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  • richardmitnick 8:00 pm on July 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Research Snapshot- Astrophysicist outlines ambitious plans for the first gravitational wave observatory on the moon", Astronomy, , , , , ,   

    From Vanderbilt University (US) : “Research Snapshot- Astrophysicist outlines ambitious plans for the first gravitational wave observatory on the moon” 

    Vanderbilt U Bloc

    From Vanderbilt University (US)

    Jul. 21, 2021
    Marissa Shapiro


    Vanderbilt Astrophysicist outlines plans for the first gravitational wave observatory on the moon.

    Vanderbilt astrophysicist Karan Jani has led a series of studies that make the first case for a gravitational wave infrastructure on the surface of the moon. The experiment, dubbed Gravitational-Wave Lunar Observatory for Cosmology [GLOC}, uses the moon’s environment and geocentric orbit to analyze mergers of black holes, neuron stars and dark matter candidates within almost 70 percent of the entire observable volume of the universe, he said.

    “By tapping into the natural conditions on the moon, we showed that one of the most challenging spectrum of gravitational waves can be measured better from the lunar surface, which so far seems impossible from Earth or space,” Jani said.

    1
    Karan Jani (Vanderbilt University.)

    WHY IT MATTERS

    “The moon offers an ideal backdrop for the ultimate gravitational wave observatory, since it lacks an atmosphere and noticeable seismic noise, which we must mitigate at great cost for laser interferometers on Earth,” said Avi Loeb, professor of science at Harvard University (US) and bestselling author of books about black holes, the first stars, the search for extraterrestrial life and the future of the universe. “A lunar observatory would provide unprecedented sensitivity for discovering sources that we do not anticipate and that could inform us of new physics. GLOC could be the jewel in the crown of science on the surface of the moon.”

    This work comes as NASA revives its Artemis program, which aims to send the first woman and the next man to the moon as early as 2024. Ongoing commercial work by aerospace companies, including SpaceX and BlueOrigin, also has added to the momentum behind planning for ambitious scientific infrastructure on the surface of the moon.

    2
    Conceptual design of Gravitational-wave Lunar Observatory for Cosmology [GLOC} on the surface of the moon. Credit: Karan Jani.

    WHAT’S NEXT

    “In the coming years, we hope to develop a pathfinder mission on the moon to test the technologies of GLOC,” Jani said. “Unlike space missions that last only a few years, the great investment benefit of GLOC is it establishes a permanent base on the moon from where we can study the universe for generations, quite literally the entirety of this century.” Currently the observatory is theoretical, with Jani and Loeb receiving a strong endorsement from the international gravitational-wave community.

    “It was a great privilege to collaborate with an innovative young thinker like Karan Jani,” Loeb said. “He may live long enough to witness the project come to fruition.”
    FUNDING

    The work was funded by the Stevenson Chair endowment funds at Vanderbilt University and the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard University, which is funded by grants from the John Templeton Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

    Science paper:
    Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics

    See the full article here .

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    Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt was in his 79th year when he decided to make the gift that founded Vanderbilt University (US) in the spring of 1873.
    The $1 million that he gave to endow and build the university was the commodore’s only major philanthropy. Methodist Bishop Holland N. McTyeire of Nashville, husband of Amelia Townsend who was a cousin of the commodore’s young second wife Frank Crawford, went to New York for medical treatment early in 1873 and spent time recovering in the Vanderbilt mansion. He won the commodore’s admiration and support for the project of building a university in the South that would “contribute to strengthening the ties which should exist between all sections of our common country.”

    McTyeire chose the site for the campus, supervised the construction of buildings and personally planted many of the trees that today make Vanderbilt a national arboretum. At the outset, the university consisted of one Main Building (now Kirkland Hall), an astronomical observatory and houses for professors. Landon C. Garland was Vanderbilt’s first chancellor, serving from 1875 to 1893. He advised McTyeire in selecting the faculty, arranged the curriculum and set the policies of the university.

    For the first 40 years of its existence, Vanderbilt was under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The Vanderbilt Board of Trust severed its ties with the church in June 1914 as a result of a dispute with the bishops over who would appoint university trustees.

    From the outset, Vanderbilt met two definitions of a university: It offered work in the liberal arts and sciences beyond the baccalaureate degree and it embraced several professional schools in addition to its college. James H. Kirkland, the longest serving chancellor in university history (1893-1937), followed Chancellor Garland. He guided Vanderbilt to rebuild after a fire in 1905 that consumed the main building, which was renamed in Kirkland’s honor, and all its contents. He also navigated the university through the separation from the Methodist Church. Notable advances in graduate studies were made under the third chancellor, Oliver Cromwell Carmichael (1937-46). He also created the Joint University Library, brought about by a coalition of Vanderbilt, Peabody College and Scarritt College.

    Remarkable continuity has characterized the government of Vanderbilt. The original charter, issued in 1872, was amended in 1873 to make the legal name of the corporation “The Vanderbilt University.” The charter has not been altered since.

    The university is self-governing under a Board of Trust that, since the beginning, has elected its own members and officers. The university’s general government is vested in the Board of Trust. The immediate government of the university is committed to the chancellor, who is elected by the Board of Trust.

    The original Vanderbilt campus consisted of 75 acres. By 1960, the campus had spread to about 260 acres of land. When George Peabody College for Teachers merged with Vanderbilt in 1979, about 53 acres were added.

    Vanderbilt’s student enrollment tended to double itself each 25 years during the first century of the university’s history: 307 in the fall of 1875; 754 in 1900; 1,377 in 1925; 3,529 in 1950; 7,034 in 1975. In the fall of 1999 the enrollment was 10,127.

    In the planning of Vanderbilt, the assumption seemed to be that it would be an all-male institution. Yet the board never enacted rules prohibiting women. At least one woman attended Vanderbilt classes every year from 1875 on. Most came to classes by courtesy of professors or as special or irregular (non-degree) students. From 1892 to 1901 women at Vanderbilt gained full legal equality except in one respect — access to dorms. In 1894 the faculty and board allowed women to compete for academic prizes. By 1897, four or five women entered with each freshman class. By 1913 the student body contained 78 women, or just more than 20 percent of the academic enrollment.

    National recognition of the university’s status came in 1949 with election of Vanderbilt to membership in the select Association of American Universities (US). In the 1950s Vanderbilt began to outgrow its provincial roots and to measure its achievements by national standards under the leadership of Chancellor Harvie Branscomb. By its 90th anniversary in 1963, Vanderbilt for the first time ranked in the top 20 private universities in the United States.

    Vanderbilt continued to excel in research, and the number of university buildings more than doubled under the leadership of Chancellors Alexander Heard (1963-1982) and Joe B. Wyatt (1982-2000), only the fifth and sixth chancellors in Vanderbilt’s long and distinguished history. Heard added three schools (Blair, the Owen Graduate School of Management and Peabody College) to the seven already existing and constructed three dozen buildings. During Wyatt’s tenure, Vanderbilt acquired or built one-third of the campus buildings and made great strides in diversity, volunteerism and technology.

    The university grew and changed significantly under its seventh chancellor, Gordon Gee, who served from 2000 to 2007. Vanderbilt led the country in the rate of growth for academic research funding, which increased to more than $450 million and became one of the most selective undergraduate institutions in the country.

    On March 1, 2008, Nicholas S. Zeppos was named Vanderbilt’s eighth chancellor after serving as interim chancellor beginning Aug. 1, 2007. Prior to that, he spent 2002-2008 as Vanderbilt’s provost, overseeing undergraduate, graduate and professional education programs as well as development, alumni relations and research efforts in liberal arts and sciences, engineering, music, education, business, law and divinity. He first came to Vanderbilt in 1987 as an assistant professor in the law school. In his first five years, Zeppos led the university through the most challenging economic times since the Great Depression, while continuing to attract the best students and faculty from across the country and around the world. Vanderbilt got through the economic crisis notably less scathed than many of its peers and began and remained committed to its much-praised enhanced financial aid policy for all undergraduates during the same timespan. The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons for first-year students opened in 2008 and College Halls, the next phase in the residential education system at Vanderbilt, is on track to open in the fall of 2014. During Zeppos’ first five years, Vanderbilt has drawn robust support from federal funding agencies, and the Medical Center entered into agreements with regional hospitals and health care systems in middle and east Tennessee that will bring Vanderbilt care to patients across the state.

    Today, Vanderbilt University is a private research university of about 6,500 undergraduates and 5,300 graduate and professional students. The university comprises 10 schools, a public policy center and The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center. Vanderbilt offers undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, music, education and human development as well as a full range of graduate and professional degrees. The university is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s top 20 universities by publications such as U.S. News & World Report, with several programs and disciplines ranking in the top 10.

    Cutting-edge research and liberal arts, combined with strong ties to a distinguished medical center, creates an invigorating atmosphere where students tailor their education to meet their goals and researchers collaborate to solve complex questions affecting our health, culture and society.

    Vanderbilt, an independent, privately supported university, and the separate, non-profit Vanderbilt University Medical Center share a respected name and enjoy close collaboration through education and research. Together, the number of people employed by these two organizations exceeds that of the largest private employer in the Middle Tennessee region.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:14 pm on July 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Planetary shields will buckle under stellar winds from their dying stars", All stars eventually run out of available hydrogen that fuels the nuclear fusion in their cores., Any life identified on planets orbiting white dwarf stars almost certainly evolved after the star’s death., Astronomy, , , , In our solar system the habitable zone of the red giant sun would move from about 150 million km from the Sun-where Earth is currently positioned-up to 6 billion km or beyond Neptune., It is nearly impossible for life to survive cataclysmic stellar evolution unless the planet has an intensely strong magnetic field – or magnetosphere - that can shield it from the worst effects., Once the white dwarf star reaches this stage the danger to surviving planets has passed., , the loss of mass in the red giant star means it has a weaker gravitational pull so the remaining planets move further away., The process of stellar evolution also results in a shift in a star’s habitable zone which is the distance that would allow a planet to be the right temperature to support liquid water., The scientists found that the habitable zone moves outward more quickly than the planet posing additional challenges to any existing life hoping to survive the process., The Sun will then stretch to a diameter of tens of millions of kilometres as a red giant swallowing the inner planets possibly including the Earth., Two known gas giants are close enough to their white dwarf star’s habitable zone to suggest that life on such a planet could exist., ,   

    From University of Warwick (UK) : “Planetary shields will buckle under stellar winds from their dying stars” 

    From University of Warwick (UK)

    21 July 2021

    Peter Thorley
    Media Relations Manager (Warwick Medical School and Department of Physics) | Press & Media Relations | University of Warwick
    Email: peter.thorley@warwick.ac.uk
    Mob: +44 (0) 7824 540863

    1
    An illustration of material being ejected from the Sun (left) interacting with the magnetosphere of the Earth (right). When the Sun evolves to become a red giant star, the Earth may be swallowed by our star’s atmosphere, and with a much more unstable solar wind, even the resilient and protective magnetospheres of the giant outer planets may be stripped away.NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (US) / National Aeronautics Space Agency (US).

    Any life identified on planets orbiting white dwarf stars almost certainly evolved after the star’s death, says a new study led by the University of Warwick that reveals the consequences of the intense and furious stellar winds that will batter a planet as its star is dying.

    The research is published in MNRAS, and lead author Dr Dimitri Veras of the University of Warwick will present it today (21 July) at the online National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2021).

    The research provides new insight for astronomers searching for signs of life around these dead stars by examining the impact that their winds will have on orbiting planets during the star’s transition to the white dwarf stage. The study concludes that it is nearly impossible for life to survive cataclysmic stellar evolution unless the planet has an intensely strong magnetic field – or magnetosphere – that can shield it from the worst effects.

    In the case of Earth, solar wind particles can erode the protective layers of the atmosphere that shield humans from harmful ultraviolet radiation. The terrestrial magnetosphere acts like a shield to divert those particles away through its magnetic field. Not all planets have a magnetosphere, but Earth’s is generated by its iron core, which rotates like a dynamo to create its magnetic field.

    All stars eventually run out of available hydrogen that fuels the nuclear fusion in their cores. In the Sun the core will then contract and heat up, driving an enormous expansion of the outer atmosphere of the star into a ‘red giant’. The Sun will then stretch to a diameter of tens of millions of kilometres, swallowing the inner planets, possibly including the Earth. At the same time the loss of mass in the star means it has a weaker gravitational pull so the remaining planets move further away.

    The Sun will then stretch to a diameter of tens of millions of kilometres, swallowing the inner planets, possibly including the Earth. At the same time the loss of mass in the star means it has a weaker gravitational pull, so the remaining planets move further away.

    During the red giant phase, the solar wind will be far stronger than today, and it will fluctuate dramatically. Veras and Vidotto modelled the winds from 11 different types of stars, with masses ranging from one to seven times the mass of our Sun.

    Their model demonstrated how the density and speed of the stellar wind, combined with an expanding planetary orbit, conspires to alternatively shrink and expand the magnetosphere of a planet over time. For any planet to maintain its magnetosphere throughout all stages of stellar evolution, its magnetic field needs to be at least one hundred times stronger than Jupiter’s current magnetic field.

    The process of stellar evolution also results in a shift in a star’s habitable zone which is the distance that would allow a planet to be the right temperature to support liquid water. In our solar system the habitable zone would move from about 150 million km from the Sun-where Earth is currently positioned-up to 6 billion km or beyond Neptune. Although an orbiting planet would also change position during the giant branch phases, the scientists found that the habitable zone moves outward more quickly than the planet posing additional challenges to any existing life hoping to survive the process.

    Eventually the red giant sheds its entire outer atmosphere, leaving behind the dense hot white dwarf remnant. These do not emit stellar winds, so once the star reaches this stage the danger to surviving planets has passed.

    Dr Dimitri Veras of the University of Warwick Department of Physics said: “This study demonstrates the difficulty of a planet maintaining its protective magnetosphere throughout the entirety of the giant branch phases of stellar evolution.”

    “One conclusion is that life on a planet in the habitable zone around a white dwarf would almost certainly develop during the white dwarf phase unless that life was able to withstand multiple extreme and sudden changes in its environment.”

    “We know that the solar wind in the past eroded the Martian atmosphere, which, unlike Earth, does not have a large-scale magnetosphere. What we were not expecting to find is that the solar wind in the future could be as damaging even to those planets that are protected by a magnetic field”, says Dr Aline Vidotto of Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin(IE), the co-author of the study.

    Future missions like the James Webb Space Telescope due to be launched later this year should reveal more about planets that orbit white dwarf stars, including whether planets within their habitable zones show biomarkers that indicate the presence of life, so the study provides valuable context to any potential discoveries.

    So far no terrestrial planet that could support life around a white dwarf has been found, but two known gas giants are close enough to their star’s habitable zone to suggest that such a planet could exist. These planets likely moved in closer to the white dwarf as a result of interactions with other planets further out.

    Dr Veras adds: “These examples show that giant planets can approach very close to the habitable zone. The habitable zone for a white dwarf is very close to the star because they emit much less light than a Sun-like star. However, white dwarfs are also very steady stars as they have no winds. A planet that’s parked in the white dwarf habitable zone could remain there for billions of years, allowing time for life to develop provided that the conditions are suitable.”

    See the full article here.

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    The establishment of the The University of Warwick (UK) was given approval by the government in 1961 and received its Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1965.

    The idea for a university in Coventry was mooted shortly after the conclusion of the Second World War but it was a bold and imaginative partnership of the City and the County which brought the University into being on a 400-acre site jointly granted by the two authorities. Since then, the University has incorporated the former Coventry College of Education in 1978 and has extended its land holdings by the purchase of adjoining farm land.

    The University initially admitted a small intake of graduate students in 1964 and took its first 450 undergraduates in October 1965. In October 2013, the student population was over 23,000 of which 9,775 are postgraduates. Around a third of the student body comes from overseas and over 120 countries are represented on the campus.

    The University of Warwick is a public research university on the outskirts of Coventry between the West Midlands and Warwickshire, England. The University was founded in 1965 as part of a government initiative to expand higher education. The Warwick Business School was established in 1967, the Warwick Law School in 1968, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) in 1980, and Warwick Medical School in 2000. Warwick incorporated Coventry College of Education in 1979 and Horticulture Research International in 2004.

    Warwick is primarily based on a 290 hectares (720 acres) campus on the outskirts of Coventry, with a satellite campus in Wellesbourne and a central London base at the Shard. It is organised into three faculties — Arts, Science Engineering and Medicine, and Social Sciences — within which there are 32 departments. As of 2019, Warwick has around 26,531 full-time students and 2,492 academic and research staff. It had a consolidated income of £679.9 million in 2019/20, of which £131.7 million was from research grants and contracts. Warwick Arts Centre is a multi-venue arts complex in the university’s main campus and is the largest venue of its kind in the UK, which is not in London.

    Warwick has an average intake of 4,950 undergraduates out of 38,071 applicants (7.7 applicants per place).

    Warwick is a member of Association of Commonwealth Universities (UK), the Association of MBAs, EQUIS, the European University Association (EU), the Midlands Innovation group, the Russell Group (UK), Sutton 13. It is the only European member of the Center for Urban Science and Progress, a collaboration with New York University (US). The university has extensive commercial activities, including the University of Warwick Science Park and Warwick Manufacturing Group.

    Warwick’s alumni and staff include winners of the Nobel Prize, Turing Award, Fields Medal, Richard W. Hamming Medal, Emmy Award, Grammy, and the Padma Vibhushan, and are fellows to the British Academy, the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Royal Society. Alumni also include heads of state, government officials, leaders in intergovernmental organisations, and the current chief economist at the Bank of England. Researchers at Warwick have also made significant contributions such as the development of penicillin, music therapy, Washington Consensus, Second-wave feminism, computing standards, including ISO and ECMA, complexity theory, contract theory, and the International Political Economy as a field of study.

    Twentieth century

    The idea for a university in Warwickshire was first mooted shortly after World War II, although it was not founded for a further two decades. A partnership of the city and county councils ultimately provided the impetus for the university to be established on a 400-acre (1.6 km^2) site jointly granted by the two authorities. There was some discussion between local sponsors from both the city and county over whether it should be named after Coventry or Warwickshire. The name “University of Warwick” was adopted, even though Warwick, the county town, lies some 8 miles (13 km) to its southwest and Coventry’s city centre is only 3.5 miles (5.6 km) northeast of the campus. The establishment of the University of Warwick was given approval by the government in 1961 and it received its Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1965. Since then, the university has incorporated the former Coventry College of Education in 1979 and has extended its land holdings by the continuing purchase of adjoining farm land. The university also benefited from a substantial donation from the family of John ‘Jack’ Martin, a Coventry businessman who had made a fortune from investment in Smirnoff vodka, and which enabled the construction of the Warwick Arts Centre.

    The university initially admitted a small intake of graduate students in 1964 and took its first 450 undergraduates in October 1965. Since its establishment Warwick has expanded its grounds to 721 acres (2.9 km^2), with many modern buildings and academic facilities, lakes, and woodlands. In the 1960s and 1970s, Warwick had a reputation as a politically radical institution.

    Under Vice-Chancellor Lord Butterworth, Warwick was the first UK university to adopt a business approach to higher education, develop close links with the business community and exploit the commercial value of its research. These tendencies were discussed by British historian and then-Warwick lecturer, E. P. Thompson, in his 1970 edited book Warwick University Ltd.

    The Leicester Warwick Medical School, a new medical school based jointly at Warwick and University of Leicester (UK), opened in September 2000.

    On the recommendation of Tony Blair, Bill Clinton chose Warwick as the venue for his last major foreign policy address as US President in December 2000. Sandy Berger, Clinton’s National Security Advisor, explaining the decision in a press briefing on 7 December 2000, said that: “Warwick is one of Britain’s newest and finest research universities, singled out by Prime Minister Blair as a model both of academic excellence and independence from the government.”

    Twenty-first century
    The university was seen as a favoured institution of the Labour government during the New Labour years (1997 to 2010). It was academic partner for a number of flagship Government schemes including the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth and the NHS University (now defunct). Tony Blair described Warwick as “a beacon among British universities for its dynamism, quality and entrepreneurial zeal”. In a 2012 study by Virgin Media Business, Warwick was described as the most “digitally-savvy” UK university.

    In February 2001, IBM donated a new S/390 computer and software worth £2 million to Warwick, to form part of a “Grid” enabling users to remotely share computing power. In April 2004 Warwick merged with the Wellesbourne and Kirton sites of Horticulture Research International. In July 2004 Warwick was the location for an important agreement between the Labour Party and the trade unions on Labour policy and trade union law, which has subsequently become known as the “Warwick Agreement”.

    In June 2006 the new University Hospital Coventry opened, including a 102,000 sq ft (9,500 m^2) university clinical sciences building. Warwick Medical School was granted independent degree-awarding status in 2007, and the School’s partnership with the University of Leicester was dissolved in the same year. In February 2010, Lord Bhattacharyya, director and founder of the WMG unit at Warwick, made a £1 million donation to the university to support science grants and awards.

    In February 2012 Warwick and Melbourne-based Monash University (AU) announced the formation of a strategic partnership, including the creation of 10 joint senior academic posts, new dual master’s and joint doctoral degrees, and co-ordination of research programmes. In March 2012 Warwick and Queen Mary, University of London announced the creation of a strategic partnership, including research collaboration, some joint teaching of English, history and computer science undergraduates, and the creation of eight joint post-doctoral research fellowships.

    In April 2012 it was announced that Warwick would be the only European university participating in the Center for Urban Science and Progress, an applied science research institute to be based in New York consisting of an international consortium of universities and technology companies led by New York University and NYU Tandon School of Engineering (US). In August 2012, Warwick and five other Midlands-based universities — Aston University (UK), the University of Birmingham (UK), the University of Leicester (UK), Loughborough University (UK) and the University of Nottingham — formed the M5 Group, a regional bloc intended to maximise the member institutions’ research income and enable closer collaboration.

    In September 2013 it was announced that a new National Automotive Innovation Centre would be built by WMG at Warwick’s main campus at a cost of £100 million, with £50 million to be contributed by Jaguar Land Rover and £30 million by Tata Motors.

    In July 2014, the government announced that Warwick would be the host for the £1 billion Advanced Propulsion Centre, a joint venture between the Automotive Council and industry. The ten-year programme intends to position the university and the UK as leaders in the field of research into the next generation of automotive technology.

    In September 2015, Warwick celebrated its 50th anniversary (1965–2015) and was designated “University of the Year” by The Times and The Sunday Times.

    Research

    In 2013/14 Warwick had a total research income of £90.1 million, of which £33.9 million was from Research Councils; £25.9 million was from central government, local authorities and public corporations; £12.7 million was from the European Union; £7.9 million was from UK industry and commerce; £5.2 million was from UK charitable bodies; £4.0 million was from overseas sources; and £0.5 million was from other sources.

    In the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework (REF), Warwick was again ranked 7th overall (as 2008) amongst multi-faculty institutions and was the top-ranked university in the Midlands. Some 87% of the University’s academic staff were rated as being in “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” departments with top research ratings of 4* or 3*.

    Warwick is particularly strong in the areas of decision sciences research (economics, finance, management, mathematics and statistics). For instance, researchers of the Warwick Business School have won the highest prize of the prestigious European Case Clearing House (ECCH: the equivalent of the Oscars in terms of management research).

    Warwick has established a number of stand-alone units to manage and extract commercial value from its research activities. The four most prominent examples of these units are University of Warwick Science Park; Warwick HRI; Warwick Ventures (the technology transfer arm of the University); and WMG.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:30 am on July 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stellar explosion could be a failed supernova giving birth to a black hole", Astronomy, , , , , ,   

    From Science Magazine: “Stellar explosion could be a failed supernova giving birth to a black hole” 

    From Science Magazine

    Jul. 20, 2021
    Jonathan O’Callaghan

    1
    The strange “Cow” explosion, the right hand of two bright spots below and to the right of the galactic center, may be an odd variety of supernova.
    R. MARGUTTI/W. M. Keck Observatory, MaunaKea, Hawai’i (US)/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY)

    When a massive star reaches the end of its life, it can explode as a supernova, leaving behind a dense remnant in the form of a neutron star or black hole. We typically can’t see these objects because supernovae tend to occur in distant galaxies, making their remnants hard to spot. But astronomers now say they’ve seen one inside a rare failed stellar explosion.

    The result hasn’t yet been peer reviewed. If the finding is correct, it would be “one of the very first times we’ve seen direct evidence for a star collapsing and forming one of these compact objects,” says Anna Ho, an astrophysicist at the University of California-Berkeley (US), who was not involved in the work.

    In 2018, astronomers spotted a new type of stellar explosion inside a comparatively close galaxy, 200 million light-years away. Dubbed AT2018cow, but informally known as “the Cow,” the event was both much brighter and faster—reaching its peak brightness in just days before dimming 3 weeks later—than a regular supernova, defying explanation. Scientists’ best guess for the cause of the bright blip, known as a fast blue optical transient (FBOT), was that the interior of a star collapsed to become a neutron star or black hole before a true supernova could form. The result was a “central engine”—a rapidly spinning object inside the outer layers of the star. Scientists think powerful jets of matter coming from the neutron star or black hole burst through the outer shells of material, making the object appear extremely bright.

    Now, in a preprint on the server Research Square, scientists report spotting such an object inside the Cow. Using a telescope on the International Space Station called the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer [NICER], the scientists observed x-ray light emitted by the Cow for 60 days following the explosion.

    After precisely timing the arrival of the photons, they calculated that the object producing the light was spinning once every 4.4 milliseconds.

    “This rapid periodicity is hinting that the x-ray source is compact and small,” says Brian Metzger, an astrophysicist at Columbia University (US) and a co-author on the study. Because the rotation stayed constant at 4.4 milliseconds, even after billions of observed spins, a black hole explanation is more likely than a neutron star, he adds, because a neutron star’s rotation speed would be expected to decrease over time.

    Daniel Perley, an astrophysicist at Liverpool John Moores University (UK), calls the finding “very exciting.” If correct, it would rule out other possible explanations for the Cow, including the idea that its light comes from a larger, intermediate-mass black hole devouring a star. “Whatever is producing these x-rays must be extremely compact, on the scale of kilometers, which essentially rules out a large black hole and points strongly in favor of the central engine models,” he says.

    Three events similar to the Cow have been spotted since 2018, most recently “the Camel” in 2020, but none is as close or bright as the Cow, making comparison difficult. Metzger calls the Cow a “Rosetta Stone event” that could be useful in interpreting more of these failed supernovae. “It’s a nearby event that we can hope to understand,” he says. “And if this is telling us this is a black hole, then every time we see an FBOT in the distant universe, we will know that was a black hole that formed.”

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 8:11 am on July 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "SURP Student Spotlight: Nicole Gromek", Astronomy, , , ,   

    From Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) : “SURP Student Spotlight: Nicole Gromek” 

    From Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA)

    At

    University of Toronto (CA)

    1
    Credit: Nicole Gromek.

    Nicole just completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto with a double major in Astronomy and Physics and a minor in Chemistry. Living in Mississauga, she studies the polarization of supernova remnants at radio wavelengths alongside supervisor Dr. Jennifer West.

    What made you decide to participate in SURP?

    SURP is the perfect opportunity for students to dip their toes into what it feels like to do research, while getting first-hand experience in a supportive environment, working alongside world-renowned academics. Combine that with so many fascinating research projects to choose from and learning research skills beyond those which you learn in the classroom, and the choice was clear for me.

    What is your favourite thing about SURP?

    The people within the Astro community at U of T are absolutely delightful. Everyone has been incredibly friendly throughout my time here and their passion shines through in what they do. It’s inspiring to be able to learn from them and you meet so many people you otherwise would have never gotten the chance to. Most of all, Dr. West as my supervisor and mentor has been nothing but wonderful in supporting and encouraging me, as well as answering my many, many questions in an insightful manner.

    Can you tell us about your research project?

    Of course! My research project focuses on one supernova remnant in particular, called the Cygnus Loop. We’re interested in its magnetic field structure, which we measure using Faraday rotation based on the polarized synchrotron radiation that’s being emitted. Synchrotron emission is brighter at lower frequencies so different features will be visible in different wavelength ranges. To make use of this, we study data taken using several telescopes, such as LOFAR, DRAO and Arecibo. Based on the radio polarization data, we’re investigating the exciting hypothesis that the southern breakout region is actually a second supernova remnant. Next, we plan on generating a spectral index to determine whether the relation between brightness and frequency differs significantly between the northern and southern regions, which would further support the double supernova remnant possibility.

    Can you explain how SURP has perhaps been different from your undergrad work?

    Throughout most of my time as an undergraduate, the focus was on learning the theory and doing the rigorous math that followed. However, in my experience here, the math is replaced with code and the best method to solve a problem isn’t always as straightforward. You have much more freedom to work on the project how you see fit. To be honest, this was a strange mentality to adapt to, having been used to the rigidity and deadlines in typical undergraduate courses. You explore the possibilities, you follow a lead and sometimes it doesn’t pan out. But when you do finally make a breakthrough, it feels amazing. Furthermore, the projects that are taking place within SURP aren’t just lab reports that have been done thousands of times before, but rather something that is actively contributing to the scientific community as a whole.

    What are your plans for the future?

    The exposure to research through SURP has inspired me to delve further into my understanding of astronomy. In the next few years, I’d like to explore my research interests and hope to pursue graduate studies in astronomy, doing either data analysis or observational work. If you want to know for certain though, you’ll have to find me again in 10 years.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


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    Dunlap Institute campus

    The Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics (CA) at University of Toronto (CA) is an endowed research institute with nearly 70 faculty, postdocs, students and staff, dedicated to innovative technology, ground-breaking research, world-class training, and public engagement. The research themes of its faculty and Dunlap Fellows span the Universe and include: optical, infrared and radio instrumentation; Dark Energy; large-scale structure; the Cosmic Microwave Background; the interstellar medium; galaxy evolution; cosmic magnetism; and time-domain science.

    The Dunlap Institute (CA), University of Toronto Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics (CA), Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CA), and Centre for Planetary Sciences (CA) comprise the leading centre for astronomical research in Canada, at the leading research university in the country, the University of Toronto (CA).

    The Dunlap Institute (CA) is committed to making its science, training and public outreach activities productive and enjoyable for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, nationality or religion.

    Our work is greatly enhanced through collaborations with the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics (CA), Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CA), David Dunlap Observatory (CA), Ontario Science Centre (CA), Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (CA), the Toronto Public Library (CA), and many other partners.

    NIROSETI team from left to right Rem Stone UCO Lick Observatory Dan Werthimer, University of California-Berkeley (US); Jérôme Maire, U Toronto; Shelley Wright, University of California-San Diego (US); Patrick Dorval, U Toronto; Richard Treffers, Starman Systems. (Image by Laurie Hatch).

    The University of Toronto(CA) is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, located on the grounds that surround Queen’s Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King’s College, the oldest university in the province of Ontario.

    Originally controlled by the Church of England, the university assumed its present name in 1850 upon becoming a secular institution.

    As a collegiate university, it comprises eleven colleges each with substantial autonomy on financial and institutional affairs and significant differences in character and history. The university also operates two satellite campuses located in Scarborough and Mississauga.

    University of Toronto has evolved into Canada’s leading institution of learning, discovery and knowledge creation. We are proud to be one of the world’s top research-intensive universities, driven to invent and innovate.

    Our students have the opportunity to learn from and work with preeminent thought leaders through our multidisciplinary network of teaching and research faculty, alumni and partners.

    The ideas, innovations and actions of more than 560,000 graduates continue to have a positive impact on the world.

    Academically, the University of Toronto is noted for movements and curricula in literary criticism and communication theory, known collectively as the Toronto School.

    The university was the birthplace of insulin and stem cell research, and was the site of the first electron microscope in North America; the identification of the first black hole Cygnus X-1; multi-touch technology, and the development of the theory of NP-completeness.

    The university was one of several universities involved in early research of deep learning. It receives the most annual scientific research funding of any Canadian university and is one of two members of the Association of American Universities (US) outside the United States, the other being McGill(CA).

    The Varsity Blues are the athletic teams that represent the university in intercollegiate league matches, with ties to gridiron football, rowing and ice hockey. The earliest recorded instance of gridiron football occurred at University of Toronto’s University College in November 1861.

    The university’s Hart House is an early example of the North American student centre, simultaneously serving cultural, intellectual, and recreational interests within its large Gothic-revival complex.

    The University of Toronto has educated three Governors General of Canada, four Prime Ministers of Canada, three foreign leaders, and fourteen Justices of the Supreme Court. As of March 2019, ten Nobel laureates, five Turing Award winners, 94 Rhodes Scholars, and one Fields Medalist have been affiliated with the university.

    Early history

    The founding of a colonial college had long been the desire of John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada and founder of York, the colonial capital. As an University of Oxford (UK)-educated military commander who had fought in the American Revolutionary War, Simcoe believed a college was needed to counter the spread of republicanism from the United States. The Upper Canada Executive Committee recommended in 1798 that a college be established in York.

    On March 15, 1827, a royal charter was formally issued by King George IV, proclaiming “from this time one College, with the style and privileges of a University … for the education of youth in the principles of the Christian Religion, and for their instruction in the various branches of Science and Literature … to continue for ever, to be called King’s College.” The granting of the charter was largely the result of intense lobbying by John Strachan, the influential Anglican Bishop of Toronto who took office as the college’s first president. The original three-storey Greek Revival school building was built on the present site of Queen’s Park.

    Under Strachan’s stewardship, King’s College was a religious institution closely aligned with the Church of England and the British colonial elite, known as the Family Compact. Reformist politicians opposed the clergy’s control over colonial institutions and fought to have the college secularized. In 1849, after a lengthy and heated debate, the newly elected responsible government of the Province of Canada voted to rename King’s College as the University of Toronto and severed the school’s ties with the church. Having anticipated this decision, the enraged Strachan had resigned a year earlier to open Trinity College as a private Anglican seminary. University College was created as the nondenominational teaching branch of the University of Toronto. During the American Civil War the threat of Union blockade on British North America prompted the creation of the University Rifle Corps which saw battle in resisting the Fenian raids on the Niagara border in 1866. The Corps was part of the Reserve Militia lead by Professor Henry Croft.

    Established in 1878, the School of Practical Science was the precursor to the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering which has been nicknamed Skule since its earliest days. While the Faculty of Medicine opened in 1843 medical teaching was conducted by proprietary schools from 1853 until 1887 when the faculty absorbed the Toronto School of Medicine. Meanwhile the university continued to set examinations and confer medical degrees. The university opened the Faculty of Law in 1887, followed by the Faculty of Dentistry in 1888 when the Royal College of Dental Surgeons became an affiliate. Women were first admitted to the university in 1884.

    A devastating fire in 1890 gutted the interior of University College and destroyed 33,000 volumes from the library but the university restored the building and replenished its library within two years. Over the next two decades a collegiate system took shape as the university arranged federation with several ecclesiastical colleges including Strachan’s Trinity College in 1904. The university operated the Royal Conservatory of Music from 1896 to 1991 and the Royal Ontario Museum from 1912 to 1968; both still retain close ties with the university as independent institutions. The University of Toronto Press was founded in 1901 as Canada’s first academic publishing house. The Faculty of Forestry founded in 1907 with Bernhard Fernow as dean was Canada’s first university faculty devoted to forest science. In 1910, the Faculty of Education opened its laboratory school, the University of Toronto Schools.

    World wars and post-war years

    The First and Second World Wars curtailed some university activities as undergraduate and graduate men eagerly enlisted. Intercollegiate athletic competitions and the Hart House Debates were suspended although exhibition and interfaculty games were still held. The David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill opened in 1935 followed by the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies in 1949. The university opened satellite campuses in Scarborough in 1964 and in Mississauga in 1967. The university’s former affiliated schools at the Ontario Agricultural College and Glendon Hall became fully independent of the University of Toronto and became part of University of Guelph (CA) in 1964 and York University (CA) in 1965 respectively. Beginning in the 1980s reductions in government funding prompted more rigorous fundraising efforts.

    Since 2000

    In 2000 Kin-Yip Chun was reinstated as a professor of the university after he launched an unsuccessful lawsuit against the university alleging racial discrimination. In 2017 a human rights application was filed against the University by one of its students for allegedly delaying the investigation of sexual assault and being dismissive of their concerns. In 2018 the university cleared one of its professors of allegations of discrimination and antisemitism in an internal investigation after a complaint was filed by one of its students.

    The University of Toronto was the first Canadian university to amass a financial endowment greater than c. $1 billion in 2007. On September 24, 2020 the university announced a $250 million gift to the Faculty of Medicine from businessman and philanthropist James C. Temerty- the largest single philanthropic donation in Canadian history. This broke the previous record for the school set in 2019 when Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman jointly donated $100 million for the creation of a 750,000-square foot innovation and artificial intelligence centre.

    Research

    Since 1926 the University of Toronto has been a member of the Association of American Universities (US) a consortium of the leading North American research universities. The university manages by far the largest annual research budget of any university in Canada with sponsored direct-cost expenditures of $878 million in 2010. In 2018 the University of Toronto was named the top research university in Canada by Research Infosource with a sponsored research income (external sources of funding) of $1,147.584 million in 2017. In the same year the university’s faculty averaged a sponsored research income of $428,200 while graduate students averaged a sponsored research income of $63,700. The federal government was the largest source of funding with grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council amounting to about one-third of the research budget. About eight percent of research funding came from corporations- mostly in the healthcare industry.

    The first practical electron microscope was built by the physics department in 1938. During World War II the university developed the G-suit- a life-saving garment worn by Allied fighter plane pilots later adopted for use by astronauts.Development of the infrared chemiluminescence technique improved analyses of energy behaviours in chemical reactions. In 1963 the asteroid 2104 Toronto was discovered in the David Dunlap Observatory (CA) in Richmond Hill and is named after the university. In 1972 studies on Cygnus X-1 led to the publication of the first observational evidence proving the existence of black holes. Toronto astronomers have also discovered the Uranian moons of Caliban and Sycorax; the dwarf galaxies of Andromeda I, II and III; and the supernova SN 1987A. A pioneer in computing technology the university designed and built UTEC- one of the world’s first operational computers- and later purchased Ferut- the second commercial computer after UNIVAC I. Multi-touch technology was developed at Toronto with applications ranging from handheld devices to collaboration walls. The AeroVelo Atlas which won the Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition in 2013 was developed by the university’s team of students and graduates and was tested in Vaughan.

    The discovery of insulin at the University of Toronto in 1921 is considered among the most significant events in the history of medicine. The stem cell was discovered at the university in 1963 forming the basis for bone marrow transplantation and all subsequent research on adult and embryonic stem cells. This was the first of many findings at Toronto relating to stem cells including the identification of pancreatic and retinal stem cells. The cancer stem cell was first identified in 1997 by Toronto researchers who have since found stem cell associations in leukemia; brain tumors; and colorectal cancer. Medical inventions developed at Toronto include the glycaemic index; the infant cereal Pablum; the use of protective hypothermia in open heart surgery; and the first artificial cardiac pacemaker. The first successful single-lung transplant was performed at Toronto in 1981 followed by the first nerve transplant in 1988; and the first double-lung transplant in 1989. Researchers identified the maturation promoting factor that regulates cell division and discovered the T-cell receptor which triggers responses of the immune system. The university is credited with isolating the genes that cause Fanconi anemia; cystic fibrosis; and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease among numerous other diseases. Between 1914 and 1972 the university operated the Connaught Medical Research Laboratories- now part of the pharmaceutical corporation Sanofi-Aventis. Among the research conducted at the laboratory was the development of gel electrophoresis.

    The University of Toronto is the primary research presence that supports one of the world’s largest concentrations of biotechnology firms. More than 5,000 principal investigators reside within 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the university grounds in Toronto’s Discovery District conducting $1 billion of medical research annually. MaRS Discovery District is a research park that serves commercial enterprises and the university’s technology transfer ventures. In 2008, the university disclosed 159 inventions and had 114 active start-up companies. Its SciNet Consortium operates the most powerful supercomputer in Canada.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:46 pm on July 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Astronomy, , , , ESO "Annual Report 2020",   

    From European Southern Observatory (EU) (CL) : ESO “Annual Report 2020” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory (EU) (CL)

    7.20.21

    1

    The ESO Annual Report 2020 is now available. It presents a summary of ESO’s many activities throughout the year. The contents include:

    The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on ESO, including safety measures and the impact on staff;
    The ramp-down of the observatories into “Safe State” in March and the ramp-up which began in September, enabling science data from Paranal, APEX and La Silla to flow again;
    Work that continued in the laboratories under strict safety measures, providing crucial contributions to projects, as well as progress on design, software, data-related and other projects;
    Further progress made both at ESO and in industry on the Extremely Large Telescope, on the Paranal Instrumentation Programme, and on ALMA development projects;
    How scientific exploitation of ESO data continued to flourish during the year. Among the highlights was the confirmation of the predictions of General Relativity regarding the orbital precession of the star S2 around the supermassive black hole at the centre of our Galaxy. In relation to this, the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for the discovery of this black hole to Reinhard Genzel (who has worked with ESO on the topic for more than 30 years) and Andrea Ghez (with work supported by the W. M. Keck Observatory), as well as to Roger Penrose for theoretical work on black holes;
    The major milestone of the ESO Council’s approval of full funding for the Extremely Large Telescope Construction Programme — which also includes the telescope’s first suite of instruments and the preparation of Paranal to host and operate the telescope — as well as Council’s approval of ESO’s strategy for the next decade;
    How engagement activities with the scientific community and society at large were successfully refocused under pandemic conditions, with well-attended online discussion forums, conferences and debates open to the entire scientific community as well as virtual observatory tours for the public.

    If you are and Astronomy advocate or interested viewer you can read the latest report from this beyond world class science organization. ESO has proven the value of the work done by its assets over and over. Paranal, La Silla, APEX and ALMA have all been re-started and great science is being accomplished.

    The digital resources (images, videos, PDFs, etc.) for this product can be downloaded in the archive.

    See the full article here .


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    Visit ESO (EU) in Social Media-

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    ESO Bloc Icon

    European Southern Observatory (EU) (CL) is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre EEuropean Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO New Technology Telescope at Cerro La Silla , Chile, at an altitude of 2400 metres.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:26 am on July 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Homebound astrophysicists miss mountaintops", Astronomy, , , , , ,   

    From Symmetry: “Homebound astrophysicists miss mountaintops” 

    Symmetry Mag

    From Symmetry

    07/20/21
    Mary Magnuson

    When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, travel bans and stay-at-home orders meant astrophysicists needed to find a new way to conduct their observations.

    1
    Photo by Reidar Hahn, DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (US).

    High in the Chilean Andes, about halfway between the Pacific coast and the border with Argentina, sits the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory.

    At the end of a winding road into the mountains, a group of white and silver domes stand stark against the dusty earth.

    It takes researchers three flights and a shuttle bus ride up the switchbacks to reach the observatory from the DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (US) near Chicago. The trip takes about 24 hours one-way, and many astrophysicists in the Dark Energy Survey collaboration make it several times a year. They’re headed to the Victor M. Blanco 4-meter telescope, home to the Dark Energy Camera.

    _____________________________________________________________________________________
    Dark Energy Survey

    The Dark Energy Survey (DES) is an international, collaborative effort to map hundreds of millions of galaxies, detect thousands of supernovae, and find patterns of cosmic structure that will reveal the nature of the mysterious dark energy that is accelerating the expansion of our Universe. DES began searching the Southern skies on August 31, 2013.

    According to Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, gravity should lead to a slowing of the cosmic expansion. Yet, in 1998, two teams of astronomers studying distant supernovae made the remarkable discovery that the expansion of the universe is speeding up. To explain cosmic acceleration, cosmologists are faced with two possibilities: either 70% of the universe exists in an exotic form, now called dark energy, that exhibits a gravitational force opposite to the attractive gravity of ordinary matter, or General Relativity must be replaced by a new theory of gravity on cosmic scales.

    DES is designed to probe the origin of the accelerating universe and help uncover the nature of dark energy by measuring the 14-billion-year history of cosmic expansion with high precision. More than 400 scientists from over 25 institutions in the United States, Spain, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, and Australia are working on the project. The collaboration built and is using an extremely sensitive 570-Megapixel digital camera, DECam, mounted on the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, high in the Chilean Andes, to carry out the project.

    Over six years (2013-2019), the DES collaboration used 758 nights of observation to carry out a deep, wide-area survey to record information from 300 million galaxies that are billions of light-years from Earth. The survey imaged 5000 square degrees of the southern sky in five optical filters to obtain detailed information about each galaxy. A fraction of the survey time is used to observe smaller patches of sky roughly once a week to discover and study thousands of supernovae and other astrophysical transients.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    At least, that’s what they were doing, before a global pandemic threw a wrench in their travel plans.

    Researchers using the Dark Energy Camera aren’t the only ones who ran into issues over the past year or so. When the pandemic hit, observations stopped short for the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. Both DECam and DESI receive funding from the Department of Energy.

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument


    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Not only was it difficult to travel to the observatory; once there, several people needed to work in the control room together, something they could no longer do, says Fermilab astrophysicist Elizabeth Buckley-Geer.

    After a few months in shutdown, DESI restarted observations. They pared down the in-person team to a single operator—and sometimes a lead observer, who could work in a separate room.

    Astrophysicists who normally made long journeys to the telescope instead scanned the stars from their own homes, using the same web-based software they’d used at the observatory, while connected to a virtual private network.

    DES researchers Sahar Allam and Douglas Tucker, who are married, have observed from home since even before the beginning of the pandemic. The setup in their office is fairly simple. Tucker says he connects a laptop to two other monitors. While they work, their black-and-white cat wanders between the screens.

    Tucker and Allam both say that flipping through lots of tabs becomes a necessity, as they’re used to having double the number of monitors in the control room. During observing shifts, the remote researchers stay in contact with the telescope operator via Zoom call.

    Buckley-Geer says she has a similar setup in her home office.

    “Personally, I think it’s somewhat better to be in the control room seeing the instrument,” she says. “But it works. I mean, we haven’t had any big disasters or problems, and we’re taking very good data.”

    While remote observing isn’t entirely new, it hasn’t been practiced at this scale before, says Antonella Palmese, who works at Fermilab on both DESI and projects using DECam. Many labs house remote observing centers where scientists can connect to observatories remotely. But when the labs went virtual during the pandemic, so did the centers.

    Palmese says she’d observed remotely from Fermilab plenty of times, but doing it from home was different.

    “I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to get data, but I would say it’s definitely not as exciting,” Palmese says. “One of the nice things about being an astronomer is being able to travel to the telescope and learn more about the instrument. It’s just a different experience.”

    Buckley-Geer notes that remote observing has some advantages. Reducing travel cuts carbon emissions, as well as saving time and money.

    Palmese says she’d take the long trip to Chile once a year and stay at the observatory for around a week. But while remote observing, all she has to do is set an alarm and take a few steps into her living room.

    One unforeseen advantage to switching to observing from home, Palmese says, was the ability to take advantage of time zones. International researchers, who might not normally make it out to the telescope at all, could pick up daytime observing shifts.

    There’s no guarantee when in-person observing will resume. Even when it does, Palmese and Buckley-Geer guess that some adjustments will stick around.

    “We designed the whole system to be able to operate remotely [from the beginning] because that’s how we debugged problems and things like that,” Buckley-Geer says. “But we’ve given remote operating much more testing and much more use than we ever, ever envisioned.”

    Still, Palmese says she looks forward to observing in-person again. She says she used to get a lot of her work done while observing in Chile because during downtime, she had her collaborators right there with her.

    Palmese, Allam and Tucker say they miss in-person observing for reasons other than productivity.

    “A lot of the time you’re inside the dome, in a lit room with a lot of terminals,” Tucker says. “But every once in a while, you go outside.

    “And when your eyes adjust to the dark, you see the Milky Way spread over the sky. In Chile, you see the Magellanic Clouds. You can see galaxies which are visible by eye. And on the Andes mountain range, the Pacific Ocean is just about 30 miles away. So if you look outwards over the ocean, you see the sea fog coming in.”

    Allam shares the sentiment. “It’s just beautiful,” she says. “Since we do it for years and years, it’s emotional. If you do it once, even just for your soul, you will fall in love.”

    See the full article here .


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    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.


     
  • richardmitnick 9:35 pm on July 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Mapping The Milky Way-Postdoc Creates First Interactive Tool", A Dunlap Postdoc has created a new way to visualize and interpret the stars in the Milky Way centred around the Sun., Astronomy, , , , Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Josh Speagle used publicly available datasets and statistical methods to map out the distances to and properties of 170 million stars in the Milky Way.,   

    From Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) : “Mapping The Milky Way-Postdoc Creates First Interactive Tool” 

    From Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA)

    At

    University of Toronto (CA)

    7.20.21
    Meaghan MacSween
    Communications and Multimedia Officer
    Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics,
    University of Toronto
    meaghan.macsween@utoronto.ca

    A Dunlap Postdoc has created a new way to visualize and interpret the stars in the Milky Way centred around the Sun.

    With the help of his colleagues, Banting & Dunlap Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Josh Speagle used publicly available datasets and statistical methods to map out the distances to and properties of 170 million stars in the Milky Way. “This is a totally new way to visualize and interpret the properties of hundreds of millions of stars,” Speagle explains.

    2
    A GIF of two possible map locations – note that this image does not fully illustrate the map’s interactive potential.

    3
    A zoomed in portion of the map, including specific points.

    4
    A GIF of two possible map locations – note that this image does not fully illustrate the map’s interactive potential. Click to play.
    Map credit: Josh Speagle; Catherine Zucker, Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian (US) and Space Telescope Science Institute (US); Ana Bonaca, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (US). The map is based on open-source code from Cameron Beccario.

    With the help of his colleagues, Banting & Dunlap Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Josh Speagle used publicly available datasets and statistical methods to map out the distances to, and properties of, 170 million stars in the Milky Way. “This is a totally new way to visualize and interpret the properties of hundreds of millions of stars,” Speagle explains.

    So what happens next? “We’re currently working on scaling up to all of the data, which includes over a billion stars and improving the data visualization interface to facilitate more detailed exploration. That will give us the first all-sky map that anyone can explore.”

    Speagle says that these maps will help to identify new structure and dynamics, such as merging galaxies or spiral arms.

    “These maps will help us piece together how our Milky Way Galaxy looks, how it came to be where it is today, and how it’s evolving over time.”

    22
    A zoomed in portion of the map, including specific points.

    The moving lines in the map trace the bulk motion of many stars. The background colours highlight properties such as speed, density, or chemical composition. As Speagle explains, you can change the viewpoint, projection, and various highlighted properties by clicking/dragging around on the interface. You can gather information such as speed and direction by clicking a particular point.

    With this tool, Speagle says his team hopes to learn more about the past history and present-day structure of our Galaxy.

    3
    Josh Speagle. Credit: Sebastian Gomez.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    Dunlap Institute campus

    The Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics (CA) at University of Toronto (CA) is an endowed research institute with nearly 70 faculty, postdocs, students and staff, dedicated to innovative technology, ground-breaking research, world-class training, and public engagement. The research themes of its faculty and Dunlap Fellows span the Universe and include: optical, infrared and radio instrumentation; Dark Energy; large-scale structure; the Cosmic Microwave Background; the interstellar medium; galaxy evolution; cosmic magnetism; and time-domain science.

    The Dunlap Institute (CA), University of Toronto Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics (CA), Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CA), and Centre for Planetary Sciences (CA) comprise the leading centre for astronomical research in Canada, at the leading research university in the country, the University of Toronto (CA).

    The Dunlap Institute (CA) is committed to making its science, training and public outreach activities productive and enjoyable for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, nationality or religion.

    Our work is greatly enhanced through collaborations with the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics (CA), Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CA), David Dunlap Observatory (CA), Ontario Science Centre (CA), Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (CA), the Toronto Public Library (CA), and many other partners.

    NIROSETI team from left to right Rem Stone UCO Lick Observatory Dan Werthimer, University of California-Berkeley (US); Jérôme Maire, U Toronto; Shelley Wright, University of California-San Diego (US); Patrick Dorval, U Toronto; Richard Treffers, Starman Systems. (Image by Laurie Hatch).

    The University of Toronto(CA) is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, located on the grounds that surround Queen’s Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King’s College, the oldest university in the province of Ontario.

    Originally controlled by the Church of England, the university assumed its present name in 1850 upon becoming a secular institution.

    As a collegiate university, it comprises eleven colleges each with substantial autonomy on financial and institutional affairs and significant differences in character and history. The university also operates two satellite campuses located in Scarborough and Mississauga.

    University of Toronto has evolved into Canada’s leading institution of learning, discovery and knowledge creation. We are proud to be one of the world’s top research-intensive universities, driven to invent and innovate.

    Our students have the opportunity to learn from and work with preeminent thought leaders through our multidisciplinary network of teaching and research faculty, alumni and partners.

    The ideas, innovations and actions of more than 560,000 graduates continue to have a positive impact on the world.

    Academically, the University of Toronto is noted for movements and curricula in literary criticism and communication theory, known collectively as the Toronto School.

    The university was the birthplace of insulin and stem cell research, and was the site of the first electron microscope in North America; the identification of the first black hole Cygnus X-1; multi-touch technology, and the development of the theory of NP-completeness.

    The university was one of several universities involved in early research of deep learning. It receives the most annual scientific research funding of any Canadian university and is one of two members of the Association of American Universities (US) outside the United States, the other being McGill(CA).

    The Varsity Blues are the athletic teams that represent the university in intercollegiate league matches, with ties to gridiron football, rowing and ice hockey. The earliest recorded instance of gridiron football occurred at University of Toronto’s University College in November 1861.

    The university’s Hart House is an early example of the North American student centre, simultaneously serving cultural, intellectual, and recreational interests within its large Gothic-revival complex.

    The University of Toronto has educated three Governors General of Canada, four Prime Ministers of Canada, three foreign leaders, and fourteen Justices of the Supreme Court. As of March 2019, ten Nobel laureates, five Turing Award winners, 94 Rhodes Scholars, and one Fields Medalist have been affiliated with the university.

    Early history

    The founding of a colonial college had long been the desire of John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada and founder of York, the colonial capital. As an University of Oxford (UK)-educated military commander who had fought in the American Revolutionary War, Simcoe believed a college was needed to counter the spread of republicanism from the United States. The Upper Canada Executive Committee recommended in 1798 that a college be established in York.

    On March 15, 1827, a royal charter was formally issued by King George IV, proclaiming “from this time one College, with the style and privileges of a University … for the education of youth in the principles of the Christian Religion, and for their instruction in the various branches of Science and Literature … to continue for ever, to be called King’s College.” The granting of the charter was largely the result of intense lobbying by John Strachan, the influential Anglican Bishop of Toronto who took office as the college’s first president. The original three-storey Greek Revival school building was built on the present site of Queen’s Park.

    Under Strachan’s stewardship, King’s College was a religious institution closely aligned with the Church of England and the British colonial elite, known as the Family Compact. Reformist politicians opposed the clergy’s control over colonial institutions and fought to have the college secularized. In 1849, after a lengthy and heated debate, the newly elected responsible government of the Province of Canada voted to rename King’s College as the University of Toronto and severed the school’s ties with the church. Having anticipated this decision, the enraged Strachan had resigned a year earlier to open Trinity College as a private Anglican seminary. University College was created as the nondenominational teaching branch of the University of Toronto. During the American Civil War the threat of Union blockade on British North America prompted the creation of the University Rifle Corps which saw battle in resisting the Fenian raids on the Niagara border in 1866. The Corps was part of the Reserve Militia lead by Professor Henry Croft.

    Established in 1878, the School of Practical Science was the precursor to the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering which has been nicknamed Skule since its earliest days. While the Faculty of Medicine opened in 1843 medical teaching was conducted by proprietary schools from 1853 until 1887 when the faculty absorbed the Toronto School of Medicine. Meanwhile the university continued to set examinations and confer medical degrees. The university opened the Faculty of Law in 1887, followed by the Faculty of Dentistry in 1888 when the Royal College of Dental Surgeons became an affiliate. Women were first admitted to the university in 1884.

    A devastating fire in 1890 gutted the interior of University College and destroyed 33,000 volumes from the library but the university restored the building and replenished its library within two years. Over the next two decades a collegiate system took shape as the university arranged federation with several ecclesiastical colleges including Strachan’s Trinity College in 1904. The university operated the Royal Conservatory of Music from 1896 to 1991 and the Royal Ontario Museum from 1912 to 1968; both still retain close ties with the university as independent institutions. The University of Toronto Press was founded in 1901 as Canada’s first academic publishing house. The Faculty of Forestry founded in 1907 with Bernhard Fernow as dean was Canada’s first university faculty devoted to forest science. In 1910, the Faculty of Education opened its laboratory school, the University of Toronto Schools.

    World wars and post-war years

    The First and Second World Wars curtailed some university activities as undergraduate and graduate men eagerly enlisted. Intercollegiate athletic competitions and the Hart House Debates were suspended although exhibition and interfaculty games were still held. The David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill opened in 1935 followed by the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies in 1949. The university opened satellite campuses in Scarborough in 1964 and in Mississauga in 1967. The university’s former affiliated schools at the Ontario Agricultural College and Glendon Hall became fully independent of the University of Toronto and became part of University of Guelph (CA) in 1964 and York University (CA) in 1965 respectively. Beginning in the 1980s reductions in government funding prompted more rigorous fundraising efforts.

    Since 2000

    In 2000 Kin-Yip Chun was reinstated as a professor of the university after he launched an unsuccessful lawsuit against the university alleging racial discrimination. In 2017 a human rights application was filed against the University by one of its students for allegedly delaying the investigation of sexual assault and being dismissive of their concerns. In 2018 the university cleared one of its professors of allegations of discrimination and antisemitism in an internal investigation after a complaint was filed by one of its students.

    The University of Toronto was the first Canadian university to amass a financial endowment greater than c. $1 billion in 2007. On September 24, 2020 the university announced a $250 million gift to the Faculty of Medicine from businessman and philanthropist James C. Temerty- the largest single philanthropic donation in Canadian history. This broke the previous record for the school set in 2019 when Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman jointly donated $100 million for the creation of a 750,000-square foot innovation and artificial intelligence centre.

    Research

    Since 1926 the University of Toronto has been a member of the Association of American Universities (US) a consortium of the leading North American research universities. The university manages by far the largest annual research budget of any university in Canada with sponsored direct-cost expenditures of $878 million in 2010. In 2018 the University of Toronto was named the top research university in Canada by Research Infosource with a sponsored research income (external sources of funding) of $1,147.584 million in 2017. In the same year the university’s faculty averaged a sponsored research income of $428,200 while graduate students averaged a sponsored research income of $63,700. The federal government was the largest source of funding with grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council amounting to about one-third of the research budget. About eight percent of research funding came from corporations- mostly in the healthcare industry.

    The first practical electron microscope was built by the physics department in 1938. During World War II the university developed the G-suit- a life-saving garment worn by Allied fighter plane pilots later adopted for use by astronauts.Development of the infrared chemiluminescence technique improved analyses of energy behaviours in chemical reactions. In 1963 the asteroid 2104 Toronto was discovered in the David Dunlap Observatory (CA) in Richmond Hill and is named after the university. In 1972 studies on Cygnus X-1 led to the publication of the first observational evidence proving the existence of black holes. Toronto astronomers have also discovered the Uranian moons of Caliban and Sycorax; the dwarf galaxies of Andromeda I, II and III; and the supernova SN 1987A. A pioneer in computing technology the university designed and built UTEC- one of the world’s first operational computers- and later purchased Ferut- the second commercial computer after UNIVAC I. Multi-touch technology was developed at Toronto with applications ranging from handheld devices to collaboration walls. The AeroVelo Atlas which won the Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition in 2013 was developed by the university’s team of students and graduates and was tested in Vaughan.

    The discovery of insulin at the University of Toronto in 1921 is considered among the most significant events in the history of medicine. The stem cell was discovered at the university in 1963 forming the basis for bone marrow transplantation and all subsequent research on adult and embryonic stem cells. This was the first of many findings at Toronto relating to stem cells including the identification of pancreatic and retinal stem cells. The cancer stem cell was first identified in 1997 by Toronto researchers who have since found stem cell associations in leukemia; brain tumors; and colorectal cancer. Medical inventions developed at Toronto include the glycaemic index; the infant cereal Pablum; the use of protective hypothermia in open heart surgery; and the first artificial cardiac pacemaker. The first successful single-lung transplant was performed at Toronto in 1981 followed by the first nerve transplant in 1988; and the first double-lung transplant in 1989. Researchers identified the maturation promoting factor that regulates cell division and discovered the T-cell receptor which triggers responses of the immune system. The university is credited with isolating the genes that cause Fanconi anemia; cystic fibrosis; and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease among numerous other diseases. Between 1914 and 1972 the university operated the Connaught Medical Research Laboratories- now part of the pharmaceutical corporation Sanofi-Aventis. Among the research conducted at the laboratory was the development of gel electrophoresis.

    The University of Toronto is the primary research presence that supports one of the world’s largest concentrations of biotechnology firms. More than 5,000 principal investigators reside within 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the university grounds in Toronto’s Discovery District conducting $1 billion of medical research annually. MaRS Discovery District is a research park that serves commercial enterprises and the university’s technology transfer ventures. In 2008, the university disclosed 159 inventions and had 114 active start-up companies. Its SciNet Consortium operates the most powerful supercomputer in Canada.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:38 am on July 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers Find Secret Planet-Making Ingredient- Magnetic Fields", Astronomy, , , , , , ,   

    From Nautilus (US) : “Astronomers Find Secret Planet-Making Ingredient- Magnetic Fields” 

    From Nautilus (US)

    7.17.18
    Robin George Andrews

    1
    Supercomputer simulations that include magnetic fields can readily form midsize planets, seen here as red dots. Credit: Hongping Deng et al.

    Scientists have long struggled to understand how common planets form. A new supercomputer simulation shows that the missing ingredient may be magnetism.

    We like to think of ourselves as unique. That conceit may even be true when it comes to our cosmic neighborhood: Despite the fact that planets between the sizes of Earth and Neptune appear to be the most common in the cosmos, no such intermediate-mass planets can be found in the solar system.

    The problem is, our best theories of planet formation—cast as they are from the molds of what we observe in our own backyard—haven’t been sufficient to truly explain how planets form. One study, however, published in Nature Astronomy in February 2021, demonstrates that by taking magnetism into account, astronomers may be able to explain the striking diversity of planets orbiting alien stars.

    It’s too early to tell if magnetism is the key missing ingredient in our planet-formation models, but the new work is nevertheless “a very cool new result,” said Anders Johansen, a planetary scientist at the University of Copenhagen [Københavns Universitet](DK) who was not involved with the work.

    Until recently, gravity has been the star of the show. In the most commonly cited theory for how planets form, known as core accretion, hefty rocks orbiting a young sun violently collide over and over again, attaching to one another and growing larger over time. They eventually create objects with enough gravity to scoop up ever more material—first becoming a small planetesimal, then a larger protoplanet, then perhaps a full-blown planet.

    Yet gravity does not act alone. The star constantly blows out radiation and winds that push material out into space. Rocky materials are harder to expel, so they coalesce nearer the sun into rocky planets. But the radiation blasts more easily vaporized elements and compounds—various ices, hydrogen, helium and other light elements—out into the distant frontiers of the star system, where they form gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn and ice giants like Uranus and Neptune.

    But a key problem with this idea is that for most would-be planetary systems, the winds spoil the party. The dust and gas needed to make a gas giant get blown out faster than a hefty, gassy world can form. Within just a few million years, this matter either tumbles into the host star or gets pushed out by those stellar winds into deep, inaccessible space.

    For some time now, scientists have suspected that magnetism may also play a role. What, specifically, magnetic fields do has remained unclear, partly because of the difficulty in including magnetic fields alongside gravity in the computer models used to investigate planet formation. In astronomy, said Meredith MacGregor, an astronomer at the University of Colorado-Boulder (US), there’s a common refrain: “We don’t bring up magnetic fields, because they’re difficult.”

    And yet magnetic fields are commonplace around planetesimals and protoplanets, coming either from the star itself or from the movement of starlight-washed gas and dust. In general terms, astronomers know that magnetic fields may be able to protect nascent planets from a star’s wind, or perhaps stir up the disk and move planet-making material about. “We’ve known for a long time that magnetic fields can be used as a shield and be used to disrupt things,” said Zoë Leinhardt, a planetary scientist at the University of Bristol (UK) who was not involved with the work. But details have been lacking, and the physics of magnetic fields at this scale are poorly understood.

    “It’s hard enough to model the gravity of these disks in high enough resolution and to understand what’s going on,” said Ravit Helled, a planetary scientist at the University of Zürich[Universität Zürich](CH). Adding magnetic fields is a significantly larger challenge.

    In the new work, Helled, along with her Zurich colleague Lucio Mayer and Hongping Deng of the University of Cambridge (UK), used the PizDaint supercomputer, the fastest in Europe, to run extremely high-resolution simulations that incorporated magnetic fields alongside gravity.

    Magnetism seems to have three key effects. First, magnetic fields shield certain clumps of gas—those that may grow up to be smaller planets—from the destructive influence of stellar radiation. In addition, those magnetic cocoons also slow down the growth of what would have become supermassive planets. The magnetic pressure pushing out into space “stops the infalling of new matter,” said Mayer, “maybe not completely, but it reduces it a lot.”

    The third apparent effect is both destructive and creative. Magnetic fields can stir gas up. In some cases, this influence disintegrates protoplanetary clumps. In others, it pushes gas closer together, which encourages clumping.

    Taken together, these influences seem to result in a larger number of smaller worlds, and fewer giants. And while these simulations only examined the formation of gassy worlds, in reality those prototypical realms can accrete solid material too, perhaps becoming rocky realms instead.

    Altogether, these simulations hint that magnetism may be partly responsible for the abundance of intermediate-mass exoplanets out there, whether they are smaller Neptunes or larger Earths.

    “I like their results; I think it shows promise,” said Leinhardt. But even though the researchers had a supercomputer on their side, the resolution of individual worlds remains fuzzy. At this stage, we can’t be totally sure what is happening with magnetic fields on a protoplanetary scale. “This is more a proof of concept, that they can do this, they can marry the gravity and the magnetic fields to do something very interesting that I haven’t seen before.”

    The researchers don’t claim that magnetism is the arbiter of the fate of all worlds. Instead, magnetism is just another ingredient in the planet-forming potpourri. In some cases, it may be important; in others, not so much. Which fits, once you consider the billions upon billions of individual planets out there in our own galaxy alone. “That’s what makes the field so exciting and lively,” said Helled: There is never, nor will there ever be, a lack of astronomical curiosities to explore and understand.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Welcome to Nautilus (US). We are delighted you joined us. We are here to tell you about science and its endless connections to our lives. Each month we choose a single topic. And each Thursday we publish a new chapter on that topic online. Each issue combines the sciences, culture and philosophy into a single story told by the world’s leading thinkers and writers. We follow the story wherever it leads us. Read our essays, investigative reports, and blogs. Fiction, too. Take in our games, videos, and graphic stories. Stop in for a minute, or an hour. Nautilus lets science spill over its usual borders. We are science, connected.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:47 am on July 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Astronomy, , , , ,   

    From University of Maryland Computer Mathematics and Natural Sciences (US): “First Clear View of a Boiling Cauldron Where Stars are Born” 

    From University of Maryland Computer Mathematics and Natural Sciences (US)

    June 23, 2021 [Just now in social media.]

    Media Relations Contact:
    Kimbra Cutlip
    301-405-9463
    kcutlip@umd.edu

    UMD-led team used NASA’s SOFIA telescope to capture high-resolution details of a star nursery in the Milky Way.

    University of Maryland researchers created the first high-resolution image of an expanding bubble of hot plasma and ionized gas where stars are born. Previous low-resolution images did not clearly show the bubble or reveal how it expanded into the surrounding gas.

    1
    The RCW 49 galactic nebula pictured above is one of the brightest star-forming regions in the Milky Way. By analyzing the movement of carbon atoms in an expanding bubble of gas surrounding the Westerlund 2 star cluster within RCW 49, a UMD-led team of researchers have created the clearest image to date of a stellar-wind driven bubble where stars are born. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltec (US)/E.Churchwell (University of Wisconsin (US)).

    The researchers used data collected by the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) telescope to analyze one of the brightest, most massive star-forming regions in the Milky Way galaxy. Their analysis showed that a single, expanding bubble of warm gas surrounds the Westerlund 2 star cluster and disproved earlier studies suggesting there may be two bubbles surrounding Westerlund 2. The researchers also identified the source of the bubble and the energy driving its expansion. Their results were published in The Astrophysical Journal on June 23, 2021.

    “When massive stars form, they blow off much stronger ejections of protons, electrons and atoms of heavy metal, compared to our sun,” said Maitraiyee Tiwari, a postdoctoral associate in the UMD Department of Astronomy and lead author of the study. “These ejections are called stellar winds, and extreme stellar winds are capable of blowing and shaping bubbles in the surrounding clouds of cold, dense gas. We observed just such a bubble centered around the brightest cluster of stars in this region of the galaxy, and we were able to measure its radius, mass and the speed at which it is expanding.”

    The surfaces of these expanding bubbles are made of a dense gas of ionized carbon, and they form a kind of outer shell around the bubbles. New stars are believed to form within these shells. But like soup in a boiling cauldron, the bubbles enclosing these star clusters overlap and intermingle with clouds of surrounding gas, making it hard to distinguish the surfaces of individual bubbles.

    Tiwari and her colleagues created a clearer picture of the bubble surrounding Westerlund 2 by measuring the radiation emitted from the cluster across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from high-energy X-rays to low-energy radio waves. Previous studies, which only radio and submillimeter wavelength data, had produced low-resolution images and did not show the bubble. Among the most important measurements was a far-infrared wavelength emitted by a specific ion of carbon in the shell.

    “We can use spectroscopy to actually tell how fast this carbon is moving either towards or away from us,” said Ramsey Karim (M.S. ’19, astronomy), a Ph.D. student in astronomy at UMD and a co-author of the study. “This technique uses the Doppler effect, the same effect that causes a train’s horn to change pitch as it passes you. In our case, the color changes slightly depending on the velocity of the carbon ions.”

    By determining whether the carbon ions were moving toward or away from Earth and combining that information with measurements from the rest of the electromagnetic spectrum, Tiwari and Karim were able to create a 3D view of the expanding stellar-wind bubble surrounding Westerlund 2.

    In addition to finding a single, stellar wind-driven bubble around Westerlund 2, they found evidence of new stars forming in the shell region of this bubble. Their analysis also suggests that as the bubble expanded, it broke open on one side, releasing hot plasma and slowing expansion of the shell roughly a million years ago. But then, about 200,000 or 300,000 years ago, another bright star in Westerlund 2 evolved, and its energy re-invigorated the expansion of the Westerlund 2 shell.

    “We saw that the expansion of the bubble surrounding Westerlund 2 was reaccelerated by winds from another very massive star, and that started the process of expansion and star formation all over again,” Tiwari said. “This suggests stars will continue to be born in this shell for a long time, but as this process goes on, the new stars will become less and less massive.”

    Tiwari and her colleagues will now apply their method to other bright star clusters and warm gas bubbles to better understand these star-forming regions of the galaxy. The work is part of a multi-year NASA-supported program called FEEDBACK.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Maryland Campus

    About University of Maryland Computer Mathematics and Natural Sciences (US)

    The thirst for new knowledge is a fundamental and defining characteristic of humankind. It is also at the heart of scientific endeavor and discovery. As we seek to understand our world, across a host of complexly interconnected phenomena and over scales of time and distance that were virtually inaccessible to us a generation ago, our discoveries shape that world. At the forefront of many of these discoveries is the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS).

    CMNS is home to 12 major research institutes and centers and to 10 academic departments: astronomy, atmospheric and oceanic science, biology, cell biology and molecular genetics, chemistry and biochemistry, computer science, entomology, geology, mathematics, and physics.

    Our Faculty

    Our faculty are at the cutting edge over the full range of these disciplines. Our physicists fill in major gaps in our fundamental understanding of matter, participating in the recent Higgs boson discovery, and demonstrating the first-ever teleportation of information between atoms. Our astronomers probe the origin of the universe with one of the world’s premier radio observatories, and have just discovered water on the moon. Our computer scientists are developing the principles for guaranteed security and privacy in information systems.

    Our Research

    Driven by the pursuit of excellence, the University of Maryland has enjoyed a remarkable rise in accomplishment and reputation over the past two decades. By any measure, Maryland is now one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities and on a path to become one of the world’s best. To fulfill this promise, we must capitalize on our momentum, fully exploit our competitive advantages, and pursue ambitious goals with great discipline and entrepreneurial spirit. This promise is within reach. This strategic plan is our working agenda.

    The plan is comprehensive, bold, and action oriented. It sets forth a vision of the University as an institution unmatched in its capacity to attract talent, address the most important issues of our time, and produce the leaders of tomorrow. The plan will guide the investment of our human and material resources as we strengthen our undergraduate and graduate programs and expand research, outreach and partnerships, become a truly international center, and enhance our surrounding community.

    Our success will benefit Maryland in the near and long term, strengthen the State’s competitive capacity in a challenging and changing environment and enrich the economic, social and cultural life of the region. We will be a catalyst for progress, the State’s most valuable asset, and an indispensable contributor to the nation’s well-being. Achieving the goals of Transforming Maryland requires broad-based and sustained support from our extended community. We ask our stakeholders to join with us to make the University an institution of world-class quality with world-wide reach and unparalleled impact as it serves the people and the state of Maryland.

    Our researchers are also at the cusp of the new biology for the 21st century, with bioscience emerging as a key area in almost all CMNS disciplines. Entomologists are learning how climate change affects the behavior of insects, and earth science faculty are coupling physical and biosphere data to predict that change. Geochemists are discovering how our planet evolved to support life, and biologists and entomologists are discovering how evolutionary processes have operated in living organisms. Our biologists have learned how human generated sound affects aquatic organisms, and cell biologists and computer scientists use advanced genomics to study disease and host-pathogen interactions. Our mathematicians are modeling the spread of AIDS, while our astronomers are searching for habitable exoplanets.

    Our Education

    CMNS is also a national resource for educating and training the next generation of leaders. Many of our major programs are ranked among the top 10 of public research universities in the nation. CMNS offers every student a high-quality, innovative and cross-disciplinary educational experience that is also affordable. Strongly committed to making science and mathematics studies available to all, CMNS actively encourages and supports the recruitment and retention of women and minorities.

    Our Students

    Our students have the unique opportunity to work closely with first-class faculty in state-of-the-art labs both on and off campus, conducting real-world, high-impact research on some of the most exciting problems of modern science. 87% of our undergraduates conduct research and/or hold internships while earning their bachelor’s degree. CMNS degrees command respect around the world, and open doors to a wide variety of rewarding career options. Many students continue on to graduate school; others find challenging positions in high-tech industry or federal laboratories, and some join professions such as medicine, teaching, and law.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:03 pm on July 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Exploding stars may have assaulted ancient Earth", 1999 The era of supernova geochemistry had begun [see PRL article link included]., ASM: accelerator mass spectrometer at TUM, Astronomy, , , , Iron-60 forged in the cores of large stars-which has a half-life of 2.6 million years and is not made naturally on Earth., Kilonovae, , , ,   

    From Science Magazine: “Exploding stars may have assaulted ancient Earth” 

    From Science Magazine

    Jul. 15, 2021
    Daniel Clery

    1

    The Crab nebula is the remains of a supernova more than 6000 light-years away—too far to harm Earth.
    National Aeronautics Space Agency (US); European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU); J. Hester and A. Loll/Arizona State University (US).

    For our Australopithecus ancestors who roamed Africa 2.5 million years ago, the bright new star in the sky surely would have aroused curiosity. As luminous as the full Moon, it would have cast shadows at night and been visible during the day. As the supernova faded over the following months, it probably also faded from memory. But it left other traces, now coming to light.

    Over the past 2 decades, researchers have found hundreds of radioactive atoms, trapped in seafloor minerals, that came from an ancient explosion marking the death of a nearby star. Its fusion fuel exhausted, the star had collapsed, generating a shock wave that blasted away its outer layers in an expanding ball of gas and dust so hot that it briefly glowed as bright as a galaxy—and ultimately showered Earth with those telltale atoms.

    Erupting from hundreds of light-years away, the flash of x-rays and gamma rays probably did no harm on Earth.

    But the expanding fireball also accelerated cosmic rays—mostly nuclei of hydrogen and helium—to close to the speed of light. These projectiles arrived stealthily, decades later, ramping up into an invisible fusillade that could have lasted for thousands of years and might have affected the atmosphere—and life.

    In a flurry of studies and speculation, astronomers have sketched out their potential effects. A cosmic ray barrage might have boosted mutation rates by eroding Earth’s protective ozone layer and generating showers of secondary, tissue-penetrating particles. Tearing through the atmosphere, the particles would have also created pathways for lightning, perhaps kindling a spate of wildfires. At the same time, atmospheric reactions triggered by the radiation could have led to a rain of nitrogen compounds, which would have fertilized plants, drawing down carbon dioxide. In that way, the celestial event could have cooled the climate and helped initiate the ice ages 2.5 million years ago, at the start of the Pleistocene epoch. Even taken together, the effects are “not like the dinosaur extinction event—it’s more subtle and local,” says Brian Thomas, an astronomer at Washburn University (US) who has studied the earthly effects of cosmic catastrophes for nearly 2 decades.

    Few astronomers are suggesting that the supernovae caused any great extinction at the time, and even fewer paleontologists are ready to believe them. “Death from space is always really cool,” says Pincelli Hull, a paleontologist at Yale University (US). “The evidence is interesting but has not quite really reached the threshold to incorporate into my mental register.”

    Yet the supernova hunters believe other blasts, more distant in time, went off closer to Earth. And they think these supernovae could explain some extinction events that lack customary triggers such as volcanic outbursts or asteroid impacts. Adrian Melott, an astronomer at the University of Kansas-Lawrence (US), who explores how nearby cosmic cataclysms might affect Earth, says it’s time to more carefully probe Earth’s history for ancient supernova strikes. Not only will that help astrophysicists understand how the blasts shaped the neighborhood of the Solar System and seeded it with heavy elements, but it could also give paleontologists a new way to think about bouts of global change. “This is new and unfamiliar,” Melott says. “It will take time to be accepted.”

    Astronomers believe a few supernovae go off in the Milky Way every century. By the law of averages, a handful must have exploded very close to Earth—within 30 light-years—during its 4.5-billion-year lifetime, with potentially catastrophic effects. Even blasts as far as 300 light-years away should leave traces in the form of specks of dust blown out in the shell of debris known as a supernova remnant. When physicist Luis Alvarez set out in the 1970s with his geologist son Walter Alvarez to study the sediment layers associated with the dinosaurs’ extinction 65 million years ago, they were expecting to find supernova dust. Instead, they found iridium, an element that is rare on Earth’s surface but abundant in asteroids.

    The Alvarezes didn’t have the tools to look for supernova dust, in any case. Because Earth is already largely made of elements forged in supernovae billions of years ago, before the Sun’s birth, most traces of more recent explosions are undetectable. Not all of them, however. In the 1990s, astrophysicists realized supernova dust might also deposit radioactive isotopes with half-lives of millions of years, far too short to have been around since Earth’s birth. Any that are found must come from geologically recent sprinklings. One key tracer is iron-60 forged in the cores of large stars-which has a half-life of 2.6 million years and is not made naturally on Earth.

    In the late 1990s, Gunther Korschinek, an astroparticle physicist at the Technical University of Munich [Technische Universität München] (DE), decided to look for it, partly because the university had a powerful accelerator mass spectrometer (ASM) suited to the task. After ionizing a sample, an ASM boosts the charged particles to high energies and shoots them through a magnetic field. The field bends their path onto a string of detectors; the heaviest atoms are deflected least because of their greater momentum.

    Separating atoms of iron-60 from the similarly hefty but differently charged nickel-60 is especially challenging, but TUM’s ASM, built in 1970, is one of the few in the world powerful enough to tease them apart.

    Korschinek also needed the right sample: a geologic deposit laid down over millions of years in which an iron signal might stand out. Antarctic ice cores wouldn’t work: they only go back a couple of million years or so. Most ocean sediments accumulate so fast that any iron-60 is diluted to undetectable levels. Korschinek ended up using a ferromanganese crust dredged from a North Pacific seamount by the German research ship Valdivia in 1976. These crusts grow on patches of seabed where sediments can’t settle because of a slope or currents. When the pH of the water is just right, metal atoms selectively precipitate out of the water, slowly building up a mineral crust at the rate of a few millimeters every million years.

    Korschinek and his team sliced their sample up into layers of different ages, chemically separated out the iron, and fired the atoms through their mass spectrometer. They found 23 atoms of iron-60 among the thousands of trillions of atoms of normal iron, with the highest abundance from a time less than 3 million years ago, the team reported in Physical Review Letters in 1999. The era of supernova geochemistry had begun. “We were the first ones to start experimental studies,” Korschinek says.

    Others followed. Iron-60 was found in ocean crusts from other parts of the world and even in ocean sediment microfossils, remains of living things that, helpfully for the supernovae hunters, had taken up and concentrated iron in their bodies. Most results pointed to a local supernova between 2 million and 3 million years ago—with hints of a second one a few million years earlier.

    Although the remnants from these blasts have long since swept past Earth, a drizzle of the atoms they blew out continues. In 2019, Korschinek’s team ran iron from a half-ton of fresh Antarctic snow through its ASM and found a handful of iron-60 atoms, which he estimates fell to Earth in the past 20 years. Another team found a smattering of the atoms in cosmic rays detected by NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer at a position partway between the Sun and Earth.

    Researchers have even found iron-60 in lunar soil brought back by the Apollo missions. “The Moon confirmed that it was not just some Earth-based phenomenon,” says astronomer Adrienne Ertel of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (US).

    2
    To detect trace ions, an Australian accelerator fired samples through a magnet.
    Tim Wetherell/Research School of Physics/Australian National University (AU).

    Dieter Breitschwerdt is trying to trace the iron to its source in the sky. When the astronomer at the Technical University of Berlin [Technische Universität Berlin](DE) learned of Korschinek’s results, he was studying the local bubble, a region of space around the Solar System swept clear of most of its gas and dust. Supernovae were the likely brooms, and so he began to track gangs of stars in the Solar System’s neighborhood to see whether any passed close enough to the Sun to deposit iron-60 on Earth when some of their members exploded.

    Using data from Hipparcos, a European star-mapping satellite, Breitschwerdt looked for clumps of stars on common trajectories and rewound the clock to see where they would have been millions of years ago.

    Two clumps, now a part of the Scorpius-Centaurus OB Association (Sco OB2), seemed to be in the perfect spot—300 light-years from Earth—about 2.5 million years ago. “It looked like a miracle,” he says. The odds of a detonation at the right time were good. Core-collapse supernovae take place in massive stars. Based on the ages and masses of the 79 stars remaining in the clumps, Breitschwerdt estimates that a dozen former members exploded as supernovae in the past 13 million years.

    Visible evidence for these supernovae in Sco OB2 is long gone: Supernova remnants dissipate after about 30,000 years, and the black holes or neutron stars they leave behind are challenging to spot. But the arrival direction of the iron dust could, in theory, point back to its source. Samples from the sea floor provide no directional information because wind and ocean currents move the dust as it settles. On the Moon, however, “there is no atmosphere, so where it hits is where it stops,” says UIUC astronomer Brian Fields. Because it spins, the Moon cannot provide longitudinal direction, but if more iron-60 was detected at one of the poles than at the equator, for example, that could support Breitschwerdt’s Sco OB2 as the source. Fields and several colleagues want to test that idea and have applied to NASA for samples of lunar soil, to be collected and returned by any future robotic or human missions.

    Korschinek’s team now has a rival in the hunt for supernova iron: a group led by Anton Wallner, a former postdoc of Korschinek’s, who has used an upgraded ASM at Australian National University (AU) to analyze several ferromanganese crusts dredged off the Pacific Ocean floor by a Japanese mining company. “Now we pushed Munich,” Wallner says.

    This year, in Science Advances[sorry, no link] Wallner’s team probed the timing of the recent supernovae more precisely than ever by slicing a crust sample into 24 1-millimeter-thick layers, each representing 400,000 years. “It’s never been done before with this time resolution,” says Wallner, now at the Helmholtz Center Dresden-Rossendorf [Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf](DE). The 435 iron-60 atoms they extracted pinned the most recent supernova at 2.5 million years ago and confirmed the hints of an earlier one, which they pegged at 6.3 million years ago. Comparing the abundance of iron-60 in the crust with models of how much a supernova produces, the team estimated the distance of these supernovae as between 160 and 320 light-years from Earth.

    Wallner’s team also found 181 atoms of plutonium-244, another radioactive isotope, but one that may have been forged in the supernova blast itself rather than in the precursor star, like iron-60. But its source is hotly debated: Some researchers think plutonium-244 is tough for supernovae to make in any great amounts. Instead, they see it as the product of collisions between neutron stars—cinders left behind by supernovae [Science].

    These collisions, called kilonovae, are 100 times rarer than supernovae, but are much more efficient at making the heaviest elements. “Neutron star mergers have an easy time making plutonium,” says Rebecca Surman, an astrophysicist at the University of Notre Dame. “For supernovae it’s much harder.”

    Surman still sees a role for supernovae. She takes the reported seafloor plutonium-244 as a sign that a kilonova, deep in the past, dusted our interstellar neighborhood with heavy elements. When the two recent supernovae went off, their expanding remnants may have swept up and delivered some of that interstellar plutonium-244 along with their own iron-60, she speculates. Korschinek, however, says it will take more data on the plutonium signal and its timing to convince him that multiple rare events happened so near and so recently.

    Beyond dusting Earth with rare nuclei, what impact might nearby supernovae have had? In 2016, a team led by Melott and Thomas estimated the flux of various forms of light and cosmic rays likely to reach Earth from an explosion 300 light-years away. Writing in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, they concluded that the most energetic, potentially damaging photons—x-rays or gamma rays—would have minimal impact. “There is not a lot of high energy radiation,” Thomas says. They suggested a few weeks of the bright light would have little more impact than disrupting sleep patterns.

    Cosmic rays—the particles accelerated to near light speed by shock waves in the supernova’s expanding fireball—are another story. Because they are charged, they can be deflected away from Earth by galactic magnetic fields. But the local bubble is thought to be mostly devoid of fields, so cosmic rays from just 300 light-years away would have a relatively clean shot.

    The atmosphere would have been subjected to a drawn-out barrage, Melott and Thomas found. “The ramp up is a slow process, decades at least,” Thomas says, reaching a peak about 500 years after the supernova flash and causing a 10-fold increase in ionization of atmospheric gas that would persist for 5000 years. Using an atmospheric chemistry model developed by NASA, they estimated that chemical changes caused by the ionization would deplete ozone by about 7% or more in places and would boost the creation of fertilizing nitrogen oxide compounds by 30%. The resulting surge in plants might be enough to cool the climate and usher in the Pleistocene.

    The cosmic rays weren’t done yet. When high-energy particles hit the upper atmosphere, they create cascades of secondary particles. Most fizzle out in further collisions, but muons—heavy short-lived cousins of electrons—keep going. Creatures on Earth’s surface would receive triple the normal radiation dose—equivalent to one or two CT scans per year. “An enhanced risk [of cancer], but not radiation poisoning,” Thomas says. Overall, the team thought the effects were “not catastrophic” but could be detectable in the fossil record if, for example, certain vulnerable species disappeared while others survived.

    In Astrobiology in 2019, Melott and two colleagues found that if the supernova exploded just 150 light-years away, rather than 300, the muon radiation would have hit marine animals surprisingly hard. Water blocks most particles that rain down from the sky, but muons can penetrate up to 1 kilometer. Marine creatures, normally shielded from nearly all radiation, would experience the largest relative increase in dose and suffer the most. This chimes with an extinction of marine megafauna at the start of the Pleistocene epoch, only recently identified in the fossil record.

    Then, last year, supernova proponents suggested a similar scenario could explain a major extinction event 359 million years ago, at the end of the Devonian period. A team led by John Marshall of the University of Southampton (UK) had found that the spores of fernlike plants from the time suddenly became misshapen and dark, blaming the changes on ultraviolet radiation. The team didn’t invoke an astronomical cause. But writing in the PNAS, astronomers saw the possible signature of a nearby supernova. They suggested a blast maybe just 60 light-years away could have drenched Earth in ultraviolet by depleting the ozone layer. “It’s pretty speculative,” admits co-author John Ellis, a theorist at King’s College London (UK), as it is currently impossible to identify the radioactive fingerprints of a supernova that far back.

    In a 2020 paper in The Journal of Geology, Melott and Thomas took a bigger speculative leap. They noted that by ripping electrons from air molecules, secondary cosmic rays would have created pathways for lightning, making storms more likely, which would not only generate more nitrogen compounds but also spark wildfires. Intriguingly, a layer of soot has been found in the rock record in some parts of the world at the start of the Pleistocene. Melott and Thomas went on to suggest that those supernova-induced forest fires may have pushed early humans out of the trees and onto the savanna, leading to bipedalism, larger brain size, and everything that followed. “It’s fascinating to say that a supernova 2.5 million years ago means we are talking now via Skype,” Korschinek says.

    Such scenarios don’t sit well with paleontologists. “Timing is the trivial answer to everything,” Hull says. “There’s always something happening when things become extinct.” Besides, she says, the transition to the Pleistocene “doesn’t stand out as needing an explanation.” She says other events around that time could have had more impact on the global climate, such as the closing of the isthmus of Panama, which profoundly changed ocean circulation.

    To make their case, she says, astronomers need to pin down the timing of the ancient supernovae more precisely. They “need to measure more crusts.” But hunting for supernova traces is not getting any easier. In 2019 TUM closed its AMS, leaving only ANU with an accelerator powerful enough to separate iron-60.

    In contrast, rarer isotopes such as plutonium-244 could enable researchers to look further back in time, but they require an AMS that emphasizes sensitivity rather than raw power, and Wallner says only a few in the world are up to the job. He has secured funding to build a new AMS facility in Dresden, Germany, specializing in the heaviest elements, that should be open by 2023. To renew the hunt for iron-60, his team has also made a pitch for national funding to build a new high-energy AMS, which could be up and running in 7 years.

    For astronomers, a sudden flash of light in the sky today would be the best chance to see how supernova affects Earth. But the odds are slim that we will see a light show like the one that may have dazzled our distant ancestors. Betelgeuse, a restive red giant likely to blow up sometime in the next 100,000 years, has settled down in recent months, and in any case, it lies more than 500 light-years away. Sco OB2 is now heading away from the Sun. And using data from Hipparcos’s successor, Europe’s Gaia mission, Breitschwerdt has tracked another 10 clumps of stars.

    “None are coming closer,” he says. “The future”—for Earth, not the supernovae—“is bright.”

    See the full article here .


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