Most Mysterious Star in the Milky Way --"We Still Have No Idea What's Causing It to Dim" (A 'Galaxy' Update)

 

 

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"The dips found by Kepler are real. Something seems to be transiting in front of this star and we still have no idea what it is!" confirms German astronomer Michael Hippke. Even if aliens are not involved, Tabby's star remains "the most mysterious star in the universe" as Yale astronomer Tabetha Boyajian described it in a TED talk she gave last February.

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Scientists Seek Dark Force of the Universe --“It's Totally Beyond Anything We Understand" (A 'Galaxy' Insight)

 

 

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Scientists have been trying to puzzle out for decades why the universe seems to weigh more than it should, and so far the answer points to dark matter—an invisible substance that they still don’t clearly understand and is thought to exist in clumps throughout the universe. Dark matter, believed by physicists to outweigh all the normal matter in the universe by more than five to one, is by definition invisible. But, scientists at MIT and elsewhere have developed a new tool that could test to see if dark matter is detectable.

 

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New NASA Curiosity Discoveries --"Reveal an Ancient Earthlike Mars"

 

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The discovery of manganese oxides in Martian rocks might tell us that the Red Planet was once more Earth-like than previously believed. A new paper in Geophysical Research Letters reveals that NASA's Curiosity rover observed high levels of manganese oxides in Martian rocks, which could indicate that higher levels of atmospheric oxygen once existed on our neighboring planet. This hint of more oxygen in Mars' early atmosphere adds to other Curiosity findings--such as evidence of ancient lakes--revealing how Earth-like our neighboring planet once was.

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Juno Spacecraft Nearing Jupiter Orbit on July 4th --"We'll Have Polar Auroras & Great Red Spot in Our Windshield!"

 

 

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Over the past two weeks, several milestones occurred that were key to a successful 35-minute burn of its rocket motor, which will place the robotic explorer into a polar orbit around the gas giant. "We have over five years of spaceflight experience and only 10 days to Jupiter orbit insertion," said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "It is a great feeling to put all the interplanetary space in the rearview mirror and have the biggest planet in the solar system in our windshield."

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Hacking the Cosmos --"Gravitational-Wave Clues to First Black Holes After Big Bang"

 

 

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Scientists led by Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology ran the huge cosmological simulations that can be used to predict the rate at which gravitational waves caused by collisions between the monster black holes might be detected. The amplitude and frequency of these waves could reveal the initial mass of the seeds from which the first black holes grew since they were formed 13 billion years ago and provide further clues about what caused them and where they formed, the researchers said.

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Planet 9 Mystery --"An Alien Planet Stolen from Its Star By Our Sun" (A 'Galaxy' Insight)

 

 

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"This is the only exoplanet that we, realistically, would be able to reach using a space probe," says Alexander Mustill, astronomer at Lund University. "It is almost ironic that while astronomers often find exoplanets hundreds of light years away in other solar systems, there's probably one hiding in our own backyard."

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Vast Water Ocean Detected On Pluto --"Absolutely Incredible" (Monday's Most Popular)

 

 

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"That's amazing to me," said Noah Hammond of Brown University. "The possibility that you could have vast liquid water ocean habitats so far from the sun on Pluto -- and that the same could also be possible on other Kuiper belt objects as well -- is absolutely incredible."

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Jupiter's Hellish Moon, Io: Volcano Epi-Center of Our Solar System --"Could Harbor Extreme Life" (Weekend Feature)

 

 

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"Everyone right away tends to categorically exclude the possibility of life on Io," said astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch at Washington State University. "Conditions on Io might have made it a friendlier habitat in the distant past. If life did ever develop on Io, there is a chance it might have survived to the present day."

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Europe's Large Hadron Collider --"May Unveil Something Totally Unthinkable" In Months Ahead (Weekend Feature)

 

 

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Going beyond the Standard Model of physics would "mean that there is yet another unbelievable idea out there. Something that is totally unthinkable," says CERN senior physicist Paris Sphicas. In 2016, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) could unveil whole new dimensions, help explain dark matter and dark energy, of which we have no understanding but which together make up 95 percent of the universe. Late last year, before CERN shut down its LHC for a technical break, two separate teams of scientists said they had discovered anomalies that could possibly hint at the existence of a mysterious new particle that could prove the existence of extra space-time dimensions, or explain the enigma of dark matter, scientists say.

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LIGO Gravitational Wave Observatory --"Predicts a Universe of Merging Black Holes"

 

 

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New calculations predict that the Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory (LIGO) will detect approximately 1,000 mergers of massive black holes annually once it achieves full sensitivity early next decade. The prediction is based on computer simulations of more than a billion evolving binary stars. The simulations are based on state-of-the-art modeling of the physics involved, informed by the most recent astronomical and astrophysical observations.

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