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Posts Tagged ‘Astronomy’

‘Cosmic Inflation’ Discovery Lends Key Support For Theory Of Expanding Early Universe (VIDEO)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 18, 2014


NEW YORK (AP) — The universe was born almost 14 billion years ago, exploding into existence in an event called the Big Bang. Now researchers say they’ve spotted evidence that a split-second later, the expansion of the cosmos began with a powerful jump-start.

Experts called the discovery a major advance if confirmed by others. Although many scientists already believed that initial, extremely rapid growth spurt happened, finding this evidence has been a key goal in the study of the universe. Researchers reported Monday that they did it by peering into the faint light that remains from the Big Bang.

If verified, the discovery “gives us a window on the universe at the very beginning,” when it was far less than one-trillionth of a second old, said theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University, who was not involved in the work. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stephen Hawking: Space Exploration Is Key To Saving Humanity

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 12, 2013


Stephen Hawking, Cambridge, Jason Bye, 19/09/08

LOS ANGELES — Stephen Hawking, who spent his career decoding the universe and even experienced weightlessness, is urging the continuation of space exploration – for humanity’s sake.

The 71-year-old Hawking said he did not think humans would survive another 1,000 years “without escaping beyond our fragile planet.”

The British cosmologist made the remarks Tuesday before an audience of doctors, nurses and employees at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he toured a stem cell laboratory that’s focused on trying to slow the progression of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Hawking was diagnosed with the neurological disorder 50 years ago while a student at Cambridge University. He recalled how he became depressed and initially didn’t see a point in finishing his doctorate. But he continued to delve into his studies.

“If you understand how the universe operates, you control it in a way,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lost in Space: A Starless Planet Floats Alone

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 15, 2012


SSPL / GETTY IMAGES This artist's concept shows a brown dwarf surrounded by a swirling disk of planet-building dust. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope spotted such a disk around a surprisingly low-mass brown dwarf, or "failed star."

SSPL / GETTY IMAGES This artist’s concept shows a brown dwarf surrounded by a swirling disk of planet-building dust. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope spotted such a disk around a surprisingly low-mass brown dwarf, or “failed star.”

Just 20 years ago, astronomers imagined that planets beyond the Solar System would be more or less like the ones we know: small, rocky worlds like Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars orbiting relatively close to their stars, and big, gassy ones like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, farther away. (Even then, Pluto was recognized as an oddball, though it hadn’t been demoted yet.) Then the first actual exoplanet was discovered, and it turned out to be a big, gaseous world orbiting ridiculously close to its star. Dozens of others very much like it soon turned up, and the astronomers’ preconceptions were abruptly laid to rest.

(PhotosWindow on Infinity: Pictures from Space)

But at least these so-called “hot Jupiters” actually orbited a star. Not so for a new planet just reported in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. The object, known only as CFBDSIR2149, appears to be a planet from four to seven times as massive as Jupiter, floating along with a cluster of stars known as the AB Doradus Moving Group — but tethered to no one star in particular.

That’s the only reason the planet was spotted at all, in fact. If it were orbiting a star, the parent sun’s bright glare would make even a huge planet tough to discern. It would be like trying to see a candle sitting next to a  searchlight. The team of French and Canadian astronomers who made the discovery weren’t looking for planets in any case. They were looking for brown dwarfs, objects too big to be classified as planets, but too small to ignite the nuclear reactions that would qualify them as full-blown stars.

(MoreThe Very First Stars)

But when CFBDSIR2149 showed up in the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope on Mauna Kea, says co-discoverer Etienne Artigau, of the University of Montreal, “we saw that it was very red compared with the typical brown dwarf.” That meant it was relatively cool. It could still be a brown dwarf, but it would have to be billions of years old to have lost so much of its internal heat. If the object were very young, its temperature ruled it out as a brown dwarf at all. In general, says Artigau, “it would not be a trivial thing to distinguish an old, massive object from a young, small one.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Newfound ‘super-Earth’ could support life

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 9, 2012

Astronomers have discovered another potentially habitable planet – and it’s at least seven times the mass of Earth. Dwarf star HD 40307g hosts a system of six planets, and one of those is believed have the potential to support human life.

The newfound exoplanet was discovered by a team of astronomers from the University of Hertfordshire and the University of Goettingen.

It’s located a mere 44 light-years from Earth. And although that may seem like a far distance, it’s actually just around the corner – cosmically speaking. It’s so close that researchers say telescopes on Earth may be able to image it directly.

The alien planet has been classified as a super-Earth, meaning it’s larger than Earth but smaller than gas planets such as Neptune.

It orbits at a distance of 55.8 million miles from the sun, which puts it in its host star’s habitable zone – the region where liquid water can exist on a planet’s surface.

But it’s not just the possibility of water that has astronomers thinking the newfound planet could be habitable.  Read the rest of this entry »

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How Earth Formed: Prevailing Theory Is Flawed, Study Suggests

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 19, 2012

Earth Hot Formation

‘Blue Marble’ gets a makeover–Earth’s formation was actually much hotter than previously thought.


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Earth probably formed in a hotter, drier part of the solar system than previously thought, which could explain our planet’s puzzling shortage of water, a new study reports.

Our newly forming solar system‘s “snow line” — the zone beyond which icy compounds could condense 4.5 billion years ago — was actually much farther away from the sun than prevailing theory predicts, according to the study.

“Unlike the standard accretion-disk model, the snow line in our analysis never migrates inside Earth’s orbit,” co-author Mario Livio, of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, said in a statement.

“Instead, it remains farther from the sun than the orbit of Earth, which explains why our Earth is a dry planet,” Livio added. “In fact, our model predicts that the other innermost planets — Mercury, Venus and Mars— are also relatively dry. ” [A Photo Tour of the Planets]

Earth a dry planet?

Referring to Earth — with its vast oceans, huge rivers and polar ice caps — as a dry planet may sound strange. But water makes up less than 1 percent of our planet’s mass, and much of that material was likely delivered by comets and asteroids after Earth’s formation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Transit Of Venus Pictures: Images Of Astronomical Event (PHOTOS)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 6, 2012

Venus Transit Photos

Skywatchers around the world readied their telescopes and grabbed their solar shades on Tuesday and Wednesday to catch a glimpse of the transit of Venus, a phenomenon that won’t occur again until 2117. Read the rest of this entry »

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Space Agency Predicts Date Of World-Ending Galactic Smash-Up

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 2, 2012

By SETH BORENSTEIN  APShare on Google+

Milky Way Andromeda

WASHINGTON — Don’t worry about when the world as we know it might end. NASA has calculated that our entire Milky Way galaxy will crash into a neighboring galaxy with a direct head-on hit – in 4 billion years.

Astronomers in a NASA news conference Thursday said that years of observations from the Hubble Space Telescope provide grisly details of a long-anticipated galactic smashup. Astronomers had seen the Andromeda galaxy coming at us, but thought there was a chance that its sideways motion would make it miss or graze the Milky Way. Hubble readings now indicate that’s not the case.

“This is pretty violent as things go in the universe,” said Roeland van der Marel, an astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore that operates Hubble. “It’s like a bad car crash in galaxy-land.”

Scientists say the sun and Earth are unlikely to be hit by stars or planets from Andromeda because of the vast emptiness of the two galaxies. So Earth should easily survive what will be a 1.2 million mile per hour galactic merger. Even at that speed, the event would take about 2 billion years.

Once it’s over, our solar system would be in a different place in the cosmos. The collision would dramatically change the view of the nighttime sky from Earth with Andromeda suddenly dominating, the astronomers said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Solar Eclipse 2012 In Los Angeles: ‘Ring Of Fire’ Is Coming To California (VIDEO)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on May 16, 2012

Solar Eclipse 2012

Move over, Supermoon! California is in for another extraterrestrial evening display this weekend — a rare “ring of fire” solar eclipse that hasn’t been seen in the United States since 1994.

Called an annular solar eclipse, the moon and sun will exactly align Sunday, May 20, creating a “ring of fire” around the moon because of the sun’s larger apparent size.

Unfortunately for Los Angeles, the best views of the “ring of fire” eclipse will be from Northern California around Eureka, Redding, the Sacramento suburbs, and Lake Tahoe, reports the Los Angeles Times.

But that doesn’t mean we still won’t be in for an awe-inspiring view. The Griffith Observatory notes for LA, the moon will eclipse 86 percent of the sun’s diameter, which will be the most “extensive” eclipse the city has seen since 1992. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Whole Universe In One Photo

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 4, 2012

Comment: Thanks NASA for giving opportunity to have a look to the whole universe sitting on chair:

Nasa has unveiled an astounding new image of our galactic neighbourhood – a new star atlas for the entire universe.

The atlas includes a catalogue of the entire infrared sky, over half a billion stars, galaxies and more captured by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission.

Edward Wright, WISE principal investigator at UCLA, said: “Today, WISE delivers the fruit of 14 years of effort to the astronomical community.” Wright began working on the WISE mission in 1998.

Made up of more than 2.7 million images taken at four infrared wavelengths of light, the new image captures everything from nearby asteroids to distant galaxies. Read the rest of this entry »

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Black Hole Eats Its Prey – WATCH

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 14, 2011

The “super massive” black hole at the centre of our galaxy is luring its prey steadily towards, and we can witness it for the first time ever.

The object hurtling towards the black hole is not a star, but a gaseous cloud. The cloud is being ripped apart as it is drawn into the black hole, which has a mass four million times greater than the sun.

The European Southern Observatory have been observing the black hole, the universe’ largest, for twenty years. This cloud has sped up over the last seven years, as it gets much closer to its final demise.

The cloud is picture in red above, while the stars around the black hole are marked in white, and their orbit in blue.

The observation has scientists fizzing with excitement, as they can observe how matter is added to a black hole, something that has been science fiction to date.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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Lunar Eclipse Photos: Pictures Of Total Eclipse Of The Moon From Around The World (PHOTOS, MAP)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 11, 2011

The last total lunar eclipse for almost three years occurred on Saturday, wowing sky watchers on many parts of the globe.

According to the Associated Press, the best views of the lunar eclipse were in the Pacific, Australia and regions of Asia. Viewers in parts of North America were also treated to spectacular views, although no eclipse was visible in South America and parts of Western Africa.


NASA explains a lunar eclipse:

A lunar eclipse occurs when Earth is directly between the sun and the moon, blocking the sun’s rays and casting a shadow on the moon. As the moon moves deeper and deeper into Earth’s shadow, the moon changes color before your very eyes, turning from gray to an orange or deep shade of red.The moon takes on this new color because sunlight is still able to pass through Earth’s atmosphere and cast a glow on the moon.

According to NASA, the moon was eclipsed for a total of 51 minutes. ABC News reports that this took place at approximately 6 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.

But don’t worry if you weren’t lucky enough to catch a glimpse the celestial phenomenon — we’ve compiled some of the best lunar eclipse pictures from around the world, from the United States to the Middle East to Asia.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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Vampire Star SS Leporis Spotted By Powerful Telescope

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 7, 2011

Imagine having your life force slowly sucked out of you by a close lingering companion who just won’t leave you alone.

A “vampire” star has been doing just that to its companion in the small constellation of Lepus.

The strange star system in The Hare constellation contains two stars, once of which – a red giant – is losing its matter to its hotter companion.

“We knew that this double star was unusual, and that material was flowing from one star to the other,” says Henri Boffin from ESO, co-author of the findings.

“What we found, however, is that the way in which the mass transfer most likely took place is completely different from previous models of the process. The ‘bite’ of the vampire star is very gentle but highly effective.”

The stars are separated by a distance equivalent to that between the Sun and the Earth. Because of the closeness, the hot companion has already cannibalised about half of the mass of the larger star, possibly by a stellar wind.

The video below shows the vampire in action, beginning with a broad view of the Milky Way, then zooming in on the small constellation of Lepus next to the more familiar Orion.

The images were created using the VLT Interferometer at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, which produces photos fifty times sharper than those from Hubble Space Telescope.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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VFTS 102: The Fastest Rotating Star Discovered

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 7, 2011

Astronomers have found the fastest rotating star ever spotted.

Young and very bright, VFTS 102 is rotating at more than two million kilometres per hour – more than three hundred times faster than the Sun.

It is around 25 times the mass of the Sun and about one hundred thousand times brighter.

The super star lies in the Large Magellanic Cloud, about 160 000 light-years from Earth.

VFTS 102 is spinning so fast that it has almost reached the point where it could be pulled apart by centrifugal forces.

European Southern Observatory astronomers think that it may have had an unusual and violent past, which saw it ejected from a double star system as its companion star exploded.

“The remarkable rotation speed and the unusual motion compared to the surrounding stars led us to wonder if this star had had an unusual early life. We were suspicious.” explains Philip Dufton of Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK.

Dufton and his team suggest that the if the two stars were close, gas from the companion star could have streamed over VFTS 102, making it spin extraordinarily fast.

After ten million years, the companion could have exploded as a supernova. The clue to that is a supernova remnant found nearby.

The explosion and collapse of the companion star could also have caused this star to turn into the pulsar spotted by ESO.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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Dark Matter, Darker Still: The Cosmos’ Greatest Mystery Deepens

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 27, 2011


The galaxy of Andromeda, the nearest large galaxy to our own, circa 1990 Space Frontiers / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Like Hollywood legends Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn, dark energy and dark matter are completely unrelated, even though they share a name. Dark energy, a force that makes the universe expand faster and faster all the time, is called dark because it’s mysterious. Nobody knows what it is. Dark matter, on the other hand, a type of matter that outweighs ordinary stars and galaxies 5 to 1, is called dark because it’s utterly invisible. We know it’s there because its gravity yanks galaxies and stars around, but it neither emits nor reflects any light.

Both darks are a big deal in astronomy. The accelerating universe, the first evidence that dark energy exists, earned three physicists the Nobel Prize just a few weeks ago. But dark matter has somehow failed to impress the Nobel committee, even though the idea has been around a lot longer. In the 1930s, astronomer Fritz Zwicky first suggested that given how fast galaxies whip around in space, they ought to fly apart — and would, if there weren’t some invisible matter holding them gravitationally together. In the 1970s, physicists Vera Rubin and Kent Ford came in with stronger evidence for the existence of dark matter, but their work too was received with shrugs. Over time, however, dark matter has become an accepted part of modern astronomy — and now that it is, a new study, soon to be published in the Astrophysical Journal, is calling some of the fundamental assumptions about it into question.(Read about dark matter and how starburst galaxies are formed.)

The conventional wisdom since the early 1990s has been that dark matter consists of giant clouds of still undiscovered subatomic objects known as “weakly interacting massive particles,” or WIMPs (an example of astronomer humor that will undoubtedly appeal to fans of the Big Bang theory). Recently, astronomer Matt Walker of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a colleague undertook a study of two dwarf galaxies hovering on the edges of the Milky Way, looking for new clues to the behavior of WIMPs — and came away questioning whether the particles were there at all. “Our results,” Walker says, “pose a real challenge to cold dark matter. I think it’s certainly a problem.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Satellite Crashes In South-East Asia

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 24, 2011

NASA has confirmed the Roentgen Satellite (ROSAT) has fallen back to earth over South East Asia.

Up to 30 fragments weighing a total of 1.87 tons (1.7 metric tons) could have crashed at 280 mph (450 kph), the German Aerospace Center said.

The Telegraph reports that the satellite fell to earth either east of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Burma, in inland Burma or inland China.

No reports of a fiery inferno or debris have been received, hinting that the satellite must have fallen in the sea, or into a remote unpopulated area.

Discovery news reports that the odds of ROSAT hitting someone were much higher than that of theNASA Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) which fell to earth last month. The high temperature mirror, 81 cm wide and weighing 400 kg, was expected to survive re-entry, whereas UARS broke apart on re-entry.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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