Scientists have discovered a ‘monster’ black hole that’s so big it shouldn’t exist

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Scientists have discovered a ‘monster’ black hole that’s so big it shouldn’t exist

(CNN)Scientists have discovered a “monster black hole” so massive that, in theory, it shouldn’t exist.

It’s a stellar black hole — the type that forms after stars die, collapse, and explode. Researchers had previously believed that the size limit was no more than 20 times the mass of our sun because as these stars die, they lose most of their mass through explosions that expel matter and gas swept away by stellar winds.
This theory has now been toppled by LB-1, the newly-discovered black hole. Located about 15,000 light years away, it has a mass 70 times greater than our sun, according to a press release from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The findings were published by Chinese researchers in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
“Black holes of such mass should not even exist in our galaxy, according to most of the current models of stellar evolution,” said Liu Jifeng, head of the team that made the discovery. “LB-1 is twice as massive as what we thought possible. Now theorists will have to take up the challenge of explaining its formation.”
Scientists are now scratching their heads at how LB-1 got so huge.
The Chinese team has proposed a number of theories. LB-1’s sheer size suggests that it “was not formed from the collapse of only one star,” the study said — instead, it could potentially be two smaller black holes orbiting each other.
Another possibility is that it formed from a “fallback supernova.” This is when a supernova — the last stage of an exploding star — ejects material during the explosion, which then falls back into the supernova, creating a black hole.
This fallback formation is theoretically possible, but scientists have never been able to prove or observe it. If this is how LB-1 formed, then we may have “direct evidence for this process” for the first time, the study said.
LB-1 is not the biggest black hole ever discovered — but it may be the largest of its kind. There are several types of black holes, and stellar black holes like LB-1 are on the smaller side, according to NASA. Supermassive black holes are much bigger — they can be billions of times the mass of our sun.
Scientists believe supermassive black holes may be connected to the formation of galaxies, as they often exist at the center of the massive star systems — but it is still not clear exactly how, or which form first.

Stellar renaissance

Stellar black holes are believed to be commonly scattered across the universe, but they are difficult to detect because they do not normally emit X-rays — only doing so when they gobble up gas from a star that has ventured close enough. They are so elusive that scientists have only found, identified, and measured about two dozen stellar black holes, the press release said.
The researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences tried a different approach. Instead of looking for X-rays emitted by black holes, the team looked for stars that were orbiting some invisible object, being pulled in by its gravity.
Their efforts paid off — they soon spotted a giant star eight times heavier than the sun, orbiting around what turned out to be LB-1.
“This discovery forces us to re-examine our models of how stellar-mass black holes form,” said David Reitze, a physicist at the University of Florida. In May, Reitze’s team made its own breakthrough discovery — observing the never-before-seen collision of a neutron star and a black hole, which sent out ripples in space and time.
These twin discoveries — the collision, and now LB-1 — indicate that scientists are reaching “a renaissance in our understanding of black hole astrophysics,” said Reitze in the press release.
There have been several other discoveries over the past year that have added to this renaissance. In October, researchers discovered what they believe to be a new type of black hole, smaller than the other kinds. And earlier this week, astronomers discovered a black hole that is actually helping baby stars grow instead of destroying them.

Scientists drill out 2 million-year-old ice and make a major discovery

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK EXPRESS NEWS)

 

Antarctica shock: Scientists drill out 2 million-year-old ice and make a major discovery

ANTARCTICA researchers drilling out ice cores dating back two million years into Earth’s past have made incredible discoveries about the planet’s climate.

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The Antarctic discovery is touted as the “first direct observation” of the planet’s ancient  conditions. Researchers led by Princeton University in the US extracted two million-year-old samples ice in the remote Allan Hills of Antarctica. The Antarctic core samples contain pristine samples of trapped greenhouse gases – prehistoric bubbles of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).

The researchers are convinced the ice cores represent untouched snapshots of the Earth’s climate from a time before man ruled the world.

According to Dr Yuzhen Yan, who led the Antarctic study, the discovery paints an overall picture of changes in the climate.

He said: “You don’t get a sense of how things changed continually, but you get an idea of big changes over time.”

The discovery was presented in the journal Nature this month.

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Antarctica news: Scientists drilling ice cores

Antarctica news: Researchers have drilled 2 million-year-old ice cores (Image: GETTY)

Antarctica news: Scientists in Antarctica

Antarctica news: The discovery reveals the Earth’s prehistoric climate (Image: SEAN MACKAY/BOSTON UNIVERSITY)

According to Dr Yan, ice core samples from Antarctica show a continuous record of the climate dating back to about 800,000 years in the past.

But because of the way ice flows and compresses over time, samples dating even farther into the past show more widely distributed patterns.

The two million-year-old cores were drilled in the Allan Hills region by Princeton associate professor John Higgins.

Professor Higgins previously drilled out one million-year-old ice cores, which at the time were the oldest ever recovered.

The researchers dated the ice cores by analysing isotopes of argon gas trapped in the ice.

Now, the newly recovered older ice cores have helped researchers better understand how the planet’s glacial cycle took shape.

You get an idea of big changes over time

Dr Yuzhen Yan, Princeton University

Dr Yan said: “The ability to measure atmospheric composition directly is one of the biggest advantages of ice cores.

“That’s why people spend years and years in the most isolated places getting them.”

Up until about 1.2 million years ago, the planet’s glaciers were thinner and smaller.

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Antarctica news: Scientists drilling in Antarctica

Antarctica news: Atmospheric carbon dioxide is at unprecedented levels (Image: SEAN MACKAY/BOSTON UNIVERSITY)

Antarctica news: Scientists drilling in Antarctica

Antarctica news: Ice cores show a record of Earth’s changing climate (Image: SEAN MACKAY/BOSTON UNIVERSITY)

The glaciers most likely formed and melted away over a 40,000-year-long cycle.

But after the so-called Mid-Pleistocene Transition between 1.2 million 700,000 years ago, the glacial cycle became considerably longer.

The planet was much colder than it is today and glaciers formed and melted over cycles 100,000-years-long.

Although atmospheric CO2 is not to blame for the prehistoric transition, the research has found the planet is experiencing unprecedented levels of the atmospheric gas today.

According to space agency NASA, levels of atmospheric CO2 stand around 408.53 parts per million (ppm) as of October 2019.

Dr Yan said: “We’re seeing carbon dioxide levels not seen in two million years.

“While our data suggest that long-term carbon dioxide decline was not the decisive factor in the Mid-Pleistocene Transition, it does not mean that carbon dioxide does not have the capability to bring about global-scale changes.

“We’re in a different situation now — carbon dioxide is the major player in our current world.

“If we want to look into the geologic past for an analogy of what’s going on in our world today, we need to go beyond two million years to find it.”

The 1st Sun Details from NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Are Out. And They’re Hot!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SPACE.COM)

 

The 1st Sun Details from NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Are Out. And They’re Hot!

An artist's depiction of NASA's Parker Solar Probe gathering data about the sun.

An artist’s depiction of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe gathering data about the sun.
(Image: © Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory)

Want to see the sun in a whole new way?

Now you can do just that by looking through a host of science data newly made available to the public. That information was gathered by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe during its first two close passes of the sun. The flybys brought the spacecraft closer to the sun than any previous vehicle had gone, offering scientists an incredible opportunity to learn more about our star.

“Parker Solar Probe is crossing new frontiers of space exploration, giving us so much new information about the sun,” Nour E. Raouafi, Parker Solar Probe project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, said in a statement. “Releasing this data to the public will allow them not only to contribute to the success of the mission along with the scientific community, but also to raise the opportunity for new discoveries to the next level.”

Related: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Mission to the Sun in Pictures

Parker Solar Probe launched in August 2018 for a seven-year mission that is targeting the constant stream of highly charged plasma leaving the sun, called the solar wind, and the star’s outer atmosphere, called the corona. Studying these phenomena requires getting incredibly close to the sun; the spacecraft primarily gathers data while within about 23 million miles (37 million kilometers) of our star.

Onboard are four science experiments: Fields Experiment, which studies electric and magnetic fields; Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun, which measures high-energy charged particles in the solar wind and corona; Wide-Field Imager for Solar Probe, which images the solar wind and other structures; and Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons Investigation, which measures different types of particles in the solar wind.

Data gathered by a Parker Solar Probe instrument, the Wide-Field Imager for Solar Probe, in November 2018, during the spacecraft’s first solar flyby.

(Image credit: NASA/Naval Research Laboratory/Parker Solar Probe)

And now, you too can pore through data gathered by those instruments during the first two flybys: Oct. 31-Nov. 12, 2018, and March 30-April 19, 2019. During the second flyby, mission engineers were able to increase the amount of data the spacecraft sent home, thanks to better data-return rates than expected. There is no central hub for the data, but NASA has provided a list of websites to explore.

According to the same NASA statement, the first full-fledged science results from the mission should be published later this year.

Parker Solar Probe has also already made its third flyby of the sun; the spacecraft’s next closest approach is on Jan. 29, 2020.

Email Meghan Bartels at [email protected] or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

The Curiosity rover detects oxygen behaving strangely on Mars

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

The Curiosity rover detects oxygen behaving strangely on Mars

(CNN)Since it landed in Gale Crater in 2012, the Curiosity rover has been studying the Martian surface beneath its wheels to learn more about the planet’s history. But Curiosity also stuck its nose in the air for a big sniff to understand the Martian atmosphere.

So far, this sniffing has resulted in some findings that scientists are still trying to understand.
Earlier this year, the rover’s tune able laser spectrometer, called SAM, which stands for Sample Analysis at Mars, detected the largest amount of methane ever measured during its mission.
SAM has also found that over time, oxygen behaves in a way that can’t be explained by any chemical process scientists currently understand.
SAM has had plenty of time — about six years — to sniff and analyze the atmospheric composition on Mars. The data revealed that at the surface, 95% of the atmosphere is carbon dioxide, followed by 2.6% molecular nitrogen, 1.9% argon, 0.16% oxygen and 0.06% carbon monoxide.
Like Earth, Mars goes through its seasons; over the course of a year, the air pressure changes. This happens when the carbon dioxide gas freezes in winter at the poles, causing the air pressure to lower. It rises again in the spring and summer, redistributing across Mars as the carbon dioxide evaporates.
In relation to the carbon monoxide, nitrogen and argon also follow similar dips and peaks. But oxygen didn’t.
Surprisingly, the oxygen actually rose by a peak increase of 30% in the spring and summer before dropping back to normal in the fall.
Given the amount of time Curiosity has been monitoring the atmosphere, it was able to detect that this pattern repeated, albeit with varying amounts of oxygen.
The variation suggests that the oxygen is being created by something, then taken away.
“The first time we saw that, it was just mind boggling,” said Sushil Atreya, study author on a new paper about the oxygen levels and professor of climate and space sciences at the University of Michigan.
The study published Tuesday in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.
In order to rule out errors, the scientists checked to be sure SAM was operating properly, but found no issues.
“We’re struggling to explain this,” said Melissa Trainer, study author and planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “The fact that the oxygen behavior isn’t perfectly repeatable every season makes us think that it’s not an issue that has to do with atmospheric dynamics. It has to be some chemical source and sink (of elements into the soil) that we can’t yet account for.”
It relates back to the methane mystery.
The June reading indicated 21 parts per billion units by volume, or ppbv. That means of the volume of air on Mars being assessed, one billionth of the volume of air is methane.
So why is this unusually large amount of methane so interesting? On Earth, microbial life is a key source of methane. But NASA also warned that expectations of life should be managed due to the fact that interactions between rocks and water can also create methane, and Mars has water and an abundance of rocks.
“With our current measurements, we have no way of telling if the methane source is biology or geology, or even ancient or modern,” said SAM Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
This isn’t the first time methane has been detected on Mars by Curiosity. Over the course of its mission since landing in August 2012, Curiosity has detected methane many times and studies have been written about how the gas levels actually appear to rise and fall depending on the season. It can spike as much as 60% during the summer.
Could the two be connected to a similar chemistry since they’re fluctuating the same way?
“We’re beginning to see this tantalizing correlation between methane and oxygen for a good part of the Mars year,” Atreya said. “I think there’s something to it. I just don’t have the answers yet. Nobody does.”
The origin of the methane or oxygen won’t be evident because the rover doesn’t have any instruments that can trace or determine the source. And while both oxygen and methane can be created from biological sources, they can also arise due to chemistry, like the interaction of water and rocks.
“We have not been able to come up with one process yet that produces the amount of oxygen we need, but we think it has to be something in the surface soil that changes seasonally because there aren’t enough available oxygen atoms in the atmosphere to create the behavior we see,” said Timothy McConnochie, study co-author and assistant research scientist at the University of Maryland.
The scientists wanted to share their findings in the hopes that Martian experts may be able to help determine what process is creating these increases.
“This is the first time where we’re seeing this interesting behavior over multiple years. We don’t totally understand it,” Trainer said. “For me, this is an open call to all the smart people out there who are interested in this: See what you can come up with.”

NASA Scientist: Dinosaurs roamed the Earth on the other side of the Milky Way galaxy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

A NASA scientist’s incredible animation shows how dinosaurs roamed the Earth on the other side of the Milky Way galaxy

dinosaur park snow serbia dinosaurs
A dinosaur park sees freezing weather and snowfall in Belgrade, Serbia, February 26, 2018. 
REUTERS/Djordje Kojadinovic

When dinosaurs ruled the Earth, the planet was on a completely different side of the galaxy.

A new animation by NASA scientist Jessie Christiansen shows just how long the dinosaurs’ reign lasted, and how short the era of humans has been in comparison, by tracing our solar system’s movement through the Milky Way.

Our sun orbits the galaxy’s center, completing its rotation every 250 million years or so. So Christiansen’s animation shows that last time our solar system was at its current point in the galaxy, the Triassic Period was in full swing and dinosaurs were just beginning to emerge. Many of the most iconic dinosaurs roamed Earth when the planet was in a very different part of the Milky Way.

Christiansen got the idea to illustrate this history when she was leading a stargazing party at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Attendees were astonished when she mentioned that our solar system had been across the galaxy when dinosaurs roamed.

“That was the first time I realized that those time scales — archaeological, fossil record time scales and astronomical time scales — actually kind of match along together,” Christiansen told Business Insider. “Then I had this idea that I could map out dinosaur evolution through the galaxy’s rotation.”

The resulting video puts both timelines in perspective:

Dr. Jessie Christiansen

@aussiastronomer

I have always been interested in galactic archaeology, but I don’t think this is what they meant.

Did you know that dinosaurs lived on the other side of the Galaxy?

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Christiansen said it took her about four hours to make the film using timed animations in PowerPoint. She also noted a couple minor corrections to the text in her video: plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs, and we complete a galactic orbit every 250 million years (not 200 million years).

‘A spiral through space’

Galactic movement is more complicated than the video shows, though. The other stars and planetary systems in the galaxy are also moving, at different speeds and in different orbits. The inner portions spin faster than the outer regions.

What’s more, the galaxy itself is moving through space, slowly approaching the nearby Andromeda galaxy.

“The animation kind of makes it seem like we’ve come back to the same spot, but in reality the whole galaxy has moved a very long way,” Christiansen said. “It’s more like we’re doing a spiral through space. As the whole galaxy’s moving and we’re rotating around the center, it kind of creates this spiral.”

milky way galaxy center spitzer infrared
The center of our Milky Way galaxy, imaged by the Spitzer Space Telescope’s infrared cameras, October 9, 2019. 
NASA, JPL-Caltech, Susan Stolovy (SSC/Caltech) et al.

So in the solar system’s rotation around the galactic center, we’re not returning to a fixed point. The neighborhood is different from the last time we were here.

Earth, however, is not drastically different; it still supports complex life. That’s partially thanks to the path of our sun’s galactic orbit.

“Our solar system doesn’t travel to the center of the galaxy and then back again. We always stay about this distance away,” Christiansen said.

In other words, even as our solar system travels through the Milky Way, it doesn’t approach the inhospitable center, where life probably wouldn’t survive.

“There’s a lot of stars, it’s dynamically unstable, there’s a lot of radiation,” Christiansen said. “Our solar system certainly doesn’t pass through that.”

That’s a huge part of why dinosaurs, mammals, or any other form of life can exist on Earth.

SEE ALSO: A huge explosion sliced through our galaxy just 3.5 million years ago, as human ancestors walked the Earth. Scientists think it was nuclear activity in the black hole at the Milky Way’s center.

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More: Space dinosaurs Milky Way Galaxy

The most spectacular celestial vision you’ll never see

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF PHYSICS.ORG)

 

The most spectacular celestial vision you’ll never see

The most spectacular celestial vision you'll never see
A simulation of HR 5183b’s brightness in the night sky as compared to Venus, one of the brightest objects visible from Earth. Credit: Teo Mocnik / UCR

Contrary to previous thought, a gigantic planet in wild orbit does not preclude the presence of an Earth-like planet in the same solar system—or life on that planet.

What’s more, the view from that Earth-like planet as its giant neighbor moves past would be unlike anything it is possible to view in our own night skies on Earth, according to new research led by Stephen Kane, associate professor of planetary astrophysics at UC Riverside.

The research was carried out on  in a planetary system called HR 5183, which is about 103 light years away in the constellation of Virgo. It was there that an eccentric giant planet was discovered earlier this year.

Normally, planets  their stars on a trajectory that is more or less circular. Astronomers believe large planets in stable, circular orbits around our sun, like Jupiter, shield us from space objects that would otherwise slam into Earth.

Sometimes, planets pass too close to each other and knock one another off course. This can result in a planet with an elliptical or “eccentric” orbit. Conventional wisdom says that a giant planet in  is like a wrecking ball for its planetary neighbors, making them unstable, upsetting weather systems, and reducing or eliminating the likelihood of life existing on them.

Questioning this assumption, Kane and Caltech astronomer Sarah Blunt tested the stability of an Earth-like planet in the HR 5183 solar system. Their modeling work is documented in a paper newly published in the Astronomical Journal.

Kane and Blunt calculated the giant planet’s  on an Earth analog as they both orbited their star. “In these simulations, the giant planet often had a catastrophic effect on the Earth twin, in many cases throwing it out of the solar system entirely,” Kane said.

“But in certain parts of the planetary system, the gravitational effect of the giant planet is remarkably small enough to allow the Earth-like planet to remain in a stable orbit.”

The team found that the smaller, terrestrial planet has the best chance of remaining stable within an area of the solar system called the —which is the territory around a star that is warm enough to allow for liquid-water oceans on a planet.

These findings not only increase the number of places where life might exist in the  described in this study—they increase the number of places in the universe that could potentially host life as we know it.

This is also an exciting development for people who simply love stargazing. HR 5813b, the eccentric giant in Kane’s most recent study, takes nearly 75 years to orbit its star. But the moment this giant finally swings past its smaller neighbor would be a breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime event.

“When the giant is at its closest approach to the Earth-like planet, it would be fifteen times brighter than Venus—one of the brightest objects visible with the naked eye,” said Kane. “It would dominate the night sky.”

Going forward, Kane and his colleagues will continue studying planetary systems like HR 5183. They’re currently using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the Keck Observatories in Hawaii to discover new planets, and examine the diversity of conditions under which potentially habitable planets could exist and thrive.


Explore further

Newly discovered giant planet slingshots around its star


More information: Stephen R. Kane et al, In the Presence of a Wrecking Ball: Orbital Stability in the HR 5183 System, The Astronomical Journal (2019). DOI: 10.3847/1538-3881/ab4c3e

Journal information: Astronomical Journal

NASA shock: The most massive object in the universe is forming before our very own eyes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK EXPRESS NEWS)

 

NASA shock: The most massive object in the universe is forming before our very own eyes

NASA astronomers have detected the merger of four galactic clusters in deep space will give birth to one of the most massive objects in the universe.

NASA supercomputer: A trip through the ‘universe machine’

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 estimates the resulting mega-cluster will combine weights “several hundred trillion times” more than our Sun. The monstrous body will emerge from the collision of four galactic clusters about three billion light-years from Earth. Each cluster carries hundreds or thousands of galaxies of its own, suspended in a cloud of hot gas.

Astronomers have dubbed the slowly emerging “mega-structure” Abell 1758.

NASA estimates the individual bodies in the collisions are moving at speeds of two to three million miles per hour.

The incredible discovery was made possible thanks to NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory  probe.

NASA said: “Astronomers using data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes have put together a detailed map of a rare collision between four galaxy clusters.

READ MORE: 

NASA news: Four galactic clusters merging into one

NASA news: These four galactic clusters are merging into a mega-cluster (Image: NASA NASA/CXC/SAO/G.Schellenberger et al.;)

NASA news: Chandra X-ray Observatory

NASA news: The Chandra Observatory watches the universe in X-ray wavelenghts (Image: NASA/CXC & J VAUGHAN)

“Eventually, all four clusters – each with a mass of at least several hundred trillion times that of the Sun – will merge to form one of the most massive objects in the universe.”

Galactic clusters are large groupings of individual galaxies bound together by their collective gravities and the gravity of dark matter.

The gravitational attraction also explains why clusters are suspended in a cloud of gas.

Galaxies will typically expel their stellar gases when stars erupt into supernovas.

Clusters hang onto these gases and are some of the largest known objects in the universe.

In the particular case of Abell 1758, astronomers have detected four separate bodies colliding into two larger clusters.

All four clusters will merge to form one of the most massive objects in the universe

NASA

In time, the resulting two bodies will fall towards one another to produce an even bigger mega-structure.

NASA said: “Sometimes two galaxy clusters collide, as in the case of the Bullet Cluster, and occasionally more than two will collide at the same time.

“The new observations show a mega-structure being assembled in a system called Abell 1758, located about three billion light-years from Earth.

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NASA news: The percentage of NASA’s budget over the years (Image: EXPRESS)

NASA news: Galactic cluster in deep space

NASA news: Galactic clusters are large groups of galaxies suspended in a cloud of gas (Image: NASA)

“It contains two pairs of colliding galaxy clusters that are heading toward one another.

“Scientists first recognised Abell 1758 as a quadruple galaxy cluster system in 2004 using data from Chandra and XMM-Newton, a satellite operated by the European Space Agency (ESA).”

Chandra’s Observatory charts the universe in X-ray wavelengths instead of visible light.

In the above picture, the X-rays are seen in blue and white light.

NASA: Three black holes heading towards a merger

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What happens when galaxies collide?

Galactic collisions are a fairly frequent occurrence in deep space and our Milky Way is no exception.

Approximately four billion years from now the neighboring Andromeda galaxy will crash into the Milky Way.

Thankfully, the space in-between individual planets and stars is too great for any bodies to collide.

But the collisions will have a profound effect on the shape and movement of the galaxies.

When two spiral galaxies collide, for instance, they can end up creating an elliptical galaxy.

The galactic merger can also trigger the birth of new stars thanks to stellar gas and dust mixing in the presence of gravity.

Quick facts about NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory

1. NASA’s Chandra is the world’s most powerful X-ray observatory.

2. The space telescope was launched into orbit by a space shuttle.

3. Chandra can resolve the individual letters of a stop sign from 12 miles away.

4. The space telescope orbits the Earth 200 times higher than the Hubble Space Telescope.

5. Thanks to its X-ray capabilities, Chandra can peer through clouds of stellar gas that otherwise obscure hidden bodies.

Huge Cosmic Structures Already Existed When the Universe Was a Baby

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF LIVE SCIENCE)

 

Huge Cosmic Structures Already Existed When the Universe Was a Baby

This image shows the region where the ancient galactic structure was found. The blue shading shows the area it covers. The red objects in the zoomed-in bits are the 12 galaxies.

This image shows the region where the ancient galactic structure was found. The blue shading shows the area it covers. The red objects in the zoomed-in bits are the 12 galaxies.
(Image: © NAOJ/Harikane et al.)

Astronomers have discovered the oldest cluster of galaxies ever seen, which dates to the early universe.

The discovery, which could help explain the shape of the modern cosmos, reveals 12 galaxies that existed in a clump 13 billion years ago — just about 700 million years after the Big Bang. We can see them now because they’re so far away in the expanding universe (13 billion light-years) that their starlight is only now reaching Earth. One of the galaxies, a mammoth named Himiko after a mythological Japanese queen, was discovered a decade ago by the same team.

Surprisingly, the other 11 galaxies aren’t clustered around the giant Himiko, the researchers wrote in a paper that will be published on Sept. 30 in The Astrophysical Journal and is available as a draft on the website arXiv. Instead, Himiko sits at the edge of the system, which the researchers call a “protocluster” because it’s so small and ancient compared to most of the clusters we can see in the universe..

Related: 11 Fascinating Facts About Our Milky Way Galaxy

“It is reasonable to find a protocluster near a massive object, such as Himiko. However, we’re surprised to see that Himiko was located not in the center of the protocluster but on the edge, 500 million light-years away from the center,” Masami Ouchi, a co-author of the paper and an astronomer at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the University of Tokyo, said in a statement.

Understanding how galaxy clusters came to be turns out to be important for understanding the galaxies they contain. Most galaxies, including the Milky Way, show up in clumps with other galaxies, so the galaxies aren’t evenly distributed throughout the universe. And that clumping seems to affect their behavior, astronomers have said. Galaxies in high-density, clumped environments full of galaxies form stars in different ways than do galaxies in low-density environments empty of galaxies. And the impact of clumping seems to have changed over time, the researchers said.

In more recent times, the researchers wrote in the paper, “there is a clear trend that the star-formation activity of galaxies tends to be lower in high-density environment than low-density environment.”

So, clumped-up galaxies these days form stars less often than their more independent cousins do. It’s as if they’re aging faster in their clusters, the researchers wrote, becoming geriatric and giving up on making new stars.

But in the ancient universe, the trend seems to have been reversed. Galaxies in highly packed clusters formed stars faster, not slower, remaining young and spry compared with their cousins not in dense clusters.

Still, “protoclusters” like this one from the early eons of the universe are rarely found and are poorly understood, the researchers wrote. These clumps tend to be much smaller than modern examples, which can contain hundreds of galaxies.

The further back telescopes peer into time, the fewer proto-clusters turn up. It’s possible many of them are simply obscured by intergalactic dust. The astronomers hope, they wrote, that the new discovery will help flesh out the picture and explain how the state of things 13 billion years ago changed over time to produce that clustered universe we see today.

Originally published on Live Science.

‘Black hole’ photographed on Jupiter

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWS HUB )

 

‘Black hole’ photographed on Jupiter

  • 22/09/2019
  • Dan Satherley

Watch: Scientists discover planet with closest resemblance to Earth so far. Credits: Video – Newshub; Image – NASA

Stunning new images shot by NASA’s Juno spacecraft appear to show a massive black hole on the surface of Jupiter.

The photographs were taken earlier this month as Juno’s elliptical orbit took it close to the gas giant – only 8000 km from the top of its clouds.

Jupiter and its new 'black hole'.
Jupiter and its new ‘black hole’. Photo credit: NASA

But rather than an abyss from which there is no escape, Jupiter’s latest feature is just a shadow cast by one of its moons, Io, as it blocked the sun during an eclipse.

Io is about the same size as Earth’s moon. Because it’s so far away, in the Jovian sky Io appears about four times the size as the sun – so its shadow is large and relatively sharp, compared to eclipses here on Earth, Universe Today reports.

Another view of the 'hole'.
Another view of the ‘hole’. Photo credit: NASA

Last week it was reported a volcano is set to erupt on Io.

Jupiter’s other distinctive feature – its giant red spot – is a storm that is expected to dissipate one day.

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Russia Says It Will Keep Source of Hole (and Air Leak) on Soyuz Secret— But NASA Wants to Know

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SPACE.COM)

 

Russia Says It Will Keep Source of Hole (and Air Leak) on Soyuz Secret— But NASA Wants to Know: Report

Russia's Soyuz MS-09 crew spacecraft is is shown docked to the International Space Station (ISS). The MS-09 carried NASA astronaut Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, the European Space Agency's Alexander Gerst and cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev to the ISS in June 2018.

Russia’s Soyuz MS-09 crew spacecraft is is shown docked to the International Space Station (ISS). The MS-09 carried NASA astronaut Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, the European Space Agency’s Alexander Gerst and cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev to the ISS in June 2018.
(Image: © NASA)

Amid reports that the Russians will keep the cause of an air leak discovered at the International Space Station in 2018 secret, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has promised to speak personally with the head of the Russian space agency.

“They have not told me anything,” Bridenstine said during a Houston energy conference question session Thursday (Sept. 19), according to the Houston Chronicle. But he emphasized that he wants to keep good relations with the Russians, one of the two chief partners on the orbiting complex.

“I don’t want to let one item set [the relationship] back, but it is clearly not acceptable that there are holes in the International Space Station,” he said, referring to the 2-millimeter (0.08 inches) hole that the Expedition 56 crew found in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, a crew vehicle that was docked to the station.

Bridenstine’s comments came in the wake of a report by Russia’s state-run international news agency RIA Novosti, in which Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos (the Russian space agency), suggested his agency found what created the hole last year, but would not disclose the results outside of Roscosmos.

Related: Hole That Caused Leak in Russian Spacecraft Possibly Traced to Assembly or Testing

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“What happened is clear to us, but we won’t tell you anything,” Rogozin said at a meeting with participants at a science conference, according to a computer-translated page from RIA Novosti’s Russian-language report on Wednesday (Sept. 18).

After NASA reported a slow drop in cabin pressure at the station on Aug. 29, 2018, the crew of Expedition 56 located the cause of the air leak in the orbital compartment of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, nearly three months after the vessel arrived at the International Space Station with three new crewmembers on board.

The astronauts plugged the hole using epoxy, gauze and heavy-duty tape, and the Russians launched an investigation. In the first few weeks, Roscosmos director Dmitry Rogozin first speculated that a micrometeoroid might have punched the hole, then suggested the hole could have been drilled by a human either accidentally or deliberately.

Space station astronauts patched a small hole in the upper orbital module of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft (left) on Aug. 30, 2018.

(Image credit: NASA/Space.com)

NASA and Roscosmos, however, issued a joint statement in mid-September 2018 after the two agency chiefs spoke by phone. The agencies “agreed on deferring any preliminary conclusions and providing any explanations until the final investigation has been completed,” Roscosmos and NASA said in their statement.

Roscosmos is currently the only agency capable of launching crew members to space since NASA retired the space shuttle in 2011. NASA is readying American commercial crew vehicles from Boeing and SpaceX and expects to start running crewed test flights as early as this year. But for now, the Soyuz is the only way astronauts can fly to and from the International Space Station.

The two agencies are the chief partners on the space station, and have been working together to build and maintain the 21-year-old orbiting complex since the early 1990s. Bridenstine and other NASA officials have thus repeatedly emphasized the level of trust between their agency and Roscosmos, which includes several missions before ISS. NASA and the Soviet Union ran a joint mission in 1975 called Apollo-Soyuz, and the new Russian nation partnered with NASA for shuttle flights to the space station Mir between 1994 and 1998.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

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