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August 2014
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Did Our Solar System Originate in a Distant Star Cluster?

 

 

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Is it possible that our original home exists as a great collection of stars, a star cluster known as Messier 67 (shown above), a gathering of suns and stellar remnants some 2,700 light-years distant that contains more than a hundred stars that bear a striking resemblance to the Sun. Astronomers have searched for star clusters in our galaxy whose members come close to matching the Sun’s elemental composition and age. This past January, astronomers using ESO's HARPS planet hunter in Chile, along with other telescopes around the world, discovered three planets orbiting stars in the cluster Messier 67 shown above. Although more than one thousand planets outside the Solar System are now confirmed, only a handful have been found in star clusters. Remarkably one of these new exoplanets is orbiting a star that is a rare solar twin — a star that is almost identical to the Sun in all respects.

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Unearthly Zodiacal Light --A Fossil Clue to the Origin of Our Solar System

 

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This panorama photo, taken by ESO's Yuri Beletsky, shows the view of the starry sky from the site of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Cerro Paranal in Chile during the total lunar eclipse of 21 December 2010. The reddish disc of the Moon is seen on the right of the image, while the Milky Way arches across the heavens in all its beauty. Another faint glow of light is also visible, surrounding the brilliant planet Venus in the bottom left corner of the picture. This phenomenon, known as zodiacal light, is produced by sunlight reflecting off dust in the plane of the planets. It is so faint that it’s normally obscured by moonlight or light pollution.

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Cassini Spacecraft Tracks Mystery Object in a Titan Sea

 

 

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NASA's Cassini spacecraft is monitoring the evolution of a mysterious feature in a large hydrocarbon sea on Saturn's moon Titan. The feature covers an area of about 100 square miles (260 square kilometers) in Ligeia Mare, one of the largest seas on Titan. It has now been observed twice by Cassini's radar experiment, but its appearance changed between the two apparitions.

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Extreme Alien Planet Found -"One of the Most Massive Known Exoplanets"

 

 

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A planet may be causing the star it orbits to act much older than it actually is, according to new data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. This discovery shows how a massive planet can affect the behavior of its parent star. The star, WASP-18, and its planet, WASP-18b, are located about 330 light-years from Earth. WASP-18b has a mass about 10 times that of Jupiter and completes one orbit around its star in less than 23 hours, placing WASP-18b in the “hot Jupiter” category of exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system.

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Resurrecting 4-Billion-Year-Old Proteins to Decode Earth's Early Epochs --"Will Aid Our Search for Life in the Universe"

 

 

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Thanks to advances in a niche field called paleobiochemistry, researchers in the last decade have started to “resurrect” ancient proteins. Studying these proteins’ properties is offering us glimpses of what life was like in bygone epochs.

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"Prevalence of Life Throughout Milky Way" --Suggested By Discovery of Earth's Water Predating Birth of Sun

 

 

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"The implication of these findings is that some of the solar system's water must have been inherited from the Sun's birth environment, and thus predate the Sun itself. If our solar system's formation was typical, this implies that water is a common ingredient during the formation of all planetary systems.

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"Black Holes Can Never Come into Being" --New Theory Forces Scientists to Rethink Whether Big Bang Ever Happened



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Experimental evidence may one day provide physical proof as to whether or not black holes exist in the universe. But for now, theorectical physicist Laura Mersini-Houghton at the University of North Carolina says the mathematics are conclusive: they don’t exist. By merging two seemingly conflicting theories, Mersini-Houghton, has proven, mathematically, that black holes can never come into being in the first place. The work not only forces scientists to reimagine the fabric of space-time, but also rethink the origins of the universe.

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Complex Organic Molecules Found in Giant Gas Cloud Near Milky Way’s Galactic Center

 

 

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Hunting from a distance of 27,000 light years, astronomers have discovered an unusual carbon-based molecule – one with a branched structure – contained within a giant gas cloud in interstellar space. Like finding a molecular needle in a cosmic haystack, astronomers have detected radio waves emitted by isopropyl cyanide. The discovery suggests that the complex molecules needed for life may have their origins in interstellar space.

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"Biological Brains are Unlikely to be the Final Stage of Intelligence"

 

 

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Machines already have superhuman strength, speed and stamina – and one day they will have superhuman intelligence. The only reasons this may not occur is if we develop some other dangerous technology first that destroys us, or otherwise fall victim to some existential risk. But assuming that scientific and technological progress continues, human-level machine intelligence is very likely to be developed. And shortly thereafter, superintelligence.

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30% to 50% of Earth's Water Today came from the Primordial Molecular Cloud --"Older than the Solar System Itself"

 

 

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Up to half of the water on Earth is likely older than the solar system itself, University of Michigan astronomers theorize. The researchers' work helps to settle a debate about just how far back in galactic history our planet and our solar system's water formed. Were the molecules in comet ices and terrestrial oceans born with the system itself—in the planet-forming disk of dust and gas that circled the young sun 4.6 billion years ago? Or did the water originate even earlier—in the cold, ancient molecular cloud that spawned the sun and that planet-forming disk?

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