Scientists have hoped that ultra-high-energy neutrinos could point to sources of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays—supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies or hypernova star explosions, for instance. Now, evidence of a fourth ultra-high energy neutrino—the highest-energy neutrino yet—has been detected by the South Pole-based IceCube experiment, a project that Berkeley Lab researchers helped build and to which they currently contribute analysis. But this most-recent neutrino finding, says Berkeley Lab’s Spencer Klein, only “deepens the mystery” of cosmic ray origins.
Continue reading "Antarctica Ice-Cube-Observatory Discovery --"Deepens a Cosmic Mystery"" »
Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the 6.5-meter Clay Telescope in Chile have identified the smallest supermassive black hole ever detected in the center of a galaxy. This oxymoronic object could provide clues to how larger black holes formed along with their host galaxies 13 billion years or more in the past. Astronomers estimate this supermassive black hole is about 50,000 times the mass of the sun. This is less than half the mass of the previous smallest black hole at the center of a galaxy.
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A team of astronomers including a San Francisco State University researcher has discovered a new planet orbiting a pair of stars, the 10th "circumbinary" planet discovered by NASA's Kepler Mission and a milestone for the 6-year-old spacecraft. The planet, known as Kepler-453b, is located within its host stars' "habitable zone," the area around the stars in which life could potentially exist. And the somewhat fortuitous nature of its discovery indicate there could be more like it than previously believed.
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Using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, a group of astronomers of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy have discovered the first quadruple quasar: four rare active black holes situated in close proximity to one another. The quartet resides in one of the most massive structures ever discovered in the distant universe, and is surrounded by a giant nebula of cool dense gas. Because the discovery comes with one-in-ten-million odds, perhaps cosmologists need to rethink their models of quasar evolution and the formation of the most massive cosmic structures.
Continue reading "Image of the Day: Quartet of Supermassive Black Holes in a Giant Nebula" »
All the energy in the Universe was created in the Big Bang, with some portion locked up as mass. Stars shine by converting mass into energy, as described by Einstein's famous equation E=mc2. A new study, which is part of the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) project, the largest multi-wavelength survey ever put together that involved many of the world's most powerful telescopes, set out to map and model all of the energy generated within a large volume of space today and at different times in the past.
Continue reading ""Our Fading Universe?" --The GAMA Project Looks To Its Past and Future" »
One of science's greatest challenges is learning about the origin of life and its precursor molecules. Formamide (NH2CHO) is an excellent candidate for helping to search for answers as it contains four essential elements (nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon and oxygen), and can synthesize amino acids, carbohydrates, nucleic acids and other key compounds for living organisms.
Continue reading ""Protosuns Found Teeming with Prebiotic Molecules" --The Precursors to Life (Today's Most Popular)" »
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has been used to detect the most distant clouds of star-forming gas yet found in normal galaxies in the early Universe. The new observations allow astronomers to start to see how the first galaxies were built up and how they cleared the cosmic fog during the era of reionization. This is the first time that such galaxies are seen as more than just faint blobs.
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A thin layer near the surface of Earth is teeming with life of huge diversity: from micro-organisms to plants and animals, and even intelligent species. Up to now, this forms the only known sample of life in the Universe. We now readily accept that the laws and concepts of physics and chemistry apply throughout the cosmos. Is there a general biology as well: is there life beyond Earth?
Continue reading "New Advances in the Search for Extraterrestrial Life --"Will It Be Inconceivable to Us?"" »
On Earth, bursts of particles spewed by the Sun spark shimmering auroras, like the Northern Lights, that briefly dance at our planet’s poles. But, on Jupiter, there’s an auroral glow all the time, and new observations show that this Jovian display sometimes flares up because of a process having nothing to do with the Sun.
Continue reading "Explosions on Jupiter's Polar Auroras --"Triggered By Moon Io's Massive Volcanic Activity"" »
Mars turned cold and dry long ago, but researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have discovered evidence of an ancient lake that likely represents some of the last potentially habitable surface water ever to exist on the Red Planet.
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