Last year, astronomers discovered a quiescent black hole in a distant galaxy that erupted after shredding and consuming a passing star. Now researchers have identified a distinctive X-ray signal observed in the days following the outburst that comes from matter on the verge of falling into the black hole. Called a quasi-periodic oscillation, or QPO, this tell-tale signal helps scientist test principles of general relativity.
Housed inside a new 40-foot-tall tower, a new 5 MV accelerator at the Universitty of Notre Dame is helping to recreate stellar nuclear processes in the laboratory to complement the observational studies of new earth- and space-based telescopes that trace past and present nucleosynthesis processes in the cosmos.
In science fiction novels, evil overlords and hostile aliens often threaten to vaporize the Earth. Now, scientists are not content just to talk about vaporizing the Earth. They want to understand what it would be like if it happened. Why? Because such knowledge helps them determine the atmospheric composition of exoplanets.
For decades it has been thought that a shock wave from a supernova explosion triggered the formation of our Solar System. Material from the exploding star generated cloud of dust and gas, which collapsed to form the Sun and its surrounding planets. New work from the Carnegie Institution provides the first fully 3D models for how this process could have happened.
NASA's most ambitious and expensive Mars mission yet begins with the red planet arrival late Sunday of the smartest interplanetary rover ever built. But before Curiosity can start rolling it must survive a complicated touchdown so risky it's been described as "seven minutes of terror"—the time it takes to go from 13,000 mph to a complete stop.
Using data analysis methods, an international collaboration of researchers dug an unusual gamma-ray pulsar out of imagery from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The pulsar they found is radio-quiet, very young, and, during the observation period, experienced the strongest rotation glitch ever observed for a gamma-ray-only pulsar. The shift was so strong, the pulsar seemed to disappear.
CubeSats are fully-instrumented satellites the size of a half-gallon milk carton. Several are in orbit around the Earth, including Firefly, a CubeSat is designed to help solve the mystery of a phenomenon that's linked with lightning: terrestrial gamma rays, or TGFs. By using its small but powerful instrumentation,Its designers hope that Firefly will provide the first direct evidence for a relationship between lightning and TGFs.
A new visualization technique created by Nicholeen Viall, a solar scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center produces images of the sun reminiscent of Van Gogh, with broad strokes of bright color splashed across a yellow background. But it's science, not art. The color of each pixel contains a wealth of information about the 12-hour history of cooling and heating at that particular spot on the sun.
Using observations of solar oscillations from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory to glimpse the interior of the Sun, researchers have found that rather than moving at the speed of a jet plane (as previously understood) the plasma flows at a walking pace, just a few meters per second. The finding refutes predictions made by previous numerical models.
An international team led by scientists from the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy has succeeded in observing the heart of a distant quasar with unprecedented sharpness, or angular resolution. The observations, made by connecting radio telescopes on different continents, are a crucial step towards a dramatic scientific goal: to depict the supermassive black hole at the centre of our own galaxy.
Using computer simulations, researchers from the California Institute of Technology have determined that if the interior of a dying star is spinning rapidly just before it explodes in a magnificent supernova, two different types of signals emanating from that stellar core will oscillate together at the same frequency. This could be a piece of "smoking-gun evidence" that would lead to a better understanding of supernovae.
A research team using Hubble’s powerful vision to scour the Pluto system to uncover potential hazards to the New Horizons spacecraft has located yet another satellite to the icy dwarf planet Pluto. The moon is estimated to be irregular in shape, 6 to 15 miles across, and in a co-planar orbit with other moons in the system. Its discovery prompts discussion on how such a complex collection of moons occurred.
Scientists have, for the first time, directly detected part of the invisible dark matter skeleton of the universe, where more than half of all matter is believed to reside. The discovery, led by a University of Michigan physics researcher, confirms a key prediction in the prevailing theory of how the universe's current web-like structure evolved.
A team of scientists has created an "MRI" of the sun's interior plasma motions, shedding light on how it transfers heat from its deep interior to its surface. The result upends our understanding of how heat is transported outwards by the sun and challenges existing explanations of the formation of sunspots and magnetic field generation.
In a bold plan unveiled Thursday, a group of ex-NASA astronauts and scientists wants to launch its own space telescope to spot and track small and mid-sized space rocks capable of wiping out a city or continent. They contend that while astronomers routinely look for planet killers like the one that may have wiped out the dinosaurs, not enough attention is paid to smaller objects.
About 800 extra-solar planets have been discovered so far in our galaxy, but the precise masses of the majority of them are still unknown. The only previous way to determine mass was to observe a transit, during which the planet’s host is eclipsed. Now, scientist Mercedes López-Morales has, for the first time, determined the mass of a non-transiting planet.
Turbulent jet streams, regions where winds blow faster than in other places, churn east and west across Saturn. Scientists have been trying to understand for years the mechanism that drives these wavy structures in Saturn's atmosphere. Recent images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has revealed the source from which the jets derive their energy.
Finding new particles usually requires high energies—that is why huge accelerators have been built, which can accelerate particles to almost the speed of light. But there are other creative ways of finding new particles: At the Vienna University of Technology, scientists presented a method to prove the existence of hypothetical "axions."
Building a terrestrial planet requires raw materials that weren't available in the early history of the universe. The Big Bang filled space with hydrogen and helium. Chemical elements like silicon and oxygen had to be cooked up over time by stars. But how long did that take? How many of such heavy elements do you need to form planets?
Scheduled for launch this week from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (or NuSTAR), is the first focusing, high energy X-ray satellite to be launched from NASA. Hundreds of times more sensitive than any previous hard X-ray instrument, it will allow researchers to take a census of black holes.
During a powerful solar blast on March 7, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected the highest-energy light ever associated with an eruption on the sun. The flare produced such an outpouring of gamma rays—a form of light with even greater energy than X-rays—that the sun briefly became the brightest object in the gamma-ray sky.
Astronomers in a NASA news conference Thursday said that years of observations from the Hubble Space Telescope provide grisly details of a long-anticipated galactic smashup, one that will involve the dead-on crash of a neighboring galaxy with our entire Milky Way.
In a new study, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology used experiments and numerical calculations to show that iron, in the absence of oxygen, can substitute for magnesium in RNA binding, folding, and catalysis. The researchers found that RNA's shape and folding structure remained the same and its functional activity increased when magnesium was replaced by iron in an oxygen-free environment.
On Wednesday, the Large Underground Xenon experiment, or LUX, became official when part of the closed Homestake Gold Mine nearly 5,000 feet beneath the earth at Lead, S.D., opened for business, not as a mine, but as an underground campus. The primary curriculum: finding out where dark matter is.
South Africa and Australia had competed fiercely against each other for the Square Kilometer Array telescope project, which will become the world’s biggest instrument when built. Recently, the consortium overseeing the effort decided to award it to both countries, with South Africa getting the lion’s share of the radio dishes.