Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Early Opaque Universe Linked to Galaxy Scarcity

Computer simulation of a region of the universe wherein a low-density “void” (dark blue region at top center) is surrounded by denser structures containing numerous galaxies (orange/white). The research done by Becker and his team suggests that early in cosmic history, these void regions would have been the murkiest places in the universe even though they contained the least amount of dark matter and gas. Image credit: TNG Collaboration.

A team of astronomers led by George Becker at the University of California, Riverside, has made a surprising discovery: 12.5 billion years ago, the most opaque place in the universe contained relatively little matter.

Scientists Discover Organic Acid in a Protoplanetary Disk

Artist’s impression of the dust disk and a forming planet around TW Hydrae. Credit: NAOJ

International team of scientists from Russia (including a research associate of the Kourovka Astronomical Observatory of Ural Federal University Sergei Parfenov), Germany, Italy, USA and France discovered relatively high concentration of formic acid in the protoplanetary disk. This is the first organic molecule found in protoplanetary disks, containing two oxygen atoms.

Astronomers Discover Supermassive Black Hole in an Ultracompact Dwarf Galaxy

An optical image of the giant elliptical galaxy NGC 1399 and its satellite UCD3. Left panel: the image of UCD3 in F606W filter obtained by Hubble telescope. Right panel: an infrared image of UCD3 obtained using the SINFONI spectrograph. Credit: Courtesy of NASA/STScI/ESO/Afanasiev et al.

Fornax UCD3 is a part of a Fornax galaxy cluster and belongs to a very rare and unusual class of galaxies - ultracompact dwarfs. The mass of such dwarf galaxies reaches several dozen millions of solar masses and the radius, typically, does not exceed three hundred light years. This ratio between mass and size makes UCDs the densest stellar systems in the Universe.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Earth Mini-Moons: Potential for Exciting Scientific and Commercial Opportunities

The detection of "mini-moons" -- small asteroids temporarily captured in orbit around Earth -- will vastly improve our scientific understanding of asteroids and the Earth-Moon system, says a new review published in Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Science. These small and fast-moving visitors have so-far evaded detection by existing technology, with only one confirmed mini-moon discovery to date. The advent of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will verify their existence and track their paths around our planet, presenting exciting scientific and commercial opportunities.

Meteorite Bombardment Likely to Have Created the Earth's Oldest Rocks

Scientists have found that 4.02 billion year old silica-rich felsic rocks from the Acasta River, Canada - the oldest rock formation known on Earth - probably formed at high temperatures and at a surprisingly shallow depth of the planet's nascent crust. The high temperatures needed to melt the shallow crust were likely caused by a meteorite bombardment around half a billion years after the planet formed. This melted the iron-rich crust and formed the granites we see today. These results were presented for the first time at the Goldschmidt conference in Boston (August 14), following publication in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Geoscience.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Historic Space Weather Could Clarify What’s Next

Professor Sandra Chapman, credit University of Warwick

Historic space weather may help us understand what’s coming next, according to new research by the University of Warwick. Professor Sandra Chapman, from Warwick’s Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics, led a project which charted the space weather in previous solar cycles across the last half century, and discovered an underlying repeatable pattern in how space weather activity changes with the solar cycle.

In Neutron Stars, Protons May Do the Heavy Lifting

MIT researchers used archived data from the CLAS detector to study interactions in neutron-rich atoms.  Courtesy of the researchers

Neutron stars are the smallest, densest stars in the universe, born out of the gravitational collapse of extremely massive stars. True to their name, neutron stars are composed almost entirely of neutrons — neutral subatomic particles that have been compressed into a small, incredibly dense celestial package.