Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Spin Doctors: Astrophysicists Find When Galaxies Rotate, Size Matters

This is a simulation showing a section of the Universe at its broadest scale. A web of cosmic filaments forms a lattice of matter, enclosing vast voids. Credit: Tiamat simulation, Greg Poole

The direction in which a galaxy spins depends on its mass, researchers have found. A team of astrophysicists analysed 1418 galaxies and found that small ones are likely to spin on a different axis to large ones. The rotation was measured in relation to each galaxy's closest "cosmic filament" - the largest structures in the universe.

Two Cosmic Peacocks show Violent History of the Magellanic Clouds

ALMA images of two molecular clouds: N159E-Papillon Nebula (left) and N159W South (right). Red and green show the distributions of molecular gas with different velocities mapped by 13CO emissions. The blue region in N159E-Papillon Nebula shows the ionized hydrogen gas observed with the Hubble Space Telescope. The blue part in N159W South shows the emissions from dust particles obtained with ALMA. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/Fukui et al./Tokuda et al./NASA-ESA Hubble Space Telescope

Two peacock-shaped gaseous clouds were revealed in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) by observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). A team of astronomers found several massive baby stars in the complex filamentary clouds, which agrees well with computer simulations of giant collisions of gaseous clouds. The researchers interpret this to mean that the filaments and young stars are telltale evidence of violent interactions between the LMC and the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) 200 million years ago.

New Laser Opens Up Large, Underused Region of the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Picture of the experimental setup showing the different components of the system. Credits: Arman Amirzhan, Harvard SEAS

The terahertz frequency range - which sits in the middle of the electromagnetic spectrum between microwaves and infrared light -- offers the potential for high-bandwidth communications, ultrahigh-resolution imaging, precise long-range sensing for radio astronomy, and much more.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

‘Are We Alone?’ Study Refines Which Exoplanets Are Potentially Habitable

An artist’s conception shows a hypothetical planet with two moons orbiting within the habitable zone of a red dwarf star. Credit: NASA/Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/D. Aguilar

In order to search for life in outer space, astronomers first need to know where to look. A new Northwestern University study will help astronomers narrow down the search. The research team is the first to combine 3D climate modeling with atmospheric chemistry to explore the habitability of planets around M dwarf stars, which comprise about 70% of the total galactic population. Using this tool, the researchers have redefined the conditions that make a planet habitable by taking the star's radiation and the planet's rotation rate into account.

The Ways Astronauts Prep for Spaceflight Could Benefit Cancer Patients, Say Researchers

This picture shows Memorial Sloan Kettering Exercise Physiologist Dan Townend conducts a cardiopulmonary exercise test to assess cardiorespiratory fitness on Catherine Lee. Credit: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

During spaceflight, astronauts experience similar physical stress as cancer patients undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. In a commentary published November 14 in the journal Cell, researchers suggest that by mimicking a NASA astronaut's schedule of exercising before, during, and after a mission, cancer patients could reduce the long-term impact their treatments often have on their bodies.

Mysteries Behind Interstellar Buckyballs Finally Answered

An artist's conception showing spherical carbon molecules known as buckyballs coming out from a planetary nebula — material shed by a dying star. Researchers at the University of Arizona have now created these molecules under laboratory conditions thought to mimic those in their "natural" habitat in space. (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Scientists have long been puzzled by the existence of so-called "buckyballs" - complex carbon molecules with a soccer-ball-like structure - throughout interstellar space. Now, a team of researchers from the University of Arizona has proposed a mechanism for their formation in a study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Monday, November 18, 2019

New Study Sheds Light on Location of Black Hole Mergers

In this artist’s conception of a supermassive black hole at the heart of a galaxy, dust and gas form a swirling disk as they fall onto the hole, attracted by its gravity. A new study suggests researchers may be able to see light from the effect black hole mergers have on the gas in the disk. Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

Gravitational wave detectors are finding black hole mergers in the universe at the rate of one per week. If these mergers occur in empty space, researchers cannot see associated light that is needed to determine where they happened. However, a new study in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History and the City University of New York (CUNY), suggests that researchers might finally be able to see light from black hole mergers if the collisions happen in the presence of gas.

Astrophysicist Discovers Numerous Multiple Star Systems with Exoplanets

The nearest exoplanet Proxima Centauri b is situated in a multiple star system. This is what the system might look like when seen from the planet's surface (artist's impression). Photo: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Is Earth the only habitable planet in the universe or are there more worlds somewhere out there that are capable of supporting life? And if there are, what might they look like? In a bid to answer these fundamental questions, scientists are searching space for exoplanets: distant worlds that orbit other stars outside our solar system.