October 18, 2018

    Analysis of images captured in July 2015 by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft and subsequent computer modelling revealed the presence of dunes on Pluto. The dunes are formed by a process of sublimation of nitrogen (solid nitrogen of Pluto’s surface converting into gas), which pushes sand-sized grains of methane ice cristals into the atmosphere. These are then transported by the moderate winds on Pluto to the border of the Sputnik Planitia ice plain and mountain range to form the dunes.

    Read the full story: University of Plymouth
    Scientific publication: Science


    Using supercomputers researchers are trying to achieve realistic simulations of black holes
    Supercomputer helps scientists better understand black holes - science news in brief

    We now know a lot about black holes, however, there are still many mysteries surrounding them. In order to shed some light on the unknown behaviors in different scenarios, scientists turned to supercomputers. They are using a new generation of “exascale” computers able to calculate the gravitational waves of black holes with high accuracy and speed. This is a step forward for realistic simulations that will eventually allow scientists to understand what happens during particular astronomical events, like the collision of two black holes.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Physical Review D


    Physicists plan to use the International Space Station to test the effects of gravity of entangled quantum particles
    Scientists to test fundamental nature of quantum mechanics in space - science news in brief - space

    An international team of scientists is planning to investigate some important aspects of the quantum mechanics in space. More precisely, they want to use the International Space Station (ISS) to understand whether gravity can affect a quantum state of light over large distances by firing entangled pairs of photons from a ground station to the ISS. The experimental space mission, named QUEST, has been submitted as a research proposal to the European Space Agency (ESA). If approved, the tests could begin by early 2020s.

    Read the full story: PhysicsWorld
    Scientific publication: New Journal of Physics


    The SOFIA flying laboratory will be equipped with a new type of laser and sent to detect infrared signals. Credit: NASA/USRA
    The SOFIA flying laboratory will be equipped with a new type of laser and sent to detect infrared signals. Credit: NASA/USRA - science news in brief

    A team of researchers has developed a special laser able to detect weak signals from space. Called a quantum cascade laser, the device can pick up infrared signals and separate them from the background noise. Normally, these types of signals are very weak, thus difficult to detect. The laser system has been loaded on a modified Boeing 747SP which is a NASA flying laboratory. The plane will fly in the stratosphere of our planet aiming to detect infrared signals from space, in a quest to gain insight into how stars are forming in our galaxy.

    Read the full story: ETH Zurich


    The NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences GRACE Follow-On spacecraft launch onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls
    Space mission launched to study water movement on Earth - science news in brief

    NASA just launched a twin spacecraft in space to track how water moves on Earth and how the mass of our planet changes. Including the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) modules, this is a joint NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) mission. Over its five-year mission, GRACE-FO will monitor the movement of mass around our planet by measuring where and how the moving mass changes Earth's gravitational pull. The gravity changes cause the distance between the two satellites to vary slightly. Although the two satellites orbit 137 miles (220 kilometers) apart, advanced instruments continuously measure their separation to within the width of a human red blood cell.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss


    Study finds evidence that water could escape from the ocean below the surface of Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons
    Eruptions of water vapors occur on Jupiter’s moon Europa - science news in brief - space

    A new study analyzed some old data about the Europa moon, collected in 1997 by NASA Galileo spacecraft. Using modern techniques, scientists showed evidence that on the frozen surface of Europa eruptions of water vapors occur. The new study supports the hypothesis that a vast ocean lies beneath the icy surface. Moreover, it shows that an energy source exists inside the moon. Both are requirements for the existence of life, therefore Europa remains one of the main candidate worlds for supporting life in our solar system.

    Read the full story: University of California, Los Angeles
    Scientific publication: Nature Astronomy


    Illustration of NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight). Credit: NASA
    NASA to lunch mission to study Mars’ interior on May 5th - space science news

    On May 5th, NASA’s InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission to Mars is scheduled for lunch. This will be the first ever attempt to study the interior of planet Mars. It will scan deep beneath the Martian surface measuring heat output and seismic activity. The ultimate aim of the mission is to understand how rocky planets, like Earth, were created.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss


    Solar flares are events involving plasma discharges, but they are difficult to study in space
    Scientists to produce solar flares in the laboratory - short space science news

    Astronomical phenomenon like solar flares are common in space, but the mechanisms that generate them are not well understood. Now, physicists have found a way to reproduces plasma discharges, similar to solar flares, in the laboratory. They used a principle called “magnetic reconnection” which involves pushing together two plasmas with anti-parallel magnetic fields, which produces extremely accelerated plasma particles. Using ultra-short laser pulses, the researchers hope to overcome the energy limitations required by such an experiment. Thus, scientists hope that the secrets of cosmic plasma discharges will soon be unveiled in a laboratory setting.

    Read the full story: Eureka Alert
    Scientific publication: Nature Communication


    On super-Earth planets the gravity is stronger, thus it is more difficult to escape it and fly into space
    Aliens form super-Earth planets may be stuck due to gravity - short science news - space news

    Super-Earths are giant planets, similar in other aspects to our own Earth. Some of them fit the criteria for hosting life, but a new study shows how difficult it would be for an alien race living there to fly into space. Because gravity is much stronger on such a planet, a space rocket needs a lot more fuel to take off. The equivalent of an Apollo moon mission rocket should be as big as the Great Pyramid of Giza, because of the amount of fuel. Such a civilization would be less likely to explore space compared to humans. Unless the hypothetical aliens have developed an alternative for space exploration that we are not aware of!

    Read the full story: Space.com
    Scientific publication: ArXiv


    TESS, the new planet-hunter from NASA was launched in the orbit. Credit: NASA
    NASA launches new search for exoplanets - short space news

    NASA just lunched its new satellite TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) into orbit. The mission of the satellite is to search for new planets outside our solar system. The satellite will spend the following two years surveying 200,000 stars in the search for exoplanets the size of Earth, or bigger. Scientists are excited in anticipation of the first results. “We’re going to be able to study individual planets and start talking about the differences between planets,” says Stephen Rinehart, TESS project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

    Read the full story: NASA


    A meteorite that crashed in Sudan in 2008 was a remnant of an embryo planet that had been destroyed 4.5 billion years ago
    Diamonds from a lost planet - space science news

    Detailed electronmicroscopic analyses have revealed that a meteorite that landed in Sudan in 2008 was a remnant of a planet embryo that was destroyed 4.5 billion years ago. This conclusion is based on assessments of inclusions of chemicals in the meteorite’s nano-diamonds (0.1 mm in size) that must have formed under high pressure inside planets. The size of the embryo planet was probably between that of Mercury and Mars. This study proves evidence for the idea that in the early solar system many planets have been formed, and destroyed by collisions with other planets (like the two planets that collided to form the Earth and the moon).

    Read the full story: EPFL
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    In space, or during missions on Mars, the human muscle function is impaired due to inactivity and lack of oxygen
    Do long spaceflights have an impact on human muscles? - short science news - space news

    In the light of proposed future missions to the Moon and Mars, scientists tried to assess the effects of long spaceflights on human muscles. They simulated a space trip of 21 days to study how the inactivity and low gravity environments impact these organs. Inactivity induced an impairment of the muscle oxidative process, important for the efficacy of the muscles. Interestingly, inactivity had a stronger negative impact than the hypoxia induced by the low oxygen available during space flights. These results could help develop new strategies to preserve the health of future astronauts during extended space missions.

    Read the full story: Eureka Alert
    Scientific publication: the Journal of Physiology


    A huge number of stars was characterized by scientists to understand their composition
    Fingerprints of 340,000 stars analyzed to learn how galaxies formed and evolved - short science news - space news

    A group of astronomers has undertaken a tremendous task: to analyze the unique “fingerprints” of more than a million stars in an effort to understand how galaxies are formed and how they evolve. The first set of data from the project (GALAH - Galactic Archaeology survey) was just released and it contains information about 340,000 stars. Each star was spectroscopically analyzed to identify the elements from its composition, such as hydrogen, helium, oxygen, aluminum, and iron. Thus, the composition of stars is revealed together with their motion in a galaxy. In total 11 papers have been published using the data (full list in the full story link).

    Read the full story: University of Sydney
    Scientific publication: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society; and Astronomy and Astrophysics
    Scientific publication: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society; and Astronomy and Astrophysics


    The arcs in the center are produced by the light of distant galaxies, twisted by gravity to form an
    Light-bending Einstein ring discovered by Hubble telescope - short science news - space

    The Hubble telescope captured the image of an Einstein ring. This phenomenon is created by the gravitational distortion of light when passing close to an extremely massive structure. In this case, the ring was formed due to a cluster of galaxies, called SDSS J0146-0929. It contains hundreds of galaxies and it is so massive that it can bend the light produced by distant cosmic objects. Einstein rings have been used before to magnify distant parts of the galaxy and to understand the fabric of the Universe.

    Read the full story: Space.com


    Many black holes could be congregated around the supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy. Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO
    A dozen black holes discovered in the center of our galaxy  - short space science news

    A team of astrophysicists reported the discovery of a dozen black holes around Sagittarius A, the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Old theories predict that supermassive black holes in the center of galaxies are surrounded by thousands of smaller black holes. Now, looking at X-rays emitted from the center of the galaxy, scientists uncovered the first proof that this might be true. Many possibilities for better understanding the universe are opened by these findings.

    Read the full story: Chandra X Ray Observatory
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Using a new method, astronomers obtained the highest accuracy ever for measuring the distance to the star cluster called NGC 6397. Credit: NASA, ESA, and T. Brown and S. Casertano (STScI)
    The distance to a globular star cluster measured with the highest precision ever - short science news - space news

    NGC 6397 is the name of one of the closest globular star clusters. The exact distance was previously estimated by two methods that gave results with low accuracy. Using straightforward trigonometry and a novel observational technique to measure very small angles on the sky, scientists now have a precise distance for the cluster: 7,800 light years away, give or take 3%. This sets the age of NGC 6397 at 13.4 billion years.

    Read the full story: Goddard Space Flight Center
    Scientific publication: The Astrophysical Journal Letters


    A massive cluster (left) magnified a distant star more than 2,000 times, making it visible from Earth even though it is 9 billion light years away, far too distant to be seen with current telescopes. It was not visible in 2011 (upper right). Credits: NASA, ESA, and P. Kelly (University of Minnesota)
    Astronomer capture image of the most distant star 9 billion light years away - short science news - space news

    A massive galaxy cluster located around 5 billion years from Earth generates a gravitational lens (the bending of light by massive bodies) that helped scientists see a distant blue supergiant star. Located nine billion years away, this is the furthest star ever photographed. Dubbed Icarus, it was magnified more than 2,000 times when it passed directly behind the lensing cluster. The discovery kicks off a new technique for astronomers to study individual stars in galaxies formed during the earliest days of the universe. These observations can provide a rare look at how stars evolve, especially the most luminous ones.

    Read the full story: University of California, Berkeley
    Scientific publication: Nature Astronomy


    A VAMP probe to search for evidence of life on Venus. Credit: Northrop Grumman Corp.
    Is there life in Venus clouds - short science news and articles

    While the mankind has searched hell and high waters for life beyond earth, the next target could be the clouds of Venus. Scientists believe that Venus once did have habitable climate and water was on its surface for 2 billion years. Also, space probes sent to the Venus atmosphere between 1962-78 have shown that the temperature conditions are suitable for microbial life. Further, the atmosphere has particles which have similar light absorbing properties as compared to some bacteria on Earth. However, the older probes were not able to distinguish between organic and inorganic material. But, a new Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform (VAMP) is being developed which could explore the Venus atmosphere and collect further data.

    Read the full story: University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Scientific publication: Astrobiology


    Galaxies are normally made up of stars, dust, gases, and black matter to hold the galaxy together
    Galaxy without black matter discovered

    Researchers have found a galaxy that does not contain black matter. This observation comes as a total surprise, as it was believed until now that black matter forms sort of a scaffold that glues galaxies together. It is invisible, and therefore measured indirectly as a function of movement of the stars within a galaxy. The absence of black matter in a galaxy challenges current theories about how galaxies work.

    Read the full story: NASA


    Mercury is the only metal-rich planet in our solar system
    Mercury-like planet discovered at a distance of 339 light years from Earth

    At a distance of 339 light years from Earth, researchers have discovered a small planet that finds itself close to its host star, has a temperature of 2000 degrees Celcius, and has the same density as Mercury due to high metal content. The planet was found with the aid of the Kepler space telescope. With the discovery of the planet, astronomers hope to better understand how planets rich in metals, like Mercury, have been formed.

    Read the full story: University of Warwick
    Scientific publication: Nature Astronomy


    Installation at the CUORE center, designed to detect a neutrinoless double-beta decay from the natural decay of 988 crystals of tellurium dioxide. Credit: CUORE / MIT
    Scientists close to proving that the neutrino is its own antiparticle - science news shorts: space

    According to the Big Bang theory, the universe should contain equal amounts of matter and antimatter. However, current estimates show that there is less antimatter than expected. One explanation could be that a particle, called neutrino, is its own antiparticle (it can switch between matter and antimatter). Now, scientists have published the first results of their attempt to detect this process. Called neutrinoless double-beta decay, it is extremely rare (estimated to happen once in 10 septillion - 1 followed by 25 zeros – years). Although not detected yet, the experiments are ongoing and the researchers are confident they will detect it in the following five years.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Physical Review Letters


    A small red star approached our solar system in prehistory and gravitationally disturbed comets and asteroids. Credit; José A. Peñas/SINC
    A passing-by star disturbed our solar system 70,000 years ago - short space science news

    According to a recent study, 70,000 years ago a small red star, called Scholz's star approached our solar system. It came less than a light-year from our Sun. A recent study analyzed almost 340 objects from our solar system and concluded that their trajectory was altered by the approach of the star, due to gravitational interferences. Nowadays Scholz's star is at a safe distance of almost 20 light-years away.

    Read the full story: www.sciencebriefss.com
    Scientific publication: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters


    Artist representation showing how the oceans on Mars could have looked 4 billion years ago. Credit: University of California, Berkeley
    Volcanoes may have created the right conditions for Mars’ oceans to be formed - space short science news

    A new study suggests that the oceans that most likely existed on Mars, around 4 billion years ago, were created due to volcanic activity. Tharsis, the largest volcanic range in our solar system, located on planet Mars, was very active and this induced global warming and the greenhouse effect. This, in turn, created the right conditions for the planet to accumulate water. This new hypothesis assumes that oceans were formed on Mars earlier than previously believed, at the same time with the Tharsis volcanic system.

    Read the full story: University of California, Berkeley
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Several countries, like Russia and USA, are planning to use nuclear weapons as a defense against asteroids
    Scientists use lasers to test the possibility of destroying asteroids with nuclear explosions - short space science news

    Science is constantly looking for way to protect the Earth from potentially dangerous asteroids. One of the methods proposed involves using nuclear bombs to destroy an incoming asteroid. Now, a group of researchers has tested this possibility by using lasers to simulate nuclear explosions and study their effects on a small model asteroid. They concluded that a 200 meters (656 feet) wide asteroid could be destroyed by a 3-megaton atomic bomb. The simulation provides important data that could be used to predict the results in a real situation.

    Read the full story: LiveScience
    Scientific publication: Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Physics


    Ice has been detected in the northern wall of Ceres' Juling Crater, which is in almost permanent shadow. Image: NASA
    Surface of the dwarf planet Ceres is changing

    The NASA Dawn mission has revealed that the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres is changing. The amount of ice on the northern rim of the Juling crater is increasing, and ice and rocks appear to move over Ceres’ surface. Scientists also discovered that new ice is forming at the Oxocrater and Ahuna Mons, the highest mountain on the dwarf planet. The reason for these changes is sought in the shorter distance of Ceres to the sun and changing seasons. This liberates water vapour that condenses on the rim of the Juling crater. Because Ceres is warming up, other parts of the crater collapse, causing stones and ice to be displaced.

    Read the full story: NASA
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


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