A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Astronomers discover the closest black hole to Earth

Credit: Getty images

Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii reveals the first dormant, stellar-mass black hole

Astronomers have discovered the closest black hole to Earth, the first unambiguous detection of a dormant stellar-mass black hole in the Milky Way. Its close proximity to Earth, a mere 1,600 light-years away, offers an intriguing target of study to advance understanding of the evolution of binary systems.

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Searching the skies for the building blocks of life in the universe

Credit: Getty images

The time has come for the James Webb Space Telescope to take exoplanet astronomy to the outer reaches

Since its 25 December, 2021 launch aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana and following 30 years in the making, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the Christmas Day gift to astronomers that keeps on giving.

Like many astronomers in Europe, Pierre-Olivier Lagage, an astrophysicist at the Paris-based French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), has been preparing for JWST for years.

A joint project with NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the European Space Agency (ESA), JWST started beaming back its first images of the cosmos in July 2022 after arriving at its vantage point 1.5 million kilometres from the Earth and unfurling its distinctive giant sunshield.

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Editor’s Pick: Carl Sagan

Credit: 20th March 1974: Portrait of American astronomer and author Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996); Photo by Santi Visalli Inc./Getty Images

Excerpts from The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1995)

1. "Avoidable human misery is more often caused not so much by stupidity as by ignorance, particularly our ignorance about ourselves."

2. "Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both."

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Where do high-energy particles that endanger satellites, astronauts, and airplanes come from?

Credit: Getty images

New research shows how and when solar particles are accelerated

For decades, scientists have been trying to solve a vexing problem about the weather in outer space. At unpredictable times, high-energy solar particles bombard Earth and objects outside Earth's atmosphere with radiation that can endanger the lives of astronauts and destroy satellites' electronic equipment.

These flare-ups can trigger showers of radiation strong enough to reach passengers in airplanes flying over the North Pole. Despite scientists' best efforts, a clear pattern of how and when these flare-ups will occur has remained difficult to identify.

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Sharpest image to date of the universe's most massive known star

Credit: Getty images

This star and possibly other colossal stars may be less massive than previously thought

Astronomers have yet to fully understand how the most massive stars — those more than 100 times the mass of the sun — are formed. One particularly challenging piece of this puzzle is obtaining observations of these giants, which typically dwell in the densely populated hearts of dust-shrouded star clusters.

Giant stars also live fast and die young, burning through their fuel reserves in only a few million years. In comparison, the sun is less than halfway through its 10-billion-year lifespan. The combination of densely packed stars, relatively short lifetimes and vast astronomical distances makes distinguishing individual massive stars in clusters a daunting technical challenge.

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The sound of the Cosmos

Credit:Gettyimages

Sonification of NGC 1300 galaxy

More than 25 centuries ago, Pythagoras of Samos held the belief that the planets move according to mathematical equations. Thus they resonate to produce musical symphonies. These symphonies are inaudible unless one follows his teaching and develops the senses to hear them. It is claimed that Pythagoras was able to hear the music of the planets while meditating under the night sky. It may sound like mysticism but it is a concept well-adopted by modern scientists. Sure, they don't meditate or follow some guru's teachings. Scientists use observatories, telescopes, and super-computers. However, the idea remains the same. The Universe is the greatest musical composition made by Nature itself.

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Finding the missing links of black hole astronomy

Credit: Two black holes circling around each other before they merge and form a bigger one; Gettyimages

A deeper understanding of black holes could revolutionise our understanding of physics, but their mysterious nature makes them difficult to observe.

The weirdness exhibited by black holes boggles the mind. Formed when a star burns all its nuclear fuel and collapses under its own gravitation, black holes are such oddities that at one time, even Einstein didn't think they were possible.

They are regions in space with such intense gravitation that not even light escapes their pull. Once magnificent shining stars burn out and shrink to a relatively tiny husk, all their mass is concentrated in a small space. Imagine our Sun with its diameter of roughly 1.4 million kilometres shrinking to a black hole the size of a small city just six kilometres across. This compactness gives black holes immense gravitational pull.

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Astronomers confront a massive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way, Sagittarius A*

20220117-085242RN-Milky-Way-black-hole Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva/(Spaceengine); M. Zamani (NSF's NOIRLab)

Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva/(Spaceengine); M. Zamani (NSF's NOIRLab)  

Study finds mass at the center of the Milky Way is 99.9% from Sagittarius A*

At the center of the Milky Way is a supermassive black hole 4.3 million times bigger than the sun known as Sagittarius A*. Until recently, it was not clear how much of the matter at the heart of the galaxy was Sagittarius A*. Astronomers measured the velocities of four distant stars around the black hole. The movement of the stars indicates the mass at the galaxy's center is composed almost entirely of matter from Sagittarius A*, leaving little room for stars, other black holes, interstellar dust and gas, or dark matter.

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Is Europe entering a golden age of astronomy?

Credit: Europe's largest astronomy network brings together around 20 telescopes and telescope arrays; Gettyimages

New perspectives in front of European astronomy

Groundbreaking discoveries about gravitational waves, black holes, cosmic rays, neutrinos and other areas of cutting-edge astronomy may soon become more frequent due to the convergence of two major communities of astronomers in a fresh project.

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Planetary evolution reveals a volatile history

Credit: Gettyimages

Planet Formation

Just as human beings and all other living things exist in a vast number of different forms thanks to their genetic makeup, so different types of planets occur due to the chemical processes at work in the dusty regions surrounding newborn stars.

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Found in space: Complex carbon-based molecules

Photo credit: NSF/Glen Langston

Discovery may offer clues to carbon's role in planet and star formation

Much of the carbon in space is believed to exist in the form of large molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs. Since the 1980s, evidence has indicated that these molecules are abundant in space, but they have not been directly observed. Now, a team of U.S. National Science Foundation-funded researchers led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist Brett McGuire has identified two distinctive PAHs in a patch of space called the Taurus Molecular Cloud.

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Scientists image magnetic fields at the edge of M87's black hole

Photo credit: EHT collaboration

Event Horizon Telescope reveals a new view of the M87 galaxy's center

Event Horizon Telescope scientists, who produced the first image of a black hole, have revealed a new view of the massive object at the center of the M87 galaxy, showing how it looks in polarized light.


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Mars rovers safe from lightning strikes

Photo credit: Credit: NASA, ESA, The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (Cornell University) and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute)

Sparks triggered by friction under normal atmospheric conditions would likely be small

If experiments done in small bottles in a University of Oregon lab are accurate, the friction of colliding Martian dust particles is unlikely to generate big electrical storms or threaten newly arrived exploration vehicles or, eventually, human visitors, according to U.S. National Science Foundation-funded researchers.


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Could that be our first contact with extraterrestrial technology?

Image credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble / ESO / M. Kornmesser.

"1I/2017 U1 'Oumuamua" — the first known interstellar object within the Solar System

In October 2017, a vague point of light was detected by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. At first, it looked like a typical small asteroid, but later observations made it possible for astronomers to figure its orbit more accurately. It turns out that it didn't match the behavior of any other asteroid or meteor observed so far. The enigmatic stranger, which was called 'Oumuamua flew past the sun, coming from 'above' the plane of the planets on a highly inclined orbit, with speed fast enough to escape the Sun's gravitational pull and eventually head out of our Solar System, speeding up.

Initially, it was assumed that the object is an interstellar comet since they are thought to be more numerous than interstellar asteroids. The problem was that there wasn't any trace of the typical hallmarks of cometary activity – no evidence of gas emission or dust. Therefore, there is no clue how does it change the anticipated trajectory of its orbit and why does it accelerate its speed.

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SSA Recent Posts

07 February 2023
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Credit: J. Krishnamurti, the Indian philosopher, aboard the S.S. Bremen, arriving in New York City for a vacation; Getty Images 7 Thoughts by the Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti 1. "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly si...
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01 February 2023
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Credit: Getty images London as a Museum of Art Certain cities in Europe could be considered the centers of Art. One, of course, is Rome, another is Paris, Barcelona, Vienna, and many more. However, the focus today is London. One of the largest cities...
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29 January 2023
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Credit: Baruch de Spinoza (1632 - 1677), Dutch philosopher. Woodcut engraving, published in 1881.; Getty images Excerpts from Ethics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order (1677) 1. "Hatred is increased by being reciprocated, and can on the other hand be...
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