NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has photographed an unusual structure 100,000 light years long, which resembles a corkscrew-shaped string of pearls and winds around the cores of two colliding galaxies. The unique structure of the star spiral may yield new insights into the formation of stellar superclusters that result from merging galaxies and gas dynamics in this rarely seen process.
Continue reading "Colossal Bridge of Stars Found Linking Giant Elliptical Galaxies" »
A galaxy about 23 million light years away is the site of a giant black hole, shock waves, and vast reservoirs of gas. This galactic fireworks display is taking place in NGC 4258 (also known as M106), a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way. This galaxy is famous, however, for something that our Galaxy doesn't have - two extra spiral arms that glow in X-ray, optical, and radio light. These features, or anomalous arms, are not aligned with the plane of the galaxy, but instead intersect with it. Because NGC 4258 is relatively close to Earth, astronomers can study how this black hole is affecting its galaxy in great detail. The supermassive black hole at the center of NGC 4258 is about ten times larger than the one in the Milky Way, and is also consuming material at a faster rate, potentially increasing its impact on the evolution of its host galaxy.
Continue reading "Supermassive Black Hole of Nearby Galaxy 10-X's Size of Milky Way's Shapes Its Fate" »
Computer modeling by NASA scientists shows that friction could be the key to survival for some distant Earth-sized planets traveling in dangerous orbits. The findings are consistent with observations that Earth-sized planets appear to be very common in other star systems. Although heat can be a destructive force for some planets, the right amount of friction, and therefore heat, can be helpful and perhaps create conditions for habitability.
Continue reading ""Tidal Stress on Alien Planets Increases Probability of Life" --NASA" »
A group of astronomers has been able to follow stardust being made in real time — during the aftermath of a supernova explosion. For the first time they show that these cosmic dust factories make their grains in a two-stage process, starting soon after the explosion, but continuing for years afterwards. The team used ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in northern Chile to analyse the light from the supernova SN2010jl as it slowly faded.
Continue reading "Image of the Day: New Supernova Explosion --Origin of Stardust in the Universe?" »
“An origin of life is not the same as an origin of a biosphere, and that’s an important distinction,” says David Grinspoon, a planetary scientist and curator of astrobiology for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Did life start out like little sparks that are vulnerable to extinction? And did it, once it transitioned to a global phenomenon, become like a self-sustaining flame?
Continue reading "“Origin of Life is Not the Same as the Origin of a Biosphere" --A New Look at the Once Watery Worlds of Venus and Mars" »
Astronomers have found a "hotspot" beneath the Big Dipper emitting a disproportionate number of the highest-energy cosmic rays. The discovery moves physics another step toward identifying the mysterious sources of the most energetic particles in the universe. The hotspot is near the "supergalactic plane" – the rather flattened Virgo supercluster of galaxies. Our Milky Way galaxy is on the outskirts of the supercluster.
Continue reading ""Sources Unknown" for Hotspot of Cosmic Rays Near the Supergalactic Plane" »
Re-examination of a circa 100,000-year-old archaic early human skull found 35 years ago in Northern China has revealed the surprising presence of an inner-ear formation long thought to occur only in Neandertals. “The discovery places into question a whole suite of scenarios of later Pleistocene human population dispersals and interconnections based on tracing isolated anatomical or genetic features in fragmentary fossils,” said study co-author Erik Trinkaus, a physical anthropology professor at Washington University in St. Louis. “It suggests, instead, that the later phases of human evolution were more of a labyrinth of biology and peoples than simple lines on maps would suggest.”
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Astronomers investigating behaviour of the universe shortly after the Big Bang have made a surprising discovery: the properties of the early universe are determined by the smallest galaxies. These galaxies are over 1000 times less massive than the Milky Way and contributed nearly one-third of the UV light during re-ionisation. The field of view of this image is 400,000 light years across, when the universe was only 700 million years old. Other studies often ignore these small 'dwarf' galaxies as they weren't thought to form stars, because the UV light from nearby larger galaxies was too strong and suppressed these tiny neighbors.
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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.
Continue reading ""There's a Puzzling Conspiracy between Dark Matter and Visible Matter" (Today's Most Popular)" »
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.
Continue reading "Solved: Signals Thought Originating from Habitable-Zone Planets" »