WASHINGTON (AP) — Space is vast, but it may not be so lonely after all: A study finds the Milky Way is teeming with billions of planets that are about the size of Earth, orbit stars just like our sun, and exist in the Goldilocks zone — not too hot and not too cold for life.
Astronomers using NASA data have calculated for the first time that in our galaxy alone, there are at least 8.8 billion stars with Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone.
The study was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
If you’re confused about the sun’s impending magnetic field flip, don’t feel bad — scientists don’t fully understand it, either.
The sun’s magnetic field will reverse its polarity three or four months from now, researchers say, just as it does every 11 years at the peak of the solar activity cycle. While solar physicists know enough about this strange phenomenon to predict when it will occur, its ultimate causes remain mysterious.
Something big is about to happen on the sun. According to measurements from NASA-supported observatories, the sun’s vast magnetic field is about to flip.”It looks like we’re no more than 3 to 4 months away from a complete field reversal,” says solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University. “This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system.”
The sun’s magnetic field changes polarity approximately every 11 years. It happens at the peak of each solar cycle as the sun’s inner magnetic dynamo re-organizes itself. The coming reversal will mark the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24. Half of ‘Solar Max’ will be behind us, with half yet to come.
Not content with simply being the man-made object to travel farthest from Earth, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft recently entered a bizarre new region at the solar system’s edge that has physicists baffled. Their theories don’t predict anything like it.
Launched 36 years ago, Voyager 1 and its twin Voyager 2 made an unprecedented tour of the outer planets, returning spectacular data from their journey. The first Voyager sped out of the solar system in 1980 and it has since been edging closer and closer to interstellar space. The probe is currently out more than 120 times the distance between the Earth and the sun.
Scientists initially thought that Voyager’s transition into this new realm, where effects from the rest of the galaxy become more pronounced, would be gradual and unexciting. But it’s proven to be far more complicated than anything researchers had imagined, with the spacecraft now encountering a strange region that scientists are struggling to make sense of.
“The models that have been thought to predict what should happen are all incorrect,”said physicist Stamatios Krimigis of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who is lead author of one of three new papers on Voyager appearing in Science on June 27. “We essentially have absolutely no reliable roadmap of what to expect at this point.”
HUNTSVILLE, Ala (WAAY)- When William Lucas was 13 years-old he did made a huge discovery before NASA, the US Air Force, or any other scientist around the world; he discovered a massive Gamma Ray burst.
William, a student at Whitesburg Middle, has long had a love for Science.
“It’s fun, it’s interesting, it’s something new, you get to explore new things that haven’t been discovered before,” said William while talking about his love for all things scientific. So when his 13th birthday rolled around in 2011 he had a big decision to make.
“My parents told me for my 13th birthday to either have a dirt bike or a Geiger counter and I chose a Geiger counter for good reasons,” he said while explaining the dirt bikes are a bit too dangerous and with a Geiger counter he could learn more.
A comet falling in from the distant reaches of the solar system could become a naked-eye object in early March. This is Comet Pan-STARRS’s first visit to the inner solar system, so surprises are possible as its virgin ices are exposed to intense solar heating.
A massive cosmic explosion in deep space sent out a pulse of high-energy radiation that hit the Earth in AD 774 and 775 when Charlemagne ruled much of Western Europe, scientists have found.
“Over the past 3,000 years this was the most energetic event to have hit the Earth,” said Professor Ralph Neuhauser of the University of Jena in Germany. Last year, scientists discovered rings in Japanese cedar trees that had much higher levels of radioactive carbon 14 than normal for the period. Professor Neuhauser believes the radiation came from a collision either between two black holes or two stars between 3,000 and 12,000 light years away.
Astronomers have discovered a Methuselah of stars — a denizen of the Solar System’s neighbourhood that is at least 13.2 billion years old and formed shortly after the Big Bang.“We believe this star is the oldest known in the Universe with a well determined age,” says Howard Bond, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, who announced the finding on 10 January at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Long Beach, California1.
The venerable star, dubbed HD 140283, lies at a comparatively short distance of 190 light years from the Solar System and has been studied by astronomers for more than a century. Researchers have long known that the object consists almost entirely of hydrogen and helium — a hallmark of having formed early in the history of the Universe, before successive generations of stars had a chance to forge heavier elements. But no one knew exactly how old it was. Continue reading »
A team of amateur astronomers has made a fascinating discovery, uncovering evidence of 42 alien planets, one of which is roughly the size of Jupiter and could potentially be habitable by humans.The 40 volunteers who staff the crowdsourcing project Planet Hunters made their discovery by sorting through data provided by NASA, Space.com reported.
Among the 42 planets discovered by the group, 15 have the potential to support human life. One in particular, named PH2 b, is roughly the size of Jupiter and has been confirmed to exist in its star’s habitable zone.
Astronomers have discovered the largest known structure in the universe, a clump of active galactic cores that stretches 4 billion light-years from end to end.
The structure is a large quasar group (LQG), a collection of extremely luminous galactic nuclei powered by supermassive central black holes. This particular group is so large that it challenges modern cosmological theory, researchers said.
“While it is difficult to fathom the scale of this LQG, we can say quite definitely it is the largest structure ever seen in the entire universe,” lead author Roger Clowes, of the University of Central Lancashire in England, said in a statement. “This is hugely exciting, not least because it runs counter to our current understanding of the scale of the universe.” Continue reading »
All eyes are set at the skies as a big hazardous asteroid is nearing Earth. According to scientists there is an actual possibility that the 300-meter-wide Apophis will eventually strike our planet, but the catastrophe is not imminent.
On Wednesday the dangerous space traveler is passing Earth at 14 million km – the distance which raises no concerns. Apophis near approach, which may have been observed around 00:00 GMT, was traced by Slooh Space Camera.
The asteroid is planning a series of come backs of which the one in 2036 is said to be most threatening.
Named after the Ancient Egyptian evil demon, Apophis was discovered in 2004. The initial estimations indicated the probability that in 2029 the asteroid would strike Earth. However, additional calculations lessened this possibility and postponed it till 2036.
One of the most exciting fields in astronomy—really, in all of science—is the search for alien worlds. The first planet around another star was found in 1992 (though the star was the remnant of a supernova, so not terribly Sun-like), and the first planet around a Sun-like star just three years later. Fast forward two decades, and we now know of hundreds of such planets, and have thousands more detected that have to be confirmed (the data look good, but we still call them candidates until confirmation).
In fact, there are enough that the field of exoplanets is in the next step of the scientific process past discovery: categorization. We have enough known planets orbiting other stars that we can start to plop different labels on them: massive, big, small, orbiting hot stars, orbiting cool ones, having tight orbits or wide-sweeping ones. And once you can do that some very, very interesting things start to fall in place.
For example, you can use some statistics to extrapolate how many planets there must be in our galaxy. A new study has done just that, and the number they get is stunning: they calculate there may be a hundred billion planets in the Milky Way, with 17 billion of them the size of Earth!
“The asteroid, known as DA14, will pass by our planet in February 2013 at a distance of under 27,000 km (16,700 miles). This is closer than the geosynchronous orbit of some satellites.
There is a possibility the asteroid will collide with Earth, but further calculation is required to estimate the potential threat and work out how to avert possible disaster, NASA expert Dr. David Dunham told students at Moscow’s University of Electronics and Mathematics (MIEM).”(Source: CIA – EU)
— Editor: The story below is based on NASA data available to the public, news stories released early last year but later suppressed and private reports from sources within NASA and the intelligence community. NASA indicated that the asteroid in question was “not on their radar” as it had been the result of an “unwanted visitor” in our solar system, the result of the collision of a rogue planet entering the asteroid belt OR a piece of said “rogue planet.”
The article below was submitted at my request by the European Counter Intelligence Agency in response to an interrogatory involving a “leak” received by Veterans Today. Sources within NASA had informed us that two “vehicles” had been launched on a mission. We were given no other information than this. We have NO confirmation that this mission is, in any way, related to the video below or the CIA – EU report published below.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — An Atlas 5 rocket sent the Air Force’s X-37B mini-shuttle on its first repeat flight on Tuesday, kicking off a months-long classified mission reportedly aimed at testing advanced spy satellite sensors.
Despite earlier concerns about the weather at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the launch went off on time, just after 1 p.m. ET.
One-fourth the size of the real space shuttle, the X-37B has captured the imaginations of everyone from amateur satellite trackers to potential military rivals. The X-37B can orbit Earth for months, then re-enter the atmosphere and land autonomously. Continue reading »
You would probably not enjoy the galaxy NGC 1277. Never mind that it’s far – 220 million light-years away in the constellation Perseus. The problem is that at its center is a giant, giant black hole, 17 billion times as massive as our sun, so big that scientists calculate it makes up 59 percent of the mass of the galaxy’s disc.
Astrophysicists have long believed that there’s a black hole at the center of our Milky Way, but it probably accounts for something like 0.1 percent of the galaxy’s center. The one in NGC 1277, scientists report in today’s edition of the journal Nature, is the second largest they’ve ever observed, and it upends what they thought about how galaxies form.
Black holes, as you’ll recall, are objects in space so massive that their gravity consumes everything around them – stars, planets, matter, energy, even light. Earthly scientists can only observe their effect on the space around them, not see them directly. Be grateful we’re not close to one. They’re actually useful to astrophysicists in explaining the nice spiral shape of many galaxies – you need something massive in the middle for the stars to circle – but NGC 1277 is an extreme. Continue reading »
New observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft provide compelling support for the long-held hypothesis that Mercury harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials in its permanently shadowed polar craters.
Three independent lines of evidence support this conclusion: the first measurements of excess hydrogen at Mercury’s north pole with MESSENGER’s Neutron Spectrometer, the first measurements of the reflectance of Mercury’s polar deposits at near-infrared wavelengths with the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), and the first detailed models of the surface and near-surface temperatures of Mercury’s north polar regions that utilize the actual topography of Mercury’s surface measured by the MLA. These findings are presented in three papers published online today in Science Express.
Given its proximity to the Sun, Mercury would seem to be an unlikely place to find ice. But the tilt of Mercury’s rotational axis is almost zero — less than one degree — so there are pockets at the planet’s poles that never see sunlight. Scientists suggested decades ago that there might be water ice and other frozen volatiles trapped at Mercury’s poles.
For over 20 years, the Hubble Space Telescope has explored our universe 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, supplying heavenly images of the universe. Here’s the best of the bunch.
Image 12 of 47
April 6: Hubble has discovered a planet-like object circling a brown dwarf, seen in this artist’s conception. It’s the right size for a planet, estimated to be 5-10 times the mass of Jupiter. This new observation addresses the question: How small can an object be and still be a brown dwarf rather than a planet? This new companion is within the range of masses observed for planets around stars — less than 15 Jupiter masses. But should it be called a planet?
Prof Cox, who hosts the show with comedian Dara O’Briain, said he had hoped to point the Jodrell Bank telescope at the planet Threapleton Holmes B after it was discovered live on air last year and listen for signs of life.
But he claimed he was prevented from doing so because the Corporation was concerned that a discovery of aliens could violate BBC regulations.