15th Anniversary Sale
15th Anniversary Sale

Physics & Astronomy News

Solar Eclipse 2017
On August 21, 2017, all of North America was treated to an eclipse of the sun. Viewers around the world can now see a wealth of images captured before, during, and after the eclipse by 11 spacecraft, at least three NASA aircraft, more than 50 high-altitude balloons, and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station – each offering a unique vantage point for the celestial event.

Click here to view the 2017 solar eclipse photos

<p>How Gravity Can Bend Starlight</p>

<p>This illustration reveals how the gravity of a white dwarf star warps space and bends the light of a distant star behind it.</p>

<p>White dwarfs are the burned-out remnants of normal stars. The Hubble Space Telescope captured images of the dead star, called Stein 2051 B, as it passed in front of a background star. During the close alignment, Stein 2051 B deflected the starlight, which appeared offset by about 2 milliarcseconds from its actual position. This deviation is so small that it is equivalent to observing an ant crawl across the surface of a quarter from 1,500 miles away. From this measurement, astronomers calculated that the white dwarf's mass is roughly 68 percent of the sun's mass.</p>

<p>Stein 2051 B resides 17 light-years from Earth. The background star is about 5,000 light-years away. The white dwarf is named for its discoverer, Dutch Roman Catholic priest and astronomer Johan Stein.</p>
Observation confirms Einsteins general theory of relativity.
Astronomers have used NASA Hubble Space Telescope to repeat a century-old test of Einsteins general theory of relativity
<p>This image, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, reveals an unusual sight: a runaway quasar fleeing from its galaxy's central hub. A quasar is the visible, energetic signature of a black hole. Black holes cannot be observed directly, but they are the energy source at the heart of quasars — intense, compact gushers of radiation that can outshine an entire galaxy.</p>

<p>The green dotted line marks the visible periphery of the galaxy. The quasar, named 3C 186, appears as a bright star just off-center. The quasar and its host galaxy reside 8 billion light-years from Earth. Researchers estimate that it took the equivalent energy of 100 million supernovas exploding simultaneously to jettison the black hole. The most plausible explanation for this propulsive energy is that the monster object was given a kick by gravitational waves unleashed by the merger of two hefty black holes at the center of the host galaxy.</p>

<p>The Hubble image combines visible and near-infrared light taken by the Wide Field Camera 3.</p>

<p>Courtesy: NASA</p>
Gravitational Wave Kicks Monster Black Hole Out of Galactic Core
Astronomers have uncovered a supermassive black hole that has been propelled out of the center of a distant galaxy by what could be the awesome power of gravitational waves.

<p>Composite ALMA and optical image of a young Milky Way-like galaxy 12 billion light-years away and a background quasar 12.5 billion light-years away. Light from the quasar passed through the galaxy's gas on its way to Earth, revealing the presence of the galaxy to astronomers. New ALMA observations of the galaxy's ionized carbon (green) and dust continuum (blue) emission show that the dusty, star-forming disk of the galaxy is vastly offset from the gas detected by quasar absorption at optical wavelengths (red). This indicates that a massive halo of gas surrounds the galaxy. The optical data are from the Keck I Telescope at the W.M. Keck Observatory. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), M. Neeleman & J. Xavier Prochaska; Keck Observatory</p>
Milky Way-like Galaxies in Early Universe Embedded in 'Super Halos'
By harnessing the extreme sensitivity of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers have directly observed a pair of Milky Way-like galaxies seen when the universe was only eight percent of its current age.
<p>NEOS Detector</p>

<p>Courtesy: ibs</p>
Finding the 'Ghost Particles' Might be More Challenging
Results from the NEOS experiment on sterile neutrinos differ partly from the theoretical expectations.

Earth’s Magnetic Field Reveals Details Of A Dramatic Past
ESA’s Swarm satellites are seeing fine details in one of the most difficult layers of Earth’s magnetic field to unpick – as well as our planet’s magnetic history imprinted on Earth’s crust.
Scientists Evade The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
The study, published in Nature, reports a technique to bypass the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
Using Light to Control Curvature of Plastics
Researchers have developed a technique that uses light to get two-dimensional (2-D) plastic sheets to curve into three-dimensional (3-D) structures, such as spheres, tubes or bowls.

Science Facts

Blast Wave Blows Through the Solar System

by NASA Headquarters and

The coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, leaving the Sun and traveling through the solar system.: Image Courtesy NASA Although the Sun provides the means for life on Earth, it has a dark side - the Sun regularly sends massive solar explosions of radiative plasma with the intensity of a billion megaton bombs hurtling through the solar system. Perhaps even more astounding, scientists now have the ability to track that energy billions of miles away thanks to an armada of explorers including Mars Odyssey, Ulysses, Cassini and the Voyagers, not to mention solar and Earth-orbiting craft. It was with this unprecedented scientific fleet that scientists observed the events that took place in late October and November when the Sun unleashed the most powerful solar flares ever detected. A sort of timeline emerged tracking the largest of the related coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the Sun all the way to Voyager 1, then on to the heliopause which delineates our solar system from interstellar space. The force of the blast is expected to extend that region by as much as 400 million miles.

All told, about 17 major flares erupted on the Sun during those two weeks, the result of energy building up in the Sun's magnetic field lines until they become strained enough to suddenly snap like an overstretched rubber band. The related coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are the largest explosions in the solar system, capable of launching up to 10 billion tons of electrified gas into space, normally at speeds of one to two million miles an hour. While we're protected by Earth's magnetosphere and atmosphere, power grids, radio and GPS signals, satellites, and astronauts in space are vulnerable. Fortunately effects on Earth from these events were minimal, in effect a testament to the fleet of monitors that issued warnings as early as Oct. 21. At Mars, the MARIE instrument on the Mars Odyssey spacecraft was not as lucky. Ironically its task was to better understand solar radiation on Mars. It was able to make observations up until a powerful Oct. 28 CME overheated a power converter.

For future astronauts who travel to other planets, having a better understanding of solar events is crucial. Today careful monitoring makes sure that those on the International Space Station stay out of harm's way by warning them before big blasts so they can take cover in a more heavily shielded section of the station. They also have the benefit of some of Earth's magnetosphere as protection, something Mars-bound astronauts won't. Possible health risks from the energetic solar plasma include cancer, acute radiation sickness, hereditary effects, and damage to the central nervous system. And because different planets have different magnetic and atmospheric shielding and experience different effects from the solar wind on a daily basis, having detectors spread throughout the solar system is helping us to better understand our surroundings and make future plans. After all, who goes on a big trip without first checking the weather reports?

The Constellations

The random arrangement of the stars visible to the naked eye has remained essentially unchanged since the time of the first written records. One of the earliest complete lists we have was compiled in ...
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Planet Jupiter
318 Times as Massive as Earth

What is 318 times more massive than Earth? Jupiter, the fifth planet from the Sun (next in line after Earth and Mars). Jupiter is the largest planet in our Solar System. If you decided to take a Boe ...
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A 53-hour Chandra observation of the central region of the Perseus galaxy cluster has revealed wavelike featuresthat appear to be sound waves.
Black Hole Sound Waves

Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have found, for the first time, sound waves from a supermassive black hole. The 'note' is the deepest ever detected from any object in our Universe. ...
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Science Quote

'The strength and weakness of physicists is that we believe in what we can measure. And if we can't measure it, then we say it probably doesn't exist. And that closes us off to an enormous amount of phenomena that we may not be able to measure because they only happened once. For example, the Big Bang. ... That's one reason why they scoffed at higher dimensions for so many years. Now we realize that there's no alternative... '

Michio Kaku

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