‘Black hole’ photographed on Jupiter



‘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.

News hub.


Astronomers Have Seen Signs of “Life” at the Center of Messier 110



Astronomers Have Seen Signs of “Life” at the Center of Messier 110

Messier 110

Located in the constellation Andromeda, M110 was discovered in 1773 by Charles Messier. It is a satellite galaxy of the Andromeda galaxy (M31) and a member of the Local Group, which is made up of the galaxies located closest to the Milky Way (our Milky Way is considered a member of the Local Group as well). M110 is approximately 2,690,000 light-years away from Earth and has a magnitude of 8. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, L. Ferrarese et al.

Many of the best-loved galaxies in the cosmos are remarkably large, close, massive, bright, or beautiful, often with an unusual or intriguing structure or history. However, it takes all kinds to make a universe — as demonstrated by this Hubble image of Messier 110.

Messier 110 may not look like much, but it is a fascinating near neighbor of our home galaxy, and an unusual example of its type. It is a member of the Local Group, a gathering of galaxies comprising the Milky Way and a number of the galaxies closest to it. Specifically, Messier 110 is one of the many satellite galaxies encircling the Andromeda galaxy, the nearest major galaxy to our own, and is classified as a dwarf elliptical galaxy, meaning that it has a smooth and almost featureless structure. Elliptical galaxies lack arms and notable pockets of star formation — both characteristic features of spiral galaxies. Dwarf elliptical are quite common in groups and clusters of galaxies, and are often satellites of larger galaxies.

Because they lack stellar nurseries and contain mostly old stars, elliptical galaxies are often considered “dead” when compared to their spiral relatives. However, astronomers have spotted signs of a population of young, blue stars at the center of Messier 110 — hinting that it may not be so “dead” after all.

Messier 110 is featured in Hubble’s Messier catalog, which includes some of the most fascinating celestial objects that can be observed from Earth’s Northern Hemisphere. See the NASA-processed image and other Messier objects in Hubble’s Messier Catalog.

M110 is an elliptical galaxy, which means that it has a smooth and nearly featureless structure. Elliptical galaxies do not have arms or regions of star formation. They are oftentimes considered “dead” compared to spiral galaxies, and the stars in elliptical galaxies are often older than those in other galaxies. However, there is evidence that a population of young blue stars exists at the center of M110. This small elliptical galaxy has approximately 10 billion stars, as well as at least eight globular clusters (the brightest of which can be seen with large telescopes).

This Hubble observation was taken in visible and near-infrared light with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. The core of M110 is seen toward the lower right of the image, with the galaxy’s globular clusters and numerous stars shown as points of light throughout the frame. Also featured in this Hubble image are large clouds of gas and dust, seen as dark splotches (one large region is located near the middle of the image and another, smaller one appears above the galaxy’s core). Hubble took these observations of M110 to study the development of globular clusters located in the galaxy.

M110 Star Chart

This star chart for M110 represents the view from mid-northern latitudes for the given month and time.
Credit: Image courtesy of Stellarium

With a telescope, M110 is fairly easy to spot near the core of the much larger and brighter Andromeda galaxy. Smaller telescopes will only reveal a faint, diffuse patch of light, while larger telescopes will unveil an oval shape with a brighter core. The best time to view M110 is during November.

India: As Lunar night falls, hope of contacting Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander fades



As Lunar night falls, hope of contacting Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander fades, say experts

Vikram is not designed to withstand temperatures of -180 degrees C and the electronics onboard will become unviable after the lunar night, equivalent to fourteen days on Earth. It will also run out of charge if the solar panels were not deployed after the ‘hard-landing’.

INDIA Updated: Sep 21, 2019 06:12 IST

Anonna Dutt
Anonna Dutt
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Live telecast of soft landing of Vikram module of Chandrayaan 2 on lunar surface in Bengaluru.
Live telecast of soft landing of Vikram module of Chandrayaan 2 on lunar surface in Bengaluru.(PTI)

The beginning of lunar night between Friday and Saturday at the landing site of Vikram lander marked the end of Indian Space Research Organization’s (Isro’s) hope of re-establishing communication with it.

Vikram is not designed to withstand temperatures of -180 degrees C and the electronics on-board will become unviable after the lunar night, equivalent to fourteen days on Earth. It will also run out of charge if the solar panels were not deployed after the ‘hard-landing’.

The temperature is about 130 degrees C during the day.

Isro scientists have been trying to communicate with the lander since September 7, when the last phase of the 15-minute powered descent did not go as planned. Scientists lost communication with the lander when it was just 2.1 km above the lunar surface.

“We can now say that there is no hope of Isro communicating with the lander, the mission life of the lander-rover is over. The mission was designed to conduct experiments during the lunar day and does not have the kind of shielding that can keep the electronics warm and functioning,” said Nirupam Roy, assistant professor of Physics at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.

“And, it was unnecessary too. The fourteen days were sufficient for the lander-rover to conduct all the experiments and send back the data. The shielding would have just added weight and cost to the mission,” he added.

For the Vikram lander to be able to communicate, it should have enough power and the antenna should be properly oriented. There are two ways that the Vikram could communicate either with the Orbiter going around the moon or directly with the Earth.

“The Vikram lander communicates in two frequencies – the X band that is high bandwidth (better quality) but very focused, which could be picked by the orbiter when it is over the landing site. The other S-band, which has lower bandwidth, but is omni-directional can be used to communicate with the Earth, but even the antenna should be facing the Earth without anything in between. However, with the lunar night setting in, there is no possibility of communicating with the lander, even if it had survived the landing,” said Jatan Mehta, former science officer of TeamIndus, a Bangalore-based private company that aims to send a lander-rover to the moon.

First Published: Sep 20, 2019 23:50 IST

Acupuncture Causes Woman’s Lung to Collapse



Acupuncture Causes Woman’s Lung to Collapse

3D drawing of human lungs

An acupuncturist pierced her patient’s lung through a pressure point in her shoulders.
(Image: © Shutterstock)

It’s the stuff of nightmares: An acupuncturist in New Zealand accidentally pierced her patient’s lungs while inserting needles into the patient’s shoulder, causing the organ to collapse.

The 33-year-old woman went to the acupuncture clinic in March following arm and wrist injuries that caused pain in her shoulders. To alleviate the discomfort, her acupuncturist inserted two needles near a spot known in Chinese medicine as the Jian Jing pressure point, or Gallbladder 21, which lies near the top of the shoulders.

It also rests dangerously close to the apices of the lungs — the pointed ends of the organ near the neck. At Gallbladder 21, the surface of the lung lies only 0.4 to 0.8 inches (10 to 20 millimeters) beneath the skin, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Related: 27 Oddest Medical Cases

Volume 90%

When the needles were inserted, the patient felt a twinge of pain and later recalled that the instruments felt “extremely deep,” according to a report filed by New Zealand’s Health and Disability Commissioner. The acupuncturist left the needles in for 30 minutes before twisting and removing them, an action that left the patient feeling a sudden “right-sided chest pain and shortness of breath.” The patient said she also felt a “stuffy” sensation 10 minutes later, so the acupuncturist removed all of the remaining needles, administered additional treatment, and sent the patient home with instructions to rest and pay attention to her breathing.

Once home, the patient felt persistent pain in the left side of her chest and numbness in the right side. Later that night, she was admitted to the emergency department, where she was diagnosed with bilateral apical pneumothoraces, meaning both of her lungs had collapsed. The pneumothoraces were produced by the acupuncture treatment, which caused gas to be released into her chest cavity.

Although these occurrences are rare, acupuncturists occasionally pierce patients’ lungs through the Jian Jing pressure point. About 30% of the cases of pneumothorax due to acupuncture are caused by  the insertion of needles into that particular spot, according to a 2010 study by the WHO. Per New Zealand’s Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights, this well-established risk should be spelled out for patients before any needles enter their skin.

The acupuncturist in this case reportedly failed to inform her patient of these risks and neglected to have her sign a required written consent form. The commissioner recommended that the acupuncturist receive additional training and that the clinic audit whether other clients had received informational brochures and signed consent forms prior to treatment, according to the New Zealand Herald.

You can read more about the case in the New Zealand Herald.

Originally published on Live Science

Newly identified electric eel is the most powerful ever found, say scientists



Newly identified electric eel is the most powerful ever found, say scientists

'Electrophorus voltai,' one of the two newly discovered electric eel species.

(CNN)A newly-identified eel living in the Amazon basin can deliver record-breaking electric jolts, according to a study published Tuesday.

Researchers at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History have identified two new species of electric eel in the Amazon rainforest, tripling the known number of electric eel species.
One of the new species — Electrophorus voltai — can discharge up to 860 volts of electricity, significantly more than the 650 volts generated by the known electric eel species, Electrophorus electricus, the study published in journal Nature Communications found.
These electric eels — which are actually a type of fish with an eel-like appearance — can grow to up to eight feet (2.4 meters) and highlight how much is yet to be discovered in the Amazon rainforest, study leader David de Santana, a research associate at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, said in a press release.
“They’re really conspicuous,” de Santana said. “If you can discover a new eight-foot-long fish after 250 years of scientific exploration, can you imagine what remains to be discovered in that region?”

What are electric eels?

For 250 years, scientists have known that electric eels live in the Amazon basin. They just haven’t known how many species were lurking there.
Scientists long thought the electric eels found in swamps, streams, creeks and rivers across South America were all the same species. The new study shows that the eels actually belong to three different species.
All three species look pretty much the same externally and use their electricity to navigate, communicate, hunt and for self-defense. But when scientists analyzed 107 samples, they found that the three species had different genetic material, unique skull shapes, and different levels of voltage.
Based on their research, de Santana and his team believe that the three species began to evolve from their common ancestor about 7.1 million years ago.
See electric eels' leaping shock attack

See electric eels’ leaping shock attack 01:05
The eels’ voltage may have been influenced by the conductivity of the waters they lived in, the research found. Electrophorus voltai, for instance, lived in the clear waters of the highlands which did not conduct electricity well. According to de Santana, the species’ stronger voltage may be an adaption to the poor conductivity of the water.
There are about 250 species of fish that are able to generate electricity, but electric eels are the only ones that use electricity to hunt and for self-defense.
In 1799, scientists used electric eels as the inspiration behind the first battery design, and have also inspired ideas about how to improve technology and treat disease.
The newly discovered electric eel species could have evolved unique systems to produce electricity — perhaps a different system than the first discovered species — which could lead to more discoveries, de Santana said.
“It could really have different enzymes, different compounds that could be used in medicine or could inspire new technology,” he said.

India Just Found Its Lost Vikram Lander on the Moon



India Just Found Its Lost Vikram Lander on the Moon, Still No Signal

The Indian Space Research Organisation's Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter is shown studying the lunar surface from above in this still image from a video animation.

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter is shown studying the lunar surface from above in this still image from a video animation.
(Image: © India Space Research Organisation)

India’s Chandrayaan-2 orbiter circling the moon has spotted the country’s lost Vikram lander on the lunar surface, but there is still no signal from the lander, according to Indian media reports.

K Sivan, chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation, said today (Sept. 8) that the Vikram lander was located by Chandrayaan-2 and efforts to restore contact the probe will continue for at least 14 days, according to a Times of India report.

“We have found the location of Lander Vikram on [the] lunar surface and Orbiter has clicked a thermal image of Lander,” Sivan told the ANI news service in an interview, adding that attempts to communicate with the lander are ongoing.

Video: The Moment India Lost Contact with the Vikram Moon Lander
India’s Chandrayaan-2 Mission to the Moon in Photos

Communications Lost With India’s Lunar Lander During Descent
Volume 0%

The Vikram lander went silent Friday (Sept. 6) while attempting a first-ever landing near the moon’s south pole. ISRO lost contact with Vikram when the lander was just 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) above the lunar surface, raising fears that it may have crashed on the moon. The Vikram lander is India’s first moon lander, and is carrying the country’s first lunar rover, called Pragyan.

ISRO officials have not yet released the Chandrayaan-2 image of Vikram on the lunar surface or described the potential condition of the lander. But they have said that despite the lander’s presumed failed moon landing, the craft has already demonstrated key technologies for future missions.

The Vikram Lander followed the planned descent trajectory from its orbit of 35 km (22 miles) to just below 2 km above the surface,” ISRO officials wrote in an update Saturday (Sept. 7). “All the systems and sensors of the Lander functioned excellently until this point and proved many new technologies such as variable thrust propulsion technology used in the Lander.”

Related: We Came Very Close:’ Indian PM Modi Lauds Chandrayaan-2 Team

As ISRO tries to regain contact with the Vikram moon lander, the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft is doing well in lunar orbit, the space agency said. In fact, the orbiter could last well beyond its planned one-year mission.

“The Orbiter camera is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar mission so far and shall provide high resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community,” ISRO officials said in the Sept. 7 statement. “The precise launch and mission management has ensured a long life of almost 7 years instead of the planned one year.”

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter is shown studying the lunar surface from above in this still image from a video animation.

(Image credit: India Space Research Organisation)

The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is equipped with eight different science instruments to study the moon from above. Those instruments include: a high resolution camera, a lunar terrain mapping camera; a solar X-ray monitor; an imaging infrared spectrometer; a dual frequency synthetic aperture radar for studying moon water ice and lunar mapping; a sensor to study the moon’s thin exosphere; and a dual frequency radio science experiment to study the moon’s ionosphere.

Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second mission to the moon after the Chandrayaan-1 mission of 2008 and 2009. An instrument on that first mission discovered the spectral signature for water across wide swaths of the moon, with big concentrations at the lunar poles, where permanently shadowed craters allow water ice to stay frozen.

Watch India’s Chandrayaan-2 Launch and Land on Moon in New Animation
Volume 0%

The Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter aims to pick up where its predecessor left off.

“This was a unique mission which aimed at studying not just one area of the Moon but all the areas combining the exosphere, the surface as well as the sub-surface of the moon in a single mission,” ISRO officials said in the update. “The Orbiter has already been placed in its intended orbit around the Moon and shall enrich our understanding of the moon’s evolution and mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the Polar Regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments.”

Email Tariq Malik at [email protected] or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. Original article on Space.com.

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at [email protected]

Russia’s Humanoid Skybot Robot in Space Commits Twitter Photo Faux-Pas Ahead of Landing



Russia’s Humanoid Skybot Robot in Space Commits Twitter Photo Faux-Pas Ahead of Landing

After launching to the International Space Station last month, Skybot F-850, everyone’s favorite, terrifying, humanoid Russian robot, tweeted out a picture of Earth that’s causing quite a commotion.

On Aug. 31, the bot, which is one of the latest versions of Russia’s FEDOR robots, tweeted out a picture of the Earth from the space station alongside the caption (roughly translated from Russian) “At the end of the working day, I admire our Earth from the porthole of the “Union MS-14.” She is beautiful. Studying and exploring space makes people smarter and makes them act together. And we, machines created by people, are ready to help our creators move on.” Union MS-14 is the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft that delivered Skybot F-850 to the station.

Video: Watch Russia’s Humanoid Skybot Use a Drill in Space
Real-Life ‘Replicants’: 6 Humanoid Robots Used for Space Exploration


В конце рабочего дня любуюсь нашей Землёй из иллюминатора “Союза МС-14”. Она прекрасна.
Изучение и освоение космоса делает людей более умными и заставляет действовать сообща.
А мы, созданные людьми машины, готовы помогать нашим создателям идти дальше

View image on Twitter
324 people are talking about this

But, while this seemed like a fairly innocuous post (and probably one of FEDOR’s least thrilling photos), it came to light that this wasn’t actually a photo from the space-bot. The image of Earth which shows the Strait of Gibraltar on Earth that FEDOR tweeted out was actually taken and originally shared by NASA Astronaut Doug Wheelock in September, 2010, just about 9 years ago.

Doug Wheelock


A view of the Iberian Peninsula, the Strait of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean, and northern Africa . A special ‘shou http://twitpic.com/2ndq3b

318 people are talking about this

Russia’s Skybot F-850 humanoid robot holds a Russian flag with cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin for a photo in the Zvezda service module of the International Space Station in this photo released Sept.

(Image credit: Roscosmos via Twitter)

People quickly noticed the mix-up, labeling the robot as a plagiarist. And yes, passing off someone else’s photo as your own fits that bill. But at least Skybot is safe from copyright infringement. The photo, while taken and shared by Wheelock, is not owned by the astronaut and would technically be credited to NASA, and NASA’s media library is public domain.

So at least there’s that, Skybot.

Blastoff! Russian Humanoid Robot Launches to Space Station
Volume 0%

Skybot F-850 has spent the last few weeks completing experiments aboard the space station. The robot will start making its way home to Earth today (Sept. 6) as the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft undocks from the space station.

The uncrewed Soyuz spacecraft carrying Skybot F-850 and other gear will undock from the International Space Station at 2:13 p.m. EDT (1913 GMT). It is scheduled to land on the steppes of south-central Kazakhstan at 5:35 p.m. EDT (2135 GMT). It will be 3:35 p.m. local time at the landing site.

Here’s a look back at some of the memorable moments aboard the space station that Skybot F-850 tweeted about, from its first look around the Soyuz craft to when it wore mittens and the time it wielded a drill that happened to be pointed at a cosmonaut.


Всем привет! Я Skybot F-859. Для своих – просто Фёдор. Сейчас я знакомлюсь с системой управления корабля “Союз МС-14”, на котором планирую полететь к 22 августа 2019 года.

Embedded video

282 people are talking about this


2 часа до пуска. Ракета заправлена. Телеметрические датчики и системы включены.

View image on Twitter
142 people are talking about this


Прошу прощения за задержку. Застрял в пробке. Готов к продолжению работы.

View image on Twitter
893 people are talking about this


В соответствии с ранее утверждённым планом меня разместили в МИМ2. Это не самое комфортное место особенно с учётом того, что именно аппаратура МИМ2 дала сбой на ближнем участке стыковки август, 24, 2019. Провожу диагностику оборудования. Надеюсь, что именно мне доверят его ремонт

View image on Twitter
184 people are talking about this


Алексей Николаевич и Александр Александрович. Космонавты @roscosmos , герои России. Для них я просто Фёдор, для экипажа – я Skybot F-850.
Чувствую лёгкость в приводах. К работе готов. При подключении экзоскелета были проблемы с управлением кистью левой руки. Сейчас номинал

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter
534 people are talking about this


Сегодня космонавт Алексей Николаевич Овчинин при запуске моей операционной системы предложил использовать молоток и гаечный ключ. Пришлось произвести автозапуск во избежание возникновения дальнейший проблем в диалоге с Алексеем Николаевичем.

View image on Twitter
420 people are talking about this


Начали тренировки. При выполнении космонавтом технологических операций я помогал ему в выборе необходимого инструмента. Потом в режиме копирования успешно собрал электросоединители, имитируя ремонт кабелей на внешнем борту станции. Сейчас мирно беседую с Алексеем Николаевичем

View image on Twitter
239 people are talking about this


Здесь я работаю с различными инструментами.

View image on Twitter
249 people are talking about this


Так я пытался состыковать электросоединители. Эта операция входит в перечень операций в рамках внекорабельной деятельности. Зачёт

Embedded video

426 people are talking about this


Добрый вечер, друзья! Я Skybot F-850 приветствую вас с орбиты МКС!
Мы продолжаем эксперименты, открывающиеся возможности использования в космосе антропоморфных роботов. Работы много. А в свободное время любуюсь нашей планетой.
7 сентября запланировано моё возвращение на Землю.

View image on Twitter
375 people are talking about this


Добрый день! Сегодня провели серию работ с бортовыми инструментами, которые могут понадобиться для внекорабельной деятельности. Работа с электродрелью проходила под постоянным контролем Алексея Николаевича Овчинина

Embedded video

267 people are talking about this


Я снова в кресле командира “Союза”!
При спуске на Землю будет проведено ещё одно испытание: на корабле вместо аналоговой системы управления спуском на базе свободного гироскопа теперь стоит СУ на базе цифрового прибора БИУС с использованием оптоволоконных гироскопов.
Скоро домой!

View image on Twitter
231 people are talking about this


Судя по радиообмену с ЦУПом, все, кто на Земле, уехали на космодром Восточный.
Тем временем наш экипаж продолжает укладку снаряжения в мой “Союз МС-14”, проводит диагностику аппаратуры.
До возвращения на Землю осталось совсем немного времени

View image on Twitter
143 people are talking about this

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correctly note that Russia’s Skybot did, indeed, appear to plagiarize NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock’s photo of Earth from space.

Follow Chelsea Gohd on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at [email protected]

‘Einstein’s Biggest Blunder’ May Have Finally Been Fixed



‘Einstein’s Biggest Blunder’ May Have Finally Been Fixed

an illustration of two galaxies on their sides, in a web of lines meant to illustrate dark energy

An illustration of galaxies bending the fabric of space-time (green), and the smooth effect of dark energy (purple), which dominates the effects of gravity.
(Image: © NASA/JPL-Caltech)

There is a fundamental problem in physics.

A single number, called the cosmological constant, bridges the microscopic world of quantum mechanics and the macroscopic world of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. But neither theory can agree on its value.

In fact, there’s such a huge discrepancy between the observed value of  this constant and what theory predicts that it is widely considered the worst prediction in the history of physics. Resolving the discrepancy may be the most important goal of theoretical physics this century.

Lucas Lombriser, an assistant professor of theoretical physics at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, has introduced a new way of evaluating Albert Einstein’s equations of gravity to find a value for the cosmological constant that closely matches its observed value. He published his method online in the Oct. 10 issue of the journal Physics Letters B.

How Einstein’s biggest blunder became dark energy

The story of the cosmological constant began more than a century ago when Einstein presented a set of equations, now known as the Einstein field equations, that became the framework of his theory of general relativity. The equations explain how matter and energy warp the fabric of space and time to create the force of gravity. At the time, both Einstein and astronomers agreed that the universe was fixed in size and that the overall space between galaxies did not change. However, when Einstein applied general relativity to the universe as a whole, his theory predicted an unstable universe that would either expand or contract. To force the universe to be static, Einstein tacked on the cosmological constant.

Nearly a decade later, another physicist, Edwin Hubble, discovered that our universe is not static, but expanding. The light from distant galaxies showed they were all moving away from each other. This revelation persuaded Einstein to abandon the cosmological constant from his field equations as it was no longer necessary to explain an expanding universe. Physics lore has it that Einstein later confessed that his introduction of the cosmological constant was perhaps his greatest blunder.

In 1998, observations of distant supernovas showed the universe wasn’t just expanding, but the expansion was speeding up. Galaxies were accelerating away from each other as if some unknown force was overcoming gravity and shoving those galaxies apart. Physicists have named this enigmatic phenomenon dark energy, as its true nature remains a mystery.

In a twist of irony, physicists once again reintroduced the cosmological constant into Einstein’s field equations to account for dark energy. In the current standard model of cosmology, known as ΛCDM (Lambda CDM), the cosmological constant is interchangeable with dark energy. Astronomers have even estimated its value based on observations of distant supernovas and fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background. Although the value is absurdly small (on the order of 10^-52 per square meter), over the scale of the universe, it is significant enough to explain the accelerated expansion of space.

“The cosmological constant [or dark energy] currently constitutes about 70% of the energy content in our universe, which is what we can infer from the observed accelerated expansion that our universe is presently undergoing. Yet this constant is not understood,” Lombriser said. “Attempts to explain it have failed, and there seems to be something fundamental that we are missing in how we understand the cosmos. Unraveling this puzzle is one of the major research areas in modern physics. It is generally anticipated that resolving the issue may lead us to a more fundamental understanding of physics.”

Related: 8 Ways You Can See Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in Real Life

The worst theoretical prediction in the history of physics

The cosmological constant is thought to represent what physicists call “vacuum energy.” Quantum-field theory states that even in a completely empty vacuum of space, virtual particles pop in and out of existence and create energy — a seemingly absurd idea, but one that has been observed experimentally. The problem arises when physicists attempt to calculate its contribution to the cosmological constant. Their result differs from observations by a mind-boggling factor of 10^121 (that’s 10 followed by 120 zeroes), the largest discrepancy between theory and experiment in all of physics.

Such a disparity has caused some physicists to doubt Einstein’s original equations of gravity; some have even suggested alternative models of gravity. However, further evidence of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) have only strengthened general relativity and dismissed many of these alternative theories. Which is why instead of rethinking gravity, Lombriser took a different approach to solve this cosmic puzzle.

“The mechanism I propose does not modify Einstein’s field equations,” Lombriser said. Instead, “it adds an additional equation on top of Einstein’s field equations.”

The gravitational constant, which was first used in Isaac Newton’s laws of gravity and now an essential part of Einstein’s field equations, describes the magnitude of  the gravitational force between objects. It is considered one of the fundamental constants of physics, eternally unchanged since the beginning of the universe. Lombriser has made the dramatic assumption that this constant can change.

In Lombriser’s modification of general relativity, the gravitational constant remains the same within our observable universe but may vary beyond it. He suggests a multiverse scenario where there may be patches of the universe invisible to us that have different values for the fundamental constants.

This variation of gravity gave Lombriser an additional equation that relates the cosmological constant to the average sum of matter across space-time. After he accounted for the estimated mass of all the galaxies, stars and dark matter of the universe, he could solve that new equation to obtain a new value for the cosmological constant — one that closely agrees with observations.

Using a new parameter, ΩΛ (omega lambda), that expresses the fraction of the universe made of dark matter, he found the universe is made up of about 74% dark energy. This number closely matches the value of 68.5% estimated from observations — a tremendous improvement over the huge disparity found by quantum field theory.

Although Lombriser’s framework might solve the cosmological constant problem, there’s currently no way to test it. But in the future, if experiments from other theories validate his equations,  it could mean a major leap in our understanding of dark energy and provide a tool to solve other cosmic mysteries.

Originally published on Live Science.

India’s Attempt To Land Rover At Moon’s South Pole Fails



India’s Attempt To Land Rover At Moon’s South Pole Fails

Indian Space Research Organization employees react as they learn that mission control lost communication with its unmanned landing module moments before it touched down on the moon’s south pole Saturday (local time.)

Aijaz Rahi/AP

India’s attempt to become the first country to land a robotic mission at the Moon’s south pole has failed, after engineers lost contact with the Vikram lander — part of the Chandrayaan-2 probe.

Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation lost signal from the lander as it hovered over the surface, moments away from what would have been a successful soft-landing.

In a statement ISRO’s Mission Control Center provided a brief explanation of what went wrong, saying the unmanned landing module’s “descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently, communication from Lander to the ground stations was lost.”

“Data is being analyzed,” ISRO added.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi — who watched the final moments of the attempt — offered words of encouragement to the Chandrayaan team, which has been working on the $150 million project.

“India is proud of our scientists!” wrote Modi on Twitter. “They’ve given their best and have always made India proud. These are moments to be courageous, and courageous we will be!”

Scientists were hoping to land the robotic spacecraft between two craters about 375 miles from the moon’s unexplored south pole.

The lander was supposed to release a small solar-powered rover equipped with instruments to collect and analyze the moon’s 4-billion-year-old soil.

A successful touchdown would have vaulted India into an exclusive club of countries that have successfully completed a soft landing on the lunar surface. So far, only the former Soviet Union, the United States and China have accomplished it.

Several of the early U.S. and Soviet attempts at a soft, robotic, landing on the moon in the 1960s were unsuccessful.

Part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, an orbiter, remains in operation.

Saturday’s disappointing lunar mission comes a little more than a decade after India launched the Chandrayaan-1, a satellite that fired a projectile into the moon’s South Pole in search of water.

Female scientists you need to know



Female scientists you need to know

We all know that women are just as capable as men of excelling in subjects like math, science, astronomy, chemistry, and physics. But it wasn’t until a few decades ago that women were truly welcomed into these fields. In fact, science wasn’t considered women’s work at all. But that didn’t mean that there weren’t daring women who were willing to go against convention and pave their own path in these male-dominated fields. Take a peek at some of these unsung “sheroes” in math and science who made it possible for much of the scientific progress and collective knowledge that we have today.

Caroline Herschel (1750-1848)

Credit: NASA

In an era in which a woman’s place was limited to the home and educating girls was seen as wasteful, Caroline Herschel defied convention and became one of the most prominent astronomers of her time. A self-described “Cinderella,” Herschel started out as her own family’s private maid. She managed to escape a life of drudgery when her brother, William Herschel, brought her with him to England where she eventually assisted his work in astronomy. He encouraged Caroline’s interest in the stars and supported her studies. As an astronomer, Caroline Herschel contributed to the discovery of eight comets and 14 nebulae—including the Andromeda nebula.

Marie Curie (1867-1934)

Credit: Dlogger / Shutterstock.com

Marie Curie is one of the better-known historical figures for women in science. This Polish chemist and physicist worked with her husband Pierre and discovered polonium and radium, but Curie is probably best known for her work with uranium. She and her husband further expanded on the concept of radioactivity and earned a joint Nobel Prize in physics. She is seen as a leader in studying the use of radiation to treat tumors in cancer patients. However, Curie would go on to also win another Nobel Prize in chemistry for her work with radium.

Mae C. Jemison (1956- )

Credit: superjoseph / Shutterstock.com

Just in case you think that the only relevant female scientists are from a bygone era, Mae C. Jemison will change your mind. Jemison is best known as the first black woman in space. She joined the NASA space program in 1987 and enjoyed her space flight in 1992 on the Endeavor Shuttle. Prior to joining the elite astronaut ranks, Mae received her medical degree from the Cornell Medical College (now the Weill Medical College of Cornell University). Additionally, she served in the Peace Corps for three years from 1983 to 1986, prior to joining NASA.

Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997)

Credit: Everett Historical / Shutterstock.com

When you think about the Manhattan Project, you probably don’t think that women contributed greatly to its success, let alone an Asian-American woman. But they were there. Chien-Shiung Wu was a critical member of the team and helped to drive discoveries centered on separating raw uranium metal into uranium-235 and uranium-238 isotopes. Within the scientific community, Wu is best known for conducting the Wu Experiment, which disproved previous theories around the law of conservation of parity. Chien-Shiung Wu was affectionately nicknamed the Chinese Marie Curie and awarded the very first Wolf Prize in Physics.

Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909-2012)

Credit: imaginima / iStock

This Italian neurophysiologist earned a Nobel Prize for her groundbreaking discovery of the Nerve Growth Factor. Her research centered around understanding how degenerative diseases like dementia and cancer can negatively impact nerve growth and create complications. Levi-Montalcini continued to work even into her later years. In 1962, Rita founded the Cell Biology Institute in Rome, Italy. She later founded the European Brain Research Institute in 2002 and served as its first president.

Sunita L. Williams (1965- )

Credit: peepo / iStock

Can you break records in space? Yes, you can! Sunita L. Williams is another famous NASA astronaut who created a long line of records during her time on the International Space Station (ISS). In total, Sunita traveled to the ISS on four separate expeditions, serving as a flight engineer on Expedition 32 and a commander on Expedition 33. She once held the record for the most spacewalks by a woman (seven) and the most time spent on spacewalks by a woman with 50 hours and 40 minutes accrued cumulatively.

Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)

Credit: Design Cells / iStock

What’s in a little DNA? We might still be asking that question if it weren’t for Rosalind Franklin. This young scientist is credited with helping discover not just the structural composition of DNA but that there is more than one type of DNA. Thanks to Rosalind, we now know that there are DNA and B-type DNA, which is found within a cell’s structure. While Franklin is best known for her work with DNA, this biophysicist also worked tirelessly in the study of x-ray technology and molecular structures.

Women Leading the Way in Science

So, the next time someone asks, “What have women done in science?” you can respond with facts. Women have been leading the charge in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) long before this popular acronym was coined. And thanks to the tireless work of the ladies in this article and those who weren’t mentioned, our world has access to some of the best scientific technology, knowledge, and cutting-edge research that can improve everyone’s quality of life.