Tag Archives: star

Energy in, energy out

Epidemiologist shares research on obesity pandemic

With obesity rates increasing across the globe, epidemiologists worldwide are looking for answers to questions about the factors that contribute to obesity in order to prevent it.  (more…)

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Heavy Flavor Tracker for STAR

New Detector System from Berkeley Lab for Quark-Gluon Plasma Studies May Lead to Better Understanding of Early Universe

In the first few microseconds after the big bang, the universe was a superhot, superdense primordial soup of “quarks” and “gluons,” particles of matter and carriers of force respectively. This quark-gluon plasma cooled almost instantly but it’s brief existence set the stage for the universe we know today. To better understand how our universe evolved, scientists are re-creating a quark-gluon plasma in giant particle accelerators such as the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), where an elaborate experiment called “STAR,” for Solenoidal Tracker at RHIC, has been collecting and analyzing data for the past decade. The STAR experiment is now poised for a major upgrade with the introduction of a new particle detector system, called the “Heavy Flavor Tracker,” that is the most advanced of its kind in the world. (more…)

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Spitzer and ALMA Reveal a Star’s Bubbly Birth

It’s a bouncing baby . . . star! Combined observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the newly completed Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile have revealed the throes of stellar birth as never before in the well-studied object known as HH 46/47.

Herbig-Haro (HH) objects form when jets shot out by newborn stars collide with surrounding material, producing small, bright, nebulous regions. To our eyes, the dynamics within many HH objects are obscured by enveloping gas and dust. But the infrared and submillimeter wavelengths of light seen by Spitzer and ALMA, respectively, pierce the dark cosmic cloud around HH 46/47 to let us in on the action. (more…)

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In the Zone: How Scientists Search for Habitable Planets

There is only one planet we know of, so far, that is drenched with life. That planet is Earth, as you may have guessed, and it has all the right conditions for critters to thrive on its surface. Do other planets beyond our solar system, called exoplanets, also host life forms?

Astronomers still don’t know the answer, but they search for potentially habitable planets using a handful of criteria. Ideally, they want to find planets just like Earth, since we know without a doubt that life took root here. The hunt is on for planets about the size of Earth that orbit at just the right distance from their star – in a region termed the habitable zone. (more…)

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NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers Tiny Planet System

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Kepler mission scientists have discovered a new planetary system that is home to the smallest planet yet found around a star similar to our sun.

The planets are located in a system called Kepler-37, about 210 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. The smallest planet, Kepler-37b, is slightly larger than our moon, measuring about one-third the size of Earth. It is smaller than Mercury, which made its detection a challenge. (more…)

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Armchair Astronomers Find Planet in Four-Star System

A joint effort of citizen scientists and professional astronomers has led to the first reported case of a planet orbiting twin suns that in turn is orbited by a second distant pair of stars.

Aided by volunteers using the Planethunters.org website, a Yale-led international team of astronomers identified and confirmed discovery of the phenomenon, called a circumbinary planet in a four-star system.

Only six planets are known to orbit two stars, according to researchers, and none of these are orbited by distant stellar companions. (more…)

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Nearby Super-Earth Likely a Diamond Planet

New research led by Yale University scientists suggests that a rocky planet twice Earth’s size orbiting a nearby star is a diamond planet.

“This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth,” said lead researcher Nikku Madhusudhan, a Yale postdoctoral researcher in physics and astronomy. “The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite.”

The paper reporting the findings has been accepted for publication in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters. (more…)

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MSU Research Sheds New Light on Star Clusters, Black Holes

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Research by Michigan State University astronomers has scientists re-thinking the fates of black holes, particularly in groups of stars known as globular clusters.

The research of Jay Strader, MSU assistant professor of physics and astronomy, and colleagues focused on a cluster called Messier 22, or M22, a collection of hundreds of thousands of stars located about 10,000 light years from Earth. Using images of unprecedented depth observed at radio wavelengths, Strader and his team were surprised to find not one but two black holes in the cluster. (more…)

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