news 2013



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Astronomy / Space - Chemistry - 31.12.2013
Researchers use Hubble Telescope to reveal cloudy weather on alien world
Weather forecasters on exoplanet GJ 1214b would have an easy job. Today's forecast: cloudy. Tomorrow: overcast. Extended outlook: more clouds. That's the implication of a study led by researchers in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago who have definitively characterized the atmosphere of a super-Earth class planet orbiting another star for the first time.

Life Sciences - Astronomy / Space - 30.12.2013
Recap of 2013: Top 10 most-viewed stories on UW Today
University of Washington For us writers in the UW News office , the year's end gives us some time to think about the big research news stories of the year. Those that drove up page views, flooded our servers (thank you UW web team for keeping us afloat!), and generated interesting reader responses in the comments section.

Astronomy / Space - 23.12.2013
Starless cloud cores reveal why some stars are bigger than others
For the first time, astronomers have observed a massive starless cloud, providing the answer to a long held question: How do some stars grow to be behemoths when the vast majority are much smaller? In the new study, published in the Astrophysical Journal , astronomers used the ALMA telescope in Chile, South America, to survey the cores of some of the darkest, coldest, and densest clouds in our Galaxy to search for the telltale signs of star formation.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 19.12.2013
Discovery of binary star system could make waves in physics
International team including UAlberta physicist discovers double star that could prove a prediction of Einstein's theory of gravity. In this illustration of an AM CvN binary star system, a small, heavy white dwarf star pulls material from its larger but less dense companion star. This week, astronomers announced the first observation of one of these rare double-star systems in its developing stages.

Astronomy / Space - Earth Sciences - 19.12.2013
New technique measures mass of exoplanets
Method will help scientists determine the mass of exoplanets that are not measurable in any other way. To date, scientists have confirmed the existence of more than 900 exoplanets circulating outside our solar system. To determine if any of these far-off worlds are habitable requires knowing an exoplanet's mass - which can help tell scientists whether the planet is made of gas or rock and other life-supporting materials.

Astronomy / Space - Social Sciences - 17.12.2013
Massive stars mark out Milky Way's 'missing' arms
Massive stars mark out Milky Way’s ’missing’ arms
A 12-year study of massive stars has reaffirmed that our Galaxy has four spiral arms, following years of debate sparked by images taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope that only showed two arms. The new research, which is published online today [17 December] in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, is part of the RMS Survey, which was launched by academics at the University of Leeds.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 13.12.2013
Swirls in remnants of Big Bang may hold clues to universe’s infancy
South Pole Telescope scientists have detected for the first time a subtle distortion in the oldest light in the universe, which may help reveal secrets about the earliest moments in the universe's formation. The scientists observed twisting patterns in the polarization of the cosmic microwave background—light that last interacted with matter very early in the history of the universe, less than 400,000 years after the Big Bang.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 13.12.2013
Neutrino discovery named ’Breakthrough of the Year’
Physics World honour latest accolade for IceCube Collaboration scientists, including a team from UAlberta. IceCube Collaboration scientists toast the completion of their Antarctic particle detector in December 2010. Now they have a new reason to cheer. (Photo: Chad Carpenter. IceCube/NSF) It's not every day that one has a hand in creating a new scientific field that could vastly improve our understanding of the universe.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 12.12.2013
First measurement of phosphorus created by supernova
First measurement of phosphorus created by supernova
An international team of astronomers has measured for the first time the abundance of phosphorus created in a supernova explosion - a vital clue to understanding how life in the universe is possible. The team's observational results show that phosphorus is 100 times more abundant in the remains of a supernova than elsewhere in the galaxy, confirming that massive exploding stars are the crucibles in which the element is created.

Astronomy / Space - 11.12.2013
Antarctica’s ice loss on the rise
11 December 2013 Three years of observations by ESA's CryoSat satellite show that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is losing over 150 cubic kilometres of ice each year - considerably more than when last surveyed. The imbalance in West Antarctica continues to be dominated by ice losses from glaciers flowing into the Amundsen Sea.

Astronomy / Space - Earth Sciences - 10.12.2013
First Rock Dating Experiment Performed on Mars
First Rock Dating Experiment Performed on Mars
Although researchers have determined the ages of rocks from other planetary bodies, the actual experiments-like analyzing meteorites and moon rocks-have always been done on Earth. Now, for the first time, researchers have successfully determined the age of a Martian rock-with experiments performed on Mars.

Astronomy / Space - 09.12.2013
CryoSat measures European storm surge
9 December 2013 ESA's CryoSat satellite measured the storm surge from the recent North Sea storms, as high waters passed through the Kattegat sea between Denmark and Sweden. During 5-6 December, a major storm passed through northern Europe causing flooding, blackouts, grounding flights and bringing road, rail and sea travel to a halt.

Earth Sciences - Astronomy / Space - 09.12.2013
Ancient fresh water lake on Mars could have sustained life
Ancient fresh water lake on Mars could have sustained life
Scientists have found evidence that there was once an ancient lake on Mars that may have been able to support life. It is exciting to think that billions of years ago, ancient microbial life may have existed in the lake's calm waters, converting a rich array of elements into energy.

Physics - Astronomy / Space - 09.12.2013
Recipe for a Universe
When soup is heated, it starts to boil. When time and space are heated, an expanding universe can emerge, without requiring anything like a "Big Bang". This phase transition between a boring empty space and an expanding universe containing mass has now been mathematically described by a research team at the Vienna University of Technology, together with colleagues from Harvard, the MIT and Edinburgh.

Astronomy / Space - Computer Science - 28.11.2013
GREAT3 challenges researchers to find new methods for measuring weak gravitational lensing
GREAT3 challenges researchers to find new methods for measuring weak gravitational lensing
Think you can figure out a way to unlock one of the biggest secrets of the universe? The recently launched third Gravitational Lensing Accuracy Testing challenge (GREAT3) is giving researchers the opportunity to do just that. GREAT3, which is led by Carnegie Mellon University's Rachel Mandelbaum and UCL's Barnaby Rowe, invites researchers from fields including astrophysics, statistics and machine learning, to test new and existing methods for measuring weak gravitational lensing.

Astronomy / Space - Social Sciences - 28.11.2013
44 million stars and counting: astronomers play Snap and remap the sky
28 November 2013 Tens of millions of stars and galaxies, among them hundreds of thousands that are unexpectedly fading or brightening, have been catalogued properly for the first time. Professor Bryan Gaensler , Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics ( CAASTRO ) based in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney, Australia, and Dr Greg Madsen at the University of Cambridge, undertook this formidable challenge by combining photographic and digital data from two major astronomical surveys of the sky, separated by sixty years.

Astronomy / Space - Computer Science - 21.11.2013
Discovery could usher in new ice age of astrophysics
Extraterrestrial neutrinos identified by particle detector made of Antarctic ice with help from UAlberta researchers. The IceCube Laboratory, a particle detector made from one cubic kilometre of ice in Antarctica, has confirmed the existence of extraterrestrial neutrinos. More than 250 scientists from around the globe are involved in the project, including UAlberta's Darren Grant, who leads IceCube efforts in Canada.

Physics - Astronomy / Space - 21.11.2013
Searching for Cosmic Accelerators Via IceCube
Searching for Cosmic Accelerators Via IceCube
In our universe there are particle accelerators 40 million times more powerful than the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. Scientists don't know what these cosmic accelerators are or where they are located, but new results being reported from "IceCube," the neutrino observatory buried at the South Pole, may show the way.

Astronomy / Space - Earth Sciences - 19.11.2013
Asteroids’ close encounters with Mars
Scientists find that Mars, not Earth, shakes up some near-Earth asteroids. For nearly as long as astronomers have been able to observe asteroids, a question has gone unanswered: Why do the surfaces of most asteroids appear redder than meteorites - the remnants of asteroids that have crashed to Earth?

Astronomy / Space - Social Sciences - 08.11.2013
New type of black hole quasar
A research team that includes Penn State astronomers has discovered a surprising new class of quasars in distant galaxies that even the most current theories had not predicted. This drawing illustrates one possibility, showing the gas of a quasar flowing into the black hole at the center of the disk.
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