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NASA just saw something come out of a black hole for the first time ever

You don’t have to know a whole lot about science to know that black holes typically suck things in, not spew things out. But NASA just spotted something mighty strange at the supermassive black hole Markarian 335.

Two of NASA’s space telescopes, including the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), miraculously observed a black hole’s corona “launched” away from the supermassive black hole. Then a massive pulse of X-ray energy spewed out. So, what exactly happened? That’s what scientists are trying to figure out now.

“This is the first time we have been able to link the launching of the corona to a flare,” Dan Wilkins, of Saint Mary’s University, said. “This will help us understand how supermassive black holes power some of the brightest objects in the universe.”

NuSTAR’s principal investigator, Fiona Harrison, noted that the nature of the energetic source is “mysterious,” but added that the ability to actually record the event should provide some clues about the black hole’s size and structure, along with (hopefully) some fresh intel on how black holes function. Luckily for us, this black hole is still 324 million light-years away.

So, no matter what strange things it’s doing, it shouldn’t have any effect on our corner of the universe.

 

(Via Viral Thread)

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New ESA chief proposes building a full-fledged human village on the moon

There’s a new head of the European Space Agency, and after just two weeks on the job, he’s bringing some ambitious ideas to the table. First up: A human village on the moon.

In an interview with the BBC, new ESA head Johann-Dietrich Woerner chatted about the priorities for the agency in the coming years — and dropped a really big one currently on his wish list. According to Woerner, it’s all about testing out this technology before we actually try to ship humans off to somewhere like Mars. So, his idea is to have several nations team up for a legitimate settlement on the moon, so we can work out all the kinks to man an eventual Mars trip less of a suicide mission.

Here’s an excerpt from his comments:

“We should look to the future beyond the International Space Station. We should look for a smaller spacecraft in low-Earth orbit for microgravity research and I propose a Moon village on the far side of the Moon.

A Moon village shouldn’t just mean some houses, a church and a town hall. This Moon village should mean partners from all over the world contributing to this community with robotic and astronaut missions and support communication satellites.”

This is an awesome idea, to say the least, though we should obviously caution that it’s currently a pipe dream. The amount of money and time needed to pull this off would be incredible, and right now it’s just a spitball idea. But regardless, it’s nice to know the idea is at least on the whiteboard.

What do you think? Mars first, or a lunar village?

(Via BBC, io9)

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Sand Dunes Threaten Mos Espa and Tatooine

Sand dunes expected to bury decade-old Star Wars Tatooine set

Saturday, July 20, 2013 – 3:02pm

Fans might’ve managed to save the classic site that served as Uncle Owen’s home on Tatooine, but it sounds like Mother Nature is on the verge of claiming another iconic Star Wars set in the Tunisian desert.

More than $10,000 was raised last year to restore the Lars Homestead that was featured in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

That’s awesome, but it sounds like the bustling sand dunes are now coming for the Tatooine spaceport site also located in the nation’s deserts. The sets that served as the city of Mos Espa inStar Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace are still standing at the moment, but experts predict sand dunes could completely cover the site soon.

The BBC reports that scientists have been using the set as a fixed point to track the sand dunes — since structures aren’t typically built in those areas — and the results show they’re about to get overrun. Without intervention, the site will continue to be covered by sand in the coming years, until the dune eventually passes over.

But in the meantime, it could do a lot of damage to the classic sci-fi set. So c’mon, Star Wars fans, let’s save this one, too!

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