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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

Space

Galactic supercluster identified as home to our Milky Way

A new study has revealed that our Milky Way is a member of a group of local galaxies interconnected within a larger supercluster made up of a myriad of other galaxies, all interlinked within a tenuous web of filaments many millions of light years long. Dubbed "Laniakea" (Hawaiian for "immense sky") by astronomers working at the National Science Foundation’s (NSF's) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and others around the world, this research defines hitherto unknown boundaries and connections in our corner of the universe.Read More

Space

Cosmic "magnifying glass" used to identify distant colliding galaxies

An international team of astronomers has used a range of telescopes including the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe a pair of galaxies colliding at a time when the universe was just half its current age. The project made use of a gravitational magnifying glass created by the gravity of a galaxy between Earth and the subject, and required observations in both visible and infrared light.Read More

Space

NASA selects concept technologies for phase 2 NIAC funding

NASA has chosen five studies to advance to phase 2 of its Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program. The successful projects were chosen via a system of peer review, and represent the most promising technological concepts with the greatest potential to revolutionize the agency's approach to the building and operating of aerospace systems. Read More

Space

Titanic eruptions on Io could lead to better understanding of Earth's surface formation

A series of three massive volcanic eruptions detected on the surface of Jupiter's moon Io in August last year, has the potential to yield insights into the formation process of the surface of Earth-like planets. By any standards, these eruptions were enormous, characterized as titanic curtains of lava issuing forth from fissures several miles in length, that spewed massive amounts of material high above the moon's surface.Read More

Science

Detecting industrial pollution could be an effective approach to finding ET

According to researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), we might soon be able to detect hints of technologically advanced alien civilizations by measuring high levels of polluting gases in the atmospheres of distant exoplanets. The approach should become viable soon after the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is launched in late 2018.Read More

Space

New light shed on how stardust forms around the remnants of a supernova

Using an instrument mounted on the European Southern Observatory's (ESO's) Very Large Telescope (VLT), scientists have been able to shed light on some of the mysteries surrounding stardust by observing the event and aftermath of a supernova. The observation was undertaken in an attempt to answer a number of questions regarding stardust, chief of which being where and how the grains are formed and grow. Another oddity that the team hoped to resolve was just how these tiny, fragile particles manage to survive the inhospitable environment that prevails following a supernova.Read More

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