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EurekAlert! - Space and Planetary Science



The premier online source for science news since 1996. A service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.



Last Build Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2018 10:45:01 EST

Copyright: Copyright 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); All rights reserved.
 



Johns Hopkins scientist proposes new limit on the definition of a planet

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(Johns Hopkins University) A planet can be no bigger than about 10 times the size of Jupiter, an astrophysicist has calculated.



Astronomers produce first detailed images of surface of giant star

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(Georgia State University) An international team of astronomers has produced the first detailed images of the surface of a giant star outside our solar system, revealing a nearly circular, dust-free atmosphere with complex areas of moving material, known as convection cells or granules, according to a recent study.



Discrepancies between satellite and global model estimates of land water storage

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(University of Texas at Austin) Research led by The University of Texas at Austin has found that calculations of water storage in many river basins from commonly used global computer models differ markedly from independent storage estimates from GRACE satellites.



New for three types of extreme-energy space particles: Theory shows unified origin

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(Penn State) One of the biggest mysteries in astroparticle physics has been the origins of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays, very high-energy neutrinos, and high-energy gamma rays. Now, a new theoretical model reveals that they all could be shot out into space after cosmic rays are accelerated by powerful jets from supermassive black holes. The model may set a new milestone on the path toward solving the half-century-old enigma of the origin of the highest-energy particles in the universe.



A 'hot Jupiter' with unusual winds

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(McGill University) The hottest point on a gaseous planet near a distant star isn't where astrophysicists expected it to be -- a discovery that challenges scientists' understanding of the many planets of this type found in solar systems outside our own.



Study shows first evidence of winds outside black holes throughout their mealtimes

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(University of Alberta) New research shows the first evidence of strong winds around black holes throughout bright outburst events when a black hole rapidly consumes mass. The study, published in Nature, sheds new light on how mass transfers to black holes and how black holes can affect the environment around them. The research was conducted by an international team of researchers, led by scientists in the University of Alberta's Department of Physics.



New technique for finding life on Mars

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(McGill University) Researchers demonstrate for the first time the potential of existing technology to directly detect and characterize life on Mars and other planets. The study, published in Frontiers in Microbiology, used miniaturized scientific instruments and new microbiology techniques to identify and examine microorganisms in the Canadian high Arctic -- one of the closest analogs to Mars on Earth.



New research collaboration with UTSA professor challenges existing models of black holes

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(University of Texas at San Antonio) Chris Packham, associate professor of physics and astronomy at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has collaborated on a new study that expands the scientific community's understanding of black holes in our galaxy and the magnetic fields that surround them.



Real-world intercontinental quantum communications enabled by the Micius satellite

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(University of Science and Technology of China) A joint China-Austria team has performed quantum key distribution between the quantum-science satellite Micius and multiple ground stations located in Xinglong (near Beijing), Nanshan (near Urumqi), and Graz (near Vienna). Such experiments demonstrate the secure satellite-to-ground exchange of cryptographic keys with ?kHz rate during the passage of the satellite Micius over a ground station. Using Micius as a trusted relay, a secret key is created between China and Europe at locations separated up to 7,600 km on the Earth.



A Russian scientist improved nanofluids for solar power plants

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(Siberian Federal University) An associate of Siberian Federal University (SFU) teamed up with his foreign colleagues to increase the efficiency of the heat transfer medium used in solar power plants. The results of the study were published in Renewable Energy journal.



New power generation and propulsion system for satellites

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) Researchers at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid have designed and patented a new propellantless system for satellites that allows generation of electric power and on-board thrust. This innovation, which has led to two national patents, has attracted the interest of the European Space Agency and of the space industry.



Viruses are everywhere, maybe even in space

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(Portland State University) Viruses are the most abundant and one of the least understood biological entities on Earth. They might also exist in space, but as of yet scientists have done almost no research into this possibility. Portland State University biology professor Ken Stedman and colleagues are trying to change this through their article "Astrovirology: Viruses at Large in the Universe," published in the February 2018 issue of the journal Astrobiology.



NASA team studies middle-aged sun by tracking motion of Mercury

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) Like the waistband of a couch potato in midlife, the orbits of planets in our solar system are expanding. It happens because the Sun's gravitational grip gradually weakens as our star ages and loses mass. Now, a team of NASA and MIT scientists has indirectly measured this mass loss and other solar parameters by looking at changes in Mercury's orbit.



NASA sees Tropical Cyclone Berguitta soaking Mauritius and Reunion Island

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) NASA found heavy rainfall in Tropical Cyclone Berguitta as it closed in on Mauritius and Reunion Islands. On Jan. 18, NASA's Terra satellite captured an early morning visible image that showed the center of the storm just south of Mauritius and the storm blanketing both islands. Warnings were in effect for both islands. A tropical cyclone alert class 3 is in effect for Mauritius and La Reunion is on Orange Alert.



Neutron-star merger yields new puzzle for astrophysicists

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(McGill University) The afterglow from the distant neutron-star merger detected last August has continued to brighten - much to the surprise of astrophysicists studying the aftermath of the massive collision that took place about 138 million light years away and sent gravitational waves rippling through the universe. New observations from NASA's orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, reported in Astrophysical Journal Letters, indicate that the gamma ray burst unleashed by the collision is more complex than scientists initially imagined.



Protein designed entirely from scratch functions in cells as a genuine enzyme

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(Princeton University) Artificial biology is working toward creating a genuinely new organism. At Princeton, Chemistry Professor Michael Hecht and the researchers in his lab are designing and building proteins that can fold and mimic the chemical processes that sustain life. Now, Hecht and his colleagues have confirmed that at least one of their new proteins can catalyze biological reactions in E. coli, meaning that a protein designed entirely from scratch functions in cells as a genuine enzyme.



Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(Carnegie Institution for Science) Dust is everywhere -- not just in your attic or under your bed, but also in outer space. To astronomers, dust can be a tool to study the history of our universe, galaxy, and Solar System. For example, observations indicate that type II supernovae -- explosions of stars more than ten times as massive as the Sun -- produce copious amounts of dust, but how and when they do so is not well understood.



North, east, south, west: The many faces of Abell 1758

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(ESA/Hubble Information Centre) Resembling a swarm of flickering fireflies, this beautiful galaxy cluster glows intensely in the dark cosmos, accompanied by the myriad bright lights of foreground stars and swirling spiral galaxies. A1758N is a sub-cluster of Abell 1758, a massive cluster containing hundreds of galaxies. Although it may appear serene in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, the sub-cluster actually comprises two even smaller structures currently in the turbulent process of merging.



Smartphones come in handy for the rare cosmic particles search

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(National Research University Higher School of Economics) Researchers from the Laboratory of Methods for Big Data Analysis (LAMBDA) at the Higher School of Economics have improved their way of analyzing ultra-high energy cosmic rays (UHECR) with the use of mobile phones. The work has been carried out as part of the CRAYFIS experiment and the results were presented at the 22nd International Conference on Computing in High Energy and Nuclear Physics.



New technique for finding life on Mars

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(Frontiers) Miniaturized scientific instruments and new microbiology techniques successfully identified and characterized microorganisms living in Arctic permafrost -- one of the closest analogs to Mars on Earth. By avoiding delays that come with having to return samples to a laboratory for analysis, the methodology could also be used on Earth to detect and identify pathogens during epidemics in remote areas.



NASA IMERG reveals rainfall rates of Tropical Cyclone Berguitta

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) Heavy rain surrounded Tropical Cyclone Berguitta as it continued to move toward the island of Mauritius in the Southern Indian Ocean. NASA calculated the rate in which rain was falling within the hurricane-strength storm in the Southern Indian Ocean.



How massive can neutron stars be?

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(Goethe University Frankfurt) Since their discovery in the 1960s, scientists have sought to answer an important question: How massive can neutron stars actually become? By contrast to black holes, these stars cannot gain in mass arbitrarily; past a certain limit there is no physical force in nature that can counter their enormous gravitational force. For the first time, astrophysicists at Goethe University Frankfurt have succeeded in calculating a strict upper limit for the maximum mass of neutron stars.



Titan topographic map unearths cookie-cutter holes in moon's surface

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(Cornell University) Using the now-complete Cassini data set, Cornell University astronomers have created a new global topographic map of Saturn's moon Titan that has opened new windows into understanding its liquid flows and terrain. Two papers, recently published in Geophysical Review Letters, describe the map and discoveries arising from it.



Academy honors 19 for major contributions to science

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) The National Academy of Sciences will honor 19 individuals with awards in recognition of their extraordinary scientific achievements in a wide range of fields spanning the physical, biological, and medical sciences.



Odd behavior of star reveals lonely black hole hiding in giant star cluster

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:00:00 EST

(ESO) Astronomers using ESO's MUSE instrument on the Very Large Telescope in Chile have discovered a star in the cluster NGC 3201 that is behaving very strangely. It appears to be orbiting an invisible black hole with about four times the mass of the sun -- the first such inactive stellar-mass black hole found in a globular cluster and the first found by directly detecting its gravitational pull.