Category: Astronomy.

Who set up the camera on the moon’s surface.

A LEADING astronomer has discovered our universe may not be the only one and that there might be a parallel or alternate universe.

Ranga-Ram Chary was recently mapping the Cosmic Microwave Background – the light which was left from the Big Bang – when he noticed a “mysterious glow”.

Chary says that typically when scanning the Cosmic Microwave Background, you would find nothing but noise, but he added in his research paper that the bright spots were 4,500 times brighter than they should be.

He wrote in the study, Spectral Variations of the Sky: Constraints on Alternate Universes, that there is a 30 per cent chance that the glow is nothing out of the ordinary, but claimed that there is a chance it is being caused by two universes colliding.

He said: “It could also possibly be due to the collision of our universe with an alternate universe whose baryon to photon ratio is a factor of around 65 larger than ours.”

Chary, who is the US Planck Data Center’s project manager in California, added that another universe could be “leaking” into our own.

If either prove to be true, then it would mean that our universe is simply “a region within an eternally inflating super-region.”

However, other astronomers are skeptical of Chary’s claims, with Jens Chluba of the University of Cambridge, said: “This signal is one of the fingerprints of our own universe. Other universes should leave a different mark.”

However, Chluba added that more research is needed before a conclusion is reached.

He said: “To explain the signals that Dr Chary found with the cosmological recombination radiation, one needs a large enhancement in the number of [other particles] relative to photons.

“In the realm of alternative universes, this is entirely possible.”


Source: Parallel universe BREAKTHROUGH: Expert discovers we could be part of alternate reality | Science | News | Daily Express

A decade ago, a tiny but mighty probe descended into the soupy atmosphere of Titan. This moon of Saturn is of great interest to astrobiologists because its chemistry and liquid cycle remind us of what the early Earth could have looked like before life arose.

The probe, called Huygens, made it to the surface and transmitted imagery all the way. It remained alive on the surface for more than an hour, transmitting data to NASA’s orbiting Cassini spacecraft for later analysis by scientists.

During long-term missions, sometimes it takes years to examine all the data gathered by probes because there is so much for investigators to parse through. A decade later, we are only now starting to understand how the atmosphere of Titan formed, mostly based on what Huygens observed in January 2005. [What Huygens Saw on Titan (Video)]

The data could help settle a debate about how Titan got its atmosphere, said Christopher Glein, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto in Canada.

Cassini’s view of lakes on the surface of Titan.
Cassini’s view of lakes on the surface of Titan.

Credit: Cassini Radar Mapper, JPL, USGS, ESA, NASA

One scenario, more popular before Huygens reached the surface, suggested that the moon nabbed nitrogen, methane and noble gases that were floating in the solar system during formation. Another theory, and one that Glein supports, holds that the atmosphere was generated within Titan as a consequence of hydrothermal activity.

“That’s the idea I am exploring — producing gases inside of Titan,” Glein said.

His new paper, titled “Noble gases, nitrogen, and methane from the deep interior to the atmosphere of Titan,” was published in the journal Icarus.



The Huygens probe found an isotope of argon — a noble gas also found in Earth’s atmosphere — that appeared to be made within Titan’s presumed rocky core. Argon-40 is a radioactive product that is formed from the radioactive decay of potassium-40. It originated inside of Titan, Glein said, and then got into the atmosphere by some means, perhaps by venting, or through cryovolcanism (cold volcanoes that may erupt mixtures of liquid water).

How the gas was released is a reflection of geophysical processes that depend on Titan’s internal structure. Perhaps Titan is even warmer than thought. Some models predict that Titan’s interior should be warm, but for that to happen its structure would need to be differentiated.

This could mean that Titan has (or once had) a hot rocky core surrounded by an ocean with an icy shell overlaid on top. This would be similar in structure to what is hypothesized on Jupiter’s satellite Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system, and unlike that of Callisto, another large moon of Jupiter that is mostly undifferentiated, Glein said. [Amazing Photos: Titan, Saturn’s Largest Moon]

“There’s not unanimous agreement,” he added. “The key observation is the gravity field — which tells us how much mass separation occurred during the formation and evolution of Titan. If there is a rocky core and ocean-ice shell, there should be a great deal of separation. But Titan is a no-man’s land of ambiguity between Ganymede and Callisto. We can’t be definitive yet.”

Glein’s contribution to the body of knowledge on the origin of Titan’s atmosphere was to create a mathematical representation of Titan’s volatile element geochemistry, assuming that the moon is differentiated and the noble gases originated from the rocky core.

“I did some calculations and connected the dots together. This could all make sense in terms of a larger story,” he said



Glein assumed the building blocks of Titan would have a chemistry similar to a certain kind of ice that is reflective of primitive solar system material, such as comets. The carbon dioxide and ammonia found in these small bodies can produce methane and nitrogen if they are cooked in a hydrothermal system. Inside of Titan, it’s possible this combination would account for the nitrogen and methane that now reside in its atmosphere.

Artist's conception of Huygens approaching Titan.
Artist’s conception of Huygens approaching Titan.

Credit: NASA

According to Glein, some noble gases behave very similarly (in terms of how easily they form gases) to methane and nitrogen, which are the gases that give Titan an atmosphere. For example, nitrogen is similar to argon, and methane behaves similarly to krypton. These noble gas analogies allowed Glein to calculate how much methane and nitrogen can go from the rocky core to the atmosphere, a distance of at least 300 miles (500 kilometers).

For example, standard models show that the whiff of argon-36 detected by Huygens can be explained if only 2 percent of the total amount in the core make it out to the top. Similarly, nitrogen should also bleed outwards at about 2 percent, and Glein found that this is enough to explain the amount of nitrogen we find in Titan’s atmosphere. He came to a similar conclusion using krypton to estimate the outgassing percentage for methane.

The challenge is that much of the work is based on a single mission and only a few hours of data. While Cassini still makes regular flybys past Titan, its instruments (coupled with the greater distance) are not sensitive enough to gather precise abundances of trace noble gases that would improve on the Huygens results. Similarly, telescopic observations are hard because Titan is too far away for this exacting work.

“I think ultimately we are going to need another mission to Titan, such as a rover, and I think probably the Jupiter system more in the immediate future. There is useful information out there,” Glein said.

“One of the next questions is trying to address why Ganymede and Callisto don’t have atmospheres, like Titan,” he added. “If we can get new data from Ganymede especially, we can test this model and get a general understanding of what’s going on. This is also a key next step in testing the hypothesis of a hydrothermal solar system, where heat sources inside icy worlds allow liquid water to persist, and drive geochemical transformations of carbon and nitrogen. This could set the stage for subsurface life.”

NASA’s forthcoming Juno mission arrives at Jupiter in 2016, and could help in terms of measuring Jupiter’s global water abundance and explaining how its moons were formed from the gas cloud that birthed Jupiter, Glein said. Further ahead is Europe’s JUICE mission, which will look at several of Jupiter’s icy moons in the 2030s and could gather more information on Ganymede’s chemistry and interior.

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Source: How Did the Saturn Moon Titan’s Atmosphere Form?

Using data from NASA’s Great Observatories, astronomers have found the best evidence yet for cosmic seeds in the early universe that should grow into supermassive black holes.

Researchers combined data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope, and Spitzer Space Telescope to identify these possible black hole seeds. They discuss their findings in a paper that will appear in an upcoming issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

“Our discovery, if confirmed, explains how these monster black holes were born,” said Fabio Pacucci of Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS) in Pisa, Italy, who led the study. “We found evidence that supermassive black hole seeds can form directly from the collapse of a giant gas cloud, skipping any intermediate steps.”

Scientists believe a supermassive black hole lies in the center of nearly all large galaxies, including our own Milky Way. They have found that some of these supermassive black holes, which contain millions or even billions of times the mass of the sun, formed less than a billion years after the start of the universe in the Big Bang.

One theory suggests black hole seeds were built up by pulling in gas from their surroundings and by mergers of smaller black holes, a process that should take much longer than found for these quickly forming black holes.

These new findings suggest instead that some of the first black holes formed directly when a cloud of gas collapsed, bypassing any other intermediate phases, such as the formation and subsequent destruction of a massive star.

“There is a lot of controversy over which path these black holes take,” said co-author Andrea Ferrara, also of SNS. “Our work suggests we are narrowing in on an answer, where the black holes start big and grow at the normal rate, rather than starting small and growing at a very fast rate.”

The researchers used computer models of black hole seeds combined with a new method to select candidates for these objects from long-exposure images from Chandra, Hubble and Spitzer.

The team found two strong candidates for black hole seeds. Both of these matched the theoretical profile in the infrared data, including being very red objects, and they also emit X-rays detected with Chandra. Estimates of their distance suggest they may have been formed when the universe was less than a billion years old

“Black hole seeds are extremely hard to find and confirming their detection is very difficult,” said Andrea Grazian, a co-author from the National Institute for Astrophysics in Italy. “However, we think our research has uncovered the two best candidates to date.”

The team plans to obtain further observations in X-rays and infrared to check whether these objects have more of the properties expected for black hole seeds. Upcoming observatories, such as NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and the European Extremely Large Telescope, will aid in future studies by detecting the light from more distant and smaller black holes. Scientists currently are building the theoretical framework needed to interpret the upcoming data, with the aim of finding the first black holes in the universe.

“As scientists, we cannot say at this point that our model is ‘the one’,” said Pacucci. “What we really believe is that our model is able to reproduce the observations without requiring unreasonable assumptions.”

Explore the image from this release on HubbleSite (

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program while the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra’s science and flight operations.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission, whose science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado.

Source: NASA Telescopes Find Clues For How Giant Black Holes Formed So Quickly – NASA Spitzer Space Telescope

For decades it has been thought that planets take at least tens of millions of years to gradually coalesce from the dust and rubble that collects around young stars.

But scientists might soon have to rethink theories explaining how planets are born after new evidence of baby planets orbiting in a cloud of dust surrounding a nearby star.

The planets are so young – less than a million years – they challenge the accepted theories of how planets are made, showing they can form much more quickly than first thought.

The image, captured using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (Alma) in Chile’s Atacama Desert, showed what appears to be gaps in the disk, but debate raged over whether worlds could actually form in the system that quickly, so more data was needed.

But new evidence has now been gathered, and it supports the theory that planets are causing the gaps.

The disks around young stars contain gas in addition to the dust, with 100 times more gas than dust.

Scientists thought if the gaps in the dust were not caused by planets, the gas surrounding the stars would not have similar gaps in the same places.

A team of researchers in Taiwan and Japan set out to look at the distribution of gas, and they found the gaps in the gas corresponded to the same place at the dust gaps.

‘To our surprise, these gaps in the gas overlap with the dust gaps,’ said Dr Hsi-Wei Yen at Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Taiwan, the lead author of the paper. ‘This supports the idea that the gaps are the footprints left by baby planets.’

The team also found that the gas density is high enough to harbour an infant planet around the inner gap.

‘Our results indicate that planets start to form much earlier than what we expected.’ Dr Yen added.

Comparing the structure of the inner gap to theoretical models, the team estimates the planet has a mass 0.8 times that of Jupiter.

The system is 450 light-years from Earth and 22 billion miles (35.8 billion km) across.

By comparison, ours is about 6.6 billion miles (9 billion km) across, when measured to the outermost planet, Neptune

But the origin of the outer gap is still unclear.

The team suggested it could be a planet 2.1 times more massive than Jupiter, but the present research cannot eliminate the possibility that the gap is made by the drag between the dust particles and the gas.

To solve this question, more data is needed.

‘Our research clearly demonstrates that applying new data analysis techniques to existing data can uncover important facts, further increasing Alma’s already high scientific potential,’ said Professor Shigehisa Takakuwa from Kagoshima University, Japan.

‘Applying the same method to the datasets for other young stars, we expect to construct a systematic model of planet formation.’

A team of researchers in Taiwan and Japan set out to look at the distribution of gas, and they found the gaps in the gas corresponded to the same place at the dust gaps. The star is surrounded by the disk (shown in red) and thick envelope

Source: Infant worlds born from dust around star in one million years | Daily Mail Online

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