“Extinct Galaxies” –Astronomers Discover Hidden Quasars the Culprit




Some of the biggest galaxies in the universe are full of extinguished stars. But nearly 12 billion years ago, soon after the universe first was created, these massive galaxies were hotspots that brewed up stars by the billions. How these types of cosmic realms, called dusty starburst galaxies, became galactic dead zones is an enduring mystery. Astronomers at the University of Iowa, in a new study published in the Astrophysical Journal, offer a clue. They say quasars, powerful energy sources believed to dwell at the heart of galaxies, may be responsible for why some dusty starburst galaxies ceased making stars.


On Saturn’s Titan –“NASA Scientists Find a Chemical Capable of Forming Cell Membrane”




“The detection of this elusive, astrobiologically relevant chemical is exciting for scientists who are eager to determine if life could develop on icy worlds such as Titan,” said Goddard scientist Martin Cordiner, senior author on the paper. “This finding adds an important piece to our understanding of the chemical complexity of the solar system.”


Signal from the First Moon Beyond Our Solar System Detected by NASA’s Kepler Mission –“An Exciting New Frontier in the Search for Life”


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A team of astronomers has potentially discovered a signal detected by Nasa's Kepler Space Telescope from Kepler moon-1625b I orbiting around a a G-type star that lies some 4,000 light-years from Earth. This is the first known moon beyond the Solar System that appears to be about the size and mass of Neptune that circles Kepler planet Kepler-1625, a gas giant exoplanet that takes 287.38 days to complete one orbit of its star. To date, these extrasolar satellites have lingered at the limits of detection with current techniques.


NASA’s Cassini Mission –“May Have Found a Universal Driver for Life on Saturn’s Titan”



One surprising outcome of the Cassini mission was the discovery of a particular type of negatively charged molecule at Titan. Negatively charged species – or ‘anions’ – were not something scientists expected to find, because they are highly reactive and should not last long in Titan’s atmosphere before combining with other materials. Their detection is completely reshaping current understanding of the hazy moon’s atmosphere.


Titanic Death of a Massive Star –“Brightest Explosion in the Universe Morphs Into a Black Hole”





In June 2016, an international team of 31 astronomers caught a massive star as it died in a titanic explosion deep in space. The blast of the dying star released in about 40 seconds as much energy as the Sun releases over its entire lifetime, all focused into a tight beam of gamma rays aimed by chance toward Earth. The gamma-ray blast on June 25, 2016, was detected by two NASA satellites that monitor the sky for such events, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission.



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