Heavens

Life 'not as we know it' possible on Saturn's moon Titan?

Life 'not as we know it' possible on Saturn's moon Titan?

Azotosome. Credit: Cornell University

A new type of methane-based, oxygen-free life form that can metabolize and reproduce similar to life on Earth has been modeled by a team of Cornell University researchers.

Massive clouds erupted into the Martian atmosphere and no one knows why

Massive clouds erupted into the Martian atmosphere and no one knows why

Enormous cloud-like plumes reaching 260km above the surface of Mars have left scientists baffled. This is way beyond Mars’s normal weather, reaching into the exosphere where the atmosphere merges with interplanetary space. None of the conventional explanations for such clouds make sense – neither water or carbon dioxide ice nor dust storms nor auroral light emissions usually hit such heights.

NASA measures frigid cloud top temps of the Arctic air outbreak

NASA measures frigid cloud top temps of the Arctic air outbreak

Some of the coldest air of the 2014-2015 winter season was settling over the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. on February 13, 2015. That Arctic air mass brought wind chills from below zero to the single numbers from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic. Despite the cold on the surface, infrared NASA satellite imagery revealed even colder temperatures in cloud tops associated with the air mass.

Mismatched twin stars spotted in the delivery room

Mismatched twin stars spotted in the delivery room

The majority of stars in our galaxy come in pairs. In particular, the most massive stars usually have a companion. These fraternal twins tend to be somewhat equal partners when it comes to mass - but not always. In a quest to find mismatched star pairs known as extreme mass-ratio binaries, astronomers have discovered a new class of binary stars. One star is fully formed while the other is still in its infancy.

New details in M51a, the first known spiral galaxy

New details in M51a, the first known spiral galaxy

Astronomers have peered deep into space to discover new features of a galaxy that's been sketched and photographed for 170 years - M51a, also called the "Whirlpool Galaxy."

The researchers were able to see faint plumes extending from the northeast and south of M51a, by taking what is essentially a photograph made by a 20-hour exposure. The image also provides new details of the linear northwest plume, which itself is nearly 120,000 light-years long, and reveals a lack of stars in a portion of the southeast tail.

NGC 7714 shows tell-tale signs of a galactic merger

NGC 7714 shows tell-tale signs of a galactic merger

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured this striking view of spiral galaxy NGC 7714. This galaxy has drifted too close to another nearby galaxy and the dramatic interaction has twisted its spiral arms out of shape, dragged streams of material out into space, and triggered bright bursts of star formation.

NGC 7714 is a spiral galaxy at 100 million light-years from Earth -- a relatively close neighbor in cosmic terms.

Swarm of probes to head for Jupiter

A swarm of tiny probes each with a different sensor could be fired into the clouds of Jupiter and grab data as they fall before burning up in the gas giant planet's atmosphere. The probes would last an estimated 15 minutes according to planetary scientists writing in the International Journal Space Science and Engineering. Transmitting 20 megabits of data over fifteen minutes would be sufficient to allows scientists to get a picture of a large part of the atmosphere of the planet.

VISTA: Shining some science on a dark galaxy

A cluster of young, pulsating stars discovered in the far side of the Milky Way may mark the location of a previously unseen dark-matter dominated dwarf galaxy hidden behind clouds of dust.

How spaceflight ages the immune system prematurely

As the world waits to see if Mars One can establish a human colony on Mars, scientists are working to determine the long-term consequences of living in low or no-gravity conditions, such as those that might exist on the trip to another planet. New research published online in The FASEB Journal, shows that spaceflight may be associated with a process of accelerated aging of the immune system. Specifically, researchers found that mice in low gravity conditions experience changes in B lymphocyte production in their bone marrow similar to those observed in elderly mice living in Earth conditions.

Hypothetical particle could help detect theoretical dark matter

Researchers at the University of Southampton have proposed a new fundamental particle which could explain why no one has managed to detect 'Dark Matter', the elusive missing 85 percent of the Universe's mass.

Dark Matter is thought to exist because of its gravitational effects on stars and galaxies, gravitational lensing (the bending of light rays) around these, and through its imprint on the Cosmic Microwave Background - the afterglow of the Big Bang.