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May 29, 2015

Today's 'Galaxy' Insight --"Will Intelligence Be a Constant in the Universe?"





"If you go to these other continents and ask zoologists 'What do you think is the smartest thing there? Is it trying to become human? Is it any closer today than it was 50 million years ago to building a radio telescope?' I think the answer would be no. If that's the answer, then there is no trend toward human-like intelligence, and this whole idea of intelligence being convergent is just an empty claim based on what we want to believe about ourselves. Only one species of the billions of species that have existed on Earth has shown an aptitude for radios and even we failed to build one during the first 99% of our 7 million year history."

Continue reading "Today's 'Galaxy' Insight --"Will Intelligence Be a Constant in the Universe?"" »

Snapshot of the Oldest Light in the Universe --"Reveals Clues to Its Origin"





Astrophysicists have developed a new method for calculating the effect of Rayleigh scattering on photons, potentially allowing researchers to better understand the formation of the Universe. The CMB is the oldest light in the universe, which originated when electrons combined with protons to form the first atoms. These primordial atoms were also the first to Rayleigh scatter light.

Continue reading "Snapshot of the Oldest Light in the Universe --"Reveals Clues to Its Origin"" »

Colossal Flare Observed on Closest Red Giant Star --"Impacts the Milky Way's Ecosystem"





Super-sharp observations with the telescope Alma have revealed what seems to be a gigantic flare on the surface of Mira, one of the closest and most famous red giant stars in the sky, with its 13-light-year long tail. Activity like this in red giants - similar to what we see in the Sun - comes as a surprise to astronomers. The discovery could help explain how winds from giant stars make their contribution to our galaxy's ecosystem.

Continue reading "Colossal Flare Observed on Closest Red Giant Star --"Impacts the Milky Way's Ecosystem"" »

May 28, 2015

"Our Invisible Universe" --The Foamy Structure of Spacetime





A new study combining data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Fermi Gamma-ray Telescope, and the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array (VERITAS) in Arizona is helping scientists set limits on the quantum nature of space-time on extremely tiny scales. Certain aspects of quantum mechanics predict that space-time - the three dimensions of space plus time -- would not be smooth on the scale of about ten times a billionth of a trillionth of the diameter of a hydrogen atom's nucleus. They refer to the structure that may exist at this extremely small size as "space-time foam."

Continue reading ""Our Invisible Universe" --The Foamy Structure of Spacetime" »

"Extreme Black Hole Jets Signal Galaxy Mergers" --Hubble/ALMA Observatories





In the most extensive survey of its kind ever conducted, a team of scientists have found an unambiguous link between the presence of supermassive black holes that power high-speed, radio-signal-emitting jets and the merger history of their host galaxies. Almost all of the galaxies hosting these jets were found to be merging with another galaxy, or to have done so recently. The results lend significant weight to the case for jets being the result of merging black holes.

Continue reading " "Extreme Black Hole Jets Signal Galaxy Mergers" --Hubble/ALMA Observatories" »

Today's 'Galaxy' Insight --"The Accidental Evolution of Homo Sapiens"





"If one small and odd lineage of fishes had not evolved fins capable of bearing weight on land (though evolved for different reasons in lakes and seas,) terrestrial vertebrates would never have arisen. If a large extraterrestrial object—the ultimate random bolt from the blue—had not triggered the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago, mammals would still be small creatures, confined to the nooks and crannies of a dinosaur's world, and incapable of evolving the larger size that brains big enough for self-consciousness require.

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With Thanks to Our Twitter Community!





Our thanks to our vibrant Twitter community. We've just reached 344,000 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, International Space Station, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and Royal Astronomy Society members, as well celebrities from Mia Farrow to Kevin Spacey, William Shatner, musician David Crosby, and Gary Busey.

May 27, 2015

Emergence of Spacetime --"Built by Quantum Entanglement"





"It was known that quantum entanglement is related to deep issues in the unification of general relativity and quantum mechanics, such as the black hole information paradox and the firewall paradox," says Hirosi Ooguri, a Principal Investigator at the University of Tokyo's Kavli IPMU. "Our paper sheds new light on the relation between quantum entanglement and the microscopic structure of spacetime by explicit calculations. The interface between quantum gravity and information science is becoming increasingly important for both fields."

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Today's 'Galaxy' Insight --"Intervals of Life in the Cosmos"





"There are only certain intervals of time when life of any sort is possible in an expanding universe and we can practice astronomy only during that habitable time interval in cosmic history."

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"The Bizarre Nature of Quantum Reality" --An Update






The bizarre nature of reality as laid out by quantum theory has survived another test, with scientists performing a famous experiment and proving that reality does not exist until it is measured. Physicists at The Australian National University (ANU) have conducted John Wheeler's delayed-choice thought experiment, which involves a moving object that is given the choice to act like a particle or a wave. Wheeler's experiment then asks - at which point does the object decide?

Continue reading ""The Bizarre Nature of Quantum Reality" --An Update" »

May 26, 2015

Today's 'Galaxy' Insight --"The Cosmos Would Not Exist Without Consciousness"



01 Consciousness


"The universe and the observer exist as a pair. I cannot imagine a consistent theory of the universe that ignores consciousness."

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Sun-Like G-Dwarf Stars --"Best Bet for Locating Habitable Planets"





The search for habitable planets currently focuses on so-called M dwarfs - stars with less than half the mass of the Sun. These stars are thought to have more habitable orbiting planets that are easier to find compared with G dwarfs - stars that have a similar mass to the Sun. However, according to recent simulations by a collaborative research team composed of Shigeru Ida at Tokyo Tech and Feng Tian at Tsinghua University indicate that Earth-like planets are more likely to be found orbiting Sun-like stars rather than lower-mass stars that are currently targeted, in terms of water contents of planets.

Continue reading "Sun-Like G-Dwarf Stars --"Best Bet for Locating Habitable Planets"" »

The "Quantum" Sleeping Beauty --Why Einstein's Paper Took Half a Century to Make an Impact





Why do some discoveries fade into obscurity while others blaze a new trail the moment they are published? More mysteriously, why do some research papers remain dormant for years and then suddenly explode with great impact upon the scientific community? The last group, dubbed "sleeping beauties," is the subject of a new study from the Indiana University Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing's Center for Complex Networks and Systems. 

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May 25, 2015

Holiday 'Galaxy' Insight --"Why the Cosmos, Why the Quantum, Why Existence"





"Behind it all is surely an idea so simple, so beautiful, that when we grasp it - in a decade, a century, or a millennium - we will all say to each other, how could it have been otherwise? How could we have been so stupid?"

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The 30-Million-Year Mass Extinction Cycle --"A Coincidence, or a Dark-Matter Event?" (Holiday Feature)





In 1980, Walter Alvarez and his group at the University of California, Berkeley, discovered a thin layer of clay in the geologic record, which contained an anomalous amount of the rare element iridium. They proposed that the iridium-rich layer was evidence of a massive comet hitting the Earth 66 million years ago, at the time of the extinction of the dinosaurs. The Alvarez group suggested that the global iridium-rich layer formed as fallout from an intense dust cloud raised by the impact event. The cloud of dust covered the Earth, producing darkness and cold, and lead to the extinction of 75% of life on the planet. At first, there was much resistance in the geological community to this idea, but in 1990, the large 100-mile diameter crater produced by the impact was found in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Continue reading "The 30-Million-Year Mass Extinction Cycle --"A Coincidence, or a Dark-Matter Event?" (Holiday Feature)" »

Mystery of the Giant ExoPlanets --An Update






There are 565 exoplanets currently known that are as massive as Jupiter or bigger, about one third of the total known, confirmed exoplanet population. About one quarter of the massive population orbits very close to its star, with periods of less than ten days (the Earth takes about 365 days to orbit the Sun). Heated by the nearby star’s radiation, these giants are often called hot Jupiters.

Continue reading "Mystery of the Giant ExoPlanets --An Update" »

May 24, 2015

Strange Rapidly Aging Star Observed --"Never Seen Before"





Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered surprising new clues about a hefty, rapidly aging star whose behavior has never been seen before in our Milky Way galaxy. In fact, the star is so weird that astronomers have nicknamed it "Nasty 1," a play on its catalog name of NaSt1. The star may represent a brief transitory stage in the evolution of extremely massive stars.

Continue reading " Strange Rapidly Aging Star Observed --"Never Seen Before" " »

Earth's Oxygen Engine: Is the Invisible Ocean Virus Ecosystem Threatened?




When you mention rich ecosystems that are vital for life on Earth, people tend to think of rainforests, but ocean plankton are actually just as crucial. The microscopic beings that drift on the upper layer of the oceans are globally referred to as "plankton"; together they produce half of our oxygen, act as carbon sinks, influence our weather, and serve as the base of the ocean food web that sustains the larger fish and marine mammals that we depend upon or draw delight from.

Continue reading "Earth's Oxygen Engine: Is the Invisible Ocean Virus Ecosystem Threatened?" »

Weekend 'Galaxy' Insight --"Enigma of the Universe"





"There is a certain sense in which I would say the universe has a purpose. It's not there just somehow by chance. Some people take the view that the universe is simply there and it runs along-it's a bit as though it just sort of computes, and we happen by accident to find ourselves in this thing. I don't think that's a very fruitful or helpful way of looking at the universe, I think that there is something much deeper about it, about its existence, which we have very little inkling of at the moment."

Continue reading "Weekend 'Galaxy' Insight --"Enigma of the Universe"" »

May 23, 2015

Clues to Prehistoric Global Warming Locked in Subterranian Caves



Cueva de la flauta de caña (29)


The Holocene Climate Optimum was a period of global climate warming that occurred between six to nine thousand years ago. At that time, the global average temperatures were somewhere between four to six degrees Celsius higher than they are today. That is the range of warming that climatologists are predicting due to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from human activity. So information about the behavior of the monsoon during the Holocene could provide clues to how it is likely to behave in the future. This knowledge could be very important for the 600 million people living on the Indian subcontinent who rely on the monsoon, which provides the area with 75 percent of its annual rainfall.

Continue reading "Clues to Prehistoric Global Warming Locked in Subterranian Caves" »

May 22, 2015

The Most Luminous Galaxy in the Universe --"May Harbor a Behemoth Black Hole"





A remote galaxy shining with the light of more than 300 trillion suns has been discovered using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). The galaxy is the most luminous galaxy found to date and belongs to a new class of objects recently discovered by WISE -- extremely luminous infrared galaxies, or ELIRGs. The brilliant galaxy, known as WISE J224607.57-052635.0, may have a behemoth black hole at its belly, gorging itself on gas.

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Friday's 'Galaxy' Insight --"Why the Universe Exists"





"In the beginning there were only probabilities. The universe could only come into existence if someone observed it. It does not matter that the observers turned up several billion years later. The universe exists because we are aware of it."  

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May 21, 2015

Spectacular Galaxy With a 2,400 Light-Year Ring of Star Clusters -- Observed Devouring a Dwarf Neighbor



Ngc1512 (1)


A team of Australian and Spanish astronomers have caught greedy galaxy NGC 1512, a spectacular barred spiral galaxy, gobbling on its neighbors and leaving crumbs of evidence about its dietary past. Galaxies grow by churning loose gas from their surroundings into new stars, or by swallowing neighbouring galaxies whole. However, they normally leave very few traces of their cannibalistic habits.

Continue reading "Spectacular Galaxy With a 2,400 Light-Year Ring of Star Clusters -- Observed Devouring a Dwarf Neighbor" »

Today's 'Galaxy' Insight --"Life in the Milky Way"





"Should we find a second form of life right here on our doorstep, we could be confident that life is a truly cosmic phenomenon. If so, there may well be sentient beings somewhere in the galaxy wondering, as do we, if they are not alone in the universe." 

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"Mars' Gale Crater on Earth" --The Extreme Life of Chile's Atacama Desert





Researchers have pinpointed the driest location on Earth in the Atacama Desert, a region in Chile already recognised as the most arid in the world. They have also found evidence of life at the site, a discovery that could have far-reaching implications for the search for life on Mars.

Continue reading ""Mars' Gale Crater on Earth" --The Extreme Life of Chile's Atacama Desert" »

May 20, 2015

Today's 'Galaxy' Insight --"The Universe's Existence"





"We are about five Einsteins away from explaining the universe's existence."

Martin Amis, English novelist and author of Einstein's Monsters and Heavy Water.

Continue reading "Today's 'Galaxy' Insight --"The Universe's Existence"" »

Climate Change Impact--A 3-D Look at the Planet's Mountain Ranges





People commonly perceive mountain ranges as jumbles of pyramid-shaped masses that steadily narrow as they slope upward. While that's certainly how they appear from a ground-level human viewpoint, new research shows that pyramid-shaped mountains are not only a minority in nature, but also that most ranges actually increase in area at higher elevations. Besides reshaping the mountains in our mind's eye, the findings could lead scientists to reconsider conservation strategies -- which are often based on misconceptions about mountain terrain -- for mountain animal species threatened by climate change.

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Evolution of Complex Life --"Did It Occur In the Oceans Depths or On Continents?"





An ancient lake could hold the key to our understanding of how complex life evolved on Earth, according to research carried out by the University of Aberdeen. Scientists have studied samples of lake sediments deposited 1.5 billion years ago in the Bay of Stoer region in north-west Scotland, and discovered high levels of the metal molybdenum, a key element in the evolution of multicellular life, which challenges the commonly held view that an important stage of evolution, leading eventually to human life, occurred in the deep ocean, as opposed to a continental environment.

Continue reading "Evolution of Complex Life --"Did It Occur In the Oceans Depths or On Continents?"" »

May 19, 2015

Today's 'Galaxy' Insight --Freeman Dyson



Freeman Dyson


"As we look out into the Universe and identify the many accidents of physics and astronomy that have worked together to our benefit, it almost seems as if the Universe must in some sense have known that we were coming."

Physicist Freeman Dyson, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton.

Continue reading "Today's 'Galaxy' Insight --Freeman Dyson" »

Sunset at Mars' Gusev Crater -- "An Ancient Habitat for Life?"





Wide view of sunset over Gusev Crater taken by NASA’s Spirit Rover in 2005. Both blue aureole and pink sky are seen. Because of the fine nature of Martian dust, it can scatter blue light coming from the Sun forward towards the observer.

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