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.

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, Observations, Space

Say Cheese: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory Takes Its 100 millionth photo!

latest_512_0094

It’s a remarkable day for NASA and space observations: the Solar Dynamics Observatory has taken its 100,000,000th photo! The mission, which has been in continuous operation since 2010 has greatly contributed to our understanding of the Sun and the Sun-Earth relationship.

News, Observations, Space

Kepler crossed the 1,000 discovered alien planets milestone

Kepler-11 is a sun-like star around which six planets orbit. At times, two or more planets pass in front of the star at once, as shown in this artist's conception of a simultaneous transit of three planets observed by NASA's Kepler spacecraft on Aug. 26, 2010. Image credit: NASA/Tim Pyle

Since it was first launched in 2009, the $600 Kepler mission has discovered more than 1,000 alien worlds. Arguably it’s one of the most successful space mission in history so far, further cementing its status as a legend. The milestone was breached after eight newly confirmed exoplanets were added to the tally, two of which are very similar to Earth and thus could support alien life.

Observations

NASA can see your Christmas lights… from outer space

dc_balt

Many are already preparing for Christmas – some shopping for presents, some Christmas lights… the usual. But as you’re gearing up for the winter holidays, NASA is watching you. Well, they’re not really watching you, it’s more that they are monitoring light emissions from big cities – and they report that during the holiday season, patterns in nighttime light intensity change –

Great Pics, Observations, Space

Cassini’s Stunning Pictures of Jupiter’s Southern Hemisphere

This polar map is composed of 18 colour images taken by the narrow-angle camera on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft following a flyby in 2000, but was only recently released.

When we think about Jupiter, we have a certain image in mind – the big red giant with a huge spot on its surface and rings around it. But if you look at it from “below” (from the southern Hemisphere), the planet looks entirely different, as the Cassini probe showed. “If you were to float just beneath the giant planet

News, Observations, Space

Earth-like planet spotted for the first time with a ground-based telescope

300px-Earth_and_Super-Earth

Space-based telescopes have been used to spot planets (even Earth-like planets) for years now, but this is the first time ever that a ground-based telescope has detected an Earth like planet. A telescope based on the ground in La Palma (one of the Canary Islands) called Nordic has found 55 Cancri e, an exoplanet two times bigger than Earth orbiting a star much

News, Observations, Space

Mysterious martian gouges carved by hovering dry ice

sn-marsdunesH

It’s like Christmas before Christmas – the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has started sending back images it took of the red planet, and there’s just so many fantastic stuff it feels like Christmas has come earlier this year. Now, the MRO sent back images peculiar features along the slopes of dunes: long, sharply defined grooves (pictured) that seem to appear and disappear seasonally.