On 4th of July, 2013 a European team of astronomers led by Hongsheng Zhao of the SUPA Centre of Gravity at the University of St Andrews presented a radical new theory at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in St Andrews. Their theory suggested that the Milky Way and Anromeda galaxies collided some 10 billion years ago and that our understanding of gravity is fundamentally wrong. Remarkably, this would neatly explain the observed structure of the two galaxies and their satellites.
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Mysteries about controversial signals coming from a dwarf star considered to be a prime target in the search for extraterrestrial life now have been solved in research led by scientists at Penn State University. Some of the signals, it appears, which were suspected to be coming from two planets orbiting the star at a distance where liquid water could potentially exist, actually are coming from events inside the star itself, not from so-called "Goldilocks planets" where conditions are just right for supporting life.
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Climate scientists have long tried to explain why ice-age cycles became longer and more intense some 900,000 years ago, switching from 41,000-year cycles to 100,000-year cycles. In a paper published this week in the journal Science Express, researchers report that the deep ocean currents that move heat around the globe stalled or may have stopped at that time, possibly due to expanding ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere. The image above shows Northern Hemisphere Ice Sheets about 950,000 years ago.
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Shock waves, vast reservoirs of gas, and spectacular jets, which blast from galaxy Messier 106's central black hole, are heating up material in the galaxy and thus making it glow like a cosmic Fourth of July celebration. The jets also power shock waves that are driving gases out of the galaxy's ((also known as NGC 4258) interior, and can have a significant impact on the evolution of their host galaxies, eventually sterilizing them and making them bereft of the gas needed to form new stars, says Patrick Ogle, an astrophysicist at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology.
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"Titan continues to prove itself as an endlessly fascinating world, and with our long-lived Cassini spacecraft, we're unlocking new mysteries as fast as we solve old ones," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. JPL scientists analyzing data from NASA's Cassini mission have firm evidence the ocean inside Saturn's largest moon, Titan, might be as salty as Earth's Dead Sea.
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The Higgs boson is a cornerstone of the Standard Model, a theory developed in the early 1970s to explain the five percent of the Universe composed of visible matter and energy, all carried by fundamental particles. Now, two years after making history by unearthing the Higgs boson, the particle that confers mass, physicists are broadening their probe into its identity, hoping this will also solve other great cosmic mysteries. The better they become acquainted with the Higgs at the infinitely small quantum level, the further the experts seem from explaining certain cosmic-scale questions, like dark matter.
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New research explores cold dark matter in depth and proposes new answers about the formation of galaxies and the structure of the Universe. The proposed theory can be used to suggest that all the galaxies should have at their center large stationary waves of dark matter called solitons, which would explain the puzzling cores observed in common dwarf galaxies. These predictions, published in the journal Nature Physics, are being contrasted with fresh data provided by the Hubble space telescope.
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If an alien astromer was viewing Earth from space, could they tell that this planet is well-suited for life? Are there telltale signatures in the atmosphere or from our oceans? These are some of the questions that controllers of a lunar spacecraft sought to answer when it took a bit of a side mission. Instead of observing the Moon, NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) briefly looked at Earth.
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An international team of scientists, led by astronomers at Queen Mary University of London,discovered two new planets orbiting Kapteyn’s star, one of the oldest stars found near the Sun, prompting renowned science fiction writer, Alistair Reynolds to write a short story, Sad Kapteyn, that describes the arrival of a robotic interstellar probe reaching Kapteyn's planetary system. One of the newly-discovered planets could be ripe for life as it orbits at the right distance to the star to allow liquid water on its surface. Reynolds worked as an astronomer at the European Space Agency, and later he became a full time science-fiction writer. Read the story.
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