Wednesday, April 22, 2009 - 7:27am
Mysterious Space Blob Discovered at Cosmic Dawn
A team of astronomers, led by Carnegie’s Masami Ouchi, has discovered a mysterious, giant object that existed when the universe was only 800 million years old. Dubbed an extended “Lyman-Alpha blob,” it is a huge body of gas. It is named Himiko for a legendary Japanese queen and stretches for 55 thousand light years, a record for that early point in time. Its length is comparable to the radius of the Milky Way’s disk.
Monday, January 5, 2009 - 9:56am
Zeroing in on Hubble’s Constant
The rate at which the universe is expanding, a value known as the Hubble constant, has been hotly debated for the last 80 years. Now the director of the Carnegie Observatories, Wendy Freedman, will lead a team who will slash the uncertainty of this value to just 3% via the new Carnegie Hubble Program using NASA’s space-based Spitzer telescope.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010 - 5:16pm
Astronomers detect earliest galaxies
Astronomers, including Carnegie's Ivo Labbe, used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to break the distance limit for galaxies by uncovering a primordial population of compact and ultra-blue galaxies that have never been seen before. They are from 13 billion years ago, just 600 to 800 million years after the Big Bang.
Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 12:18pm
New component of a plant steroid-activated pathway discovered
Plant biologists have been working for years to nail down the series of chemical signals that one class of plant hormones, called brassinosteroids, send from a protein on the surface of a plant cell to the cell’s nucleus. New research has isolated another link in this chain. Fully understanding the brassinosteroid pathway could help scientists better understand plant growth and help improve food and energy crop production.
Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 11:28am
New super-Earth detected within the habitable zone of a nearby cool star
An international team of scientists led by Carnegie’s Guillem Anglada-Escudé and Paul Butler has discovered a potentially habitable super-Earth orbiting a nearby star. The star is a member of a triple star system and has a different makeup than our Sun, being relatively lacking in metallic elements. This discovery demonstrates that habitable planets could form in a greater variety of environments than previously believed.
Friday, October 26, 2012 - 2:55pm
Solving Stem Cell Mysteries
The ability of embryonic stem cells to differentiate into different types of cells with different functions is regulated and maintained by a complex series of chemical interactions, which are not well understood. Learning more about this process could prove useful for stem cell-based therapies down the road. New research from a team led by Carnegie’s Yixian Zheng zeroes in on the process by which stem cells maintain their proper undifferentiated state.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - 3:30pm
A “Jumping Gene’s” preferred targets may influence genome evolution
Our genetic blueprint contains numerous entities known as transposons, which have the ability to move from place to place on the chromosomes within a cell. An astounding 50% of human DNA comprises both active transposon elements and the decaying remains of former transposons. Every time a plant or animal cell prepares to divide, the chromosome regions richest in transposon-derived sequences are among the last to duplicate. New research provides potential insight into both these enigmas.
Monday, December 13, 2010 - 4:02pm
Unlocking the secrets of a plant’s light sensitivity
Plants are very sensitive to light conditions, in part due to a signal that activates some special photoreceptors that regulate growth, metabolism, and physiological development. Scientists believe that these light signals control plant growth and development by activating or inhibiting plant hormones. New research from Carnegie plant biologists has altered the prevailing theory on how light signals and hormones interact. Their findings could have implications for food crop production.
Thursday, January 3, 2008 - 4:51pm
Plate Tectonics May Take a Break
Plate tectonics, the geologic process responsible for creating the Earth’s continents, mountain ranges, and ocean basins, may be an on-again, off-again affair. Scientists have assumed that the shifting of crustal plates has been slow but continuous over most of the Earth’s history, but a new study from researchers at the Carnegie Institution suggests that plate tectonics may have ground to a halt at least once in our planet’s history—and may do so again.
Monday, December 3, 2012 - 5:16pm
Plant organ development breakthrough
Plants grow upward from a tip of undifferentiated tissue called the shoot apical meristem. As the tip extends, stem cells at the center of the meristem divide and increase in numbers. But the cells on the periphery differentiate to form plant organs, such as leaves and flowers. In between these two layers, a group of boundary cells go into a quiescent state and form a barrier that not only separates stem cells from differentiating cells, but eventually forms the borders that separate the plant’s organs. Because each plant's form and shape is determined by organ formation and organ boundary creation, elucidating the underlying mechanisms that govern these functions could help scientists design the architecture of crop plants to better capture light and ultimately produce more crop yield with less input.
Thursday, May 7, 2009 - 2:03pm
Bioelectricity Promises More ‘Miles Per Acre’ Than Ethanol
Biofuels such as ethanol offer an alternative to petroleum for powering our cars, but growing energy crops to produce them can compete with food crops for farmland, and clearing forests to expand farmland will aggravate the climate change problem. How can we maximize our “miles per acre” from biomass? Researchers writing in the online edition of the May 7 Science magazine say the best bet is to convert the biomass to electricity, rather than ethanol. They calculate that, compared to ethanol used for internal combustion engines, bioelectricity used for battery-powered vehicles would deliver an average of 80% more miles of transportation per acre of crops, while also providing double the greenhouse gas offsets to mitigate climate change.
Friday, June 5, 2009 - 11:10am
‘Colossal’ Magnetic Effect Under Pressure
Millions of people today carry around pocket-sized music players capable of holding thousands of songs, thanks to the discovery 20 years ago of a phenomenon known as the “giant magnetoresistance effect,” which made it possible to pack more data onto smaller and smaller hard drives. Now scientists are on the trail of another phenomenon, called the “colossal magnetoresistance effect” (CMR) which is up to a thousand times more powerful and could trigger another revolution in computing technology.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - 7:59am
Potentially Habitable Planet Discovered
Astronomers, including Carnegie’s Paul Butler, have found the first, potentially habitable Earth-sized planet. It is one of two new planets discovered around the star Gliese 581, some 20 light years away. The planet, Gliese 581g, is located in a “habitable zone”—a distance from the star where the planet receives just the right amount of stellar energy to maintain liquid water at or near the planet’s surface. Watch news conference
Thursday, June 21, 2012 - 2:17pm
Extensive Water in Mars Interior
Until now, Earth was the only planet known to have vast reservoirs of water in its interior. Scientists analyzed the water content of two Martian meteorites originating from inside the Red Planet. They found that the amount of water in places of the Martian mantle is vastly larger than previous estimates and is similar to that of Earth’s. The results not only affect what we know about the geologic history of Mars, but also have implications for how water got to the Martian surface. The data raise the possibility that Mars could have sustained life.
Thursday, January 3, 2008 - 2:37pm
Red Dust in Planet-Forming Disk May Harbor Precursors to Life
Astronomers at the Carnegie Institution have found the first indications of highly complex organic molecules in the disk of red dust surrounding a distant star. The eight-million-year-old star, known as HR 4796A, is inferred to be in the late stages of planet formation, suggesting that the basic building blocks of life may be common in planetary systems.
Thursday, November 13, 2008 - 3:10pm
Mineral Kingdom Has Co-Evolved with Life
With Video Interview with Robert Hazen
Evolution isn’t just for living organisms. Scientists at the Carnegie Institution have found that the mineral kingdom co-evolved with life, and that up to two thirds of the more than 4,000 known types of minerals on Earth can be directly or indirectly linked to biological activity. The finding, published in American Mineralogist, could aid scientists in the search for life on other planets.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008 - 10:32am
New Process Promises Bigger, Better Diamond Crystals
Researchers at the Carnegie Institution have developed a new technique for improving the properties of diamonds—not only adding sparkle to gemstones, but also simplifying the process of making high-quality diamond for scalpel blades, electronic components, even quantum computers.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - 1:00am
Antagonistic genes control rice growth
Scientists at Plant Biology, with colleagues,* have found that a plant steroid prompts two genes to battle each other—one suppresses the other to ensure that leaves grow normally in rice and the experimental plant Arabidopsis thaliana, a relative of mustard. The results, published in the December 15, 2009, issue of The Plant Cell, have important implications for understanding how to manipulate crop growth and yield.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 11:02am
New form of superhard carbon observed
Carbon is the fourth-most-abundant element in the universe and takes on a wide variety of forms, called allotropes, including diamond and graphite. Scientists at Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory are part of a team that has discovered a new form of carbon, which is capable of withstanding extreme pressure stresses that were previously observed only in diamond.
Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 11:10am
Changing Jet Streams May Alter Paths of Storms and Hurricanes
The Earth’s jet streams, the high-altitude bands of fast winds that strongly influence the paths of storms and other weather systems, are shifting—possibly in response to global warming. These changes have implications for the frequency and intensity of future storms, including hurricanes.