Gravity measurements confirm subsurface ocean on Enceladus

In 2005, NASA's Cassini spacecraft sent pictures back to Earth depicting an icy Saturnian moon spewing water vapor and ice from fractures, known as "tiger stripes," in its frozen surface. It was big news that tiny Enceladus -- a mere...

Oldest most complete, genetically intact human skeleton in New World

The skeletal remains of a teenage female from the late Pleistocene or last ice age found in an underwater cave in Mexico have major implications for our understanding of the...

'The era of neutrino astronomy has begun'

Computers at the IceCube laboratory collect raw data in near-real time from detectors buried deep in the Antarctic ice. Events selected for physics studies are sent north via satellite for use by any member of the IceCube Collaboration. The UMD Maryland IceCube team designed the data collection system.Astrophysicists using a telescope embedded in Antarctic ice have succeeded in a quest to detect and record the mysterious phenomena known as cosmic neutrinos -- nearly massless particles that stream...

Astronomers answer key question: How common are habitable planets?

NASA's Kepler spacecraft observed 150,000 stars within a field in the constellation Cygnus.NASA's Kepler space telescope, now crippled and its four-year mission at an end, nevertheless provided enough data to answer its main research question: How many of the 200 billion stars...

Extinct human cousin gave Tibetans advantage at high elevation

A Chinese researcher collects a blood sample from an ethnic Tibetan man participating in the DNA study.Tibetans were able to adapt to high altitudes thanks to a gene picked up when their ancestors mated with a species of human they helped push to extinction, according to...

Humans can distinguish at least 1 trillion different odors

In a world perfumed by freshly popped popcorn and exhaust fumes, where sea breezes can mingle with the scents of sweet flowers or wet paint, new research shows that humans...

Archaeologists discover largest, oldest wine cellar in Near East

Ancient wine jugs were unearthed at Tel Kabri.Would you drink wine flavored with mint, honey and a dash of psychotropic resins? Ancient Canaanites did more than 3,000 years ago.

Newly identified galactic supercluster is home to the Milky Way

A slice of the Laniakea Supercluster in the supergalactic equatorial plane -- an imaginary plane containing many of the most massive clusters in this structure. The colors represent density within this slice, with red for high densities and blue for voids -- areas with relatively little matter. Individual galaxies are shown as white dots. Velocity flow streams within the region gravitationally dominated by Laniakea are shown in white, while dark blue flow lines are away from the Laniakea local basin of attraction. The orange contour encloses the outer limits of these streams, a diameter of about 160 Mpc. This region contains the mass of about 100 million billion suns.Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's Green Bank Telescope (GBT) -- among other telescopes -- have determined that our own Milky Way galaxy is part of a newly identified ginormous...

Smallest known galaxy with a supermassive black hole

This Hubble Space telescope image shows the gargantuan galaxy M60 in the center, and the ultracompact dwarf galaxy M60-UCD1 below it and to the right, and also enlarged as an inset. A new international study led by University of Utah astronomer Anil Seth and published in the journal Nature found that M60-UCD1 is the smallest known galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its center, suggesting the dwarf galaxy originally was much larger but was stripped of its outer layers by gravity from galaxy M60 over billions of years. M60's gravity also is pulling galaxy NGC4647, upper right, and the two eventually will collide. (NOTE: for a version of this photo with the galaxy names labeled, email <a href="mailto:lee.siegel@utah.edu">lee.siegel@utah.edu</a>.)A University of Utah astronomer and his colleagues discovered that an ultracompact dwarf galaxy harbors a supermassive black hole -- the smallest galaxy known to contain such a massive light-sucking...

New isotopic evidence supporting moon formation via Earth collision with planet-sized body

A new series of measurements of oxygen isotopes provides increasing evidence that the Moon formed from the collision of Earth with another large, planet-sized astronomical body, around 4.5 billion years...

Oklahoma quakes induced by wastewater injection, study finds

The dramatic increase in earthquakes in central Oklahoma since 2009 is likely attributable to subsurface wastewater injection at just a handful of disposal wells, finds a new study to be...

A team from Harvard's Wyss Institute, Harvard's SEAS, and MIT built an autonomous robot that starts out as a single composite sheet programmed to fold itself into a complex shape and crawl away without any human intervention.

NIF experiments show initial gain in fusion fuel

Ignition -- the process of releasing fusion energy equal to or greater than the amount of energy used to confine the fuel -- has long been considered the "holy grail"...

Clear skies on exo-Neptune

This is an artist's concept of the silhouette of the extrasolar planet HAT-P-11b as it passes its parent star. The planet was observed as it crossed in front of its star in order to learn more about its atmosphere.Astronomers using data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Kepler Space Telescope have discovered clear skies and steamy water vapour on a planet outside...

Gut bacteria, artificial sweeteners and glucose intolerance

This image depicts gut microbiota.Artificial sweeteners -- promoted as aids to weight loss and diabetes prevention -- could actually hasten the development of glucose intolerance and metabolic disease, and they do so in a...

Using airport screening technology to visualize waves in fusion plasma

ECE-Imaging and the new diagnostic, MIR, sample overlapping regions of the tokamak plasma and produce 2D images of turbulence and fluctuations. ECE-Imaging measures the radiation temperature of electrons orbiting around magnetic field lines, while MIR detects changes in the electron density. In the series of frames shown, an instability associated with the formation of internal magnetic islands can be seen rotating through the diagnostic field of view.Millimeter-wave imaging technology is widely used in airborne radar, automotive sensors and full-body scanners for passenger screening at airports. A new, quasi-optical radar technique images millimeter-wave radiation reflected from fusion...

Robotic construction crew needs no foreman

The TERMES robots can carry bricks, build staircases, and climb them to add bricks to a structure, following low-level rules to independently complete a construction project.On the plains of Namibia, millions of tiny termites are building a mound of soil -- an 8-foot-tall "lung" for their underground nest. During a year of construction, many termites...

When is a comet not a comet?

These NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope images reveal a never-before seen set of six comet-like tails radiating from a body in the asteroid belt and designated P/2013 P5.

The asteroid was discovered as an unusually fuzzy looking object by astronomers using the Pan-STARRS survey telescope in Hawaii. The multiple tails were discovered in Hubble images taken on 10 September 2013. When Hubble returned to the asteroid on 23 September its appearance had totally changed &#8212; it looked as if the entire structure had swung around.

One interpretation is that the asteroid's rotation rate has increased to the point where dust is falling off the surface and escaping into space, where it is swept out into tails by the pressure of sunlight. According to this theory, the asteroid's spin has been accelerated by the gentle push of sunlight. Based on an analysis of the tail structure, the object has ejected dust for at least five months.

These visible-light images were taken with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. P/2013 P5 is seen on the left as viewed on 10 September 2013, and on the right as seen on 23 September 2013.Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have observed a unique and baffling object in the asteroid belt that looks like a rotating lawn sprinkler or badminton shuttlecock. While this...

Snakes and snake-like robots show how sidewinders conquer sandy slopes

Researchers studied sidewinder snakes to understand the unique motion they use to climb sandy slopes. Shown (l-r) are Dan Goldman of Georgia Tech, Hamid Marvi of Carnegie Mellon and Joe Mendelson of Zoo Atlanta.The amazing ability of sidewinder snakes to quickly climb sandy slopes was once something biologists only vaguely understood and roboticists only dreamed of replicating. By studying the snakes in a...

Functioning of aged brains and muscles in mice made younger

This is Amy Wagers, Harvard Stem Cell Institute Principal Faculty Member and professor in Harvard's Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology.Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers have shown that a protein they previously demonstrated can make the failing hearts in aging mice appear more like those of young health mice,...

Scientist identifies world's biggest-ever flying bird

Paleontologist Dan Ksepka examines the fossilized skull of what may be the biggest flying bird ever found. Its telltale beak allowed Ksepka to identify the find as a previously unknown species of pelagornithid, an extinct group of giant seabirds known for bony tooth-like spikes that lined their upper and lower jaws.Scientists have identified the fossilized remains of an extinct giant bird that could be the biggest flying bird ever found. With an estimated 20-24-foot wingspan, the creature surpassed size estimates...

Walking fish reveal how our ancestors evolved onto land

This is <I>Polypterus senegalus</I>.About 400 million years ago a group of fish began exploring land and evolved into tetrapods -- today's amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. But just how these ancient fish used...

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