Physics in the News

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Discovery! First water ice clouds found beyond our Solar System

via space

Companion star hidden for 21 years in a supernova’s glare

This is an artist's impression of supernova 1993J, an exploding star in the galaxy M81 whose light reached us 21 years ago. The supernova originated in a double-star system where one member was a massive star that exploded after siphoning most of its hydrogen envelope to its companion star. After two decades, astronomers have at last identified the blue helium-burning companion star, seen at the center of the expanding nebula of debris from the supernova. The Hubble Space Telescope identified the ultraviolet glow of the surviving companion embedded in the fading glow of the supernova.
This is an artist’s impression of supernova 1993J, an exploding star in the galaxy M81 whose light reached us 21 years ago. The supernova originated in a double-star system where one member was a massive star that exploded after siphoning most of its hydrogen envelope to its companion star. After two decades, astronomers have at last identified the blue helium-burning companion star, seen at the center of the expanding nebula of debris from the supernova. The Hubble Space Telescope identified the ultraviolet glow of the surviving companion embedded in the fading glow of the supernova. (Credit: NASA)
via sciencedaily

Black Holes: Monsters of the Universe

The nearby galaxy Centaurus A as viewed at X-ray, radio, and optical wavelengths, showing jets powered by a massive black hole at the center of the galaxy. (Credit: NASA)
The nearby galaxy Centaurus A as viewed at X-ray, radio, and optical wavelengths, showing jets powered by a massive black hole at the center of the galaxy. (Credit: NASA)
via bigislandnow

Is there a smallest length?

via backreaction

Untethered soft robot that defies extreme conditions

via channeleye

Cryogenic on-chip quantum electron cooling leads towards computers that consume 10x less power

Researchers at UT Arlington have created the first electronic device that can cool electrons to -228 degrees Celsius (-375F), without any kind of external cooling. (Credit: S. Anthony)
Researchers at UT Arlington have created the first electronic device that can cool electrons to -228 degrees Celsius (-375F), without any kind of external cooling. (Credit: S. Anthony)
via extremetech

Purdue profs peer into final frontier

via wlfi

The search for extraterrestrial life is like hunting for pizza in a Dorm

"Our research strengthens the argument that methane and oxygen together, or methane and ozone together, are still strong signatures of life,” he said.That's because oxygen and methane abhor each other. An atmosphere heavy in one of these gases has to have its supplies of the other continually replenished, and the most reliable way that happens on Earth is through the mechanisms of life. (Credit: NASA, B. Richmond)
“Our research strengthens the argument that methane and oxygen together, or methane and ozone together, are still strong signatures of life. That’s because oxygen and methane abhor each other. An atmosphere heavy in one of these gases has to have its supplies of the other continually replenished, and the most reliable way that happens on Earth is through the mechanisms of life,” said Shawn Domagal-Goldman of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. (Credit: NASA, B. Richmond)
via motherboard

Astrophysics at the edge of the Earth

“When you get off the plane at the South Pole, there is a feeling like you’re out in the ocean,” says University of Chicago physicist John Carlstrom, the principal investigator for the South Pole Telescope team, who has logged 15 round trips to the South Pole over the past two decades. “It’s just a featureless horizon. The snow is so dry it feels like Styrofoam.” (Credit: J. Gallicchio, G. Roberts Jr.)
“When you get off the plane at the South Pole, there is a feeling like you’re out in the ocean,” says University of Chicago physicist John Carlstrom, the principal investigator for the South Pole Telescope team, who has logged 15 round trips to the South Pole over the past two decades. “It’s just a featureless horizon. The snow is so dry it feels like Styrofoam.” (Credit: J. Gallicchio, G. Roberts Jr.)
via symmetrymagazine

What makes a star starry? Is it me?

via npr

Physics in the News

September 10, 2014

The asteroid mining race begins

(Credit: Planetary Resources)
(Credit: Planetary Resources)
via bloombergview

A Black Hole doesn’t die — It does something a lot weirder

Chandra Observatory
If a particle and its antiparticle pop into being on the event horizon, one gets sucked in. The other gets away. If the antiparticle gets sucked into the black hole, and the particle breaks free, the particle no longer has a chance to annihilate. It is now real, and not virtual. Its presence and energy count in the universe. And real radiation leaking from a black hole means that the black hole itself is slowly shrinking. (Credit: Chandra Observatory, NASA, Inglis-Arkell)
via io9

China eyes first space station by around 2022

The U.S. Defense Department has highlighted China's increasing space capabilities, however, saying China was pursuing activities aimed at preventing its adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.(Credit: Jaime FlorCruz - CNN Beijing Bureau Chief)
The U.S. Defense Department has highlighted China’s increasing space capabilities, however, saying China was pursuing activities aimed at preventing its adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.(Credit: Jaime FlorCruz – CNN Beijing Bureau Chief)
via reuters

Evidence of forming planet discovered 335 light-years from Earth

This graphic is an artist’s conception of the young massive star HD100546 and its surrounding disk. (Credit: VP. Marenfeld & NOAO/AURA/NSF)
The new planet would be an uninhabitable gas giant at least three times the size of Jupiter, and the distance from the star would be about the same distance that Saturn is from the Sun. This graphic is an artist’s conception of the young massive star HD100546 and its surrounding disk. (Credit: VP. Marenfeld & NOAO/AURA/NSF)
via astronomy

Is the universe a stable quantum system?

If our understanding is correct, then the universe as a whole could be in a locally stable configuration, but it could also jump to a lower energy state through a process of quantum tunneling. If that happened, the universe would collapse and we'd all go bye bye. So to our best understanding, it is possible for the universe to collapse. (Credit: )
If our understanding is correct, then the universe as a whole could be in a locally stable configuration, but it could also jump to a lower energy state through a process of quantum tunneling. If that happened, the universe would collapse and we’d all go bye bye. So to our best understanding, it is possible for the universe to collapse. (Credit: )
via phys.org

Newly discovered ‘Tetraquark’ fuels quantum feud

Quarks have one of three “color charges,” which are analogous to the primary colors red, green and blue. Just as an atom strikes a balance between positive and negative electrical charges, particles made of quarks balance colors to reach a neutral state. In the color analogy, that means combining colors to make white. (Credit: Quanta Magazine)
Quarks have one of three “color charges,” which are analogous to the primary colors red, green and blue. Just as an atom strikes a balance between positive and negative electrical charges, particles made of quarks balance colors to reach a neutral state. In the color analogy, that means combining colors to make white. (Credit: Quanta Magazine)
via wired

Alcohol clouds in space

(Credit: HUbble)
There is a giant cloud of alcohol in outer space. It’s in a region known as W3(OH), only about 6500 light years away. Unfortunately it is methyl alcohol (commonly known as wood alcohol, though this stuff is not derived from wood), so it isn’t suitable for drinking. There is some ethyl alcohol (the drinkable kind).(Credit: Hubble)
via phys.org

Why is the Space Station launching satellites on its own?

Two tiny satellites escaping on their own doesn’t sound too bad … except it’s not the first time this has happened. On August 23rd, NASA reports that two other CubeSats set themselves free. OK, 4 out of 100 doesn’t sound too bad either … except only 12 have been launched so far, which means a quarter of the CubeSats un-tethered themselves. (Credit: NASA)
Two tiny satellites escaping on their own doesn’t sound too bad … except it’s not the first time this has happened. On August 23rd, NASA reports that two other CubeSats set themselves free. OK, 4 out of 100 doesn’t sound too bad either … except only 12 have been launched so far, which means a quarter of the CubeSats un-tethered themselves. (Credit: NASA)
via mysteriousuniverse

Black hole thermodynamics

Simulation of a black hole merger. (Credit: NASA/Chandra)
Classical black holes have “no hair”, meaning that they are simply described by their mass, charge and rotation. Because of this, you could toss an object (with a great deal of entropy) into a black hole, and the entropy would simply go away. (Credit: NASA/Chandra, B. Koberlein )
via phys.org

Physics in the News

Friday, September 5, 2014

The plan to make the Moon an enormous detector of cosmic rays

Artist impression of the Square Kilometer Array. If all goes according to plan in the next decade, we could see these small perturbations on the moon—and begin to solve some of the mysteries of space. (Credit: SKA)
Artist impression of the Square Kilometer Array. If all goes according to plan in the next decade, we could see these small perturbations on the moon—and begin to solve some of the mysteries of space. (Credit: SKA)
via gizmodo

NASA scientists study the Sun by listening to it

via popsci

What would it be like if you fell into a black hole?

via universetoday

Astronaut all-stars will visit China to talk space cooperation

China's first astronaut, Yang Liwei, is now vice director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office. (Credit: CMS)
Space travelers from around the world are headed to China this month for an international Planetary Congress, which will explore the possibilities for expanding human spaceflight cooperation among different countries. Pictured above is China’s first astronaut, Yang Liwei, is now vice director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office. (Credit: CMS)
via space

The ATLAS Humanoid Robot has advanced to the level of a lazy teenager

via gizmodo

AI: How Algorithms make systems smart

An animation of the quicksort algorithm sorting an array of randomized values. The red bars mark the pivot element; at the start of the animation, the element farthest to the right hand side is chosen as the pivot. (Credit: RonaldH)
An animation of the quicksort algorithm sorting an array of randomized values. The red bars mark the pivot element; at the start of the animation, the element farthest to the right hand side is chosen as the pivot. (Credit: RonaldH)
via wired

Google branches out from D-Wave in quantum computing initiative

rather than keeping all its eggs in D-Wave's basket, Google's "Quantum A.I. Lab" announced that it is starting a collaboration with an academic quantum computing researcher, John Martinis of the University of California-Santa Barbara. (Credit: Wiki, Timmer)
Rather than keeping all its eggs in D-Wave’s basket, Google’s “Quantum A.I. Lab” announced that it is starting a collaboration with an academic quantum computing researcher, John Martinis of the University of California-Santa Barbara. (Credit: Wiki, Timmer)
via arstechnica

Sep 5th: Mysterious outer solar system series – The Kuiper Belt

via cosmoquest

Space Station’s ‘Cubesat Cannon’ has Mind of its Own

In the grasp of the Japanese robotic arm, NanoRack’s CubeSat deployer releases a pair of miniature satellites last month. (Credit: NASA)
In the grasp of the Japanese robotic arm, NanoRack’s CubeSat deployer releases a pair of miniature satellites last month. (Credit: NASA)
via discovery

Physics in the News

Thursday, September 4, 2014

New map locates Milky Way in neighborhood of 100,000 galaxies

A new map places the Milky Way (black dot) within a large supercluster of galaxies (white dots) by tracing the gravitational pull of galaxies toward one another. White filaments reveal the paths of galaxies moving toward a gravitational center in the new supercluster, dubbed "Laniakea." (Blue, low galaxy density; green, intermediate; red, high.) SDvision interactive visualization software by DP at CEA/Saclay, France)
A new map places the Milky Way (black dot) within a large supercluster of galaxies (white dots) by tracing the gravitational pull of galaxies toward one another. White filaments reveal the paths of galaxies moving toward a gravitational center in the new supercluster, dubbed “Laniakea.” (Blue, low galaxy density; green, intermediate; red, high.) (Credit: DP at CEA/Saclay, France)
via nationalgeographic

Small asteroid to safely pass close to Earth Sunday

via nasa

Researcher advances a new model for a cosmological enigma — dark matter

This three-dimensional map offers a first look at the web-like large-scale distribution of dark matter, an invisible form of matter that accounts for most of the Universe's imaginary mass. The map reveals a loose network of dark matter filaments, gradually collapsing under the relentless pull of gravity, and growing clumpier over time. The three axes of the box correspond to sky position (in right ascension and declination), and distance from the Earth increasing from left to right (as measured by cosmological redshift). Note how the clumping of the dark matter becomes more pronounced, moving right to left across the volume map, from the early Universe to the more recent Universe.
This three-dimensional map offers a first look at the web-like large-scale distribution of dark matter, an invisible form of matter that accounts for most of the Universe’s imaginary mass. The map reveals a loose network of dark matter filaments, gradually collapsing under the relentless pull of gravity, and growing clumpier over time. The three axes of the box correspond to sky position, and distance from the Earth increasing from left to right. Note how the clumping of the dark matter becomes more pronounced, moving right to left across the volume map, from the early Universe to the more recent Universe. (Credit: NASA/ESA/Richard Massey)
via ku.edu

Dark energy hunt gets weird

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Cosmologists have revealed intruiging new ways to probe the mystery of whether dark energy exists and how it might be accelerating the universe’s growth. (Credit: Picturegarden/Getty)
via newscientist

Watching ‘the clock’ at the LHC

As time ticks down to the restart of the Large Hadron Collider, scientists are making sure their detectors run like clockwork.Photo by Antonio Saba, CERN
As time ticks down to the restart of the Large Hadron Collider, scientists are making sure their detectors run like clockwork.  (Credit: Antonio Saba, CERN)
via symmetrymagazine

Mind-blowing science explained: Neutron stars “are basically atoms as big as mountains”

via salon

Ultracold atoms juggle spins with exceptional symmetry

Schematic representation of a spin-exchanging collision. Two atoms in different orbitals (blue and green) and different spin orientations (black arrows) collide. The two atoms exiting the collision have swapped their spins after interacting. Crucially, the process is independent of the two specific initial spin states. Credit: LMU-München / MPQ, Quantum Many Body Systems Division Read more at: http://phys.org
Schematic representation of a spin-exchanging collision. Two atoms in different orbitals (blue and green) and different spin orientations (black arrows) collide. The two atoms exiting the collision have swapped their spins after interacting. Crucially, the process is independent of the two specific initial spin states. (Credit: LMU-München / MPQ, Quantum Many Body Systems Division)
via phys.org

How the enormous mirrors on the world’s largest telescope are made

The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is a ground-based extremely large telescope planned for completion in 2020.[5] It will consist of seven 8.4 m (27.6 ft) diameter primary segments,[6] with the resolving power of a 24.5 m (80.4 ft) primary mirror and collecting area equivalent to a 22.0 m (72.2 ft) one,[7] (which is about 368 square meters) (Credit: wiki, Tarantola)
via gizmodo

Cosmic forecast: Dark clouds will give way to sunshine

via phys.org

Do exoplanets transform between classes?

A new analysis suggests that hot super-Earths might be the skeletal remnants of hot Jupiters stripped of their atmospheres. The above image is an artist’s depiction of an early stage in the destruction of a hot Jupiter by its star. (Credit: NASA / GSFC / Reddy, S. Hall)
via skyandtelescope

Physics in the News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Researchers discover new clues to determining the solar cycle

Magnetic stripes of solar material – with alternating south and north polarity – march toward the sun's equator. Such observations may change the way we think about what's driving the sun's 22-year solar cycle. (Credit:  S. McIntosh)
Magnetic stripes of solar material – with alternating south and north polarity – march toward the sun’s equator. Such observations may change the way we think about what’s driving the sun’s 22-year solar cycle. (Credit: S. McIntosh)
via nasa

Finding the ‘Holy Grail’ of making smarter robots

via abcnews

Do most cosmologists accept the reality of the cosmic fine tuning?

via winteryknight

DARPA’s experimental space plane XS-1 starts development

via dailycaller

How the space craft Dawn will get the low-down on the first dwarf planet ever discovered

This image illustrates Dawn’s spiral transfer from high altitude mapping orbit (HAMO) to low altitude mapping orbit (LAMO). The trajectory turns from blue to red as time progresses over two months. Red dashed sections are where ion thrusting is stopped so the spacecraft can point its main antenna toward Earth. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
This image illustrates Dawn’s spiral transfer from high altitude mapping orbit (HAMO) to low altitude mapping orbit (LAMO). The trajectory turns from blue to red as time progresses over two months. Red dashed sections are where ion thrusting is stopped so the spacecraft can point its main antenna toward Earth. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
via nasa

Japan’s decade long mission to mine an asteroid

The little mushroom cap between the two high-gain antennas is the X-band low-gain antenna. The little blue thing is DCAM3, a deployable camera that will hopefully take pictures of the explosion and impact of Hayabusa's "Small Carry-on Impactor" while the mothership hides safely in the shadow of the asteroid.
The little mushroom cap between the two high-gain antennas is the X-band low-gain antenna. The little blue thing is DCAM3, a deployable camera that will hopefully take pictures of the explosion and impact of Hayabusa’s “Small Carry-on Impactor” while the mothership hides safely in the shadow of the asteroid. (Credit: Lakdawalla)
via gizmodo

Phase change memory lets a single bit act as different logic gates

Phase change materials can switch between two forms depending on how quickly they're cooled. Cool them quickly and you get an amorphous form, which provides significant resistance to the flow of electrons. Cool them slowly and they will allow electrons to flow more readily. Once cooled, these two forms remain stable, locking the differences in conduction in place. (Credit: Columbia University)
Phase change materials can switch between two forms depending on how quickly they’re cooled. Cool them quickly and you get an amorphous form, which provides significant resistance to the flow of electrons. Cool them slowly and they will allow electrons to flow more readily. Once cooled, these two forms remain stable, locking the differences in conduction in place. (Credit: Columbia University, Timmer)
via arstechnica

Rosetta set for ‘capture’ manoeuvres

Rosetta scientists will be heading to Lisbon, Portugal, next week to present their early impressions of the comet to their peers.
Rosetta scientists will be heading to Lisbon, Portugal, next week to present their early  impressions of the comet to their peers.
via bbc

Deflecting near Earth asteroids with paint

The Yarkovsky Effect: The daylight side absorbs the solar radiation. As the object rotates, the dusk side cools down and hence emits more thermal photons than the dawn side. It may be possible to exploit this effect for planetary defense.
The Yarkovsky Effect: The daylight side absorbs the solar radiation. As the object rotates, the dusk side cools down and hence emits more thermal photons than the dawn side. It may be possible to exploit this effect for planetary defense.
via thespacereview

The beginning of extra-galactic Neutrino astronomy

 An event in the IceCube neutrino telescope. Photomultipliers attached to strings buried deep in the Antarctic ice detect the bursts of light emitted when a neutrino collides with the ice and produces a muon. The event shown was generated by an upward moving muon, which was produced by an upward moving muon neutrino that passed through the Earth.  APS/Joan Tycko;
An event in the IceCube neutrino telescope. Photomultipliers attached to strings buried deep in the Antarctic ice detect the bursts of light emitted when a neutrino collides with the ice and produces a muon. The event shown was generated by an upward moving muon, which was produced by an upward moving muon neutrino that passed through the Earth. APS/Joan Tycko;
via physics.aps

Is it the era of racing for colliders’ physics?

A 1974 photo of the part named Intersection 5 (I5) of the ISR of CERN's old PS, clearly shows the layout of the magnets and the crossing of the two beams pipes. (Credit: Salem)
A 1974 photo of the part named Intersection 5 (I5) of the ISR of CERN’s old PS, clearly shows the layout of the magnets and the crossing of the two beams pipes. (Credit: Salem)
via onislam

Design completed for prototype fast reactor

Russian power engineering R&D institute NIKIET has completed the engineering design for the BREST-300 lead-cooled fast reactor.  (NIKIET)
Russian power engineering R&D institute NIKIET has completed the engineering design for the BREST-300 lead-cooled fast reactor. (NIKIET)
via world-nuclear-news