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Saying goodbye to our first interstellar visitor

No, I don’t mean Matthew McConaughey. A few weeks ago, our first interstellar visitor flew nearby Earth and now is on its way back out of our solar system. While these types of extra-solar system objects have long been expected to exist as a bi-product of planet formation in nearby solar systems, this is the first ever detected – an event scientists have been waiting decades for. Continue reading Saying goodbye to our first interstellar visitor

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Metal On Mars

A recent NASA mission has discovered that the atmosphere on Mars has many similarities to that of Earth. Metal atoms, contained in dust particles, float down from the solar system and become trapped in the atmosphere of a planet. Energetic particles, for example from the Sun, can then rip electrons from the metal atoms, forming ions. Historically, we haven’t known what happens to these ions. Depending on the specifics of the planet in … Continue reading Metal On Mars

Radio Telescope

Radio Waves from Outer Space Continue to Baffle Astronomers

Something in outer space is shouting at us, but astronomers are still trying to figure out the source of this cosmic “noise.” A telescope in Australia recently detected a flood of radio waves, akin to the waves that allow you to listen to the radio in your car, coming from an otherwise unremarkable area of the sky. These millisecond-long pulses of electromagnetic radiation are called fast radio bursts … Continue reading Radio Waves from Outer Space Continue to Baffle Astronomers

TRAPPIST-1 comparison

TRAPPIST-1 and Earth’s distant cousins

The recent discovery of Earth-like planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system has been a major headline for the past few weeks. A team led by Michael Gillon found three planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system in 2016, and recently reported at least 4 more which may contain the appropriate elements for life. One of the strongest indicators that a planet could harbor life is if a planet’s … Continue reading TRAPPIST-1 and Earth’s distant cousins

The AMS Experiment on the International Space Station

New Physics from the AMS Experiment – Particle Physics on the International Space Station

In 2011 the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, or AMS, was launched into space. AMS, housed by the International Space Station and led by a Nobel Prize winning principle investigator, is commonly referred to as the most sophisticated particle physics experiment in space. The experiment was designed to study cosmic rays, a variety of high energy particles produced in space. In five years of operation, AMS has collected … Continue reading New Physics from the AMS Experiment – Particle Physics on the International Space Station

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Precious metals in peril: Can asteroid mining save us?

by Andy Greenspon Have you ever wondered how much gold remains to be mined on Earth? How about the lesser-known element indium, essential to computer and smartphone displays? Known sources of some metals could be depleted in as little as 20 to 30 years, especially the rarest ones necessary to construct computers, smartphones, and other advanced technologies. While some elements can be substituted for others, … Continue reading Precious metals in peril: Can asteroid mining save us?

For almost a century, galactic rotation curves have served as robust evidence for the existence of dark matter. A rotation curve is simply the radial velocity of the stars, dust, and gas that make up a galaxy plotted as a function of their distance from the galaxy’s center. Based on the gravitational pull of matter, one would expect that stars closest to the center of the galaxy would move faster than the stars near the galaxies outer edge. However, in most galaxies, inner and outer stars move at roughly the same velocity. There is some additional gravitational pull on the outer stars that isn’t fully described by the amount of visible matter in a galaxy. For ages, most scientists have interpreted this result to mean that galaxies are surrounded by a halo of invisible dark matter. However, this new finding points to several other possibilities. (Image obtained under Creative Commons License. Credit: Gemini Observatory)

Galactic Rotation Curves Revisited: A Surprise For Dark Matter

Historically, galactic rotation curves have suggested that galaxies are surrounded by a vast amount of invisible matter, otherwise known as a dark matter halo. A few weeks ago, a team of astrophysicists published a result that completely contradicts these halo models and could even change the popular understanding of dark matter. The team found that galactic rotation curves can be calculated explicitly from a simple … Continue reading Galactic Rotation Curves Revisited: A Surprise For Dark Matter