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August 31, 2013

The Big Bang Afterglow --New Mysteries Revealed (Holiday Feature)

 

 

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This past spring, the most detailed map ever created of the cosmic microwave background – the relic radiation from the Big Bang – was released by the ESO revealing the existence of features that challenge the foundations of our current understanding of the Universe. When compared to the best fit of observations to the standard model of cosmology, the Planck Space Telescope's high-precision capabilities reveal that the fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background at large scales are not as strong as expected. The graphic shows a map derived from the difference between the two, which is representative of what the anomalies could look like.

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August 30, 2013

Image of the Day: NASA Reveals Massive 460-Mile Long Canyon Hidden Millions of Years Under Greenland's Ice Sheet

 

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Hidden for all of human history, a 460 mile long canyon under a mile of Greenland ice. Using radar data from NASA's Operation IceBridge, scientists found the canyon runs from near the center of the island northward to the fjord of the Petermann Glacier. The canyon has the characteristics of a winding river channel and is at least 460 miles (750 kilometers) long, making it longer than the Grand Canyon. In some places, it is as deep as 2,600 feet (800 meters), on scale with segments of the Grand Canyon. This immense feature is thought to predate the ice sheet that has covered Greenland for the last few million years.

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Milky Way's Supermassive Black Hole Casts a Shadow --Nixes Theoretical Models

 


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The event horizon of Sgr A** casts a shadow against the glowing matter surrounding the black hole. New NASA Chandra X Ray Observatory research could aid efforts using radio telescopes to observe and understand the shadow. It also will be useful for understanding the effect orbiting stars and gas clouds may have on matter flowing toward and away from the black hole.

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Minerals Essential for Life on Earth Came from Mars --New Evidence

 

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 “The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock,” says Steven Benner of the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology. “It’s lucky that we ended up here nevertheless, as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life. If our hypothetical Martian ancestors had remained on Mars, there might not have been a story to tell. In addition, recent studies show that these conditions, suitable for the origin of life, may still exist on Mars."

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August 29, 2013

Evolution of Early Universe from Big Bang Simulated in 10 Milliseconds

 

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It took the whole universe about 380,000 years to evolve from the Big Bang into the cosmic microwave background radiation spectrum, but physicists were able to reproduce much the same pattern in approximately 10 milliseconds in a new simulation using ultracold cesium atoms in a vacuum chamber at the University of Chicago. Their goal is to better understand the cosmic evolution of a baby universe, the one that existed shortly after the Big Bang. It was much smaller then than it is today, having reached a diameter of only a hundred thousand light years by the time it had left the CMB pattern that cosmologists observe on the sky today.

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Saturn's Titan Reveals Strange Gravity Phenomenon


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An analysis of gravity and topography data from Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has revealed that Titan's ice shell is rigid and that relatively small topographic features on the surface are associated with large roots extending into the underlying ocean. Led by planetary scientists Douglas Hemingway and Francis Nimmo at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the study used new data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The researchers were surprised to find a negative correlation between the gravity and topography signals on Titan.

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Image of the Day: Solar Eclipse of Mars Mystery-Moon Phobos

 

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Images taken with a telephoto-lens camera on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity catch the larger of Mars' two moons, Phobos, passing directly in front of the sun -- the sharpest images of a solar eclipse ever taken at Mars. Phobos does not fully cover the sun, as seen from the surface of Mars, so the solar eclipse is what's called a ring, or annular, type.

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August 28, 2013

Ceres --The Dwarf-Water Planet Unique in Our Solar System: NASA Asks "Could It Host Life?"

 

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Ceres, which orbits the Sun in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, is a unique body in the Solar System, bearing many similarities to Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus, both considered to be potential sources for harboring life. In March of 2015, NASA's Dawn mission will arrive at the dwarf planet Ceres, the first of the smaller class of planets to be discovered and the closest to Earth.

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Does Our Solar System Exist in a Region of the Universe that's Just Right for Life'?

 

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Many of our greatest scientists have been asking why does the universe appear to fe "fine-tuned" for life? The logic behind this question, sometimes known as the anthropic principle, says that's why we are here today, able to study the universe and learn about its laws. But if any of these constants were slightly different, we could never have come in to exist in the first place.

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Carbon-12 --Does Its Creation in Stars Suggest a Universe Fine-Tuned for Life? (Today's Most Popular)

 

 

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Is the Universe fine-tuned for life? A team of physicists have looked at the conditions necessary to the formation of carbon and oxygen two elements in the universe that are the foundation of life as we currently know it. They’ve found that when it comes to supporting life, the universe leaves very little margin for error.

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