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    Arrow Latest science news

    Watch: Giant Black Hole Gulps Down Gas Cloud, Stretches It Out like Spaghetti


    Black Hole Rips And Whips Galactic Gas Cloud | Video



    A giant black hole located at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, some 25,000 light years away from planet Earth, is now busy gulping down a gas cloud.

    Astronomers say that the gas cloud is being pulled by the black hole's gravitational forces, and that it is stretched out like spaghetti.

    Check out the video above to learn more about this phenomenon.

    Over the following weeks, the cloud will continue spiraling towards the black hole. It will eventually be torn to pieces, Nature reports.

    The gas cloud was first documented in 2011. At that time, scientists named it G2. Its origin is not yet confirmed, but researchers say that it might have come from one of the stars floating about in the black hole's proximity.

    Scientists say that watching this cloud get destroyed will help them learn more about black holes and their behavior.


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    Alien Space Probes Are Probably Lurking in Our Solar System, Scottish Scientists Say





    Scottish scientists at the University of Edinburgh believe that several alien space probes could be lurking in our solar system.

    What's more, the only reason why we are not yet aware of their presence is that we lack the technology needed to detect them.

    Our very own Voyager probe has recently completed its journey to the edge of the solar system.

    Therefore, it makes sense that older civilizations that have been playing the space-exploration game for way longer than we have already have space probes up and running in various corners of the universe.

    Provided that such civilizations even exist, that is.

    Daily Mail reports that, according to these Scottish researchers, the alien probes that might be floating about in our solar system would have to be able to self-replicate.

    Thus, they would have to be able to collect space dust and gas, and use them to build new versions of themselves.

    If this were not the case, they probably would have never survived the long journey to our planet.


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    Watch: Simulated Fly-Through Lets People Explore Mars' Largest Canyon


    Fly-through movie of Hebes Chasma



    It will be some time before ordinary folks can pack their tents and set out to explore Mars by foot. Until then, space enthusiasts have to make do with whatever pictures and videos scientists decide to share with the public.

    The video above is a simulated fly-through that lets people explore Mars' largest canyon, Valles Marineris.

    Scientists say that this canyon also happens to be the largest in our solar system. Thus, it is approximately 2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers) long and 125 miles (201 kilometers) wide.

    Just don't let the Grand Canyon hear this. Odds are it'll turn green with envy.

    The video documents just a small section of the Valles Marineris, i.e. a 5-mile-deep (8 kilometers) valley named Hebes Chasma.

    This valley sits close to Mars' volcanic Tharsis region, and some suspect that it formed when giant volcanoes in this part of the planet went haywire.
    Last edited by babu.; October 26th, 2013 at 13:16.

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    Dinosaurs Were Warm-Blooded Creatures, Researcher Claims





    Carnivorous dinosaurs that roamed the Earth millions of years ago might have been cold-hearted killers, but they were also warm-blooded creatures, Professor Roger Seymour at the University of Adelaide claims.

    The researcher explains that, had they been cold-blooded animals, dinosaurs would have had very little chances to survive, let alone thrive on our planet.


    The professor argues that, in order for dinosaurs to be able to prey on the animals they shared their natural habitats with and dominate over mammals, their bodies must have packed tremendous amounts of muscle power.

    Besides, they must have been capable of great endurance, Roger Seymour goes on to say.

    Muscle power and great endurance come easier for warm-blooded animals than they do for cold-blooded ones.

    Therefore, the University of Adelaide scientist is convinced that, from an evolutionary standpoint, it would have made more sense for dinosaurs to be more like birds and mammals, and less like reptiles.

    Other researchers have argued that dinosaurs could have gotten the strength they needed to dominate almost all other animal species by basking in the sun, much like crocodiles do nowadays.

    “They say that large, cold-blooded dinosaurs could have done the same and enjoyed a warm body temperature without the need to generate the heat in their own cells through burning food energy like warm-blooded animals,” Professor Seymour details.

    The problem is that, as strong as a crocodile-like dinosaur could have been after lying in the sun for several hours, it still would not have been a match for a mammal-like dinosaur of a similar size.

    “The results further show that cold-blooded crocodiles lack not only the absolute power for exercise, but also the endurance, that are evident in warm-blooded mammals.”

    “So, despite the impression that saltwater crocodiles are extremely powerful animals, a crocodile-like dinosaur could not compete well against a mammal-like dinosaur of the same size,” Roger Seymour says.

    The Professor details his beliefs that dinosaurs were warm-blooded creatures in a paper recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.


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    Horn-Faced Dinosaur Discovered by Palaeontologists in Utah





    Paleontologists exploring a site in Utah have recently unearthed the fossilized remains of a bizarre dinosaur believed to have walked the Earth roughly 76 million years ago.

    The creature represents a previously undocumented species.

    As the picture above shows, the dinosaur looked strikingly similar to a Triceratops. It had a fairly large and beak-like nose, and an impressive pair of horns that were towering over its eyes, Wired reports.

    Researchers say that adult specimens used to sport horns measuring up to 2.5 feet (0.7 meters) in length. Despite their scary looks, they were herbivores.

    Because of its peculiar anatomy, this newly discovered species has been named Nasutoceratops titusi, which translates as “large-nosed horned face.”

    The dinosaur's remains were discovered in the Kaiparowits Formation, i.e. a group of rocks in the western United States.

    At the time when this weird creature lived, these rocks were part of a small island named Laramidia.

    The species is thoroughly described in an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on July 17.


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    40,000 Relics on Display at Museum in China Are Fakes





    When the Jibaozhai Museum opened in 2010, people were promised that, should they decide to visit it, they would feast their eyes on a unique collection of ancient relics.

    Apparently, the collection was truly unique: it was made up of thousands of fakes.

    Recent investigations have revealed that some 40,000 items put on display at this museum in China's Hebei province were no more and no less than knockoffs, The Telegraph reports.

    Some had been bought for merely £10 (€11.5 / $15), while others had an estimated value of £215 (€248 / $325). Besides, they were poorly done.

    Apparently, some relics said to be nearly 4,000 years old were inscribed with Chinese characters that only started being used in the 20th century.

    When confronted by local authorities and ordinary folks, museum chief consultant Wei Yingjun said that, to his knowledge, the situation wasn't as bad as the press had made it sound like.

    He argued that he was almost convinced that the museum housed at least 80 authentic artifacts.

    Well, I suppose this makes it all OK. Unless it doesn't.

    In the aftermath of this scandal, the museum was left with no choice except shut down. Some say it should reopen, and call itself “China's biggest fake item museum.”
    Last edited by babu.; October 26th, 2013 at 13:25.

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    China can do anything

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    What You'll Be Missing Out on Since You Don't Live for Billions of Years




    Those who are passionate about science and astronomy are most often disappointed they will not live to see the amazing things that will happen with the Universe in the millennia to come.


    Of course, thinking about living for so long is a thing that would fit better in a fiction novel, with immortal creatures, not in the real world. Regardless, if we could live for billions of years, we could witness amazing things, as Michael Stevens points out in a new video on the Vsauce YouTube channel.

    For instance, the super novae explosions in our galactic neighborhood could take place in a few million years, making it look like there are two suns on the sky. Even later, in 3.75 billion years, the Andromeda Galaxy will start colliding with the Milky Way, completely changing the night-sky on an Earth that is nothing like we know it now.

    However, as Stevens explains, anyone who will still be alive to witness the fate of our Milky Way might be jealous on us since they will not even get to experience a solar eclipse. This will happen because the Moon is getting farther away from Earth each year and so, it will not be able to block the Sun perfectly.

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    The Universe May Not Be Flat, New Data Indicates



    The shape of the universe has been a subject of hot debate for decades. You'd imagine that something as simple as whether the universe is flat or not would be easy to figure out.


    But it's not for the simple reason that we're trapped inside the flat or not-flat universe, which makes it much harder to determine its shape. From our perspective, the universe is flat. Parallel lines go on forever and, despite the effects gravity has on the curvature of space, a straight line is a straight line.But that may not be reality, at least, not at a very large scale.

    New data seems to indicate that the universe is not perfectly flat but is curved. Specifically, it's saddle-shaped. A new study of cosmic microwave background radiation, light that originates from the Big Bang, shows an asymmetry in energy and matter distribution. That is, there's more matter and it's more energetic on one side of the universe than on the other.

    The laws of physics dictate that the universe is roughly the same everywhere. The asymmetry can be explained though by a curvature in the universe. The researchers believe that the universe is slightly open or negatively curved, like a saddle, meaning parallel lines eventually diverge in the distance. Key to this is the scale of the curvature, which is slightly bigger than the size of the observable universe.

    So, in practice, the universe as we see it is basically flat, but not quite. It's still unclear whether the asymmetry in energy distribution is a statistical fluke or a sign of a real phenomenon. The asymmetry is clearly there, but physicists are still debating whether it's just a random occurrence.

    If it is the consequence of a real phenomenon, it may lead to a different understanding of the period immediately after the Big Bang or even support multiverse theories.


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    Russia and the US Are Working on Destroying Asteroids with Nuclear Bombs


    Despite what we've come to expect from Hollywood movies, i.e. that they're not real, asteroids do actually pose a threat to humanity. Just like any other natural disaster, we tend not to think about it until it happens.


    But, the fact is, if a dangerous asteroid was discovered to be hurtling towards Earth (and that's a big if since there are plenty of asteroids out there that we just can't see), there's not much we could do about it.

    The hope is that an asteroid large enough to pose a real threat would be discovered a few years in advance. But it's unclear if a few years is enough time to do anything. And, of course, smaller asteroids that aren't globally dangerous, but which could wreak havoc in a crowded city, are often only discovered when they enter the Earth's atmosphere.

    One idea that's straight out of Sci-Fi movies is using nuclear weapons to destroy or to deflect asteroids. There are plenty of reasons why using a nuclear bomb is a very bad idea, but it's also our best bet. Which is why the US is working with Russia, no less, collaborating on nuclear weapon technology that could be used to attack asteroids, as The Atlantic reports.

    This comes in a background of criticism of nuclear weapons and a world that is trying to limit arsenals as much as possible. Besides the worry of stockpiling on weapons and of the possible radioactive fallout if such a weapon were to be used in space, there's still the problem of it not working.

    Nuclear bombs, especially the very large ones that scientists are proposing to fight asteroids, are quite powerful. But asteroids are massive and, more importantly, unpredictable. An attempt to destroy it may only create several more smaller asteroids to deal with. Likewise, trying to deflect it with something as impressive as a nuclear blast could simply make things worse.


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    Astronomers Find Strange Tilted Alien Star System





    The more planets outside of our solar system we find, the more our view of what a solar system looks like changes. Granted, our current view is skewed by the fact that most discoveries come from Kepler, which favors larger planets orbiting close to their parent stars.


    Still, if the data so far is anything to go by, our solar system is far from being average.

    One of the most recent discoveries that is puzzling scientists is a very tilted solar system.But astronomers found that the Kepler 56 system has three planets, all of which orbit the star at a strange angle. In fact, one planet even orbits at an angle different than the other two.

    The report has just been published in Science. The two inner planets of the Kepler 56 system orbit at 45 degrees to the star's equator. They arrived at this angle under the influence of the third, more distant planet which is also significantly larger than the two.


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    Saturn and All Its Rings Seen from High Above in New, Spectacular Cassini Image


    More:

    Land and even space telescopes are getting better and better, some peeking into the first instants after the Big Bang. But not even the most powerful will ever be able to see certain things, simply because they are stuck close to Earth. For some things, like a night view of Saturn, you simply have to travel.

    Luckily, the Cassini probe has been flying around Saturn for the past decade or so and has been sending back spectacular images ever since. One of the latest, from a couple of weeks ago, rivals some of the greatest Cassini has sent over the years. It's a shot snapped high above Saturn, with a view of all of the rings and the north pole.

    The image was put together from several shots made by Cassini on October 10, by amateur astro photo editor Gordan Ugarkovic.



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    A supermassive black hole that sits in the center of our galaxy went haywire and erupted some two million years ago



    Spoiler:

    A supermassive black hole that sits in the center of our galaxy went haywire and erupted some two million years ago, a paper recently published in The Astrophysical Journal argues.

    This major eruption is responsible for the fact that the Magellanic Stream, which is basically a stream of high-velocity gas clouds trailing the Large and the Small Magellanic Clouds, i.e. two neighboring galaxies, emits light, researchers maintain. Besides, it appears that, in the aftermath of this explosion, the supermassive black hole lost loads of energy, hence the fact that it is now some 100 million times less powerful than it used to be 2 million years ago.

    Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn with the University of Sydney, Australia, explains that, scientists have long suspected that there was something off with the Magellanic Stream and that this stream of high-velocity gas clouds must have been exposed to unusual circumstances.

    Still, it took a while for them to figure out what exactly had happened and why the Magellanic Stream was emitting light, especially in the region that is closest to the galactic center. “For twenty years we've seen this odd glow from the Magellanic Stream. We didn't understand the cause,” Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn explains, as cited by PhysOrg. “Then suddenly we realized it must be the mark, the fossil record, of a huge outburst of energy from the center of our galaxy,” the researcher further details.

    Dr. Philip Maloney with the University of Colorado in Boulder, US explains that, according to his and his colleagues’ investigations, the fact that the area surrounding the black hole keeps pouring out radio waves, infrared, X-rays and gamma rays is also an indicator that one such explosion occurred. “All this points to a huge explosion at the center of our galaxy,”

    Dr. Philip Maloney says. Researchers say the eruption probably occurred because the black hole had swallowed a tad too much material from its surroundings. Thus, it likely accumulated too much energy and had to dispose of it in some way.

    Last edited by babu.; October 28th, 2013 at 13:17.

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    There's Now a Greater Chance of Asteroid TV135 Hitting Us in 2032

    Earlier this month, astronomers discovered a rather large asteroid, 2013 TV 135, which, from early observations, seems to have a chance of slamming into the Earth in 2032.

    Initially, NASA put that chance at one in 63,000, rather good odds that we're going to avoid an apocalypse in a couple of decades.

    But the latest calculations put the chance at just one in 10,000. That doesn't sound too encouraging. In fact, it looks like a bad thing. As more data is gathered, the chances of the asteroid hitting us increase.

    But, as Bad Astronomer Phil Plait explains, that's not entirely the case. The changes are getting bigger, for now, but that's not an indication of any trend, but rather, the direct result of the way these changes are calculated.

    We've only known about the asteroid for a few weeks. It's just 400 meters (1,300 feet) wide, which sounds like a lot, but it is minuscule compared to the size of our solar system.

    So predicting where that small speck of dust will be 19 years from now is tough. Based on the data so far, all astronomers can do is predict that the asteroid will be within a large volume of space and that it will more likely be towards the center of that volume.

    The early data generated a huge probability sphere, quite large compared to the Earth. So the Earth only occupied a very small portion of that sphere.

    As new data comes in, the probability sphere shrinks, so the Earth, still inside that sphere, now takes up a much bigger portion of it. This is why the numbers are looking so grim.

    But as predictions become more accurate, as more observations are made, the Earth will move outside of the sphere so the chances of the asteroid hitting us will drop dramatically. There's no guarantee that will happen, of course, but it is the most likely scenario.

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