Science News

Hole over tropical West Pacific reinforcing ozone depletion in polar regions

Hole over tropical West Pacific reinforcing ozone depletion in polar regionsWashington, April 7 : Researchers have found that an atmospheric hole over the tropical West Pacific is reinforcing ozone depletion in the polar regions and could have a significant influence on the climate of the Earth.

An international team of researchers headed by Potsdam scientist Dr. Markus Rex from the Alfred Wegener Institute has discovered that above the tropical West Pacific there is a natural, invisible hole extending over several thousand kilometres in a layer that prevents transport of most of the natural and manmade substances into the stratosphere by virtue of its chemical composition.


Little gas cloud's fate could reveal much about growth of black holes

Little gas cloud's fate could reveal much about growth of black holesWashington, April 5 : Researchers have said that the gas cloud that's edging closer to the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy could reveal much about these entities.

Northwestern University's Daryl Haggard has been closely watching the little cloud, called G2, and the black hole, called Sgr A*, as part of a study that should eventually help solve one of the outstanding questions surrounding black holes: How exactly do they achieve such supermassive proportions?


New atomic clock will neither gain nor lose one second in about 300 million years

New atomic clock will neither gain nor lose one second in about 300 million yearsWashington, April 4 - U. S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has launched a new atomic clock, called NIST-F2, which will serve as the new US time standard, and will neither gain nor lose one second in about 300 million years.

The new quality makes the atomic clock makes it about three times as accurate as NIST-F1, which has served as the standard since 1999. Both clocks use a "fountain" of cesium atoms to determine the exact length of a second.


Mars comes closest to Earth in six and a half years

Mars comes closest to Earth in six and a half yearsWashington, April 4 - Researchers have revealed that this month Mars is at its closest to Earth in the past six and a half years.

In the middle two weeks of April, Mars will shine with a brightness of magnitude -1.5, matching the luster of Sirius, and in a telescope it will appear 15.1 arcseconds across.

April 8th is the planet's opposition date: when it's opposite the Sun in the sky. It passes closest to Earth on April 14th (the difference is due to the elliptical shape of Mars's orbit.) But it appears practically the same size and brightness all month.


Monster 'El Gordo' galaxy cluster weighs 3 million billion times the mass of our sun

Monster 'El Gordo' galaxy cluster weighs 3 million billion times the mass of our sunWashington, April 4 - Researchers have claimed that the largest known galaxy cluster in the distant universe, catalogued as ACT-CL J0102-4915, is 3 million billion times the mass of our sun.

Hubble data show the galaxy cluster, which is 9.7 billion light-years away from Earth, is roughly 43 percent more massive than earlier estimates.


Subsurface ocean found on Saturn's moon Enceladus

Subsurface ocean found on Saturn's moon EnceladusWashington, April 4 - New gravity data from the Cassini spacecraft showed that Enceladus, one of Saturn's smaller moons, harbours a large, possibly regional subsurface ocean with a rocky seafloor.

The study, published Thursday in the US journal Science, indicated that a roughly 10-km-thick layer of liquid water lies beneath 30 to 40 km of crustal ice at the south pole of the 500-km-diameter Enceladus, Xinhua reported.

Italian and American researchers investigated the moon's gravity field and the notable asymmetry it exhibits between northern and southern hemispheres to reach these conclusions.


'Dinosaur-killing' asteroid helped establish reef fish community 65M years ago

'Dinosaur-killing' asteroid helped establish reef fish community 65M years agoWashington, April 3 : A new study has revealed that the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaur population 65 million years ago may have helped establish the modern reef fish communities.

Samantha Price at the University of California, Davis, and her colleagues found that out of two peaks of reef colonisation by acanthomorphs, one began 25 million years before the mass extinction, marking the end of the Cretaceous, and the second peak of colonisation began right after that cataclysmic event.


Why Arctic ice is disappearing more rapidly than expected

Why Arctic ice is disappearing more rapidly than expectedWashington, April 3 : In a new study, researchers have discovered unexpected climate-driven changes in the mighty Mackenzie River's ice breakup. This discovery may help resolve the complex puzzle underlying why Arctic ice is disappearing more rapidly than expected.

The study, led by Simon Fraser University geographer and Faculty of Environment professor Lance Lesack, has been co-authored at Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Alberta and Memorial University.


Pigeons can place everyday things in categories like humans

Pigeons can place everyday things in categories like humansWashington, Apr 3 : Researchers at the University of Iowa have found that pigeons share human's ability to place everyday things in categories.

Like people, they can hone in on visual information that is new or important and dismiss what is not.

"The basic concept at play is selective attention. That is, in a complex world, with its booming, buzzing confusion, we don't attend to all properties of our environment. We attend to those that are novel or relevant," Edward Wasserman, UI psychology professor and secondary author on the paper, said.


Regolith of small asteroids are formed by thermal fatigue

Regolith of small asteroids are formed by thermal fatigueWashington, April 3 - Researchers have revealed that the centimeter-sized fragments and smaller particles that make up the regolith - the layer of loose, unconsolidated rock and dust - of small asteroids is formed by temperature cycling that breaks down rock in a process called thermal fatigue.

Previous studies suggested that the regolith of asteroids one kilometer wide and smaller was made from material falling to the surface after impacts and from boulders that were pulverized by micrometeoroid impacts.


Martian dust reveals water content in ancient times

Martian dust reveals water content in ancient timesWashington, April 3 - Mars rover Curiosity has more than 120,000 measurements of surface rocks and soil and in the process revealed a more detailed image of how much water was once present on the Red Planet.

Celia Arnaud, a senior editor at C and EN, notes that Curiosity has traveled nearly 4 miles since it landed in 2012 and is more than halfway to its destination, Mount Sharp.


US Air Force's X-37B shatters own orbit record

US Air Force's X-37B shatters own orbit recordWashington, April 2 : Boeing's X-37B space plane reportedly broke its endurance record in orbit last month after it crossed 470 days.

The Orbital Test Vehicle 3 was launched by the US Air Force in December 2012 on a classified mission, which involved collecting data for the US military.

According to Fox News, the X-37B was launched into orbit aboard the Atlas 5 rocket from a pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla and will return to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at an undisclosed date.

Meanwhile, the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Col is running the operations for the mission.


Star-quakes can help study content of stars hotter and more massive than the Sun

Star-quakes can help study content of stars hotter and more massive than the SunWashington, Apr 2 : Researchers suggest that the propagation of sound waves due to the movement of gas inside stars produces oscillations on their surface, and the analysis of these oscillations makes it possible to know the internal structure and age of stars.

This finding has turned out to be also effective in the detailed study of stars more massive than the Sun.

To determine the mass and size of planets found around other stars or to date stellar populations in order to limit the number of cosmological models, among other things, it is essential to know what goes on inside a star.


Misleading mineral may have resulted in overestimation of water in moon

Misleading mineral may have resulted in overestimation of water in moonWashington, April 2 : Researchers have suggested that the amount of water present in the moon may have been overestimated by scientists studying the mineral apatite.

Jeremy Boyce of the UCLA Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences and his colleagues created a computer model to accurately predict how apatite would have crystallized from cooling bodies of lunar magma early in the moon's history.

Their simulations revealed that the unusually hydrogen-rich apatite crystals observed in many lunar rock samples may not have formed within a water-rich environment, as was originally expected.


Sorry, not much water on moon!

Sorry, not much water on moon!Washington, April 2 - Overturning a long-held assumption, a team of researchers has discovered that the amount of water present on the moon's surface may have been overestimated by scientists studying lunar rock samples.

Led by Jeremy Boyce of the University of California, Los Angeles' department of earth, planetary and space sciences, the study revealed that the unusually hydrogen-rich apatite crystals observed in many lunar rock samples may not have formed within a water-rich environment as was originally expected.

The mineral apatite is the most widely-used method for estimating the amount of water in lunar rocks.


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