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Scientists detect a repeating signal from deep space, but its origin is a mystery

Scientists detect a repeating signal from deep space, but its origin is a mysteryTo begin, there's zero evidence it's aliens. But for just the second time, a team of astronomers detected a flash of repeating of radio waves emanating from beyond our Milky Way galaxy. Using a new, sprawling Canadian telescope dubbed CHIME — which is the size of six hockey rinks — scientists identified the short, repeating burst in the summer of 2018 and published their results Wednesday in the journal
Nature.   The source of these super distant signals, from some 1.5 billion light years away, is still largely a mystery. What's agreed upon is that for these radio waves to travel millions of light years and arrive at Earth as strong signals, they must have a profoundly potent origin — perhaps a powerful explosion in another galaxy.  "We don’t know what can cause an emission that is that powerful," Shriharsh Tendulkar, an astrophysicist at McGill University and study coauthor, said in an interview. "We really don’t know what they are," added Marc Kamionkowski, a professor of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University who had no involvement in the study, in an interview. "There is good evidence they’re coming from outside the Milky Way."  Radio waves are a form of light — though they're not visible.Image: nasaWhile scientists have detected more than 60 instances of fast radio bursts — which last just milliseconds — this is just the second known signal coming from the same location. Lots of things in space produce radio waves, and many of these signals hit Earth. "There are all sorts of radio waves arriving at all times," said Tendulkar. The sun is constantly sending radio waves through the solar system. And there's a number of powerful phenomena in the deep universe that blast radio waves into the cosmos — like black holes. Scientists are certainly deep in thought about where these distant, quick bursts might come from.  "There is a lot of speculation in the astrophysical transient community about the origin of these events and a number of theories have been put forward to explain how they are formed," Kate Maguire, a researcher at the Astrophysics Research Center at Queen’s University Belfast who had no involvement in the study, said over email. SEE ALSO: How NASA recorded the eerie Martian wind, without a microphone A leading theory, however, is that the leftover cores of exploded massive stars, known as neutron stars, may be releasing the short, powerful signals, said Maguire.  "Most people forced to bet would say they have something to do with neutron stars," noted Kamionkowski.  Tendulkar agrees: "Neutron stars are our best bet." When some old, massive stars collapse, they're believed to squish down into a mass the size of a city, forming a neutron star. Consequently, neutron stars are believed to be the densest known objects in the universe. And presumably, they can release a lot of energy. An artist's conception of a type of neutron star called a magnetar.Image: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/S. WiessingerOne type of neutron star, called a magnetar, is suspected to have a magnetic field trillions of times stronger than Earth's. So when that ultra-dense object changes or ruptures, an extraordinary amount of energy might be unleashed into space.  "It has to be powerful," said Tendulkar. What's more, these repeating radio waves show signs of "scattering" — which suggests that the waves traveled through a turbulent patch of space filled with interstellar gases. That means the signals likely came from a place where there's a denser clump of stuff, like the remnants of an exploded star (called a supernova), University of Toronto astronomer and study coauthor Cherry Ng said in a statement.  Although there are only hypotheses for how these potent radio waves form, natural cosmic phenomena are the exceedingly likely answer — as opposed to smart aliens.  "I can understand the public's imagination would go that way [aliens], but there are a lot of simpler explanations than extraterrestrial intelligence," said Tendulkar. Astronomers and astrophysicists are eager for the new telescope, CHIME, to pick up more signals and gather more evidence. Or as Tendulkar put it, to "paint a broader picture" of what might be happening out there, in the depths of intergalactic space. WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?



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Scientists think they know where the early universe’s dark matter has been hiding

Scientists think they know where the early universe’s dark matter has been hidingMost of the mass in the universe is made up of a kind of matter that none of us have ever seen. It's called "dark matter" and, despite being incredibly abundant, it's also extremely difficult to study. Decades-old calculations suggested that there is more dark matter around younger galaxies than the ancient ones from the early days of the universe, but then where did the dark matter we see today come from? A new study offers the answer.

Past research suggested that galaxies we see nearby have more dark matter than those that are very distant. The farther away a galaxy is the farther back in time we're effectively looking, and scientists believed that those ancient galaxies didn't have all that much dark matter around them. As it turns out, that isn't the case.

After studying some 1,500 galaxies, researchers led by Alfred Tiley of Durham University have determined that the amount of dark matter surrounding these huge collections of stars and planets is about the same as it ever was.

Detecting dark matter around a galaxy can be tricky but it's made easier by calculating the gravitation effect that the matter has on its surroundings. We can't see dark matter in space because it doesn't reflect light, but it still exerts a gravitational pull, just like "normal" matter. By accounting for the size of a galaxy and the speed at which stars on its edges are moving, scientists can calculate how much dark matter is lurking on the fringes.

This latest round of research, applied that same formula to many hundred galaxies both young and old. The scientists now believe that there's not much of a difference between the amount of dark matter around ancient galaxies when compared to much younger ones.

However, as Live Science reports, the astronomy community isn't entirely on board with this new finding. The model that Tiley and his team used has been called into question, especially as it relates to measurements of distant high-mass galaxies which have been studied by others searching for dark matter.

We'll have to wait and see how this all pans out but the results are certainly interesting and will no doubt further the conversation about where the universe's dark matter lies.



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Endangered Hawaiian monk seals baffle scientists by getting eels stuck in their noses

Endangered Hawaiian monk seals baffle scientists by getting eels stuck in their nosesThe behaviour of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal has researchers confused – after multiple incidents involving the creatures getting eels stuck up their noses. “Mondays… it might not have been a good one for you but it had to be better than an eel in your nose,” the HMSRP captioned the photo. The unlucky situation led many to raise questions on Facebook, where the photo has been shared more than 1,200 times.



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Scientists Discover 180-Million-Year-Old Fossilized Blubber From ‘Sea Monster’

Scientists Discover 180-Million-Year-Old Fossilized Blubber From ‘Sea Monster’Scientists have found 180-million-year-old blubber from a true sea monster, the ancient ichthyosaur, according to the BBC. The fossilized specimen is very well-preserved, and it’s already answering some questions about this Jurassic-era sea creature. The discovery has led scientists to confirm that the ichthyosaur was warm-blooded, which is rare in reptiles.



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Harvard Scientists Say Aliens May Explain Bizarre Interstellar Object 'Oumuamua (But Probably Not)

Harvard Scientists Say Aliens May Explain Bizarre Interstellar Object 'Oumuamua (But Probably Not)Oddball space rock ‘Oumuamua, discovered over a year ago, is the first interstellar object to visit our solar system and is unlike any comet or asteroid observed before. Two astronomers with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) recently took a closer look at the cigar-shaped object’s unusual acceleration during its trip through our solar system, to figure out what may have caused the unexpected boost in the object’s motion. Such acceleration during orbit is characteristic of comets, because their icy bodies evaporate, expelling water vapor that propels the objects.



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Indonesia tsunami worsened by shape of Palu bay: scientists

Indonesia tsunami worsened by shape of Palu bay: scientistsThe tsunami that ravaged the Indonesian city of Palu was outsized compared to the earthquake that spawned it, but other factors — including a long, narrow bay — conspired to create monster waves, scientists say. The 7.5-magnitude quake, which struck early evening on Friday — a time when many in the Muslim-majority country would have been at the mosque — brought buildings down all over Palu and its surrounding area. “The waves were at least two-to-three metres high, and possibly twice that,” said Jane Cunneen, a research fellow at Curtin University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering in Bentley, Western Australia, and an architect of the Indian Ocean’s tsunami warning system, developed under UN guidance.



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Scientists behind game-changing cancer immunotherapies win Nobel medicine prize

Scientists behind game-changing cancer immunotherapies win Nobel medicine prizeThe scientists’ work in the 1990s has since swiftly led to new and dramatically improved therapies for cancers such as melanoma and lung cancer, which had previously been extremely difficult to treat. “The seminal discoveries by the two Laureates constitute a landmark in our fight against cancer,” the Nobel Assembly at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute said as it awarded the prize of nine million Swedish crowns ($ 1 million). Allison and Honjo showed releasing the brakes on the immune system can unleash its power to attack cancer.



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A Chinese Man Is Facing Charges for Spying and Recruiting American Scientists

A Chinese Man Is Facing Charges for Spying and Recruiting American ScientistsJi Chaoqun, 27, is charged with knowingly acting as an agent of a foreign government



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Scientists Discover Giant Deep-Sea Coral Reef Off Atlantic Coast

Scientists Discover Giant Deep-Sea Coral Reef Off Atlantic CoastTHE ATLANTIC OCEAN — As the research vessel Atlantis made its way out to sea



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Scientists downgrade alert level for Hawaii volcano

Scientists downgrade alert level for Hawaii volcanoHONOLULU (AP) — Slowing activity at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has prompted scientists on Friday to downgrade their alert level for the mountain.



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