- Earth's address within a massive supercluster of 100,000 galaxies ~ Video
- Our new neighbours: Rare dwarf galaxies found orbiting the Milky Way
- Surface of Venus revealed by new radio telescope data
- Billionaire teams up with NASA to mine the moon
- Fighting with Non-violence ~ Scilla Elworthy ~ Ted Talk Lecture Series
- Evidence for Eternity & Atlantis on Coast To Coast Radio with George Noory
- 10 Fascinating Facts About YouTube You Didn’t Know!
- Great Fuel Economy For Less: 5 Affordable Used Cars That are Surprisingly Good on Gas
- Top 10 Mythical Things That Likely Existed
Posted: 10 Mar 2015 09:25 PM PDT
Excerpt from cnet.com
Astronomers have mapped the Milky Way's position to the outskirts of a supercluster of galaxies, newly dubbed Laniakea, meaning "Immense Heaven".
The distribution of galaxies throughout the universe is not more-or-less even; instead, galaxies tend to cluster together, bound together by the pull of each other's gravity. These groups can be a variety of sizes. The Milky Way Galaxy, for instance, is part of what is called the Local Group, which contains upwards of 54 galaxies, covering a diameter of 10 megalight-years (10 million light-years).
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But this Local Group is just a small part of a much, much bigger structure, which researchers at the University of Hawai'i Mānoa have now mapped in detail. Coming in at over 100,000 galaxies, the massive supercluster has been given the name Laniakea -- "immense heaven" in Hawaiian.
The new 3D map was created by examining the positions and movements of the 8000 closest galaxies to the Milky Way. After calculating which galaxies were being pulled away from us and which were being pulled towards us -- accounting for the universe's expansion -- the team, led by astronomer R. Brent Tully, was able to map the paths of galactic migration -- and define the boundaries of Laniakea.
Traditionally, the borders of galactic superclusters have been difficult to map, but studying the gravitational force acting on our neighbouring galaxies has provided some important clues. All objects inside Laniakea are being slowly but surely drawn to a single point -- a force known as the Great Attractor, a gravitational anomaly with a mass tens of thousands of times the mass of the Milky Way.
Everything that is being pulled towards the Great Attractor is part of Laniakea -- although it's possible that Laniakea itself might in turn be part of a structure that is larger still.
"We probably need to measure to another factor of three in distance to explain our local motion," Tully said. "We might find that we have to come up with another name for something larger than we're a part of -- we're entertaining that as a real possibility."
The full paper, "The Laniakea supercluster of galaxies", can be read online in the journal Nature.
Posted: 10 Mar 2015 09:02 PM PDT
The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, near which the satellites were found.
Excerpt from cnet.com
Researchers have found rare satellite dwarf galaxies and candidate dwarf galaxies in orbit around our Milky Way, the largest number of such satellites ever found in one go.
The Milky Way galaxy now officially has new neighbours. Nine dwarf satellites, including three tiny galaxies, in orbit around our home galaxy were spotted by astronomers at the University of Cambridge in the skies of the southern hemisphere. The galaxies were found near the Large and Small Magellanic Cloud -- the two largest and most well-known dwarf galaxies in orbit around the Milky Way.
"The discovery of so many satellites in such a small area of the sky was completely unexpected," said lead author Dr Sergey Koposov of Cambridge's Institute of Astronomy. "I could not believe my eyes."
Discovered in newly released imaging data from the Dark Energy Survey, the find consists of three confirmed dwarf galaxies and six objects that could be either be dwarf galaxies or globular clusters -- the difference being that the stars in globular clusters are not held together with dark matter.
Dwarf galaxies are the smallest of all the observed galactic structures, sometimes as small as just 5,000 stars -- compared to the Milky Way's estimated 200 to 400 billion stars. It is also estimated that they contain up to 99 percent dark matter, and just one percent observable matter, which makes them perfect for testing dark matter models.
Previously confirmed dwarf galaxies (blue) and the newly discovered satellites (red).Image: Yao-Yuan Mao, Ralf Kaehler, Risa Wechsler (KIPAC/SLAC)
"Dwarf satellites are the final frontier for testing our theories of dark matter," said study co-author Dr Vasily Belokurov of the Institute of Astronomy. "We need to find them to determine whether our cosmological picture makes sense. Finding such a large group of satellites near the Magellanic Clouds was surprising, though, as earlier surveys of the southern sky found very little, so we were not expecting to stumble on such treasure."
The closest of the three dwarf galaxies, 97,000 light-years away and located in the constellation Reticulum, is in the process of being pulled apart by the Milky Way's enormous tidal forces. The farthest and brightest, 1.2 million light-years away in the constellation Eridanus, is right on the edge of the Milky Way and is on the verge of being pulled in.
The locations of the three new confirmed dwarf galaxies in relation to the Magellanic Clouds. University of Cambridge
"These results are very puzzling," said co-author Wyn Evans of the Institute of Astronomy. "Perhaps they were once satellites that orbited the Magellanic Clouds and have been thrown out by the interaction of the Small and Large Magellanic Cloud. Perhaps they were once part of a gigantic group of galaxies that -- along with the Magellanic Clouds -- are falling into our Milky Way galaxy."
Current estimates put the possible number of dwarf galaxies in orbit around the Milky Way in the hundreds, but they are very hard to find, since they are so faint. So far, fewer than 30 dwarf satellite galaxies have been identified.
The full study was published in The Astrophysical Journal. "Beasts of the Southern Wild. Discovery of a large number of Ultra Faint satellites in the vicinity of the Magellanic Clouds" can be found online.
Posted: 10 Mar 2015 08:57 PM PDT
Excerpt from smnweekly.com
By David M. DeMar
New radio telescope data from the National Radio Astronomy Observatoryhas revealed for the first time ever just what Venus has under its thick veil of clouds that otherwise occlude its surface from view.
25 million miles distant from us, Venus looks to the naked eye – or through a light telescope – much like a cloudy marble, thanks to the thick cloudbanks of carbon dioxide ringing the planet. However, the surface underneath, long a mystery to planetary scientists, has been laid bare thanks to the work of Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory radio transmitter and the Green Bank Telescope, a radio telescope located in West Virginia and operated by the National Science Foundation.
The two facilities worked together with the NRAO in order to uncover the hidden surface of Mars. Arecibo sent radar signals to Venus, where they penetrated the thick atmosphere and bounced off the ground. The returning radio signals were picked up by the GBT in West Virginia in a process known as bistatic radar; the result is a radar image that shows craters and mountains strewn across the surface of Venus at a surprisingly high resolution.
The image is bisected by a dark line, representing areas where it’s particularly difficult to receive useful image data through the use of bistatic radar. However,scientists are intending to compare multiple images as time goes by in order to identify any active geologic processes on the surface of Venus such as volcanic activity.
It’s no particularly easy task to compare radar images in search of evidence of any change in this manner says Smithsonian senior scientist Bruce Campbell, but the work will continue. Campbell, who works at the National Air and Space Museum in the nation’s capital and is associated with the center for Earth and Planetary Studies, added that combining images from the latest NRAO endeavor and otherswill yield large amounts of data on how the surface of Venus might be altered by other processes.
The radar data, and a scientific paper based on it, will be published in April inIcarus, the scientific journal dedicated to studies of the solar system.
Posted: 10 Mar 2015 08:46 PM PDT
Excerpt from cnbc.com
By Susan Caminiti
Moon Express, a Mountain View, California-based company that's aiming to send the first commercial robotic spacecraft to the moon next year, just took another step closer toward that lofty goal.
Earlier this year, it became the first company to successfully test a prototype of a lunar lander at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The success of this test—and a series of others that will take place later this year—paves the way for Moon Express to send its lander to the moon in 2016, said company co-founder and chairman Naveen Jain.
Moon Express conducted its tests with the support of NASA engineers, who are sharing with the company their deep well of lunar know-how. The NASA lunar initiative—known as Catalyst—is designed to spur new commercial U.S. capabilities to reach the moon and tap into its considerable resources. In addition to Moon Express, NASA is also working with Astrobotic Technologies of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California, to develop commercial robotic spacecrafts.
Jain said Moon Express also recently signed an agreement to take over Space Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral. The historic launchpad will be used for Moon Express's lander development and flight-test operations. Before it was decommissioned, the launchpad was home to NASA's Atlas-Centaur rocket program and its Surveyor moon landers.
"Clearly, NASA has an amazing amount of expertise when it comes to getting to the moon, and it wants to pass that knowledge on to a company like ours that has the best chance of being successful," said Jain, a serial entrepreneur who also founded Internet companies Infospace and Intelius. He believes that the moon holds precious metals and rare minerals that can be brought back to help address Earth's energy, health and resource challenges.
Among the moon's vast riches: gold, cobalt, iron, palladium, platinum, tungsten and Helium-3, a gas that can be used in future fusion reactors to provide nuclear power without radioactive waste. "We went to the moon 50 years ago, yet today we have more computing power with our iPhones than the computers that sent men into space," Jain said. "That type of exponential technological growth is allowing things to happen that was never possible before."
An eye on the Google prize
Helping to drive this newfound interest in privately funded space exploration is the Google Lunar X Prize. It's a competition organized by the X Prize Foundation and sponsored by Google that will award $30 million to the first company that lands a commercial spacecraft on the moon, travels 500 meters across its surface and sends high-definition images and video back to Earth—all before the end of 2016.
Moon Express is already at the front of the pack. In January it was awarded a $1 million milestone prize from Google for being the only company in the competition so far to test a prototype of its lander. "Winning the X prize would be a great thing," said Jain. "But building a great company is the ultimate goal with us." When it comes to space exploration, he added, "it's clear that the baton has been passed from the government to the private sector."
Testing in stages
Jain said Moon Express has been putting its lunar lander through a series of tests at the space center. The successful outing earlier this year involved tethering the vehicle—which is the size of a coffee table—to a crane in order to safely test its control systems. "The reason we tethered it to the crane is because the last thing we wanted was the aircraft to go completely haywire and hurt someone," he said.
At the end of March, the company will conduct a completely free flight test with no tethering. The lander will take off from the pad, go up and sideways, then land back at the launchpad. "This is to test that the vehicle knows where to go and how to get back to the launchpad safely," Jain explained.
Once all these tests are successfully completed, Jain said the lander—called MX-1—will be ready to travel to the moon. The most likely scenario is that it will be attached to a satellite that will take the lander into a low orbit over the Earth. From there the MX-1 will fire its own rocket, powered by hydrogen peroxide, and launch from that orbit to complete its travel to the moon's surface.
The lander's first mission is a one-way trip, meaning that it's not designed to travel back to the Earth, said Jain. "The purpose is to show that for the first time, a company has developed the technology to land softly on the moon," he said. "Landing on the moon is not the hard part. Landing softly is the hard part."
That's because even though the gravity of the moon is one-sixth that of the Earth's, the lander will still be traveling down to the surface of the moon "like a bullet," Jain explained. Without the right calculations to indicate when its rockets have to fire in order to slow it down, the lander would hit the surface of the moon and break into millions of pieces. "Unlike here on Earth, there's no GPS on the moon to tell us this, so we have to do all these calculations first," he said.
Looking ahead 15 or 20 years, Jain said he envisions a day when the moon is used as a sort of way station enabling easier travel for exploration to other planets. In the meantime, he said the lander's second and third missions could likely involve bringing precious metals, minerals and even moon rocks back to Earth. "Today, people look at diamonds as this rare thing on Earth," Jain said.
He added, "Imagine telling someone you love her by giving her the moon."
Posted: 10 Mar 2015 08:38 PM PDT
Posted: 10 Mar 2015 08:35 PM PDT
Posted: 10 Mar 2015 08:27 PM PDT
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Posted: 10 Mar 2015 08:22 PM PDT
Excerpt from autotrader.com
By Josh Sadlier
Seems like the only thing automakers want to talk about these days is how their cars suddenly get great fuel economy. Given this relentless chatter, it's tempting to conclude that most older cars must be fuel-gulping gluttons.
But in many cases, the new models are actually only a little less thirsty than their predecessors. Engines have been pretty efficient for a pretty long time, and that means there are plenty of affordable used cars that can also help you pinch pennies at the pump. Here are five of our favorites.
5. 2006-2011 Honda Civic
It's an open secret that the latest Civic, which debuted in 2012, is generally a disappointment relative to its illustrious predecessors. In terms of fuel economy, though, it's a modest step forward, returning 28 mpg city/39 hwy with the automatic transmission versus the previous model's average of 25/36 mpg. But what does that mean for your bottom line? Well, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a handy Fuel Economics calculator that estimates annual fuel costs, and it turns out that you'd end up paying just $200 more per year to refuel a previous-generation Civic. When you consider the thousands you'd save on the purchase price due to depreciation, not to mention the new Civic's lack of significant improvements, the old model emerges as a compelling alternative.
4. 2008-2011 Ford Focus
No question about it, the appealing current-generationFocus is better than its dowdy predecessor in every conceivable way, including fuel economy. But when the new Focus debuted in 2012, it came with a significant price hike; meanwhile, the old Focus had begun to depreciate quickly. Accordingly, choosing an older example could save you a serious pile of cash, yet you're still going to do pretty well on gas. The previous Focus returned 24/33 mpg with the automatic, and as with the old Civic, it'll run you only $200 extra bucks in gas per year versus the new one.
3. 2003-2008 Toyota Corolla
You don't have to take our word for it that Toyota has grown complacent with the Corolla. Just look at the fuel economy numbers. Way back in 2003, when the previous-generation Corolla debuted, its 1.8-liter inline-4 and 4-speed automatic achieved 25/34 mpg. For 2013, a full decade later, the current-generation Corolla features a 1.8-liter inline-4 and a 4-speed automatic that achieve...wait for it...26/34 mpg. Plus, the made-in-Japan previous Corolla enjoys a nearly peerless reputation for reliability, and it arguably had a nicer interior. Find one in decent shape and laugh all the way to the bank.
2. 2000-2006 Volkswagen Golf TDI
Buying an old German car requires what our friends south of the border refer to as cojones. Maintenance is everything with these diesel-powered Volkswagens: a well-cared-for Golf TDI could run for hundreds of thousands of miles, but a neglected example could nickel-and-dime (or $500 and $1,000) you to death with nagging issues. Still, this version of the Golf TDI was never rated worse than 28/40 mpg, and real-world reports put the car's numbers closer to the 2000 model's great fuel economy of 35/44 mpg (the EPA changed its testing methodology during this model cycle, causing some confusion). Make sure you have any old Golf TDI thoroughly checked out by a VW specialist before buying, but these cars are potentially great deals for the fuel-averse.
1. 2004-2009 Toyota Prius
Let's be clear about one thing upfront: the current-generation Prius is no fence-sitter like the current Corolla. Much has improved in the latest Prius, and we certainly recommend it to those with the means. But if you're on a tighter budget and still want top-shelf fuel economy, the previous-generation Prius is hard to beat. It already had lots of advanced features, including a touch-screen navigation system with nifty hybrid readouts in many models, and it was rated at a truly remarkable 48/45 mpg. Reliability? Don't sweat it. This Prius was widely used as a taxi in Vancouver, and the hybrid components proved remarkably durable. Oh, and it also had a big back seat, as well as a flat cargo floor in its handy hatchback trunk. If you find one in good condition, don't hesitate; it's a winner.
Posted: 10 Mar 2015 08:18 PM PDT
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