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Invisible shield found thousands of miles above Earth blocks 'killer electrons'

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 13:38
An invisible shield has been discovered some 7,200 miles above Earth that blocks so-called 'killer electrons,' which whip around the planet at near-light speed and have been known to threaten astronauts, fry satellites and degrade space systems during intense solar storms.

'Eye of Sauron' provides new way of measuring distances to galaxies

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 13:27
Scientists have developed a new way of measuring precise distances to galaxies tens of millions of light years away, using the W. M. Keck Observatory near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The method is similar to what land surveyors use on Earth, by measuring the physical and angular, or ‘apparent’, size of a standard ruler in the galaxy, to calibrate the distance from this information.

Cognitive test battery developed to assess impact of long duration spaceflights on astronauts' brain function

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 12:39
A cognitive test battery, known as Cognition, has been developed for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) to measure the impact of typical spaceflight stressors (like microgravity, radiation, confinement and isolation, exposure to elevated levels of CO2, and sleep loss) on cognitive performance. This computer-based test has already been tested by astronauts on Earth. It will be performed for the first time in a pilot study on the International Space Station (ISS) on November 28.

A colorful gathering of middle-aged stars

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 07:50
The MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile has captured a richly colorful view of the bright star cluster NGC 3532. Some of the stars still shine with a hot bluish color, but many of the more massive ones have become red giants and glow with a rich orange hue.

Converting human-generated waste into fuel in space

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 15:46
Who would've known human waste could be used to propel spacecraft from the moon back to Earth? Researchers responded to the call from NASA and came up with a process to convert waste to methane and propel spacecraft to Earth.

How to estimate the magnetic field of an exoplanet

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 14:18
Scientists developed a new method which allows to estimate the magnetic field of a distant exoplanet, i.e., a planet, which is located outside the Solar system and orbits a different star. Moreover, they managed to estimate the value of the magnetic moment of the planet HD 209458b.

It's filamentary: How galaxies evolve in the cosmic web

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:34
How do galaxies like our Milky Way form, and just how do they evolve? Are galaxies affected by their surrounding environment? Astronomers now propose some answers. The researchers highlight the role of the 'cosmic web' -- a large-scale web-like structure comprised of galaxies -- on the evolution of galaxies that took place in the distant universe, a few billion years after the Big Bang.

Riddle of the missing stars: Hubble observations cast further doubt on how globular clusters formed

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:32
Thanks to the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, some of the most mysterious cosmic residents have just become even more puzzling. New observations of globular clusters in a small galaxy show they are very similar to those found in the Milky Way, and so must have formed in a similar way.

Unravelling the mystery of gamma-ray bursts with kilometer-scale microphones

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 08:19
A team of scientists hopes to trace the origins of gamma-ray bursts with the aid of giant space ‘microphones’. It's hoped the kilometer-scale microphones will detect gravitational waves created by black holes, and shed light on the origins of the Universe.

Sun's rotating 'magnet' pulls lightning towards UK

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 20:48
The sun may be playing a part in the generation of lightning strikes on Earth by temporarily 'bending' the Earth's magnetic field and allowing a shower of energetic particles to enter the upper atmosphere.

NASA's Swift mission probes an exotic object: 'Kicked' black hole or mega star?

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 17:50
Astronomers have discovered an unusual source of light in a galaxy some 90 million light-years away. The dwarf galaxy Markarian 177 (center) and its unusual source SDSS1133 (blue) lie 90 million light-years away. The galaxies are located in the bowl of the Big Dipper, a well-known star pattern in the constellation Ursa Major.

Rosetta continues into its full science phase

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 13:18
With the Philae lander's mission complete, Rosetta will now continue its own extraordinary exploration, orbiting Comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko during the coming year as the enigmatic body arcs ever closer to our Sun.

A jettisoned black hole? Or a giant star exploding over several decades?

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:25
Astronomers have discovered an object in space that might be a black hole catapulted out of a galaxy. Or, according to an alternative interpretation, it might be a giant star that is exploding over an exceptionally long period of several decades. In any case, one thing is certain: This mysterious object is something quite unique, a source of fascination for physicists the world over because of its potential to provide experimental confirmation of the much-discussed gravitational waves predicted by Albert Einstein.

Spooky alignment of quasars across billions of light-years

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 08:45
New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed alignments over the largest structures ever discovered in the Universe. 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. The team has also found that the rotation axes of these quasars tend to be aligned with the vast structures in the cosmic web in which they reside.

Geologic maps of Vesta asteroid from NASA's Dawn mission

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 14:45
Images from NASA's Dawn Mission have been used to create a series of high-resolution geological maps of the large asteroid Vesta, revealing the variety of surface features in unprecedented detail.

Physicists suggest new way to detect dark matter

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 10:56
For years physicists have been looking for the universe's elusive dark matter, but so far no one has seen any trace of it. Maybe we are looking in the wrong place? Now physicists propose a new technique to detect dark matter.

Hiding in plain sight: Elusive dark matter may be detected with GPS satellites

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 15:47
The everyday use of a GPS device might be to find your way around town or even navigate a hiking trail, but for two physicists, the Global Positioning System might be a tool in directly detecting and measuring dark matter, so far an elusive but ubiquitous form of matter responsible for the formation of galaxies.

Rosetta's OSIRIS camera spots Philae lander drifting across the comet

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 10:12
Incredible new images show the breathtaking journey of Rosetta's Philae lander as it approached and then rebounded from its first touchdown on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 12 November 2014.

Rosetta's comet lander: Pioneering Philae completes main mission before hibernation

Sat, 11/15/2014 - 07:49
Rosetta's lander has completed its primary science mission after nearly 57 hours on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Proposed 'wide view' Hubble Space Telescope

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 12:44
Scientists are working on a proposed NASA space telescope that will provide images as sharp as the Hubble Space Telescope, but over a hundred times larger area. The space observatory, called the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope-Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets (WFIRST-AFTA), is being studied for launch in the mid-2020s, pending program approval by NASA.