NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) has captured an extreme and rare event in the regions immediately surrounding a supermassive black hole. A compact source of X-rays that sits near the black hole, called the corona, has moved closer to the black hole over a period of just days. (more…)
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Two new views from NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, showcase the telescope’s talent for spying objects near and far. One image shows the energized remains of a dead star, a structure nicknamed the “Hand of God” after its resemblance to a hand. Another image shows distant black holes buried in blankets of dust.
“NuSTAR’s unique viewpoint, in seeing the highest-energy X-rays, is showing us well-studied objects and regions in a whole new light,” said Fiona Harrison, the mission’s principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. (more…)
Black holes can be petite, with masses only about 10 times that of our sun — or monstrous, boasting the equivalent in mass up to 10 billion suns. Do black holes also come in size medium? NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is busy scrutinizing a class of black holes that may fall into the proposed medium-sized category.
“Exactly how intermediate-sized black holes would form remains an open issue,” said Dominic Walton of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. “Some theories suggest they could form in rich, dense clusters of stars through repeated mergers, but there are a lot of questions left to be answered.” (more…)
PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Curiosity rover is revealing a great deal about Mars, from long-ago processes in its interior to the current interaction between the Martian surface and atmosphere.
Examination of loose rocks, sand and dust has provided new understanding of the local and global processes on Mars. Analysis of observations and measurements by the rover’s science instruments during the first four months after the August 2012 landing are detailed in five reports in the Sept. 27 edition of the journal Science. (more…)
3-D CT scans give the U a leg up in spotting veterinary injuries
When Gauge fell from a rooftop a few months ago, he had two strikes against him:
• The ground was five stories down
• He was a dog, not a cat
Rushed to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center, Gauge looked like a goner. Even after his internal injuries were tended to, his fractured pelvis loomed like a third strike that would hobble him for life. That’s what it’s like for too many animals, whose veterinary surgeons have only conventional X-rays or a stack of two-dimensional CT scans to guide them as they go into surgery. (more…)
As Mars rover Curiosity makes its final approach to the Red Planet, two UA geoscientists are getting ready to help solve some of the mysteries of its geologic past.
On Aug. 5, at about 10:30 p.m., an already busy summer will kick into overdrive for University of Arizona geosciences professor Bob Downs and one of his graduate students, Shaunna Morrison. At that time – provided everything goes as planned – Curiosity, the most sophisticated exploration vehicle ever sent to another planet, will parachute toward the Martian surface faster than the speed of sound after a nine-month journey through space. And as soon as it sinks its six wheels into the red dust, the two scientists specializing in mineralogy will have not one, but two planets to deal with.
As “primary data downlink leaders” designated by NASA, Downs and Morrison are part of a team of scientists tasked with the identification of rocks that Curiosity will encounter during its two-year expedition across the floor of Gale Crater near the Martian equator. (more…)
COLUMBIA, Mo. — One person dies every hour from melanoma skin cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. A technique known as photoacoustics can find some forms of melanoma even if only a few cancerous cells exist, but a recent study by University of Missouri researchers found that the technique was limited in its ability to identify other types of cancer. Attaching markers, called enhancers, to cancer cells could improve the ability of photoacoustics to find other types of cancer and could save lives thanks to faster diagnoses, but the technique is in its early stages.
“Eventually, a photoacoustic scan could become a routine part of a medical exam,” said Luis Polo-Parada, assistant professor of pharmacology and physiology and resident investigator at the MU Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. “The technique doesn’t use X-rays like current methods of looking for cancer. It could also allow for much earlier detection of cancer. Now, a cancerous growth is undetectable until it reaches approximately one cubic centimeter in size. Photoacoustics could potentially find cancerous growths of only a few cells. Unfortunately, our research shows that, besides some cases of melanoma, the diagnostic use of photoacoustics still has major limitations. To overcome this problem, the use of photoacoustic enhancers like gold, carbon nanotubes or dyed nanoparticles is needed.” (more…)
Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, both in Pasadena, have developed a new type of amplifier for boosting electrical signals. The device can be used for everything from studying stars, galaxies and black holes to exploring the quantum world and developing quantum computers.
“This amplifier will redefine what it is possible to measure,” said Jonas Zmuidzinas, chief technologist at JPL, who is Caltech’s Merle Kingsley Professor of Physics and a member of the research team. (more…)