How Many Dimensions Does The Universe Have?

Source: DNews

Dimensions are complicated, and wrapping your mind around how many there are can give you a headache. Join Trace as he explains everything you should know about them.

Read More: What is a dimension, and how many are there?

Astronomers Solve Puzzle About Bizarre Object At The Center Of Our Galaxy

Stuart Wolpert | Phys

Telescopes from Hawaii's W.M. Keck Observatory use a powerful technology called adaptive optics, which enabled UCLA astronomers to discover that G2 is a pair of binary stars that merged together, cloaked in gas and dust. Credit: Ethan Tweedie

Telescopes from Hawaii’s W.M. Keck Observatory use a powerful technology called adaptive optics, which enabled UCLA astronomers to discover that G2 is a pair of binary stars that merged together, cloaked in gas and dust. Credit: Ethan Tweedie

For years, astronomers have been puzzled by a bizarre object in the center of the Milky Way that was believed to be a hydrogen gas cloud headed toward our galaxy’s enormous black hole.

Having studied it during its closest approach to the black hole this summer, UCLA astronomers believe that they have solved the riddle of the object widely known as G2.

A team led by Andrea Ghez, professor of physics and astronomy in the UCLA College, determined that G2 is most likely a pair of that had been orbiting the black hole in tandem and merged together into an extremely large star, cloaked in gas and dust—its movements choreographed by the black hole’s powerful gravitational field. The research is published today in the journalAstrophysical Journal Letters.

Astronomers had figured that if G2 had been a hydrogen cloud, it could have been torn apart by the black hole, and that the resulting celestial fireworks would have dramatically changed the state of the black hole.

“G2 survived and continued happily on its orbit; a simple gas cloud would not have done that,” said Ghez, who holds the Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine Chair in Astrophysics. “G2 was basically unaffected by the black hole. There were no fireworks.”

Astronomers solve puzzle about bizarre object at the center of our galaxy
An image from W. M. Keck Observatory near infrared data shows that G2 survived its closest approach to the black hole and continues happily on its orbit. The green circle just to its right depicts the location of the invisible supermassive black hole. CREDIT: ANDREA GHEZ, GUNTHER WITZEL/UCLA GALACTIC CENTER GROUP/W. M. KECK OBSERVATORY

Black holes, which form out of the collapse of matter, have such high density that nothing can escape their gravitational pull—not even light. They cannot be seen directly, but their influence on nearby stars is visible and provides a signature, said Ghez, a 2008 MacArthur Fellow.

Ghez, who studies thousands of stars in the neighborhood of the supermassive black hole, said G2 appears to be just one of an emerging class of stars near the black hole that are created because the black hole’s powerful gravity drives binary stars to merge into one. She also noted that, in our galaxy, massive stars primarily come in pairs. She says the star suffered an abrasion to its outer layer but otherwise will be fine.

Ghez and her colleagues—who include lead author Gunther Witzel, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar, and Mark Morris and Eric Becklin, both UCLA professors of physics and astronomy—conducted the research at Hawaii’s W.M. Keck Observatory, which houses the world’s two largest optical and infrared telescopes.

When two stars near the black hole merge into one, the star expands for more than 1 million years before it settles back down, said Ghez, who directs the UCLA Galactic Center Group. “This may be happening more than we thought. The stars at the center of the galaxy are massive and mostly binaries. It’s possible that many of the stars we’ve been watching and not understanding may be the end product of mergers that are calm now.”

Ghez and her colleagues also determined that G2 appears to be in that inflated stage now. The body has fascinated many astronomers in recent years, particularly during the year leading up to its approach to the black hole. “It was one of the most watched events in astronomy in my career,” Ghez said.

Ghez said G2 now is undergoing what she calls a “spaghetti-fication”—a common phenomenon near black holes in which large objects become elongated. At the same time, the gas at G2’s surface is being heated by  around it, creating an enormous cloud of gas and dust that has shrouded most of the massive star.

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Impossible “Neutron Star” Shatters Theory

Source: ThunderboltsProject

What is a neutron star? Astronomers tell us that these tiny yet massively dense objects form by gravitational collapse from the remnants of a massive star that has exploded. The theoretical neutron star was invented to try to explain highly intense bursts of energy from tiny regions of space. However, no one has ever seen a neutron star. Rather, scientists infer the objects existence when interpreting energetic emissions in deep space. Does a better explanation exist in the domains of plasma cosmology and the Electric Universe?

Rosetta’s Mission to Comet 67P Could Change Science Forever


Human beings around the world may be witnessing one of the most significant dramas in the modern history of the space sciences. The ESA’s Rosetta mission to the comet 67P has shattered the theoretical predictions of standard comet science. For many decades, we were told that comets are dirty snowballs, which formed billions of years ago, tracing back to the solar system’s origins. In contrast, the electric universe has stated for decades that comets, meteors and asteroids are materials excavated electrically from planetary surfaces. Wal Thornhill explains that the Rosetta mission has already provided a stunning confirmation of the electric comet theory.

NASA Is Studying How to Mine the Moon for Water

Mike Wall | Space

Lunar Flashlight mission will map the lunar south pole for volatiles. Credit: Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute

Lunar Flashlight mission will map the lunar south pole for volatiles.
Credit: Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute

There’s a lot of water on the moon, and NASA wants to learn how to mine it.

Space agency scientists are developing two separate mission concepts to assess, and learn how to exploit, stores of water ice on the moon  and other lunar resources. The projects — called Lunar Flashlight and the Resource Prospector Mission — are notionally targeted to blast off in 2017 and 2018, respectively, and aim to help humanity extend its footprint out into the solar system.

“If you’re going to have humans on the moon and you need water for drinking, breathing, rocket fuel, anything you want, it’s much, much cheaper to live off the land than it is to bring everything with you,” said Lunar Flashlight principal investigator Barbara Cohen, of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. [How to Build a Lunar Colony (Infographic)]

It’s therefore important to “understand the inventory of volatiles across the whole moon and their purity, and their accessibility in particular,” Cohen said in July during a presentation at the NASA Exploration Science Forum, a conference organized by the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute at the agency’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

Solar sailing to the moon

Lunar Flashlight is working toward a possible launch date in December 2017, when it would blast off on the first test flight of NASA’s Space Launch System megarocket, along with several other piggybacking payloads.

Lunar Flashlight is a CubeSat mission, meaning the body of the spacecraft is tiny — about the size of a cereal box, Cohen said. But after it’s deployed in space, the probe would get much bigger by unfurling an 860-square-foot (80 square meters) solar sail. [Photos: Solar Sail Evolution for Space Travel]

The spacecraft would then cruise toward the moon on a circuitous route, propelled along by the photons streaming from the sun. Lunar Flashlight would start orbiting the moon about six months after its launch, then spend another year spiraling down to get about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the lunar surface.

The probe would then make about 80 passes around the moon at this low altitude, measuring and mapping deposits of water ice in permanently shadowed craters near the lunar poles. It would do this science work with the aid of its solar sail.

“We’re going to use it as a mirror,” Cohen said. “We’re going to take the sunlight, bounce it off the solar sail into the permanently shadowed regions, and we’re going to use a passive infrared spectrometer to collect the light from the permanently shadowed regions in wavelengths that are indicative of water frost.”

Lunar Flashlight aims to find water ice that would be accessible to future explorers, be they human or robotic.

“What we’re looking for is water right at the surface,” Cohen said. “Could humans or their vehicles go into a permanently shadowed region and just scoop up the regolith and use what’s at the surface to be able to extract water ice?”

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Hungry Black Hole Eats Faster Than Thought Possible


Primary Image: This is a combined optical/X-ray image of NGC 7793. Inset image: This is a rendering of what P13 would look like close up. Credit: Primary Credit: X-ray (NASA/CXC/Univ of Strasbourg/M. Pakull et al); Optical (ESO/VLT/Univ of Strasbourg/M. Pakull et al); H-alpha (NOAO/AURA/NSF/CTIO 1.5m); Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works Insert Image credit: created by Tom Russell (ICRAR) using software created by Rob Hynes (Louisiana State University).

Primary Image: This is a combined optical/X-ray image of NGC 7793. Inset image: This is a rendering of what P13 would look like close up.
Credit: Primary Credit: X-ray (NASA/CXC/Univ of Strasbourg/M. Pakull et al); Optical (ESO/VLT/Univ of Strasbourg/M. Pakull et al); H-alpha (NOAO/AURA/NSF/CTIO 1.5m); Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works Insert Image credit: created by Tom Russell (ICRAR) using software created by Rob Hynes (Louisiana State University).

Astronomers have discovered a black hole that is consuming gas from a nearby star 10 times faster than previously thought possible.

The black hole — known as P13 — lies on the outskirts of the galaxy NGC7793 about 12 million light years from Earth and is ingesting a weight equivalent to 100 billion billion hot dogs every minute.

The discovery was published today in the journal Nature.

International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research astronomer Dr Roberto Soria, who is based at ICRAR’s Curtin University node, said that as gas falls towards a black hole it gets very hot and bright.

He said scientists first noticed P13 because it was a lot more luminous than other black holes, but it was initially assumed that it was simply bigger.

“It was generally believed the maximum speed at which a black hole could swallow gas and produce light was tightly determined by its size,” Dr Soria said.

“So it made sense to assume that P13 was bigger than the ordinary, less bright black holes we see in our own galaxy, the Milky Way.”

When Dr Soria and his colleagues from the University of Strasbourg measured the mass of P13 they found it was actually on the small side, despite being at least a million times brighter than the Sun. It was only then that they realised just how much material it was consuming.

“There’s not really a strict limit like we thought, black holes can actually consume more gas and produce more light,” Dr Soria said.

Dr Soria said P13 rotates around a supergiant ‘donor’ star 20 times heavier than our own Sun.

He said the scientists saw that one side of the donor star was always brighter than the other because it was illuminated by X-rays coming from near the black hole, so the star appeared brighter or fainter as it went around P13.

“This allowed us to measure the time it takes for the black hole and the donor star to rotate around each other, which is 64 days, and to model the velocity of the two objects and the shape of the orbit,” Dr Soria said.

“From this, we worked out that the black hole must be less than 15 times the mass of our Sun.”

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Total Lunar Eclipse On Wednesday Will Be a Rare ‘Selenelion’

Joe Rao | Space

A photo of the first total lunar eclipse of 2014 taken from Arizona. Credit: Ron Delvaux via The Virtual Telescope Projec

A photo of the first total lunar eclipse of 2014 taken from Arizona.
Credit: Ron Delvaux via The Virtual Telescope Project

Observers of Wednesday morning’s total lunar eclipse might be able to catch sight of an extremely rare cosmic sight.

On Oct. 8, Interested skywatchers should attempt to see the total eclipse of the moon and the rising sun simultaneously. The little-used name for this effect is called a “selenelion,” a phenomenon that celestial geometry says cannot happen.

And indeed, during a lunar eclipse, the sun and moon are exactly 180 degrees apart in the sky. In a perfect alignment like this (called a “syzygy”), such an observation would seem impossible. But thanks to Earth’s atmosphere, the images of both the sun and moon are apparently lifted above the horizon by atmospheric refraction. This allows people on Earth to see the sun for several extra minutes before it actually has risen and the moon for several extra minutes after it has actually set. [How to See the Total Lunar Eclipse (Visibility Maps)]

As a consequence of this atmospheric trick, for many localities east of the Mississippi River, watchers will have a chance to observe this unusual sight firsthand. Weather permitting, you could have a short window of roughly 2 to 9 minutes (depending on your location) with the possibility of simultaneously seeing the sun rising in the east while the eclipsed full moon is setting in the west.

Regions of visibility

Regions of visibility

From Newfoundland, the start of the partial stages of the total eclipse begins about 30 to 45 minutes before moonset.

A growing scallop of darkness will appear on the upper left part of the moon when it sets as the sun is coming up. Across eastern Nova Scotia, only the lowermost portion of the moon will be in view as it drops below the western horizon. Farther to the west and south along the Atlantic seaboard, the moon will rise completely immersed in the Earth’s shadow.

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Earth and Space News October 4, 2014: Super Typhoon, Total Lunar Eclipse

Source: Suspicious0bservers

Earth and Space News October 4, 2014:

Earth and Space News October 3, 2014: M7 Solar Flare, Quakes, Storm Alert

Source: Suspicious0bservers

Earth and Space News October 3, 2014:

Complex Organic Molecule Found In Interstellar Space

Michael Eyre | BBC

milky way galaxyScientists have found the beginnings of life-bearing chemistry at the centre of the galaxy.

Iso-propyl cyanide has been detected in a star-forming cloud 27,000 light-years from Earth.

Its branched carbon structure is closer to the complex organic molecules of life than any previous finding from interstellar space.

The discovery suggests the building blocks of life may be widespread throughout our galaxy.

Various organic molecules have previously been discovered in interstellar space, but i-propyl cyanide is the first with a branched carbon backbone.

The branched structure is important as it shows that interstellar space could be the origin of more complex branched molecules, such as amino acids, that are necessary for life on Earth.

Dr Arnaud Belloche from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy is lead author of the research, which appears in the journal Science.

“Amino acids on Earth are the building blocks of proteins, and proteins are very important for life as we know it. The question in the background is: is there life somewhere else in the galaxy?”

Watch the skies

The molecule was detected in a giant gas cloud called Sagittarius B2, an active region of ongoing star formation in the centre of the Milky Way.

As stars are born in the cloud they heat up microscopic dust grains. Chemical reactions on the surface of the dust allow complex molecules like i-propyl cyanide to form.

The molecules emit radiation that was detected as radio waves by twenty 12m telescopes at the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (Alma) in Chile.

Each molecule produces a different “spectral fingerprint” of frequencies. “The game consists in matching these frequencies… to molecules that have been characterised in the laboratory,” explained Dr Belloche.

“Our goal is to search for new complex organic molecules in the interstellar medium.”

Previously discovered molecules in the Sagittarius B2 cloud include vinyl alcohol and ethyl formate, the chemical that gives raspberries their flavour and rum its smell.

But i-propyl cyanide is the largest and most complex organic molecule found to date – and the only one to share the branched atomic backbone of amino acids.

“The idea is to know whether the elements that are necessary for life to occur… can be found in other places in our galaxy.”

Alma graphic

Prof Matt Griffin, head of the school of physics and astronomy at Cardiff University, commented on the discovery.

“It’s clearly very high-quality data – a very emphatic detection with multiple spectral signatures all seen together.”

Prof Griffin added that the quantity of i-propyl cyanide detected is significant.

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Black Holes DON’T Exist According to Scientist Who Claims Mathematical Proof


Article Source: rt.com

An American physicist claims she has mathematically refuted the existence of black holes in our universe. The new theory combines Steve Hawking’s radiation theory with quantum theory’s fundamental law that no information ever disappears from the universe.

Professor Laura Mersini-Houghton from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill maintains she managed to merge two seemingly contradicting theories, Einstein’s theory of gravity and a fundamental law of quantum theory.

While Einstein’s theory predicts the formation of black holes, the quantum theory law says that no information from the universe can ever disappear, in an attempt to resolve the so-called ‘information law paradox.’

Until now modern science generally believed that a black hole forms from a massive star that collapses under its own gravity into a single spot in space the astronomers call a singularity, surrounded by the event horizon that neither light nor energy could escape from. Three decades ago renowned physicist Stephen Hawking proposed that black holes could emit radiation. Hawking’s hypothesis, made in 1974, was based on quantum mechanics.

Mersini-Houghton agrees with Hawking on the radiation being given off by a collapsed star for a certain period of time, yet she also insists that by emitting radiation the star also loses too much of its mass right to the point when formation of a singularity – and a black hole – is impossible.

The academic suggests that the dying stars do not fall inward, but “probably blow up.”

“Physicists have been trying to merge these two theories — Einstein’s theory of gravity and quantum mechanics — for decades, but this scenario brings these two theories together, into harmony,” Mersini-Houghton said in the statement. “And that’s a big deal.”

According to the university, professor’s findings will make scientists “reimagine the fabric of space-time” and “rethink the origins of the universe.”

“I’m still not over the shock,” said Mersini-Houghton, a professor in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. “We’ve been studying this problem for a more than 50 years and this solution gives us a lot to think about.”

Mersini-Houghton’s conclusions have already been severely criticized by William Unruh, a theoretical physicist from the University of British Columbia.

“The [paper] is nonsense,” Unruh said in an email to IFL Science media outlet.

“Attempts like this to show that black holes never form have a very long history, and this is only the latest. They all misunderstand Hawking radiation, and assume that matter behaves in ways that are completely implausible,” he claimed.

Quite to the contrary of Mersini-Houghton calculations, Unruh maintains that black holes do not emit enough Hawking radiation to lose mass to avoid formation of a black hole.

“It would take 10^53 (1 followed by 53 zeros) times the age of the universe to evaporate,” Unruh explained, adding that it is a common mistake for those who do not understand Hawking’s radiation theory in full, that the “outgoing energy back closer and closer to the horizon of the black hole, where its energy density gets larger and larger,” he said.

“Unfortunately, explicit calculations of the energy density near the horizon show it is really, really small instead of being large. Those calculations were already done in the 1970s. To call a bad speculation ‘has been proven mathematically’ is, shall we say, an overstatement,” Unruh concluded.

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New Evidence That We Could Grow Vegetables On Mars And The Moon

Ria Misra | IO9

marsCould we grow a garden in the soils of Mars and the Moon? A new study digs down deep into the interstellar dirt and says that, yes, the soil up there is capable of supporting plant germination. In fact, it might even be as good as some of the poorer soils here on Earth.

The first challenge faced by researchers at Wageningen University in answering the question was where to acquire said space soils, a problem they solved by using simulated soil that mirrored the composition of soil as analyzed on missions to Mars and the Moon. As a control, they also pulled some nutrient-poor Earth soil from deep underground along the banks of the River Rhine.

While the simulated soils had some peculiarities — the lunar soil, in particular, had such a high pH that researchers wondered if anything would grow in it at all — there was also enough overlap in the mineral content to lead researchers to believe that the plants could at least sprout.At the end of 50 days, researchers found that not only were the plants in lunar and Martian soils still living, they had also hit some important markers of plant health, such as producing flowers and seeds. While every soil was capable of supporting plant germination, however, they were not all equally good.

The moon soil had, by far, the poorest results. Martian soil, however, did quite well, showing better results than the lunar soil in numbers of leaves formed, seeds, flowers, plant size, and in the number of plants still alive at end of 50 days. In a surprise twist, the plants grown in the Martian simulant actually also did better than the plants grown in the nutrient-poor Earth soil, with the Martian-grown plants growing significantly larger. Of course, not every plant would grow in the simulated soils. Attempts at growing common vetch (a legume commonly used as livestock feed) failed utterly in both the Martian and lunar soils. Still, researchers were able to successfully sprout tomatoes, wheat, cress, and field mustard.

Before you get too excited about gearing up for your Martian harvest, though, a note of caution: While the results of the soil tests are promising, we’re still a long ways away from the space vegetable garden of our dreams. Among the issues still to be resolved include how to get water to the plants, how to control temperatures, whether the amount of light will be appropriate for photosynthesis, and what the different levels of gravity might do to plant growth.

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Five Most Awesome Things that Happened with Space This Week (2MIN Video)


Video of the five most awesome things that happened with space this week:

(5) The Hubble Space telescope finds the smallest known galaxy containing a “supermassive” black hole.

(4) Boeing, SpaceX win contracts to build ‘space taxis’ for NASA

(3) Mysterious satellite launched from Florida by Atlas 5 rocket

(2) NASA conducts recovery drills for next generation space capsule

(1) MAVEN spacecraft close to entering Mars orbit — and it won’t be alone

What Is the Universe? Real Physics Has Some Mind-Bending Answers

Victoria Jaggard | Smithsonian

hubble's most colorful view of the universehubble's most colorful view of the universespaceThe questions are as big as the universe and (almost) as old as time: Where did I come from, and why am I here? That may sound like a query for a philosopher, but if you crave a more scientific response, try asking a cosmologist.

This branch of physics is hard at work trying to decode the nature of reality by matching mathematical theories with a bevy of evidence. Today most cosmologists think that the universe was created during the big bang about 13.8 billion years ago, and it is expanding at an ever-increasing rate. The cosmos is woven into a fabric we call space-time, which is embroidered with a cosmic web of brilliant galaxies and invisible dark matter.

It sounds a little strange, but piles of pictures, experimental data and models compiled over decades can back up this description. And as new information gets added to the picture, cosmologists are considering even wilder ways to describe the universe—including some outlandish proposals that are nevertheless rooted in solid science:

Will this collection of lasers and mirrors prove the universe is a 2D hologram? (Fermilab)

The universe is a hologram

Look at a standard hologram, printed on a 2D surface, and you’ll see a 3D projection of the image. Decrease the size of the individual dots that make up the image, and the hologram gets sharper. In the 1990s, physicists realized that something like this could be happening with our universe.

Classical physics describes the fabric of space-time as a four-dimensional structure, with three dimensions of space and one of time. Einstein’s theory of general relativity says that, at its most basic level, this fabric should be smooth and continuous. But that was before quantum mechanics leapt onto the scene. While relativity is great at describing the universe on visible scales, quantum physics tells us all about the way things work on the level of atoms and subatomic particles. According to quantum theories, if you examine the fabric of space-time close enough, it should be made of teeny-tiny grains of information, each a hundred billion billion times smaller than a proton.

Stanford physicist Leonard Susskind and Nobel prize winner Gerard ‘t Hooft have each presented calculations showing what happens when you try to combine quantum and relativistic descriptions of space-time. They found that, mathematically speaking, the fabric should be a 2D surface, and the grains should act like the dots in a vast cosmic image, defining the “resolution” of our 3D universe. Quantum mechanics also tells us that these grains should experience random jitters that might occasionally blur the projection and thus be detectable. Last month, physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory started collecting data with a highly sensitive arrangement of lasers and mirrors called the Holometer. This instrument is finely tuned to pick up miniscule motion in space-time and reveal whether it is in fact grainy at the smallest scale. The experiment should gather data for at least a year, so we may know soon enough if we’re living in a hologram.

The universe is a computer simulation

Just like the plot of the Matrix, you may be living in a highly advanced computer program and not even know it. Some version of this thinking has been debated since long before Keanu uttered his first “whoa”. Plato wondered if the world as we perceive it is an illusion, and modern mathematicians grapple with the reason math is universal—why is it that no matter when or where you look, 2 + 2 must always equal 4? Maybe because that is a fundamental part of the way the universe was coded.

In 2012, physicists at the University of Washington in Seattle said that if we do live in a digital simulation, there might be a way to find out. Standard computer models are based on a 3D grid, and sometimes the grid itself generates specific anomalies in the data. If the universe is a vast grid, the motions and distributions of high-energy particles called cosmic rays may reveal similar anomalies—a glitch in the Matrix—and give us a peek at the grid’s structure. A 2013 paper by MIT engineer Seth Lloyd builds the case for an intriguing spin on the concept: If space-time is made of quantum bits, the universe must be one giant quantum computer. Of course, both notions raise a troubling quandary: If the universe is a computer program, who or what wrote the code?

An active supermassive black hole at the core of the Centaurus A galaxy blasts jets of radiation into space. (ESO/WFI (visible); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (microwave); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray))

The universe is a black hole

Any “Astronomy 101” book will tell you that the universe burst into being during the big bang. But what existed before that point, and what triggered the explosion? A 2010 paper by Nikodem Poplawski, then at Indiana University, made the case that our universe was forged inside a really big black hole.
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Martian Meteorite Yields More Evidence Of the Possibility Of Life On Mars


Colliding Atmospheres - Mars vs Comet Siding SpringThe finding of a ‘cell-like’ structure, which investigators now know once held water, came about as a result of collaboration between scientists in the UK and Greece.  Their findings are published in the latest edition of the journal Astrobiology.

While investigating the Martian meteorite, known as Nakhla, Dr Elias Chatzitheodoridis of the National Technical University of Athens found an unusual feature embedded deep within the rock.  In a bid to understand what it might be, he teamed up with long-time friend and collaborator Professor Ian Lyon at the University of Manchester.

Professor Lyon, based in Manchester’s School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, said: “In many ways it resembled a fossilised biological cell from Earth but it was intriguing because it was undoubtedly from Mars. Our research found that it probably wasn’t a cell but that it did once hold water – water that had been heated, probably as a result of an asteroid impact.”

These findings are significant because they add to increasing evidence that beneath the surface, Mars does provide all the conditions for life to have formed and evolved.  It also adds to a body of evidence suggesting that large asteroids hit Mars in the past and produce long-lasting hydrothermal fields that could sustain life on Mars, even in later epochs, if life ever emerged there.

As part of the research, the feature was imaged in unprecedented detail by Dr Sarah Haigh of The University of Manchester whose work usually involves high resolution imaging for next generation electronic devices ,which are made by stacking together single atomic layers of graphene and other materials with the aim of making faster, lighter and bendable mobile phones and tablets. A similar imaging approach was able to reveal the atomic layers of materials inside the meteorite.

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