Galaxies are usually grouped into clusters, huge systems comprising up to thousands of millions of these objects, in whose interior are found the most massive galaxies in the universe. Until now scientists believed that these "supergalaxies" formed from smaller galaxies that grow closer and closer together until they merge, due to gravitational attraction.
Alpha Centauri, our nearest star system, is taking back its ancient moniker, Rigil Kentaurus, which means “foot of the centaur” in Arabic, according to Science, the online publication of the American Association for the Adancement of Science (AAAS). The newly named system is one of 227 stars and star systems that received name clarifications from the International Astronomical Union yesterday. That’s because many celestial bodies have multiple names, Space.com reports.
“Life can tolerate a lot of stuff: It can tolerate a lot of salt, extreme cold, extreme heat, says William McKinnon, professor of earth and planetary sciences at Washington University. "But I don’t think it can tolerate the amount of ammonia Pluto needs to prevent its ocean from freezing — ammonia is a superb antifreeze. Not that ammonia is all bad. On Earth, microorganisms in the soil fix nitrogen to ammonia, which is important for making DNA and proteins and such. The idea that bodies of Pluto’s scale, of which there are more than one out there in the Kuiper Belt, they could all have these kinds of oceans. But they’d be very exotic compared to what we think of as an ocean,” McKinnon adds.
Colossal Spiderweb Galaxy Three Times Size of the Milky Way --Submerged at Center of Massive Embryonic Cluster
"This is different from what we see in the nearby Universe, where galaxies in clusters grow by cannibalizing other galaxies. In this cluster, a giant galaxy is growing by feeding on the soup of cold gas in which it is submerged," said Bjorn Emonts of the Center for Astrobiology in Spain, who led an international research team.
On Sept. 14, 2015, LIGO's detectors made the very first direct detection of gravitational waves, just two days after scientists restarted the observatory as Advanced LIGO—an upgraded version of LIGO's two large interferometers, one located at Hanford, Washington, and the other 3,000 kilometers away in Livingston, Lousiana. After analyzing the signal, scientists determined that it was indeed a gravitational wave, which arose from the merger of two massive black holes 1.3 billion light years away.
Majorana Particles Observed for 1st Time: Contain Their Own Antiparticles --"Impacts Future of Quantum Computers"
Around 75 years ago, Italian physicist Ettore Majorana hypothesized the existence of exotic particles that are their own antiparticles. Since then, interest in these particles, known as Majorana fermions, has grown enormously given that they could play a role in creating a quantum computer. Majoranas have already been described very well in theory. However, examining them and obtaining experimental evidence is difficult because they have to occur in pairs but are then usually bound to form one normal electron. Ingenious combinations and arrangements of various materials are therefore required to generate two Majoranas and keep them apart.
As little as 6,000 years ago, the vast Sahara Desert was covered in grassland that received plenty of rainfall, but shifts in the world's weather patterns abruptly transformed the vegetated region into some of the driest land on Earth. A Texas A&M university researcher is trying to uncover the clues responsible for this enormous climate transformation – and the findings could lead to better rainfall predictions worldwide.
"Truly autonomous fleets of robots have been a holy grail in oceanography for decades," Thompson said. "Bringing JPL's exploration and AI experience to this problem should allow us to lay the groundwork for carrying out similar activities in more challenging regions, like Earth's polar regions and even oceans on other planets."
This week the sun was hitting its lowest level of solar activity since 2011 (Nov. 14-18, 2016) as it gradually marches towards solar minimum. This activity is usually measured by sunspot count and over the past several days the sun has been almost spotless.