astrophysics

Event Horizon Telescope captures new view of black hole in polarized light

</figure>Two years ago, the <a href=”https://eventhorizontelescope.org”>Event Horizon Telescope</a> (EHT) made headlines with its announcement of the first direct image of a black hole. Science magazine named the image its <a href=”https://www.aaas.org/news/sciences-2019-breakthrough-first-image-supermassive-black-hole”>Breakthrough of the Year</a>. Now the EHT collaboration is back with another groundbreaking result: a new image of the same black hole, this time showing …

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Astronomers: A comet fragment, not an asteroid, killed off the dinosaurs

Harvard astronomers have a new theory about the origin of the comet that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Some 66 million years ago, a catastrophic event occurred that wiped out three-quarters of all plant and animal species on Earth, most notably taking down the dinosaurs. An errant asteroid from the asteroid belt has been …

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NASA smallsat concepts will study galaxy evolution and exoplanets

PavelSmilyk via Getty Images NASA has chosen to investigate more smallsat and balloon mission concepts for exploring the cosmos, and this time the goals are particularly ambitious. The first smallsat, Aspera, will study galaxy evolution by monitoring the ultraviolet light from hot gas in the space between those galaxies. Pandora will try to separate the …

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How the humble slime mold helped physicists map the cosmic web

Enlarge / A reconstruction of the cosmic web— a vast network of filamentary structures of matter spanning the universe—modeled on the growth patterns of slime mold. Joseph N. Burchett et al./AJL There’s rarely time to write about every cool science-y story that comes our way. So this year, we’re once again running a special Twelve …

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Scientists find a strange signal coming from our closest neighboring star

asiafoto via Getty Images Astronomers have encountered a mystery surprisingly close to Earth. The Guardian and Scientific American have learned that Breakthrough Listen astronomers using the Parkes telescope in Australia discovered a strange radio signal coming from Proxima Centauri, the star system closest to the Sun. The signal occupies an oddly narrow 982MHz band that’s …

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Solar System ‘superhighway’ could speed up space travel

Steve Allen via Getty Images Future deep space missions might not take as long as you’d think. Researchers have discovered a Solar System “superhighway” network of routes that would let probes and other spacecraft travel outward at quicker pace. Asteroids near Jupiter, for example, could reach Neptune’s distance in less than 10 years and 100AU …

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Voyager probes detect a new form of cosmic ray burst from the Sun

NASA The Voyager probes are still contributing to science over 40 years later and billions of miles from home. Researchers have detected a new form of cosmic ray electron burst using instruments aboard Voyager 1 and 2. Coronal mass ejections from the Sun created shockwaves that first manifested as near-light-speed electron waves, followed by plasma …

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New gravitational-lensing study hints at problems for dark matter models

Enlarge / The massive galaxy cluster MACSJ 1206. Embedded within the cluster are the distorted images of distant background galaxies, seen as arcs and smeared features. NASA, ESA, G. Caminha, M. Meneghetti, P. Natarajan, and the CLASH team. While the idea of dark matter was originally proposed to explain the structure of galaxies, one of …

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Researchers propose a supernova triggered the Late Devonian mass extinction

Enlarge / The Cassiopeia A supernova which left this remnant behind occurred about 11,000 light years away—much too far to pose a significant threat—and its wavefront likely reached Earth about 300 years ago. NASA/JPL-Caltech A paper released this week by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign astronomy and physics professor Brian Fields makes a case for distant supernovae …

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Astronomers may have spotted light from colliding black holes

Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC) Black hole collisions tend not to produce light by their very nature — you may catch gravitational waves, but that’s about it. However, scientists might have just found one of those rare instances where a collision was visible. A team using May 2019 data from both the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) …

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