Physics

How Big is the Biggest Possible Planet?

Last week, a team of astronomers reported the first potential discovery of an exomoon--a satellite orbiting a planet around another star. Part of what is so striking about the report is the scale of this possible planet-moon system. In this case, the "moon" appears to be about the size of Neptune; the planet it orbits is some 10 times the mass of Jupiter, or about 3,000 times the mass of Earth!
The system pushes at the limits of how we normally categorize objects in space and invites question

Planetary Protection Excites Space Fans of All Ages

The recent announcement for a position that NASA has had since the 1960s – Planetary Protection Officer – has generated a lot of excitement in the public, as well as comparisons to many sci-fi movie heroes.

Primordial black holes may have helped to forge heavy elements

Astronomers like to say we are the byproducts of stars, stellar furnaces that long ago fused hydrogen and helium into the elements needed for life through the process of stellar nucleosynthesis.

Microbot origami can capture, transport single cells

Researchers at North Carolina State University and Duke University have developed a way to assemble and pre-program tiny structures made from microscopic cubes - "microbot origami" - to change their shape when actuated by a magnetic field and then, using the magnetic energy from their environment, perform a variety of tasks - including capturing and transporting single cells.

Software lets designers exploit the extremely high resolution of 3-D printers

Today's 3-D printers have a resolution of 600 dots per inch, which means that they could pack a billion tiny cubes of different materials into a volume that measures just 1.67 cubic inches. Such precise control of printed objects' microstructure gives designers commensurate control of the objects' physical properties. But evaluating the physical effects of every possible combination of even just two materials, for an object consisting of tens of billions of cubes, would be prohibitively time consuming. A new software lets designers exploit this issue of extremely high resolution.

The source of up to half of the Earth's internal heat is completely unknown—here's how to hunt for it

It may not be obvious while lying in the sun on a hot summer's day, but a considerable amount of heat is also coming from below you – emanating from deep within the Earth. This heat is equivalent to more than three times the total power consumption of the entire world and drives important geological processes, such as the movement of tectonic plates and the flow of magma near the surface of the Earth. But despite this, where exactly up to half of this heat actually comes from is a mystery.

Physicists shed light on rarely seen 16th-century metal-working technique

Imperial researchers have tested a 'blued' gauntlet from a 16th-century suit of armour with a method usually used to study solar panels.

Possible explanation for the dominance of matter over antimatter in the Universe

Neutrinos and antineutrinos, sometimes called ghost particles because difficult to detect, can transform from one type to another. The international T2K Collaboration announces a first indication that the dominance of matter over antimatter may originate from the fact that neutrinos and antineutrinos behave differently during those oscillations. This is an important milestone towards the understanding of our Universe.

Quantum magnets doped with holes

In general, solid state physicists are not able to separate the two processes, so they cannot answer the question, whether the magnetic order is indeed reduced, or whether it is just hidden.

Finding neutrinos – a Q&A with Matthew Green

Matthew Green is an assistant professor of physics at NC State. He was involved in a multi-institutional research project aimed at detecting a process called Coherent Elastic Neutrino Nuclear Scattering (CEvNS). The project was successful, and its findings appear in Science. Matthew agreed to a Q&A with The Abstract on the project and its results.

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