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Pristine Dwarf Galaxy Provides a Time Capsule of the Big Bang

 

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A tiny neighbor of the Milky Way houses invaluable clues to how the Big Bang unfolded. Using one of the world’s premier telescopes, University of Minnesota astrophysicists Evan Skillman and Kristen McQuinn have discovered a priceless relic of the Big Bang in the Milky Way’s back yard. They are part of an international team that found Leo P, a tiny galaxy in the constellation Leo that contains relatively few stars, but has large clouds of hydrogen and helium. The ratio of elements in those clouds is of great interest because it is believed to mirror conditions in the first few minutes after the Big Bang.

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Powerful Black-Hole 'Microquasar' Found

 

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“By studying microquasars such as MQ1, we get a glimpse of how the early universe evolved, how fast quasars grew and how much energy black holes provided to their environment.”As a comparison, the most powerful microquasar in our galaxy, known as SS433, is about 10 times less powerful than MQ1." A team of Australian and American astronomers have been studying nearby galaxy M83 and have found this new superpowered small black hole, MQ1, the first object of its kind to be studied in this much detail.

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"We're Getting Closer!"--NASA's Kepler Mission Announces Discovery of 715 New Planets in Multi-Transiting Systems

 

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Today, the Kepler team announced the discovery of 715. Even before the announcement, the observatory had confirmed 246 new worlds outside the solar system. The latest discoveries almost quadruple that number. Kepler works by looking for the slight dimming of starlight caused when a distant planet transits its parent star. Any dip in stellar brightness attracts the attention of the Kepler team, and can prompt them to declare a planet candidate. Verification of candidates can be a laborious process, proceeding slowly, planet-by-planet.

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New Supernova Lights Up M82 --"The Cigar Galaxy"

 

 

 

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There's one supernova every second somwhere in the Universe. They are among the most powerful events in the universe, releasing so much energy that a single outburst can outshine an entire galaxy. A new supernova, dubbed SN 2014J, is of a particular kind known as a Type Ia. This type of supernova results in the complete destruction of a white dwarf star-the small, dense, aged remnant of a typical star like our sun.

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"The Big Bang Afterglow was a Vast Incubator for Life" (Today's Most Popular)

 

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Could Alien life have exsited in the Big Bang afterglow? According to Abraham Loeb, an astrophysicist at Harvard University, in the early Universe, the energy required to keep water liquid could have come from the cosmic microwave background, the afterglow of the Big Bang, rather than from host stars. A set of calculations -standard adiabatic cold dark matter (ACDM) cosmology- suggests that the first star forming halos within the Hubble volume started collapsing at redshifts allowing liquid water chemistry— a pre­requisite for life — to form on rocky planets just 15 million years after the Big Bang regardless of their distance from a star. “The whole Universe was once an incubator for life,” he says.

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Image of the Day: The Snake Nebula --From Cosmic Seeds to Massive Stars

 

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New images from the Smithsonian's Submillimeter Array (SMA) telescope shown below provide the most detailed view yet of stellar nurseries within the Snake nebula. These images offer new insights into how cosmic seeds can grow into massive stars.

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Giant Elliptical Galaxies --"Why are They Red and Dead?"

 

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Giant elliptical galaxies are the most puzzling type of galaxy in the Universe. Since they mysteriously shut down their star-forming activity and remain home only to the longest-lived of their stars – which are low-mass ones and appear red – astronomers often call these galaxies 'red and dead'. The Herschel Space Telescope has discovered massive elliptical galaxies in the nearby Universe containing plenty of cold gas, even though the galaxies fail to produce new stars. Comparison with other data suggests that, while hot gas cools down in these galaxies, stars do not form because jets from the central supermassive black hole heat or stir up the gas and prevent it from turning into stars.

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"Human Species May Be Among Early Advanced Life in the Universe" (Today's Most Popular)

 

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Intelligent life may be in it's "very young" stage in the observable Universe. Its 200 billion galaxies show a clear potential to continue on as we see them today for hundreds of billions of years, if not much longer. Because planets and life are so young in our Universe, says Harvard's Dimitar Sasselov, perhaps "the human species are not late comers to the party. We may be among the early ones."

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Water Detected on a Planet as Large as Jupiter Orbiting Tau Boötis

 

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Water has been detected in the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system with a new technique that could help researchers to learn how many planets with water, like Earth, exist throughout the universe. The team of scientists that made the discovery includes astronomers at Penn State University and other institutions. The astronomers detected the water in the atmosphere of a planet as massive as Jupiter that is orbiting the nearby star tau Boötis. The discovery is described in a scientific paper published in the 24 February 2014 online version of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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Andromeda's Dwarf-Galaxy Mashup --Astronomers Make a Surprising Discovery

 

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Andromeda, the massive sister spiral galaxy to the Milky Way, is orbited by a swarm of small galaxies – astronomers so far have counted more than 20. They have names like Andromeda I, II, III, IV...etc. Researchers from the Dark Cosmology Centre at the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, have analysed measurements of the stars in the dwarf galaxy Andromeda II and made a surprising discovery.

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