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February 2015
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Mystery of Extreme Continent Building Solved --A Key to Life on Earth and Beyond

 


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"We've revealed a major unknown in the evolution of our planet," says Esteban Gazel, an assistant professor of geology with Virginia Tech. An international research team, led geoscientist Gazel, has revealed information about how continents were generated on Earth more than 2.5 billion years ago -- and how those processes have continued within the last 70 million years to profoundly affect the planet's life and climate.

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Habitable Alien Planets of Binary Stars --"They May Be Hidden Behind Gas Giants"

 

 

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Luke Skywalker’s home in “Star Wars” is the desert planet Tatooine, with twin sunsets because it orbits two stars. So far, only uninhabitable gas-giant planets have been identified circling such binary stars, and many researchers believe rocky planets cannot form there. Now, mathematical simulations show that Earthlike, solid planets such as Tatooine likely exist and may be widespread.

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Astronomers Debate: "How Long Can a Technology-Based Civilization Last?" (Weekend Feature)

 

 

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"We have no idea how long a technological civilization like our own can last," says University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank. "Is it 200 years, 500 years or 50,000 years? Answering this question is at the root of all our concerns about the sustainability of human society. Are we the first and only technologically-intensive civilization in the entire history of the universe? If not, shouldn't we stand to learn something from the past successes and failures of other species?"

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Why the Quantum, Why the Universe --"Are Findings Pointing to a New Physics?"

 

 

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The existence and stability of atoms relies heavily on the fact that neutrons are slightly more mas-sive than protons. The experimentally determined masses differ by only around 0.14 percent. A slightly smaller or larger value of the mass difference would have led to a dramatically different universe, with too many neutrons, not enough hydrogen, or too few heavier elements. The tiny mass difference is the reason why free neutrons decay on average after around ten minutes, while protons - the unchanging building blocks of matter - remain stable for a practically unlimited period.

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"The Dark World of Our Universe" --Astronomers Zeroing In on This Great Mystery

 

 

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Dark matter is a giant question mark looming over our knowledge of the Universe. There is more dark matter in the Universe than visible matter, but it is extremely elusive; it does not reflect, absorb or emit light, making it invisible. Because of this, it is only known to exist via its gravitational effects on the visible Universe. A favored theory is that dark matter might be constituted of "supersymmetric" particles. Supersymmetry is a theory in which all particles in our Standard Model -- electrons, protons, neutrons, and so on -- have a more massive "supersymmetric" partner. While there has been no experimental confirmation for supersymmetry as yet, the theory would solve a few of the gaps in our current thinking. One of supersymmetry's proposed particles would be stable, electrically neutral, and only interact weakly with the common particles of the Standard Model -- all the properties required to explain dark matter.

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Ancient Paleo-Lake Identified at Mars' Jezero Crater -- Could Reveal Biologic or Organic Material

 

 

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Researchers from Brown University have completed a new analysis of an ancient Martian lake system in Jezero Crater, near the planet’s equator. The study finds that the onslaught of water that filled the crater was one of at least two separate periods of water activity in the region surrounding Jezero.

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The Starmaker --Fierce Colossal Winds of a Galaxy's Supermassive Black Hole

 

            

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Star formation takes place in cold, dense molecular clouds. By heating and dispersing gas that could one day make stars, the black-hole wind forever alters a large portion of its galaxy. By combining observations from the Japan-led Suzaku X-ray satellite and the European Space Agency's infrared Herschel Space Observatory, scientists have connected a fierce "wind" produced near a galaxy's monster black hole to an outward torrent of cold gas a thousand light-years across. The finding validates a long-suspected feedback mechanism enabling a supermassive black hole to influence the evolution of its host galaxy.

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Image of the Day: Dusty Cloud at Milky Way Core Survives Supermassive Black Hole Encounter

 

 

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This composite image shows the motion of the dusty cloud G2 as it closes in on, and then passes, the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. These new observations with ESO's VLT have shown that the cloud appears to have survived its close encounter with the black hole and remains a compact object that is not significantly extended. In this image the position of the cloud in the years 2006, 2010, 2012 and February and September 2014 are shown, from left to right. The blobs have been colorized to show the motion of the cloud, red indicated that the object is receding and blue approaching. The cross marks the position of the supermassive black hole.

The Daily Galaxy via ESO


Jupiter's Explosive Ever-Present Polar Lights --Many Times Size of the Earth

 

 

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On Earth, bursts of particles spewed by the Sun spark shimmering auroras, like the Northern Lights, that briefly dance at our planet’s poles. But, on Jupiter, there’s an auroral glow all the time, and new observations show that this Jovian display sometimes flares up because of a process having nothing to do with the Sun.

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"Hacking the Cosmos" --New Systems Able to Process Square Kilometer Array Data Tsunami

 

 

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It's almost a rite of passage in physics and astronomy. Scientists spend years scrounging up money to build a fantastic new instrument. Then, when the long-awaited device finally approaches completion, the panic begins: How will they handle the torrent of data?

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