Spectacular Galaxy Site of Massive Black Hole Eruption



An extraordinary outburst from a black hole — where its X-ray output increased at least 3,000 times — has been seen with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in the galaxy M83. Chandra observed what is called a ULX, or ultraluminous X-ray source. Nicknamed the Southern Pinwheel, M83 is undergoing more rapid star formation than our own Milky Way galaxy, especially in its nucleus. The image above shows hundreds of young star clusters, ancient swarms of globular star clusters, and hundreds of thousands of individual stars, mostly blue supergiants and red supergiants.


Presence of Life may be Required to Maintain Habitability of a Planet over Billions of Years



Researchers from the Australian National University Planetary Science Institute have discovered that rocky, Earth-like planets are probably more abundant than stars. The institute is a joint venture of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Research School of Earth Sciences.

“Determining whether these planets are habitable has become the new holy grail of astronomy,” said planetary scientist Dr Charley Lineweaver, lead author of the study at the The Australian National University.


500-Million-Year-Old Gene May Show if Evolution Can Repeat Itself




Biologists have long wondered whether life would evolve the same way again if we could rewind Earth's tape. Eric Gaucher and Betül Arslan at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta synthesised an ancient gene –EF-Tu, a gene in Escherichia coli, that plays a crucial role in protein synthesis– and inserted it into E. coli in place of the modern version. Gaucher had previously worked out what this gene's DNA sequence must have been 500 million years ago.


Record Radio Waves from a Brown Dwarf –“Could Boost Odds of Finding Life”



Penn State University astronomers using the world's largest radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, have discovered flaring radio emissions from the ultra-cool star J1047+21 33.6 light years away in the constellation Leo, known as a brown dwarf, which is not much warmer than the planet Jupiter, shattering the previous record for the lowest temperature at which radio waves had been detected from a star.  The discovery of J1047+21 could boost the odds of discovering life elsewhere in the universe.


Weekend Feature: “Humans May be One of the First Advanced Species in the Universe”



Intelligent life may be in it's "very young" stage in the observable Universe. Its 200 billion galaxies show a clear potential to continue on as we see them today for hundreds of billions of years, if not much longer. Because planets and life are so young in our Universe, says Harvard's Dimitar Sasselov, perhaps "the human species are not late comers to the party. We may be among the early ones."



"The Galaxy" in Your Inbox, Free, Daily