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astrophysics, cosmology, the universe...

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Astronomers find a massive black hole that outgrew its galaxy

Astronomers have spotted a super-sized black hole in the early universe that grew much faster than its host galaxy. The discovery runs counter to most observations about black holes In most cases, black holes and their host galaxies expand at the same rate.

Posted: Jul 9th, 2015

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Data shows surfer-shaped waves in near-Earth space

Named Kelvin-Helmholtz waves in the late 1800s after their discoverers, these waves have since been discovered all over the universe: in clouds, in the atmospheres of other planets, and on the sun. Now two recently published papers highlight these shapely waves at the boundaries of near-Earth space.

Posted: Jul 9th, 2015

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Bricks to build an Earth found in every planetary system

Earth-like planets orbiting other stars in the Milky Way are three times more likely to have the same type of minerals as Earth than astronomers had previously thought. In fact, conditions for making the building blocks of Earth-like rocks are ubiquitous throughout the Milky Way.

Posted: Jul 8th, 2015

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Discovering a new stage in the galactic lifecycle

Astronomers have been able to observe the dust contents of galaxies as seen just 1 billion years after the Big Bang - a time period known as redshift 5-6. These are the earliest average-sized galaxies to ever be directly observed and characterized in this way.

Posted: Jul 1st, 2015

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NASA missions monitor a waking black hole

NASA's Swift satellite detected a rising tide of high-energy X-rays from the constellation Cygnus on June 15, just before 2:32 p.m. EDT. About 10 minutes later, the Japanese experiment on the International Space Station called the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) also picked up the flare.

Posted: Jul 1st, 2015

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New model of cosmic stickiness favors 'Big Rip' demise of universe

The universe can be a very sticky place, but just how sticky is a matter of debate. That is because for decades cosmologists have had trouble reconciling the classic notion of viscosity based on the laws of thermodynamics with Einstein's general theory of relativity. However, a team has come up with a fundamentally new mathematical formulation of the problem that appears to bridge this long-standing gap.

Posted: Jun 30th, 2015

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Seeing a supernova in a new light

Type Ia supernovae are the 'standard candles' astrophysicists use to chart distance in the Universe. But are these dazzling exploding stars truly all the same? To answer this, scientists must first understand what causes stars to explode and become supernovae. Recently, a unique collaborative project provided a rare glimpse of the process.

Posted: Jun 30th, 2015

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Unexpectedly little black-hole monsters rapidly suck up surrounding matter

Astronomers have found evidence that enigmatic objects in nearby galaxies - called ultra-luminous X-ray sources (ULXs) - exhibit strong outflows that are created as matter falls onto their black holes at unexpectedly high rates. The strong outflows suggest that the black holes in these ULXs must be much smaller than expected.

Posted: Jun 26th, 2015

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Giant galaxy is still growing

Astronomers have applied a clever observational trick to clearly show that the nearby giant elliptical galaxy Messier 87 merged with a smaller spiral galaxy in the last billion years.

Posted: Jun 25th, 2015

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Giant comet-like tail discovered on small exoplanet

An international team of scientists has discovered an immense cloud of hydrogen escaping from a Neptune-sized exoplanet. Such a phenomena not only helps explain the formation of hot and rocky 'super-earths', but also may potentially act as a signal for detecting extrasolar oceans.

Posted: Jun 24th, 2015

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