This composite image shows two perspectives of a three-dimensional reconstruction of the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant. This new 3-D map provides the first detailed look at the distribution of stellar debris following a supernova explosion. Such 3-D reconstructions encode important information for astronomers about how massive stars actually explode. The blue-to-red colors correspond to the varying speed of the emitting gas along our line of sight. The background is a Hubble Space Telescope composite image of the supernova remnant.
Continue reading "Image of the Day: "Massive Bubbles" --New 3-D Probe Inside an Iconic Milky Way Supernova" »
Dark Matter is thought to exist because of its gravitational effects on stars and galaxies, gravitational lensing (the bending of light rays) around these, and through its imprint on the Cosmic Microwave Background (the afterglow of the Big Bang). Researchers at the University of Southampton have proposed a new fundamental particle which could explain why no one has managed to detect 'Dark Matter', the elusive missing 85 per cent of the Universe's mass.
Continue reading " Previously Unknown Window --"May Reveal Existence of Hidden Dark-Matter Particles"" »
Ever since Einstein proposed his special theory of relativity in 1905, physics and cosmology have been based on the assumption that space looks the same in all directions -- that it's not squeezed in one direction relative to another. A new experiment by physicists used partially entangled atoms -- identical to the qubits in a quantum computer -- to demonstrate more precisely than ever before that this is true: to one part in a billion billion.
Continue reading "A Quantum View of Space (Yet Another Win for Einstein!)" »
Two phenomena known to inhibit the potential habitability of planets -- tidal forces and vigorous stellar activity -- might instead help chances for life on certain planets orbiting low-mass stars by combining to transform uninhabitable "mini-Neptunes" -- big planets in outer orbits with solid cores and thick hydrogen atmospheres -- into closer-in, gas-free, potentially habitable worlds.
Continue reading "Extreme Worlds May be Habitable" »
"Since the beginning of time, this planet was characterised by intense heat and volcanic activity, which would have evaporated any possible water and made the emergence of life highly unlikely," asserts ETH Zurich geophysicist Giovanni Leone.
Continue reading ""Since the Beginning of Time, It is Almost impossible that Mars Ever had Water"" »
"I think of Ceres actually as a game changer in the Solar System," said Britney Schmidt in 2013, 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 --"A Game Changer in the Solar System"" »
"There are far-reaching implications for this discovery," said Tiago Campante, from the University of Birmingham's School of Physics and Astronomy, who led the research. "We now know that Earth-sized planets have formed throughout most of the Universe's 13.8 billion year history, which could provide scope for the existence of ancient life in the Galaxy. By the time the Earth formed, the planets in this system were already older than our planet is today."
Continue reading " Solar System Formed at the Dawn of the Milky Way Discovered with 5 Earthlike Planets" »
Astronomers at the Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands, and the University of Rochester, USA, have discovered that the ring system that they see eclipse the very young Sun-like star J1407 is of enormous proportions, much larger and heavier than the ring system of Saturn. The ring system – the first of its kind to be found outside our solar system – was discovered in 2012 by a team led by Rochester’s Eric Mamajek.
Continue reading "Enormous ExoPlanet Ring System 200 Xs Size of Saturn's Found " »
“Nature is being coy,” said Enectali Figueroa-Feliciano, an associate professor of physics at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research who works on one of the three new experiments. “There's something we just don't understand about the internal structure of how the universe works. When theorists write down all the ways dark matter might interact with our particles, they find, for the simplest models, that we should have seen it already. So even though we haven't found it yet, there's a message there, one that we're trying to decode now.”
Continue reading "The Dark-Matter Mystery Deepens --"Physicists Trying to Decode Hidden Message"" »
"This object is a unique example of what is suspected to be an abundant, underlying population of small and faint galaxies at about 500 million years after the Big Bang," explained Adi Zitrin of the California Institute of Technology. "The discovery is telling us that galaxies as faint as this one exist, and we should continue looking for them and even fainter objects so that we can understand how galaxies, and the Universe, have evolved over time."
Continue reading "Unseen Galaxies of the Universe Detected (Weekend Feature)" »
In the latest discovery, a multinational team of astronomers working on the High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) telescopes found three extremely luminous gamma-ray sources in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a satellite dwarf galaxy of the Milky Way. These are objects of different types, namely the most powerful pulsar wind nebula (above); the most powerful supernova remnant; and a shell of 270 light years in diameter blown by multiple stars, and supernovae -- a so-called superbubble.
Continue reading " Three Extreme Objects Spotted in a Milky-Way Dwarf Galaxy" »
Recent developments in science are beginning to suggest that the universe naturally produces complexity. The emergence of life in general and perhaps even rational life, with its associated technological culture, may be extremely common, argues Clemson researcher Kelly Smith in a recently published paper in the journal Space Policy. What's more, he suggests, this universal tendency has distinctly religious overtones and may even establish a truly universal basis for morality.
Continue reading "The Universe is a 'Complexity Machine' --"Intelligent Life and Technology May be Common in the Cosmos"" »
"A few million years ago, there was a very energetic event at the galactic center, and we're seeing a remnant," lead author Andrew Fox, of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, said at a press conference earlier this month. At a time when our earliest human ancestors mastered walking upright the heart of our Milky Way galaxy underwent a titanic eruption, driving gases and other material outward at 2 million miles per hour. Now, at least 2 million years later, astronomers are witnessing the aftermath of the explosion: billowing clouds of gas towering about 30,000 light-years above and below the plane of our galaxy.
Continue reading "Enormous Structure at Milky Way Center --Aftermath of an Explosion 2 Million Years Ago Speeding Out at 2 Million MPH" »
The dying moments of an asteroid's magnetic field have been successfully captured by researchers, in a study that offers a tantalising glimpse of what may happen to the Earth's magnetic core billions of years from now. Using a detailed imaging technique, the research team were able to read the magnetic memory contained in ancient meteorites, formed in the early solar system over 4.5 billion years ago. The readings taken from these tiny 'space magnets' may give a sneak preview of the fate of the Earth's magnetic core as it continues to freeze.
Continue reading "Asteroid's "Hard Drive" --Clue to Fate of Earth's Core Billions of Years from Now" »
"If we combine the map of the dark matter in the Milky Way with the most recent Big Bang model to explain the universe and we hypothesise the existence of space-time tunnels, what we get is that our galaxy could really contain one of these tunnels, and that the tunnel could even be the size of the galaxy itself. But there's more", explains Paolo Salucci, astrophysicist of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste and a dark matter expert. "We could even travel through this tunnel, since, based on our calculations, it could be navigable. Just like the one we've all seen in the recent film 'Interstellar'".
Continue reading " "Dark Matter May be 'Another Dimension' --Or Even a Major Galactic Transport System"" »
Geologists from the University of Cambridge uncover hidden magnetic messages from the early solar system in meteorites measured at BESSY II. A team of scientists led by Richard Harrison from the University of Cambridge, has captured information stored inside tiny magnetic regions in meteorite samples that captures the dying moments of the magnetic field during core solidification on a meteorite parent body, providing a sneak preview of the fate of Earth's own magnetic field as its core continues to freeze.
Continue reading "Hidden Magnetic Messages in Meteorites from Early Solar System Uncovered" »
Scientists plumbing the depths of the ocean have made a surprise finding that could change the way we understand supernovae, exploding stars way beyond our solar system. They have analysed extraterrestrial dust thought to be from supernovae, that has settled on ocean floors to determine the amount of heavy elements created by the massive explosions.
Continue reading "Supernova's 25-Million-Year-Old Dust on Ocean Floor --Contradicts Current Theories" »
One of Venus Express’ first discoveries, made during its very first orbit, was confirming the existence of a huge atmospheric vortex circulation at the south pole with a shape matching the one glimpsed at the north pole. This ghostly puff of smoke is a mass of swirling gas and clouds, as seen by the Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) aboard ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft.
Continue reading " Image of the Day: Huge Swirling Vortex at Venus's South Pole" »
Over the past few years, astronomers have observed a new phenomenon, a brief burst of radio waves, lasting only a few milliseconds. It was first seen by chance in 2007, when astronomers went through archival data from the Parkes Radio Telescope in Eastern Australia. Since then we have seen six more such bursts in the Parkes telescope's data and a seventh burst was found in the data from the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico. They were almost all discovered long after they had occurred, but then astronomers began to look specifically for them right as they happen.
Continue reading "Mysterious Radio Wave Bursts Observed --"Are They Linked to Neutron Stars or Black Holes?"" »
"It might be possible for human civilization to live outside Holocene conditions, but it's never been tried before," says Steve Carpenter, director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Limnology. "We know civilization can make it in Holocene conditions, so it seems wise to try to maintain them."
Continue reading "Eco-Alert: "Human Civilization has Crossed Four of Nine Planetary Boundaries"" »
"Most planets we have found to date are scorched. This system is the closest star with lukewarm transiting planets," Petigura said. "There is a very real possibility that the outermost planet is rocky like Earth, which means this planet could have the right temperature to support liquid water oceans."
Continue reading "Getting Closer? Newest Kepler-2 Findings "Reveal Earthlike Planets Common in Milky Way Galaxy"" »
In July of 2012, astronomers observed a spiral galaxy in the early universe, billions of years before many other spiral galaxies formed while using the Hubble Space Telescope. "The fact that this galaxy exists is astounding," said David Law, lead author of the study and Dunlap Institute postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto's Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics. "Current wisdom holds that such 'grand-design' spiral galaxies simply didn't exist at such an early time in the history of the universe." A 'grand design' galaxy has prominent, well-formed spiral arms. The galaxy, which goes by the not very glamorous name of BX442, is quite large compared with other galaxies from this early time in the universe.
Continue reading "The Spiral Galaxy Enigma --"Grand-Design Galaxies Simply Didn't Exist at Such an Early time in the History of the Universe" (Weekend Feature)" »
“NASA first mission to distant Pluto will also be humankind’s first close up view of this cold, unexplored world in our solar system,” said Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “The New Horizons team worked very hard to prepare for this first phase, and they did it flawlessly.”
Continue reading ""The Unexplored Planet" --NASA Spacecraft Begins 1st stage of Epic Pluto Probe" »
Astronomers have been able to peer back to the young Universe to determine how quasars – powered by supermassive black holes with the mass of a billion suns – form and shape the evolution of galaxies. Quasars are amongst the most luminous objects in the Universe, and the most distant quasars are so far away that they allow us to peer back billions of years in time. They are powered by supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies, surrounded by a rapidly spinning disk-like region of gas. As the black hole pulls in matter from its surroundings, huge amounts of energy are released.
Continue reading "Peering Back 13-Billion Years to Glimpse Quasars Powered by Supermassive Black Holes" »
"A thin atmosphere made of nitrogen and oxygen has allowed life to thrive on Earth. But nature is full of surprises. Many exoplanets discovered by the Kepler mission are enveloped by thick, hydrogen-rich atmospheres that are probably incompatible with life as we know it," said Ian Crossfield, the University of Arizona astronomer who led the study that yielded the planets.
Continue reading "Kepler Space Telescope Finds Three Nearly Earth-Size Planets Orbiting Nearby Star" »
The UK-led Beagle 2 Mars Lander, thought lost on Mars since 2003, has been found partially deployed on the surface of the planet, ending the mystery of what happened to the mission more than a decade ago. Images taken by the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO, and initially searched by Michael Croon of Trier, Germany, a former member of the European Space Agency's Mars Express operations team at the European Space Operations Centre, have identified clear evidence for the lander and convincing evidence for key entry and descent components on the surface of Mars within the expected landing area of Isidis Planitia, an impact basin close to the equator.
Continue reading "Long-Lost Mars Express Lander Found " »
"This excess of objects with unexpected orbital parameters makes us believe that some invisible forces are altering the distribution of the orbital elements of extreme trans-Neptunian objects and we consider that the most probable explanation is that other unknown planets exist beyond Neptune and Pluto," said Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, scientist at the Complutense University of Madrid.
Continue reading ""There Could be At Least Two Unknown Planets Hidden Well Beyond Pluto"" »
Though scientists do not completely understand what triggers solar flares, Stanford solar physicists Monica Bobra and Sebastien Couvidat have automated the analysis of those gigantic explosions. The method could someday provide advance warning to protect power grids and communication satellites.
Continue reading "Breakthrough --"Using Artificial Intelligence to Predict Solar Explosions"" »
Fortunately for scientists, there is a possible laboratory in our solar system to help us better understand the conditions on Earth before life arose — a situation sometimes referred to as a “prebiotic” environment. That location is Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, that has fascinated researchers for decades, particularly after NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Saturn in the 1980s. The missions revealed a moon completely socked in with haze, which is a different experience to those used to gazing at Earth’s airless, cratered moon.
Continue reading "The Epic 10-Year Probe of Titan --A Mirror of Earth's Early Atmosphere?" »