Henry Lin, the lead author of new research that has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, compared the phenomenon to the outbreak of an epidemic.
“If there’s a virus, you have a good idea that one of your neighbors will have a virus too,” he told Smithsonian Magazine. “If the Earth is seeding life, or vice versa, there’s a good chance immediate neighbors will also have signs of life.”
NASA/JPL/R. HurtIn this artist’s rendition of the Milky Way galaxy, translucent green “bubbles” mark areas where life has spread beyond its home system to create cosmic oases, a process called panspermia. New research suggests that we could detect panspermia if it is indeed a real phenomenon.
In more down-to-Earth terms, the image shows NGC 6565, a planetary nebula in the constellation Sagittarius. Planetary nebulas are glowing shells of gas given off by old stars at the end of their lives.
And the term “moments” is perhaps a bit of a stretch, as the star’s death is unfolding over a period that will last tens of thousands of years. At the end of that span of time, the star’s light will fall off dramatically and the nebula will fade from view.
Previous research held that supernovas–explosions of stars in their death throes–spewed out massive amounts of dust into the early universe. However, astronomers didn’t know if that dust was able to withstand shockwaves from the explosion to serve as fodder for planets and stars to form.
Posted with permission from iDigital Times
The spring equinox, also known as the first day of spring, falls on Friday, Mar. 20. Not only is the day special because of the start of the new season, but it is also the first solar eclipse of 2015 and according to Universe Today, this is the first time since 1662 that a total solar eclipse coincides with the spring equinox.
“The dark umbral shadow cone of the moon will trace a curved path primarily over the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, beginning off the southern tip of Greenland and then winding its way counterclockwise to the northeast, passing between Iceland and the United Kingdom,” reports NBC News.
The sun has had three major solar flares on its surface in the past two days that have affected communications on Earth and could send a shockwave through Earth this Friday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The “solar events” caused brief blackouts in high frequency communications when they struck, twice on Tuesday morning and once this morning, all between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. EDT.
Three X-class flares erupted from the left side of the sun; the first two from left occurred June 10, 2014, and the last occurred June 11, 2014. (Goddard/SDO/NASA)
Solar flares are bursts of radiation on the sun’s surface. The disturbance to Earth’s atmosphere can disrupt GPS and communications signals, according to NASA.
One of the flares created a “coronal mass ejection” that actually could come into contact with Earth on Friday, according to NOAA. The ejection is essentially a huge cloud of plasma that could hit the Earth and cause a shock wave, affecting communications systems. If an ejection were to hit Earth on Friday, scientists expect it would only cause a minor geo-magnetic storm, according to NOAA.
The flares were observed by NASA, which posted stunning photos and videos of the events on its website.