A spectacular galaxy collision has been discovered lurking behind the Milky Way, some 30 million light years away, which means that it is relatively close by. It has been dubbed “Kathryn’s Wheel” both after the famous firework that it resembles. It's the closest such system ever found, the discovery was announced today by a team of astronomers led by Prof. Quentin Parker at the University of Hong-Kong and Prof. Albert Zijlstra at the University of Manchester.
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Computer simulations show that the extra friction from a galaxy collision would make the dark matter slow down. The nature of that interaction is unknown; it could be caused by well-known effects or some exotic unknown force. All that can be said at this point is that it is not gravity.
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"We know that dark matter is needed in our Galaxy to keep the stars and gas rotating at their observed speeds," says Dr. Miguel Pato, at Technische Universität München. "However, we still do not know what dark matter is composed of. This is one of the most important science questions of our times."
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Astronomers have spied a new alien world that they believe strikingly resembles a young Jupiter. Using a new instrument, the Gemini Planet Imager, they spotted 51 Eridani b, still warm and luminous from its formation. But what can this distant exoplanet, orbiting a star approximately 100 light years away, teach us about the solar system Jupiter calls home?
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Rogue supernovas that explode all alone in deep space present an astronomical mystery. Where did they come from? How did they get there? The likely answer: a binary black hole slingshot, according to a new study by Ryan Foley, a professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Illinois.
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The recently commissioned Gemini Planet Imager has made its first exoplanet discovery: what may be the lowest-mass exoplanet ever directly imaged with a space telescope instrument. Based on available data, the researchers project the planet weighs twice as much as Jupiter - far less than exoplanets directly imaged before, which weighed at least five times Jupiter's mass.
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What could the first intellgent species of an alien planet look like? Imagine a skeleton-less creature with three hearts, with most of its nearly half a billion neurons distributed in eight tentacular arms. Each arm can regenerate like the mythical Hydra and has a mind of its own. Its muscles stiffen into temporary elbows and shoulders. This creature has the eerie capability of perfect camouflage and decorates its lair with leftovers of its prey.
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Scientists have hoped that ultra-high-energy neutrinos could point to sources of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays—supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies or hypernova star explosions, for instance. Now, evidence of a fourth ultra-high energy neutrino—the highest-energy neutrino yet—has been detected by the South Pole-based IceCube experiment, a project that Berkeley Lab researchers helped build and to which they currently contribute analysis. But this most-recent neutrino finding, says Berkeley Lab’s Spencer Klein, only “deepens the mystery” of cosmic ray origins.
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Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the 6.5-meter Clay Telescope in Chile have identified the smallest supermassive black hole ever detected in the center of a galaxy. This oxymoronic object could provide clues to how larger black holes formed along with their host galaxies 13 billion years or more in the past. Astronomers estimate this supermassive black hole is about 50,000 times the mass of the sun. This is less than half the mass of the previous smallest black hole at the center of a galaxy.
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A team of astronomers including a San Francisco State University researcher has discovered a new planet orbiting a pair of stars, the 10th "circumbinary" planet discovered by NASA's Kepler Mission and a milestone for the 6-year-old spacecraft. The planet, known as Kepler-453b, is located within its host stars' "habitable zone," the area around the stars in which life could potentially exist. And the somewhat fortuitous nature of its discovery indicate there could be more like it than previously believed.
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