Tag: matter (page 21 of 63)

What happens when you point a telescope for black holes at the sun?

The first image of the sun captured by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), which is sensitive to high-energy X-ray light. X-rays seen by NuSTAR show up as green and blue in the photo, which is overlaid on an image taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Excerpt from

A NASA space telescope designed to peer at faraway black holes has snapped a stunning image of the sun, showing that its sensitive X-ray eyes can investigate mysteries in Earth's own neighborhood.
The new image, which was taken by NASA's NuSTAR spacecraft (short for Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array), is the best-ever view of the sun in high-energy X-ray light, space agency officials said. The photo, and others taken by NuSTAR in the future, should help researchers learn more about our star, they added.

"NuSTAR will give us a unique look at the sun, from the deepest to the highest parts of its atmosphere," NuSTAR team member David Smith, of the University of California, Santa Cruz, said in a statement. 

The new image, which was released Monday (Dec. 22), overlays NuSTAR observations (seen in blue and green) onto an image of the sun captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft.

NuSTAR solar observations might also reveal more about the nature of dark matter, the mysterious stuff thought to make up most of the material universe.

Dark matter apparently does not emit or absorb light — hence its name — and nobody knows for sure what it's made of. A number of exotic particles have been proposed as dark matter constituents, including weakly interacting massive particles, sterile neutrinos and axions.

If axions exist, NuSTAR may see signs of them — patches of X-rays in the center of the sun — NASA officials said.

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The Particle at the End of the Universe ~ Opening a door into the mind-boggling domain of dark matter

 It was the universe's most elusive particle, the linchpin for everything scientists dreamed up to explain how stuff works. It had to be found. But projects as big as CERN's Large Hadron Collider don't happen without dealing and conniving, incr...

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Richard Branson shelves submarine plan to take tourists to bottom of oceans


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It is one of the world’s last frontiers and has seen fewer human visitors than the moon. And that – for the time being at least – is how it shall stay.

Sir Richard Branson has shelved plans for a submarine to take tourists to the bottom of Pacific’s Mariana Trench, after technical problems hobbled the grand ambitions of his much-trumpeted Virgin Oceanic project.

The news is a second blow to Branson’s adventurer dreams in a matter of months, after a Virgin Galactic space rocket crashed on a test flight in California’s Mojave Desert, killing a pilot.
Virgin Oceanic’s DeepFlight Challenger was launched in 2011 with the entrepreneur’s familiar fanfare. Under the plans, wealthy passengers or “aquanauts” up would pay up to $500,000 (£318,126) for a five-dive package labelled as “the last great challenge for humans”.  

As well as exploring the Mariana Trench – a  36,000ft-deep abyss is deeper than Mount Everest is tall, with access so risky and complicated that it has had just three human visitors since its formation nine million years ago – the submarine was due to dive the Puerto Rico trench 28,000ft below the surface of  the Atlantic, the Molloy Deep in the Arctic, South Sandwich Trench in the Southern Ocean and Diamantina trench in the Indian Ocean.
But yesterday the Sunday Telegraph reported that Deepflight, the company contracted to build the submarine, could not support the project because their vehicle could only be safely used for one dive.
The underwater mission appears to have stalled indefinitely. The Virgin Oceanic website – which had promised “five dives, five oceans, two years, one epic adventure” – no longer exists, reportedly taken down earlier this year.

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Is This What Really Killed the Dinosaurs?

Portrait of a killer: volcanoes were no friend to the dinos

Excerpt from time.com 

It wasn't just an asteroid

At the start of the 1980s, the question of what forced dinosaurs and huge numbers of other creatures to become extinct 65 million years ago was still a mystery. By the decade’s end, that mystery was solved: a comet or asteroid had slammed into Earth, throwing so much sun-blocking dust into the air that the planet plunged into a deep-freeze. The discovery of a massive impact crater off the coast of Mexico, of just the right age, pretty much sealed the deal in most scientists’ minds.

But a second global-scale catastrophe was happening at much the same time: a series of ongoing volcanic eruptions that dwarf anything humans have ever seen. They were so unimaginably powerful that they left nearly 200,000 square miles (518,000 sq. km) of what’s now India buried in volcanic basalt up to a mile and a half thick. And the gases and particulate matter spewed out by those eruptions, argue at least some scientists, could have played a big role in the dinosaurs’ doom as well.
How big a role, however, depends on exactly when the eruptions began and how long they lasted, and a new report in Science goes a long way toward answering that question. “We can now say with confidence,” says Blair Schoene, a Princeton geologist and lead author of the paper, “that the eruptions started 250,000 years before the extinction event, and lasted for a total of 750,000 years.” And that, he says, strengthens the idea that the eruptions could have contributed to the mass extinction of multiple species.

Schoene and his co-authors don’t claim volcanoes alone wiped out the dinosaurs; only that they changed the climate enough to put ecosystems under stress, setting them up for the final blow. “We don’t know the exact mechanism,” he admits. Volcanoes emit carbon dioxide, which could have triggered an intense burst of global warming, but they also emit sulfur dioxide, which could have caused global cooling. “What we do know,” Schoene says, “is that earlier mass extinctions were caused by volcanic eruptions alone.” The new dates, he and his co-authors believe, will help scientists understand what role these volcanoes played in the dinosaurs’ demise.

If there was such a role, that is, and despite this new analysis, plenty of paleontologists still doubt it seriously. The dating of the eruptions, based on widely accepted uranium-lead measurement techniques, is not an issue, says Brian Huber, of the Smithsonian Institution. “That part of the science is great,” he says. “It moves things forward.”

And those data, Huber says, make it clear that the extinction rate for the 250,000 years leading up to the asteroid impact wasn’t especially large. Then, at the time of the impact: whammo. The idea that volcanoes played a significant role in this extinction event keeps coming up every so often, and in Huber’s view, “the argument has gotten very tiresome. I no longer feel the need to put any energy into it. It’s from a minority arguing against overwhelming evidence.”

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Did European scientists find dark-matter signal buried in X-rays?

Dark matter findings XMM-Newton
This illustration shows the ESA's XMM-Newton space telescope. Using X-ray data collected by the telescope, scientists say they may have identified a dark-matter signal. (D. Ducros / European Space Agency)

Excerpt from latimes.com

Scientists say they may have discovered a possible dark matter signal coded in the X-rays emanating from two bright objects in the sky. 

The findings, set to be published next week in Physical Review Letters, could offer tangible evidence for the existence of dark matter -- and help researchers build new tools to search for and study this mysterious stuff.

When it comes to matter in the universe, dark matter is like a backroom political power broker: You never see it, but behind the scenes, it’s been throwing its weight around. The effects of its gravitational influence can be seen in the large-scale structures of the cosmos. Dark matter makes up about 84.5% of the matter in the universe while all the stuff we actually see -- stars, galaxies, planets, ourselves -- makes up the remaining 15.5%.* The enormous galaxies and clusters of galaxies that populate the universe are bantamweights compared to the massive, unseen dark matter ‘halos’ that anchor them.
Dark matter’s formidable gravitational influence is the only way that the strange stuff can be detected, because it’s invisible -- it does not interact with light. Physicists have no idea what it’s made of, although they’ve looked for it by building detectors in underground former gold mines, sending satellites into space and other methods. 

But now, a team led by researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland say they’ve discovered a signal that could be a sign of dark matter. 

The scientists looked at X-ray emissions coming from the Andromeda galaxy and the Perseus galaxy cluster, collected by the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton space telescope. After accounting for all the light particles (called photons) emanating from known sources in the Andromeda galaxy, they were left with a strange set of photons that had no known source. The found the same light signature emanating from the Perseus cluster. And when they turned their attention to the Milky Way, they found signs of this signal in our home galaxy, as well.
“It is consistent with the behavior of a line originating from the decay of dark matter particles,” the authors wrote in a pre-print of the study.

This weird light signal, they think, could be coming from the destruction of a hypothetical particle called a sterile neutrino (which, if it exists, might help explain dark matter). But it's going to take a lot of follow-up study to determine whether this signal is a scientific breakthrough or an anomalous blip.

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A Holy Solution The Time, The Place And The Fact Of The Matter

A Holy Solution The Time, The Place And The Fact Of The Matterwww.themasterteacher.tv

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Ripples in Space-Time Could Reveal ‘Strange Stars’

Two Neutron Stars Collide
Scene from a NASA animation showing two neutron stars colliding.

Excerpt from

By looking for ripples in the fabric of space-time, scientists could soon detect "strange stars" — objects made of stuff radically different from the particles that make up ordinary matter, researchers say.

The protons and neutrons that make up the nuclei of atoms are made of more basic particles known as quarks. There are six types, or "flavors," of quarks: up, down, top, bottom, charm and strange. Each proton or neutron is made of three quarks: Each proton is composed of two up quarks and one down quark, and each neutron is made of two down quarks and one up quark.

In theory, matter can be made with other flavors of quarks as well. Since the 1970s, scientists have suggested that particles of "strange matter" known as strangelets — made of equal numbers of up, down and strange quarks — could exist. In principle, strange matter should be heavier and more stable than normal matter, and might even be capable of converting ordinary matter it comes in contact with into strange matter. However, lab experiments have not yet created any strange matter, so its existence remains uncertain. 

One place strange matter could naturally be created is inside neutron stars, the remnants of stars that died in catastrophic explosions known as supernovas. Neutron stars are typically small, with diameters of about 12 miles (19 kilometers) or so, but are so dense that they weigh as much as the sun. A chunk of a neutron star the size of a sugar cube can weigh as much as 100 million tons.

Under the extraordinary force of this extreme weight, some of the up and down quarks that make up neutron stars could get converted into strange quarks, leading to strange stars made of strange matter, researchers say.

A strange star that occasionally spurts out strange matter could quickly convert a neutron star orbiting it in a binary system into a strange star as well. Prior research suggests that a neutron star that receives a seed of strange matter from a companion strange star could transition to a strange star in just 1 millisecond to 1 second.
Now, researchers suggest they could detect strange stars by looking for the stars' gravitational waves — invisible ripples in space-time first proposed by Albert Einstein as part of his theory of general relativity.

Gravitational waves are emitted by accelerating masses. Really big gravitational waves are emitted by really big masses, such as pairs of neutron stars merging with one another.

Pairs of strange stars should give off gravitational waves that are different from those emitted by pairs of "normal" neutron stars because strange stars should be more compact, researchers said. For instance, a neutron star with a mass one-fifth that of the sun should be more than 18 miles (30 km) in diameter, whereas a strange star of the same mass should be a maximum of 6 miles (10 km) wide.
The researchers suggest that events involving strange stars could explain two short gamma-ray bursts — giant explosions lasting less than 2 seconds — seen in deep space in 2005 and 2007. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) did not detect gravitational waves from either of these events, dubbed GRB 051103 and GRB 070201.

Neutron star mergers are the leading explanations for short gamma-ray bursts, but LIGO should, in principle, have detected gravitational waves from such mergers. However, if strange stars were involved in both of these events, LIGO would not have been able to detect any gravitational waves they emitted, researchers said. (The more compact a star is within a binary system of two stars, the higher the frequency of the gravitational waves it gives off.)

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Japanese probe’s study of asteroid matter could help explain Earth’s evolution

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The Hayabusa 2, a robotic Japanese spacecraft is due to launch on Monday in Japan from the Tanegashima Space Center. The take-off was originally set for Saturday, but because of unfavorable elements it was not able to launch. Fortunately, on Monday, the launch of Hayabusa 2 will continue and in mid-2018 it will reach its destination, Asteroid 1999 JU3.

Asteroid 1999 JU3 is 3,000 foot in circumference and circles the sun on an orbit that crosses through Earth’s. In past research, the belief that organic matter existed on JU3 was brought up by NASA, the U.S. Air Force and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Carbon, amino acids and water-rich minerals were all believed to be located on the asteroid, which might help to provide fundamental evidence on evolution and where oceans were first created on Earth.

Due to the substantial evidence brought back in the original Hayabusa mission, JAXA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency have partnered with planetary scientist Paul Abell from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. They are to carry out the Hayabusa 2 mission on Monday in hopes that the H-2A rocket will bring back evidence of organic material on Asteroid 1999 JU3.

With the right samples and evidence, they may be able to prove the correlation between asteroids, how the solar system formed, and how life started on Earth. This could greatly impact the theories of evolution and the solar system. The Hayabusa 2 mission for organic matter on the JU3 is important for furthering scientific study.

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