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Submission + - Black Hole Mass Calculated with Highest Precision

William Robinson writes: Scientists have used the Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) of telescopes in Chile's Atacama Desert to calculate the mass of black hole, at the center of a galaxy called NGC 1332. It is estimated to be 660 million times the mass of our sun. Using ALMA, astronomers have been able to zoom in at the center to get a high-precision view of the swirling gases around the central supermassive black hole. Knowing the distance of the gas cloud from the black hole and using ALMA to clock its speed, a highly precise measurement of the black hole’s mass could be made. The black hole is 73 million light years away from Earth.
Earth

Yellowstone Hot Spot Shreds Ancient Pacific Ocean 69

jamie passes along this excerpt from DiscoveryNews: "If you thought the geysers and overblown threat of a supervolcanic eruption in Yellowstone National Park were dramatic, you ain't seen nothing: deep beneath Earth's surface, the hot spot that feeds the park has torn an entire tectonic plate in half. The revelation comes from a new study (abstract) in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that peered into the mantle beneath the Pacific Northwest to see what happens when ancient ocean crust from the Pacific Ocean runs headlong into a churning plume of ultra-hot mantle material."
NASA

NASA Preps Closest-Ever Sun Mission 111

coondoggie writes "NASA today said it had picked five experiments that will ride aboard one of its most ambitious space missions to explore the Sun. The Solar Probe, a car-sized spacecraft, is scheduled to launch no later than 2018 and will fly closer to the Sun's surface than any other probe, NASA stated. Ultimately the spacecraft's goals are to help scientists understand why the sun's outer atmosphere so much hotter than the sun's visible surface and what propels the solar wind that affects Earth and our solar system, NASA said."
Space

Kepler Spacecraft Finds System With Multiple Planets Transiting the Star 136

rhaas writes "NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet crossing in front of, or transiting, the same star. They found two planets almost the size of Saturn, and possibly a third, small, very hot planet with a radius about 1.5 times that of Earth."
Science

Follow Up On Solar Neutrinos and Radioactive Decay 183

An anonymous reader writes "A few days ago, Slashdot carried a story that was making the rounds: a team of physicists claimed to have detected a strange variation in radioactive decay rates, which they attributed to the mysterious influence of solar neutrinos. The findings attracted immediate attention because they seemed to upend two tenets of physics: that radioactive decay is constant, and that neutrinos very, very rarely interact with matter (trillions of the particles are zinging through your body right now). So Discover Magazine's news blog 80beats followed up on the initial burst of news and interviewed several physicists who work on neutrinos. They are decidedly skeptical."

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