Tag Archives | Universe

Voyager 2 Stops Making Sense

Voyager 2 is nearly a billion miles away from the Earth right now, so repairs are a little out of our reach. Let’s hope the folks at JPL can fix these communications problems. Ars Technica reports:

Voyager 2, which has been traveling through the solar system since the late ’70s, has suffered a data formatting glitch that is preventing NASA from interpreting the content of its scientific data transmissions.

Control and diagnostic transmissions are unaffected, which should enable the engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to troubleshoot the problem, provided they’re patient — it currently takes nearly 13 hours for transmissions from Earth to catch up with the probe.

According to a statement released by the JPL, the problem first became apparent on April 22nd. Data from the scientific transmission, which currently reports on the conditions at the very edge of the solar system, began coming through with improper formatting, making it impossible to interpret the contents.

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Ex-Canadian Defense Minister Says Aliens Have Visited Earth: Hawking Is Wrong About Them

CTV News reports:
Live Long and Prosper

Stephen Hawking’s warnings of an alien invasion have prompted a vigorous defence of extraterrestrials by their most prominent Canadian fan. Former federal defence minister Paul Hellyer, 86, believes not only that aliens have visited Earth but also that they have contributed greatly to human technological advances.

So he can’t quite understand why the world renowned astrophysicist views them with such trepidation; Hawking recently warned that malevolent aliens could lead to the destruction of humanity.

The longtime cabinet minister accuses Hawking of spreading misinformation about extraterrestrials.

“I think he’s indulging in some pretty scary talk there that I would have hoped would not come from someone with such an established stature,” Hellyer said in an interview.

“I think it’s really sad that a scientist of his repute would contribute to what I would consider more misinformation about a vast and very important subject.”

Hawking speculates in a new documentary that most extraterrestrial life will be similar to microbes, or small animals — but he adds that advanced life forms may be “nomads, looking to conquer and colonize” new planets.

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Herschel Captures the Birth of a Giant Star

The Universe is so large that you can look around and see events so rare that they only happen once in the course of millions of years. TG Daily reports:

Photo: European Space Agency

ESA’s Herschel telescope has snapped an embryonic star likely to turn into one of the biggest and brightest in our galaxy within the next few hundred thousand years.

The star-forming cloud RCW 120 already contains eight to ten times the mass of the Sun, and is still surrounded by an additional 2,000 solar masses of gas and dust from which it can feed further.

“This star can only grow bigger,” says Annie Zavagno of the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille. But, she says, “According to our current understanding, you should not be able to form stars larger than eight solar masses.”

This is because the fierce light emitted by such large stars should blast away their birth clouds.

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Does the Sun Have A Jupiter-Sized Companion Star in the Far Reaches of Our Solar System?

Editor's note: This paper submitted to arXiv, which is an electronic service for academic papers supported by Cornell University, is citing evidence for the controversial Nemesis star theory, which claims our solar system is actually a binary star system. Below is the abstract is this paper. The authors of this paper are claiming this star exists in the boundary of our solar system, the Oort cloud and is around (in astronomical terms) the size of Jupiter. John J. Matese and Daniel P. Whitmire write via arXiv.org: Binary Star
We present an updated dynamical and statistical analysis of outer Oort cloud cometary evidence suggesting the sun has a wide-binary Jovian mass companion. The results support a conjecture that there exists a companion of mass ~1–4 M_Jup orbiting in the innermost region of the outer Oort cloud.
Our most restrictive prediction is that the orientation angles of the orbit normal in galactic coordinates are centered on the galactic longitude of the ascending node Omega = 319 degree and the galactic inclination i = 103 degree (or the opposite direction) with an uncertainty in the normal direction subtending ~2% of the sky.
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Stephen Hawking: Aliens Might Kill Us All

Alien Attack!Jonathan Leake writes in the Times:

The aliens are out there and Earth had better watch out, at least according to Stephen Hawking. He has suggested that extraterrestrials are almost certain to exist — but that instead of seeking them out, humanity should be doing all it that can to avoid any contact.

The suggestions come in a new documentary series in which Hawking, one of the world’s leading scientists, will set out his latest thinking on some of the universe’s greatest mysteries.

Alien life, he will suggest, is almost certain to exist in many other parts of the universe: not just in planets, but perhaps in the centre of stars or even floating in interplanetary space.

Hawking’s logic on aliens is, for him, unusually simple. The universe, he points out, has 100 billion galaxies, each containing hundreds of millions of stars. In such a big place, Earth is unlikely to be the only planet where life has evolved.

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Mysterious Radio Waves Emitted From Nearby Galaxy

Galaxy M82Stephen Battersby writes on New Scientist:
There is something strange in the cosmic neighbourhood. An unknown object in the nearby galaxy M82 has started sending out radio waves, and the emission does not look like anything seen anywhere in the universe before. "We don't know what it is," says co-discoverer Tom Muxlow of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics near Macclesfield, UK. The thing appeared in May last year, while Muxlow and his colleagues were monitoring an unrelated stellar explosion in M82 using the MERLIN network of radio telescopes in the UK. A bright spot of radio emission emerged over only a few days, quite rapidly in astronomical terms. Since then it has done very little except baffle astrophysicists. It certainly does not fit the pattern of radio emissions from supernovae: they usually get brighter...
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Every Black Hole Contains Another Universe?

Ker Than writes on National Geographic News:
Black Holes Hold Universes

Like part of a cosmic Russian doll, our universe may be nested inside a black hole that is itself part of a larger universe. In turn, all the black holes found so far in our universe — from the microscopic to the supermassive — may be doorways into alternate realities.

According to a mind-bending new theory, a black hole is actually a tunnel between universes — a type of wormhole. The matter the black hole attracts doesn’t collapse into a single point, as has been predicted, but rather gushes out a “white hole” at the other end of the black one, the theory goes.

In a recent paper published in the journal Physics Letters B, Indiana University physicist Nikodem Poplawski presents new mathematical models of the spiraling motion of matter falling into a black hole. His equations suggest such wormholes are viable alternatives to the “space-time singularities” that Albert Einstein predicted to be at the centers of black holes.

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Neptune May Have Eaten A Planet and Stolen Its Moon

Neptune and its moonDavid Shiga writes on New Scientist:

Neptune may have polished off a super-Earth that once roamed the outer solar system and stolen its moon to boot. The brutal deed could explain mysterious heat radiating from the icy planet and the odd orbit of its moon Triton.

Neptune’s own existence was a puzzle until recently. The dusty cloud that gave birth to the planets probably thinned out further from the sun. With building material so scarce, it is hard to understand how Uranus and Neptune, the two outermost planets, managed to get so big.

But what if they formed closer in? In 2005, a team of scientists proposed that the giant planets shifted positions in an early upheaval. In this scenario, Uranus and Neptune formed much closer to the sun and migrated outwards, possibly swapping places in the process.

That would have left behind enough material just beyond their birthplace to form a planet with twice the Earth’s mass, according to calculations published in 2008 by Steven Desch of Arizona State University in Tempe.

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Pacman Eats The Death Star!

From Universe Today:

Mimas has drawn a fair amount of attention with its “Death Star”-like appearance, but with new images from the Cassini spacecraft, this icy moon of Saturn has just gotten a lot more interesting. The highest-resolution-yet temperature map and images of Mimas reveal surprising patterns on the surface of the small moon, including unexpected hot regions that resemble “Pac-Man” eating the Death Star crater (officially known as Herschel Crater), as well as striking bands of light and dark in crater walls.

“After much deliberation, we have concluded: Mimas is NOT boring,” said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader, in an e-mail about the new images. “Who knew?!” And best of all, Porco added, “be sure you have a pair of red/green glasses handy ’cause you won’t want to miss peering into gigantic Herschel crater in 3D!”

Cassini collected the data on Feb. 13, and Porco said the team has spent some quality time poring over the images.

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New Supernova Discovered By A 14 Year Old

From ScienceBlogs:
There is no age restriction on the chance to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the universe. Caroline Moore, a 14-year-old from Warwick, NY, has made such a mark on astronomy with the discovery of Supernova 2008ha. Not only is she the youngest person to discover a supernova, but this particular supernova has been identified as a different type of stellar explosion.
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