NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has picked up the faint, ghostly glow of stars ejected from ancient galaxies that were gravitationally ripped apart several billion years ago. The mayhem happened 4 billion light-years away, inside an immense collection of nearly 500 galaxies nicknamed “Pandora’s Cluster,” also known as Abell 2744. The Hubble team estimates that the combined light of about 200 billion outcast stars contributes approximately 10 percent of the cluster’s brightness.
Continue reading ""Moment of Awe" --The Ghostly Light from 200 Billion Outcast Stars in Pandora's Galaxy Cluster" »
Earth is known as the Blue Planet because of its oceans, which cover more than 70 percent of the planet's surface and are home to the world's greatest diversity of life. While water is essential for life on the planet, the answers to two key questions have eluded us: where did Earth's water come from and when? While some hypothesize that water came late to Earth, well after the planet had formed, findings from a new study led by scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) significantly move back the clock for the first evidence of water on Earth and in the inner solar system.
Continue reading ""Earth Formed as a Wet Planet with Oceans in Place" --Life May Have Started Earlier Than Thought" »
A new planet, called PH3c, located 2,300 light years from Earth and has an atmosphere loaded with hydrogen and helium has been discovered by Yale astronomers and the Planet Hunters program. The elusive orb nearly avoided detection. This is because PH3c has a highly inconsistent orbit time around its sun, due to the gravitational influence of other planets in its system.
Continue reading ""Unexpected Planet" Discovered by Yale Astronomers" »
A team of planetary scientsts have compared their findings to data gathered from NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope and have concluded that the atmospheric mass of the planets Kepler found is, in some cases, far greater than the thin veneer of air covering Earth.
Continue reading "Kepler Mission Findings Reveal Planetary Systems Vastly Different from Earths" »
Australian physicists are challenging the foundations of quantum science with a new, and of course, unfalsifiable, theory based on the existence of, and interactions between, parallel universes. The team proposes that parallel universes really exist, and that they interact. That is, rather than evolving independently, nearby worlds influence one another by a subtle force of repulsion. They show that such an interaction could explain everything that is bizarre about quantum mechanics.
Continue reading " "Down Under" Physicists Propose a Radical Parallel Universes Theory" »
Looking for radio signals (at least those used for communication) makes about as much sense as looking for evidence of telegraph poles on other planets. Considering many star systems out there may be millions (billions?) of years older than our own planet, certainly any advanced civilization would have long ago moved past using modulated radio frequency as a form of communication.
Continue reading ""Hot" Quote of the Day: The Search for Advanced Intelligent Life" »
An Orbital Sciences rocket operating under a NASA contract exploded shortly after launch on Tuesday evening, much to everyone's surprise — except, perhaps, PayPal founder Elon Musk. Musk, today the the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, trash-talked Orbital Sciences for using outdated Russian engines during a 2012 Wired interview:
Continue reading "ISS-Bound Antares Explosion --Space X's Elon Musk: Rocket's Outdated Technology "A Joke"" »
"Almost half the Sun-like stars were born in binary systems," says Emmanuel Di Folco with the Observatoire de Paris. "This means that we have found a mechanism to sustain planet formation that applies to a significant number of stars in the Milky Way. Our observations are a big step forward in truly understanding planet formation."
Continue reading ""A Cosmic Wheel Within a Wheel" --Binary Star Planet Lifeline Discovered" »
This ringed galaxy is actually a vast place of stellar life. Though galaxy NGC 1291 shown in this newly released image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is quite old, roughly 12 billion years, it is marked by an unusual ring where newborn stars are igniting. "The rest of the galaxy is done maturing," said Kartik Sheth of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory of Charlottesville, Virginia. "But the outer ring is just now starting to light up with stars."
Continue reading ""A Vast Place of Stellar Life" --An Infrared Probe of Ringed Galaxy NGC 1291" »
Aeons ago, the universe was different: mergers of galaxies were common and gigantic black holes with masses equivalent to billions of times that of the Sun formed in their nuclei. As they captured the surrounding gas, these black holes emitted energy. Known as quasars, these very distant and tremendously high energy objects have local relatives with much lower energy whose existence raises numerous questions: are there also such “quiet” quasars at much larger distances? Are the latter dying versions of the former or are they completely different?
Continue reading "Are Quasars at the Farthest Reaches of the Universe Dying?" »
“Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars," Carl Sagan, Cosmos. In February 2014, Curiosity’s MastCam instrument took this picture of rover tracks across a dune located in an area dubbed “Dingo Gap.”
Continue reading ""At the Edge of the Cosmic Ocean" --Human Tracks on Mars" »
The Planck satellite was launched in May 2009. With the highest accuracy to date, it measures the remnants of the radiation that filled the Universe immediately after the Big Bang. It is the oldest light in the Universe, emitted when it was 380000 years old. This light is observed today as the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Its maximum intensity is at about 150 GHz (2 mm), and its temperature about 3K. The study of the CMB is currently a very active field of research in cosmology because it provides strong constraints on the cosmological models. In particular, observations of the CMB confirms the key prediction of the Big Bang model and, more precisely, of what cosmologists call the concordance model of cosmology.
Continue reading "The Planck Spacecraft: An Epic New Picture of Our Invisible, Dark Universe" »
In the fall of 2012, astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope obtained a remarkable new view of a monster elliptical galaxy, with a core bigger than any seen before. Spanning a little over one million light-years, the galaxy is about ten times the diameter of the Milky Way galaxy. The bloated galaxy is a member of an unusual class of galaxies with an unusually diffuse core filled without any a concentrated peak of light around a central black hole.
Continue reading " "The Galaxy with No Central Black Hole" --Hubble Space Telescope Discovery (Today's Most Popular)" »
Galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the universe, held together by gravity. These behemoths contain hundreds or thousands of individual galaxies that are immersed in gas with temperatures of millions of degrees. This hot gas, which is the heftiest component of the galaxy clusters aside from unseen dark matter, glows brightly in X-ray light detected by Chandra. Over time, the gas in the centers of these clusters should cool enough that stars form at prodigious rates. However, this is not what astronomers have observed in many galaxy clusters.
Continue reading "Supermassive Black Holes in the Centers of Galaxy Clusters Reveal Clues to Absence of Star Creation" »
A large active region on the sun erupted with another X-class flare on Oct. 27, 2014 -- its fourth since Oct. 24. The flare peaked at 10:47 a.m. EDT. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc.
Continue reading "Sun Observed Erupting with Extreme X-Class Flares" »
On Aug. 14, 2013, the Japanese amateur astronomer Koichi Itagaki discovered a "new" star that was subsequently named Nova Delphinus 2013. Now, astronomers have observed the expanding thermonuclear fireball from a nova that erupted last year in the constellation Delphinus with unprecedented clarity. The observations produced the first images of a nova during the early fireball stage and revealed how the structure of the ejected material evolves as the gas expands and cools. It appears the expansion is more complicated than simple models previously predicted, scientists said.
Continue reading " "New Star" Observed Morphing Into a Cosmic H-Bomb" »
A fully developed elliptical galaxy is a gas-deficient gathering of ancient stars theorized to develop from the inside out, with a compact core marking its beginnings. This past August, for the first time, astronomers caught a glimpse of the earliest stages of massive galaxy construction. The building site is a dense galactic core blazing with the light of millions of newborn stars that are forming at a ferocious rate. Although only a fraction of the size of the Milky Way, the tiny powerhouse galactic core already contains about twice as many stars as our own galaxy, all crammed into a region only 6,000 light-years across. The Milky Way is about 100,000 light-years across.
Continue reading "Image of the Day: Extreme Elliptical Galaxy --"Twice as Many Stars as the Milky Way" " »
Recently, a team of astronomers reported discovering a pulsating star that appears to shine with the energy of 10 million suns. The find, which was announced in Nature, is the brightest pulsar – a type of rotating neutron star that emits a bright beam of energy that regularly sweeps past Earth like a lighthouse beam – ever seen. But what are the odds finding another one?
Continue reading "Search for Pulsars Emitting Energy Beams of 10 Million Suns Heats Up" »
Imagine: with a wasteland as their canvas, a Master and his young Apprentice set about turning rubble into planets and moons, asteroids and comets. They levitate the worlds above their heads, spinning them in orbit around their symbolic Sun.
Continue reading ""Unlocking the Secrets of Our Origins" --A SciFi VIDEO from the European Space Agency" »
"The idea that methane clouds could form this high on Titan is completely new," said Carrie Anderson, a Cassini participating scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study. "Nobody considered that possible before."
Continue reading ""Titan's Alien Ice Cloud Similar to Those Above Earth's Poles" --NASA (Weekend Feature)" »
The moon passed between the Earth and the sun on Thursday, Oct. 23. While avid stargazers in North America looked up to watch the spectacle, the best vantage point was several hundred miles above the North Pole.The Hinode spacecraft was in the right place at the right time to catch the solar eclipse. What’s more, because of its vantage point Hinode witnessed a “ring of fire” or annular eclipse.
Continue reading ""The Ring of Fire" --X-Ray Footage of Thursday's Solar Eclipse (VIDEO)" »
Once an object fall through the event horizon of a black hole, they’re lost forever. “It’s an exit door from our universe," said Shep Doeleman, assistant director at the MIT Haystack Observatory and research associate at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. "You walk through that door, you’re not coming back.” Supermassive black holes are the most extreme objects predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity — where, according to Doeleman, “gravity completely goes haywire and crushes an enormous mass into an incredibly close space.”
Continue reading "The Event Horizon of a Black Hole --"An Exit Door from Our Universe"" »
“Combined observations from small and large telescopes provide a unique opportunity to understand the nature of this complex and enigmatic triple asteroid system,” said Franck Marchis, senior research scientist at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute. “Thanks to the presence of these moons, we can constrain the density and interior structure of an asteroid, without the need for a spacecraft’s visit. Knowledge of the internal structure of asteroids is key to understanding how the planets of our solar system formed.”
Continue reading "Strange Triple Asteroid System Observed" »
China launched its first space mission to the moon and back early Friday, authorities said, the latest step forward for Beijing's ambitious program to one day land a Chinese citizen on the Earth's only natural satellite. The unnamed, unmanned probe will travel to the moon, fly around it and head back to Earth, re-entering the atmosphere and landing, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) said in a statement. The module will be 413,000 kilometres from Earth at its furthest point on the eight-day mission.
Continue reading "China Launches its 1st Space Mission to the Moon and Back" »
Almost 2,000 extrasolar planets have been discovered to date and this number is constantly increasing. Yet, we still know little about these alien worlds, especially their atmospheres. The atmospheres of terrestrial exoplanets could betray the presence of life on the planet, sparking NASA’s interest in acquiring the spectra that appears as starlight shines through these planetary atmospheres. A paper by Timothy Brandt and David Spiegel, exo-planetary scientists at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, details what is needed in a next generation telescope for it to be capable of detecting signatures of life in the atmospheres of alien planets.
Continue reading ""Will We Need an 'Alien' Telescope to Detect Earth's Twin?"" »
While studying the atmosphere on Saturn’s moon Titan, scientists discovered intriguing zones of organic molecules unexpectedly shifted away from its north and south poles. These misaligned features seem to defy conventional thinking about Titan’s windy atmosphere, which should quickly smear out such off-axis concentrations. These newobservations give us new insights into how organic molecules, the building blocks of life, form and evolve in a planet-like environment.
Continue reading "Organic Molecules in Titan's Atmosphere Appear to Defy Conventional Thinking" »
No-one knows when life first established a firm foothold on Earth. Ask around in the scientific community, though, and you’ll probably hear that the surface of early Earth, before about 3.8 billion years ago, was too hostile an environment for even a lowly microbe to set up shop. But new research by NASA Astrobiologists shows that life appeared to have been flourishing during the period of the Late Heavy Bombardment, at a time when Earth’s surface was thought to be uninhabitable.
Continue reading "Early Earth: "Life Could Have Reseeded the Surface Multiple Times During Bombardment by Comets and Asteroids"" »
NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected a rapid-fire "storm" of high-energy blasts from a highly magnetized neutron star, also called a magnetar, on Jan. 22, 2009. Now astronomers analyzing this data have discovered underlying signals related to seismic waves rippling throughout the magnetar. A rupture in the crust of a highly magnetized neutron star can trigger high-energy eruptions. Fermi observations of these blasts include information on how the star's surface twists and vibrates, providing new insights into what lies beneath.
Continue reading "Colossal Burst from a Neutron Star Detected --"At a Frequency Never Seen Before and Which We Still Do Not Understand"" »
After 116 days of being subjected to extremely frigid temperatures like that in space, the heart of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) and its sensitive instruments, emerged unscathed from the thermal vacuum chamber at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Teams of engineers and technicians have been on heart-monitoring duty around the clock since this complicated assembly was lowered into the chamber for its summer-long test. The Webb will be the most powerful space telescope ever built.
Continue reading ""Brain" of James Webb Space Telescope Emerges Unscathed from Interstellar Freeze Test" »