New Discovery: Cas A Supernova Explosion–Seeding the Universe with Building Blocks of Life

Casa1Heavy elements may be no more than rare cosmic pollutants, but they are exceedingly important to us. Without them, solid, rocky planets would be impossible, and the prospects for Earth-like life would be correspondingly dim.

The iron Chandra X Ray Space Telescope has recently imaged in Cas A might one day flow as hemoglobin in the blood of some future alien species. Fast moving knots of silicon from the Cas A supernova could provide the raw material for sand on otherworldly shores, where crashing waves of H2O send thunderous sound waves through a nitrogen-rich atmosphere.

A team of astronomers led by Dr. John Hughes of Rutgers University used observations from NASA's orbital Chandra X-ray Observatory to make an important new discovery that sheds light on how silicon, iron, and other elements were produced in supernova explosions. An X-ray image of Cassiopeia A (Cas A), the remnant of an exploded star, reveals gaseous clumps of silicon, sulfur, and iron expelled from deep in the interior of the star.


Elusive Preon Stars –Do They Exist?


A preon star is a proposed type of compact star made of preons, a group of hypothetical subatomic particles that could originate from supernova explosions or the Big Bang. Preons were originally proposed as quark constituents over three decades ago, but in 2005, Fredrik Sandin and Johan Hansson of the Luleå University of Technology in Sweden came up with the concept of preon "stars" or "nuggets" in space.

These objects, would be somewhere between the size of a pea and a football, with a mass comparable to the Moon with a density that would be in the range between a neutron star–the densest ordinary form of matter–and a black hole.


Pulsar’s Superluminal Speeds: Really Faster than Speed of Light?


We learned in our intro to science courses that information cannot be transmitted faster than the speed of light. Yet laboratory experiments done over the last 30 years clearly show that some things appear to break this speed limit without abrogating Einstein's special theory of relativity.

Yet astrophysicists in the US have observed such superluminal speeds in space in the form of radio pulses from a pulsar.


Update: CERN’s “Faster-than-Speed-of-Light” Claim Get’s a Second Look


Scientists who challenged current models of physics by reporting particles that broke the Universe's speed-of-light limit said on Friday they were taking a second look at their hotly debated experiment.


Image of the Day: New Spitzer Discovery–“Flat Galaxies”


New observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope provide strong evidence that the slender, bulgeless galaxies can, like their heftier counterparts, harbor supermassive black holes at their cores. Previously, astronomers thought that a galaxy without a bulge could not have a supermassive black hole. In this illustration, jets shooting away from the black holes are depicted as thin streams.

The findings are reshaping theories of galaxy formation, suggesting that a galaxy’s core does not determine whether it will be harbor a supermassive black hole.

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