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Researchers discover the Massive Neutron Star

Researchers discover the Massive Neutron Star

Researchers at West Virginia University have helped identify the most massive neutron star to date, and it is considered to be a breakthrough uncovered through the Green Bank Telescope in Pocahontas County.

According to a document released in Nature Astronomy on Monday, a team of astronomers has now effectively recognized the massive neutron star on record. The star, called J0740 + 6620, is 2.14 times as large as the Sun, measuring approximately 15 miles in diameter.

The neutron star, which is called as J0740 + 6620, is a fast-spinning pulsar that carries 2.17 times the Sun’s mass (which is 333,000 times the Earth’s mass) across a sphere of just 20-30 kilometers or about 15 miles. This measurement approaches the boundaries that a single object can become large and compact without crushing itself into a black hole.

The discovery is important because the maximum possible mass for neutron stars has yet to be identified by scientists. J0740 + 6620 is probably close to this threshold, which means it can shed light on the mysterious inner dynamics of neutron stars and give insight into the deaths and afterlife of massive stars.

The new mass detection “is interesting because it informs our understanding of how supernovae form neutron stars (and how massive the progenitor stars must be),” stated lead author Thankful Cromartie, a graduate student in astronomy at the University of Virginia.

neuron star


“To consider for neutron stars that are born extremely massive, we need to refine our models of stellar evolution and supernovae explosions,” she mentioned.

J0740+6620 is a pulsar, a particular type of neutron star that emits luminous beams of radiation out of its magnetic poles. Since these poles happen to be oriented toward Earth, scientists can discern it regularly blinking like a cosmic lighthouse, even though it is located 4,600 light-years away.

Because of their interactions with their companion white dwarf, the researchers were able to calculate the mass of the pulsar. As the two objects orbit each other, their immense gravity distorts the surrounding space that distorts the bright pulses emitted by J0740 + 6620.

Authors on the paper include Duncan Lorimer, an astronomy professor and Eberly College of Arts and Sciences associate dean for research; Eberly Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy Maura McLaughlin; Nate Garver-Daniels, a system administrator in the Department of Physics and Astronomy; and postdocs and former students named Harsha Blumer, Paul Brook, Pete Gentile, Megan Jones and Michael Lam.

The discovery is one of many surprising results, McLaughlin said. She added that they have emerged during conventional observations taken as part of a search for gravitational waves.

The team used this exact time delay to estimate the mass of the white dwarf, which in turn enabled them to calculate the mass of the pulsar. The research unveiled that J0740+6620 is the most significant neutron star known to scientists.

The results “serve as a strong validation of the existence of high-mass neutron stars,” the team inferred in the paper. “Even small increases in the measured mass of the most massive neutron stars force a reconsideration of the underlying physics at play in their centers.

MIT Scientists Uncovers the Existence of A New Blackest Substance

MIT Scientists Uncovers the Existence of A New Blackest Substance

What’s the darkest kind of black in your imagination? Black noir, Coal Black, Jet Black or anything you can count on. MIT scientists have made the discovery of a super black material. It has been claimed that this black substance is by far more darker than Ventablack.

A trending study in journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces reveals that a material made up of carbon cylinders organized on an aluminum foil surface is able to absorb more than 99.995 percent of light form possible angle is nearly 10 times blacker than any other property ever found on the planet Earth.

This much darker foil is out for a public display at the New York Stock Exchange as a precious phase of an art exhibition called “The Redemption of Vanity.” It has been reported that foil hits the price of $2 million diamonds.

This blackest ever material was invented by a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT named Brian Wardle and a materials scientist at Shanghai Jiao Tong University named Kehang Cui when they both were making their collective attempts of fixing an issue in regards of carbon nanotubes.

Wardle and Cui were hitting efforts to produce carbon nanotubes on aluminum plains for the purpose of exaggerating the conductivity of the foil. But at the time of this experiment, a thin membrane of oxide kept arising on the aluminum that advanced its current.

Cui found that placing the aluminum to saltwater resulted in dissolving the oxide which helped the team to construct nanotubes with a combination of powerful electrical characteristics. They did it on a forecasting basis. It has been stated in the study.

” I remember noticing how black it was before growing carbon nanotubes on it, and then after growth, it looked even darker,” Cui admitted. “So I thought I should measure the optical reflectance of the sample”.

In the beginning, they had absolutely no clue that this action is going to end up revealing the blackest substance ever came into existence in this universe. As soon as they saw the incredible blackish properties of this material they approached Diemut Strebe, MIT artist in residence for exhibiting the darkened diamond. The reason behind this intense blackness is the high light absorption proficiency of CNT.,

“Our group does not usually focus on optical properties of materials, but this work was going on at the same time as our art-science collaborations with Diemut, so art influenced science in this case,” says Wardle.

“CNT forests of different varieties are known to be extremely black, but there is a lack of mechanistic understanding as to why this material is the blackest. That needs further study,” Wardle says.

For instance, this ultra-black foil might prove to be a precious detection for other scientific moves such as for fighting up the blackout, a path in the galaxy by preferring the use of striking shadow of this black element. It was completely an incidental finding but now is topping the charts of some actual amazements.

Journal Reference: ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces

Interstellar object approaching our solar system

Interstellar object approaching our solar system

In the year 2017, an interstellar space object spurted across our solar system. It was named Oumuamua. It was the first time we had ever detected an interstellar object passing through the solar system and its unusual shape was evocative of the artificial vessel in Rendezvous with Rama science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke. Presently, a Ukrainian has found an object zooming through our solar system that has been confirmed as a comet — and this is something that the sun is unlikely to capture.

The comet, named C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), was caught on the night of September 9-10 by the Gemini North Telescope’s Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph. The picture manifested a very articulated tail indicating outgassing and confirming that the object is a comet. This is another first, with C/2019 Q4 being the first interstellar visitor to form a tail due to outgassing.

Comet C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) is likely our second interstellar visitor after Oumuamua. Gennady Borisov found it. The coma can already be detected by scientists— the blurred ice and dust trail that spins off the comet as it approaches the sun and starts to melt. And contrary to’ Oumuamua, Q4 is still approaching Earth. While it will not be nearer than 180 million miles, until December 7 it will not achieve that point. We have more time to watch this ancient visitor, and there are hopes that from the coma of debris it sheds we can detect hints about its origin. We didn’t identify Oumuamua until it was out of our solar system already, but C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) was picked up previously.


“This is the first highly active object that we’ve seen coming in from something that formed around another star,” Michele Bannister, an astronomer at Queen’s University Belfast, explained to National Geographic.

Andrew Stephens, an astronomer who works with the Gemini Observatory, was responsible for coordinating the observations. As he remarked:

“This image was possible because of Gemini’s ability to rapidly adjust observations and observe objects like this, which have very short windows of visibility. However, we had to scramble for this one since we got the final details at 3:00 am and were observing it by 4:45!”

Comets such as C/2019 Q4 aren’t notable— at any given moment there are an estimated 10,000 bits of interstellar debris in orbit between here and Neptune. But this material is small and highly hard to observe. It is much more unusual to identify parts of incoming interstellar objects. We don’t have comprehensive comet pictures yet because the present core is so tiny in diameter ranging from 1.2 to 10 miles. It should be noticeable through April 2020 with mid-powered telescopes, but after that date only with professional telescopes will be observed. C/2019 Q4 is supposed to disappear from perspective by October 2020 — assuming, of course, it’s not something entirely different.

Regularly Feasting Black Hole

Astronomers Discover Supermassive Black Hole with Strict Feeding Schedule

Every day we are getting introduced with magnificent spectacles of the universe. Just a few months ago scientists captured a first-ever actual image of a black hole which proved the physical presence of black holes. Just as the world was hoarding over this impeccable achievement, a few days ago lead author of ESA Center for Astrobiology, Spain, Giovanni Miniutti made an announcement that a team of astronomers discovered a supermassive black hole, located 250 million light-years ahead of Earth with the mass of approximately 400,000 times that of the sun. While this can prove to be a stepping stone in the field of space exploration, it is a terrifying discovery because this supermassive black hole is regularly feasting at the interval of 9 hours.

Astronomers made the use of ESA’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s Chandra X-ray space observatory to find this supermassive black hole. The discovery of supermassive black hole isn’t that astounding because in the past, two such flaring supermassive black holes have been already discovered but the thing that sets this one apart, in particular, is that it is regular in its schedule and such kind of thing wasn’t observed in previous cases.

Black holes have a property that they tend to sparkle up via X-Rays whenever they are being fed and these sparkles were observed in every 9 hours by astronomers with the use of equipment in assigned laboratories. If we size up the amount of mass that this supermassive black hole is feasting then it would be equivalent to about 4 moons for every interval of 9 hours. Giovanni Miniutti stated that “This black hole is on a meal plan like we’ve never seen before.”

This concern is probably an indication that there are still some frightening things out there lurking in the space which are beyond man’s reach. Though this ultimate discovery can be a pivotal step in getting more information over black holes, in general, it still has caused a sense of uncertainty among the authorities involved in space research because there is a possibility that black holes portraying similar characteristics might just be within our galaxy.

It is still not known what actually caused this sparkle up. The intensity of these sparks was 20 times more while feeding compared to what was observed in normal instances which is what actually led to this ultimate discovery. Researchers have proposed many theories explaining the possible reason for this phenomenon to occur. Margherita Guistini who is co-author at ESA said that “We think the origin of the X-ray emission is a star that the black hole has partially or completely torn apart and is slowly consuming bit by bit.”

Though, this doesn’t completely satisfy the cause of phenomenon because this feeding is being observed for every 9 hours constantly. All of this boils down to the fact that our walls of intelligence haven’t reached the mark where we can apply theoretical methods to find the solution. There is still a long way to go for humanity to strive in this endless universe.

Journal: arxiv

Odds of finding aliens

Aliens may have already explored Milky Way

According to recent research, it is probable that the Milky Way could be full of interstellar alien civilizations. We don’t know because, in ten million years, they haven’t visited us.

The research, which was published last month in the Astronomical Journal, shows that intelligent alien life could take time to explore the galaxy, harnessing star systems’ movement to make star-hopping easier.

This work is a new answer to an issue known as the Fermi Paradox that asks why the signs of extraterrestrial intelligence have not been found.

There are many possible habitable planets, but we see no proof of life. This is known as the Fermi Paradox, which was named after the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, whose great question was: Where is everyone?

Fermi questioned how feasible it was to move between stars, but since then, his question has been about the very presence of aliens.

Michael Hart, the astrophysicist, formally examined the issue when he argued in 1975 paper that alien life had enough time to colonize the Milky Way but we haven’t even heard anything from any extraterrestrial. Hart reasoned that there must be no other advanced civilizations in our galaxy.

The recent research provides another view of the matter. The writers suggest that aliens are taking their time and being strategic.

“If you don’t account for the motion of stars when you try to solve this problem, you’re left with one of two solutions,” said Jonathan Carroll-Nellenback, a computational scientist and the study’s lead author, told Business Insider.

Stars (and the planets around them) orbit the centre of the galaxy on different paths at different speeds. As they do, they occasionally pass each other, Carroll-Nellenback pointed out. So aliens could be waiting for their next destination to come closer to them, his study says.

In that case, civilizations would take longer than Hart expected to spread across the stars. So maybe they haven’t yet reached us — or perhaps they did, long before people developed and evolved.

Interstellar travel

Researchers have attempted to address the Fermi Paradox in several ways. Studies have examined the potential for all types of alien life in oceans below the surface of a planet to unleash civilizations by their unsustainability before they can undertake any interstellar voyage.

A 2018 Oxford University study, suggested that there’s an irregularly 2-in-5 chance we’re alone in our galaxy and a 1-in-3 chance we’re alone in the entire cosmos.

But the writers of the latest study point out that a critical aspect of our galaxy has not been taken into account by prior studies: it moves. The star systems orbit the galactic center just like planets orbit stars. For instance, our solar system orbits the galaxy every 230 million years.

If civilizations occur in star systems far from the others (like ours, which is in the galaxy’s backwaters), they could shorten the journey by waiting until their orbital path takes them nearer to a habitable star system, suggests the research.

We have a lot more things to know a lot more research yet to happen on this topic

Journal Reference: The Fermi Paradox and the Aurora Effect: Exo-civilization Settlement, Expansion, and Steady States

k2-18b water discovery

Water discovered on an exoplanet

In a fascinating discovery, astronomers found water in a planet’s atmosphere orbiting a far-flung star outside our solar system with Earth-like temperatures that could sustain life. This exoplanet is almost 110 light-years away from our world, and the discovery of water is rather exciting.

According to the research released in the journal Nature Astronomy, K2-18b is eight times the Earth’s mass. It is now the only exoplanet known to have water and temperatures possibly inhabitable. Unlike other giant exoplanets where atmospheric water has been detected, K2-18b could be rocky and rugged like Earth, Venus, and Mars.

Researchers said the planet orbits the cool dwarf star K2-18, which is in the Leo constellation.

“Finding water in a potentially habitable world other than Earth is incredibly compelling,” remarked author Angelos Tsiaras from the University College London (UCL) in the UK.

“K2-18b is not’ Earth 2.0′ as it is significantly heavier and has a different atmospheric composition. However, it brings us closer to answering the fundamental question: Is the Earth unique?” adds Tsiaras.

K2-18b was discovered in 2015. Since then, it has been researched on, and it was a bit of a tricky exoplanet to explore. We understand this rounds up quite carefully around a red dwarf star named K2-18, completing the round every 33 days. Furthermore, the stellar rates of radiation on the planet are comparable to those on Earth (except for the elevated flare activity typical of red dwarfs).

We also understand that the planet’s size is about twice as large as the earth, and about eight times the mass. Astronomers have even reduced the planet to two kinds. In 2017, a team concluded, either a rocky, atmospheric planet like Earth but more massive, or a world with a mostly watery interior covered by a dense ice shell, like Enceladus or Europa.

Kepler space telescope which used to identify planets using the transit method recognized this planet. This is possible when the star, planet and earth are in the same line. The light coming from the star is monitored and when the planet passes in between star and earth (transit), we can see a dip in star’s light. This can give us a lot of data.

It can also support us in studying the atmosphere of a planet. If the light from the star moves through specific wavelengths, certain gasses can absorb them, thus, creating a range of lines. These can be decided by comparing a spectral star profile with a spectral transit profile.

It isn’t simple, however. Even the first detection of the planet needs extremely delicate instruments to detect starry dips, as well as remarkably faint spectral absorption lines.

Tsiaras and his team used the WFC3 device on the Hubble space telescope. They pictured eight transits of the planet in front of the star, bringing them together to generate a weighted average, thereby producing the planet’s spectral profile.

After this, they had to understand what the spectral star profile conveyed through modeling.

Originally, they ran K2-18b atmosphere models with a range of atmospheric molecules that could produce absorption lines, comprising water (H2O), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and ammonia (NH3).

In the planet’s spectrum, only water could be recognized with confidence. Keeping this in mind, the team developed their analysis, now using water solely as a trace gas.

They then formed the atmosphere by applying three different approaches: cloudless, with water vapor in a hydrogen-helium atmosphere; cloudless, with water vapour, hydrogen-helium, and molecular nitrogen; and then cloudy, with water vapour and hydrogen-helium.

All three simulations produced a statistically notable atmosphere at high-resolution levels, with values so similar they couldn’t quite distinguish the three basic types.

We need a lot more data to confirm things and probably the next-generation space telescopes like James Webb telescope might clarify things

Journal Reference: Water vapour in the atmosphere of the habitable-zone eight-Earth-mass planet K2-18 b

Comets in the solar system might share the same place of origin

Comets in the solar system might share the same place of origin

According to new research, all comets might come from the same place. Astronomer Christian Eistrup from Leiden University used chemical models on fourteen widely known comets only to find a clear pattern. 

Comets move through the solar system and they are made of dust, ice, and small rocks. Their nuclei can span as wide as several kilometers. Some of them have strange orbits around the Sun and have also hit Earth in the past. Eistrup said that the composition of comets is very well known and are usually considered as icy balls. So he wanted to find out if they actually belong to one group or are divided by several subsets. 

Eistrup’s research team also included Ewine van Dishoeck, Kavli Prize winner who created models for predicting the chemical composition of protoplanetary discs, which are flat discs made of dust and gas encompassing younger stars. These discs help in knowing about the formation of stars and planets. These were now applied to comets. Ewine along with Eistrup used statistics to understand if there was a particular place in the solar system where the models meet the comets’ data. It turned out that all the fourteen comets showed the same result. Each comet could be described by only one model indicating that their common origin. The work can be found here.

The origin is near to our Sun at a time when a protoplanetary disc encircled it while the formation of the planets took place. The model suggests a zone that is farther from the Sun’s nucleus and where the temperature varies in the range of 21 to 28 Kelvin, a very low temperature where CO (carbon monoxide) turns into ice. There are several reactions that are taking place in the ice phase in the time frame of a hundred thousand to million years. This explains different comets with different types of compositions. 

The orbits of the comets vary since some of the comets might have been disturbed by planets like Jupiter, which explains the varied nature of the orbits. 

Eistrup wants to test the hypothesis on many more comets as the current sample size is pretty small, only fourteen. He hopes that astronomers studying the solar system and its origins can use his results which can provide them with new insights, hence he is interested to discuss this model with other comet researchers. 

We still do not how life started on our planet. However, the chemistry of the comets could be responsible for some of life’s building blocks. Life could start with the right comet hitting the right planet accompanied by a suitable environment. Understanding comets could lead to understanding the origin of life on our planet. 

For the first time, astronauts manufacture cement in space for future Mars and Moon colonies

For the first time, astronauts manufacture cement in space for future Mars and Moon colonies

According to new research, human beings can create habitats on the moon and Mars, thanks to concrete which is manufactured in space. Astronauts on the International Space Station have created cement for the first time in microgravity, successfully demonstrating that it can develop and harden in space. The study appears in the Frontiers in Materials journal. 

For construction purposes, concrete is a reliable building material. It is a mixture of rocks, sand and a combination of cement and water. As per the new study, it could also protect the astronauts from cosmic radiation and other dangers of living outside Earth. 

The equipment and human beings need protection from radiation and extremities in the temperature on missions to Mars and Moon. For this, infrastructures need to be built on these environments. Aleksandra Radlinska, principal investigator and assistant civil engineer professor said that the plan is to build with materials like concrete on space. Due to its sturdy nature, it provides better protection than many other materials. 

Concrete and mixtures similar to concrete can also be manufactured by local materials such as moon dust. If in the future, human beings are successful in establishing colonies on the Moon and Mars, then they can use local materials instead of receiving them from Earth which is quite expensive and time-consuming. 

In the study known as “Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification”, astronauts used water mixed with tricalcium silicate, the main component in commercial cement. This has never been created in microgravity. Cement might seem to be a simple material but its structure is quite complex. On dissolving in water, the cement crystals form and begin to fit together. This changes the molecular structure of the material. The aim of this study was to find out the formation of cement in microgravity along with the possible formation of unique microstructures. It was also possible to compare the samples made in space with that of Earth. 

The cement made in space had different microstructures than the one made on Earth. It was more porous than the Earth-made cement. Increased porosity has direct effects on the material’s strength, although the strength of the space-formed material has not been tested yet. Even for concrete which is used on Earth, all the aspects of the hydration process are not known clearly. Scientists will now check which aspects of the space-made concrete are beneficial and which are harmful for use in space. 

The process of conducting the experiments might have some effects on the study results. Cement on Earth is not processed in sealed packets like that on space. The cement made on space developed and hardened in the same way as that on Earth although it looked a bit different. Scientists would now work on the binders essential for space and for different gravity levels from 0 g to g on Mars. 

Journal Reference: Frontiers in Materials

Lunar Surface

Researchers found clues about the presence of precious metals under Moon’s surface

Presently we have very less information regarding the type of minerals that might be found inside the Moon. But a group of researchers from Canada and the US has used this hint to understand that a treasure is lying beneath the surface.

By getting more information about the chemistry of the moon, scientists would be able to settle a confusion regarding the apparent lack of precious elements constituting the mantle of Moon. Nearly fifty years ago, astronauts brought back a large quantity of lunar material which gave the first hints about the elements that might be present below the surface. James Brenan, Earth scientist from Dalhousie University, Canada said that nearly 400 kilograms of the sample was brought in the Apollo and lunar missions. So to find about the Moon’s interior, scientists have to go through reverse-engineering of the composition of lavas on the surface.

Through retro-engineering the basalts which were brought from the Apollo 15 and 17 missions, researchers estimated the amount of siderophile elements which make up the mantle of Moon. Some of these might have come from the rain of leftover materials in the finishing stages of the Solar System’s construction, so it can tell the assault endured by the Moon after its formation was complete. The work appears in Nature Geoscience journal.

The measurements were lower by 10 to 100 times than what was expected. Even by adjusting the model to accommodate the event of erosion of Moon by the meteorites, the numbers did not add up which left a plethora of questions. Researchers often begin by assuming the geochemistry of Moon to be similar to Earth and this is where the gaps in the measurement start. Although several theories suggest that Moon was made from Earth’s components there are some notable differences.

Hence researchers used the experiment results on sulfur solubility with the models on pressure and the thermodynamics of magma cooling down to get accurate constraints on the composition of the lunar mantle. Brenan said that the results tell that sulfur in the volcanic rocks of Moon indicates the presence of iron sulfide in the Moon’s rocky interior. This is the place where the metals might have been during the formation of lavas.

The results make it clear that we cannot depend on the existing rock samples for any clear conclusion as no accurate estimation of metal composition cannot be found. Whether it would be justified for mining these metals would depend on future missions and economics. But this makes the return to Moon quite exciting.

Research Paper: Abundance of highly siderophile elements in lunar basalts controlled by iron sulfide melt

Researchers plan to release black hole movie soon

Researchers plan to release black hole movie soon

Before releasing the first-ever image of a black hole, an international team of researchers were already scheduling a movie sequel depicting how huge clouds of gas are permanently absorbed into the void. The required observations have already been recorded by the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration and scientists are currently processing the data for the release of the first video in 2020.

Shep Doeleman, the project director is hopeful that by the end of the next decade, it would be possible to make real-time movies of black holes that depict their action at a cosmic stage beside their appearance.

The complete group of 347 scientists from around the world won $3 million and were awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for the so-called “Oscar of science” image. Doeleman, a 52-year-old cosmologist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics and the father of two joked that his wife might be finally convinced that he was doing something worthwhile as he worked on this for more than 20 years.

Astronomers did not have the sharpness in their images to detect the shape of the light which was being swallowed by the black holes. After the team linked multiple radio telescopes together, creating an Earth-sized massive telescope the barrier was finally overcome and thus objects that appear microscopic in the night sky could now be observed with high resolution.

The team used three telescopes to establish the evidence of concept and the first measurements of the black hole were published in 2008. They had combined eight radio telescopes in Chile, Spain, Mexico, the US, and the South Pole by April 2017. The astronomers were able to observe the boundaries of the black holes by using these massive instruments which observe high-frequency radio waves.

The group also observed the center of our own Milky Way: Sagittarius-A* in addition to its observations of the black hole in the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy. Doeleman explained that while orbits of matter around Sagittarius-A* takes only half an hour and can change during one night of observation, it takes about a month to orbit around M87. He also added that the first cut of the movie could be made by 2020 and researchers would need more telescopes on Earth as well as in orbit, to strengthen the resolution.

Doeleman is optimistic about the possibility of future funding from governments as well as possibly from private donors after the first image of M87 captured people’s imagination. He also said that the EHT has added more value than any other scientific project in history. As explorers, they are reporting what they have observed at the edges of the black hole with their instruments.