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Telescope

Space

Smart dust could put telescopes in a spray can

Good things come in small packages – and sometimes in aerosol cans. To prove this, researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California are working on technology for a future generation of space telescopes that may one day see the giant instruments replaced by swarms of particles that are deployed from a can and herded into place by laser beams.Read More

Space

VLT telescope reveals mysterious alignment of quasars with the Universe’s large-scale structure

Astronomers using the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have discovered an unexpected alignment of the spinning axes of supermassive black holes located billions of light-years apart. As if that discovery wasn’t fascinating enough in itself, the team then delved a little deeper, finding that the quasars aren’t just linked to each other, but are also aligned with the large-scale structure of the Universe itself. Read More

Space

Gaia space observatory could discover 70,000 new Jupiters

After a 20-year search, astronomers have uncovered a grand total of 1,900 planets residing outside of the Solar System. According to a new Princeton study, the Gaia space observatory launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) could help that figure grow by a factor of ten by the end of the decade, eventually reaching 70,000 planets after 10 years of scouting.Read More

Military

RAZAR riflescope brings push-button zoom to the battlefied

In combat, seconds count and a moment’s hesitation or distraction can mean the difference between life and death. So it's no small problem that modern riflescopes often require soldiers to look away from their targets or take their hands off their rifles in order to change magnification. Sandia National Laboratories’ Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles (RAZAR) riflescope is capable of switching between high and low zoom magnifications at the touch of a button, allowing soldiers to concentrate on the battle rather than their scopes.Read More

Space

Astronomers use astro-comb to seek Earth-like exoplanets

Astronomers looking for exoplanets are using a fine-toothed comb – a fine-toothed astro-comb, to be precise. And just to make sure it works, the first planet they’ll be looking for is Venus. Developed by astronomers Chih-Hao Li and David Phillips of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the astro-comb uses a new spectroscopic device installed in the Italian Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands that will detect the beclouded planet by its gravitational effect on the Sun as a test of a potentially valuable tool in the hunt for Earth-like planets beyond our Solar System.Read More

Space

Discovery of new molecule suggests origins of life may reside in interstellar space

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) group of radio telescopes have discovered a carbon-based molecule with a branched structure – a common feature in molecules that are required for life to form. Contained within a giant gas cloud in the star-forming region of Sagittarius B2, the molecule of isopropyl cyanide is the first hint that other complex molecules may form in space before finding their way to the surface of planets. Read More

Space

Dwarf galaxy suggests black holes may be more common than previously thought

Astronomers from the University of Utah, using the Gemini North telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea and images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, have discovered a dwarf galaxy that is the smallest ever recorded with a supermassive black hole at its center. The galaxy, M60-UCD1, has been found to contain a black hole with a mass equivalent to 21 million times that of our own sun and whose presence may suggest that such enormous black holes could be more common than previously thought.Read More

Space

ESA's bug-eyed "fly-eye" telescope to watch for Earth-threatening asteroids

One aggravating property of the housefly is that swatting one is harder than it looks. That’s because flies have eyes designed for avoiding such a day-ruining event by detecting motion over a wide field of vision. Since asteroids have the potential to do to Earth what rolled newspapers do to flies, ESA is developing a telescope based on a fly’s eye as a new asteroid-hunting tool that could be the basis for a new asteroid defense network. Read More

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