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Using data from NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), scientists have identified an unexpected motion in distant galaxy clusters. The cause, they suggest, is the gravitational attraction of matter that lies beyond the observable universe.

"The clusters show a small but measurable velocity that is independent of the universe's expansion and does not change as distances increase," says lead researcher Alexander Kashlinsky at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "We never expected to find anything like this."

Kashlinsky calls this collective motion a "dark flow" in the vein of more familiar cosmological mysteries: dark energy and dark matter. "The distribution of matter in the observed universe cannot account for this motion," he says.


When you think of dinosaurs, you don't often think of critters the size of chickens that ran around the ancient forests of America gobbling up termites but that's just what the smallest dinosaur species found in North America was like, according to University of Calgary researcher Nick Longrich, who analyzed bones found during an excavation near Red Deer, Alberta.

Called Albertonykus borealis, the slender bird-like creature is a new member of the family Alvarezsauridae and is one of only a few such fossils found outside of South America and Asia. In a paper published in Cretaceous Research, Longrich and University of Alberta paleontologist Philip Currie describe the anteater-like specimen and explain how it likely specialized in consuming termites by using its small but powerful forelimbs to tear into logs.




Data from the Ulysses mission show that the Sun has reduced its output of solar wind to the lowest levels since we've had readings and it could reduce the natural shielding that envelops our Solar System.

The Sun's solar wind plasma is a stream of charged particles that are ejected from the upper atmosphere of the Sun. The solar wind interacts with every planetary body in our Solar System. It even defines the border between our Solar System and interstellar space.

This border, called the heliopause, is a bubble-shaped boundary surrounding our Solar System where the solar wind's strength is no longer great enough to push back the wind originating from other stars. The region around the heliopause also acts as a shield for our Solar System, warding off a significant portion of the cosmic rays outside the galaxy.


Ghrelin is a peptide, produced mainly in the stomach but also found in the brain, that is known to affect food intake by increasing feelings of hunger and the urge to eat. A new study has examined ghrelin's role in other addictive behaviors and findings indicate that variations in the genes producing ghrelin and its receptor are more common in individuals considered heavy drinkers.

"Previous research had shown that ghrelin levels in blood plasma are altered in addictive behaviours such as alcohol dependence and compulsive overeating," said Jörgen Engel, professor of pharmacology at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg. "It may be that common mechanisms in the brain underlie different forms of addictive behaviours, including compulsive overeating, pathological gambling and drug dependence."


Froghoppers, also known as spittlebugs, are the champion insect jumpers, capable of reaching heights of 700 mm - more than 100 times their own body length. Research published today in BMC Biology reveals that they achieve their prowess by flexing bow-like structures between their hind legs and wings and releasing the energy in one giant leap in a catapult-like action.

Images of the insects flexing and jumping are described in the research carried out by Malcolm Burrows from the University of Cambridge and his colleagues. Burrows' research focused on determining how the energy generated by the insects' muscles is stored before powering a jump.

He said, "A froghopper stores energy by bending a paired bow-shaped part of its internal skeleton called a 'pleural arch' which is a composite structure made of layers of hard cuticle and a rubbery protein called resilin. When the froghopper contracts its muscles to jump, these arches flex like a composite archery bow, and then on recoil catapult it forwards with a force that can be over 400 times its body mass."


Observations from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have been used to build, for the first time, a 3-D picture of the sources of intense radio emissions in Saturn’s magnetic field, known as the Saturn Kilometric Radiation (SKR).

Saturn Kilometric Radiation is the most intense component of radio emissions from Saturn. It was discovered by NASA’s Voyager spacecraft in 1980. The radio emissions have frequencies between about 10 kilohertz and 1.2 megahertz. This corresponds to the Long Wave and Medium Wave broadcasting bands.

The results were presented by Dr Baptist Cecconi, of LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, at the European Planetary Science Congress on Tuesday 23rd September.

The SKR radio emissions are generated by high-energy electrons spiralling around magnetic field lines threaded through Saturn’s auroras. Previous Cassini observations have shown that the SKR is closely correlated with the intensity of Saturn’s UV aurora and the pressure of the solar wind.