MIT: “Largest of the Five Mass Extinctions Caused By Microbes” (Today’s Most Popular)





Evidence left at the crime scene is abundant and global: Fossil remains show that sometime around 252 million years ago, about 90 percent of all species on Earth were suddenly wiped out — by far the largest of this planet’s five known mass extinctions. But pinpointing the culprit has been difficult, and controversial.


“A Billion Miles Beyond Pluto” — NASA New Horizons to Probe Unexplored Kuiper Belt Objects





NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits nearly a billion miles beyond Pluto.


Harvard-Smithsonian CfA: “Did Life Spread Like an Epidemic Across the Vast Gulf of Interstellar Space?”






We only have one example of a planet with life: Earth. But within the next generation, it should become possible to detect signs of life on planets orbiting distant stars. If we find alien life, new questions will arise. For example, did that life arise spontaneously? Or could it have spread from elsewhere? If life crossed the vast gulf of interstellar space long ago, how would we tell?


Quasar Nearest to Earth Harbors Two Supermassive Black Holes






Astrophysicists have found two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth, using observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The discovery of two supermassive black holes–one larger one and a second, smaller one–are evidence of a binary black hole and suggests that supermassive black holes assemble their masses through violent mergers.


Cosmic Collision Triggers Rebirth of a “Radio Phoenix”






Astronomers have found evidence for a faded electron cloud "coming back to life," much like the mythical phoenix, after two galaxy clusters collided. This "radio phoenix," so-called because the high-energy electrons radiate primarily at radio frequencies, is found in Abell 1033. The system is located about 1.6 billion light years from Earth.


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