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(Robert Lea)

Timekeeping theory suggests a method of combining quantum clocks with Einstein’s theory of special relativity.

Researchers from Dartmouth College, Saint Anselm College and Santa Clara University have discovered that the quantum phenomena of superposition — the idea of a system simultaneously existing in two contradictory states — could have significant effects on high precision clocks.

The ability of an atom to exist in two or more states at the same time causes what the team call ‘quantum time dilation’ resulting in the need for a correction in atomic clocks. The effect goes beyond the time dilation described in Einstein’s theory of relativity which arises as a result of observers in different reference frames experiencing time differently depending on the speed at which they are travelling. …


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Artist’s impression of CHEOPS in front of the exoplanet WASP-189b, as if the space telescope were between the day side of the planet and its blue star. In reality, CHEOPS observes exoplanets from Earth orbit. © Frederik Peeters / David Ehrenreich

WASP-189b is one of the most ‘extreme’ planets ever discovered and its star holds some surprises too.

The European Space Agency (ESA) satellite CHEOPS is living up to its potential. The first study developed with data provided by the exoplanet hunter — launched at the end of last year — reveals its observation of one of the most remarkable exoplanets ever discovered — WASP-189b.

The planet in question — WASP-189b — is a gas giant located over 322 light-years from Earth which orbits extremely close to its host star. The planet which takes just 3 days to orbit its parent star, is 1.6 …


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Gas and dust rise from Chury’s surface as the comet approaches its closest point of orbit to the Sun. (© ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

The first identification of an ultraviolet aurora around the comet Chury is further evidence that nearly half a decade after the end of the Rosetta mission, the ESA’s historic project is still delivering breakthrough science.

Earth’s aurora provides a stunning visual light show called the Northern Lights which has fascinated observers for centuries. But astronomers have discovered that other bodies such as other planets and moons have auroras too. Now, researchers at the University of Bern have for the first time discovered an ultraviolet wavelength aurora around the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko — or Chury for short.

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Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko or Chury for short. ( © ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM, CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

The effect — discovered by the team from their analysis of data from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta mission — is caused when charged particles from the Sun, carried in what is known as the solar wind, strike Chury’s coma — gas in situ around the comet. …


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Artist’s impression of the thin stream of stars torn from the Phoenix globular cluster, wrapping around the Milky Way (left). Astronomers targeted bright red giant stars (artist’s impression, right) to measure the chemical composition of the disrupted Phoenix globular cluster. (Credit: James Josephides, Swinburne Astronomy)

Astronomers have discovered the Phoenix Stream — the remains of a shredded globular cluster of stars. These fossilised remains of an early star system could throw theories of galactic evolution into question.

Astronomers have spotted the shredded remains of an ancient collection of stars, an archaeological artifact of the early Universe. The globular cluster was ripped apart by the gravitational influence of the Milky Way over two billion years ago. forming a ‘stream’ of stars in the Phoenix constellation.

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The Phoenix Stream — the shredded remains of an ancient globular cluster (Sebastian Zentilomo, the University of Sydney)

The lack of elements heavier than helium — which astronomers call ‘metals’ — within cluster indicates the cluster’s place as the last of its kind, part of an early generation of stellar objects. …


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Artist’s impression showing a Neptune-sized planet in the Neptunian Desert. It is extremely rare to find an object of this size and density so close to its star. (© University of Warwick/Mark Garlick)

The exposed interior of a newly discovered exoplanet offers astronomers a unique opportunity to research the conditions beneath the surface of planets.

A newly discovered exoplanet — TOI 849 b — located 730 light-years from Earth offers astronomers a unique opportunity to study the interiors of planets. The exoplanet — which was discovered by a team led by the University of Warwick and is being investigated by Dr Christoph Mordasini, University of Bern — is the first example of an exposed exoplanet core found in orbit around its star.

The team of astronomers have been able to determine many of the qualities of the planet, including its radius, orbit and surface temperature. The exposed core is roughly the size of Neptune — 40 times the size of Earth — and orbits extremely close to a star that is similar to the Sun in many respects, completing a full tour in just 18 days. …


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Using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) based in the Atacama Desert of Nothern Chile, astronomers have discovered that a massive unstable star is missing from a distant dwarf galaxy.

Astronomers are on the case of a missing star last spotted in 2011. Could the star simply be obscured by dust, or by cracking this cosmic-case will the cosmic gumshoes reveal a secret about black holes?

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This illustration shows what the luminous blue variable star in the Kinman Dwarf galaxy could have looked like before its mysterious disappearance. (ESO/L. Calçada)

It’s a case worthy of the best gumshoe. A star spotted in a distant dwarf galaxy — the Kinman Dwarf galaxy located 75 million light-years away — and routinely studied between 2001 and 2011 has disappeared. And just like the best detective stories, we have two suspects that could be responsible for the disappearance.

Could the star — almost 3 times brighter than the sun — simply have become much less luminous as the result of being obscured by dust? Or could there be a bigger mystery at the heart of this disappearance? …


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Artist’s impression of star plagued by giant magnetic spot (ESO/L. Calçada, INAF-Padua/S. Zaggia)

Astronomers have spotted huge superflares millions of times more powerful than solar flares, and giant magnetic spots on hot stars. The finding could be a key step towards understanding how magnetic fields affect stellar bodies.

The surfaces of hot stars hidden in stellar clusters are riddled with giant magnetic spots and superflare explosions millions of times more powerful than those seen on the Sun says a team of astronomers from INAF Astronomical Observatory of Padua in Italy.

The researchers studied a type of stellar object known as Extreme Horizontal Branch (EHB) stars, stellar bodies with only half the mass of the Sun that are much hotter than our star. Over six years the team made observations in near-ultraviolet light with a variety of instruments associated with the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) located in the Chilean desert. …


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This image shows the sparkling centrepiece of Hubble’s 25th-anniversary tribute. Westerlund 2 is a giant cluster of about 3000 stars located 20 000 light-years away in the constellation Carina. Hubble’s near-infrared imaging camera pierces through the dusty veil enshrouding the stellar nursery, giving astronomers a clear view of the dense concentration of stars in the central cluster. (NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team)

By studying Westerlund 2, a dense star cluster containing stars 100 times the size of the Sun, astronomers have discovered why planets don’t form around some stars.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope researchers have conducted a pioneering 3-year study of the massive dense young star cluster Westerlund 2. In the process, discovering that dense clouds of relatively cool dust are curiously absent from material around the stars at the cluster’s heart.

As these dense clouds are the seeds of planets that form over the course of millions of years, thus, planet formation is stunted in these regions. The astronomers believe that this dearth of dense dust and gas discs is a result of the cluster’s most massive and powerful stars eroding and dispersing them from around their smaller neighbouring stars. …


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Artist’s impression of the exoplanet Proxima Centauri b shown as of an arid (but not completely water-free) rocky Super-Earth. (ESO/M. Kornmesser)

Using the ESPRESSO spectrograph, astronomers from the University of Geneva have confirmed the existence of an Earth-like exoplanet orbiting the nearest star to ours. The discovery comes with a surprise, the planet may have a companion.

Proxima b an Earth-like exoplanet orbiting in the habitable zone of the nearest star to our own in the Proxima Centauri solar system — located just 4.2 light-years from Earth — has been confirmed by an international team of astronomers from the University of Geneva. …


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(James Josephides, Swinburne Astronomy Productions/ Adjusted by Robert Lea)

The confirmation of a rare type of massive galaxy, shaped into a doughnut-like ring, in the early Universe could cause a rethink of how galaxies evolve.

Astronomers have discovered an incredibly rare type of galaxy described as a “cosmic ring of fire” that existed in the Universe 11 billion years ago. The fact that a massive ring galaxy could have formed so early in the Universe’s history suggests that models of galaxy formation may need serious revision.

The titanic cosmic doughnut — R5519 — has roughly the same mass as the Milky Way, but can be observed producing stars at a rate that is fifty times more rapid than our galaxy, with a stellar disc that is twice as large. …

About

Robert Lea

Freelance science journalist. BSc Physics. Space. Astronomy. Astrophysics. Quantum Physics. SciComm. ABSW member. WCSJ Fellow 2019. IOP Fellow.

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