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Physics & Astronomy News

<p>This spectacular image from the VLT Survey Telescope shows the Cat’s Paw Nebula (NGC 6334, upper right) and the Lobster Nebula (NGC 6357, lower left). These dramatic objects are regions of active star formation where the hot young stars are causing the surrounding hydrogen gas to glow red. The very rich field of view also includes dark clouds of dust. With around two billion pixels this is one of the largest images ever released by ESO. A zoomable version of this giant image is available here.</p>

<p>Note that the circular features in the image around bright stars are not real, they are due to reflections within the optics of the telescope and camera.</p>


The Cat’s Paw and Lobster Nebulae
The beautiful, glowing, cosmic clouds of gas and dust catalogued as NGC 6334 and NGC 6357 now have new names.
<p>3-D visualization of chemically-ordered phases in an iron-platinum (FePt) nanoparticle. Using the Titan supercomputer at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory simulated the magnetic properties of strongly magnetic phases in the FePt nanoparticle using the precise 3-D atomistic structure obtained by researchers at University of California, Los Angeles and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Video credit to Colin Ophus, Berkeley Lab. Video courtesy of Nature.</p>
First Look at Magnetism of Real Nanoparticle
Scientist help solve a unique problem: to model magnetism at the atomic level using experimental data from a real nanoparticle.

<p>This map of dark matter in the Universe was obtained from data from the KiDS survey, using the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. It reveals an expansive web of dense (light) and empty (dark) regions. This image is one out of five patches of the sky observed by KiDS. Here the invisible dark matter is seen rendered in pink, covering an area of sky around 420 times the size of the full moon. This image reconstruction was made by analysing the light collected from over three million distant galaxies more than 6 billion light-years away. The observed galaxy images were warped by the gravitational pull of dark matter as the light travelled through the Universe.</p>

<p>Some small dark regions, with sharp boundaries, appear in this image. They are the locations of bright stars and other nearby objects that get in the way of the observations of more distant galaxies and are hence masked out in these maps as no weak-lensing signal can be measured in these areas.</p>


<p>Kilo-Degree Survey Collaboration/H. Hildebrandt & B. Giblin/ESO</p>
Dark Matter May be Smoother than Expected
Analysis of a giant new galaxy survey suggests that dark matter may be less dense and more smoothly distributed throughout space than previously thought.
<p>Interference pattern created by neutron holography.</p>


Holograms from Neutrons Created
For the first time, scientists have used neutron beams to create holograms of large solid objects, revealing details about their interiors in ways that ordinary laser light-based visual holograms cannot.

Oldest Known Planet-Forming Disk Found
Scientists find a star surrounded by the oldest known circumstellar disk—a primordial ring of gas and dust that orbits around a young star and from which planets can form.
New Technique May Help Detect Martian Life
A novel interpretation of Raman spectra will help the 2020 Mars rover select rocks to study for signs of life.
Stable Propagation of Light in Nano-Photonic Fibers
New model on how to achieve a more stable propagation of light for future optical technologies was published.

Science Facts

Nuclides & Isotopes

by EPA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and

: Image Courtesy Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory An atom that has an unbalanced ratio of neutrons to protons in the nucleus seeks to become more stable. The unbalanced or unstable atom tries to become more stable by changing the number of neutrons and/or protons in the nucleus. This can happen in several ways: converting neutrons to protons, converting protons to neutrons, ejecting an alpha particle (two neutrons and two protons) from the nucleus. Whatever the mechanism, the atom is seeking a stable neutron to proton ratio. In changing the number of nucleons (protons and neutrons), the nucleus gives off energy in the form of ionizing radiation. The radiation can be in the form of alpha particles (2 protons and 2 neutrons), beta particles (either positive or negative), x-rays, or gamma rays.

Is the atom still the same element? Only sometimes. If there is a change in the number of protons, the atom becomes a different element with different chemical properties. If there is a change in the number of neutrons, the atom is the same element, but becomes a different isotope of that element. All isotopes of one element have the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons. All isotopes of a certain element also have the same chemical properties but have varying radiological properties such as half-life, or type of radiation emitted.

What if the protons and electrons of an atom are unbalanced? Normally, the number of electrons and protons is the same, so the atom is balanced electrically. Sometimes electrons are added or removed, and the atom carries a negative or positive charge. These charged forms of an element are called 'ions' of the element. This change affects the way the atom reacts chemically, but does not affect the stability of the nucleus--the atom's radioactivity.

Astronaut in free fall
Can You Miss the Earth?

Have you ever wondered why astronauts float in space? Well, it isn't because there is no gravity in space. Astronauts float because they are in constant free fall. If a baseball pitcher throws a ba ...
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Series of images over time of the light echo from the star known as V838 Monocerotis or V 838 Mon.
Light Fantastic

On the next hot summer day, imagine what would happen if the Sun suddenly became one million times brighter. Ice cream would quickly melt, sunscreen lotion wouldn't work very well, and that's just the ...
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Front page of the William Gilbert
Earth's Magnetism

Most ancient civilizations were aware of the magnetic phenomenon. Sailors in the late thirteenth century used magnetized needles floating in water as primitive compasses to find their way on the sea. ...
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