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Galaxy J1354

Black hole munched galactic leftovers, spewed stars, burped

The black hole at the centre of galaxy SDSS J1354+1327 sucked in gases, “burped” – and then repeated the display. As NASA explained in a statement: “The two-course meal for the black hole comes from a companion galaxy that collided with J1354 in the past. This collision produced a stream of stars and gas that links J1354 and …
Croome copyright National Trust Andrew Butler

Worcestershire's airborne electronics warfare wonderland

Geek's Guide to Britain When you first see the view from Croome's church, it looks like an English utopia. The landscape, designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown during the 1750s, features a lake pretending to be river, winding lazily through fields dotted by scenic trees. To the left is Croome Court, a grand Palladian country house built over the red …
SA Mathieson, 12 Jan 2018

Ice cliffs found on Mars and NASA says they’re a tap for astronauts

Mars boffins have spotted lots of almost-pure water ice on Mars. Detailed in a Science paper titled ” Exposed subsurface ice sheets in the Martian mid-latitudes”, the find was made using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. The scientists who tend that instrument spotted …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Jan 2018

NASA is pretty pleased with its pulsar-sniffing intergalactic GPS tech

Pics After years of research and testing, NASA has demonstrated spacecraft positioning equipment that relies on measuring X-ray bursts. The hardware will help future spacefarers navigate the galaxy and beyond. Your car or smartphone GPS gear works out its position using signals received from a constellation of satellites orbiting …
Iain Thomson, 12 Jan 2018

Boffins closer to solving what causes weird radio bursts from space

A neutron star or a massive black hole may be the source of mysterious and highly energetic radio pulses that light up skies across the universe. A paper published on Wednesday in Nature describes a particular fast radio burst (FRB) source. Scientists have spied about 30 FRBs so far, but FRB 121102 is the only signal source …
Katyanna Quach, 11 Jan 2018
Star density in the DES footprint

Dark matter on the desktop: Dark Energy Survey publishes data

If you've got a penchant for lots of data, astrophysics, and mystery, the Dark Energy Survey (DES) has announced its first public data release. The DES announced that the trove offers its first three years of data, complete with “information on about 400 million astronomical objects, including distant galaxies billions of …
Boeing cargo drone

Up, up and a-weigh! Boeing flies cargo drone with 225kg payload

Boeing’s revealed it hastily-cobbled-together a cargo drone. The “cargo air vehicle” (CAV) has a payload of 226kg (500 pounds). The aerospace giant has revealed the craft is powered by battery, boasts eight counter rotating blades and is 4.57 meters long, 5.49m wide, 1.22 meters tall and weighs in at 339 kilograms. Boeing's …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Jan 2018

Astroboffins say our Solar System is a dark, violent, cosmic weirdo

Our solar system may be a cosmic misfit, say astroboffins who've analysed systems where we've spotted exoplanets. A team of astrophysicists suggested we live in a weird neighborhood after analyzing the radius and semimajor axis of 909 planets in 355 multi-planet systems spied by the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. The …
Katyanna Quach, 10 Jan 2018

Mystery surrounds fate of secret satellite slung by SpaceX

SpaceX and Northrop Grumman have refused to address rumors that all may not be well with the classified "Zuma" satellite launched on Monday. Speculation about the fate of the satellite arose after the editor of Space Intel Report, Peter de Selding, noticed that after the expected satellite deployment, there was no word from …
Inkjet-printed nanothermite

Boffins use inkjets to print explosives

As anybody who's emerged from a car crash in good shape can tell you, it's good to have some explosives around - they pop modern vehicles' air bags. Of course explosives are also hard to manufacture and handle, which is why researchers at Purdue University in the US tried to print them. The boffins believe they've cracked the …

RIP John Young: NASA's longest-serving 'naut explores final frontier

Obit John Young, the first pilot of a space shuttle, and longest serving astronaut in NASA's history, has died at the age of 87 due to complications caused by pneumonia. Announcing his death on 6 January, NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot said: "NASA and the world have lost a pioneer. Astronaut John Young's storied career spanned …
Richard Priday, 09 Jan 2018
Falcon Heavy

Elon Musk lowers his mighty erection for test firing: Falcon Heavy preps for maiden voyage

SpaceX fans this morning celebrated their favorite rocketry upstart's latest boringly successful launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida, USA. Amid that depressingly uneventful blastoff, a visitor to the launch site spotted evidence of a Falcon Heavy being set up for test firing, signaling the hardware may finally be ready to …
Iain Thomson, 08 Jan 2018

SpaceX delivers classified 'Zuma' payload into orbit

SpaceX's first mission of 2018, carrying the secret US government payload "Zuma", successfully launched and landed in the early hours of this morning. The Falcon 9 rocket slipped the surly bonds of Earth at 1am GMT, lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The reusable stage 1 of the rocket returned to the …
Richard Priday, 08 Jan 2018
Black kites foraging near a fire

If Australian animals don't poison you or eat you, they'll BURN DOWN YOUR HOUSE

Already replete with sharks, crocodiles, snakes and poisonous jellyfish galore, Australia may also be home to arsonist birds that spread fire so they can feed on animals as they flee. The belief that birds like the Whistling Kite, Black Kite and Brown Falcon spread grass fires goes back so far that it's commemorated in …
Pretty pretty, all in a box

GIMPS crack whip on plucky processor to find largest prime number

The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) has announced the discovery of a new largest Mersenne prime number, 277,232,917 -1. The figure, viewable here (.zip file), was found by GIMPS' network of volunteer prime hunters, and is the 50th Mersenne prime discovered. It comprises 23,249,425 digits, and is 910,807 digits …
Richard Priday, 05 Jan 2018

Whizzes' lithium-iron-oxide battery 'octuples' capacity on the cheap

A band of boffins from Illinois have published a paper detailing a new battery design for mobile devices and electric vehicles that could increase capacity up to eight times while reducing costs. One half of the team, based at Northwestern University, focused on making digital models, while their partners at Argonne National …
Richard Priday, 05 Jan 2018

Nebula spotted with more super-sized bodies than a gym on Jan 2nd

A freak nebula is teeming with gigantic stars, say scientists who now reckon these cosmic heavyweights may not be so rare after all. The Tarantula Nebula, also known as 30 Doradus or 30 Dor, located about 160,000 light years away, could contain a whopping 600 stars that are between 15 to 200 solar masses. Fabian Schneider, a …
Katyanna Quach, 05 Jan 2018

Soz, guys. No 'alien megastructure' around Tabby's Star, only cosmic dustbunnies

Sorry to burst your bubble, folks, but the mysteriously dimming Tabby's Star isn't due to an "alien megastructure" after all – it's just obscured by dust, according to a paper published today. KIC 8462852 (but Tabby's Star is catchier) was first spotted by NASA's Kepler telescope. It quickly became an object of fascination for …
Katyanna Quach, 03 Jan 2018

SMBH: Astroboffins reveal how to stop pop(ping) stars in a supermassive galaxy

The mass of the supermassive black hole at the centre of galaxies controls star formation and determines how it evolves over time, according to new observations published in Nature. Galaxies are made out of clumps of interstellar dust, gas, stars, black holes, and dark matter all gravitationally bound together. As they age, …
Katyanna Quach, 02 Jan 2018

Astroboffins say our Solar System could have – wait, stop, what... the US govt found UFOs?

Our Solar System may have been born from bubbles of material hurled from a colossal Wolf-Rayet-type star, according to a theory published Friday. Scientists studying the origin of our system generally believe – no, wait, sorry. Stop. You know 2017 has been a bonkers year when the New York Times reveals a classified $22m US …
Katyanna Quach, 22 Dec 2017

Where did all that water go? Mars was holding it wrong, say boffins

Mars is dry, frozen and arid because its water reserves dried up. A large chunk of that water was lost when the planet’s magnetic field collapsed and it could no longer shield itself from the energetic solar rays. And top of this, research out this week shows that a portion of that liquid was absorbed by its rocks, too. How …
Katyanna Quach, 22 Dec 2017
AE1 helm

First Allied submarine lost in World War One, found near New Guinea

After years of searching, the wreck of World War I submarine AE1 has been found in waters off New Guinea. AE1 has several historical distinctions: it was Australia's first submarine, and it was the country's first submarine to be lost in war – and it was also the first Allied submarine lost in the war. The submarine was built …

Space.. the fi, er, New Frontiers: NASA to hurl space robot at duck comet – or Saturn moon

NASA is drawing up plans to send a robot out into space to either drill into the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko – or checking out Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. The two proposed missions are still in their very early design phases, and were chosen from 12 ideas submitted in April to the American space agency’s New Frontiers …
Katyanna Quach, 21 Dec 2017
Clouds, photo via Shutterstock

Cloud-building alien space rays altered Earth's climate – boffins

Interstellar particles alter Earth's climate by affecting cloud growth, scientists revealed on Tuesday. The research team, whose work was published in Nature Communications, sets out a direct link between how particles from space influences cloud growth and climate change. Henrik Svensmark, lead author of the study and a …
Katyanna Quach, 20 Dec 2017
Crop of doctor with pen and clipboard

Fridge killed my baby? Mag-field radiation from household stuff 'boosts miscarriage risk'

Analysis A study of 913 pregnant women in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, found those exposed to high levels of magnetic field (MF) non-ionizing radiation had a 2.72x higher risk of miscarriage than those exposed to low MF levels. The Kaiser Permanente study, "Exposure to Magnetic Field Non-Ionizing Radiation and the Risk of …
Thomas Claburn, 19 Dec 2017

PHWOAR, those noughty inks: '0.1%' named Stat of The Year

The Royal Statistical Society has bestowed the coveted title of UK statistic of the year on 0.1 per cent – the percentage of land that's densely built on in the nation. The statistic, carefully selected by an all-star stats panel, comes from research by boffins from the University of Sheffield. The team, led by Alasdair Rae, …
Rebecca Hill, 18 Dec 2017
Pixellated Facebook thumb

Facebook confesses: Facebook is bad for you

Facebook has just publicly slapped itself upside the head, admitting that its very existence is often detrimental to the wellbeing of its users. An analysis today from Facebook's research director David Ginsberg and research scientist Moira Burke serves as a mea culpa of sorts from Zuck and Co about the emotional and mental …
Shaun Nichols, 15 Dec 2017

Pest control: Eggheads work to help RoboBees dodge that fly-swatter

Engineers and programmers working on a robot bee project could soon have the faux insects behaving more like real bees, according to engineers and roboticists at Cornell and Harvard. The work is a joint effort between Cornell University engineers and the robot insect wranglers at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically …
Richard Priday, 15 Dec 2017
Icebreaker - Australian Antarctic Division

Poor NASA sods sent to spend Xmas in Antarctic ahead of satellite launch

A NASA team is heading on a trip arcing around the South Pole to check that their new satellite's measurements from space are just as good as their own back on terra firma. The ICESat-2 (Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2) will launch next year, tasked with measuring elevation around the world to investigate the changes …
Richard Priday, 15 Dec 2017

Sigh. It's not quite Star Trek's Data, but it'll do: AI helps boffins clock second Solar System

Our Solar System is no longer the largest known planetary system in the Milky Way – after scientists confirmed the existence of an eighth planet, Kepler-90i, around a Sun-like star on Thursday. The discovery was made after Christopher Shallue, a senior software engineer at Google, and Andrew Vanderburg, a postdoctoral fellow …
Katyanna Quach, 15 Dec 2017
NASA image - Van Allen Belts

Exploding alien bodies' space death-rays gave Earth its radiation cloak

Scientists have solved a 60-year mystery by figuring out the source of harmful and highly energetic electrons whizzing around in Earth’s inner radiation belt. Space is more than the final frontier. It is treacherous beyond belief. Earth is circled by swarms of charged particles, starting from 500km out to a distance of 58, …
Katyanna Quach, 14 Dec 2017
Mars and the solar winds

Which distant Mars-alikes could we live on? Ask these Red Planet data-sifters

Scientists are applying knowledge gained from studying Mars to calculate how the atmospheres of theoretical exoplanets would behave. David Brain, professor at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder and co-investigator for NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) …
Richard Priday, 14 Dec 2017
NASA New Horizons artist's impression

NASA says New Horizons' next stop might have a moon

NASA's hypothesised that MU69, the Kuiper Belt object that is the New Horizons probe's next destination, has a moon. To figure out what awaits New Horizons at MU69 we've peered at it with telescopes, a process that yielded a hypothesis that the object is one rock that looks a bit like a duck, or might even be two rocks …
Simon Sharwood, 13 Dec 2017

New battery boffinry could 'triple range' of electric vehicles

A new method of designing batteries, cooked up at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, could triple the range of electric vehicles, a new paper has claimed. The development, described by the article An In Vivo Formed Solid Electrolyte Surface Layer Enables Stable Plating of Li Metal (PDF) in energy journal Joule, is due to …
Richard Priday, 12 Dec 2017
Man wrapped in turqouise cable-knit blanket sips from hot drink - is clearly ill. Photo by Shutterstock

Millions of moaners vindicated: Man flu is 'a thing', says researcher, and big TVs are cure

Moaning men complaining they have "man flu" – a much more serious and, if sufferers are to be believed, potentially deadly version of the common cold – may actually have a point. Canadian academic Kyle Sue investigated whether men are wimps or just immunologically inferior, in an article published in the British Medical …
Kat Hall, 12 Dec 2017

Juno's July fly-by gave NASA a close-up of the Great Red Spot

video It's at least 150 years old, one-and-a-half Earths wide, reaches 300 km (around 200 miles) into Jupiter's atmosphere – and now, thanks to data from the Juno probe, NASA's offering the chance to take a virtual dive into the famous Great Red Spot. When it made its first pass over the vast super-storm in July 2017, one of the …

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