Why the universe's ancient galaxies were extra bright

New research based on observational data from the Spitzer telescope provides clues as to how the universe first emerged from its dark age.

ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgements: D. Calzetti (UMass) and the LEGUS Team
  • Researchers using the Spitzer telescope were able to analyze some of the most distant and ancient galaxies in the universe.
  • They discovered that these galaxies were far brighter than anticipated, shedding clues into how the universe first emerged from the "dark ages" that lasted until about a billion years after the Big Bang.
  • This research serves as a stepping stone for future work to be conducted with the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to be launched in early 2021.
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Surprising Science

The moon is shrinking — also, moonquakes are a thing

A new NASA report shakes up lunar geology.

  • The moon is indeed shrinking. It has been since it formed.
  • The shrinking is producing thousands of fault lines.
  • Archived seismometer data from Apollo missions show moonquakes.
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There’s gold in your brain — we now know where it came from

The answer is surprisingly simple, if cataclysmic.

Image source: tomertu/BravissimoS/Shutterstock/Big Think
  • A unique, tiny grain of stardust has provided a look at the early universe.
  • Computer simulations point to a single neutron-star collision as a significant source of heavy metals.
  • Gold is more than bling — it's in our neurons.
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What would alternate, alien forms of life look like?

All life as we know it relies on carbon and water. But researchers speculate this doesn't have to be the case.

Photo credit: JR Korpa on Unsplash
  • Life on Earth (and therefore all life we know) relies on carbon and water.
  • Carbon and water make for excellent ingredients when making life, but many other elements could serve in their place under the right conditions.
  • What are these alternative forms of life and under what conditions could they flourish?
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Found in Antarctica: A 'weirdo particle' that predates the sun

A tiny grain found within a meteorite in Antarctica sheds light on how the solar system itself came to be.

NASA, ESA, H. Bond (STScI) and M. Barstow (University of Leicester)
  • Researchers cut open a small meteorite found in the LaPaz icefield in Antarctica to uncover a very surprising find.
  • Inside this meteorite was a small inclusion that they determined came directly from the nova of a white dwarf to Earth.
  • By studying the inclusion's composition, researchers were able to glean new insights into the thermodynamics of white dwarf novae, ultimately shedding light onto how solar systems like ours formed.
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