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  • Universe's Expansion Rate Is Different Depending on Where You Look

    07/17/2018 7:33:25 AM PDT · by ETL · 42 replies
    Space.com ^ | July 13, 2018 | Elizabeth Howell, Space.com Contributor
    Our universe's rate of expansion keeps getting stranger. New data continues to show a discrepancy in how fast the universe expands in nearby realms and more distant locations.  The study's researchers said this "tension" could mean we need to revise our understanding of the physics structuring the universe, which could include exotic elements such as dark matter and dark energy. New measurements from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gaia space telescope together showed that the rate of expansion nearby is 45.6 miles per second per megaparsec. This means that for every 3.3 million light-years a galaxy is farther away from...
  • Big Bang, Big Claim: Why This Bold Idea Is Right

    04/24/2018 10:57:04 AM PDT · by ETL · 89 replies
    Space.com ^ | Apr 21, 2018 | Paul Sutter, Astrophysicis | LiveScience
    At 13.8 billion years ago, our entire observable universe was the size of a peach and had a temperature of over a trillion degrees. That's a pretty simple, but very bold statement to make, and it's not a statement that's made lightly or easily. Indeed, even a hundred years ago, it would've sounded downright preposterous, but here we are, saying it like it's no big deal. But as with anything in science, simple statements like this are built from mountains of multiple independent lines of evidence that all point toward the same conclusion — in this case, the Big Bang,...
  • Einstein made his share of errors. Here are three of the biggest

    03/15/2018 9:29:33 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 69 replies
    nbc ^ | Mar.14.2018 / 8:14 AM ET | Dan Falk /
    1. Starlight bends — but how much? Einstein performed a series of calculations to determine the size of the predicted shift but initially muffed the effort, arriving at a number that was half the correct value. Had the astronomers managed to test this number in their initial eclipse-viewing efforts, their observations wouldn’t have matched his prediction. But their attempts were stymied by weather in 1912 and by war in 1914. By the time they made the necessary observation, in the spring of 1919, Einstein had corrected his blunder — and astronomers saw exactly the shift that he had predicted. 2....
  • Quasars: Brightest Objects in the Universe

    02/24/2018 11:16:03 AM PST · by Simon Green · 12 replies
    Space.com ^ | 02/23/18 | Nola Taylor
    (The Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of ancient and brilliant quasar 3C 273, which resides in a giant elliptical galaxy in the constellation of Virgo. Its light has taken some 2.5 billion years to reach us. Despite this great distance, it is still one of the closest quasars to our home. It was the first quasar ever to be identified, and was discovered in the early 1960s by astronomer Allan Sandage.) Shining so brightly that they eclipse the ancient galaxies that contain them, quasars are distant objects powered by black holes a billion times as massive as our...
  • Distant Galaxies Challenge Our Understanding of Star Formation

    01/22/2018 3:50:38 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 20 replies
    Real Clear Science ^ | 22 Jan, 2018 | Marie Martig
    The most massive galaxies in our neighbourhood formed their stars billions of years ago, early in the history of the universe. At the present day, they produce very few new stars. Astronomers have long believed that is because they contain very little gas – a key ingredient necessary to produce stars. But our new study, published in Nature Astronomy, is now challenging this long held view. Through probing the extreme environments of faraway massive galaxies, we can learn not only about their evolution and the history of the universe, but most importantly about the fundamental processes regulating the formation of...
  • Trio of dead stars upholds a key part of Einstein’s theory of gravity

    01/13/2018 9:09:23 AM PST · by MtnClimber · 16 replies
    Science News ^ | 12 Jan, 2018 | EMILY CONOVER
    Observations of a trio of dead stars have confirmed that a foundation of Einstein’s gravitational theory holds even for ultradense objects with strong gravitational fields. The complex orbital dance of the three former stars conforms to a rule known as the strong equivalence principle, researchers reported January 10 at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. That agreement limits theories that predict Einstein’s theory, general relativity, should fail at some level. According to general relativity, an object’s composition has no impact on how gravity pulls on it: Earth’s gravity accelerates a sphere of iron at the same rate as a...
  • How Can We Save The Sun?

    09/25/2016 6:21:25 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 46 replies
    Universe Today ^ | 9/23/16 | Fraser Cain
    How Can We Save The Sun? Published: 23 Sep , 2016 by Fraser Cain Video Remember the movie Sunshine, where astronomers learn that the Sun is dying? So a plucky team of astronauts take a nuclear bomb to the Sun, and try to jump-start it with a massive explosion. Yeah, there’s so much wrong in that movie that I don’t know where to start. So I just won’t.Seriously, a nuclear bomb to cure a dying Sun?Here’s the thing, the Sun is actually dying. It’s just that it’s going to take about another 5 billion years to run of fuel in...
  • Researchers just found a second 'Dyson Sphere' star - But still no aliens

    09/02/2016 7:06:05 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 30 replies
    Science Alert ^ | 9/2/16 | Bec Crew
    When astronomers discovered a strange pattern of light near a distant star called KIC 8462852 back in October, it was like nothing anyone had observed before. When a planet passes in front of star, the star’s brightness usually dips by around 1 percent, but KIC 8462852 has been experiencing dips of up to 22 percent, suggesting that something huge is zooming past. And now a second star with strange dips in brightness has been identified. Named EPIC 204278916, the star is estimated to be about the size of our Sun in diameter, but has only half its mass. It was...
  • Tabby’s Star: More weirdness

    08/11/2016 4:31:57 AM PDT · by samtheman · 32 replies
    http://earthsky.org/ ^ | August 10, 2016 | Deborah Byrd
    Remember Tabby’s Star? It’s the star that astronomer Tabetha Boyajian – who reported its strangeness in a Ted Talk in February, 2016 – famously called “the most mysterious star in the galaxy.” It’s mysterious because astronomers have never seen another star do what this star does. One explanation for the strange dimming of its light is that the star has an alien-built megastructure – a Dyson sphere – around it. Does it? Will we ever know for sure? Those are unanswered questions, but, while you’re pondering it, here’s the latest on this wonderful star. On August 3, 2016, two astronomers...
  • 'Alien Megastructure' Star Keeps Getting Stranger

    10/05/2016 5:46:51 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 40 replies
    space.com ^ | 10/05/2016 | Mike Wall
    The more scientists learn about "Tabby's Star," the more mysterious the bizarre object gets. Newly analyzed observations by NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope show that the star KIC 8462852 — whose occasional, dramatic dips in brightness still have astronomers scratching their heads — has also dimmed overall during the last few years. ... KIC 8462852 hit the headlines last September, when a team of astronomers led by Tabetha Boyajian of Yale University announced that the star had dimmed dramatically several times over the past few years — in one case, by a whopping 22 percent. These brightness dips are too...
  • 'Alien Megastructure' Ruled Out for Some of Star's Weird Dimming

    10/04/2017 9:55:43 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 17 replies
    Space.com ^ | October 4, 2017 05:56pm ET | Mike Wall,
    The bizarre long-term dimming of Tabby's star — also known as Boyajian's star, or, more formally, KIC 8462852 — is likely caused by dust, not a giant network of solar panels or any other "megastructure" built by advanced aliens, a new study suggests. Astronomers came to this conclusion after noticing that this dimming was more pronounced in ultraviolet (UV) than infrared light. Any object bigger than a dust grain would cause uniform dimming across all wavelengths, study team members said. [13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Aliens] "This pretty much rules out the alien megastructure theory, as that could not explain...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Arp 286: Trio in Virgo

    07/06/2016 6:12:48 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | Wednesday, July 06, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A remarkable telescopic composition in yellow and blue, this scene features a trio of interacting galaxies almost 90 million light-years away, toward the constellation Virgo. On the right, two, spiky, foreground Milky Way stars echo the trio galaxy hues, a reminder that stars in our own galaxy are like those in the distant island universes. With sweeping spiral arms and obscuring dust lanes, NGC 5566 is enormous, about 150,000 light-years across. Just above it lies small, blue NGC 5569. Near center, the third galaxy, NGC 5560, is multicolored and apparently stretched and distorted by its interaction with NGC 5566....
  • 'Alien Megastructure' Star Only Gets More Mysterious

    05/22/2016 6:39:00 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 53 replies
    Popular Science ^ | May 10, 2016 | Sarah Fecht
    Every now and then, a distant star called KIC 8462852 dims by as much as 20 percent. That's huge. Even a passing planet as big as Jupiter would only block about 1 percent of the star's light. Ruling out a planet, scientists have no idea what could be eclipsing the star (which is informally known as 'Tabby's Star'). The leading hypothesis is a family of really big comets, but that doesn't quite fit. Astronomer Jason Wright pointed out that the light patterns are consistent with what we'd expect if aliens had built a Dyson swarm of solar collectors around the...
  • New study supports natural causes, not alien activity, explain mystery star's behavior

    05/09/2016 8:56:03 PM PDT · by rdl6989 · 16 replies
    phys.org ^ | May 9, 2016 | David Salisbury
    Sorry, E.T. lovers, but the results of a new study make it far less likely that KIC 8462852, popularly known as Tabby's star, is the home of industrious aliens who are gradually enclosing it in a vast shell called a Dyson sphere. Public interest in the star, which sits about 1,480 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, began last fall when Yale astronomer Tabetha ("Tabby") Boyajian and colleagues posted a paper on an astronomy preprint server reporting that "planet hunters" - a citizen science group formed to search data from the Kepler space telescope for evidence of exoplanets - had...
  • Dimming star remains mystery, but it's likely not caused by comets

    01/16/2016 5:52:31 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 15 replies
    cnn ^ | jareen imam
    Theories surrounding the star system KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby's Star, ranged from comets to an "alien megastructure" after the online astronomy crowdsourcing site Planet Hunter discovered an unusual light fluctuation in the star system a few years ago. A new analysis of KIC 8462852 shows that the star system, which lies about 1,500 light years away, has been gradually dimming for more than a century, and it's likely not caused by a cloud of orbiting comets. Bradley Schaefer, a physics and astronomy professor at Louisiana State University, examined data from a Harvard University archive of digitally scanned photographic...
  • Clocking the Extreme Spin of a Monster Black Hole

    03/17/2016 6:36:54 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 22 replies
    D-News ^ | 15 Mar, 2016 | IAN O'NEILL
    upermassive black holes are the most extreme objects in the known universe, with masses millions or even billions of times the mass of our sun. Now astronomers have been able to study one of these behemoths inside a strange, distant quasar and they’ve made an astonishing discovery — it’s spinning one-third the speed of light. Studying a supermassive black hole some 3.5 billion light-years away is no easy feat, but this isn’t a regular object: it’s a quasar that shows quasi-periodic brightening events every 12 years or so — a fact that has helped astronomers reveal its extreme nature. Quasars...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Elliptical M60, Spiral NGC 4647

    01/28/2016 6:06:08 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | January 28, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Giant elliptical galaxy M60 and spiral galaxy NGC 4647 do look like an odd couple in this sharp cosmic portrait from the Hubble Space Telescope. But they are found in a region of space where galaxies tend to gather, on the eastern side of the nearby Virgo Galaxy Cluster. About 54 million light-years distant, bright M60's simpler egg-like shape is created by its randomly swarming older stars, while NGC 4647's young blue stars, gas and dust are organized into winding arms rotating in a flattened disk. Spiral NGC 4647 is estimated to be more distant than M60, some 63...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- High Energy Andromeda

    01/07/2016 12:52:47 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | January 07, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A mere 2.5 million light-years away, the Andromeda Galaxy, also known as M31, really is just next door as large galaxies go. In this (inset) scan, image data from NASA's Nuclear Spectrosopic Telescope Array has yielded the best high-energy X-ray view yet of our large neighboring spiral, revealing some 40 extreme sources of X-rays, X-ray binary star systems that contain a black hole or neutron star orbiting a more normal stellar companion. In fact, larger Andromeda and our own Milky Way are the most massive members of the local galaxy group. Andromeda is close enough that NuSTAR can examine...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Arp 87: Merging Galaxies from Hubble

    12/10/2015 6:38:48 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | December 09, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This dance is to the death. Along the way, as these two large galaxies duel, a cosmic bridge of stars, gas, and dust currently stretches over 75,000 light-years and joins them. The bridge itself is strong evidence that these two immense star systems have passed close to each other and experienced violent tides induced by mutual gravity. As further evidence, the face-on spiral galaxy on the right, also known as NGC 3808A, exhibits many young blue star clusters produced in a burst of star formation. The twisted edge-on spiral on the left (NGC 3808B) seems to be wrapped in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Centaurus A

    11/19/2015 3:42:37 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | November 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's the closest active galaxy to planet Earth? That would be Centaurus A, only 11 million light-years distant. Spanning over 60,000 light-years, the peculiar elliptical galaxy is also known as NGC 5128. Forged in a collision of two otherwise normal galaxies, Centaurus A's fantastic jumble of young blue star clusters, pinkish star forming regions, and imposing dark dust lanes are seen here in remarkable detail. The colorful galaxy portrait is a composite of image data from space- and ground-based telescopes large and small. Near the galaxy's center, left over cosmic debris is steadily being consumed by a central black...