Birth of earliest galaxies seen for first time with James Webb Space Telescope
Cosmos » Astrophysics
by Evrim Yazgin
2d ago
The James Webb Space Telescope has allowed astronomers to see, for the first time, the birth of the earliest galaxies in the universe between 13.3 and 13.4 billion years ago. These galaxies formed when the universe was only about 400–600 million years old – when the universe was roughly 3 to 4% of its current age. The discovery will help build a picture of the history and evolution of the universe. Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark used JWST data to witness the birth of 3 of the first galaxies in the cosmos. Their findings are published in the ..read more
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Supermassive black hole spin measured for the first time
Cosmos » Astrophysics
by Evrim Yazgin
1w ago
For the first time, astronomers have been able to determine how fast a black hole is spinning. The findings provide a new way to study black holes and their evolution. The new method, detailed in a paper published in Nature, involves observations of the “wobbling” stellar material left over from the black hole’s consumption. Black hole tidal disruption events (TDEs) are the extremely bright moments when a black hole’s immense gravitational pull exerts tidal forces on stars, ripping them apart. The result is that a portion of the star is blown away, while the rest forms a hot accretion disc of ..read more
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Neolithic settlement dated accurately to the year thanks to cosmic rays
Cosmos » Astrophysics
by Evrim Yazgin
1w ago
A 7,000-year-old Neolithic settlement in modern-day Greece has for the first time been accurately dated down to the precise years it was built. The findings could provide a reference point in time to help date other archaeological sites in southeastern Europe. Archaeologists from the University of Bern in Switzerland were able to date the site, called Dispilio, using a combination of annual growth ring measurements on wooden building components and an additional out-of-this-world method: cosmic rays. Their research is published in the journal Nature Communications. Dating prehistoric wooden e ..read more
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Earth-sized exoplanet found around “ultracool dwarf”
Cosmos » Astrophysics
by Evrim Yazgin
1w ago
The search for exoplanets which orbit ultracool stars has turned up a second discovery. The Earth-sized exoplanet, discovered by the SPECULOOS project, is orbiting a star which is about the size of Jupiter and twice as cool as our Sun, at about 2,600°C. Studying ultracool dwarf stars and their planets could help narrow the search for potentially habitable exoplanets. The dwarf star, dubbed SPECULOOS-3, is only about 55 light-years from Earth and follows TRAPPIST-1 as the only ultracool dwarf with orbiting planets. The system is described in a new paper published in Nature Astronomy. SPECULOOS ..read more
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James Webb Space Telescope sees black holes stop star formation
Cosmos » Astrophysics
by Cosmos
1w ago
A new study using observations from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) suggests that supermassive black holes are rapidly shutting off star formation in massive galaxies. The black holes do this by explosively removing large amounts of gas that would otherwise be used in the accretion of matter to form new stars. The research is published in Nature. Supermassive black holes are between 100,000 and 10 billion times the size of our Sun. These cosmic behemoths are usually found at the centres of galaxies where they consume massive amounts of gas. Galaxies in which this process is taking place ..read more
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Giant structure in space challenges understanding of the universe
Cosmos » Astrophysics
by Evrim Yazgin
2w ago
About 9.2 billion light-years from Earth is a colossal structure which has confounded astronomers. The discovery might upend current cosmological theories. What they’ve found is a 1.3-billion-light-year-across, almost perfect ring of galaxies. No such structure has been seen before. And it doesn’t match any known formation mechanism. It has been dubbed the “Big Ring.” The discovery was presented at the 243rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society and is detailed in a pre-print paper available on arXiv. It is the second giant structure found by teams led by Alexia Lopez, an astronomer at ..read more
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JWST finds best evidence yet for rocky exoplanet atmosphere
Cosmos » Astrophysics
by Evrim Yazgin
2w ago
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has detected the best evidence to date for the existence of an atmosphere around a rocky exoplanet. The discovery could aid the continued search for habitable planets outside our solar system. “55 Cancri e” is a hot rocky planet orbiting a star 41 light-years from Earth. Its orbit is just 2.25 million km from its host star –  so close that the planet’s surface is likely molten. The planet is twice as big as Earth, making it a “super-Earth.” Illustration: NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI) Science: Aaron Bello-Arufe (JPL). Previous studies have ..read more
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Venus’s lack of water could be due to H escape
Cosmos » Astrophysics
by Matthew Ward Agius
3w ago
The reason Venus missed the chance to be a water-filled planet might boil down to chemical reactions in the planet’s atmosphere allowing hydrogen to flee. Venus and Earth have much in common – roughly the same size, density and rocky composition.  But Venus boasts an environment completely inhospitable to life as we know it: in short, average surface temperatures of 465 °C and clouds of sulfuric acid that rain down and evaporates almost instantly due to the incredible heat. So extreme is Venus, that Soviet probes sent to the planet in 1984 melted after sending home a set of black and whi ..read more
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NASA animation simulates falling into a black hole
Cosmos » Astrophysics
by Evrim Yazgin
3w ago
NASA has produced a mind-bending video simulating what it would like if you were to plunge into a black hole. It’s based on understanding of gravitational effects around these mysterious powerful objects. Watch the video below: “People often ask about this, and simulating these difficult-to-imagine processes helps me connect the mathematics of relativity to actual consequences in the real universe,” says Jeremy Schnittman, the astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center who created the visualisations. Exercise in theory No one has ever been to a black hole, hence the visualisat ..read more
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Turns out JWST hasn’t found life in another planet… yet
Cosmos » Astrophysics
by Evrim Yazgin
3w ago
In 2023, an exoplanet made international headlines because James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) observations suggested that the planet has a “biosignature” – signs of gas in its atmosphere produced by “life.” A new study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters pricks a hole in this hypothesis. K2-18b is a planet orbiting a star more than 110 light-years from Earth. The planet is in the habitable “Goldilocks” zone – that is, its orbit lies within the distance where it is not too cold and not too hot, and can sustain liquid water. It was discovered in 2015 by the Kepler Space Telescope. Mor ..read more
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