February 19, 2019

    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

    Weird or not: all galaxies rotate at the same speed
    Amazing discovery: all galaxies rotate at the same speed no matter how big they are - science news

    Scientists have discovered an interesting pattern in the way galaxies rotate: all of them rotate at a similar speed of about one billion years per spin. This is valid for both the large galaxies and the small ones. The discovery of such regularity will help astronomers to understand the mechanics of galactic motion. Moreover, the study found evidence of older stars at the periphery of galaxies. This finding contradicts the previous models that predicted the existence of young stars at the edge of galaxies. This helps redefine the borders of galaxies, improving the precision of astronomical observations.

    Read the full story: ICRAR
    Scientific publication: The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

    Stephen Hawking the theoretical physicist who changed the world with his work died at the age of 76. He was a great scientist, one of the most popular in the world. Hawking suffered from a debilitating neurological disease that prevented him from moving and talking, but this didn’t stop him from creating theories that changed the field of physics. He predicted the existence of the Hawking radiation, made of particles that radiate out of black holes. But, his legacy to science goes beyond this. He contributed to the discovery of the laws of the black hole mechanics; he helped understand the cosmic inflation; he proposed a promising model on the universe’s initial state; and these are only a few of his accomplishments. We profoundly regret this news, but we know that his memory and his scientific achievements will remain alive.

    Pyrene molecules are formed around giant stars and they are commonly found in space
    The recipe for creating space molecules  - short space science news

    Pyrene molecules are a class of chemicals found in space, usually around giant stars, but also on earth in fossil fuels. They have a particular chemical structure characterized by four benzene rings containing 16 carbon atoms. Previous attempts to create these chemicals in the lab have managed to produce compounds with 14 carbon atoms, so pretty close, but not the real thing. Now, a team of chemists reports finding the recipe for producing pyrene in the lab. To achieve this, they reproduce the high-temperature conditions around old red giant stars, where the compounds are normally produced.

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

    The biggest black holes are growing faster than their galaxies. Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO
    Supermassive black holes grow faster than their home galaxies - short space news

    In the center of most, if not all, large galaxies there is a supermassive black hole. New data shows that these black holes are bigger than expected. The researchers looked at galaxies located 4.3 billion to 12.2 billion light-years away and compared the growth of black holes to the rate at which new stars are formed. The results show that in the largest galaxies, the black holes grow faster than the galaxy itself. In some cases, they grow up to 10 times faster. This was especially true for extremely large structures and researchers argue that these are “ultramassive” black holes, much bigger than the supermassive ones. 

    Read the full story: Chandra X Ray Observatory
    Scientific publication: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Scientific publication: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

    Huge cyclones complex at the planet's pole. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM
    Massive cyclones swipe Jupiter’s poles - short space news

    The data collected by NASA’s Juno Mission show that Jupiter has indeed bad weather. The winds on this giant planet run deep into the atmosphere and last significantly longer than the ones on Earth. Jupiter’s poles are hunted by massive cyclones unique in our solar system. One of the major observations was that the weather layer of Jupiter is much more extensive (about 3,000 kilometers / 1864 miles) than previously expected. This new information will help researchers understand the science behind Jupiter’s interior structure and ultimately its origin.

    Read the full story: Jet Propulsion Laboratory / NASA
    Scientific publication: Nature
    Scientific publication: Nature

    An enormous solar flare might have fried the Proxima b planet
    Closest Earth-sized planet may have been fried by its own sun - short space science news

    The closest exoplanet to Earth is Proxima b, orbiting the Proxima Centaury star. The planet is about the same size as Earth and it has been speculated that it might meet the conditions for hosting life. We don’t know if that is true, but we do know the latest astronomical event affecting the planet is not really life-friendly! For a brief moment the star became 1000 times brighter for about 10 seconds before returning back to normal. This is likely due to a huge stellar flare. Because Proxima b planet is very close to the star, it was likely bombarded with enormous amounts of radiation (1000 times more than what Earth receives normally). This would fry the planet’s surface, together with everything that might be found there.

    Read the full story: ScienceNews.org
    Scientific publication: The Astrophysical Journal Letters
    Scientific publication: The Astrophysical Journal Letters

    Earth and moon formed from one synestia according to a new theory
    New theory explains how the moon was formed

    A new theory on the origins of our planet and the moon proposes that both have formed from a giant donut of vaporised rock called a synestia. A synestia forms upon collision of two planets. Once the Earth synestia formed, lumps of molten rock came into orbit and formed the basis of the moon. The Earth synestia shrunk and formed the Earth. This new theory explains inconsistencies of the current collision model of the Earth and another planet, Theia, such as the relatively big size of the moon and the similar chemical composition between the Earth and the moon.

    Read the full story: University of California Davis
    Scientific publication: Journal of Geophysiological Research Planets

    The analysis of two lunar mission suggests the water is evenly distributed on the moon’s surface
    The water on the moon is evenly spaced on its surface - short science news

    The presence of water on the moon was confirmed in 2009. Until now scientist thought the water is confined to restricted areas around the moon’s poles. Now, the data obtained by two lunar missions suggest that water could be evenly spread across the surface. The study doesn’t show how accessible the water is, but it might provide insights about the origin of the water on the moon and its potential importance as a resource for Earth.

    Read the full story: Space.com
    Scientific publication: Nature Geoscience

    The locations of the observed stars. Credit: T. MUELLER/C. LAPORTE/NASA/JPL-CALTECH
    Stars from the edge of the Milky Way were kicked out from the galaxy’s disk - short science news

    Scientists believe that the stars located at the outskirts of our galaxy (halo stars) were formed from debris left behind by smaller galaxies that invaded the Milky Way in the past. However, a new study is challenging this view. Astronomers obtained convincing evidence that some of these star clusters actually originated in the disk of the Milky Way, but they were kicked out, a process termed galactic eviction. This happens when a massive dwarf galaxy passes through the disk of the Milky Way. The study involved 14 stars from two different halo structures.

    Read the full story: Keck Observatory
    Scientific publication: Nature

    Inside these black holes the past is erased and infinite futures are possible
    Unreal reality: the past does not determine the future inside special black holes - science news

    Physics predicts that travelling inside most black holes would be deadly: any object would be torn to atoms. However, in the case of supermassive black holes, like the ones in the center of galaxies, one could survive crossing the event horizon (the edge of the black hole). Theoretical physicists predict that inside, the reality could be hard to imagine: past events would no longer determine the future, and the future could take infinite possibilities. Scientists believe this is possible in an expanding universe because space-time is being increasingly pulled apart. Although this theoretical depiction strongly stimulates the imagination, it is hard to believe that anyone would dare to prove it right by venturing inside a black hole.

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

    Colliding black holes generate light signals
    Colliding black holes generate light signals

    In the center of galaxies there are mysterious supermassive black holes. A new simulation of these monsters uses a realistic scenario to predict the light signals emitted before two masses of black hole collide. Supermassive black holes are fed by gas disks that surround them like doughnuts. The strong gravitational pull of two black holes getting closer to each other heats and disrupts the flow of gas and emits periodic signals in the visible to X-ray portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Knowing how these light signals look like will enable researchers to identify them in the real world, when scanning the space, in order to pinpoint collisions between black holes.

    Watch a video of the simulation inside the full story article!

    Read the full story: www.sciencebriefss.com
    Scientific publication: Astrophysical Journal Letters

    These false-color images are the farthest from Earth ever captured. Credit: NASA
    The furthers image ever made captured by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. Short science news

    NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft snapped the farthest image from Earth ever made so far. When the camera captured the image, the spacecraft was 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers, or 40.9 astronomical units) from Earth. No photographs have ever been captured that far from our home planet, at least until now. In the images, New Horizons has captured several Kuiper Belt objects and dwarf planets at unique phase angles, as well as Centaurs at extremely high phase angles to search for forward-scattering rings or dust. The spacecraft is functioning correctly and is currently in hibernation. Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, will bring the spacecraft out of its electronic slumber on June 4 and begin a series of system checkouts and other activities to prepare New Horizons for the encounter with Kuiper Belt objects.

    Read the full story: NASA

    Falcon Heavy rocket lunch. Credit: Official SpaceX Photos
    The Falcon Heavy space rocket is on its way to Mars

    The Falcon Heavy space rocket from SpaceX was successfully launched Tuesday night. Falcon Heavy is the biggest reusable rocket in operation. Its course in space is set for the planet Mars, where it remains to see if it will crash on the planet, or continue its journey through space. On board of the rocket there is a very original cargo: a Tesla roadster car equipped with a mannequin driver. The launch demonstrates the capability of Falcon Heavy to send cargo in space for an estimated price of $90 million, significantly cheaper than other space agencies, like NASA.

    Read the full story: www.theverge.com

    Artist’s impressions of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser
    Exoplanets from TRAPPIST-1 system could contain water

    “Just” 40 light-years from Earth is located the planetary system TRAPPIST-1 which contains seven Earth-like planets (in size and temperature). Until recently there was not much information about the intriguing planets, but now further information has been obtained from telescopes on the ground and from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Kepler Space Telescope. Most interestingly, the planets seem to contain water, some of them even more than our planet! Moreover, the planets are so close that they interfere with each other’s gravity. The TRAPPIST-1 system continues to be of interest for scientists due to the large agglomeration of exoplanets that might harbor life.

    Read the full story: European Southern Observatory

    Planets have been found outside our galaxy. Image: Pixabay
    Extragalactic planets discovered for the first time

    Astrophysicists from Oklahoma University have discovered planets that are beyond the boundaries of the Milky Way. The planets have a mass ranging from that of the moon to the mass of Jupiter. The galaxy in which the planets have been detected is located 3.8 billion light years away, and cannot be seen with even the most powerful telescopes. Instead, the scientists have used microlensing that is based on gravitation and bending of light.

    Read the full story: University of Oklahoma
    Scientific publication: The Astrophysical Journal Letters

    Massive stars found in high numbers in the Tarantula Nebula. Image by: bigstockphoto
    A huge number of massive stars found in a neighboring galaxy

    One of our neighboring galaxies, the Large Magellanic Cloud, contains a higher than expected abundance of massive stars. More precisely, the stars are located in the Tarantula Nebula. Scientists identified here over 1000 of them, the highest agglomeration discovered so far in space. At the end of their lives these stars can explode in supernovae, generating black holes and neutron stars. Artemio Herrero, IAC/ULL researcher and co-author, explains the importance of the study: "Understanding the physics of massive stars under the varying conditions found from the Milky Way to the early Universe is fundamental to our knowledge of the cosmos evolution and how we see it presently."

    Read the full story: Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias
    Scientific publication: Science

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