contest series was part of NASA's Asteroid Grand Challenge, which is focused on finding all asteroid threats to human populations and knowing what to do about them. A software application based on an algorithm created by a NASA challenge has the potential to increase the number of new asteroid discoveries by amateur astronomers. Analysis of images taken of our solar system’s main belt asteroids between Mars and Jupiter using the algorithm showed a 15 percent increase in positive identification of new asteroids.

Continue reading ""It Came from Outer Space" --Crowdsourcing Asteroids Via "The NASA Challenge"" »


Previously Unknown Region from Dawn of Solar System Gave Rise to Earth, Mars, Venus

 

 

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Sulfide chondrules, a new type of building blocks discovered in meteorites left over from the solar system's infancy, provide evidence for a previously unknown region in the protoplanetary disk that gave rise to the planets including Earth.

Continue reading "Previously Unknown Region from Dawn of Solar System Gave Rise to Earth, Mars, Venus" »




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