Four Notable Things About the Most Distant Star Scientists Have Ever Glimpsed

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Between the glowing blue and yellow swirls of distant galaxies, this tiny pinprick of light doesn’t look like much: a white smudge on the infinite black of the universe.

But this tiny speck has enormous significance for astronomers. It’s the most distant star ever seen, affording astronomers a glimpse back in time.

Images showing how astronomers spotted the most distant star imaged, which was not visible in 2011 but popped up in 2016 thanks to gravitational lensing.
Icarus, the most distant star ever imaged, wasn’t visible in previous years (2011); it was only thanks to gravitational lensing that it twinkled into view (2016). Image credit: NASA, ESA, P KELLY/University of Minnesota

The star, MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1 (more simply known as “Icarus”) was about 9 billion light years away when it emitted the light now reaching Earth. Most other objects spotted at this distance are either galaxies or exploding stars (AKA supernovas), which produce much more light than this distant glimmer.

Thanks to the constant expansion of the universe, Icarus would now be much further away from our planet; by now, it’s probably gone supernova itself, and formed either a black hole or neutron star. (For why we can still view it, though, see #3.)

Here are four things you should know about this distant galactic neighbor, and why we’re just seeing it for the first time.

1. Spotting Icarus was a stroke of good luck

Icarus is so far away that we technically shouldn’t be able to see it: it’s about 100 times further away than the most distant star telescopes have been able to view before now. Fortunately, astronomers got a little bit of help from the universe in spotting it (and the Hubble telescope, props to that).

Icarus was visible because of an astronomical phenomenon called gravitational lensing. In short, the gravity of large, stacked-up celestial objects (in this case, a cluster of galaxies) bend light, creating a magnifying glass-effect for anything behind them. Overall, researchers told The Guardian, Icarus was magnified more than 2,000 times.

Icarus also got a special boost from an extra-magnifying star within the galaxy cluster, making it appear four times brighter over the course of the time the astronomers studied it. Thank you, physics.

2. The star is a blue supergiant

Icarus would be an oddity in the universe — if it were still around. Analysis of the star’s light showed it was a blue supergiant, one of the hottest and highest-mass stars we know of; the blue supergiant Rigel A, the bright left “foot” of the constellation Orion, is 23 times more massive than the sun, and estimated to be several hundred thousand times brighter.

Stars like Icarus and Rigel are rare in the universe today, but in the early universe, they were common; according to io9, most of the early stars were blue supergiants at some point in their lives.

That makes sense, since Icarus’ distant light is actually somewhat like a time machine.

3. Icarus gives a view back in time

The universe is way, way bigger than you can probably comprehend. And because of this astronomical (sorry) size, it can take a really long time for light to reach Earth from the cosmic wilderness. Even traveling at its immense speeds, by the time light from this distant star reached Earth, 9 billion years had passed.

When Icarus released the photons currently hitting the Hubble’s cameras, Earth hadn’t even formed yet — it would be another 4.4 billion years before our solar system even began to coalesce from the dust of the universe. Such distant views of the universe are helping astronomers learn about what the universe was like before our time, even giving us glimpses back to the moments after the Big Bang.

4. The view let scientists test dark matter theory

The Guardian reports that the team also used their view of Icarus to test a theory about dark matter, the mysterious substance that makes up 27 percent of the universe (its counterpart, dark energy, makes up another 68 percent). One theory proposed that dark matter was made of black holes, but what the researchers saw of Icarus didn’t support that theory — looking back at a decade of Hubble images, they didn’t see Icarus’ brightness vary over time. If the black-hole-dark-matter theory was correct, the star would have appeared brighter.

In the coming years, scientists hope to peer even further into our universe’s history with more powerful telescopes, like the James Webb Space Telescope and the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). Recent budget cuts from the White House threatened the future of WFIRST. If the government was unsure just how much these space telescopes could accomplish, this discovery from their predecessor might serve as an apt reminder.

The post Four Notable Things About the Most Distant Star Scientists Have Ever Glimpsed appeared first on Futurism.

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Meizu 15 and 15 Plus star in new hands-on images

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Meizu is celebrating a big milestone in 2018 – 15 years since the company was founded back in 2003. To properly mark the occasion, it’s preparing to launch a couple of new smartphones, aptly named Meizu 15 and Meizu 15 Plus, respectively. These have been leaking at a steady pace in the past few weeks, and today we get three more hands-on images showing them. Meizu 15 and 15 Plus leaked hands-on images As you can see, the Plus model will be unsurprisingly Plus-sized. For both it and the Meizu 15, the front-facing camera is centered above the screen, while the bottom bezel…

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Two ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Tables Are Heading to ‘Zen Pinball’, ‘Star Wars Pinball’, and ‘Pinball FX 3’ Next Month

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Zen Studios just does not let up when it comes to releasing cool new licensed pinball games for their suite of digital pinball games. Last month saw the release of three new tables based around the Jurassic Park franchise in anticipation of the new Jurassic World movie releasing this June, and now Zen is ready to go back to one of their most rock-solid licenses with two brand new Star Wars tables arriving next month. These two tables are based on the most recent Star Wars film The Last Jedi, and as with all of Zen’s stuff feature some incredulous action and top-notch visuals. Here’s a trailer showing off both new The Last Jedi tables, followed by the official descriptions for both which, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, might be considered light spoilers.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Survive a First Order onslaught as the Resistance, train Rey in the ways of the Force on Ahch-To, and defend Finn from Captain Phasma, blasting away at stormtroopers as BB-8. Jump a ramp to shoot down TIE fighters, fight off Kylo Ren’s TIE Silencer, and teach Rey that the Force isn’t just moving rocks!”

Star Wars: Ahch-To Island – Luke Skywalker (reluctantly) welcomes you to his secluded hideaway. Train Rey in the ways of the Force, convince Luke to join the Resistance and help Chewbacca deal with some Porg problems. You’ll even get a taste of everyday life on the island as Luke, including reminiscing about his Rebellion days through R2-D2’s hologram projections. And when the lights go off during a multiball mode? Let’s just hope the Force is with you…”

This new Star Wars Pinball: The Last Jedi pack is set to arrive across all platforms on April 17th, which means it’ll be part of both Zen Pinball [Free] and the Star Wars Pinball [$ 1.99] apps on iOS and Android and part of Pinball FX 3 on every other platform.

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Disney is already setting up its Star Wars expansion land in a new Grand Admiral Thrawn novel

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We’re still far away from the 2019 opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the twin expansion lands that will be opening at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but the narrative groundwork for the new parks is already being quietly set up. Specifically, the new novel Thrawn: Alliances from Timothy Zahn will send Darth Vader and the Grand Admiral together on a mission to Batuu, which io9 notes is the same planet that will serve as the setting for Galaxy’s Edge.

Disney hasn’t revealed too much about the planet — only that it’s a remote trading port, and “one of the last stops before Wild Space” — but taking the chance to build out the lore before the park opens is a smart way to get fans interested ahead of time. Thrawn is already a…

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Old Luke, All-Out War Mode Invade ‘Star Wars: Force Arena’ in New Update

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Lucasfilm and Disney don’t officially call him Old Luke, but let’s face it: Luke Skywalker had some years on him in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. That said, he still showed Mr. Emo himself, Kylo Ren, a few new tricks, and he’ll look to do the same for mobile gamers since he’s joining the fray in the latest update to Star Wars: Force Arena [Free], along with more characters from the most recent Star Wars saga film, conveniently released on digital HD earlier this week.

Joining Old Luke are his old pal R2-D2, Supreme Leader Snoke and his Elite Praetorian Guards, though the ‘Elite’ part is up for some debate given their performance in defending Snoke in the movie. They’ll help buff up the character roster in Netmarble’s “we’re not calling it a MOBA but yes it’s pretty much a mobile MOBA” title.

Seeing as one of the visual highlights of The Last Jedi was the salt planet, Crait, you might be happy to learn that it’s now in the game too as part of the new “All Out War” arcade mode. Available once you reach Tier 4 with either the light or dark sides, All Out War gives you a break from the more intense Arena action in battles that see each player put their best 18 cards to the test. No word on whether there are any famous people doing cameos as random Resistance troopers.

Last but not least, the Assault on Starkiller Base board game event is live now and running for the next few weeks. Help Poe Dameron (not that he usually needs much) make attack runs on Starkiller Base by earning movement points by either completing missions or using Crystals. You’ll earn Credits and cards on the way in, but the more attack runs you complete before the event ends, the more loot you can earn.

Star Wars: Force Arena

Really, though, it’s all about Old Luke and getting him off his Jedi behind to lend a hand. Best of luck with that.

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SwitchArcade Roundup: ‘Tesla vs. Lovecraft’, ‘Kirby Star Allies’, Nindie Showcase, and More

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Welcome to the SwitchArcade Roundup for March 16th, where we’re covering the latest Nintendo Switch news and new releases, including Kirby Star Allies and Tesla vs. Lovecraft! It’s amazing to think that a week where there were at least a dozen games released feels like a slow week, especially when there’s a new Nintendo game, but perhaps that’s why. Then again, in the world of gaming, there’s never a ‘slow’ week, always a good time to go through the backlog of titles that you probably missed along the way. Seriously, we live in a world with too many cool games, enjoy it while you can!

News

Nindies showcase March 20th

Nintendo’s going to show off a bunch of indie games for the Switch in a live presentation on Tuesday, March 20th. While Nintendo does a great job at getting indie games in their Nintendo Direct presentations, they’re using this as an opportunity to show off some of the more promising upcoming games from independent developers. They need all the help they can get, for sure. You can watch the broadcast on Tuesday from this video:

Penny-Punching Princess

NIS America is bringing this princess-powered isometric brawler to North America on Switch on April 3rd in North America. The game looks ridiculous, as you collect a ton of cash and beat up all who stand in your way, and if you can’t, well, you can bribe them. Cash rules everything around me, y’all. Stay golden with this one when it hits in a few weeks! It’s also hitting the Vita around that time, but don’t expect any VitaArcade Roundups, unfortunately.

Tennis World Tour coming to Switch

Does Mario Tennis Aces look a bit too outlandish for you? Well, Bigben and Breakpoint have Tennis World Tour for you later this year. Available in a physical Legends Edition, you can play as some extra tennis stars, such as Andre Agassi. They’re advertising his 1995 outfit, but if you don’t go full mullet, you’re messing up. John McEnroe is also playable with this edition, as is some extra content for Roger Federer. Check it out on May 22nd.

New Releases

Tesla vs. Lovecraft

10tons delivers its latest dual-stick shooter, and it’s another fun one. If you liked Crimsonland, you’ll like Tesla vs. Lovecraft, as there are a ton of zombie-like creatures to slay here. The game features individual levels to play, but each level also features a mini-upgrade system in its own right, where as you slay more abominations, you get experience and can choose a new perk to help you out. This also carries over to the game’s true endless mode, where you survive against an unending onslaught of creatures, and can earn more of the crystals that unlock permanent upgrades if you do well.

I like the teleport dash in this game: it doesn’t necessarily do any damage, but it does allow you to quickly get away from any dangerous situation. You can also double-dash, so you can quickly change direction. There’s a short recharge on the dash, but nothing oppressive. Use your dash often, just don’t expect to dash halfway across the level in one shot. The other thing I like: the Tesla Mech. You start levels off in this ultra-powerful mech, and then can bust it back out once you pick up all the pieces, and it does extra damage to enemies. Plus, you get to ride around in a giant robot with Nikola Tesla. Who doesn’t want that in their lives?

I’m assuming 10tons is doing quite well with their dual-stick shooters, and I think what they’re doing is a smart strategy. Come up with a proficiency in a genre, develop the technology to make these games, and then iterate and vary your ideas from title to title, frequently releasing new titles and distributing them as widely as possible on every possible platform. This is the fourth dual-stick shooter since Neon Chrome provided a viable base, and each one of 10tons’ shooters does its own thing to stand on its own. And you can play their games on whichever platform you darn well feel like. It comes across as a smart business strategy, and if the shooters remain this solid, keep cranking them out for as long as it works, I say!

Kirby Star Allies

Nintendo’s second Kirby game of the year after their previous Kirby: Planet Robobot for 3DS. This one focuses on gameplay for up to four characters at once, as Kirby can turn enemies into allies, and use their powers to make it through a bunch of different levels. Some cool power combinations come into play, and you can either work with a surprisingly competent AI team, or with your friends in multiplayer, who probably aren’t as smart. It’s the rise of the machines!

The initial reviews for this one are coming in, and the game appears to be…alright. Nintendo makes Kirby games to be easy and accessible for a younger audience, so I wouldn’t expect an incredibly difficult platforming experience. If you don’t mind games that you can kind of auto-pilot if you’re skilled, and just want to sit back and enjoy some Kirby action (where the AI can solve puzzles for you!) and maybe get some friends involved, this seems like a good one to check out, if you know what you’re getting into. Give the demo a shot.

Last Day of June

This emotional adventure game has you trying to save the life of your beloved June, as you experience a gorgeous landscape and gripping story. This one got a ton of accolades back in 2017, and now you can experience it for yourself on Switch. The game also features collaborations from some notable artists, such as director Massimo Guarini, musician and producer Steven Wilson (now there’s a name I never thought I’d get to drop on TouchArcade), and writer/director/animator Jess Cope.

Neonwall

Here’s an interesting one: you have a physics puzzler that uses the two Joy-Cons’ motion controls, as you try to solve puzzles by manipulating the on-screen pointers to manipulate the colors of rolling balls, which interact with the environment and change the speed of objects, while also shooting away obstacles. This looks like quite the brain and reflex workout, especially with two different pointers to use. While this does support analog controls, I can see the pointer functions of the Joy-Cons making this a lot easier, or at least if you could use one in handheld mode. Early reviews seem rather promising, so take this one into consideration.

Gem Smashers

The Switch sometimes gets ports from earlier Nintendo systems, usually the Wii U or 3DS. But the Game Boy Advance?! While this is a much better looking game than the GBA original, the goal is the same: move around an arena, smashing gems and enemies, changing colors to help solve puzzles and complete the challenges that lie ahead of you I’m always curious when obscure old games get revived like this: does someone just really believe in the concept and try to revive it on modern platforms? This game might just inexplicably outlive us all!

Keep an eye out every weekday for more SwitchArcade Roundups! We want to hear your feedback on Nintendo Switch coverage on TouchArcade. Comment below or tweet us with your thoughts!

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Kirby Star Allies Beginner’s Guide

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Everyone’s favorite pink puffball has made his way to the Nintendo Switch; here’s everything you need to know to get started!

Nintendo has been slowly, but surely, introduced its massive franchise characters to the Nintendo Switch and Kirby is the latest beloved character to make his way over.

Though Kirby Star Allies is brand new to the Kirby franchise, it’s the perfect mix of old and new mechanics — enjoyable for experienced players and those who are new to the rotund, pink protagonist.

If you’re wondering how the game plays or curious about how all the important mechanics work, here’s a rundown of everything you need to get started.

Suck up enemies and absorb their power

Like in most Kirby games, you’ll need to absorb the power of your enemies to get through each level.

You’ll press and hold the B button to suck up enemies, and once they are in your mouth, flick the joystick down to swallow them and assume their power.

There are a multitude of different creatures, enemies, and objects that Kirby can suck up and lots of different powers you can absorb; however, not everything you put in Kirby’s mouth will grant you abilities. Plus, you can also hit the B button without swallowing and launch the enemies back out at other baddies!

Power guides

With a plethora of different powers available in the game, it can be hard to keep track of which each one does; however, Nintendo included a handy guide in the menu.

When Kirby has absorbed an ability, you can head into the game’s menu by hitting the + button. This will give you a quick rundown of the current power Kirby is holding as well as a list of moves you can use!

Make friends

Kirby Star Allies really focuses on the “allies” part of its name, giving you the ability to charm various enemies and creatures into helping you!

Press and hold the X button to hold out a heart, then release the button and throw the heart at the enemy you want on your team. Boom! Now you have a new ally with a power that will help you take on the world.

You can only have a max of three allies, but if you come across an enemy that you want on your team, you can always charm them as usual and choose to kick a member of your squad out.

Not only are allies important to progress in the game, this is also how you can play Kirby Star Allies with up to three other players!

Power combos

Probably one of the coolest parts of Kirby Star Allies is the ability to team up with your allies and perform combos.

If you and one of your allies have compatible powers, you can hold up on the joystick to initiate a power combo. This can be a lasting effect — like putting fire on a sword — or a one-shot ability that does a special attack.

Pro tip: While there isn’t a list of all the combo powers in the game, if you look in the game menu, you’ll get some hint on what types of powers can mix with the one Kirby currently has.

Friend platforms

Throughout the game, you may come across these giant golden platforms, known as friend platforms. They trigger fun and neat special events or abilities that require you have three allies.

Gather your team of buddies on the platform, flick your joystick up, and watch the magic happen. You just might find that the power of friendship can be a powerful thing!

Puzzle pieces

Throughout the game, you’ll come across blue puzzle pieces that you can collect. These puzzle pieces combine to make pictures that are just that — photos you can collect.

Food

In tall grass, inside flowers, or in chests, you may come across food and lots of it. All food — whether it’s a cherry, banana, or a hot dog — will heal you a little bit! If you’re hurting for health, watch out for tasty snacks!

Stars

Another collectible in the game is stars, which are typically yellow, green, or red. These stars allow you to get extra lives pretty easily. Collect a 100 stars and you’ll be rewarded with an extra life!

The yellow stars count as one star, the green stars count as five, and the red count as ten stars.

Any questions?

Let me know in the comments below!

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Apple debuts new iTunes promotional graphics with iOS-style star icon

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Apple in an email to iTunes Affiliate Program members on Tuesday announced the introduction of revamped promotional assets including a new badge, text lockup and iTunes star icon, the latter being a play on the iOS 11 iTunes app.
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What’s on TV: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi,’ ‘Burnout Paradise’

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This week gamers can finally revisit Burnout Paradise on new-gen consoles as the game gets remastered for 4K and released Friday for $ 40. It's also time for an early release of the latest Star Wars movie on video on-demand services, while the men's c…
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