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June 12, 2015

Earth's Oxygen Levels Altered Climate Past 541 Million Years





Variations in the amount of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere significantly altered global climate throughout the planet's history. Efforts to reconstruct past climates must include this previously overlooked factor, a new University of Michigan-led study concludes.

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NASA Recovers "Flying Saucer" in Pacific





Two members of the U.S. Navy's Mobile Diving Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1 Explosive Ordnance Detachment work on recovering the test vehicle for NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project. The saucer-shaped LDSD craft splashed down at 11:49 a.m. HST (2:49 PDT/5:49 p.m. EDT) Monday, June 8, 2015, in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of the Kauai, Hawaii, after a four-hour experimental flight test that investigated new technologies for landing future robotic and human Mars missions.

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NASA: "Wacky World of Exoplanets Continues to Surprise Astronomers"





Planets having atmospheres rich in helium may be common in our galaxy, according to a new theory based on data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.They wouldn't float like balloons or give you the chance to talk in high, squeaky voices, but planets with helium skies may constitute an exotic planetary class in our Milky Way galaxy. Researchers using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope propose that warm Neptune-size planets with clouds of helium may be strewn about the galaxy by the thousands.

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June 11, 2015

Supermassive Black-Hole Eruptions --"Shape the Cosmic Landscape"





Astronomers have used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to show that, multiple eruptions from a supermassive black hole over 50 million years have rearranged the cosmic landscape at the center of a group of galaxies. Scientists discovered this history of black hole eruptions by studying NGC 5813, a group of galaxies about 105 million light years from Earth. These Chandra observations are the longest ever obtained of a galaxy group, lasting for just over a week. The Chandra data are shown in this new composite image where the X-rays from Chandra (purple) have been combined with visible light data (red, green and blue).

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'Lost-in-Space' Galaxy --"Observed at the Edge of the Void"





Although the Universe may seem spacious most galaxies are clumped together in groups or clusters and a neighbour is never far away. But this galaxy, known as NGC 6503, has found itself in a lonely position, shown here at the edge of a strangely empty patch of space called the Local Void, a patch of space thought to be about 150 million light-years across that seems to be curiously devoid of galaxies. Astronomers using Hubble discovered that the emptiness of this region has quite an effect on the space around us -- the Milky Way is being strongly pulled away from it by the gentle but relentless tug of other nearby galaxies.

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"Cloud D" in Nearby Dwarf Galaxy --Obscures Spectacular Cluster of Massive Stars Billion Xs Brighter Than Our Sun






The star cluster is buried within a massive gas cloud dubbed "Cloud D" in the NGC 5253 dwarf galaxy, and, although it's a billion times brighter than our sun, is barely visible, hidden by its own hot gases and dust. The star cluster contains more than 7,000 massive "O" stars: the most brilliant stars extant, each a million times more luminous than our sun.

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Today's 'Galaxy' Insight --"Does Information Underlie All Reality?"






"Trying to wrap my brain around this idea of information theory as the basis of existence, I came up with the phrase “it from bit.” The universe and all that it contains (“it”) may arise from the myriad yes-no choices of measurement (the “bits”). Niels Bohr wrestled for most of his life with the question of how acts of measurement (or “registration”) may affect reality. It is registration—whether by a person or a device or a piece of mica (anything that can preserve a record)—that changes potentiality into actuality. I build only a little on the structure of Bohr’s thinking when I suggest that we may never understand this strange thing, the quantum, until we understand how information may underlie reality. Information may not be just what we learn about the world. It may be what makes the world."

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June 10, 2015

MIT --"Strange, Exotic States of Matter Never Observed in the Physical World"





Scientists have long suspected that if temperatures were to plunge to near absolute zero, molecules would come to a screeching halt, ceasing their individual chaotic motion and behaving as one collective body. This more orderly molecular behavior would begin to form very strange, exotic states of matter — states that have never been observed in the physical world.

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Today's 'Galaxy' Insight --The Origin of Spacetime





“Henceforth, space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.”

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June 09, 2015

Mars' Impact Glass--"A Delicate Window into the Possibility of Past Life"





Over the last few years, several research groups have shown that, here on Earth, ancient biosignatures can be preserved in impact glass. One of those studies, led by Brown University geologist Peter Schultz and published last year, found organic molecules and even plant matter entombed in glass formed by an impact that occurred millions of years ago in Argentina. Schultz suggested that similar processes might preserve signs of life on Mars, if indeed they were present at the time of an impact.

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