The Answer to Fermi's Paradox? --"Near Universal Early Extinction of Life in the Cosmos" (Friday's Most Popular)



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"The universe is probably filled with habitable planets, so many scientists think it should be teeming with aliens," said Aditya Chopra at Australia National University. "Early life is fragile, so we believe it rarely evolves quickly enough to survive. Most early planetary environments are unstable. To produce a habitable planet, life forms need to regulate greenhouse gases such as water and carbon dioxide to keep surface temperatures stable. The mystery of why we haven't yet found signs of aliens may have less to do with the likelihood of the origin of life or intelligence and have more to do with the rarity of the rapid emergence of biological regulation of feedback cycles on planetary surfaces."

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New Kepler Planet Discovery Could Sustain Life --"Warm Atmosphere and Surface Liquid Water"

 

 

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“We found there are multiple atmospheric compositions that allow it to be warm enough to have surface liquid water,” said Aomawa Shields, the study’s lead author and a National Science Foundation astronomy and astrophysics postdoctoral fellow in UCLA’s department of physics and astronomy. “This makes it a strong candidate for a habitable planet.” On Earth, carbon dioxide makes up 0.04 percent of the atmosphere. Because Kepler-62f is much farther away from its star than Earth is from the sun, it would need to have dramatically more carbon dioxide to be warm enough to maintain liquid water on its surface, and to keep from freezing.

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"Life on Dwarf Planet Ceres?" Mysterious Daily Changes in Bright Spots Baffle Scientists

 

 

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Bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres continue to stump  researchers, led by Paolo Molaro of the Trieste Astronomical Observatory in Italy, who conducted the observations using the HARPS spectrograph at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Molaro's team made an unexpected discovery: Although Ceres appears as little more than a point of light from the Earth, very careful study of its light shows not only the changes expected as Ceres rotates, but also that the spots brighten during the day and also show other variations. These observations suggest that the material of the spots is volatile and evaporates in the warm glow of sunlight.

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Stark Climate Change on Mars --"The Red Planet is Emerging from a 370,000-Year Ice Age"

 

 

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Radar measurements of Mars' polar ice caps reveal that the mostly dry, dusty planet is emerging from an ice age, following multiple rounds of climate change. Understanding the Martian climate will help determine when the planet was habitable in the past, how that changed, and may inform studies of climate change on Earth. Models have suggested that Mars has undergone ice ages in the past, but empirical data to confirm this has been sparse. While the southern ice cap is relatively small and altered by meteorite impacts, the researchers were able to trace the layers within the northern ice cap. They found layers and migration paths that increase in slope abruptly, reverse direction, or are completely buried. Their analysis suggests that the planet is currently emerging from an ice age, in a retreat that began approximately 370,000 years ago.

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Planet Eight Times Size of Jupiter Discovered Orbiting a Young Star --"Nixes Accepted Theory"



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"For decades, conventional wisdom held that large Jupiter-mass planets take a minimum of 10 million years to form," said Christopher Johns-Krull, the lead author of a new study about the planet, CI Tau b, that will be published in the Astrophysical Journal. "That's been called into question over the past decade, and many new ideas have been offered, but the bottom line is that we need to identify a number of newly formed planets around young stars if we hope to fully understand planet formation."

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The Black Hole Enigma --"Spacetime Physics Peer Beyond the Event Horizon"

 

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In principle, nothing that enters a black hole can leave the black hole. This has considerably complicated the study of these mysterious bodies on which generations of physicists have debated ever since 1916, the year their existence was hypothesized as a direct consequence of Einstein's Theory of Relativity. There is, however, some consensus in the scientific community on the fact that black holes possess an entropy, because their existence would otherwise violate the second law of thermodynamics.

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The Dark 'Fifth Force' of the Universe --“It’s Totally Beyond Anything We Understand" (Thursday's Most Popular)

 

 

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Scientists have been trying to puzzle out for decades why the universe seems to weigh more than it should, and so far the answer points to dark matter—an invisible substance that they still don’t clearly understand and is thought to exist in clumps throughout the universe. Dark matter, believed by physicists to outweigh all the normal matter in the universe by more than five to one, is by definition invisible. But, scientists at MIT and elsewhere have developed a new tool that could test to see if dark matter is detectable.

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"Fewer Planets Than Predicted Capable of Harboring Life" --Red Dwarf Systems Best Bet

 

 

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"It was previously assumed that planets with masses similar to Earth would be habitable simply because they were in the 'habitable zone,' said James Owen, Hubble Fellow and lead author of a new study from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton. "However, when you consider how these planets evolve over billions of years this assumption turns out not to be true."

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"Red Geysers" --New Phenomenon Discovered Creating Dead Galaxies of the Cosmos

 

 

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An international team of scientists has identified a common phenomenon in galaxies that could explain why huge numbers of them turn into cosmic graveyards. Galaxies begin their existence as lively and colorful spiral galaxies, full of gas and dust, and actively forming bright new stars. However, as galaxies evolve, they quench their star formation and turn into featureless deserts, devoid of fresh new stars, and generally remain as such for the rest of their evolution. But the mechanism that produces this dramatic transformation and keeps galaxies turned off, is one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in galaxy evolution.

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NASA Early Earth: "Violent Solar Flares Provided Energy to Create RNA and DNA Molecules"

 

 

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“Back then, Earth received only about 70 percent of the energy from the sun than it does today,” said Vladimir Airapetian, a solar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “That means Earth should have been an icy ball. Instead, geological evidence says it was a warm globe with liquid water. We call this the Faint Young Sun Paradox. Our new research shows that solar storms could have been central to warming Earth.”

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