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If Aliens Were Sending us Signals, This is What They Might Look Like

Apr 7, 2022

For over sixty years, scientists have been searching the cosmos for possible signs of radio transmission that would indicate the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI). In that time, the technology and methods have matured considerably, but the greatest challenges remain. In addition to having never detected a radio signal of extraterrestrial origin, there is a wide range of possible forms that such a broadcast could take. In short, SETI researchers must assume what a signal would lo ...read more

Lasers Recreate the Conditions Inside Galaxy Clusters

Apr 7, 2022

Galaxies don’t exist in a vacuum. Ok, maybe they do (mostly, since even interstellar space has some matter in it). But galaxies aren’t normally solitary objects. Multiple galaxies interacting gravitationally can form clusters. These clusters can interact with each other, forming superclusters. Our own galaxy is part of a group of galaxies called the Local Group. This Local Group is part of the Virgo Supercluster, which is in turn a part of a group of superclusters called the Laniakea Superc ...read more

Canada's CHIME is Getting More Observatories to Search for Fast Radio Bursts

Apr 8, 2022

In 2017, the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) began to gather light from the Universe to address some of the biggest questions and astrophysics and cosmology. Located at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) in British Columbia, this interferometric radio telescope has been a game-changer for studying Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), which remain one of the most mysterious cosmic mysteries facing astronomers today. In the near future, CHIME will be getting an expans ...read more

Hubble Has Been Watching This Planet Form for 13 Years

Apr 8, 2022

Hubble’s most remarkable feature might be its longevity. The Hubble has been operating for almost 32 years and has fed us a consistent diet of science—and eye candy—during that time. For 13 of its 32 years, it’s been checking in on a protoplanet forming in a young solar system about 530 light-years away. Planet formation is always a messy process. But in this case, the planet’s formation is an “intense and violent process,” according to the authors of a new study. When planetar ...read more

A New Record for the Most Distant Galaxy, Seen Just 300 Million Years After the Big Bang

Apr 8, 2022

Since the Renaissance astronomer Galileo Galilee first studied the heavens using a telescope he built himself, astronomers have been pushing the boundaries of what they can observe. After centuries of progress, they have been able to study and catalog objects in all but the earliest periods of the Universe. But thanks to next-generation instruments and technologies, astronomers will soon be able to observe the “Cosmic Dawn” era – ca. 50 million to billion years after the Big Bang. In rece ...read more

Dying Star Puffs out six Smoke Rings

Apr 9, 2022

Our Sun’s days are numbered. In about 5 billion years the Sun will expand into a red giant, casting off its outer layers before settling down to become a white dwarf. It’s the inevitable fate of most sunlike stars, and the process is well understood. But as a recent study shows, there are still a few things we have to learn about dying Suns. This recent study looks at a star known as V Hydrae or V Hya for short. It’s a red giant star about 1,300 light-years away with a mass roughly the sa ...read more

It’s Been Three Months in Deep Space, and Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument is Still Cooling Down

Apr 9, 2022

The James Webb Space Telescope continues to cool down out at its location at Lagrange Point 2, about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. Since JWST is an infrared telescope, it needs to operate at extremely low temperatures, less than 40 K (-223 degrees Celsius, -369.4 degrees Fahrenheit). But one instrument needs to be even colder.   To operate at peak efficiency, Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) must be cooled to a chilly 7 K (-266 C, -447 F).  And it will need a little help to reach ...read more