A new X-ray spectroscopic toolAstronomy & Astrophysics is publishing the first clear detection of signatures long sought in the spectra of X-ray astronomical sources. These signatures, the so-called EXAFS standing for "Extended X-ray Absorption Fine Structure", were observed with an X-ray spectroscopic technique that is common in materials sciences. Up to now, EXAFS studies of astronomical sources have been unsuccessful because of the weak X-ray signals received from........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/31/2009 4:10:17 PM)
Asteroid monitored from outer space to ground impactReports by researchers of meteorites striking Earth in the past have resembled police reports of so a number of muggings - the offenders came out of nowhere and then disappeared into the crowd, making it difficult to get more than very basic facts.
Now an international research team has been able to identify an asteroid in space before it entered Earth's atmosphere, enabling computers to determine its area of origin in the solar system as........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/25/2009 9:29:21 PM)
Observing first moments of universeDuring the next decade, a delicate measurement of primordial light could reveal convincing evidence for the popular cosmic inflation theory, which proposes that a random, microscopic density fluctuation in the fabric of space and time gave birth to the universe in a hot big bang approximately 13.7 billion years ago.
Among the cosmologists searching for these weak signals will be John Carlstrom, the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/25/2009 5:30:47 AM)
Astronauts on International Space StationAstronauts spending months in space lose significant bone strength, making them increasingly at risk for fractures during the later part of life.
UC Irvine and UC San Francisco led a study evaluating 13 astronauts who spent four to six months on the International Space Station and observed that, on average, astronauts' hipbone strength decreased 14 percent. Three astronauts experienced losses of 20 percent to 30 percent, rates comparable to........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/26/2009 11:42:07 PM)
Solving an old astronomy mysteryResearchers may have solved one of the most longstanding astrophysical mysteries of all times: How massive stars - up to 120 times the mass of our sun - form without blowing away the clouds of gas and dust that feed their growth.
New research by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, University of California, Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley has shown how a massive star can grow despite outward-flowing radiation pressure that exceeds the........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/15/2009 6:34:35 PM)
How Martian winds make rocks walkRocks on Mars are on the move, rolling into the wind and forming organized patterns, as per new research.
The new finding counters the prior explanation of the evenly spaced arrangement of small rocks on Mars. That explanation suggested the rocks were picked up and carried downwind by extreme high-speed winds thought to occur on Mars in the past.
Images taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit show small rocks regularly spaced about 5........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/8/2009 9:11:34 PM)
Asteroids with Earth-like CrustTwo rare meteorites found in Antarctica two years ago are from a previously unknown, ancient asteroid with an outer layer or crust similar in composition to the crust of Earth's continents, reports a research team primarily composed of geochemists from the University of Maryland.
Reported in the January 8 issue of the journal Nature, this is the first ever finding of material from an asteroid with a crust like Earth's. The discovery also........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/7/2009 11:50:46 PM)
Black Holes Lead Galaxy GrowthAstronomers may have solved a cosmic chicken-and-egg problem -- the question of which formed first in the early Universe -- galaxies or the supermassive black holes seen at their cores.
"It looks like the black holes came first. The evidence is piling up," said Chris Carilli, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). Carilli outlined the conclusions from recent research done by an international team studying conditions in the first........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/6/2009 9:09:58 PM)
Caltech researchers interpret asymmetry in early universeThe Big Bang is widely considered to have obliterated any trace of what came before. Now, astrophysicists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) believe that their new theoretical interpretation of an imprint from the earliest stages of the universe may also shed light on what came before.
"It's no longer completely crazy to ask what happened before the Big Bang," comments Marc Kamionkowski, Caltech's Robinson Professor of........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 12/16/2008 10:17:52 PM)
Explanation for Migration of Volcanic Activity on MarsPicture a ball. It's an ordinary ball in every way except that it is roughly 4,300 miles in diameter and is moving through the cold of space some 35 million miles from Earth, and hurtling around the sun in just less than two Earth years. This is Mars.
After a first glance at the Martian surface, one may quickly notice two striking global-scale features. The first is the three-mile elevation difference between the northern lowlands and........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 12/15/2008 9:34:52 PM)
Mars Express observes auroraeResearchers using ESA's Mars Express have produced the first crude map of aurorae on Mars. These displays of ultraviolet light appear to be located close to the residual magnetic fields generated by Mars's crustal rocks. They highlight many mysteries about the way Mars interacts with electrically charged particles originating from the Sun.
The aurorae on Mars were discovered in 2004 using the SPICAM ultraviolet and infrared atmospheric........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 11/21/2008 8:45:29 PM)
Surprising flashes from a possible magnetarBy means of the high-speed photometer OPTIMA of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE), a team of MPE researchers may have detected an unexpected new sub-category of astronomical objects. The object appears to be a magnetar with bursts in the visible part of the spectrum, in contrast to the X-ray and gamma flashes, which are considered to be characteristic for magnetars (Nature, September 2008).
A notice was received by........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 11/14/2008 8:47:49 PM)
Cosmic Lens Reveals Distant Galactic ViolenceBy cleverly unraveling the workings of a natural cosmic lens, astronomers have gained a rare glimpse of the violent assembly of a young galaxy in the early Universe. Their new picture suggests that the galaxy has collided with another, feeding a supermassive black hole and triggering a tremendous burst of star formation.
The astronomers used the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope to look at a galaxy more........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/20/2008 10:11:01 PM)
Ghostly glow reveals galaxy clusters in collisionA team of scientists, including astronomers from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), have detected long wavelength radio emission from a colliding, massive galaxy cluster which, surprisingly, is not detected at the shorter wavelengths typically seen in these objects.
The discovery implies that existing radio telescopes have missed a large population of these colliding objects. It also provides an important confirmation of the theoretical........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/15/2008 5:30:53 PM)
Stars stop forming when big galaxies collideNew Haven, Conn. Astronomers studying new images of a nearby galaxy cluster have found evidence that high-speed collisions between large elliptical galaxies may prevent new stars from forming, as per a paper would be published in a November 2008 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters
Led by Jeffrey Kenney, professor and chair of astronomy at Yale, the team saw a spectacular complex of warm gas filaments 400,000 light-years-long........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/7/2008 10:55:48 PM)
The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic SurveyThe Sloan Digital Sky Survey's 2.5-meter telescope at Apache Point Observatory, New Mexico
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) uses a 2.5-meter telescope with a wider field of view than any other large telescope, located on a mountaintop in New Mexico called Apache Point and devoted solely to mapping the universe. We now know that some three-quarters of the universe consists of dark energy, whose very existence was unsuspected when telescope........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/18/2008 8:55:40 PM)
The Thousand-Ruby GalaxyThis dramatic image of the galaxy Messier 83 was captured by the Wide Field Imager at ESO's La Silla Observatory, located high in the dry desert mountains of the Chilean Atacama Desert. Messier 83 lies roughly 15 million light-years away towards the huge southern constellation of Hydra (the sea serpent). It stretches over 40 000 light-years, making it roughly 2.5 times smaller than our own Milky Way. However, in some respects, Messier 83 is........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/2/2008 8:40:46 PM)
Clash of Clusters Provides Another Clue to Dark MatterAnother powerful collision of galaxy clusters has been captured with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope. Like its famous cousin, the so-called Bullet Cluster, this clash of clusters provides striking evidence for dark matter and insight into its properties.
Like the Bullet Cluster, this newly studied cluster, officially known as MACS J0025.4-1222, shows a clear separation between dark and ordinary matter. This helps........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/27/2008 8:52:20 PM)
Diverse, Wet Environments on Ancient MarsMars once hosted vast lakes, flowing rivers and a variety of other wet environments that had the potential to support life, as per two new studies based on data from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) and other instruments on board NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).
"The big surprise from these new results is how pervasive and long-lasting Mars' water was, and how diverse the wet environments were," says........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/16/2008 7:54:58 PM)
Nano-sized Electronic Circuit To UniverseA newly developed nano-sized electronic device is an important step toward helping astronomers see invisible light dating from the creation of the universe. This invisible light makes up 98% of the light emitted since the "big bang," and may provide insights into the earliest stages of star and galaxy formation almost 14 billion years ago.
The tiny, new circuit, developed by physicsts at Rutgers University, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/10/2008 8:20:19 PM)
The Erratic Black HoleNew results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have made a major advance in explaining how a special class of black holes may shut off the high-speed jets they produce. These results suggest that these black holes have a mechanism for regulating the rate at which they grow.
Black holes come in a number of sizes: the supermassive ones, including those in quasars, which weigh in at millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun, and the........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/25/2009 9:54:43 PM)
A Curious Pair of GalaxiesSometimes objects in the sky that appear strange, or different from normal, have a story to tell and prove scientifically very rewarding. This was the idea behind Halton Arp's catalogue of Peculiar Galaxies that appeared in the 1960s. One of the oddballs listed there is Arp 261, which has now been imaged in more detail than ever before using the FORS2 instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope. The image proves to contain several surprises.
........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/16/2009 8:26:50 PM)
The lower atmosphere of Pluto revealedUsing ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have gained valuable new insights about the atmosphere of the dwarf planet Pluto. The researchers found unexpectedly large amounts of methane in the atmosphere, and also discovered that the atmosphere is hotter than the surface by about 40 degrees, eventhough it still only reaches a frigid minus 180 degrees Celsius. These properties of Pluto's atmosphere appears to be due to the presence of pure........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 3/3/2009 6:21:20 AM)
The first moments of universeDuring the next decade, a delicate measurement of primordial light could reveal convincing evidence for the popular cosmic inflation theory, which proposes that a random, microscopic density fluctuation in the fabric of space and time gave birth to the universe in a hot big bang approximately 13.7 billion years ago.
Among the cosmologists searching for these weak signals will be John Carlstrom, the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 2/16/2009 10:00:21 PM)
Mars is not a dead planetA team of NASA and university researchers has achieved the first definitive detection of methane in the atmosphere of Mars. This discovery indicates the planet is either biologically or geologically active.
The team found methane in the Martian atmosphere by carefully observing the planet throughout several Mars years with NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility and the W.M. Keck telescope, both at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The team used spectrometers........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/15/2009 6:30:52 PM)
Looking through Galileo's eyesIn 1609, exactly four centuries ago, Galileo revolutionised humankind's understanding of our position in the Universe when he used a telescope for the first time to study the heavens, which saw him sketching radical new views of the moon and discovering the satellites orbiting Jupiter.
In synch with the International Year of Astronomy (IYA), which marks the 400th anniversary of Galileo's discoveries, a group of astronomers and curators from........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/8/2009 9:55:27 PM)
A Cosmic Radio MysteryListening to the early universe just got harder. A team led by Alan Kogut of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., today announced the discovery of cosmic radio noise that booms six times louder than expected.
The finding comes from a balloon-borne instrument named ARCADE, which stands for the Absolute Radiometer for Cosmology, Astrophysics, and Diffuse Emission. In July 2006, the instrument launched from NASA's Columbia........Go to the Astronomy-facts (Added on 1/7/2009 11:45:33 PM)
From The Static To The DynamicTwo new efforts have taken a famous supernova remnant from the static to the dynamic. A new movie of data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory shows changes in time never seen before in this type of object. A separate team will also release a dramatic three-dimensional visualization of the same remnant.
Nearly ten years ago, Chandra's "First Light" image of Cassiopeia A (Cas A) revealed previously unseen structures and detail. Now, after........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 1/6/2009 8:49:39 PM)
Biggest breach of Earth's solar storm shield discoveredEarth's magnetic field, which shields our planet from particles streaming outward from the Sun, often develops two holes that allow the largest leaks, as per scientists sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation.
"The discovery overturns a long-standing belief about how and when most of the solar particles penetrate Earth's magnetic field, and could be used to predict when solar storms will be severe. Based on these results, we........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 12/16/2008 9:39:07 PM)
Solar Flare SurpriseSolar flares are the most powerful explosions in the solar system. Packing a punch equal to a hundred million hydrogen bombs, they obliterate everything in their immediate vicinity. Not a single atom should remain intact.
At least that's how it's supposed to work.
"We've detected a stream of perfectly intact hydrogen atoms shooting out of an X-class solar flare," says Richard Mewaldt of the California Institute of Technology. "What a........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 12/15/2008 9:32:48 PM)
Hubble finds carbon dioxide on an extrasolar planetThe Jupiter-sized planet, called HD 189733b, is too hot for life. But new Hubble observations are a proof-of-concept demonstration that the basic chemistry for life can be measured on planets orbiting other stars. Organic compounds can also be a by-product of life processes and their detection on an Earth-like planet may someday provide the first evidence of life beyond Earth.
Prior observations of HD 189733b by Hubble and the Spitzer Space........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 12/9/2008 10:13:28 PM)
Winds of Baby StarsNew high-resolution observations with the VLT Interferometer of the European Southern Observatory in Chile reveal gas infall and outflow processes in the direct environment of six young stars. The origin of the gas emission from these stars is still strongly debated, since earlier investigations could not resolve the gas distribution close to the star. An international team of astronomers, led by Stefan Kraus from the Max Planck Institute for........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 11/14/2008 8:40:41 PM)
First images of newly-discovered solar systemAstronomers for the first time have taken snapshots of a multi-planet solar system, much like ours, orbiting another star. The new solar system orbits a dusty young star named HR8799, which is 140 light years away and about 1.5 times the size of our sun. Three planets, roughly 10, 10 and 7 times the mass of Jupiter, orbit the star. The size of the planets decreases with distance from the parent star, much like the giant planets do in our........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 11/13/2008 10:35:10 PM)
Star Count Goes GlobalSchoolchildren, families and citizen researchers around the world will gaze skyward after dark from Oct. 20 to Nov.3, 2008, looking for specific constellations and then sharing their observations through the Internet.
The Great World Wide Star Count, now in its second year, helps researchers map light pollution globally while educating participants about the stars.
The eveog.html">Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/15/2008 5:32:49 PM)
Infrared Echoes Give NASA's Spitzer a Supernova FlashbackHot spots near the shattered remains of an exploded star are echoing the blast's first moments, say researchers using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.
Eli Dwek of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and Richard Arendt of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, say these echoes are powered by radiation from the supernova shock wave that blew the star apart some 11,000 years ago. "We're seeing the supernova's........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 10/1/2008 9:37:43 PM)
Upper Mass Limit for Black HolesThere appears to be an upper limit to how big the universe's most massive black holes can get, as per new research led by a Yale University astrophysicist.
Once considered rare and exotic objects, black holes are now known to exist throughout the universe, with the largest and most massive found at the centers of the largest galaxies. These "ultra-massive" black holes have been shown to have masses upwards of one billion times that of our........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/11/2008 9:11:55 PM)
The Double Firing BurstGRB 080319B was so intense that, despite happening halfway across the Universe, it could have been seen briefly with the unaided eye (ESO 08/08). In a paper to appear in the 11 recent issue of Nature, Judith Racusin of Penn State University, Pennsylvania (USA), and a team of 92 co-authors report observations across the electromagnetic spectrum that began 30 minutes before the explosion and followed it for months afterwards.
"We conclude that........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 9/10/2008 8:38:57 PM)
Collision of galaxy clusters capturedTwo UC Santa Barbara astronomers are part of a team that has made a stunning discovery using the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory, it was announced recently by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The capture of a collision of galaxy clusters was made by a team led by Marusa Bradac, a postdoctoral researcher and Hubble fellow in UCSB's Department of Physics. The international team also included Tommaso Treu,........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 8/27/2008 7:07:34 PM)
A new method to weigh giant black holesHow do you weigh the biggest black holes in the universe? One answer now comes from a new and independent technique that UC Irvine researchers and other astronomers have developed using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.
By measuring a peak in the temperature of hot gas in the center of the giant elliptical galaxy NGC 4649, researchers have determined the mass of the galaxy's supermassive black hole. The method, applied for the........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/16/2008 7:40:30 PM)
Cern's Large Hadron Collider, a big bangNow here''s a gadget. In fact not just a gadget, but arguably the gadget. It''s the Large Hadron Collider at Cern, the European laboratory for particle physics near Geneva, scheduled to have its Grand Opening next month.
Stephen Hawking explains what the LHC is for
"It will smash particles together to recreate the moments after the big bang, producing a new golden age of discovery for physicists.........Go to the Astronomy-blog (Added on 7/8/2008 4:42:03 PM)