When two LIGO detectors are switched on in the US next year, scientists hope to pick up the faint long-sought ripples of black hole collisions millions of years ago, known as gravitational waves. Black holes cannot be seen, but scientists hope the revamped detectors - which act like giant microphones - will find remnants of black hole collisions. LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, is a large-scale physics experiment aiming to directly detect gravitational waves, founded in 1992 by Kip Thorne and Ronald Drever of Caltech and Rainer Weiss of MIT. The original detectors were disassembled and are currently being replaced by improved versions known as "Advanced LIGO", scheduled to be operational by 2015.
Continue reading ""Giant Cosmic Microphones" --Will They Detect Gravitational-Waves from Ancient Black Hole Collisions?" »
Earth and its planetary neighbors arose in a magnetic field strong enough to sculpt the disk of gas and dust that spawned our solar system and set the stage for a planet capable of developing life. That's the implication of new work that uses a meteorite to deduce the strength of the magnetic field around the young sun.
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NASA's New Horizons spacecraft comes out of hibernation for the last time on Dec. 6. Between now and then, while the Pluto-bound probe enjoys three more weeks of electronic slumber, work on Earth is well under way to prepare the spacecraft for a six-month encounter with the dwarf planet that begins in January.
Continue reading "NASA Spacecraft "at Pluto's Doorstep" 3 Billion Miles from Earth --Poised for Six-Month Encounter" »
New research on Mars weather promises to advance scientists’ understanding of the dynamics of Earth’s own atmosphere – and could provide insights into the weather of Venus, Saturn’s moon Titan, and possibly the gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
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The epic Philae landing will unlock hold vital clues about our solar system's history. Comets are considered primitive building blocks of the solar system that are literally frozen in time. Comets may have played a part in "seeding" Earth with water and, possibly, the basic ingredients for life.
Continue reading "The Rosetta Comet Mission --"Unlocking the Secrets of Our Origins" (Today's Most Popular)" »
The combination photo of different images taken with the CIVA camera system released by the European Space Agency ESA on Thursday Nov. 13, 2014 shows Rosetta's lander Philae as it is safely on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, as these first CIVA images confirm. One of the lander's three feet can be seen in the foreground. Philae became the first spacecraft to land on a comet when it touched down Wednesday on the comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
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Last year CERN announced the finding of a new elementary particle, the Higgs particle. But maybe it wasn't the Higgs particle, maybe it just looks like it. And maybe it is not alone. Many calculations indicate that the particle discovered last year in the CERN particle accelerator was indeed the famous Higgs particle. Physicists agree that the CERN experiments did find a new particle that had never been seen before, but according to an international research team, there is no conclusive evidence that the particle was indeed the Higgs particle.
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The normally bland face of Uranus has become increasingly stormy, with enormous cloud systems so bright that for the first time ever, amateur astronomers are able to see details in the planet's hazy blue-green atmosphere. "The weather on Uranus is incredibly active," said Imke de Pater, professor and chair of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, and leader of the team that first noticed the activity when observing the planet with adaptive optics on the W. M. Keck II Telescope in Hawaii.
Continue reading "Monster Storms Sighted on Ice Giant Uranus --Hints of a Hidden Vortex" »
The Philae probe has landed on the surface of the ancient comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, fixing itself to the two-mile long, high-speed comet using harpoons and drills, scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA) announced today. Led by ESA with a consortium of partners including NASA, scientists on the Rosetta mission hope to learn more about the composition of comets and how they interact with the solar wind -- high energy particles blasted into space by the Sun. The Philae lander separated from the mother ship Rosetta around 3:30 a.m. ET to begin its 7-hour descent. Philae, which has spent 10 years fixed to the side of Rosetta during the journey across the solar system, could not be steered.
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The Milky Way galaxy – our own cosmic neighborhood – forms one star the mass of Earth’s own sun each year. Massive AzTEC-3, the second-most-distant one of its kind known to humanity, produces about five of our suns each Earth day, churning out a total of 1,800 solar masses annually. Such ancient massive star-bursting galaxies can be found by astronomers using modern, mountaintop telescopes like the National Science Foundation-funded Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile. This exceptional galaxy, which at present day is only slightly younger than the 13.8 billion-year-old universe, is named after the AzTEC-millimeter-wave camera on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope – through which it was initially found.
Continue reading "Monster Galaxy Almost as Old as the Universe --Creating Stars 1,000 Times Faster than Milky Way" »