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Fri, 22 Sep 2017
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Astronomers find evidence of enormous black hole in heart of Milky Way

© NASA. ESA/C. Carreau
Astronomers have for the first time found evidence of an enormous black hole near the heart of the Milky Way galaxy. They say it is possibly one hundred thousand times more massive than the sun has been found hiding in a toxic gas cloud near the galaxy's center.

Tomoharu Oka, an astronomer at Keio University in Tokyo, told Sputnik about the importance of the find.

"This may be the second largest black hole in the Milky Way after Sagittarius A at the very centre of the galaxy and the first detection of an IMBH candidate in the Milky Way."

He revealed it was likely to sink into the nucleus by dynamical friction and eventually merge to it.

"The IMBH may have been formed by merging of stellar mass black holes. Such events generate strong gravitational waves."

Galaxy

Medium sized black hole 100,000 times bigger than sun discovered near center of Milky Way

© Paul Hanna / Reuters
A new kind of black hole has been found at the center of the Milky Way - a find that may help explain the evolution of the phenomena.

In research conducted by Japanese astronomers using the ALMA Observatory in northern Chile, a black hole 100,000 times the size of our sun was found within a molecular gas cloud. Its relatively small size means that it is the first to be identified as an intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH).

Professor Tomoharu Oka of Japan's Keio University believes that black holes with masses greater than a million solar masses are at the center of all galaxies and are essential to their growth. The origins of supermassive black hole, however, remain a mystery.

"One possible scenario is IMBHs - which are formed by the runaway coalescence of stars in young compact star clusters - merge at the center of a galaxy to form a supermassive black hole," said Prof Oka.

HAL9000

Elon Musk: Global race for AI will 'most likely cause' WWIII as computers launch first strike

© Paper Boat Creative / Getty Images
Competition for superiority in Artificial Intelligence at national level will "most likely" cause World War Three, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has said, warning that an AI may deem first use its best chance of winning.

"China, Russia, soon all countries with strong computer science. Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3," Musk tweeted.

It will likely not even be the countries' leaders that start the war, Musk elaborated, but "one of the AI's, if it [AI] decides that a pre-emptive strike is most probable path to victory."

Rocket

Did North Korea really test a hydrogen bomb or was it something else?

© Reuters/Toru Hanai
On Sunday, North Korea said it conducted its most powerful nuclear test of an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile. Russian expert Alexander Uvarov however told Sputnik that Pyongyang might have tested not a thermonuclear device but a "boosted device", an atomic bomb that uses some hydrogen isotopes to increase its explosive yield.

North Korea claimed Sunday that it had successfully conducted a test of a hydrogen bomb, which had generated a 50 kiloton detonation, meaning that the blast was tantamount to exploding 50,000 tons of dynamite. The Japanese Defense Ministry later commented that the yield of the nuclear weapon that had been tested may have been as high as 70 kt, according to preliminarily estimates.

The bomb, it said, was designed to be mounted on its newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Alexander Uvarov, an editor-in-chief of the Russian website AtomInfo.ru, commented to Sputnik on the test, saying that judging by the announced yield of explosion (just a few dozen kilotons), it might have been not a thermonuclear device in the modern sense of the word, but a so-called "boosted device", an atomic bomb that uses some hydrogen isotopes to enhance its explosive yield.

Info

Fake Science? Researchers at Yale determine who falls for 'fake news'

Who falls for fake news sites? Yale University professors Gordon Pennycook and David Rand engaged in a study that sought answers on the question that "poses a threat to democracy." While political conviction played a role - and Trump voters had a different profile in certain measurements than did Clinton supporters - what differentiated people's susceptibility to embrace fake news sites most was their ability or willingness to engage in analytical thinking.

The persuasiveness of fake news sites can be summed up in one statistic: In 2016 the "likes" on Facebook was actually greater for the top 20 fake news items than the top 20 real news items. This can be a significant problem. "Inaccurate beliefs pose a threat to democracy and fake news represents a particularly egregious" avenue to propagate those beliefs, Pennycook and Rand wrote in a report released last week.

Info

Best preserved nodosaur has skin, horn and pigments

© ICR Org
The world's best-preserved nodosaur stirred wide interest when it went on display at the Royal Tyrell Museum in Canada in May 2017. Its skin scales, fearsome shoulder spikes, and possibly even skin colors prompted fossil pigment expert Jakob Vinther to tell National Geographic that it "might have been walking around a couple of weeks ago. I've never seen anything like this."1 New details published in Current Biology back up that statement.2

Apparently, this specimen is different enough from other nodosaurs to warrant its own genus and species name: Borealopelta markmitchelli. It had secondary organic molecular structures called kerogen that form when primary proteins break down and mix underground.

In a May 12 interview, Issues, Etc. radio host Todd Wilken asked me about this fossil, "So it's very possible here that we're not looking at a fossil, strictly speaking-not a stone cast of what was once there as living matter-but a mummified specimen of a dinosaur?" I replied, "It's possible, but there haven't been any technical reports out yet."3

Well, now a technical report is out, and it shows not quite as pristine a preservation as an Egyptian mummy, but it reveals nodosaur skin scales with kerogen's energy-packed chemical bonds still intact.4 Though lab studies have not yet measured the expected shelf life for kerogen, this specimen still contains organic chemistry fragile enough to challenge the fossil's vast age assignments. Microbes feed on kerogens, but even with no microbes in sight, kerogens still have plenty of potential chemical energy that inevitably reacts with other chemicals in an incessant chemical breakdown. Though they may be tough, kerogens cannot last forever-and should not last anywhere close to the 112 to 125 million years assigned to this fossil.

Saturn

'Floating moon': Study reveals new details about Uranus satellite Cressida

© NASA
Uranus' moon Cressida would float if placed in water, according to new research, which has recorded the first measurements of the satellite's mass and density.TrendsSpace exploration

Robert Chancia of the University of Idaho and colleagues calculated Cressida's density and mass using variations in an inner narrow ring of the planet as Uranus passed in front of a distant star.

The analysis came from both ground-based and Voyager stellar and radio occultations of the Uranian rings, spanning the period from 1977-2002.

Info

Rotor-propelled microbots could fight deadly cancers inside the body - study (VIDEO)

© Rice University / YouTube
An artist's impression of one of the motorized nanobots.
Nanotechnology could soon be used to directly combat disease within the human body - a breakthrough that promises revolutionary new treatments for the most deadly forms of cancer.

The study, published in the journal Nature, outlines how an international team of researchers from Rice, Durham, and North Carolina State universities worked together to test single-molecule nanomachines, a collection of rotor-propelled microbots capable of easily tunneling through the membranes of targeted cells to administer drugs.

In one test conducted at Durham University in the UK, the nanomachines took as little as three minutes to tunnel through the wall of a prostate cancer cell. The machine killed the cancer cell instantly.

Galaxy

Evidence of water found on TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets

© NASA / Global Look Press
Three of the seven exoplanets orbiting TRAPPIST-1 are thought to have large amounts of water.
The search for life on other planets is gaining fresh impetus with new research suggesting planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system could harbor substantial amounts of water.

The dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 is more than 39 light years from Earth and was discovered along with three orbiting Earth-sized planets in 2015. In February this year, four more exoplanets were found orbiting the star, with three thought to lie in the 'habitable zone.'

In a study published in the Astronomical Journal, an international team of researchers led by Swiss astronomer Vincent Bourrier of the University of Geneva Observatory studied the effect of ultraviolet light on the atmosphere of all seven of the system's exoplanets.

Meteor

16 stars passing 'Oort cloud' could fire cosmic matter throughout our galaxy - study

© Mark A. Garlick / AFP
Star trajectory numbers published in a new study suggest that up to 16 stars could come close enough to our galaxy to send potentially dangerous cosmic matter, like comets, crashing into Earth.

The prospect of unsettled space material smashing into our planet is enough of a fear for agencies like NASA to start ramping up planetary defense systems.

The US space agency has already dedicated a division to track near-Earth objects and there is a plan to carry out an asteroid redirection tests with the European Space Agency (ESA) in the next five years.

Astronomer Coryn Bailer-Jones of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has now crunched the numbers on the possibility of stellar encounters with the solar system - and a collision is possible.