Tag Archives | Astronomy

Monster black hole discovered at cosmic dawn

This is an artist's impression of a quasar with a supermassive black hole in the distant universe. Credit: Zhaoyu Li/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Misti Mountain Observatory

This is an artist’s impression of a quasar with a supermassive black hole in the distant universe.
Credit: Zhaoyu Li/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Misti Mountain Observatory

via ScienceDaily:

Scientists have discovered the brightest quasar in the early universe, powered by the most massive black hole yet known at that time. The international team led by astronomers from Peking University in China and from the University of Arizona announce their findings in the scientific journal Nature on Feb. 26.

The discovery of this quasar, named SDSS J0100+2802, marks an important step in understanding how quasars, the most powerful objects in the universe, have evolved from the earliest epoch, only 900 million years after the Big Bang, which is thought to have happened 13.7 billion years ago. The quasar, with its central black hole mass of 12 billion solar masses and the luminosity of 420 trillion suns, is at a distance of 12.8 billion light-years from Earth.

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Astronomers spot clouds on Mars: Is the U.S. Government terraforming the red planet?

Via Shepard Ambellas at Intellihub:

Cloud-like formations were originally spotted within the atmosphere of Mars by astronomers in 2012, leading some to believe the planet may be habitable or is being transformed in some way to make it so.

In fact images show the vapor formation to be over 621 miles across, which is larger than any other formation previously spotted within the red planet’s atmosphere to date.

A planetary scientist with the European Space Agency says this “raises more questions than answers”.

Damien Peach, an astronomer said, “I noticed this projection sticking out of the side of the planet. To begin with, I thought there was a problem with the telescope or camera. But as I checked more of the images, I realized it was a real feature – and it was quite a surprise.”

According to reports the haze lasted about 10-days before reemerging about 30-days later as it appears these new clouds are beginning to form in a more consistent manner than ever before, bringing only one thing to mind — the 1990 science fiction film Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Mysterious Space Seed ‘may be proof aliens are watching us and created life on Earth’

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University of Buckingham

 

Jonathan Symcox via The Mirror:

Scientists in the UK say this microscopic metal globe could be proof that aliens are watching us.

Balloons sent 27km into the stratosphere to collect debris came back with the object, no bigger than the width of a human hair.

Professor Milton Wainwright, leader of the joint study by the University of Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology and University of Sheffield, said the structure is made from titanium and vanadium metals and has a biological “gooey” substance oozing from it.

Scientists believe it could contain genetic material used to propagate alien life on Earth.

“It is a ball about the width of a human hair, which has filamentous life on the outside and a gooey biological material oozing from its centre,” he told the Daily Express website.

“We were stunned when X-ray analysis showed that the sphere is made up mainly of titanium, with a trace of vanadium.

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Universe is 13.77 billion years old and it contains only 4.9% ordinary matter, says Planck data

Polarisation of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) as revealed by ESA's Planck data mapsESA - collaboration, Planck/E. Hivon/CNRS

Polarisation of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) as revealed by ESA’s Planck data maps
ESA – collaboration, Planck/E. Hivon/CNRS

Jayalakshmi K. via International Business Times:

The high precision Planck data just released has placed the age of the universe at 13.77 billion years, besides showing that the first stars were born 550 million years after the Big Bang.

Data from four years of observation by ESA’s spacecraft shows 4.9% of the Universe to be made of ordinary matter, 25.9% dark matter and 69.2% dark, unknown energy.

The researchers calculate the current rate at which space is expanding to give the age of the universe.

The Planck collaboration, which includes the CNRS, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), the French National Space Agency (CNES) and several French universities and institutions, aimed to study the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the light left over from the Big Bang.

The Planck measurements, taken in nine frequency bands, were used to map not only the temperature of radiation but also its polarisation providing information about both the very early Universe (when it was 380,000 years old) and our Galaxy’s magnetic field.

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What if the universe had no beginning?

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woodleywonderworks (CC BY 2.0)

 

via EarthSky.org:

Reports of the death of the Big Bang have been greatly exaggerated. Big Bang theory is alive and well. At the same time, our universe may not have a beginning or end.

Are you seeing the stories this week suggesting that the Big Bang didn’t happen? According to astrophysicist Brian Koberlein – a great science communicator at Rochester Institute of Technology with a popular page on G+ – that’s not quite what the new research (published in early February 2015 Physics Letters B, has suggested. The new study isn’t suggesting there was no Big Bang, Koberlein says. It’s suggesting that the Big Bang did not start with a singularity – a point in space-time when matter is infinitely dense, as at the center of a black hole. How can this be? Koberlein explains on his website:

The catch is that by eliminating the singularity, the model predicts that the universe had no beginning.

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No Big Bang? Quantum equation predicts universe has no beginning

"This is an artist's concept of the metric expansion of space, where space (including hypothetical non-observable portions of the universe) is represented at each time by the circular sections. Note on the left the dramatic expansion (not to scale) occurring in the inflationary epoch, and at the center the expansion acceleration. The scheme is decorated with WMAP images on the left and with the representation of stars at the appropriate level of development." Credit: NASA

“This is an artist’s concept of the metric expansion of space, where space (including hypothetical non-observable portions of the universe) is represented at each time by the circular sections. Note on the left the dramatic expansion (not to scale) occurring in the inflationary epoch, and at the center the expansion acceleration. The scheme is decorated with WMAP images on the left and with the representation of stars at the appropriate level of development.” Credit: NASA

Lisa Zyga via Phys.org:

(Phys.org) —The universe may have existed forever, according to a new model that applies quantum correction terms to complement Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The model may also account for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once.

The widely accepted age of the , as estimated by , is 13.8 billion years. In the beginning, everything in existence is thought to have occupied a single infinitely dense point, or .

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200 billion worlds like Earth in our galaxy

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New calculations says there could be billions of habitable worlds in our Galaxy. Photo Credit: ANU

 

Gary Jones via Sunday Express:

A NEW study by planetary scientists have calculated that there could be hundreds of billions of Earth-like planets in our galaxy which might support life.

The new estimates are based on applying a 200 year-old idea to the thousands of exo-planets discovered by the Kepler space telescope, which found the standard star has about two Earth-like planets in orbit.

These two planets can be found in the so-called ‘goldilocks zone’, named for the correct distance from the star where liquid water, crucial for life, can exist.

Researchers from the Australian National University applied the 200 year-old Titius-Bode relation, which predicts a planet’s existence based on their sequence orbiting around a sun.

It has already been used to predict the existence of planets in our own Solar System and by looking at a system where it was known to hold three or more planets, detected by the Kepler space telescope, the team worked out two planets exist in the goldilock zone of each star.

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A Review of the Best Habitable Planet Candidates

Image: This diagram illustrates how the boundaries of the HZ as defined in the work of Kopparapu et al. vary as a function of star temperature and planet mass. Several potentially habitable extra solar planets are included. Credit: Chester Harman/PHL/NASA/JPL.

Image: This diagram illustrates how the boundaries of the HZ as defined in the work of Kopparapu et al. vary as a function of star temperature and planet mass. Several potentially habitable extra solar planets are included. Credit: Chester Harman/PHL/NASA/JPL.

Paul Gilster writes at Centauri Dreams:

The fascination with finding habitable planets — and perhaps someday, a planet much like Earth — drives media coverage of each new, tantalizing discovery in this direction. We have a number of candidates for habitability, but as Andrew LePage points out in this fine essay, few of these stand up to detailed examination. We’re learning more all the time about how likely worlds of a given size are to be rocky, but much more goes into the mix, as Drew explains. He also points us to several planets that do remain intriguing. LePage is Senior Project Scientist at Visidyne, Inc., and also finds time to maintain Drew ex Machina, where these issues are frequently discussed.

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Cosmic Burst of Radio Waves From Unknown Source in the Universe

Parkes Radio Telescope in Eastern Australia (via The Neils Bohr Institute)

Parkes Radio Telescope in Eastern Australia (via The Neils Bohr Institute)

Via The Niels Bohr Institute:

A strange phenomenon has been observed by astronomers right as it was happening – a ‘fast radio burst’. The eruption is described as an extremely short, sharp flash of radio waves from an unknown source in the universe. The results have been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Over the past few years, astronomers have observed a new phenomenon, a brief burst of radio waves, lasting only a few milliseconds.

It was first seen by chance in 2007, when astronomers went through archival data from the Parkes Radio Telescope in Eastern Australia.

Since then we have seen six more such bursts in the Parkes telescope’s data and a seventh burst was found in the data from the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico. They were almost all discovered long after they had occurred, but then astronomers began to look specifically for them right as they happen.

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The EAGLE Project: A Virtual Universe Simulated Inside a Supercomputer

redditAbout a week ago, we published this article, “Astronomers Simulate Universe and Galaxies on Cosmology Machine.” Thanks to contributor Chaos_Dynamics, it’s been brought to my attention that the astronomers working on this project did an AMA on Reddit yesterday. You can read the entire Q&A here.

brien23 asks:

Hi,

I am a layperson, i.e. not a cosmologist. I have a few questions regarding EAGLE:

  1. Is it based on our universe or is it like an independently evolving universe?
  2. Does this simulation need human input at regular intervals or is it progressing completely on its own without the need of human interference at any point?
  3. Can you turn it into an infinitely stretched universe (infinite expanse of space)? Is it a stupid thing to ask?
  4. How likely is the presence of an earth-like planet there? By ‘earth-like’ I mean a planet that is similar to Earth in its chemical and physical construction.
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