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Study: Targeted LEDs could provide efficient lighting for plants grown in space

July 2, 2015 8:54 am | by Purdue University | News | Comments

A Purdue University study shows that targeting plants with red and blue LEDs provides energy-efficient lighting in contained environments, a finding that could advance the development of crop-growth modules for space exploration.

We're not alone, but the universe may be less crowded than we think

July 2, 2015 8:38 am | by Michigan State University | News | Comments

Over the years, the Hubble Space Telescope has allowed astronomers to look deep into the...

NASA missions monitor a waking black hole

July 1, 2015 7:00 am | by NASA | News | Comments

NASA's Swift satellite detected a rising tide of high-energy X-rays from the constellation...

New model of cosmic stickiness favors 'Big Rip' demise of universe

July 1, 2015 7:00 am | by Vanderbilt University | News | Comments

The universe can be a very sticky place, but just how sticky is a matter of debate. That is...

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Multi-color optical image around the ULX "X-1" (indicated by the arrow) in the dwarf galaxy Holmberg II, located in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major, at a distance of 11 million light-years. The image size corresponds to 1,100 × 900 light-yea

Unexpectedly small black-hole monsters rapidly suck up surrounding matter

June 29, 2015 11:10 am | by Subaru Telescope | News | Comments

Using the Subaru Telescope, researchers have found evidence that enigmatic objects in nearby galaxies—called ultra-luminous X-ray sources—exhibit strong outflows created as matter falls onto their black holes at unexpectedly high rates. The strong outflows suggest that black holes in these ULXs must be much smaller than expected. Curiously, these objects appear to be "cousins" of one of the most exotic objects in our own Milky Way Galaxy.

Tomorrow will be one second longer

June 29, 2015 8:39 am | News | Comments

The day will officially be a bit longer than usual on Tuesday, June 30, 2015, because an extra second, or "leap" second, will be added.

SpaceX rocket destroyed on way to space station, cargo lost

June 28, 2015 4:04 pm | by Marcia Dunn, Associated Press | News | Comments

An unmanned SpaceX rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station broke apart Sunday shortly after liftoff. It was a severe blow to NASA, the third cargo mission to fail in eight months.

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Z machine solves Saturn’s 2-billion-year age problem

June 26, 2015 1:45 pm | by Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Planets tend to cool as they get older, but Saturn is hotter than astrophysicists say it should be without some additional energy source. The unexplained heat has caused a two-billion-year discrepancy for computer models estimating Saturn's age.

Discovering a new stage in the galactic lifecycle

June 25, 2015 12:30 pm | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

On its own, dust seems fairly unremarkable. However, by observing the clouds of gas and dust within a galaxy, astronomers can determine important information about the history of star formation and the evolution of galaxies. Now, a Caltech-led team has been able to observe the dust contents of galaxies as seen just 1 billion years after the Big Bang.

Telescope construction set to resume, but battle continues

June 24, 2015 2:05 am | by Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Associated Press | News | Comments

A battle is poised to unfold on a Hawaii mountain where one of the world's largest telescopes is set to be built. As work resumes Wednesday on the Thirty Meter Telescope atop the Big Island's Mauna Kea, protesters will try to peacefully stop the construction because they say it tramples on land that is sacred to Native Hawaiians.

Spectrum of life

June 23, 2015 12:15 pm | by Peter Kelley, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

To find life in the universe, it helps to know what it might look like. If there are organisms on other planets that do not rely wholly on photosynthesis, how might those worlds appear from light-years away? That’s among the questions a Univ. of Washington team sought to answer in research published in Astrobiology.

Is salt the key to unlocking the interiors of Neptune, Uranus?

June 23, 2015 8:02 am | by Carnegie Institution | News | Comments

The interiors of several of our solar system’s planets and moons are icy, and ice has been found on distant extrasolar planets, as well. But these bodies aren’t filled with the regular kind of water ice that you avoid on the sidewalk in winter. The ice that’s found inside these objects must exist under extreme pressures and high-temperatures, and potentially contains salty impurities, too.

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Galactic crashes fuel quasars

June 18, 2015 4:19 pm | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

When galaxies collide, bright things happen in the universe. Using the Hubble Space Telescope’s infrared vision, astronomers have unveiled some of the previously hidden origins of quasars, the brightest objects in the universe. A new study finds that quasars are born when galaxies crash into each other and fuel supermassive, central black holes.

Study suggests active volcanism on Venus

June 18, 2015 11:30 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists have found some of the best evidence yet that Venus, Earth’s nearest neighbor, is volcanically active. In combing through data from the European Space Agency’s Venus Express mission, the scientists found transient spikes in temperature at several spots on the planet’s surface. The hotspots, which were found to flash and fade over the course of just a few days, appear to be generated by active flows of lava on the surface.

NASA: International satellite studying oceans stops working

June 17, 2015 8:04 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

NASA says an international satellite studying the world's oceans has stopped working after four years. The space agency said Wednesday that the Argentine-built satellite ceased operations last week after a hardware failure. The satellite carried a NASA instrument called Aquarius that measured the concentration of dissolved salt at the sea surface.

Scientists find methane in Mars meteorites

June 17, 2015 9:00 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

An international team of researchers has discovered traces of methane in Martian meteorites, a possible clue in the search for life on the Red Planet. The researchers examined samples from six meteorites of volcanic rock that originated on Mars. The meteorites contain gases in the same proportion and with the same isotopic composition as the Martian atmosphere.

Best observational evidence of first-generation stars

June 17, 2015 8:31 am | by ESO | News | Comments

Astronomers have long theorized the existence of a first generation of stars that were born out of the primordial material from the Big Bang. All the heavier chemical elements were forged in the bellies of stars. This means that the first stars must have formed out of the only elements to exist prior to stars: hydrogen, helium and trace amounts of lithium.

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Goncharov, McWilliams, and the rest of the team’s work on noble gases could help solve the mystery of why Saturn emits more heat from its interior than would be expected. In Jupiter and Saturn, helium would be insulating near the surface and turn metal-li

Mimicry opens window to star and planet deep interiors

June 16, 2015 10:42 am | by Carnegie Institution for Science | News | Comments

The matter that makes up distant planets and even-more-distant stars exists under extreme pressure and temperature. This matter includes members of a family of seven elements called noble gases. Scientists used laboratory techniques to mimic stellar and planetary conditions, and observe how noble gases behave under these conditions, in order to better understand the atmospheric and internal chemistry of these celestial objects.

Small thunderstorms may cause massive cyclones on Saturn

June 16, 2015 7:34 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

For the last decade, astronomers have observed curious “hotspots” on Saturn’s poles. In 2008, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft beamed back close-up images of these hotspots, revealing them to be immense cyclones, each as wide as the Earth. Scientists estimate that Saturn’s cyclones may whip up 300 mph winds, and likely have been churning for years.

New calculations to improve carbon dioxide monitoring from space

June 15, 2015 8:01 am | by Rebecca Caygill, Univ. College London | News | Comments

How light of different colors is absorbed by carbon dioxide can now be accurately predicted using new calculations developed by a Univ. College London (UCL)-led team of scientists. This will help climate scientists studying Earth's greenhouse gas emissions to better interpret data collected from satellites and ground stations measuring carbon dioxide.

The first images of Ceres from the Dawn mission reveal a surface filled with craters of many shapes and sizes. Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

First images from Dawn spacecraft produce 3-D model of mysterious terrain

June 12, 2015 2:52 pm | by Stuart Wolpert, UCLA | News | Comments

A NASA mission has released new images of the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest asteroid between Mars and Jupiter. The photos were produced by the spacecraft Dawn, which is now observing Ceres from 2,700 miles above its surface; NASA has also produced a one-minute video animation that sheds new light on this mysterious and heavily cratered world.

NASA's Hubble Telescope detects 'sunscreen' layer on distant planet

June 11, 2015 3:31 pm | News | Comments

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has detected a stratosphere, one of the primary layers of Earth's atmosphere, on a massive and blazing-hot exoplanet known as WASP-33b.

Atmospheric signs of volcanic activity could aid search for life

June 11, 2015 10:25 am | by Peter Kelley, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Planets with volcanic activity are considered better candidates for life than worlds without such heated internal goings-on. Now, graduate students at the Univ. of Washington have found a way to detect volcanic activity in the atmospheres of exoplanets, or those outside our solar system, when they transit, or pass in front of their host stars.

A celestial butterfly emerges from its dusty cocoon

June 10, 2015 9:57 am | by ESO | News | Comments

Some of the sharpest images ever made with ESO's Very Large Telescope have, for the first time, revealed what appears to be an ageing star giving birth to a butterfly-like planetary nebula. These observations of the red giant star L2 Puppis, from the ZIMPOL mode of the newly installed SPHERE instrument, also clearly showed a close stellar companion.

On January 7, 2014, the Sun's surface erupted with an unusually large explosion, called coronal mass ejection (CME), with NOAA releasing a significant false alarm geomagnetic storm at Earth. Courtesy of NASA

New tool could predict large solar storms more than 24 hours in advance

June 9, 2015 2:06 pm | by Hayley Dunning, Imperial College London | News | Comments

Large magnetic storms from the Sun, which affect technologies such as GPS and utility grids, could soon be predicted more than 24 hours in advance. Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are eruptions of gas and magnetized material from the Sun that have the potential to wreak havoc on satellites and Earth-bound technologies, disrupting radio transmissions and causing transformer blowouts and blackouts.

Martian glass: Window into possible past life?

June 9, 2015 10:20 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Brown University have used satellite data to detect deposits of glass within impact craters on Mars. Though formed in the searing heat of a violent impact, the glasses just might provide a delicate window into the possibility of past life on the Red Planet.

Exiled stars explode far from home

June 4, 2015 8:21 am | by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Sharp images obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope confirm that three supernovae discovered several years ago exploded in the dark emptiness of intergalactic space, having been flung from their home galaxies millions or billions of years earlier. Most supernovae are found inside galaxies containing hundreds of billions of stars, one of which might explode per century per galaxy.

Keeping astronauts in space longer with better air, water

June 4, 2015 8:00 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

As astronauts embark on increasingly ambitious space missions, scientists have to figure out how to keep them healthy for longer periods far from Earth. That entails assuring the air they breathe and the water they drink are safe—not an easy task given their isolated locations. But scientists are now reporting a new method to monitor the quality of both in real time with one system.

Pluto’s moons tumbling in absolute chaos

June 4, 2015 7:53 am | by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

If you lived on one of Pluto's moons, you might have a hard time determining when, or from which direction, the sun will rise each day. Comprehensive analysis of data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows that two of Pluto's moons, Nix and Hydra, wobble unpredictably.

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