The Cosmos yielded another week of intriguing news from the origins of gravity may explain the existence of dark energy and the accelerating expansion of our Universe to NASA’s 7-step plan to confirm if we’ve actually discovered alien life.
Hunt for Alien Life Tops Next-Gen Wish List for U.S. Astronomy –A major report outlining the highest priorities and recommendations for U.S. astronomy has finally been released, revealing the shape of things to come, reports Lee Billings for Scientific American.
NASA’s 7-Step plan for how to confirm whether we’ve really found aliens –Anticipating mounting evidence of alien life, and also anticipating that the media might mischaracterize that evidence, NASA’s chief scientist wants to put some guardrails on the story—by placing potential evidence of alien life on a seven-step scale that ranges from interesting to definitive. In a paper published in Nature on October 27, NASA’s James Green proposed what he described as a “framework for reporting evidence for life beyond Earth”.
Water Detected in the Most Massive Galaxy in the Early Cosmos, reports Maxwell Moe for The Daily Galaxy. “It has been said that to understand water is to understand the cosmos and life itself. New observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have detected this primal substance in the most massive galaxy in the early Universe.”
Could Gravity’s Quantum Origins Explain Dark Energy? –-A potentially transformative theoretical study links a new model of quantum gravity with the universe’s bizarrely accelerating rate of expansion, reports Conor Purcell for Scientific American. “A new theoretical study, submitted for publication at the Journal for Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, suggests dark energy’s apparent antigravitational properties may be the natural, inevitable consequence of how gravity works in the first place, at the universe’s most fundamental quantum scales.”
Astronomers want NASA to build a giant space telescope to peer at alien Earths, reports NPR. –“The expert panel’s “top recommendation for a mission” was a telescope significantly larger than the Hubble Space Telescope that would be capable of blocking out a star’s bright light in order to capture the much dimmer light coming from a small orbiting planet.
Our Solar System’s Milky-Way Orbit 19 –Extinction by Dark-Matter Apocalypse?, reports Avi Shporer for The Daily Galaxy. –“Life-threatening asteroids and comets are more frequent when a planetary system is crossing one of the galaxy’s spiral arms, where gas clouds stack up in the equivalent of a hydrostatic jump.”
Deep Within Earth — “Remnants of a Collision with an Alien World”, reports Science. “Geologists don’t know much about where these gargantuan, blob-like structures came from or what they are. Although a new study by researchers from Arizona State University (ASU), argues that they may represent ancient fragments of the Mars-sized object known as Theia that struck the early Earth around 4.5 billion years ago, with a huge chunk of Theia and/or possibly Earth fragmenting off, and becoming the Moon we know today.
A mysterious, undetected force--Star System With Right-Angled Planets Surprises Astronomers –Two planets orbit the poles while another revolves around the star’s equator, suggesting a mysterious, undetected force, reports Jonathan O’Callaghan for The New York Times. “Star systems come in all shapes and sizes. Some have lots of planets, some have larger planets and others have no planets at all. But a particularly unusual system about 150 light-years from our own has scientists scratching their heads.
The untold story of the world’s biggest nuclear bomb –In the early hours of Oct. 30, 1961, a bomber took off from Russia with a nuclear bomb the size of a small school bus. While the US condemned the project, they were secretly creating their own version, writes nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein, reports The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
How Exoplanets Have Made the Search for ET Respectable –Recent years have seen a marked change from official skepticism to official curiosity, which includes more generous funding for the search.
Did an ‘Impossible’ Magnitude-12 Earthquake Change Our World? asks The Daily Galaxy. “Sixty-Six million years ago a 14-kilometer long, Mount-Everest sized asteroid blasted a hole in the ground, the Chicxulub Impact, releasing the equivalent of 100 million megatons of TNT creating a 20-mile deep, 110-mile hole and sterilizing the remaining 170 million square miles of the ancient continent of Pangaea, killing virtually every species on Earth and, oddly, paving the way for the emergence of the human species.
Mysterious comet has been having multiple large outbursts –“Astronomers found that it behaved differently than other comets. Instead of shedding material as its outer layers melted during close fly-bys to the sun, it exhibited a kind of explosive behavior on occasion. Something was being ejected from the comet’s interior, making the comet shine extremely brightly.”
The Hubble Space Telescope Is in Safe Mode for the Third Time This Year –The telescope’s science instruments appear to be fine, but normal operations have been suspended, reports Gizmodo.
How Exoplanets Have Made the Search for ET Respectable –Recent years have seen a marked change from official skepticism to official curiosity, which includes more generous funding for the search
A small telescope past Saturn could solve some mysteries of the universe better than giant telescopes near Earth, reports Michael Zemcov, Associate Professor of Physics, Rochester Institute of Technology for The Conversation.
Rocky Exoplanets Are Even Stranger Than We Thought –A new astrogeology study suggests that most nearby rocky exoplanets are quite unlike anything in our Solar System.
Gravitational ‘kick’ may explain the strange shape at the center of Andromeda, reports the University of Colorado at Boulder –“When two galaxies collide, the supermassive black holes at their cores release a devastating gravitational “kick,” similar to the recoil from a shotgun. New research led by CU Boulder suggests that this kick may be so powerful it can knock millions of stars into wonky orbits. The research, published Oct. 29 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, helps solve a decades-old mystery surrounding a strangely-shaped cluster of stars at the heart of the Andromeda Galaxy. It might also help researchers better understand the process of how galaxies grow by feeding on each other.”
Recent Galaxy Reports