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May 22, 2015

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

 

 

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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.

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


Strange Rapidly Aging Star Observed --"Never Seen Before in Our Milky Way Galaxy"

 

 

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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 in Our Milky Way Galaxy"" »


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

 

 

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"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."  

Continue reading "Friday's 'Galaxy' Insight --"Why the Universe Exists"" »


May 21, 2015

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

 

 

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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"

 

 

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"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." 

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


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

 

 

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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"

 

 

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"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

 

 

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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.

Continue reading "Climate Change Impact--A 3-D Look at the Planet's Mountain Ranges" »


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

 

 

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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

 

 

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"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?"

 

 

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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.

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


With Thanks to Our Twitter Community!

 

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Our thanks to our vibrant Twitter community. We've just reached 343,000 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, and Gary Busey. 


May 18, 2015

NASA: "Mars' Opportunity Mission Reaches 11 Years in Its Search for Ancient Life"

 

 

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On Tuesday, March 24th 2015, NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity completed its first Red Planet marathon-- 26.219 miles – with a finish time of roughly 11 years and two months. "This mission isn't about setting distance records; it's about making scientific discoveries," says Steve Squyres, Opportunity principal investigator at Cornell University. "Still, running a marathon on Mars feels pretty cool."

Continue reading "NASA: "Mars' Opportunity Mission Reaches 11 Years in Its Search for Ancient Life"" »


Ocean Microbe-Sea Spray Climate Link Discovered

 

 

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Few things are more refreshing than the kiss of sea spray on your face. You may not realize it, but that cool, moist air influences our climate by affecting how clouds are formed and how sunlight is scattered over the oceans. Today, researchers demonstrate that microbes in seawater can control the chemistry of sea spray ejected into the atmosphere.

Continue reading "Ocean Microbe-Sea Spray Climate Link Discovered" »


May 16, 2015

"Intriguing Hints" --Our 30-Light-Year Voyage Through the Local Interstellar Cloud

 

 

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Our solar system has been voyaging through the very low density Local Interstellar Cloud, a region about 30 light-years across that's as sparse as a handful of air stretched over a column that is hundreds of light years long, or about one atom per three cubic centimeters of space. Earth and our Sun has been traveling through the Cloud for somewhere between 40,000 and 150,000 years and will probably not emerge for another 20,000 years. A mere blip in our 250 million-year orbit through the Milky Way.

Continue reading ""Intriguing Hints" --Our 30-Light-Year Voyage Through the Local Interstellar Cloud " »


May 15, 2015

"Extremely Improbable" --Supermassive Black-Hole Quartet Discovered Inside Colossal Structure

 

 

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Using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, a group of astronomers of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy have discovered the first quadruple quasar: four rare active black holes situated in close proximity to one another. The quartet resides in one of the most massive structures ever discovered in the distant universe, and is surrounded by a giant nebula of cool dense gas. Because the discovery comes with one-in-ten-million odds, perhaps cosmologists need to rethink their models of quasar evolution and the formation of the most massive cosmic structures. The results are being published in the May 15, 2015 edition of the journal Science.

Continue reading ""Extremely Improbable" --Supermassive Black-Hole Quartet Discovered Inside Colossal Structure" »


Hubble Observes Migration Routes of Relic Stars in Ancient Clusters

 

 

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Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have, for the first time, collected a census of young white dwarf stars beginning their migration from the crowded center of an ancient star cluster to its less populated outskirts. The new results challenge our ideas about how and when a star loses its mass near the end of its life.White dwarfs are the burned-out relics of ancient stars that rapidly shut down their nuclear furnaces, cooling down and losing mass at the end of their active lives. As these stellar carcasses age and shed mass, they are expelled from the densely packed center of the globular cluster and migrate to wider orbits . Whilst astronomers knew about this process, they had never seen it in action, until now.

Continue reading "Hubble Observes Migration Routes of Relic Stars in Ancient Clusters" »


May 14, 2015

"Mystery of the Missing Antimatter" --Solved by the Magnetic Field That Spans the Cosmos?

 

 

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The discovery of a 'left-handed' magnetic field that pervades the universe could help explain a long standing mystery – the absence of cosmic antimatter. Planets, stars, gas and dust are almost entirely made up of 'normal' matter of the kind we are familiar with on Earth. But theory predicts that there should be a similar amount of antimatter, like normal matter, but with the opposite charge. For example, an antielectron (called a positron) has the same mass as its conventional counterpart, but a positive rather than negative charge.

Continue reading ""Mystery of the Missing Antimatter" --Solved by the Magnetic Field That Spans the Cosmos?" »


NASA: "X-Rays Light Up Sun-Like Coronas of Black Holes"

 

 

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A new study by astronomers at NASA, Johns Hopkins University and the Rochester Institute of Technology confirms long-held suspicions about how stellar-mass black holes produce their highest-energy light. "Our work traces the complex motions, particle interactions and turbulent magnetic fields in billion-degree gas on the threshold of a black hole, one of the most extreme physical environments in the universe," said lead researcher Jeremy Schnittman, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Continue reading "NASA: "X-Rays Light Up Sun-Like Coronas of Black Holes"" »


"CSI" --The Death of a Galaxy

 

 

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As murder mysteries go, it's a big one: how do galaxies die and what kills them? A new study, published today in the journal Nature, has found that the primary cause of galactic death is strangulation, which occurs after galaxies are cut off from the raw materials needed to make new stars.

Continue reading ""CSI" --The Death of a Galaxy" »


May 13, 2015

Mystery Star Clusters of Elliptical Galaxy Centaurus A --"Something Dark, Hidden and Massive"

 

 

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The elliptical galaxy Centaurus A (also known as NGC 5128) shown in deep field above is the closest giant galaxy to the Milky Way and is suspected to harbour as many as 2000 globular clusters. Many of these globulars are brighter and more massive than the 150 or so orbiting the Milky Way.

Continue reading "Mystery Star Clusters of Elliptical Galaxy Centaurus A --"Something Dark, Hidden and Massive"" »


Kepler Mission Data --"Reveals Alien Planet Weather Cycles"

 

 

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Astrophysicists prepare weather forecasts for planets beyond our solar system using Kepler data to find evidence of daily weather cycles on exoplanets "Cloudy for the morning, turning to clear with scorching heat in the afternoon." While this might describe a typical late-summer day in many places on Earth, it may also apply to planets outside our solar system, according to a new study by an international team of astrophysicists from the University of Toronto, York University and Queen's University Belfast.

Continue reading "Kepler Mission Data --"Reveals Alien Planet Weather Cycles"" »


May 12, 2015

"Alien Life Habitats" --NASA Brainstorms Alternatives to Water

 

 

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In the search for life beyond Earth, scientists have justifiably focused on water because all biology as we know it requires this fluid. A wild card, however, is whether alternative liquids can also suffice as life-enablers. For example, Saturn’s frigid moon Titan is awash in inky seas of the hydrocarbon methane.

Continue reading ""Alien Life Habitats" --NASA Brainstorms Alternatives to Water" »


Iconic Supergiant Star's Hidden Companion

 

 

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To measure distances in the Universe, astronomers use Cepheids, a family of variable stars whose luminosity varies with time. Their role as distance calibrators has brought them attention from researchers for more than a century. While it was thought that nearly everything was known about the prototype of Cepheids, named Delta Cephei, a team of researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), the Johns Hopkins University, and the European Space Agency (ESA), have now discovered that this star is not alone, but that it has a hidden companion. 

Continue reading " Iconic Supergiant Star's Hidden Companion" »


May 11, 2015

NASA's First Encounter With the 'Last Planet' --"A New Class of Worlds"

 

 

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After an epic journey across the breadth of the solar system, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is finally nearing its destination: the Pluto system, a staggering 3 billion miles from Earth. In December, after a journey of nine years, the spacecraft was brought out of hibernation for the last time in preparation for its rendezvous with the dwarf planet the week of July 12. The upcoming Pluto flyby, once billed as the ‘first trip to the last planet,’ is actually the first visit to an entirely new class of worlds, says planetary scientist William McKinnon.

Continue reading "NASA's First Encounter With the 'Last Planet' --"A New Class of Worlds"" »


Oldest Fossil Brain Ever Discovered --Reveals Origin of the Head

 

 

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A new study from the University of Cambridge has identified one of the oldest fossil brains ever discovered - more than 500 million years old - and used it to help determine how heads first evolved in early animals. The results, published today (7 May) in the journal Current Biology, identify a key point in the evolutionary transition from soft to hard bodies in early ancestors of arthropods, the group that contains modern insects, crustaceans and spiders.

Continue reading "Oldest Fossil Brain Ever Discovered --Reveals Origin of the Head" »


May 10, 2015

Dark Matter Waves at the Center of Galaxies --"The 'Operating System' of the Universe"

 

 

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Is dark matter the "operating system" of the Universe? Tom Broadhurst, an Ikerbasque researcher at the UPV/EHU's Department of Theoretical Physics, thinks it is. He has participated alongside scientists of the National Taiwan University in a piece of research that explores cold dark matter in depth and proposes new answers about the formation of galaxies and the structure of the Universe. This theory can be used to suggest that all the galaxies in this context should have at their center large stationary waves of dark matter called solitons, which would explain the puzzling cores observed in common dwarf galaxies.

Continue reading "Dark Matter Waves at the Center of Galaxies --"The 'Operating System' of the Universe"" »


Alien Megastorms of Colossal Brown Dwarfs (Weekend Feature)

 

 

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Like galactic storm chasers, University of Arizona astronomers are leading an effort to discover how clouds and weather systems change over time on other worlds. Using simultaneous observations from the two space telescopes, UA astronomers are tracking the evolution of the swirling clouds and storm systems in unprecedented detail on this brown dwarf and five others like it. The goal of the UA-led Extrasolar Storms campaign is to discover how clouds and weather systems change over time on other worlds. With brown dwarf cloud systems changing in minutes, hours and years, the galaxy looks like a dark and stormy place.

Continue reading "Alien Megastorms of Colossal Brown Dwarfs (Weekend Feature)" »


Alien Megastorms of Colossal Brown Dwarfs (Weekend Feature)

 

 

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Like galactic storm chasers, University of Arizona astronomers are leading an effort to discover how clouds and weather systems change over time on other worlds. Using simultaneous observations from the two space telescopes, UA astronomers are tracking the evolution of the swirling clouds and storm systems in unprecedented detail on this brown dwarf and five others like it. The goal of the UA-led Extrasolar Storms campaign is to discover how clouds and weather systems change over time on other worlds. With brown dwarf cloud systems changing in minutes, hours and years, the galaxy looks like a dark and stormy place.

Continue reading "Alien Megastorms of Colossal Brown Dwarfs (Weekend Feature)" »


May 09, 2015

Weekend Image: The Birth of a Planet-Forming Star System

 

 

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A team led by Daniel Tamayo from the Centre for Planetary Science at University of Toronto Scarborough and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, found that circular gaps in a disk of dust and gas swirling around the young star HL Tau are in fact made by forming planets. “HL Tau likely represents the first image taken of the initial locations of planets during their formation,” said Tamayo. “This could be an enormous step forward in our ability to understand how planets form.”

Continue reading "Weekend Image: The Birth of a Planet-Forming Star System" »




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