Category Archives: Fascinomata

Occasional non-medical science stuff to make you go ‘Wow!’

The hunt for Earth-like planets

Using the prolific planet hunting Kepler spacecraft, astronomers have discovered 1,235 candidate planets orbiting other suns since the Kepler mission’s search for Earth-like worlds began in 2009.

To find them, Kepler monitors a rich star field to identify planetary transits by the slight dimming of starlight caused by a planet crossing the face of its parent star. In this remarkable illustration, all of Kepler’s planet candidates are shown in transit with their parent stars ordered by size from top left to bottom right. Read more

From http://kepler.nasa.gov

Oldest observed galaxy

From World News Australia

Astronomers said they had snared an image of what may be the oldest galaxy ever seen, a starry cluster that came into being when the universe was still a baby.

The tiny smudge of light captured by the orbiting Hubble telescope took 13.2 thousand million years to reach Earth, which means the galaxy was born some 480 million years after the Big Bang that created the cosmos.

Read more

Most detailed image of night sky unveiled

From New Scientist

18:30 11 January 2011 by David Shiga, Seattle

It would take 500,000 high-definition TVs to view it in its full glory. Astronomers have released the largest digital image of the night sky ever made, to be mined for future discoveries.

It is actually a collection of millions of images taken since 1998 with a 2.5-metre telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. The project, called the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, is now in its third phase, called SDSS-III.

Images of the northern and southern hemispheres of our galaxy (bottom) reveal "walls" of galaxies that are the largest known structures in the universe. Zooming in on a patch of sky in the southern hemisphere reveals the spiral galaxy M33 (top left). Zooming in further (top centre) reveals a region of intense star formation known as NGC 604 (green swirls, top right)

Altogether, the images in the newly released collection contain more than a trillion pixels of data, covering a third of the sky in great detail.

“This is one of the biggest bounties in the history of science,” says SDSS team member Mike Blanton of New York University in New York City. “This data will be a legacy for the ages.”

via Most detailed image of night sky unveiled – space – 11 January 2011 – New Scientist – READ MORE…

Ferrofluid

A drop of this fluid containing magnetic nanoparticles is placed in a magnetic field. The peaks and troughs result as the magnet tries to pull the liquid along its field lines.

According to New Scientist, ferrofluids are being used in experimental cancer treatments called magnetic hyperthermia, and are the basis for a new breed of shape-shifting telescope lenses.

Original article from New Scientist

Huge Solar Flare


NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory observed this ultraviolet image of one of the most intense solar flares witnessed in the past few months in sunspot 1112. A filament of magnetised material can be seen streaking 500,000 kilometres across the sun’s southern hemisphere. The bright spot just above the filament’s midpoint is UV radiation released from the sunspot. Read More from New Scientist