Using gravitational waves to catch runaway black holes

Researchers have developed a new method for detecting and measuring one of the most powerful, and most mysterious, events in the Universe - a black hole being kicked out of its host galaxy and into intergalactic space at speeds as...

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New fossils shed light on the origin of 'hobbits'

Dr. Adam Brumm from Griffith University's Centre For Human Evolution.Griffith University researchers are part of an international team of scientists that has announced the discovery of ancestors of Homo floresiensis - the enigmatic species of pygmy-like humans discovered more...

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Milky Way now hidden from one-third of humanity

Light pollution now blots out the Milky Way for eight in 10 Americans. Bright areas in this map show where the sky glow from artificial lighting blots out the stars and constellations. An international team of researchers has released the new World Atlas of Artificial Sky Brightness, in a paper published in <i>Science Advances</i> today.The Milky Way, the brilliant river of stars that has dominated the night sky and human imaginations since time immemorial, is but a faded memory to one third of humanity...

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Driverless cars: Who gets protected?

Driverless cars pose a quandary when it comes to safety. These autonomous vehicles are programmed with a set of safety rules, and it is not hard to construct a scenario...

'Electric wind' can strip Earth-like planets of oceans, atmospheres

This graphic compares surface temperatures and gravity on Earth and Venus. The two planets are similar sizes and have similar gravity -- but Venus is bone dry and more than 10 times as hot as our home planet. Recent NASA research describes a key process that removes water from the Venusian atmosphere.Venus has an "electric wind" strong enough to remove the components of water from its upper atmosphere, which may have played a significant role in stripping Earth's twin planet of...

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Genetic switch that turned moths black also colors butterflies

<I>Heliconius melpomene</I> butterfly. The Cambridge-Sheffield study shows that the same gene that influences these butterflies' bright and colorful patterns also turned the peppered moth black during the industrial revolution.The same gene that enables tropical butterflies to mimic each other's bright and colourful patterning also caused British moths to turn black amid the grime of the industrial revolution, researchers...

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Researchers uncover global, evolving, and historic make-up of malaria species

A team of scientists has uncovered the global, evolving, and historic make-up of Plasmodium vivax, one of the five species of malaria that infect humans. The research, which links the...

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New radio map of Jupiter reveals what's beneath colorful clouds

In this animated gif, optical images of the surface clouds encircling Jupiter's equator --including the famous Great Red Spot -- alternate with new detailed radio images of the deep atmosphere (up to 30 kilometers below the clouds). The radio map shows ammonia-rich gases rising to the surface (dark) intermixed with descending, ammonia-poor gases (bright). In the cold temperatures of the upper atmosphere (160 to 200 Kelvin, or -170 to -100 degrees Fahrenheit), the rising ammonia condenses into clouds, which are invisible in the radio region.Astronomers using the upgraded Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array in New Mexico have produced the most detailed radio map yet of the atmosphere of Jupiter, revealing the massive movement...

Permafrost thawing below shallow Arctic lakes

Shallow lakes on the Coastal Plain of Alaska. New research finds permafrost below shallow lakes such as these is thawing as a result of changing winter climate.New research shows permafrost below shallow Arctic lakes is thawing as a result of changing winter climate.

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NASA's Hubble finds universe is expanding faster than expected

<p>This illustration shows the three steps astronomers used to measure the universe's expansion rate to an unprecedented accuracy, reducing the total uncertainty to 2.4 percent.

<p>Astronomers made the measurements by streamlining and strengthening the construction of the cosmic distance ladder, which is used to measure accurate distances to galaxies near and far from Earth.

<p>Beginning at left, astronomers use Hubble to measure the distances to a class of pulsating stars called Cepheid Variables, employing a basic tool of geometry called parallax. This is the same technique that surveyors use to measure distances on Earth. Once astronomers calibrate the Cepheids' true brightness, they can use them as cosmic yardsticks to measure distances to galaxies much farther away than they can with the parallax technique. The rate at which Cepheids pulsate provides an additional fine-tuning to the true brightness, with slower pulses for brighter Cepheids. The astronomers compare the calibrated true brightness values with the stars' apparent brightness, as seen from Earth, to determine accurate distances.

<p>Once the Cepheids are calibrated, astronomers move beyond our Milky Way to nearby galaxies [shown at center]. They look for galaxies that contain Cepheid stars and another reliable yardstick, Type Ia supernovae, exploding stars that flare with the same amount of brightness. The astronomers use the Cepheids to measure the true brightness of the supernovae in each host galaxy. From these measurements, the astronomers determine the galaxies' distances.

<p>They then look for supernovae in galaxies located even farther away from Earth. Unlike Cepheids, Type Ia supernovae are brilliant enough to be seen from relatively longer distances. The astronomers compare the true and apparent brightness of distant supernovae to measure out to the distance where the expansion of the universe can be seen [shown at right]. They compare those distance measurements with how the light from the supernovae is stretched to longer wavelengths by the expansion of space. They use these two values to calculate how fast the universe expands with time, called the Hubble constant.Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that the universe is expanding 5 percent to 9 percent faster than expected.

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Study finds that plant growth responses to high carbon dioxide depend on symbiotic fungi

Ectomycorrhizal fungi (shown as mushrooms connected to the roots of the tree) increase the uptake of nitrogen by the plant. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (show as grass roots on the left) do not provide that advantage to their host.Research by an international team of environmental scientists from the United Kingdom, Belgium and United States, including Indiana University, has found that plants that associate with one type of symbiotic...

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Scientists observe first signs of healing in the Antarctic ozone layer

Scientists at MIT and elsewhere have identified the "first fingerprints of healing" of the Antarctic ozone layer, published today in the journal Science.

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Scientists observe supermassive black hole feeding on cold gas

At the center of a galaxy cluster, 1 billion light years from Earth, a voracious, supermassive black hole is preparing for a chilly feast.

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LISA Pathfinder mission paves way for space-based detection of gravitational waves

An artist's rendering of LISA Pathfinder on its way to Earth-sun L1.LISA Pathfinder, a mission led by the European Space Agency (ESA) with contributions from NASA, has successfully tested a key technology needed to build a space-based observatory for detecting gravitational...

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Vaccine against Zika virus tested successfully in mice

An experimental vaccine against Zika virus developed by Brazilian and US researchers has been tested successfully in trials with mice.

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Hubble captures vivid auroras in Jupiter's atmosphere

This image combines an image taken with Hubble Space Telescope in the optical (taken in spring 2014) and observations of its auroras in the ultraviolet, taken in 2016.Astronomers are using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study auroras -- stunning light shows in a planet's atmosphere -- on the poles of the largest planet in the Solar...

Good bacteria vital to coral reef survival

This image shows bleached and unbleached coral close-up.Scientists say good bacteria could be the key to keeping coral healthy, able to withstand the impacts of global warming and to secure the long-term survival of reefs worldwide.

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Life's first handshake: Chiral molecule detected in interstellar space

Scientists applaud the first detection of a "handed" molecule, (propylene oxide) in interstellar space. It was detected, primarily with the NSF's Green Bank Telescope, near the center of our Galaxy in Sagittarius (Sgr) B2, a massive star-forming region. Propylene oxide is one of a class of so-called "chiral" molecules -- molecules that have an identical chemical composition, but right- and left-handed versions. Chiral molecules are essential for life and their discovery in deep space may help scientists understand why life on Earth relies on a certain handedness to perform key biological functions. Sgr A* in this image indicates the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy. The white features in the composite image are the bright radio sources in the center of our Galaxy as seen with the VLA. The background image is from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The two "handed" versions of propylene oxide are illustrated. The "R" and "S" designations are for the Latin terms rectus (right) and sinister (left).Like a pair of human hands, certain organic molecules have mirror-image versions of themselves, a chemical property known as chirality. These so-called "handed" molecules are essential for biology and have...

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El Niño could drive intense season for Amazon fires

The smoke from multiple fires in the Mato Grosso region of Brazil rises over forested and deforested areas in this astronaut photograph taken from the International Space Station on Aug. 19, 2014.The long-lasting effects of El Niño are projected to cause an intense fire season in the Amazon, according to the 2016 seasonal fire forecast from scientists at NASA and the...

New material has potential to cut costs and make nuclear fuel recycling cleaner

Shown is the crystal structure of SBMOF-1. We are looking down the one-dimensional channels of SBMOF-1 through which gas molecules percolate.Researchers are investigating a new material that might help in nuclear fuel recycling and waste reduction by capturing certain gases released during reprocessing. Conventional technologies to remove these radioactive gases...

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ALMA detected the most distant oxygenstem 2

Many young bright stars are located in the galaxy and ionize the gas inside and around the galaxy. Green color indicates the ionized oxygen detected by ALMA, whereas purple shows the distribution of ionized hydrogen detected by the Subaru Telescope.Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) detected a clear signal from oxygen in a galaxy located 13.1 billion light-years away from us. This is the most distant oxygen...

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