Dark matter could make exoplanets habitable

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Dark matter could help maintain liquid water on the surface of large exoplanets, making it possible for life to emerge, evolve, and survive, even in the absence of additional energy from starlight or other sources.
For a planet to be able to maintain liquid water on its surface, scientists assume it has to …

First image of Mercury from orbit

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Early Tuesday morning, NASA’s Messenger spacecraft sent us the first image of Mercury ever taken from orbit around the planet.
Messenger reached orbit around the innermost planet of our solar system 11 days ago, and it has adjusted its trajectory since then; it has now sent its first picture!
The image below …

Black hole Cygnus X-1 reveals strong magnetic fields

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The black hole Cygnus X-1 is revealing new details about its vicinity. The chaotic region is threaded by strong magnetic fields.
Cygnus X-1 was the first black hole discovered by astronomers, in 1964. It is part of an X-ray binary located 6,000 light-years away from the Sun: it is about 8.7 …

Dwarfs, worms and phantoms – A few words about the astrophysical lexicon

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Astrophysics sometimes sounds like science fiction: our Universe is filled with strange substances or objects, and theories describing its evolution or its nature can have some rather catchy names. Dwarf stars, dark matter, dark energy, Big bang, wormholes, phantom energy… What are all these things, and where do those funky names come from?

Two billion alien earths in our Galaxy

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Recently, after the first results from NASA’s Kepler mission, scientists estimated there could be about 500 miilion Earth-like planets in our Galaxy. According to the new estimate, 1 out of 37 Sun-like stars could harbor an Earth-like world.
Considering the number of Sun-like stars in the Milky Way, billions of Earth-like planets …

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