Mystery of the ‘spooky’ pattern in the universe: Scientists find that supermassive black holes are ALIGNED


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A European research team has found that the rotation axes of the central supermassive black holes in a sample of quasars are parallel to each other over distances of billions of light-years. An artist’s impression of the alignment is pictured

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Black holes are one of the strangest objects in the universe, preventing anything from escaping their grip – even light.

Now astronomers have discovered something even more peculiar about these enigmatic objects; they are aligned with each other over distances stretching billions of light-years

The remarkable observations were made by the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, which found an eerie alignment between enormous interstellar objects called quasars.

Quasars are galaxies with very active supermassive black holes at their centres. They shine more brightly than all the stars in the rest of their host galaxies put together.

A European research team has found that the rotation axes of the central supermassive black holes in a sample of quasars are parallel to each other over vast distances.

Source : Dailymail

Astronomers Discover 7 New Galaxies Using Subaru Telescope


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Man’s quest to discover life and new galaxies in the outer space had been going on for ages now. We For long, scientists have been using advanced technologies to search for life and planets in our very own Akashganga, also known as Milky way. But now, the talk of the town is seven galaxies that Japanese scientists have discovered in the outer space.

The fact was revealed in the recent Astrophysical Journal, which cites that space scientists have found seven new galaxies (seemed to be appearing from nowhere), 700 million years after the Big Bang. The researchers believe that this would help them unleash deeper mysteries of the universe and its galaxies.

Wondering, who discovered it? Well, the galaxies have been discovered by a team of astronomers in Japan, led by graduate student Akira Konno and Dr Masami Ouchi, using the Subaru Telescope. The team was searching for low mass galaxies, also known as Lyman-alpha Emitters (LAEs), in the space.

Akira Konno cites, “At first we were very disappointed at this small number, but we realized that this indicates LAEs appeared suddenly about 13 billion years ago. This is an exciting discovery. We can see that the luminosities suddenly brightened during the 700 to 800 million years after the Big Bang. What would cause this?”

In order to investigate the phenomenon of cosmic reionisation, he and his team searched for early LAE galaxies at a distance of 13.1 billion light years.

Notably, galaxy clusters are the most massive objects in the universe that consist of hundreds to thousands of galaxies, pulled together by gravity.

Nearly 13.8 billion years ago, the universe was born in an event called the Big Bang. During the same period, first stars and galaxies were formed. Later, the ultraviolet light of these objects were ionised, which is also known as process called ‘cosmic reionisation’.

Source : Gizmodo

Gravity May Have Saved Very Early Universe – Study


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A team of physicists from Denmark, Finland and the United Kingdom, led by Dr Matti Herranen University of Copenhagen, says that the spacetime curvature – in effect, gravity – is what may have saved the Universe from collapse immediately after the Big Bang.

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Some previous studies have suggested that the production of Higgs particles during the accelerating expansion of the very early Universe (inflation period) should have led to instability and collapse. Physicists have been trying to find out why this didn’t happen, leading to hypotheses that there must be some new physics that will help explain the origins of the Universe that has not yet been discovered.

Dr Herranen and his colleagues, however, believe there is a simpler explanation.

In a new study, published in the journal Physical Review Letters, they describe how the spacetime curvature provided the stability needed for the Universe to survive expansion in that early period.

They investigated the interaction between the Higgs bosons and gravity, taking into account how it would vary with energy.

The results show that even a small interaction would have been enough to stabilize the Universe against decay.

“The Standard Model of particle physics, which scientists use to explain elementary particles and their interactions, has so far not provided an answer to why the Universe did not collapse following the Big Bang,” said co-author Prof Arttu Rajantie of Imperial College London.

“Our research investigates the last unknown parameter in the Standard Model – the interaction between the Higgs particle and gravity.”

This parameter cannot be measured in particle accelerator experiments, but it has a big effect on the Higgs instability during inflation. Even a relatively small value is enough to explain the survival of the Universe without any new physics!”

The physicists plan to continue their research using cosmological observations to look at this interaction in more detail and explain what effect it would have had on the development of the early Universe.

In particular, they will use data from current and future ESA’s missions measuring cosmic microwave background radiation and gravitational waves.

“Our aim is to measure the interaction between gravity and the Higgs field using cosmological data,” Prof Rajantie said.

“If we are able to do that, we will have supplied the last unknown number in the Standard Model of particle physics and be closer to answering fundamental questions about how we are all here.”

Source : Sci-news

Webb Space Telescope promises astronomers new scientific adventures


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Astronomers are hoping that the Webb will be able to collect light that is very far away from us and is moving still farther away. The universe has been expanding ever since the big bang got it started, but scientists reckon that if the telescope is powerful enough, they just might be able to see the birth of the first galaxies, some 13.5 billion years ago.

“This is similar to archaeology,” says Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb, who helped plan Webb’s science mission. “We are digging deep into the universe. But as the sources of light become fainter and farther away, you need a big telescope like the James Webb.”

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Named for a former NASA director, the 21-foot-diameter Webb telescope will be 100 times as powerful as the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990. Although Hubble wasn’t the first space telescope, its images of far-off objects have dazzled the public and led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as determining how fast the universe is expanding.

The Webb will be both bigger and located in a darker part of space than Hubble, enabling it to capture images from the faintest galaxies. Four infrared cameras will capture light that is moving away from us very quickly and that has shifted from the visible to the infrared spectrum, described as red-shifted. The advantage of using infrared light is that it is not blocked by clouds of gas and dust that may lie between the telescope and the light. Webb’s mirrors are covered in a thin layer of gold that absorbs blue light but reflects yellow and red visible light, and its cameras will detect infrared light and a small part of the visible spectrum. As objects move away from us, the wavelength of their light shifts from visible light to infrared light. That’s why the Webb’s infrared cameras will be able to see things that are both far away and moving away from us.

In the meantime, scientists such as Sara Seager of MIT, who studies exoplanets that revolve around distant stars, are imagining the discoveries that will occur once Webb directs its mirrors toward deep space. As a planet moves in front of a star, researchers hope to see the fingerprints of its atmosphere, which absorbs starlight. By analyzing the chemical spectrum of the light, they may be able to determine the atmosphere’s composition. Oxygen has a spectral fingerprint, as does methane, carbon dioxide and other gases found in atmospheres.

Continue reading Webb Space Telescope promises astronomers new scientific adventures

Scientists Discover Why Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Is Red


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We know that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is red. Its color is right there in the name. However, why is it red? A team of NASA scientists recently found out.

Previous theories about the reddish color of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot suggested that the color comes from chemicals beneath Jupiter’s clouds, with certain chemicals forming lower in Jupiter’s atmosphere and then rising to the top of the spot.

However, after studying new data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, along with laboratory experiments, scientists think that the red in the Red Spot comes from sunlight hitting chemicals higher up in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere.

After studying Cassini’s data, researchers used ultraviolet light to mimic sunlight, and blasted it at two gases known to exist on Jupiter: ammonia and acetylene. The result was a red material that matched Cassini’s observations of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.

“Our models suggest most of the Great Red Spot is actually pretty bland in color, beneath the upper cloud layer of reddish material,” says Kevin Baines, a Cassini team scientist. “Under the reddish ‘sunburn’ the clouds are probably whitish or grayish.”

The Great Red Spot is actually a massive storm on the surface of Jupiter. It’s so big that three Earths could easily fit inside it. Discovered in the 1600s, the storm reaches high into Jupiter’s upper atmosphere.

“The Great Red Spot is extremely tall,” Baines says. “It reaches much higher altitudes than clouds elsewhere on Jupiter.”

This high altitude is why the Great Red Spot’s color is so intense: the storm’s winds bring ammonia ice particles into the upper atmosphere, exposing it to more sunlight. Because the storm is spinning, similar to a hurricane, the ammonia particles can’t escape. This creates a constant red color at the top of the storm.

So why is the Great Red Spot’s color so important? Jupiter only has a few elements, with its body mostly formed of hydrogen and helium. By examining the colors on the planet’s surface, scientists can identify those elements and get a better idea of the planet’s chemical composition.

Jupiter displays a variety of similar shades across its surface: oranges, browns and other shades of red. These colors suggest areas with thinner and higher clouds, which lets us see deeper into Jupiter’s atmosphere.

The Great Red Spot, though, stands out as one of Jupiter’s more mysterious features. Jupiter has no land mass, so a storm of that magnitude should have disappeared quickly in such a turbulent atmosphere. However, the Great Red Spot is still there, although recent measurements show that it’s possibly shrinking.

Source : techtime

New Mission May Discover Hundreds of Black Holes Throughout the Universe


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A new mission may just discover hundreds of new black holes throughout the universe. Scientists have revamped two detectors that are scheduled to switch on in the U.S. next year that could help scientists pick up the faint ripples of black hole collisions millions of years ago, known as gravitational waves.

Black holes can’t be seen, but the new detectors should be able to act like giant microphones and pick up the remnants of black hole collisions.

The rapid spinning of black holes will cause the orbits to wobble, just like the last wobbles of a spinning top before it falls over,” said Mark Hannam, one of the researchers, in a news release. “These wobbles can make the black holes trace out wild paths around each other, leading to extremely complicated gravitational-wave signals. Our model aims to predict this behavior and help scientists find the signals in the detector data.”
The researchers created a theoretical model which aims to predict all potential gravitational-wave signals that might be found by detectors. In theory, this should help scientists by acting as a “spotter’s guide” and allow them to recognize the right waveforms.
“Sometimes the orbits of these spinning black holes look completely tangled up, like a ball of string,” said Hannam. “But if you imagine whirling around with the black holes, then it all looks much clearer, and we can write down equations to describe what is happening. It’s like watching a kid on a high-speed spinning amusement park ride, apparently waving their hands around. From the side lines, it’s impossible to tell what they’re doing. But if you site next to them, they might be sitting perfectly still, just giving you the thumbs up.”
The new model should help search for black hole mergers once the detectors switch on. That said, more work still needs to be done. The scientists hope to create enough simulations to capture enough combinations of black-hole masses and spin directions to understand the overall behavior of these complicated systems.

Source : science world report

Philae sleeps, but Rosetta’s not done yet


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Its battery dead, the European lander is lost in a crater somewhere on a huge comet. But the orbiter that brought it there still has plenty of science left to do.

Rosetta

As of Saturday morning, the Philae lander is in a digital coma somewhere on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. But even if the history-making little robot never wakes again, the Rosetta mission and the orbiter of the same name still have a long journey ahead of them.

The plan was for Philae to land at a targeted site on the comet, firing harpoons into the surface of the icy rock to keep itself locked in place for a long trip around the sun. The strong grip was particularly important since a comet this size has only a tiny fraction of the gravity of a place like Earth, leaving little Philae at risk of floating off into space.

But when showtime came, there were problems with Philae’s downward thrusters and with firing the harpoons. The European Space Agency reports that the lander bounced off the surface of the comet twice and eventually landed somewhere else without much access to the sunlight its solar panels need to keep it functioning.

Friday evening, Philae used its remaining energy to upload all its data before going into hibernation mode. There was a time slot early this morning during which, the ESA had reported, communication with the lander was possible, but that time has now come and gone.

Still, Rosetta remains.

Even if Philae stays lost in a comet crater for the next year, the orbiter that traveled almost half a billion miles to get to this point will continue to orbit the comet and its lost lander.

Right now, Rosetta has been pulling out to a 30 kilometer orbit of the comet. It will come closer again early next month to get more details on the comet — some of its flybys will be as close as 8 kilometers to the comet. There’s a whole lot of potential science and data about comets, planets and our solar system packed in that process, building up to the trio’s closest encounter with the sun, next August.

Before that point there may also be better opportunities to rouse Philae.

Continue reading Philae sleeps, but Rosetta’s not done yet

NASA’s new map may help save Earth from ‘killer’ asteroids


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A new map has been devised by NASA, which shows frequency of small asteroid impacts from 1994 to 2013 and it has provided clues on larger ones that could pose a danger to Earth. NASA’s Near Earth Object (NEO) Program reveals that small asteroids frequently enter and disintegrate in the Earth’s atmosphere with random distribution around the globe.

Released to the scientific community, the map visualizes data gathered by U.S. government sensors from 1994 to 2013. It indicated that Earth’s atmosphere was impacted by small asteroids, resulting in a bolide (or fireball), on 556 separate occasions in a 20-year period. Almost all asteroids of this size disintegrate in the atmosphere and are usually harmless. The notable exception was the Chelyabinsk event which was the largest asteroid to hit Earth in this period.

The new data could help scientists better refine estimates of the distribution of the sizes of NEOs including larger ones that could pose a danger to Earth. Finding and characterizing hazardous asteroids to protect Earth has been high priority for NASA. It is one of the reasons NASA has increased by a factor of 10 investments in asteroid detection, characterization and mitigation activities over the last five years.

Source : dnaindia

3D-printed engine parts future of space launches: NASA


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A team of NASA researchers has found that 3D manufactured copper parts could withstand the heat and pressure required of combustion engines used in space launches.

The US space agency and California-based rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne (AR) conducted 19 hot-fire tests on four injector and thrust chamber assembly configurations at NASA’s Glenn Research Centre.

“The successful hot fire test of engine components provides confidence in the additive manufacturing process and paves the way for full-scale development,” said Tyler Hickman, lead engineer for the test at Glenn.

3D printing approach is changing the speed, cost and flexibility of designing and building future machines for space and earth applications.

The work is a major milestone in the development and certification of different materials used in the manufacturing process.

Copper alloys offer unique challenges to the additive manufacturing processes.

“Additively manufactured metal propulsion components are truly a paradigm shift for the aerospace industry,” added Paul Senick, Glenn project manager.

This will improve efficiency and bring down the cost of space launches and other earth applications, he concluded.

Source : business standard

A Universe of Blue Dots? –“Water Common During the Formation of All Planetary Systems”


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The new SciFi blockbuster, Interstellar, shows astonauts from post apocalyptic earth, destroyed by what appears to be a modern dust-bowl, catapulted into the unknown of outer space in the hopes of finding a new home for the human race, only to discover an extraterrestrial tidal wave on a distant exo planet. How realistic is the premise of an alien water planet? New findings suggest it’s based on solid science.
“This is an important step forward in our quest to find out if life exists on other planets,” said Tim Harries, from the University of Exeter’s Physics and Astronomy department, who was part of the research team. “We know that water is vital for the evolution of life on Earth, but it was possible that the Earth’s water originated in the specific conditions of the early solar system, and that those circumstances might occur infrequently elsewhere. By identifying the ancient heritage of Earth’s water, we can see that the way in which our solar system was formed will not be unique, and that exoplanets will form in environments with abundant water. Consequently, it raises the possibility that some exoplanets could house the right conditions, and water resources, for life to evolve.”
The implication of these findings is that some of the solar system’s water must have been inherited from the Sun’s birth environment, and thus predate the Sun itself. If our solar system’s formation was typical, this implies that water is a common ingredient during the formation of all planetary systems.

To date, the Kepler satellite has detected nearly 1,000 confirmed extrasolar planets. The widespread availability of water during the planet-formation process puts a promising outlook on the prevalence of life throughout the galaxy.

A pioneering new study has shown that water found on Earth predates the formation of the Sun – raising hopes that life could exist on exoplanets, the planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy. The ground-breaking research set out to discover the origin of the water that was deposited on the Earth as it formed.

It found that a significant fraction of water found on Earth, and across our solar system, predates the formation of the Sun. By showing that water is ‘inherited’ from the environment when a star is born, the international team of scientists believe other exoplanetary systems also had access to an abundance of water during their own formation.

As water is a key component for the development of life on Earth, the study has important implications for the potential for life elsewhere in the galaxy.

Scientists have previously been able to understand the conditions present when stars are formed by looking at the composition of comets and asteroids, which show which gases, dust and, most importantly, ices were circling the star at its birth.

The team of international scientists were able to use ‘heavy water’ ices – those with an excess of water made with the element deuterium rather than hydrogen – to determine whether the water ices formed before, or during, the solar system’s formation.

Continue reading A Universe of Blue Dots? –“Water Common During the Formation of All Planetary Systems”