These micrometeorites consist of iron oxide minerals that formed when dust particles of meteoritic iro Andrew Tomkins The oldest space dust yet found on Earth suggests that the ancient atmosphere of Earth had significantly more oxygen than previously thought, a new study finds.Although oxygen gas currently makes up about one-fifth of Earth's air, there was at least 100,000 times less oxygen in the primordial atmosphere, researchers say.Previous research suggests that significant levels of oxygen gas started permanently building up in the atmosphere with the Great Oxidation Event, which occurred about 2.4 billion years ago.This event was most likely caused by cyanobacteria — microbes that, like plants, photosynthesize and release oxygen."The project started out as a student research project, and it was a bit of a risk to try and find micrometeorites when few other people had tried it before.They are cosmic spherules — remnants of meteorites the size of sand grains that broke apart during atmospheric entry.
A tenth of the total area observed showing 6,000 galaxies Pic: ESA/HerschelAstronomers have revealed that the universe is becoming cleaner over time, as cosmic dust is mopped up by stars.About half of all the light emitted by stars is absorbed by tiny solid particles that are found everywhere in space, known as interstellar grains.But a huge study of "almost all of cosmic history" shows that, over time, galaxies get cleaner and brighter as stars vacuum up these particles.The European Space Agency's Herschel observatory has been scanning the skies since 2009, and a team of 100 astronomers has been analysing the detailed images for years.The missing light is re-emitted by the grains as far-infrared radiation, which means the team has been able to compare how dusty galaxies appear over time.
New analysis by ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, currently orbiting Comet 67P, examines the first pristine samples of comet dust.Europe's Rosetta spacecraft has analyzed pristine samples of dust from the comet it orbits, characterizing five tantalizing dust grains whose structure offers surprising insight into the formation of comets and objects in the early solar system.The new work reports the eagerly-awaited first results from MIDAS Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System , Rosetta's atomic force microscope.The instrument analyzed dust around Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko that was collected from November 2014 to February 2015, when Rosetta had to move farther from the comet after a close approach led to navigation issues.Rosetta Makes Closest Flyby of Comet, Just Four Miles Above Video MIDAS builds up 3D pictures of dust grains by tapping lightly on them with a series of minscule sharp tips.
With only a few days left before it s scheduled to crash-land on the surface of Comet 67P, the Rosetta spacecraft is still yielding amazing discoveries.Scientists now report that Rosetta detected complex organic molecules in the dust surrounding its comet.Complex organic molecules — mixtures of mostly carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen that form the basis of our biology — have been hinted at on comets before, most notably during fast flybys of Halley s comet.But Rosetta is the first mission to actually catch dusty organic particles escaping the surface of such a body, affording scientists a detailed look at their composition.Two of those dust grains, curiously nicknamed Kenneth and Juliette, are the subject of a scientific paper published this week in Nature.Captured in May and October of 2015 and analysed with Rosetta s on-board mass spectrometer, each of these wee grains contains carbon-based molecules bound together in very large structures, similar to the organic matter found in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites here on Earth.
Meet Kenneth and Juliette, possibly some distant relatives of yours.Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for COSIMA TeamWith only a few days left before it s scheduled to crash-land on the surface of Comet 67P, the Rosetta spacecraft is still yielding amazing discoveries.And I m not just talking about lost comet landers.Scientists now report that Rosetta detected complex organic molecules in the dust surrounding its comet.But Rosetta is the first mission to actually catch dusty organic particles escaping the surface of such a body, affording scientists a detailed look at their composition.
About 1,600 light years away, in the constellation Orion, an interstellar cloud of gas and dust called Messier 78 is hiding a stellar nursery of young and unborn stars.As explained by the European Southern Observatory ESO , new stars form inside the nebula out of dust grains in pockets just barely warmer than their extremely cold surroundings, which are shrunken and heated up by gravity.But the gleaming young stars escape telescopes that see in visible light, radio waves, or infrared light because the cosmic dust either blocks or absorbs their bluish light.That s why Messier 78 is called a reflection nebula: it reflects and scatters the light of its hidden stars.Now, ESO s Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope VISTA has sifted through the dust by using near-infrared light, which is why the ESO refers to it as a dustbuster.The result is a spectacular view of the young stars in the heart of the nebula casting a bluish pall over their surroundings, while red fledgling stars peer out from their cocoons of cosmic dust.
This new view of the star formation region Messier 78 M78 was taken with the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile.This image shows blue regions of light from the hot young stars, streams of dark dust, and red jets emerging from stars in the process of formation.M78 is the big blue region on the left; another nebula by the name of NGC 2071 is the smaller region on the right.Interstellar dust that blocks astronomers' view of space is no match for the European Southern Observatory's "dustbuster" telescope, which just revealed this dazzling view of several stars that have hidden in the cosmic dust until now.The Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy VISTA , located at ESO's Cerro Paranal Observatory in Chile, took this new image of this cloud of gas and dust, called Messier 78 M78 , which resides 1,600 light-years from Earth.Astronomers call M78 a reflection nebula, because it reflects the light from nearby stars.
A stunning new image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope shows a galaxy that s being strangled by tentacles of gas and dust.The strange and intricate shape of this celestial object is caused by a supermassive black hole at its core — and it s killing the host.This remarkable galaxy, called NGC 4696, is located within the Centaurus galaxy cluster some 150 million light years away.It s got a fairly standard elliptical shape, but a closer look shows it s not quite like its neighbours.NGC 4696 features spectacular bands of curling filaments, made from dust and ionised hydrogen, that are spiralling out from the main body and into interstellar space.New research suggests a supermassive black hole at the galaxy s core is responsible for these features—and it s also preventing the galaxy from creating new stars.
International research involving Monash University has solved a long-standing puzzle on the origin of stardust recovered from meteorites, identifying the effect of a nuclear reaction in the dust grains.The Solar System was born out of a nebula where the rock-forming elements were locked inside dust grains, said lead researcher, Dr Maria Lugaro, an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the Monash Centre for Astrophysics, and the Momentum Project Leader at the Hungary-based Konkoly Observatory."Some of this dust was made around stars, being effectively tiny condensed pieces of stars," Dr Lugaro said."While most of the original dust was destroyed to make up new dust, rocks, and planets, including the Earth, a small fraction of stardust survived the destruction process."This special dust can be used to trace the evolution of the nebula from which the planets were born and to understand the physical processes inside the stars where the grains formed.Stars with initial mass roughly six times larger than the Sun are seen by infrared telescopes to produce huge amounts of dust, but researchers could not find any dust from these stars in the Solar System meteoritic record.
When you look out at any object in the Universe, the easiest thing to measure is how bright it is.Gas, dust and the atmosphere all contribute to blocking some of the light, preventing it from reaching your eyes.Observations you make in the bluer part of the spectrum might be affected differently than observations in the redder part, as dust grains of different sizes have different sensitivities to a variety of wavelengths.If you're looking at something hundreds, thousands or millions of light years away, you'll need an entirely different calibration, all dependent on what's between you and the object you're trying to observe.The Pan-STARRS1 observatory, after three years of observing all of the sky it's capable of seeing from its perch in Hawaii, has just made public the results from the largest digital sky survey in history.In a single night, it collects almost a terabyte of astronomical data; over three years of observations, that adds up to almost two petabytes: two quadrillion bytes of data.
Astronomers have peered back more than 13 billion light years to find a huge mass of glowing stars – the most distant galaxy ever found to contain cosmic dust.The team, led by Nicolas Laporte from University College London, used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (Alma) in Chile to observe A2744_YD4, the youngest and most remote galaxy ever seen by Alma.The astronomers were surprised to find the young galaxy contained interstellar dust, which is formed by the deaths of an earlier generation of stars.This observation also contained the most distant detection of oxygen in the Universe.“Not only is A2744_YD4 the most distant galaxy yet observed by Alma,” said Laporte, “but the detection of so much dust indicates early supernovae must have already polluted this galaxy.”What makes this an important discovery is that the galaxy is so far away.
The Milky Way isn’t just stars orbiting a black hole—it’s loaded with dust and debris, floating with reckless abandon in the space between solar systems.And like the stuff that accompanies wildfires or windy days in the desert, dust makes it hard to see.Think about that, bro... we’re just like, specks of dust.Scientists trying to figure out how that dust might get in the way of their observations made a model of our dusty Milky Way.It looks like the first 3D plane-flying video game as viewed through a pair of dirty goggles, or a scene from a Darren Aronofsky movie.Until you realise you’re flying around the galaxy, of course.
The Milky Way isn’t just stars orbiting a black hole—it’s loaded with dust and debris, floating with reckless abandon in the space between solar systems.And like the stuff that accompanies wildfires or windy days in the desert, dust makes it hard to see.Think about that, bro... we’re just like, specks of dust.Scientists trying to figure out how that dust might get in the way of their observations made a model of our dusty Milky Way.It looks like the first 3D plane-flying video game as viewed through a pair of dirty goggles, or a scene from a Darren Aronofsky movie.Until you realise you’re flying around the galaxy, of course.
p NASA researchers have dubbed the space between Saturn and its rings ‘the big empty’ due to the surprising lack of dust in the expanse.This discovery was made by the space agency’s Cassini spacecraft, which made its first pass through the empty space on April 26.This was the first of what will ultimately end up being 22 ‘dives’ through this empty space, says NASA.The team was anticipating a dust level that would require special accommodations for Cassini that would have altered the way the spacecraft was able to make its observations.This makes the discovery — that there’s not much dust at all — a very welcomed one, then.The craft’s antenna will only need to be used as a shield of sorts during four of the dives instead of all of them.
The solar system is full of various small bodies such as planetary moons, main belt asteroids, Jupiter Trojans, Centaurs, trans-Neptunian objects and comets.To study them, scientists typically analyse the radiation they reflect, which is referred to as polarimetry.Scientists not only focus on the intensity of the scattered radiation, but also on how photons oscillate in the plane perpendicular to their direction of propagation - that is, their polarisation.Combining these two aspects yields significantly better descriptions than data obtained from the intensity alone.In a paper published in EPJ Plus, Stefano Bagnulo from Armagh Observatory and Planetarium in Northern Ireland, UK, and colleagues review the state-of-the-art in polarimetry for studying the small bodies in our solar system.Combined with other observational techniques, such as thermal radiometry and visible photometry, polarimetry may be used as a remote sensing technique to measure asteroids' size, to reveal the composition and size variation of dust in comets or of aerosols in planetary atmospheres, to study the surface structure of asteroids, or even to detect extra-terrestrial biomarkers.
For years we've imagined ways that humans and other, more alien forms of life might galavant around the cosmos, hopping from world to world in fancy, sleek spaceships.But new research suggests that some smaller life-forms might be able to travel across star systems using much simpler means: namely, a cloud of speeding space dust.Researcher Arjun Berera from the University of Edinburgh examined how fast-moving flows of space dust that are constantly colliding with Earth's atmosphere might be harboring tiny stowaways."The streaming of fast space dust is found throughout planetary systems and could be a common factor in proliferating life," Berera explained in a news release Monday.Flows of space dust can travel at speeds up to 43 miles per second (70 km per second).Berera's calculations found that when incoming grit collides with our planet's atmosphere, the impact could knock small particles in our upper atmosphere beyond the pull of Earth's gravity, possibly sending it on a journey to other planets.
For sky watchers, 2017 goes out with a bang and bright lights, even if most of them fade fast as they sizzle above us.I'm referring to the arrival of the annual Geminid meteor shower, which is a big deal this year for a number of reasons."With August's Perseids obscured by bright moonlight, the Geminids will be the best shower this year," said Bill Cooke with NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office in a release.If you can stay up late, the hours between midnight and 4 a.m. local time offer the potential to see the most meteors, according to NASA.If you can get yourself to a rural location with minimal light pollution, viewers with cloudless skies in mid-northern latitudes can expect to see perhaps 100 or more meteors between 1 a.m. to 2 a.m., according to the American Meteor Society.The Geminids come with an added bonus this year in the form of the source of the cosmic dust and debris: an unusual rocky object called 3200 Phaethon.
She claims it was gift from Apollo veteran Neil ArmstrongA woman has sued NASA, claiming to be the rightful owner of a small vial of moon dust supposedly given to her by Neil Armstrong.The lawsuit was filed under the US District Court of Kansas last week by Laura Murray Cicco.She claims that when she was ten, her mother handed her a glass vial with a rubber stopper containing light grey dust along with one of her father’s business cards.On the back of the card, there is a message that reads: “To Laura Ann Murray – Best of Luck – Neil Armstrong Apollo 11.” Cicco said her mother assured her that the vial was a sample taken from Armstrong - who was the first person to set foot on the Moon - when he ventured onto the satellite during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.“Astronaut Neil Armstrong gifted the vial of lunar dust at issue to Laura Ann Murray, now Laura Murray Cicco, when she was a child, and she is the rightful and legal owner of the vial and its contents.
Scientists have longed for generations to know exactly how the planets formed from the fields of interstellar dust that orbited the sun.Dust from that phase no longer exists having been destroyed, reformed, and reaggregated in multiple phases over the eons.Scientists can study presolar dust that is part of the cometary comas using ground-based analysis and data from Cassini.Using this type of analysis, the scientists have determined that the dust contains something dubbed GEMS, which stands for glass with embedded metal and sulfides.Some of this presolar dust in the comets have something called isotopically anomalous a-silicate components that could only have originated at other stars and scientists say that they could have preserved samples of the interstellar medium inside.Scientists have collaborated from multiple institutions to publish a study that draws inferences about the nature of presolar dust based on observations and data gathered from the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) installed in the Cassini Saturn orbiter.
Saturn’s moon Enceladus has ingredients for life, researchers have announced.The discovery was made by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which was deliberately crashed into Saturn last year after running low on fuel.Researchers analyzing data gathered by Cassini before its demise reveal large and complex organic compounds present in the Enceladus’s icy plumes — that is, the essential building blocks for life.The discovery was detailed in a newly published study in the journal Nature.In it, researchers reveal that data gathered by Cassini show “concentrated and complex macromolecular organic material with molecular masses above 200 atomic mass units.” These compounds were found in emitted ice grains with researchers explaining that they “suggest the presence of a thin organic-rich film on top of the oceanic water table.”The data was acquired by a pair of mass spectrometers on the Cassini spacecraft, one being the Cosmic Dust Analyzer, the other being the Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer.
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