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News in Science

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  • #61
    Re: News in Science

    Scientists Discover a Bunch of New Potentially Habitable Planets



    19:15 02.05.2016(updated 19:24 02.05.2016)

    Astronomers have discovered three Earth-like planets in the "habitable zone" of a star, suggesting that the celestial trio might have liquid water.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Three exoplanets resembling Earth have been discovered orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star dubbed TRAPPIST-1, an international group of astronomers said in the interdisciplinary scientific journal Nature on Monday.

    ​"We report observations of three short-period Earth-sized planets transiting an ultra-cool dwarf star only 12 parsecs away," the report stated.

    The discovered planets, located about 40 light years away, reportedly have features similar to Earth, which means they could be habitable.

    ​Scientists sometimes call these objects 'Goldilocks' planets because they're just the right distance from their host star to make life on them possible.

    The three planets spotted in constellation Aquarius are also the first to be found orbiting an ultracool dwarf star, which was hard to find because it is small and faint.

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    • #62
      Re: News in Science

      NEW LIGHT A possible new particle shows up in proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider that produce two photons, as in an event (illustrated here) seen by the CMS detector.


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      Physicists may soon know if a potential new subatomic particle is something beyond their wildest dreams — or if it exists at all.

      Hints of the new particle emerged last December at the Large Hadron Collider. Theorists have churned out hundreds of papers attempting to explain the existence of the particle —assuming it’s not a statistical fluke. Scientists are now beginning to converge on the most likely explanations.

      “If this thing is true, it’s huge. It’s very different than what the last 30 years of particle physics looked like,” says theoretical physicist David Kaplan of Johns Hopkins University.

      The speculation was triggered by a subtle wiggle in data from two experiments, ATLAS and CMS, at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (SN: 1/9/16, p. 7). The bump suggests a new particle that decays into two photons, but what that particle might be is unclear — its properties don’t line up with scientists’ expectations.

      “I’m not aware of anybody who’d predicted the existence of such a particle,” says John Ellis of King’s College London. “There’s a dish on the table that nobody can remember ordering.”

      More than 300 papers online at take a shot at explaining the potential particle’s origins, and on April 12, Physical Review Letters published four papers, selected to give a sense of the kinds of theories that could explain the observations.

      One of the most plausible explanations, scientists say, is that the particle is a composite, made up of smaller constituents, much like protons and neutrons are made of quarks. The strong nuclear force binds quarks in these nucleons; the new particle would be composed of quarklike particles held together by a new type of strong force. “I think that that’s the model that works the best with the data,” says theoretical physicist Kathryn Zurek of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

      The particle could also be similar to the Higgs boson — which was discovered at the LHC in 2012 (SN: 7/28/12, p. 5) — but with a mass six times as large. Still other theories propose that the possible new particle is a graviton, which is believed to transmit the force of gravity. The biggest constraint on devising a theory, or model, to explain the new particle’s origins is that it has so far revealed itself in only one type of decay, where it produces two photons. If it decays to two photons, says theoretical physicist Matthew Buckley of Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., “you might expect that it also goes to other things, and the fact that we don’t see that makes it difficult for many models to be right.”

      Additionally puzzling is that the particle doesn’t seem to easily solve any of the major mysteries of particle physics. It doesn’t provide an obvious explanation for dark matter, an unidentified substance that makes up more than 80 percent of the matter in the universe. And it doesn’t easily explain a persistent puzzle known as the hierarchy problem, which is related to the mass of the Higgs. According to theory, physicists would naively expect the Higgs to have an enormously large mass, but for unknown reasons, it is found at a much lower scale.

      Many physicists had pinned their hopes for solving these problems on a theoretical concept called supersymmetry, which proposes that each known particle has a heavier partner. But although theorists have concocted supersymmetric explanations for the particle, it doesn’t seem to fit easily into that box, either. “This thing doesn’t smell like supersymmetry,” says Maria Spiropulu of Caltech, an experimental particle physicist with CMS.

      The lack of simple explanations makes some physicists more skeptical that the particle really exists. Instead, they think it’s more likely just a blip that will disappear with more data. “If it had been something that was confidently expected in some well-motivated scenario like supersymmetry, then I think people would be a lot more confident about its reality,” says Ellis.

      The LHC experiments are currently gearing up to resume taking data after a few months on hiatus. So scientists expect answers by the summer, when more data could provide additional details — or make the hints of a new particle evaporate.

      Updated analyses presented by ATLAS and CMS in March strengthened the case slightly, making physicists more optimistic that the hints will hold up with more data. Notably, says Spiropulu, the first signs of the long-sought Higgs boson showed up in a similar fashion before they were confirmed. So, she says, theoretical physicists have a license to be excited. “It is expected that they will run amok.”


      R. Garisto. Editorial: Theorists React to the CERN 750 GeV Diphoton Data. Physical Review Letters. Vol. 116, April 15, 2016, p. 150001. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.150001.

      M. Delmastro. Diphoton searches in ATLAS, 51st Rencontres de Moriond EW 2016, La Thuile, Italy, March 17, 2016.

      P. Musella. Diphoton Searches in CMS, 51st Rencontres de Moriond EW 2016, La Thuile, Italy, March 17, 2016.

      Further Reading

      A. Grant. LHC restart provides tantalizing hints of a possible new particle. Science News. Vol. 189, January 9, 2016, p. 7.

      T. Siegfried. Higgs mass isn't natural, but maybe it shouldn't be. Science News Online, October 22, 2013.
      Hayastan or Bust.


      • #63
        Re: News in Science

        US03:24 07.12.2016(updated 03:34 07.12.2016) Get short URL125230NASA’s Saturn-orbiting spacecraft Cassini passed through the plane of Saturn’s outer ring this week, flying approximately 57,000 miles above the ringed-planet’s clouds.In making a few minor adjustments, NASA’s team is confident that the data it will collect in this latest phase of its mission will help to reach agency goals. The upcoming dives are expected to produce the best views of Saturn’s outer rings to date, as well as close images of a nearby moon of the gas giant.

        "We’re in excellent shape to make the most of this new phase of the mission," Earl Maize, Cassini’s lead project manager, said in a statement. The small adjustments described by NASA include performing a short engine burn of the spacecraft’s main engine and closing the engine cover to form a protective canopy prior to transiting the the rocky ring plane. Cassini has made several groundbreaking discoveries, including finding a global ocean on the moon Enceladus, and identifying what are believed to be liquid methane seas on the moon Titan. Flickr/ Kevin GillCassini Spacecraft Embarks on Ring-Skimming Mission of Saturn Cassini will make about 20 outer ring-grazing dives between November 30, 2016, and April 22, 2017, before plunging down between the planet and its inner-most rings on April 26, 2017, according to NASA. Each of the 20 plunges will last about a week. During the passes, Cassini’s instruments and imaging devices will sample the particles that form Saturn’s famous rings. The mission will conclude September 15, 2017, when the spacecraft will be directed into the atmosphere of the gas giant, continuing to relay data back to NASA "until its signal is lost." ...30

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        • #64
          Re: News in Science

          Russian scientists were able to successfully test-fire the nation’s very own railgun – a weapon that relies on electromagnetic forces rather than explosive propellant to launch projectiles at incredibly high speed.During the test, conducted by scientists of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Joint Institute for High Temperatures, the railgun fired a 15-gram plastic pellet which hit a solid aluminum target at a speed of approximately 3 kilometers per second, leaving a huge dent at the point of impact.

          It should be noted that this is far from the first test of this type of weapon in Russia, as the first test-fire of a Russian railgun was conducted in July. Railguns employ electromagnetic conductors instead of more conventional propellant like gunpowder or explosives to launch projectiles at incredibly high speed and inflicting major damage on impact. Scientists believe that the railgun can become not just a powerful weapon for the Russian military but also can theoretically be used to shoot down dangerous space objects on a collision course with Earth.

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          • #65
            Re: News in Science

            Latest on Cassini
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