Detailed analysis and review have borne out researchers’ initial interpretation of pebble-containing slabs that NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity investigated last year: they are part of an ancient streambed. The rocks are the first ever found on Mars that contain streambed gravels. The sizes and shapes of the gravels embedded in these conglomerate rocks — from the size of sand particles to the size of golf balls — enabled researchers to calculate the depth and speed of the water that once flowed at this location.
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A chemical reaction between iron-containing minerals and water may produce enough hydrogen "food" to sustain microbial communities living in pores and cracks within the enormous volume of rock below the ocean floor and parts of the continents, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder. The findings, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, also hint at the possibility that hydrogen-dependent life could have existed where iron-rich igneous rocks on Mars were once in contact with water.
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Data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) have led to a new and improved family tree for asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter. Astronomers used millions of infrared snapshots from the asteroid-hunting portion of the WISE all-sky survey, called NEOWISE, to identify 28 new asteroid families. The snapshots also helped place thousands of previously hidden and uncategorized asteroids into families for the first time. The findings are a critical step in understanding the origins of asteroid families, and the collisions thought to have created these rocky clans.
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According to physicist, Roger Penrose, What’s in our head is orders of magnitude more complex than anything one sees in the Universe: "If you look at the entire physical cosmos," says Penrose, "our brains are a tiny, tiny part of it. But they're the most perfectly organized part. Compared to the complexity of a brain, a galaxy is just an inert lump."
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The widespread disappearance of stromatolites, the earliest visible manifestation of life on Earth, may have been driven by single-celled organisms called foraminifera. Stromatolites (“layered rocks”) are structures made of calcium carbonate and shaped by the actions of photosynthetic cyanobacteria and other microbes that trapped and bound grains of coastal sediment into fine layers. They showed up in great abundance along shorelines all over the world about 3.5 billion years ago.
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Two young galaxies that collided 11 billion years ago are rapidly forming a massive galaxy about 10 times the size of the Milky Way, according to UC Irvine-led research published Wednesday in the journal Nature. Capturing the creation of this type of large, short-lived star body is extremely rare – the equivalent of discovering a missing link between winged dinosaurs and early birds, said the scientists, who relied on the once-powerful Herschel space telescope and observatories around the world. The new mega-galaxy, dubbed HXMM01, is the brightest, most luminous and most gas-rich submillimeter-bright galaxy merger known.
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The Antarctic continental ice cap came into existence during the Oligocene epoch, some 33.6 million years ago, according to data from an international expedition led by the Andalusian Institute of Earth Sciences (IACT)—a Spanish National Research Council-University of Granada joint center. Before the ice covered Antarctica, the Earth was a warm place with a tropical climate. In this region, plankton diversity was high until glaciation 33.6 million years ago reduced the populations leaving only those capable of surviving in the new climate.
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The black hole at the center of the super giant elliptical galaxy M87 in cluster Virgo fifty million light-years away is the most massive black hole for which a precise mass has been measured -6.6 billion solar masses. Orbiting the galaxy is an abnormally large population of about 12,000 globular clusters, compared to 150-200 globular clusters orbiting the Milky Way.
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If all the light emitted by all galaxies in the observable universe at all wavelengths during all of cosmic history were known, it would clue astronomers about the entire history of galaxy formation and evolution, and provide insights to key aspects of the expansion history of the universe. But measuring this light — known as extragalactic background light (EBL) — is no simple task, complicated by the fact that Earth is lodged inside a bright solar system and the Milky Way, a very bright galaxy, making it enormously difficult for ground-based and space-based telescopes to reliably measure EBL. Furthermore, current galaxy surveys being used to estimate EBL could very well be missing information from faint galaxies and other sources.
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Near-Earth Objects (NEO) have long been a dilemma for scientists, especially since the discovery of 99942 Apophis in 2004. Apophis was first believed to be heading directly towards earth, and created a bit of a stir when people realized that it could hit earth in 2029. However, since then, due to several recalculations and lucky happenstances, the asteroid has only a 1 in 45,000 chance of hitting earth.
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