Tag Archives | Universe

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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Newly Discovered Planet Corot-9b Has Earth-Like Temperatures

Do Vulcans live here? Planetary temperatures range from -20 °C to 160 °C (-68 °F to 320 °F). Steve Connor writes on the Independent:

The first planet with a “temperate” climate to orbit a distant star has been discovered by astronomers, who claim that the techniques used to study it will be critical in the search for Earth-like worlds beyond our own solar system.

Corot-9b, as the planet is called, is one of more than 400 “exoplanets” found to be orbiting other stars, but it is the first one with a near-normal temperature range that can be studied as it moves across (or “transits”) the sun it orbits. “This is a normal, temperate exoplanet just like dozens we already know, but this is the first whose properties we can study in depth,” said Claire Moutou, one of the team of astronomers at the European Southern Observatory who made the discovery.

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A Meteorite, Older Than the Sun, Contains ‘Millions of Organic Compounds’

Definitely adding to the ideas for an exogenesis-related explanation for life on Earth. (I won't go so far to embrace panspermia, although the co-discover of DNA, Francis Crick, did later in life.) Interesting nonetheless. Doreen Walton writes on BBC News:
Scientists say they have confirmed that a meteorite that crashed into earth 40 years ago contains millions of different organic compounds. It is thought the Murchison meteorite could be even older than the Sun."Having this information means you can tell what was happening during the birth of the Solar System," said lead researcher Dr Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin. The results of the meteorite study are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"We are really excited. When I first studied it and saw the complexity I was so amazed," said Dr Schmitt-Kopplin, who works at the Institute for Ecological Chemistry in Neuherberg, Germany. Meteorites are like some kind of fossil. When you try to understand them you are looking back in time," he explained. The researchers says the identification of many different chemicals shows the primordial Solar System probably had a higher molecular diversity than Earth.
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SETI Opens All Data and Coding to the Public

Ole Ole Olson writes on News Junkie Post:
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) just announced that it is releasing all information to the public. SETIQuest.org was launched on Wednesday to facilitate the release and help coordinate an ‘army of citizen scientists’ to help search for anomalies in interstellar microwave patterns. The New Scientist reports, “SETIQuest is the product of astronomer Jill Tarter’s TED Prize wish. After being awarded the TED Prize last year, Tarter was given the opportunity to make a single wish before an auditorium full of the top names in technology and design. Tarter wished that they would “empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company.”
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What Would You See As You Plummet Into a Black Hole? (Video)

Hazel Muir writes on New Scientist:
A new interactive program reveals the spectacular light show you'd see if you dared to wander close to a black hole. It demonstrates how the extreme gravity of a black hole could appear to shred background constellations of stars, spinning them around as though in a giant black washing machine. The program's creators say it could be an excellent tool to familiarise people with the weird ways that black holes warp light. "It's useful for people to play around with the parameters to study how, for instance, a black hole would distort the constellation Orion," says Thomas Müller of the University of Stuttgart in Germany.
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Let Doctor Who Explain This Supernova…

The 10th DoctorChoose your favorite doctor for this story ... since David Tennant recently left the role (and did a fine job in my opinion) will pay dues in the graphic. Here's to expressive scientists and thanks to Charlie Jane Anders for writing about this story on the must visit site io9.com:
Astronomers witnessed a supernova in progress, observing jets of material moving at relativistic speeds: up to half the speed of light. Scientist Megan Argo wanted to explain this exciting discovery to the public, so she wrote a Doctor Who story. As the highly technical press release explains, scientists were able to detect "relativistic outflow" in a supernova for the first time, thanks to unprecedented cooperation between radio telescopes using Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). They discovered that one narrow bipolar jet of material was moving at half the speed of light. But Argo, who works at Curtin University, came up with a much cooler way to explain this discovery to the public, the story called "Doctor Who And The Silver Spiral." David Tennant's Doctor, accompanied by Martha, visit this supernova up close and personal, and get caught up in the very same shock wave that astronomers just discovered. Argo does a great job of capturing the Tennant Doctor's verbal tics.
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Grad Student Uses Alien-Seeking Math to Explain Why He Can’t Find A Girlfriend

Frank Carnevale writes on news.au.com:
A student used the Drake Equation, used to calculate chances of alien life, to prove why he was single. Peter Backus, a native of Seattle and PhD candidate in the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick, near London, took on his own dating woes in "Why I don't have a girlfriend: An application of the Drake Equation to love in the UK." In describing the paper online, he wrote "the results are not encouraging", MyFox reports. "The probability of finding love in the UK is only about 100 times better than the probability of finding intelligent life in our galaxy." Mr Backus, 30, found that of the 30 million women in the UK, only 26 would be suitable girlfriends for him, according to Click Liverpool.
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Voyager Unveils the Mystery of the Interstellar Fluff from Hell

VoyagerFluffJesus Diaz writes on Gizmodo:

For years, astronomers have been puzzled by the fact that our solar system is crossing a cloud of interstellar hell. One that shouldn’t be there at all. Intergalactic plot to keep us isolated or cosmic event? Voyager got the answer:

Using data from Voyager, we have discovered a strong magnetic field just outside the solar system. This magnetic field holds the interstellar cloud together — “The Fluff” — and solves the long-standing puzzle of how it can exist at all.

The Fluff is much more strongly magnetized than anyone had previously suspected. This magnetic field can provide the extra pressure required to resist destruction.

The Voyagers are not actually inside the Local Fluff. But they are getting close and can sense what the cloud is like as they approach it.

At least, that’s what NASA’s Heliophysics Guest Investigator from George Mason University Merav Opher says in the December 24 issue of Nature.

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The Death Throes of A Colossal Star, That Could Spawn New Life in the Universe

Jonathan Amos, BBC News
The death throes of one of the biggest stars known to science have been spied by Europe's Herschel space telescope. The observatory, launched in May, has subjected VY Canis Majoris, to a detailed spectroscopic analysis. It has allowed Herschel to identify the different types of molecules and atoms that swirl away from the star which is 20–25 times as massive as our Sun. VY Canis Majoris is some 4,500 light-years from Earth and it could be seen to explode as a supernova at any time. It is colossal. If VY Canis Majoris were sited at the centre of our Solar System, its surface would extend out towards the orbit of Saturn. The star, in the constellation Canis Major, has been recorded by astronomers for at least 200 years...
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