The planet-hunting Kepler telescope has discovered two planets that seem like ideal places for some sort of life to flourish. According to scientists working with the NASA telescope, they are just the right size and in just the right place near their star. The discoveries, published online Thursday, mark a milestone in the search for planets where life could exist.
Smaller begets bigger. Such is often the case for galaxies, at least: The first galaxies were small, then eventually merged together to form the behemoths we see in the present universe. Now, a team of astronomers has discovered a dust-filled, massive galaxy churning out stars when the cosmos was a mere 880 million years old—making it the earliest starburst galaxy ever observed.
A plan by California and Canadian universities to build the world's largest telescope at the summit of Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano won approval from the state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday, clearing the way for a land lease negotiation. The telescope, with its proposed 30-m long segmented primary mirror, should help scientists see some 13 billion light years away.
A new study from a collaboration of several universities suggests that the way carbon moves from within a planet to the surface plays a big role in the evolution of a planet's atmosphere. If Mars released much of its carbon as methane, for example, it might have been warm enough to support liquid water. This finding offers important clues about the early atmospheric evolution of Mars and other terrestrial bodies.
Gordon, the unique supercomputer launched last year by the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego, recently completed its most data-intensive task so far: rapidly processing raw data from almost one billion particle collisions as part of a project to help define the future research agenda for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
The American Nobel Prize Laureate for Physics Richard Feynman once described turbulence as “the most important unsolved problem of classical physics”, because a description of the phenomenon from first principles does not exist. This is still regarded as one of the six most important problems in mathematics today, but recent numerical calculations by experts in gravitational physics give an initial insight into the relativistic properties of this mysterious process
As the universe expands, it is continually subjected to energy shifts, or “quantum fluctuations,” that send out little pulses of “sound” into the fabric of spacetime. In fact, the universe is thought to have sprung from just such an energy shift. A recent physics paper reports a new mathematical tool that should allow one to use these sounds to help reveal the shape of the universe.
A laboratory experiment at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., simulating the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan suggests complex organic chemistry that could eventually lead to the building blocks of life extends lower in the atmosphere than previously thought. The results now point out another region on the moon that could brew up prebiotic materials.
Following up on Wednesday’s surprise announcement that a cosmic ray detector on board the International Space Station had possibly made the first instrumented detection of dark matter, an article from the U.S. Department of Energy describes the methodology behind the discovery and what lies ahead for researchers.
An international team of scientists says the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer installed at the International Space Station has found the first hint of dark matter, which has never yet been directly observed. The team said Wednesday its first results from the cosmic ray detector, flown into space two years ago, show evidence of a new physics phenomena that could be the strange and unknown matter.
As the shapes of galaxies go, the spiral disk—with its characteristic pinwheel profile—is by far the most pedestrian. But despite their common morphology, how galaxies like ours get and maintain their characteristic arms has proved to be an enduring puzzle in astrophysics. How do the arms of spiral galaxies arise? Do they change or come and go over time? The answers to these and other questions are now coming into focus as researchers capitalize on powerful new computer simulations to follow the motions of as many as 100 million “stellar particles” as gravity and other astrophysical forces sculpt them into familiar galactic shapes.
A new look at conditions after a Manhattan-sized asteroid slammed into a region of Mexico in the dinosaur days indicates the event could have triggered a global firestorm that would have burned every twig, bush, and tree on Earth and led to the extinction of 80% of all Earth’s species, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study.
In a breakthrough that could one day yield important clues about the nature of matter itself, a team of Harvard University scientists have made a major leap in measuring the magnetic charge of single particles of matter and antimatter. By precisely measuring the oscillations of each particle, the team was able to measure the magnetism of a proton more than 1,000 times more accurately than an antiproton had been measured before.
The Big Bang theory says the visible portion of the universe was smaller than an atom when, in a split second, it exploded, cooled and expanded rapidly, much faster than the speed of light. The European Space Agency's Planck space probe has looked back at the afterglow of the Big Bang, and results released today have now added about 80 million years to the universe's age, putting it 13.81 billion years old.
After taking measurements of sudden, drastic changes in radiation levels, researchers have reported that NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft, now more than 11 billion miles from the Sun, left the heliosphere dominated by the Sun and has passed outside our solar system. Anomalous cosmic rays, which are cosmic rays trapped in the outer heliosphere, all but vanished, dropping to less than 1% of previous amounts.
A team of international scientists, including a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory astrophysicist, has made the most detailed examination yet of the atmosphere of a Jupiter-size like planet beyond our solar system. The finding provides astrophysicists with additional insight into how planets are formed.
Shining in the infrared with the energy of a trillion suns and producing a thousand new suns per year, newly discovered “starburst galaxies” represent what the most massive galaxies in our cosmic neighborhood looked like in their star-making youth. The discovery of these “abnormal” galaxies was recently made by the new Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile, which was formally dedicated this week.
Life as we know it is based upon the elements of carbon and oxygen. Now a team of physicists, including one from North Carolina State University, is looking at the conditions necessary to the formation of those two elements in the universe. They’ve found that when it comes to supporting life, the universe leaves very little margin for error.
The Mars rover Curiosity drilled into its first rock a month ago. Now scientists will reveal what's inside. Gathering at NASA headquarters Tuesday, the rover team will detail the minerals and chemicals found in a pinch of ground-up rock. The results come seven months after Curiosity made a dramatic landing in an ancient crater near the equator.
A new analysis of data from NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter shows that molten rock may have been present on the Moon more recently and for longer periods than previously thought. Differentiation—a settling out of rock layers as liquid rock cools—would require thousands of years and a fluid rock sea at least six miles deep.
A pair of newly discovered stars is the third-closest star system to the Sun, according to a recent paper published by a Penn State University astrophysicist. At 6.5 light years, the duo is the closest star system discovered since 1916, and is expected to attract considerable attention from planet hunters.
NASA’s Martian rover hunkered down Wednesday after the sun unleashed a blast that raced toward Mars. While Curiosity was designed to withstand punishing space weather, its handlers decided to power it down as a precaution since it suffered a recent computer problem. While the hardy rover slept, the Opportunity rover and two NASA spacecraft circling overhead carried on with normal activities.
The Hubble constant is a fundamental quantity that measures the current rate at which our universe is expanding; it is critical for gauging the age and size of our universe. One of the largest uncertainties plaguing past measurements of the Hubble constant has involved the distance to the Large Magellanic Cloud, our nearest neighboring galaxy. A team of astronomers have now managed to improve the measurement of the distance to our nearest neighbor galaxy and, in the process, refine the calculation that helps measure the expansion of the universe.
Chemists have recently shown that conditions in space are capable of creating complex dipeptides—linked pairs of amino acids—that are essential building blocks shared by all living things. The discovery opens the door to the possibility that these molecules were brought to Earth aboard a comet or possibly meteorites, catalyzing the formation of proteins (polypeptides), enzymes and even more complex molecules, such as sugars, that are necessary for life.
In tiny test tubes, researchers at the Cosmic Ice Lab at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center can reproduce reactions in ice from almost any time and place in the history of the solar system, including some that might help explain the origin of life. But to do so, they must use ice that produced with intense cold and low pressure, conditions that rarely occur on Earth.