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  • Weird Orbital Behaviors Offer Clues to the Origins of Pluto's Moons

    06/03/2015 3:29:55 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 13 replies
    smithsonianmag. ^ | June 3, 2015 1:00PM | Jay Bennett
    The dwarf planet Pluto and its system of five moons are about as mysterious as the underworld of antiquity that inspired their names. ... “We are still baffled by how the system formed,” says study co-author Mark Showalter, a senior research scientist at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute. “I think everyone believes that, at some point in the distant past, a large object bashed into ‘proto-Pluto’ and the moons formed out of the debris cloud. However, after that point in the story, details get very sketchy.” Now, analysis of data collected from the Hubble Space Telescope following the...
  • Dark matter could be seen in GPS time glitches

    11/19/2014 4:56:35 AM PST · by 2ndDivisionVet · 17 replies
    New Scientist ^ | November 17, 2014 | Hal Hodson
    GPS has a new job. It does a great job of telling us our location, but the network of hyper-accurate clocks in space could get a fix on something far more elusive: dark matter. Dark matter makes up 80 per cent of the universe's matter but scarcely interacts with ordinary matter. A novel particle is the most popular candidate, but Andrei Derevianko at the University of Nevada, Reno, and Maxim Pospelov at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada propose that kinks or cracks in the quantum fields that permeate the universe could be the culprit. If they are right,...
  • Uranus might be full of surprises

    11/14/2014 12:11:34 PM PST · by Nachum · 93 replies
    WaPo ^ | 11/14/14 | Rachel Feltman
    Scientists used to think that things were pretty chill over in the south hemisphere of Uranus. In fact, they thought it was one of the calmest regions of any of the gas giants. But in analyzing images taken nearly three decades ago by NASA's Voyager-2 spacecraft, researchers think they've found a kerfuffle of activity — which might indicate that there's something unusual about the planet's interior. If you look at these old photos of Uranus, the planet appears to be a stark, featureless ball. And even to scientists, who were able to identify more lively features of the gas giant,...
  • Asteroid Found with Rings! First-of-Its-Kind Discovery Stuns Astronomers

    03/26/2014 12:05:41 PM PDT · by 12th_Monkey · 51 replies
    Space.com ^ | March 26, 2014 | Nola Taylor Redd
    Scientists have made a stunning discovery in the outer realm of the solar system — an asteroid with its own set of rings that orbits the sun between Saturn and Uranus. The space rock is the first non-planetary object ever found to have its own ring system, researchers say. The pair of space rock rings encircle the asteroid Chariklo. They were most likely formed after a collision scattered debris around the asteroid, according to a new study unveiled today (March 27). The asteroid rings also suggests the presence of a still-undiscovered moon around Chariklo that's keeping them stable, researchers said....
  • Violent Past: Young sun withstood a supernova blast

    10/27/2013 6:03:53 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 62 replies
    Science News ^ | May 23, 2007 | Ron Cowen
    Martin Bizzarro of the University of Copenhagen and his colleagues set out to determine the amount of iron in the early solar system. To do so, they measured nickel-60, a decay product of iron-60, in eight meteorites known to have formed at different times during the first 3 million years of the solar system. The meteorites that formed more than about a million years after the start of the solar system contain significantly more nickel-60 than do those that formed earlier, the team found. In a neighborhood of young stars, only a supernova could have produced iron-60, the parent of...
  • Surprise! Earth Passing Asteroid 1998 QE2 Has a Moon

    05/30/2013 2:51:12 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 27 replies
    UniverseToday ^ | May 30, 2013 | Nancy Atkinson on
    Late yesterday, NASA turned the 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California towards Asteroid 1998 QE2 as it was heading towards its closest approach to Earth, and they got a big surprise: the asteroid is a binary system. 1998 QE2 itself is 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) in diameter, and the newly found orbiting moon is about 600 meters in diameter. The radar images were taken were taken on May 29, 2013, when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Earth. “Radar really helps to pin down the orbit of an asteroid as well as...
  • Scientists plan mission to probe Uranus

    01/11/2011 2:53:34 PM PST · by LibWhacker · 98 replies
    Christian Science Monitor ^ | 1/7/11 | Paul Sutherland
    Proposed by British scientists as a joint effort of NASA and the European Space Agency, the mission would offer the first close-up view of Uranus in 25 years.British space scientists are leading plans to send a probe to explore giant ice planet Uranus. They have put forward a detailed proposal to the European Space Agency to launch a joint mission with NASA to the distant world, 1.8 billion miles from the sun. It would give scientists their first close-up views of Uranus since NASA’s Voyager 2 flew past and captured fleeting pictures 25 years ago. The £400million mission is designed...
  • Exploding Clays Drive Geminids Sky Show?

    10/19/2010 2:41:48 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    National Geographic ^ | Tuesday, October 12, 2010 | Breaking Orbit 'blogger
    The Geminid meteor shower, which peaks each year in December... are *not* caused by debris left behind from an active comet... Until recently, the favored view of Phaethon was that it's a dead comet -- the rocky core of a "dirty snowball" that lost its ices after too many close encounters with the sun. ... In June 2009 astronomers using the STEREO sun-watching probe suddenly saw the rocky body flare to life as it neared the sun, brightening by a factor of two... So, not so dead after all. But that brings us back to figuring out what exactly Phaethon...
  • Did Earth's Twin Cores Spark Plate Tectonics?

    01/07/2009 9:20:26 AM PST · by BGHater · 40 replies · 1,059+ views
    Discovery News ^ | 06 Jan 2009 | Michael Reilly
    It's a classic image from every youngster's science textbook: a cutaway image of Earth's interior. The brown crust is paper-thin; the warm mantle orange, the seething liquid of the outer core yellow, and at the center the core, a ball of solid, red-hot iron. Now a new theory aims to rewrite it all by proposing the seemingly impossible: Earth has not one but two inner cores. The idea stems from an ancient, cataclysmic collision that scientists believe occurred when a Mars-sized object hit Earth about 4.45 billion years ago. The young Earth was still so hot that it was mostly...
  • Moon Has Iron Core, Lunar-Rock Study Says

    12/06/2008 8:51:38 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 31 replies · 2,063+ views
    National Geographic News ^ | January 11, 2007 | Brian Handwerk
    Deep down, the moon may be more like Earth than scientists ever thought. A new moon-rock study suggests the satellite has an iron core... The moon's core could be a clue to its ancient origins, which have long puzzled astronomers. "Our moon is too big to be a moon," Taylor said. "It's huge compared to the moons we see around other planets, so it has always been suspected that there was something strange in its origin." ...Rock samples from NASA's Apollo 15 and Apollo 17 moon missions of the early 1970s have now shed more light on the moon's origins,...
  • Gravity Emerges from Quantum Information, Say Physicists

    03/27/2010 11:06:22 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 70 replies · 1,508+ views
    The new role that quantum information plays in gravity sets the scene for a dramatic unification of ideas in physics One of the hottest new ideas in physics is that gravity is an emergent phenomena; that it somehow arises from the complex interaction of simpler things. A few month's ago, Erik Verlinde at the the University of Amsterdam put forward one such idea which has taken the world of physics by storm. Verlinde suggested that gravity is merely a manifestation of entropy in the Universe. His idea is based on the second law of thermodynamics, that entropy always increases over...
  • The Moon may have formed in a nuclear explosion

    01/30/2010 12:03:32 AM PST · by LibWhacker · 30 replies · 787+ views
    PhysOrg ^ | 1/28/10 | Lin Edwards
    (PhysOrg.com) -- A new theory suggests the Moon was formed after a natural nuclear explosion in the Earth's mantle rather than after the impact of a massive object with the Earth, as previously thought. The problem with the impact hypothesis is that simulations calculate the Moon should be composed of 80% impactor and 20% Earth, whereas in fact the isotope ratios of light and heavy elements found in Moon rocks so far examined are virtually identical to those on Earth. The fission hypothesis is an alternative explanation for the formation of the moon, and it predicts similar isotope ratios in...
  • First speed of gravity measurement revealed

    01/07/2003 6:23:34 PM PST · by forsnax5 · 297 replies · 2,123+ views
    NewScientist.com ^ | 01/07/2003 | Ed Fomalont and Sergei Kopeikin
    The speed of gravity has been measured for the first time. The landmark experiment shows that it travels at the speed of light, meaning that Einstein's general theory of relativity has passed another test with flying colours. Ed Fomalont of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Sergei Kopeikin of the University of Missouri in Columbia made the measurement, with the help of the planet Jupiter. "We became the first two people to know the speed of gravity, one of the fundamental constants of nature," the scientists say, in an article in New Scientist print edition. One important...
  • Comets may be spawned when mum breaks up [circling the wagons cont'd]

    07/27/2008 9:57:14 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies · 159+ views
    New Scientist ^ | Saturday, July 26, 2008 | David Shiga
    Are comets born in great swarms? The puzzling abundance of comets in short solar orbits has led a pair of astronomers to suggest that they are fragments of larger bodies that crumbled as they entered the inner solar system. Short-period comets take less than 200 years to circle the sun and are thought to originate in the Kuiper belt of icy objects beyond Neptune. Some Kuiper-belt objects (KBOs) are in vulnerable orbits that allow the gravity of the outer planets to tug them inwards, where the sun's heat turns them into comets. However, there seem to be too few KBOs...
  • Right Again, Einstein

    07/05/2008 5:49:29 PM PDT · by neverdem · 32 replies · 500+ views
    ScienceNOW Daily News ^ | 3 July 2008 | Phil Berardelli
    Enlarge ImageIt's relative. Astronomers have been measuring spin precession in an eclipsing pair of pulsars.Credit: Daniel Cantin/McGill University As if his reputation needed cementing, astronomers have confirmed Albert Einstein's status as a supergenius once more. Studying a unique pair of pulsars--small and extremely dense leftovers from supernova explosions--researchers have measured an effect that was predicted by Einstein's 92-year-old general theory of relativity. The result, they report tomorrow in Science, is almost exactly what the famous physicist had foreseen. In Einstein's relativistic universe, matter curves space and slows down time, and the speed of light remains the only constant. But...
  • Rethinking Jupiter

    11/12/2007 9:59:25 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 23 replies · 94+ views
    Astrobio.net ^ | Monday, November 12, 2007 | Lee Pullen
    Without Jupiter acting as a "cosmic vacuum cleaner" sucking up these dangerous objects, there would be so many catastrophic impacts that life probably wouldn't have evolved on the Earth and we wouldn't be here today... "This vacuum cleaner idea goes back to when the long-period comets coming in from the Oort Cloud were viewed as being the only significant impact risk," says Horner. "In the 1950s there were only one or two near-Earth asteroids known, so they were viewed as oddities." ...Since the 1950s, scientists have discovered more objects in the solar system, and they say many of them could...
  • Did an ancient impact bowl Pluto over?

    10/30/2007 7:29:02 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies · 123+ views
    New Scientist ^ | October 5, 2007 | Maggie McKee
    Pluto and its large moon Charon may have been bowled over when they were struck by wayward space rocks in the past, a new study suggests. If so, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft may find evidence of these rolls when it arrives at the distant worlds in 2015. Jay Melosh of the University of Arizona in Tucson, US, first suggested about 30 years ago that the basins gouged out by impacts would redistribute the mass of planetary bodies, causing them to roll over to re-stabilise themselves... Now, Francis Nimmo of the University of California in Santa Cruz, US, who led the...
  • Mystery of Saturn's Two-Faced Moon Solved

    10/09/2007 12:31:36 PM PDT · by martin_fierro · 11 replies · 329+ views
    space.com via Yahoo news ^ | Tue Oct 9, 8:45 AM ET | Jeanna Bryner
    Mystery of Saturn's Two-Faced Moon Solved Jeanna Bryner Staff Writer SPACE.com Tue Oct 9, 8:45 AM ET Saturn's moon Iapetus has virtually no gray. Rather, its features are all stark black and white. The appearance has long puzzled astronomers. New detailed images suggest sunlight is melting ice on one side of Iapetus, leaving the moon's dark surface exposed, while the opposite half retains its reflective ice-mixed shell. Since the moon's discovery by Giovanni Domenico Cassini in 1671, Iapetus' appearance has baffled astronomers. The leading edge of Iapetus, which faces the direction of its orbit, is black as asphalt, while its...
  • Jupiter Increases Risk Of Comet Strike On Earth

    08/24/2007 1:21:38 PM PDT · by blam · 84 replies · 1,235+ views
    New Scientist ^ | 8-24-2007 | David Shiga
    Jupiter increases risk of comet strike on Earth 11:53 24 August 2007 NewScientist.com news service David Shiga Earth experienced an especially heavy bombardment of asteroids and comets early in the solar system's history (Illustration: Julian Baum) Contrary to prevailing wisdom, Jupiter does not protect Earth from comet strikes. In fact, Earth would suffer fewer impacts without the influence of Jupiter's gravity, a new study says. It could have implications for determining which solar systems are most hospitable to life. A 1994 study showed that replacing Jupiter with a much smaller planet like Uranus or Neptune would lead to 1000 times...
  • An Unknown Planet Orbits in the Outer Solar System

    08/05/2007 6:22:36 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 58 replies · 1,200+ views
    A theory is hereby proposed that an unknown mega-massive planet has, for billions of years, been orbiting at 77.2 AU from the sun -- within a 44 AU-wide, virtually empty Great Void that surrounds the Kuiper Belt (One AU = 93 million miles, the mean Earth-Sun distance). The Void is postulated to have been formed by strong gravitational attraction of the unknown planet having removed all CKBOs (Classical Kuiper Belt Objects) that had existed previously in the vicinity of the massive planet's huge orbit... The 77.2 AU distance from the sun of the proposed unknown planet is derived from a...