Tag Archives | Space

Unbound Star Breaks Galactic Speed Record

Type Ia supernova via Wikipedia.

Type Ia supernova via Wikipedia.

Astronomers at Queen’s University Belfast have discovered an unbound star, US708, that is traveling at 1,200 kilometres per second. This is the fastest speed ever recorded in our galaxy.

The star is not bound by gravity and will eventually leave our galaxy. It is assumed that US708 was originally part of a “double-star” system, which included a massive white dwarf star. Presumably, the white dwarf exploded into a “thermonuclear supernovae,” or “type Ia supernova,” which kicked US708 out of orbit. A Type Ia Supernova occurs when two stars orbit each other “in which one of the stars is a white dwarf while the other can vary from a giant star to an even smaller white dwarf.”

Despite breaking a galactic record, the discovery of “US708 sheds light on the mysterious double-star systems that give rise to thermonuclear explosions. Thermonuclear, or ‘type Ia’, supernovae have long been used to calculate the distances to faraway galaxies – a measurement which helps to determine how the universe is changing and expanding.”

European Southern Observatory fellow, Stephan Geier, who led the study, said: “Several types of stars have been suspected of causing the explosion of a white dwarf as supernova of type Ia.… Read the rest

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SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 Carrying World’s First Ion Propelled Electric Satellites

(Photo : SpaceX) Electric satellites ABS 3A and Eutelsat 115 B West stacked on top of each other prior to launch.

(Photo : SpaceX) Electric satellites ABS 3A and Eutelsat 115 B West stacked on top of each other prior to launch.

Arthur Dominic Villasanta via China Topix:

The world’s first commercial satellites powered by xenon-ion electric engines were successfully orbited March 1.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched two “electric satellites” equipped with revolutionary xenon-ion engines that turn gas into a propellant from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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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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Frank Drake thinks it’s silly to send messages to ET

Raphael Perrino (CC BY 2.0)

Raphael Perrino (CC BY 2.0)

Via Kiki Sanford at BoingBoing:

Making contact with aliens: the subject of many a sci-fi story, and a variety of imagined outcomes. Though no one knows what will happen if we encounter intelligent extra-terrestrial life, scientists are dividd on how we should proceed.

SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, has been searching for signals from said ETs for many years with no positive results. Of course, there have been interesting signals, but nothing specifically indicative of intelligence.

Scientists from SETI are turning up the volume on a debate that has been raging for several years over whether we should start actively transmitting messages into outer space rather than continuing to passively scan the skies while only leaking weak radiation from our surface activities on the planet. In a press conference at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose this week, Douglas Vakoch presented the question, and stated that beginning to transmit in an active, directed fashion would be part of humanity “growing up”.

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

alien-seed-554074

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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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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NASA’s Travel Posters for Their “Exoplanet Travel Series”

via PlanetQuest:

Via NASA NASA/JPL-Caltech

Via NASA/JPL-Caltech

Relax on Kepler-16b – Where your shadow always has company

December 15, 2014

Like Luke Skywalker’s planet “Tatooine” in Star Wars, Kepler-16b orbits a pair of stars. Depicted here as a terrestrial planet, Kepler-16b might also be a gas giant like Saturn. Prospects for life on this unusual world aren’t good, as it has a temperature similar to that of dry ice. But the discovery indicates that the movie’s iconic double-sunset is anything but science fiction.

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Astronomers Simulate Universe and Galaxies on Cosmology Machine

Part of a simulated galaxy, with magnified views (credit: Joop Schaye et al.)

Part of a simulated galaxy, with magnified views (credit: Joop Schaye et al.)

Via Kurzweil AI:

An international team of astronomers has developed a simulation of the universe in which realistic galaxies are created — their mass, size, and age are similar to those of observed galaxies.

Previous computer simulations had limited success because their simulations were too old, too spherical, and either too massive or too small.

In the new study, by astronomers based at Durham University and Leiden University in the Netherlands, the galaxies formed in the EAGLE-simulation (Evolution and Assembly of GaLaxies and their Environments) are a much closer facsimile of real galaxies, thanks to modeling strong galactic winds.

Powered by stars, supernova explosions, and supermassive black holes, the winds blow away the gas supply needed for the formation of stars. As a result, EAGLE’s galaxies are also lighter and younger because fewer stars form and they form later.

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Occultist father of rocketry ‘written out’ of Nasa’s history

GALCIT Group members in the Arroyo Seco, November 1936. L-R: Rudolph Schott, Amo Smith, Frank Malina, Ed Forman, and Jack ParsonsNASA/JPL

GALCIT Group members in the Arroyo Seco, November 1936. L-R: Rudolph Schott, Amo Smith, Frank Malina, Ed Forman, and Jack ParsonsNASA/JPL

Via Wired UK:

Jack Parsons was a founding member of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab, with some crediting him as being one of the “fathers of rocketry” and others joking that JPL was actually Jack Parsons’ Laboratory, but you won’t find much about him on Nasa’s websites. Parsons’ legacy as an engineer and chemist has been somewhat overshadowed by his interest in the occult and, and has led to what some critics describe as a rewriting of the history books.

“He’s lived in the footnotes since his death. He’s a forgotten figure,” says biographer George Pendle, author of Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parson (Jack’s full name).

Pendle did an “archeological dig” into Parsons’ life after finding a mention of him in a science book.

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NASA Rover Finds Active and Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars

The first definitive detection of Martian organic chemicals in material on the surface of Mars came from analysis by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover of sample powder from this mudstone target, "Cumberland." Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The first definitive detection of Martian organic chemicals in material on the surface of Mars came from analysis by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover of sample powder from this mudstone target, “Cumberland.” Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

via Nasa from December 16:

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory’s drill.

“This temporary increase in methane — sharply up and then back down — tells us there must be some relatively localized source,” said Sushil Atreya of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, a member of the Curiosity rover science team. “There are many possible sources, biological or non-biological, such as interaction of water and rock.”

Researchers used Curiosity’s onboard Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory a dozen times in a 20-month period to sniff methane in the atmosphere.

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