Despite moving at 18 miles per second, it still takes the Earth a year to make it around the Sun. For HM Cancri, an orbit takes a little bit less time: around five minutes. At that speed, HM Cancri is the fastest binary star pair ever discovered, with each white dwarf circling the other at a speed of 310 miles per second.
Dark matter's status as a mysterious and invisible lurker in the universe has frustrated scientists for years. Now, one hopes to solve the puzzle a different way: using a modified version of Newton's second law that would eliminate the need for dark matter altogether. Researchers in Brazil have devised an experiment that could put the modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND) to the test, New Scientist reports.
Until the LHC finally gets up to full speed, Brookhaven National Lab's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) remains the world's most powerful heavy ion smasher. And on Monday, they showed off some of that power by announcing that a recent collision resulted in the hottest matter ever recorded.
By definition, one can't see a black hole itself, only its effect on the light of intervening stars. And without some serious equipment, even that's a tall order. Luckily for all us amateur astronomers, Thomas Müller and Daniel Weiskopf of the University of Stuttgart, Germany, have created a simulation that uses actual star data to calculate exactly what seeing the Schwarzschild black hole would look like.
It's been less than a year since NASA launched the Kepler Space Telescope, and the device is already paying off with new discoveries. In particular, NASA scientists have identified a planet with the consistency of styrofoam, a gaggle of exoplanets, and two never-before-observed objects too small to be stars, but too hot to be planets.
For the past six years, the CDMS, the world's most sensitive dark matter detector, sat deep beneath the Minnesotan countryside, watching super-cooled Germanium crystals for evidence of material abundant in the Universe, but almost non-existent on Earth. Today, rumors are flying on the Web that the team has finally found the weakly interacting particles (WIMPs) that physicists have long searched for, which could be the key to understanding the fundamental makeup of the universe.
In November of last year, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory switched on Roadrunner, the world's fastest computer. IBM and the Department of Energy built the machine to model nuclear explosions, but two new studies, both released today, are proof that the computer's massive power has been at least as devoted to peaceful science as to simulating thermonuclear weapons.
While Robert Frost famously said that he prefers the world to end in fire, physicists have long predicted the universe will end with an icy sputter known as "heat death." Heat death occurs when the universe finally uses up all its energy, with all motion stopping and all the atoms in creation grinding to a halt. And, based on new calculations from a team of Australian physicists, it looks like heat death is far closer than previously thought.
Dark energy is a mysterious force that cosmologists use to fill gaps in our model of why our universe continues its ever-faster expansion. But now two mathematicians have found a way to explain those baffling observations of the universe without the dark energy question mark hanging overhead.