Nearby planet-forming disk holds water for thousands of oceans

"Water is an essential ingredient for life. Scientists have found thousands of Earth-oceans' worth of it within the planet-forming disk surrounding the star TW Hydrae. TW Hydrae is 176 light years away in the constellation Hydra and is the closest solar-system-to-be."

"University of Michigan astronomy professor Ted Bergin is a co-author of a paper on the findings published in the Oct. 21 edition of Science."

"The researchers used the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI) on the orbiting Hershel to detect the of water."


Dark Matter Mystery Deepens

"Like all galaxies, our Milky Way is home to a strange substance called dark matter. Dark matter is invisible, betraying its presence only through its gravitational pull. Without dark matter holding them together, our galaxy's speedy stars would fly off in all directions. The nature of dark matter is a mystery -- a mystery that a new study has only deepened."


Hubble Survey Carries Out a Dark Matter Census

ScienceDaily (Oct. 13, 2011) — Cluster MACS J1206.2-0847 (or MACS 1206 for short) is one of the first targets in a Hubble survey that will allow astronomers to construct the highly detailed dark matter maps of more galaxy clusters than ever before. These maps are being used to test previous but surprising results that suggest that dark matter is more densely packed inside clusters than some models predict. This might mean that galaxy cluster assembly began earlier than commonly thought.


Supersaturated Water Vapor Found in Martian Atmosphere

ScienceDaily (2011-10-06) -- Analysis of data collected by the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft leaves no room for doubt: the Martian atmosphere of contains water vapor in a supersaturated state. This surprising finding will enable scientists to better understand the water cycle on Mars, as well as the evolution of its atmosphere.


Astronomers Find New Way To Measure Universe


Astronomers discover new way to measure Universe

( -- Astronomers at Copenhagen's Niels Bohr Institute have found a new way to measure distances. This may not sound like much, but working out how far away something is, is one of the toughest fundamental problems in astrophysics and is central to cosmology as it allows scientists to work out the age of the Universe and what it’s fundamental properties are. Because their new method uses quasars, some of the brightest objects known, scientists say they will be able to determine distances much further than achieved to date, paving the way to a better understanding of dark energy.



NASA's Kepler discovery confirms first planet orbiting two stars

"ScienceDaily (2011-09-15) -- The existence of a world with a double sunset, as portrayed in the film Star Wars more than 30 years ago, is now scientific fact. NASA's Kepler mission has made the first unambiguous detection of a circumbinary planet -- a planet orbiting two stars -- 200 light-years from Earth."

"Unlike Star Wars' Tatooine, the planet is cold, gaseous and not thought to harbor life, but its discovery demonstrates the diversity of planets in our galaxy. Previous research has hinted at the existence of circumbinary planets, but clear confirmation proved elusive. Kepler detected such a planet, known as Kepler-16b, by observing transits, where the brightness of a parent star dims from the planet crossing in front of it."


Pictures: New Views of Saturn's "Sponge" Moon Hyperion

"Saturn's "spongy" moon Hyperion shines in a new picture from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, snapped during a flyby on August 25. Cassini cruised past the irregularly shaped moon at a distance of some 15,500 miles (25,000 kilometers)—the craft's second closest encounter with this particular object."


First Glimpse Into Birth of the Milky Way


First glimpse into birth of the Milky Way

For almost 20 years astrophysicists have been trying to recreate the formation of spiral galaxies such as our Milky Way realistically. Now astrophysicists from the University of Zurich present the world's first realistic simulation of the formation of our home galaxy together with astronomers from the University of California at Santa Cruz. The new results were partly calculated on the computer of the Swiss National Supercomputing Center (CSCS) and show, for instance, that there has to be stars on the outer edge of the Milky Way.