Undergraduates Design and Build 'Sandbox' to Show How Gravity Works

The University of Iowa has a new sandbox--and it's used to explain gravity. Undergraduates physics and astronomy designed and built an augmented-reality sandbox where users can design their own universe and then watch how gravity affects an object as it travels through the imagined environment.

Hubble Finds Substellar Objects in the Orion Nebula

In an unprecedented deep survey for small, faint objects in the Orion Nebula, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered the largest known population of brown dwarfs sprinkled among newborn stars. Looking in the vicinity of the survey stars, researchers not only found several very-low-mass brown dwarf companions, but also three giant planets. They even found an example of binary planets where two planets orbit each other in the absence of a parent star.

GBT Detection Unlocks Exploration of 'Aromatic' Interstellar Chemistry

Astronomers using the Green Bank Telescope have made the first definitive interstellar detection of benzonitrile, an intriguing organic molecule that helps to chemically link simple carbon-based molecules and truly massive ones known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. This discovery is a vital clue in a 30-year-old mystery: identifying the source of a faint infrared glow that permeates the Milky Way and other galaxies.

Breaking Bad Metals with Neutrons

By combining the latest developments in neutron scattering and theory, researchers are close to predicting phenomena like superconductivity and magnetism in strongly correlated electron systems. It is likely that the next advances in superconductivity and magnetism will come from such systems, but they might also be used in completely new ways such as quantum computing.

Hubble Probes the Archeology of Our Milky Way's Ancient Hub

A new analysis of about 10,000 normal Sun-like stars in the Milky Way's bulge reveals that our galaxy's hub is a dynamic environment of variously aged stars zipping around at different speeds. This conclusion is based on nine years' worth of archival data from the Hubble Space Telescope.

NASA's Great Observatories Team Up to Find Magnified and Stretched Out Image of Distant Galaxy

An intensive survey deep into the universe by NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes has yielded the proverbial needle-in-a-haystack: the farthest galaxy yet seen in an image that has been stretched and amplified by a phenomenon called gravitational lensing.

Researchers Catch Supermassive Black Hole Burping -- Twice

Astronomers have caught a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy snacking on gas and then "burping" -- not once, but twice.

New Sandia Balloon-Borne Infrasound Sensor Array Detects Explosions

Danny Bowman, a Sandia National Laboratories geophysicist, launched a fleet of five solar-powered hot air balloons last year. They reached a height of 13 to 15 miles, twice as high as commercial jets, and detected the infrasound from a test explosion. Infrasound is sound of very low frequencies, below 20 hertz, which is lower than humans can hear, and can be used to monitor explosions, including those caused by nuclear tests. Bowman is also working with NASA to explore the possibility of sending these balloons to Venus and Jupiter.

NASA Space Telescopes Provide a 3D Journey Through the Orion Nebula

By combining the visible and infrared capabilities of the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, astronomers and visualization specialists from NASA's Universe of Learning program have created a new three-dimensional fly-through movie of the Orion nebula, a nearby stellar nursery.

Vicky Kalogera wins 2018 Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics

Northwestern University astrophysicist Vicky Kalogera has been awarded the 2018 Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics for her groundbreaking work studying compact objects -- including black holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs -- in astrophysical systems.

Dark Energy Survey Publicly Releases First Three Years of Data

At a special session held during the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, D.C., scientists on the Dark Energy Survey (DES) announced today the public release of their first three years of data. This first major release of data from the Survey includes information on about 400 million astronomical objects, including distant galaxies billions of light-years away as well as stars in our own galaxy.

Swarm of Hydrogen Clouds Flying Away from Center of Our Galaxy

Astronomers using the GBT have discovered what appears to be a grand exodus of more than 100 hydrogen clouds streaming away from the center of the Milky Way and heading into intergalactic space.

Dark Energy Survey Publicly Releases First Three Years of Data

Scientists on the Dark Energy Survey (DES), including astronomers from the University of Portsmouth, have today released their first three years of data. This first major release of data from the survey includes information on more than 400 million astronomical objects, including distant galaxies billions of light years away as well as stars in our own galaxy.

Ingredients for Life Revealed in Meteorites That Fell to Earth

A detailed study of blue salt crystals found in two meteorites that crashed to Earth - which included X-ray experiments at Berkeley Lab - found that they contain both liquid water and a mix of complex organic compounds including hydrocarbons and amino acids.

Astronomers Peer Into the Lair of a Mysterious Source of Cosmic Radio Bursts

Using two of the world's largest radio telescopes, an international team of astronomers has gained new insights into the extreme home of a mysterious source of cosmic radio bursts. The discovery suggests that the source of the radio emission lies near a massive black hole or within an extremely powerful nebula, and may help shed light on what is causing these strange bursts.

Fast Radio Bursts 'Twists and Shouts' Help Scientists Determine Source of Cosmic Blasts

An international group of astronomers has found that the Cornell University-discovered fast radio burst FRB 121102 - a brief, gigantic pulse of radio waves from 3 billion light years away - passes through a veil of magnetized plasma. This causes the cosmic blasts to "shout and twist," which will help the scientists determine the source.

Black Hole Breakthrough: New Insight Into Mysterious Jets

Advanced simulations created with one of the world's most powerful supercomputers show the jets' streams gradually change direction in the sky, or precess, as a result of space-time being dragged into the rotation of the black hole.

Planets Around Other Stars Are Like Peas in a Pod

A study of 909 planets and 355 stars carried out at the W.M. Keck Observatory reveals that, unlike our solar system, other planetary systems are distinguished by strict regularity.

Penn State Aerospace Engineers Developing Drone for NASA Concept Mission to Saturn's Largest Moon, Titan

Researchers from the Penn State Department of Aerospace Engineering are part of a team led by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) whose proposal for a revolutionary rotorcraft to investigate Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has been selected by NASA as one of two finalists for the agency's next New Frontiers mission.

Ten Stories in 2017 You May Have Missed, Plus a Bonus

Article lists 10 PPPL stories, plus a bonus, that readers may have missed in 2017.

Surprising Result Shocks Scientists Studying Spin

Scientists analyzing results of spinning protons striking different sized atomic nuclei at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) found an odd directional preference in the production of neutrons that switches sides as the size of the nuclei increases.The results offer new insight into the mechanisms affecting particle production in these collisions.

Cold Comfort: Professor Compares Winter on East Coast, Mars and Antarctica

Astronomy professor Mark Salvatore, who studies Mars via Antarctica, talks about how those winters compare to the winter storm that shut down the East Coast.

Reaching the Department of Energy's 'Top 40'

The U.S. Department of Energy honors Argonne researchers in top 40 research-paper countdown.

Physicists Build Muscle for Shape-Changing, Cell-Sized Robots

A Cornell University team has made a robot exoskeleton that can rapidly change its shape upon sensing chemical or thermal changes in its environment. And, they claim, these microscale machines - equipped with electronic, photonic and chemical payloads - could become a powerful platform for robotics at the size scale of biological microorganisms.

Research Reveals 'Shocking' Weakness of Lab Courses

With the new emphasis on hands-on, active learning throughout higher education, lab courses would seem to have an advantage - what could be more active than doing experiments? But surprising new research reveals traditional labs fall far short of their pedagogical goals.