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Scientific American

Scientists from MIT and other institutions have developed the largest, most detailed computer model of the universe’s first billion years, which could help shed light on how the early universe evolved, reports Charles Q. Choi for Scientific American. The model, named THESAN, “can track the birth and evolution of hundreds of thousands of galaxies within a cubic volume spanning more than 300 million light-years across.”

Popular Mechanics

Researchers at MIT have developed an automated search tool that can help astronomers identify the echoes emitted by a specific type of black hole, reports Juandre for Popular Mechanics. “The team’s algorithm, which they dubbed the ‘Reverberation Machine,’ pored through data collected by the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer, an x-ray telescope mounted to the International Space Station,” writes Juandre. “They identified previously undetected echoes from black hole binary systems in our galaxy.”

New York Times

MIT astronomers have used light echoes from X-ray bursts to try to map the environment around black holes, reports Dennis Overbye for The New York Times. Prof. Erin Kara then worked with education and music experts to transform the X-ray reflections into audible sound. “I just love that we can ‘hear’ the general relativity in these simulations,” said Kara.

CNN

CNN reporter Ashley Strickland writes that MIT astronomers developed an automated search tool and were able to “pin down the locations of eight rare pairings of black holes and the stars orbiting them, thanks to the X-ray echoes they release.”

VICE

Vice reporter Becky Ferreira writes that MIT researchers developed a new system, called the Reverberation Machine, to detect the echoes from eight new echoing black hole binaries. “These echoes offer a rarely seen glimpse into the otherworldly surroundings of stellar-mass black holes, which are about five to 15 times the mass of the Sun,” writes Ferreira.

Gizmodo

MIT researchers have detected eight echoing black hole binaries in the Milky Way and then converted the black hole X-ray emissions into sound waves, reports Isaac Schultz for Gizmodo. The researchers developed a new tool, dubbed the Reverberation Machine, which “combed satellite data from NICER, a telescope aboard the International Space Station that studies X-ray emissions from sources like black holes and neutron stars, including a weird type of emission known as an ‘echo.’”

New York Times

To celebrate the list of known exoplanets topping 5,000, New York Times reporter Becky Ferreira spoke with astronomers, actors and astronauts about their favorite exoplanets or exoplanetary systems. “TOI-1233 is an outstanding planetary system with its high number of transiting planets, sunlike host star and its proximity to the solar system,” says postdoc Tansu Daylan of the system he detected along with two high school students he was mentoring.

The Boston Globe

Researchers from MIT and other institutions have developed a new simulation that illuminates how stars formed in the early universe, reports Martin Finucane for The Boston Globe. “It was a neutral, dark cosmos that became bright and ionized as light began to emerge from the first galaxies,” explains Aaron Smith, a NASA Einstein Fellow in MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.

VICE

MIT researchers have developed a new simulation of the early universe, shedding light onto the period when the first stars were formed, reports Audrey Carleton for Vice. “Using existing models of the early universe and of cosmic dust, matched with new code created to interpret how light and gas interacted with one another, they created a visual depiction of the growth of the universe,” writes Carleton.

Wired

Prof. Sara Seager has been awarded one of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) awards, which will help fund her project aimed at sending an orbiter that deploys an inflatable probe to Venus, as part of an effort to search for habitability or signs of life, reports Ramin Skibba for Wired. “This search for signs of life on Venus has been around for a long time, and now the stars are aligned to start taking it seriously,” says Seager.

The Raider Times

Postdoctoral associate Josh Borrow spoke with students from Watertown High School about his research and what inspired him to pursue a career in astrophysics. “One of the things that comes with this job is this odd sense of scale,” said Borrow. “I think astronomers really understand scale better than many people do. And I think the most inspiring thing about that is just how small we are relative to the rest of the universe.”

Gizmodo

MIT astronomers have observed the dark side of a football-shaped exoplanet known as WASP-121b and found that it may have metal clouds made up of iron, corundum, and titanium, reports Isaac Schultz for Gizmodo. “The vastly different temperatures on either side of the planet make a dynamic environment for the various molecules floating around the atmosphere,” writes Schultz. “In the daytime, water gets ripped apart by the nearly 5,000° Fahrenheit heat and blown to the night side of the planet by 11,000-mile-per-hour winds.”

CNN

CNN reporter Ashley Strickland writes that MIT researchers have observed the dark side of an exoplanet that is 855 light years from Earth and found that the gas giant may have metal clouds and rain containing liquid gems. The researchers found that the “exoplanet has a glowing water vapor atmosphere and is being deformed into the shape of a football due to the intense gravitational pull of the star it orbits,” writes Strickland.

AP- The Associated Press

Astrophysicist Kelly Korreck will be honored at The Smithsonian during Women’s History Month as they commemorate women who have excelled in STEM fields, reports Ashraf Khalil for the AP. “3-D printed statues will be displayed in the Smithsonian Gardens and in select museums in the Smithsonian network from March 5-27,” writes Khalil.

NBC News

Prof. Sara Seager speaks with Tom Metcalfe of NBC News about the Venus Life Finder missions, which will carry a robotic space payload partially funded by MIT alumni to Venus to search for signs of life in the planet's atmosphere. “Space is becoming cheaper in general, and there is more access to space than ever before,” says Seager.