Astronomy, News, Space

Newly discovered ancient Black hole is monstrously big for its age

This is an artist's impression of a quasar with a supermassive black hole in the distant universe. Credit: Zhaoyu Li/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Misti Mountain Observatory

Astronomers have discovered a humongous supermassive black hole that’s 12 billion times as massive as the Sun. What’s peculiar about it isn’t necessarily its mass – some even bigger black holes have been found – but rather its age. Observations suggest that the black hole 12.8 billion light-years away, which means what scientists are reading and observing what the black

News, Space

Curiosity Rover Takes a Revealing Selfie

pia19142-figa-main_malhi-mojave-labeled_small

The Curiosity Rover, currently on Mars, took another selfie in the “Mojave” area, where it is preparing to have a second taste of Mount Sharp, the central peak within Gale crater. The selfie scene is assembled from dozens of images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the rover’s robotic arm.

Geology, News, Observations

Dust from the Sahara Desert Fertilizes the Amazon’s Forests

The Sahara Desert actually "sends" dust to the Amazon rainforest, via global winds. Image via Wiki Commons.

The Sahara Desert and the Amazon area have few things in common – one is a dry, barren wasteland, while the other is the most fertile area on Earth. But according to a new NASA study, there may be more than meets the eye when it comes to the two – dust from the Saharan area makes the trans-Atlantic journey, fertilizing the Amazonian rainforest with phosphorus.

Feature Post, Space

The First Woman in Space: the story of Valentina Tereshkova

Sketch of Valentina Tereshkova by Phillip J Bond.

Today, we still lament about the discrepant gender gap in STEM fields – science technology engineering mathematics – but in the past century, things were a lot worse. Only a select few women got to be scientists in the ’50s and early ’60s, at least compared to the number of men who went on to earn a PhD, and these were times when things started to drift towards more liberal ground. The USSR, however, didn’t seem to share the same gender bias in science like other countries, possibly because the Marxist doctrine upon which the regime was based took granting equal rights to both men and women very seriously, including places in society. In 1964, some 40% of engineering graduates in the USSR were females, compared to under 5% in the US. By the mid-1980s, 58% of Russian engineers were women.

Alien life, News

NASA Plans Life-Searching Mission on Jupiter’s Satellite Europa

Artistic representation of water plums spurting out of Europa. Image via Daily Galaxy.

Jupiter’s satellite Europa is definitely one of the most interesting places in our solar system – despite being really far from the Sun and frozen on the surface, NASA researchers actually believe it is the best bet to search for extraterrestrial life. Now, scientists and engineers have actually planned a mission aimed to reveal whether life on Europa exists or not.

Astrophysics, News, Observations

Surprising Link Found Between Dark Matter and Black Holes

The teacup galaxy. Red/yellow shows the radio emission "bubbles", blue shows the gas and the bright yellow in the centre shows where the jets are driving into the gas. Image via CNET.

Dark matter and black holes are some of the most mysterious things in the Universe, so a connection between the two is absolutely thrilling. In a new study, astronomers report a strange link between the amount of dark matter in a galaxy and the size of its supermassive black hole. Most galaxies have a black hole at their centers –

Astrophysics, News, Observations

70,000 Years Ago, a Rogue Star Passed Through Our Solar System

star flyby oort cloud

Too close for comfort – a team of astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile and South Africa concluded that a dim star passed through the Oort cloud, our solar system’s distant cloud of comets. The star missed the Earth by less than one light year, and passed five times closer than the current closest star, Proxima Centauri. In a paper published

News, Physics, Science, Space

Interstellar movie is helping scientists model REAL black holes

gargantua black hole

The team behind Interstellar’s awesome special effects meant business when they set out to emulate space, celestial objects and black holes as scientifically accurate as possible. In a paper published in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity, the special effects crew describe at length the innovative computer code they used to generate stunning imagery, but also make new scientific discoveries. Whenever a SciFi movie spews new scientific advancement, well, you know it’s a good one!

News, Space flight

A hundred people shortlisted for one-way trip to Mars

Maggie, one of the 100 selected participants. Image via BBC.

Selected from more than 200,000 applicants, 50 men and 50 women have become the final contenders for the one-way trip to Mars. A Dutch not-for-profit company is planning to send groups of four people on a one-way trip to the red planet in about a decade to start a permanent human settlement – now, we can take a better look at those people.

Astronomy, Astrophysics, News

Strange, Unexplainable Clouds Hover over Mars

Dust storms on the Martian surface usually produce low-altitude plumes. Image via JPL/NASA.

Mysterious cloud-like formations hovering over Mars challenge our understanding of the Red Planet’s climate. Interestingly, amateur astronomers spotted the bizarre feature rising off the edge of the red planet in March and April of 2012 and since then, no satisfying answer regarding to their formation has been put forth. Now, scientists have concocted a new theory, but there’s only one problem – it poses more questions than it answers.