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August 14, 2014

Puzzling Age of a Milky Way Globular Cluster Solved

 

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Hubble observations of IC 4499 have helped to pinpoint the cluster's age: observations of this cluster from the 1990s suggested a puzzlingly young age when compared to other globular clusters within the Milky Way. However, since those first estimates new Hubble data have been obtained and it has been found to be much more likely that IC 4499 is actually roughly the same age as other Milky Way clusters at approximately 12 billion years old.

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August 13, 2014

"Man vs the Universe" --Premieres Tonight on the Science Channel

 

          

 

A new three-part series on The Science Channel --"Man vs. the Universe"-- set to air its first episode today, Wednesday (Aug. 13), aims to explore the new era of commercial and national space exploration.

Continue reading ""Man vs the Universe" --Premieres Tonight on the Science Channel " »


Rare X-Ray Corona Observed Collapsing into an Extreme Supermassive Black Hole

 

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NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) has captured an extreme and rare event in the regions immediately surrounding a supermassive black hole. A compact source of X-rays that sits near the black hole, called the corona, has moved closer to the black hole over a period of just days.

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August 12, 2014

Image of the Day: Clouds Over Titan's Hydrocarbon Seas

 

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NASA's Cassini spacecraft recently captured images of clouds moving across the northern hydrocarbon seas of Saturn's moon Titan. This renewed weather activity, considered overdue by researchers, could finally signal the onset of summer storms that atmospheric models have long predicted.

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"Four of Earth's Five Mass Extinctions Caused by Global Warming" --99.9 % of All Species that Existed Vanished

 

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Of all species that have existed on Earth, 99.9 percent are now extinct. Many of them perished in five cataclysmic events. The classical "Big Five" mass extinctions identified by Raup and Sepkoski are widely agreed upon as some of the most significant: End Ordovician, Late Devonian, End Permian, End Triassic, and End Cretaceous. According to a recent poll, seven out of ten biologists think we are currently in the throes of a sixth mass extinction. Some say it could wipe out as many as 90 percent of all species living today. Other scientists dispute such dire projections.

Continue reading ""Four of Earth's Five Mass Extinctions Caused by Global Warming" --99.9 % of All Species that Existed Vanished" »


Organic Dust of Comets --"It May Have Fueled the Emergence of Life"

 

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"Understanding organic dust is important, because such materials are more resistant to destruction during atmospheric entry, and some could have been delivered intact to the early Earth, thereby fueling the emergence of life,” said Michael Mumma, director of the Goddard Center for Astrobiology. New observations and research from Chile's ALMA Observatory open a new window on this poorly known component of cometary organics.

Continue reading "Organic Dust of Comets --"It May Have Fueled the Emergence of Life"" »


Radio Waves of Alien Moons Offer Best Odds of Detecting Life

 

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Scientists hunting for life beyond Earth have discovered more than 1,800 planets outside our solar system, or exoplanets, in recent years, but so far, no one has been able to confirm an exomoon. Now, physicists from The University of Texas at Arlington believe following a trail of radio wave emissions may lead them to that discovery. Their recent findings describe radio wave emissions that result from the interaction between Jupiter’s magnetic field and its moon Io (image above). They suggest using detailed calculations about the Jupiter/Io dynamic to look for radio emissions that could indicate moons orbiting an exoplanet.

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NASA's Greenhouse-Gas Counter Reaches Final Orbit

 

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Just over a month after launch, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) -- NASA's first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide -- has maneuvered into its final operating orbit and produced its first science data. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is the leading human-produced greenhouse gas responsible for warming our world. It is a critical natural component of Earth's carbon cycle. NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) will produce the most detailed picture to date of sources of carbon dioxide, as well as their natural "sinks" -- places on Earth's surface where carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere. The observatory will study how these sources and sinks are distributed around the globe and how they change over time.

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August 11, 2014

"Monsters at the End of the Universe" --Black Holes with Masses Equaling Billions of Suns

 

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At the ends of the Universe there are black holes with masses equaling billions of our sun. These giant bodies – quasars – feed on interstellar gas, swallowing large quantities of it non-stop. Thus they reveal their existence: The light that is emitted by the gas as it is sucked in and crushed by the black hole's gravity travels for eons across the Universe until it reaches our telescopes. Looking at the edges of the Universe is therefore looking into the past. These far-off, ancient quasars appear to us in their infancy, taken less than a billion years after the Big Bang. Since these ancient quasars were first discovered, scientists have wondered what process could lead a small black hole to gorge and fatten to such an extent, so soon after the Big Bang.

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Destruction of Stars Near Black Holes Occurs Once Every 30,000 Years

 

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The image above is a composite of data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. The object seen at the center is an "ultraluminous X-ray source" (ULX) in a globular cluster belonging to an elliptical galaxy in the constellation of Fornax. Researchers suspect that the ULX represents a white dwarf star being destroyed an intermediate-mass black hole in the globular cluster.

Continue reading "Destruction of Stars Near Black Holes Occurs Once Every 30,000 Years" »




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