Science Scanner: Astronomers Find Jewel in the Cosmos

Posted March 21st, 2012 at 10:39 pm (UTC+0)
2 comments

False-color image of LEDA 074886 taken with Subaru Telescope's Suprime-Cam. The central contrast has been adjusted to reveal the inner disk/bar-like component. (Image: Dr. Lee Spitler, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia)

False-color image of LEDA 074886 taken with Subaru Telescope's Suprime-Cam. The central contrast has been adjusted to reveal the inner disk/bar-like component. (Image: Dr. Lee Spitler, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia)

Astronomers say they’ve found a jewel in the cosmos.

It’s a rare, rectangular-shaped galaxy, called LEDA 074886, that resembles an emerald-cut diamond.

The scientists were looking around the galaxy NGC 1407 in the Constellation Eridanus – about 70 million light years from Earth – trying to find globular clusters of stars, when they spotted what they thought was a weirdly-shaped dwarf galaxy.

“It’s one of those things that just makes you smile because it shouldn’t exist, or rather, you don’t expect it to exist,” reports lead author, Alister Graham, in an upcoming edition of the Astrophysical Journal.

The research team says this discovery allows astronomers to obtain useful information for modeling other galaxies.

The astronomers think it’s possible that their “emerald-cut galaxy” may have formed out of the collision of two spiral galaxies and may resemble an inflated disk that is seen side-on, like a short cylinder.

Most of the galaxies in the universe can be found in one of three forms: ellipsoidal, disk-like or irregular.

>>> Read more…

New blood test could help predict risk of heart attack

(Photo: photos.com)

(Photo: photos.com)

Doctors may soon have a new tool to help them predict who is at risk of having an impending heart attack.

Research headed by the Scripps Translational Science Institute has led to the development a new blood test, which could impact the future of cardiovascular medicine.

In their research, the scientists noticed that circulating endothelial cells (CEC) in heart attack patients were unusually large and misshapen, making them promising biomarkers for predicting arterial plaque rupture, which can cause a heart attack.

As their test subjects,  researchers selected 50 heart attack patients who sought treatment in the emergency rooms of four acute care hospitals in San Diego as their test subjects.  Using different cell isolation platforms, the researchers found that the CEC counts and the cell’s structural features in their test subjects were dramatically different compared to those from members of the healthy control group.

“The ability to diagnose an imminent heart attack has long been considered the holy grail of cardiovascular medicine,” said Dr. Eric Topol, the study’s chief investigator.

An estimated 17 million people worldwide, die of heart attacks and stroke each year, most commonly the result of obstructive coronary artery disease, according to the World Health Organization.

>>> Read more…

Space station might be used to simulate mission to Mars

International Space Station as seen from Space Shuttle Discovery (Photo: NASA)

International Space Station as seen from Space Shuttle Discovery (Photo: NASA)

Looking ahead to a future manned mission to Mars, NASA might use the international space station to help train and prepare astronauts for the long voyage to and from the red planet.

The ISS would be used to conduct a 500-day mock mission to Mars.

At a recent press conference, Mike Suffredini, NASA’s space station program manager, said astronauts will need to spend more than six months in space before they can fly beyond low earth orbit – which is up to 2,000 kilometers (1240 miles) above the Earth’s surface.

There are a number of challenges an astronaut will face in the extended space travel time needed to fly to and from Mars.  The simulated mission to Mars will be used to help build the astronaut’s endurance in preparation for the long space trip.

The simulated mission will be patterned after the Mars-500 experiment which also simulated a round-trip journey to Mars.  That experiment, which simulated a full-length manned mission and involved a six-person crew from Russia, China and Europe, took place from June 2010 to November 2011 or 520 days.

A Russian cosmonaut who spent 14 months aboard the Mir space station in the 1990s holds the current record for human endurance in space.

While the mock Mars mission isn’t expected to take place for at least two or three years, Suffredini says various physical and psychological issues will need to be addressed before such an ambitious project is even attempted.

With recent budget cuts, the future of NASA’s plans manned exploration is in question and there is debate at the space agency as to where the astronauts should head for.

Right now, there’s consideration for missions to the moon, asteroids and Mars.  But, between the costs and the development of the necessary spacecraft needed for such missions, it’s anyone’s guess as to when or where the US manned space program will head to next.

>>> Read more…

Rejected male fruit-flies turn to the bottle for comfort

Male Drosophila melanogaster fruit-fly (Photo:André Karwath via Wikimedia Commons)

Male Drosophila melanogaster fruit-fly (Photo:André Karwath via Wikimedia Commons)

When a guy’s romantic advances are spurned by a woman, he may turn to alcohol to kill the pain of rejection.

It turns out that male fruit flies do the same thing.

The fruit flies may turn to alcohol in order to satisfy a physiological need for a reward when they are deprived of sex, according to a new study from the University of Missouri.

Understanding the reasons rejected male flies find comfort in ethanol could help lead to treatments for human addictions, says lead researcher Troy Zars.

The study revealed male fruit flies that repeatedly mated for several days didn’t show a particular fondness for food spiked with alcohol.  However, the males who were spurned or denied access to the female were found to strongly prefer their food mixed with 15 percent alcohol.

Zars’ team believes the alcohol may satisfy the flies’ desire for physical reward.

“Identifying the molecular and genetic mechanisms controlling the demand for reward in fruit flies could potentially influence our understanding of drug and alcohol abuse in humans,” Zars says, “since previous studies have detailed similarities between signaling pathways in fruit flies and mammals.”

>>> Read more…

2 Responses to “Science Scanner: Astronomers Find Jewel in the Cosmos”

  1. Emilio says:

    Thank you VOA, quite interesting, keep on with the great job.
    Do you have any information about Oil Sands?

  2. [...] Science Scanner: Astronomers Find Jewel in the Cosmos It's a rare, rectangular-shaped galaxy, called LEDA 074886, that resembles an emerald-cut diamond. The scientists were looking around the galaxy NGC 1407 in the Constellation Eridanus – about 70 million light years from Earth – trying to find globular … Read more on Voice of America (blog) [...]

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