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Strange muon behaviour hints at mysterious new particles and forces

Strange muon behaviour hints at mysterious new particles and forces

×ByThe strange behaviour of a fundamental particle called a muon may hint at the existence of exotic particles and forces beyond the standard model of physics. We have had signs of this anomaly before, but a new set of measurements has increased the likelihood that it is real.Muons are electrically charged particles, so when they are placed in a magnetic field, they start to spin. Physicists can measure the frequency of that spin because of a phenomenon called precession, in which the spin axis of the particle wobbles slightly, allowing them to make what they call a wiggle...

Apr 11
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Blasts of intergalactic radiation hint at elusive mid-sized black hole

Blasts of intergalactic radiation hint at elusive mid-sized black hole

×ByPowerful blasts of radiation from distant galaxies have revealed signs of an elusive medium-sized black hole, which may be a link between the small black holes that we have observed and the supermassive black holes that sit at the centres of galaxies. These medium-sized objects are notoriously hard to find because they don’t shine brightly like supermassive black holes and are too big for current gravitational-wave detectors to spot.Rachel Webster at the University of Melbourne in Australia and her colleagues spotted this cosmic middleweight by examining archival data on about 2700 ,...

Apr 4
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Interstellar comet Borisov is the most pristine space object ever seen

Interstellar comet Borisov is the most pristine space object ever seen

×ByThe interstellar comet Borisov is unlike anything from our own solar system. Two studies of the light passing from the comet’s coma – the cloud of dust and gas that envelopes a comet as it hurtles through space – have revealed that it is more pristine than any other object we have seen before.in August 2019, and its trajectory through the solar system indicated that it must have come from another star. It was the second interstellar object ever discovered after the , which was spotted on its way out of the solar system, giving astronomers very little time to study it. Because Borisov was...

Apr 1
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Mars’s crust may have sucked up most of the planet’s water

Mars’s crust may have sucked up most of the planet’s water

×Billions of years ago, Mars had rivers and seas on its surface, but they have all disappeared since then. The planet may have been left dry after its crust irreversibly sucked up most of that ancient water.Many studies have suggested that Mars lost its water at the same time as it lost its atmosphere, via the water evaporating and . However, that mechanism can’t account for water loss on the scale that is theorised to have occurred on Mars.AdvertisementEva Scheller at the California Institute of Technology and her colleagues compared simulations of the water loss process with observations...

Mar 22
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Satellite that can clean up space junk with a magnet about to launch

Satellite that can clean up space junk with a magnet about to launch

×A satellite is about to demonstrate a new way of capturing space junk with magnets for the first time. With the frequency of space launches dramatically increasing in recent years, the  above Earth is continually growing. Now, Japanese orbital clean-up company Astroscale is testing a potential solution.The firm’s End-of-Life Services by Astroscale demonstration mission is scheduled to lift off on 20 March aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. It consists of two spacecraft: a small “client” satellite and a larger “servicer” satellite, or “chaser”. The smaller satellite is equipped with a magnetic...

Mar 20
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A Japanese spacecraft bombed an asteroid and it barely flinched

A Japanese spacecraft bombed an asteroid and it barely flinched

×In 2019, Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft bombed the asteroid Ryugu, using explosives to shoot it with a 2.5-kilogram lump of copper to create an artificial crater. Scientists expected this impact to shake the ground, but its actual effect was far milder.Images from Hayabusa 2 have shown that the surface of Ryugu has fewer small craters than we would expect for an asteroid of its size, which probably indicates that somehow to fill in …Existing subscribers, please with your email address to link your account access.Paid annually by Credit CardInclusive of applicable taxes...

Mar 16
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4.6-billion-year-old meteorite is the oldest volcanic rock ever found

4.6-billion-year-old meteorite is the oldest volcanic rock ever found

×The oldest volcanic rock we have ever discovered may help us understand the building blocks of planets. The , which was discovered in the Sahara desert in 2020, dates from just 2 million years after the formation of the solar system – making it more than a million years older than the previous record-holder.“I have been working on meteorites for more than 20 years now, and this is possibly the most fantastic new meteorite I have ever seen,” says Jean-Alix Barrat at the University of Western Brittany in France. When he and his colleagues analysed the meteorite, called Erg Chech 002 or EC...

Mar 9
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Evidence for a hidden ‘Planet Nine’ beyond Neptune has weakened

Evidence for a hidden ‘Planet Nine’ beyond Neptune has weakened

×The evidence for a mysterious planet at our solar system’s edge has become less convincing. The existence of this unseen world was inferred from unexpected clustering of objects that orbit the sun beyond Neptune, but new simulations suggest that clustering is not happening.In 2016, Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin at the California Institute of Technology that six objects in the outer solar system called trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) which have similar orbits may have been put on their paths because of the …Existing subscribers, please with your email address to link your account...

Feb 19
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Wood can easily be turned transparent to make energy-saving windows

Wood can easily be turned transparent to make energy-saving windows

×Transparent wood just got even better, moving us a step closer to windows that are far better insulators than traditional glass ones.The standard process for typically involves soaking the wood in a vat of sodium chlorite – a chemical compound used in some bleaches and toothpastes – to remove a structural component of the wood called lignin. However, this takes a lot of chemicals, produces liquid waste that is tough to recycle and can weaken the wood.Liangbing Hu at the University of Maryland and his colleagues came up with a method that modifies the lignin instead of removing it...

Feb 1
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Physicists have created a new and extremely rare kind of uranium

Physicists have created a new and extremely rare kind of uranium

×ByResearchers have produced the lightest version of a uranium atom ever. It has only 122 neutrons compared with the 146 neutrons found in more than 99 per cent of the world’s naturally occurring uranium, which is known as uranium-238.Isotopes of an element always have the same number of protons – in uranium’s case, 92 – but differing numbers of neutrons. Isotopes are labelled by the total number of protons and neutrons that their nuclei contain, and the new isotope has the lowest number of those particles ever at 214, making it uranium-214.AdvertisementZhiyuan Zhang at the Chinese Academy...

Apr 17
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