Image of the Day: Pulsar in Supernova Remnant Sets Speed Record at 6 Million MPH




NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton in space, and the Parkes radio telescope in Australia — may have found the fastest moving pulsar ever seen. The evidence for this potentially record-breaking speed comes, in part, from the features highlighted in the composite image below. X-ray observations from Chandra (green) and XMM-Newton (purple) have been combined with infrared data from the 2MASS project and optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey (colored red, green and blue, but appearing in the image as white).


EcoAlert: 100-Kilometer Wide Impact Crater Found in Greenland –Oldest Known on Planet




A 100 kilometer-wide crater has been found in Greenland, the result of a massive asteroid or comet impact a billion years before any other known collision on Earth. The previously oldest known crater on Earth formed 2 billion years ago and the chances of finding an even older impact were thought to be, literally, astronomically low.


Saturn’s Titan Harbors an Ocean of Water –Increases Odds for Life


           Titan (1)


Saturn's Titan has been considered a “unique world in the solar system” since 1908 when, the Spanish astronomer, José Comas y Solá, discovered that it had an atmosphere, something non-existent on other moons. It seems perfectly appropriate that one of the prime candidates for life in our solar system, Saturn's largest moon, Titan, should have surface lakes, lightning, shorelines, relatively thick nitrogen atmosphere -and seasons. And thanks to new Cassini data pointing to an ocean, it just become more so.

Data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have revealed Saturn's moon Titan likely harbors a layer of liquid water under its ice shell.  Researchers saw a large amount of squeezing and stretching as the moon orbited Saturn. The Cassini team deduced that if Titan were composed entirely of stiff rock, the gravitational attraction of Saturn would cause bulges, or solid "tides," on the moon only 3 feet (1 meter) in height. Spacecraft data show Saturn creates solid tides approximately 30 feet (10 meters) in height, which suggests Titan is not made entirely of solid rocky material. 


Did the Milky Way Have a Encounter with a Massive Dark Matter Structure 100 Million Years Ago?




"Our Milky Way had an encounter with a small galaxy or massive dark matter structure perhaps as recently as 100 million years ago," said Larry Widrow, professor at Queen’s University, part of a team of astronomers from Canada and the United States who have discovered what may well be the smoking gun of such an encounter, one that occurred close to our position in the galaxy and relatively recently, at least in the cosmological sense. "We clearly observe unexpected differences in the Milky Way’s stellar distribution above and below the Galaxy’s midplane that have the appearance of a vertical wave — something that nobody has seen before," Widrow added.


Mystery of the Missing Life-Giving Molecule in Space Deepens




A new search for molecular oxygen in the Orion Nebula has come up negative, leading to new ideas on what's wrong in the chemical models. Searches for interstellar molecular oxygen, O2, have a long history, and the motivation for these searches has evolved. Prior to the late 1990’s, efforts to detect O2 were driven by a desire to confirm its predicted role as a major reservoir of elemental oxygen within dense molecular clouds and as the most important gas coolant of typical clouds after carbon monoxide (CO). But O2 was never found. The SAO-led Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS) in 1998 and the Odin satellite in 2001 both failed to detect O2 toward a large number of sources at levels of a few percent of the abundances predicted by equilibrium gas-phase chemical models. Something in the chemical models was wrong, but what?


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