News 2019



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Astronomy / Space - Physics - 19.12.2019
Ultrashort x-ray technique will probe conditions found at the heart of planets
Combining powerful lasers and bright x-rays, Imperial and STFC researchers have demonstrated a technique that will allow new extreme experiments. The new technique would be able to use a single x-ray flash to capture information about extremely dense and hot matter, such as can be found inside gas giant planets or on the crusts of dead stars.

Astronomy / Space - 18.12.2019
Podcast: Baby brains, new Mars quests and preventing pandemics
In this edition: We discover treatments for baby brain injuries, see what's new on Mars for 2020 and find out how to prevent pandemics. Play the complete podcast (above) You can catch the podcast on all your favourite platforms. Just click on any of the icons below. OR listen to individual chapters: News: Doctor burnout and Sun discoveries - We discuss a study showing a surprising number of doctors suffer from emotional exhaustion , and discover new insights into the Sun from a spacecraft that has flown closer to our star than ever before.

Astronomy / Space - Environment - 11.12.2019
Water common - yet scarce - in exoplanets
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Astronomy / Space - Physics - 06.12.2019
Analysis: A spacecraft is starting to unravel the sun’s biggest mysteries
NASA's Parker Solar Probe is going closer to the sun than any spacecraft has been before - Dr Daniel Verscharen (UCL Space & Climate Physics) writes about the findings so far. If you ask a child to paint a picture of the sun, you will most likely get a bright yellow circle on a piece of paper. This is actually quite accurate, given that the sun is a ball of hot gas and that its surface (called the photosphere) mostly shines in bright yellow light.

Astronomy / Space - Research Management - 06.12.2019
Researchers named among world’s best
Durham researchers named among world's best At Durham we've long had a global reputation for the high standard and impact of our research. Now we're celebrating because five of our researchers have been named among the world's best for the quality and influence of their work. The researchers are investigating the origins of the universe, nature-based answers to climate change, and the make-up of the Earth's crust.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 04.12.2019
Closest-ever approach to the Sun gives new insights into the solar wind
The Parker Solar Probe spacecraft, which has flown closer to the Sun than any mission before, has found new evidence of the origins of the solar wind. NASA's Parker Solar Probe was launched in August 2018. Its first results are published today in a series of four papers in Nature , with Imperial College London scientists among those interpreting some of the key data to reveal how the solar wind is accelerated away from the surface of the Sun.

Astronomy / Space - Earth Sciences - 03.12.2019
Analysis: We may have solved the mystery of how landslides form on Mars
Mars's huge landslides can move at speeds of up to 360 kilometres an hour for up to tens of kilometres. PhD candidate Giulia Magnarini and Dr Tom Mitchell (UCL Earth Sciences) write about how these landslides may have formed. Some landslides on Mars seem to defy an important law of physics. "Long, runout landslides" are formed by huge volumes of rock and soil moving downslope, largely due to the force of gravity.

Environment - Astronomy / Space - 02.12.2019
Global levels of biodiversity could be lower than we think, new study warns
Biodiversity across the globe could be in a worse state than previously thought as current biodiversity assessments fail to take into account the long-lasting impact of abrupt land changes, a new study has warned. The study by PhD graduate Dr Martin Jung , Senior Lecturer in Geography Dr Pedram Rowhani and Professor of Conservation Science Jörn Scharlemann , all at the University of Sussex, shows that fewer species and fewer individuals are observed at sites that have been disturbed by an abrupt land change in past decades.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 25.11.2019
Imperial among UK institutions building parts for new £30m neutrino detector
Researchers at Imperial are starting work on a huge new neutrino experiment, aiming to understand the origin and structure of the universe. The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), to be assembled in the US, will have components designed and built by institutions across the UK, including Imperial.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 21.11.2019
Experiment to increase understanding of the universe secures £30m
UCL scientists working to understand neutrinos and antimatter through DUNE (the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment) will benefit from the UK's latest multi-million pound investment in the project. The DUNE project brings together more than 1,000 physicists from the UK and 31 countries from Asia, Europe and the Americas to build the world's most advanced neutrino observatory, which could lead to profound changes in our understanding of the universe.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 20.11.2019
Cosmic explosions: detecting the highest-energy light
The most energetic form of light has been detected from a distant but powerful cosmic explosion known as a 'gamma-ray burst' for the first time, by an international team including UCL physicists using a UCL-built space telescope onboard NASA's Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory. The discovery and in particular, the unknown mechanisms that cause extremely high-energy light to be emitted in the afterglow of a gamma-ray burst (GRB).

Astronomy / Space - 19.11.2019
Evidence of missing neutron star
The leftovers from a spectacular supernova that revolutionised our understanding of how stars end their lives have finally been spotted by astronomers at Cardiff University. The scientists claim to have found evidence of the location of a neutron star that was left behind when a massive star ended its life in a gigantic explosion, leading to a famous supernova dubbed Supernova 1987A.

Astronomy / Space - Environment - 01.11.2019
A bird in the nest and moving to Mars: News from the College
Here's a batch of fresh news and announcements from across Imperial. From bird-chick recognition, to Mars explorations, here is some quick-read news from across the College. A bird in the nest Passerine (or 'perching') birds do not differentiate between the chicks in their nest - meaning they potentially raise chicks that aren't theirs, such as those that are the product of a cheating partner.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 29.10.2019
Particle detector for hunting dark matter installed a mile underground
The central component of LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) - the largest direct-detection dark matter experiment in the US - has been slowly lowered 4,850 feet down a shaft formerly used in gold-mining operations by a team involving UCL physicists. Although dark matter accounts for about 27 percent of the universe, we do not know what it is made of and experiments have yet to make direct contact with a particle - it has only been detected through its gravitational effects on normal matter.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 28.10.2019
Mapping the universe in extraordinary detail using UCL lenses
A three-dimensional map of the Universe that reaches deeper in space and time than ever before is one step closer as final testing begins on the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), designed and built in part by UCL physicists. From early 2020, DESI will observe the light from 35 million distant galaxies and 2.4 million quasars over five years to precisely map their distance from Earth and gauge how quickly they are moving away from us.

Astronomy / Space - Earth Sciences - 24.10.2019
Martian landslides not conclusive evidence of ice
Giant ridges on the surface of landslides on Mars could have formed without ice, challenging their use by some as unequivocal evidence of past ice on the red planet, finds a new UCL-led study using state-of-the-art satellite data. Detailed three-dimensional images of an extensive landslide on Mars, which spans an area more than 55 kilometres wide, have been analysed to understand how the unusually large and long ridges and furrows formed about 400 million years ago.

Astronomy / Space - 18.10.2019
Sun explorer spacecraft leaves for launch site
The European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter, which carries instruments proposed, designed and built at UCL, is completing final testing in Germany before travelling to Cape Canaveral, USA, for launch in February 2020. Solar Orbiter will perform unprecedented close-up observations of the Sun, to help answer questions about why the Sun's corona is so hot and why the solar wind flows away from the Sun so rapidly, typically at 400-500 kilometres per second.

Astronomy / Space - Earth Sciences - 14.10.2019
Q&A: How exploring Venus could unlock our understanding of Earth’s future
As the EnVision mission to Venus is preparing for its planned launch in 2032, we speak to the Imperial researcher who is a part of the Science Team. With its extremely high temperatures and surface veiled by thick clouds, Venus represents an unusual example of planet formation and evolution. Once thought to be a tropical paradise, it was only in the 1960s that scientists were able to observe its hostile environment.

Astronomy / Space - Physics - 09.10.2019
Scientists Observe Year-long Plateaus in Decline of Type Ia Supernova Light Curves
A team of scientists, including a researcher from the University of Birmingham, has discovered that the fading of infrared light following Type Ia supernovae explosions can be interrupted, with brightness staying the same for up to a year. This is a surprising finding as astronomers had expected that the light curve would not only continue decreasing but even experience a sharp drop, rather than flattening into a plateau.

Astronomy / Space - 04.10.2019
Observing the Cosmic Web
The Cosmic Web is believed to contain huge threads of gas that connect multiple galaxies across the universe. Now our astronomers have observed these threads extending over three million light years. This is the first time that the Cosmic Web has been imaged in such detail on large scales joining together several galaxies.
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