Meteorites Bathed in Gamma Rays Produce More Amino Acids and Could Have Helped Life get Going on Earth

Carbonaceous chondrites like the Allende meteorite contain significant amounts of water and amino acids. Could they have delivered amino acids to early Earth and spurred on the development of life? Image Credit: By Shiny Things - originally posted to Flickr as AMNH - Meteorite, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4196153

Our modern telescopes are more powerful than their predecessors, and our research is more focused than ever. We keep discovering new things about the Solar System and finding answers to long-standing questions. But one of the big questions we still don’t have an answer for is: ‘How did life on Earth begin?’

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SpaceX Launches ‘Starshield’. A Quiet Announcement With A Huge Potential

spacex starshield

SpaceX revealed their new service called Starshield. It is a “secured satellite network for government entities” and is aimed at “supporting national security.” The project looks similar to Starlink, but instead of providing service to end users and businesses, Starshield is aimed at government entities. Here’s what we know so far.

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Colliding Neutron Stars can Generate Long Gamma-ray Bursts

Artist's illustration of a bright gamma-ray burst occurring in a star-forming region and beaming out energy into two narrow, oppositely directed jets. Image Credit: By NASA/Swift/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith and John Jones - http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/features/news/10sep08.html [1]Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by TheDJ using CommonsHelper., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8807284

Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) are the most energetic recurring events in the Universe. Only the Big Bang was more energetic, and it was a singularity. Astronomers see GRBs in distant Universes, and a lot of research has gone into understanding them and what causes them.

A new paper is upending some of what scientists thought they knew about these extraordinary explosions.

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“Early Dark Energy” Could Explain the Crisis in Cosmology

A diagram of the evolution of the observable universe. The Dark Ages are the object of study in this new research, and were preceded by the CMB, or Afterglow Light Pattern. By NASA/WMAP Science Team - Original version: NASA; modified by Cherkash, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11885244
A diagram of the evolution of the observable universe. Credit: NASA/WMAP/Wikimedia

In 1916, Einstein finished his Theory of General Relativity, which describes how gravitational forces alter the curvature of spacetime. Among other things, this theory predicted that the Universe is expanding, which was confirmed by the observations of Edwin Hubble in 1929. Since then, astronomers have looked farther into space (and hence, back in time) to measure how fast the Universe is expanding – aka. the Hubble Constant. These measurements have become increasingly accurate thanks to the discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) and observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope.

Astronomers have traditionally done this in two ways: directly measuring it locally (using variable stars and supernovae) and indirectly based on redshift measurements of the CMB and cosmological models. Unfortunately, these two methods have produced different values over the past decade. As a result, astronomers have been looking for a possible solution to this problem, known as the “Hubble Tension.” According to a new paper by a team of astrophysicists, the existence of “Early Dark Energy” may be the solution cosmologists have been looking for.

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How Artificial Intelligence Can Find the Source of Gamma-Ray Bursts

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are powerful flashes of energetic gamma-rays lasting from less than a second to several minutes. They release a tremendous amount of energy in this short time making them the most powerful events in the Universe. They are thought to be mostly associated with the explosion of stars that collapse into black holes. In the explosion, two jets of very fast-moving material are ejected, as depicted in this artist’s illustration. If a jet happens to be aimed at Earth, we see a brief but powerful gamma-ray burst. Credit: ESO/A. Roquette

Gamma-ray bursts come in two main flavors, short and long. While astronomers believe that they understand what causes these two kinds of bursts, there is still significant overlap between them. A team of researchers have proposed a new way to classify gamma-ray bursts using the aid of machine learning algorithms. This new classification scheme will help astronomers better understand these enigmatic explosions.

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The Geminids Will be Peaking on December 14th. They’re Usually the Most Active Meteor Shower Every Year

Meteor showers are a great way to share a love of astronomy with those who might not be as familiar with it. Almost everyone loves watching streaks of light flash across the sky, but usually, it’s so intermittent that it can be frustrating to watch. That’s not the case for the next few weeks, though, as the annual Geminid meteor shower is underway until December 24th.

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A Star was Blocking a Galaxy, but Now it’s Moved Enough That Astronomers can Finally Examine What it Was Hiding

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a detailed image of the tiny galaxy HIPASS J1131–31, nicknamed the "Peekaboo Galaxy." It's more like an ancient galaxy from the Universe's early days than a modern galaxy. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and Igor Karachentsev (SAO RAS); Image Processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

One of the biggest puzzles in astronomy, and one of the hardest ones to solve, concerns the formation and evolution of galaxies. What did the first ones look like? How have they grown so massive?

A tiny galaxy only 20 million light-years away might be a piece of the puzzle.

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Will We Ever Go Back to Explore the Ice Giants? Yes, If We Keep the Missions Simple and Affordable

Uranus and Neptune are begging to be visited, but expensive missions to visit them may never be approved. Image Credits: (L) By NASA – http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA18182, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=121128532. (R) By Justin Cowart – https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/29347980845/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82476611

It’s been over 35 years since a spacecraft visited Uranus and Neptune. That was Voyager 2, and it only did flybys. Will we ever go back? There are discoveries waiting to be made on these fascinating ice giants and their moons.

But complex missions to Mars and the Moon are eating up budgets and shoving other endeavours aside.

A new paper shows how we can send spacecraft to Uranus and Neptune cheaply and quickly without cutting into Martian and Lunar missions.

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A new Hubble Image Reveals a Shredded Star in a Nearby Galaxy

The latest composite image of supernova remnant DEM L 190, released in November 2022. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, S. Kulkarni, Y. Chu

The Hubble Space Telescope, to which we owe our current estimates for the age of the universe and the first detection of organic matter on an exoplanet, is very much doing science and still alive. It’s latest masterpiece remixes an old hit – apparently a growing trend in space science as well as space music.

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