Our Solar System has a new most-distant member, bringing its outer frontier into focus. A distant dwarf planet, called 2012 VP113, was found beyond the known edge of the Solar System. This is likely one of thousands of distant objects that are thought to form the so-called inner Oort cloud. What's more, their work indicates the potential presence of an enormous planet, perhaps up to 10 times the size of Earth, not yet seen, but possibly influencing the orbit of 2012 VP113, as well as other inner Oort cloud objects.
Continue reading ""The Pale Red Dot" --Distant Oort Cloud Planet Discovered Beyond Known Edge of Our Solar System" »
Observations at many sites in South America, including ESO’s La Silla Observatory, have made the surprise discovery that the remote asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings. This is the smallest object by far found to have rings and only the fifth body in the Solar System — after the much larger planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — to have this feature. The origin of these rings remains a mystery, but they may be the result of a collision that created a disc of debris. The new results are published online in the journal Nature on 26 March 2014.
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The discovery of dwarf galaxy black holes that are bigger than expected suggests that galaxy mergers are not necessary to create big black holes. Dwarf galaxies don't have a history of galactic smash-ups, and yet their black holes are already relatively big.
Continue reading ""Seeds of Supermassive Black Holes are Already Massive" " »
"The mystery of how living organisms sprung out of lifeless rock has long puzzled scientists, but we think that the unusual phosphorus chemicals we found could be a precursor to the batteries that now power all life on Earth. But the fact that it developed simply, in conditions similar to the early Earth, suggests this could be the missing link between geology and biology," said Terry Kee at the University of Leeds.
Continue reading ""The Missing Link Between Geology and Biology" --A New Theory (Today's Most Popular)" »
It has been known that many hot white dwarfs atmospheres, essentially of pure hydrogen or pure helium, are contaminated by other elements – like carbon, silicon and iron. What was not known, however, was the origins of these elements, known in astronomical terms as metals.
Continue reading "Origin of Metals in the Universe --A Key Factor in the Creation and Evolution of Primitive Cells" »
Here's an amazing view of lightning as you've never seen it before taken by astronauts aboard the International space station as it orbited the Earth, they reveal lightning strikes lighting up the sky on December 12, 2013 amidst the yellow city lights of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
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In its first months of operation, the Lick Observatory's newest telescope Automated Planet Finder (APF) has found two new planetary systems, giving astronomers a taste of planetary riches to come. The APF has been operating robotically night after night since January, searching nearby stars for Earth-sized planets. Every night the fully autonomous system checks the weather, decides which stars to observe, and moves the telescope from star to star throughout the night, collecting measurements that will reveal the presence of planets.
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As Neil deGrasse Tyson observed at the end of last night's Episode 3, it looks as though that in about three billion years, we'll need a new, revised Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy. According to recent research the Andromeda Galaxy may be destined to collide with the Milky Way. Andromeda, a spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years away in the constellation Andromeda is the nearest spiral galaxy to our own, the Milky Way. Andromeda and the Milky Way are approaching one another at a speed of 100 to 140 kilometers per second (62–87 miles/sec). However, this does not mean it will definitely collide with the Milky Way, since the galaxy's tangential velocity is unknown. If they do collide, the two galaxies will likely merge to form a monster elliptical galaxy.
Continue reading ""Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" (Episode 3) --More on Collision of the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies" »
Astronomer Thomas Barclay from Nasa’s Ames Research Center in Palo Alto, California has discovered a habitable planet almost the same size as Earth orbiting an unidentified star in its so-called Goldilocks zone - a region around the star that emits just enough energy, light and temperature for liquid surface water to appear. Barclay made the discovery using data collected by the Kepler space telescope. The planet sits on the outer edge of its star's habitable zone.
Continue reading "Getting Ever Closer! NASA Discovers 1st Earth-sized Exo-Planet in Red-Dwarf Star's Habitable Zone" »
In one minute, we are seeing planets that used to take us an hour to detect,” says Bruce Macintosh of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who led the team that built the instrument. After nearly a decade of development, construction, and testing, the world’s most advanced instrument for directly imaging and analyzing planets around other stars is pointing skyward and collecting light from distant worlds.
Continue reading "New Alien Planet Hunter --"Exponentially More Powerful Imager Zeroing in On Worlds Beyond Solar System"" »