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  • richardmitnick 4:32 pm on May 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "In the emptiness of space Voyager 1 detects plasma ‘hum’", , , Basic Research, ,   

    From Cornell Chronicle (US) : “In the emptiness of space Voyager 1 detects plasma ‘hum’” 

    From Cornell Chronicle (US)

    May 10, 2021
    Blaine Friedlander
    bpf2@cornell.edu

    1
    In an artist’s depiction, the Voyager 1 craft continues to cruise through interstellar space. National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/JPL-Caltech/Provided.

    Voyager 1 – one of two sibling NASA spacecraft launched 44 years ago and now the most distant human-made object in space – still works and zooms toward infinity.

    As the craft toils, it has long since zipped past the edge of the solar system through the heliopause – the solar system’s border with interstellar space – into the interstellar medium. Now, its instruments have detected the constant drone of interstellar gas (plasma waves), according to Cornell-led research published May 10 in Nature Astronomy.

    Examining data slowly sent back from more than 14 billion miles away, Stella Koch Ocker, a Cornell doctoral student in astronomy, has uncovered the emission. “It’s very faint and monotone, because it is in a narrow frequency bandwidth,” Ocker said. “We’re detecting the faint, persistent hum of interstellar gas.”

    This work allows scientists to understand how the interstellar medium interacts with the solar wind, Ocker said, and how the protective bubble of the solar system’s heliosphere is shaped and modified by the interstellar environment.

    Launched in September 1977, the Voyager 1 spacecraft flew by Jupiter in 1979 and then Saturn in late 1980. Travelling at about 38,000 mph, Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause in August 2012.

    After entering interstellar space, the spacecraft’s Plasma Wave System detected perturbations in the gas. But, in between those eruptions – caused by our own roiling sun – researchers have uncovered a steady, persistent signature produced by the tenuous near-vacuum of space.

    ”The interstellar medium is like a quiet or gentle rain,” said senior author James Cordes, the George Feldstein Professor of Astronomy (A&S). “In the case of a solar outburst, it’s like detecting a lightning burst in a thunderstorm and then it’s back to a gentle rain.”

    Ocker believes there is more low-level activity in the interstellar gas than scientists had previously thought, which allows researchers to track the spatial distribution of plasma – that is, when it’s not being perturbed by solar flares.

    Cornell research scientist Shami Chatterjee explained how continuous tracking of the density of interstellar space is important. “We’ve never had a chance to evaluate it. Now we know we don’t need a fortuitous event related to the sun to measure interstellar plasma,” Chatterjee said. “Regardless of what the sun is doing, Voyager is sending back detail. The craft is saying, ‘Here’s the density I’m swimming through right now. And here it is now. And here it is now. And here it is now.’ Voyager is quite distant and will be doing this continuously.”

    Voyager 1 left Earth carrying a Golden Record created by a committee chaired by the late Cornell professor Carl Sagan, as well as mid-1970s technology.

    “Scientifically, this research is quite a feat. It’s a testament to the amazing Voyager spacecraft,” Ocker said. “It’s the engineering gift to science that keeps on giving.”

    In addition to Ocker, Cordes and Chatterjee, the paper was co-authored by professor emeritus Donald A. Gurnett, the principal investigator on the plasma wave system (PWS) on both Voyager spacecraft; Steven R. Spangler, professor; and research scientist William S. Kurth, co-investigator on PWS, all from the University of Iowa (US).

    NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the National Science Foundation supported the work. Cordes, Chatterjee and Ockler are members of Cornell’s Carl Sagan Institute.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    Once called “the first American university” by educational historian Frederick Rudolph, Cornell University represents a distinctive mix of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. Adding practical subjects to the classics and admitting qualified students regardless of nationality, race, social circumstance, gender, or religion was quite a departure when Cornell was founded in 1865.

    Today’s Cornell reflects this heritage of egalitarian excellence. It is home to the nation’s first colleges devoted to hotel administration, industrial and labor relations, and veterinary medicine. Both a private university and the land-grant institution of New York State, Cornell University is the most educationally diverse member of the Ivy League.

    On the Ithaca campus alone nearly 20,000 students representing every state and 120 countries choose from among 4,000 courses in 11 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Many undergraduates participate in a wide range of interdisciplinary programs, play meaningful roles in original research, and study in Cornell programs in Washington, New York City, and the world over.

    Cornell University(US) is a private, statutory, Ivy League and land-grant research university in Ithaca, New York. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, the university was intended to teach and make contributions in all fields of knowledge—from the classics to the sciences, and from the theoretical to the applied. These ideals, unconventional for the time, are captured in Cornell’s founding principle, a popular 1868 quotation from founder Ezra Cornell: “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.”

    The university is broadly organized into seven undergraduate colleges and seven graduate divisions at its main Ithaca campus, with each college and division defining its specific admission standards and academic programs in near autonomy. The university also administers two satellite medical campuses, one in New York City and one in Education City, Qatar, and Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute(US) in New York City, a graduate program that incorporates technology, business, and creative thinking. The program moved from Google’s Chelsea Building in New York City to its permanent campus on Roosevelt Island in September 2017.

    Cornell is one of the few private land grant universities in the United States. Of its seven undergraduate colleges, three are state-supported statutory or contract colleges through the State University of New York(US) (SUNY) system, including its Agricultural and Human Ecology colleges as well as its Industrial Labor Relations school. Of Cornell’s graduate schools, only the veterinary college is state-supported. As a land grant college, Cornell operates a cooperative extension outreach program in every county of New York and receives annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions. The Cornell University Ithaca Campus comprises 745 acres, but is much larger when the Cornell Botanic Gardens (more than 4,300 acres) and the numerous university-owned lands in New York City are considered.

    Alumni and affiliates of Cornell have reached many notable and influential positions in politics, media, and science. As of January 2021, 61 Nobel laureates, four Turing Award winners and one Fields Medalist have been affiliated with Cornell. Cornell counts more than 250,000 living alumni, and its former and present faculty and alumni include 34 Marshall Scholars, 33 Rhodes Scholars, 29 Truman Scholars, 7 Gates Scholars, 55 Olympic Medalists, 10 current Fortune 500 CEOs, and 35 billionaire alumni. Since its founding, Cornell has been a co-educational, non-sectarian institution where admission has not been restricted by religion or race. The student body consists of more than 15,000 undergraduate and 9,000 graduate students from all 50 American states and 119 countries.

    History

    Cornell University was founded on April 27, 1865; the New York State (NYS) Senate authorized the university as the state’s land grant institution. Senator Ezra Cornell offered his farm in Ithaca, New York, as a site and $500,000 of his personal fortune as an initial endowment. Fellow senator and educator Andrew Dickson White agreed to be the first president. During the next three years, White oversaw the construction of the first two buildings and traveled to attract students and faculty. The university was inaugurated on October 7, 1868, and 412 men were enrolled the next day.

    Cornell developed as a technologically innovative institution, applying its research to its own campus and to outreach efforts. For example, in 1883 it was one of the first university campuses to use electricity from a water-powered dynamo to light the grounds. Since 1894, Cornell has included colleges that are state funded and fulfill statutory requirements; it has also administered research and extension activities that have been jointly funded by state and federal matching programs.

    Cornell has had active alumni since its earliest classes. It was one of the first universities to include alumni-elected representatives on its Board of Trustees. Cornell was also among the Ivies that had heightened student activism during the 1960s related to cultural issues; civil rights; and opposition to the Vietnam War, with protests and occupations resulting in the resignation of Cornell’s president and the restructuring of university governance. Today the university has more than 4,000 courses. Cornell is also known for the Residential Club Fire of 1967, a fire in the Residential Club building that killed eight students and one professor.

    Since 2000, Cornell has been expanding its international programs. In 2004, the university opened the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. It has partnerships with institutions in India, Singapore, and the People’s Republic of China. Former president Jeffrey S. Lehman described the university, with its high international profile, a “transnational university”. On March 9, 2004, Cornell and Stanford University(US) laid the cornerstone for a new ‘Bridging the Rift Center’ to be built and jointly operated for education on the Israel–Jordan border.

    Research

    Cornell, a research university, is ranked fourth in the world in producing the largest number of graduates who go on to pursue PhDs in engineering or the natural sciences at American institutions, and fifth in the world in producing graduates who pursue PhDs at American institutions in any field. Research is a central element of the university’s mission; in 2009 Cornell spent $671 million on science and engineering research and development, the 16th highest in the United States. Cornell is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”.

    For the 2016–17 fiscal year, the university spent $984.5 million on research. Federal sources constitute the largest source of research funding, with total federal investment of $438.2 million. The agencies contributing the largest share of that investment are the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Science Foundation(US), accounting for 49.6% and 24.4% of all federal investment, respectively. Cornell was on the top-ten list of U.S. universities receiving the most patents in 2003, and was one of the nation’s top five institutions in forming start-up companies. In 2004–05, Cornell received 200 invention disclosures; filed 203 U.S. patent applications; completed 77 commercial license agreements; and distributed royalties of more than $4.1 million to Cornell units and inventors.

    Since 1962, Cornell has been involved in unmanned missions to Mars. In the 21st century, Cornell had a hand in the Mars Exploration Rover Mission. Cornell’s Steve Squyres, Principal Investigator for the Athena Science Payload, led the selection of the landing zones and requested data collection features for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. NASA-JPL/Caltech(US) engineers took those requests and designed the rovers to meet them. The rovers, both of which have operated long past their original life expectancies, are responsible for the discoveries that were awarded 2004 Breakthrough of the Year honors by Science. Control of the Mars rovers has shifted between National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US)’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech and Cornell’s Space Sciences Building.

    Further, Cornell researchers discovered the rings around the planet Uranus, and Cornell built and operated the telescope at Arecibo Observatory located in Arecibo, Puerto Rico(US) until 2011, when they transferred the operations to SRI International, the Universities Space Research Association (US) and the Metropolitan University of Puerto Rico [Universidad Metropolitana de Puerto Rico](US).

    The Automotive Crash Injury Research Project was begun in 1952. It pioneered the use of crash testing, originally using corpses rather than dummies. The project discovered that improved door locks; energy-absorbing steering wheels; padded dashboards; and seat belts could prevent an extraordinary percentage of injuries.

    In the early 1980s, Cornell deployed the first IBM 3090-400VF and coupled two IBM 3090-600E systems to investigate coarse-grained parallel computing. In 1984, the National Science Foundation began work on establishing five new supercomputer centers, including the Cornell Center for Advanced Computing, to provide high-speed computing resources for research within the United States. As an National Science Foundation (US) center, Cornell deployed the first IBM Scalable Parallel supercomputer.

    In the 1990s, Cornell developed scheduling software and deployed the first supercomputer built by Dell. Most recently, Cornell deployed Red Cloud, one of the first cloud computing services designed specifically for research. Today, the center is a partner on the National Science Foundation XSEDE-Extreme Science Eniginnering Discovery Environment supercomputing program, providing coordination for XSEDE architecture and design, systems reliability testing, and online training using the Cornell Virtual Workshop learning platform.

    Cornell scientists have researched the fundamental particles of nature for more than 70 years. Cornell physicists, such as Hans Bethe, contributed not only to the foundations of nuclear physics but also participated in the Manhattan Project. In the 1930s, Cornell built the second cyclotron in the United States. In the 1950s, Cornell physicists became the first to study synchrotron radiation.

    During the 1990s, the Cornell Electron Storage Ring, located beneath Alumni Field, was the world’s highest-luminosity electron-positron collider. After building the synchrotron at Cornell, Robert R. Wilson took a leave of absence to become the founding director of DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory(US), which involved designing and building the largest accelerator in the United States.

    Cornell’s accelerator and high-energy physics groups are involved in the design of the proposed ILC-International Linear Collider(JP) and plan to participate in its construction and operation. The International Linear Collider(JP), to be completed in the late 2010s, will complement the CERN Large Hadron Collider(CH) and shed light on questions such as the identity of dark matter and the existence of extra dimensions.

    As part of its research work, Cornell has established several research collaborations with universities around the globe. For example, a partnership with the University of Sussex(UK) (including the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex) allows research and teaching collaboration between the two institutions.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:05 pm on May 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "How planets form controls elements essential for life", Basic Research, ,   

    From Rice University (US) : “How planets form controls elements essential for life” 

    From Rice University (US)

    May 10, 2021
    Mike Williams

    Rice scientists attribute Earth’s nitrogen to rapid growth of moon- to Mars-sized bodies.

    The prospects for life on a given planet depend not only on where it forms but also how, according to Rice University scientists.

    Planets like Earth that orbit within a solar system’s Goldilocks zone, with conditions supporting liquid water and a rich atmosphere, are more likely to harbor life. As it turns out, how that planet came together also determines whether it captured and retained certain volatile elements and compounds, including nitrogen, carbon and water, that give rise to life.

    In a study published in Nature Geoscience, Rice graduate student and lead author Damanveer Grewal and Professor Rajdeep Dasgupta show the competition between the time it takes for material to accrete into a protoplanet and the time the protoplanet takes to separate into its distinct layers — a metallic core, a shell of silicate mantle and an atmospheric envelope in a process called planetary differentiation — is critical in determining what volatile elements the rocky planet retains.

    1
    Nitrogen-bearing, Earth-like planets can be formed if their feedstock material grows quickly to around moon- and Mars-sized planetary embryos before separating into core-mantle-crust-atmosphere, according to Rice University scientists. If metal-silicate differentiation is faster than the growth of planetary embryo-sized bodies, then solid reservoirs fail to retain much nitrogen and planets growing from such feedstock become extremely nitrogen-poor. Illustration by Amrita P. Vyas.

    Using nitrogen as proxy for volatiles, the researchers showed most of the nitrogen escapes into the atmosphere of protoplanets during differentiation. This nitrogen is subsequently lost to space as the protoplanet either cools down or collides with other protoplanets or cosmic bodies during the next stage of its growth.

    This process depletes nitrogen in the atmosphere and mantle of rocky planets, but if the metallic core retains enough, it could still be a significant source of nitrogen during the formation of Earth-like planets.

    Dasgupta’s high-pressure lab at Rice captured protoplanetary differentiation in action to show the affinity of nitrogen toward metallic cores.

    “We simulated high pressure-temperature conditions by subjecting a mixture of nitrogen-bearing metal and silicate powders to nearly 30,000 times the atmospheric pressure and heating them beyond their melting points,” Grewal said. “Small metallic blobs embedded in the silicate glasses of the recovered samples were the respective analogs of protoplanetary cores and mantles.”

    Using this experimental data, the researchers modeled the thermodynamic relationships to show how nitrogen distributes between the atmosphere, molten silicate and core.

    “We realized that fractionation of nitrogen between all these reservoirs is very sensitive to the size of the body,” Grewal said. “Using this idea, we could calculate how nitrogen would have separated between different reservoirs of protoplanetary bodies through time to finally build a habitable planet like Earth.”

    Their theory suggests that feedstock materials for Earth grew quickly to around moon- and Mars-sized planetary embryos before they completed the process of differentiating into the familiar metal-silicate-gas vapor arrangement.

    In general, they estimate the embryos formed within 1-2 million years of the beginning of the solar system, far sooner than the time it took for them to completely differentiate. If the rate of differentiation was faster than the rate of accretion for these embryos, the rocky planets forming from them could not have accreted enough nitrogen, and likely other volatiles, critical to developing conditions that support life.

    “Our calculations show that forming an Earth-size planet via planetary embryos that grew extremely quickly before undergoing metal-silicate differentiation sets a unique pathway to satisfy Earth’s nitrogen budget,” said Dasgupta, the principal investigator of CLEVER Planets, a National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)-funded collaborative project exploring how life-essential elements might have come together on rocky planets in our solar system or on distant, rocky exoplanets.

    “This work shows there’s much greater affinity of nitrogen toward core-forming metallic liquid than previously thought,” he said.

    The study follows earlier works, one showing how the impact by a moon-forming body could have given Earth much of its volatile content, and another suggesting that the planet gained more of its nitrogen from local sources in the solar system than once believed.

    In the latter study, Grewal said, “We showed that protoplanets growing in both inner and outer regions of the solar system accreted nitrogen, and Earth sourced its nitrogen by accreting protoplanets from both of these regions. However, it was unknown as to how the nitrogen budget of Earth was established.”

    “We are making a big claim that will go beyond just the topic of the origin of volatile elements and nitrogen, and will impact a cross-section of the scientific community interested in planet formation and growth,” Dasgupta said.

    Rice undergraduate intern Taylor Hough and research intern Alexandra Farnell, then a student at St. John’s School in Houston and now an undergraduate at Dartmouth College (US), are co-authors of the study.

    NASA grants, including one via the FINESST program, and a Lodieska Stockbridge Vaughn Fellowship at Rice supported the research.

    See the full article here .


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


    Stem Education Coalition

    Rice University [formally William Marsh Rice University] is a private research university in Houston, Texas. It is situated on a 300-acre campus near the Houston Museum District and is adjacent to the Texas Medical Center.

    Opened in 1912 after the murder of its namesake William Marsh Rice, Rice is a research university with an undergraduate focus. Its emphasis on education is demonstrated by a small student body and 6:1 student-faculty ratio. The university has a very high level of research activity. Rice is noted for its applied science programs in the fields of artificial heart research, structural chemical analysis, signal processing, space science, and nanotechnology. Rice has been a member of the Association of American Universities (US) since 1985 and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”.

    The university is organized into eleven residential colleges and eight schools of academic study, including the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, the George R. Brown School of Engineering, the School of Social Sciences, School of Architecture, Shepherd School of Music and the School of Humanities. Rice’s undergraduate program offers more than fifty majors and two dozen minors, and allows a high level of flexibility in pursuing multiple degree programs. Additional graduate programs are offered through the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business and the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. Rice students are bound by the strict Honor Code, which is enforced by a student-run Honor Council.

    Rice competes in 14 NCAA Division I varsity sports and is a part of Conference USA, often competing with its cross-town rival the University of Houston. Intramural and club sports are offered in a wide variety of activities such as jiu jitsu, water polo, and crew.

    The university’s alumni include more than two dozen Marshall Scholars and a dozen Rhodes Scholars. Given the university’s close links to National Aeronautics Space Agency (US), it has produced a significant number of astronauts and space scientists. In business, Rice graduates include CEOs and founders of Fortune 500 companies; in politics, alumni include congressmen, cabinet secretaries, judges, and mayors. Two alumni have won the Nobel Prize.

    Background

    Rice University’s history began with the demise of Massachusetts businessman William Marsh Rice, who had made his fortune in real estate, railroad development and cotton trading in the state of Texas. In 1891, Rice decided to charter a free-tuition educational institute in Houston, bearing his name, to be created upon his death, earmarking most of his estate towards funding the project. Rice’s will specified the institution was to be “a competitive institution of the highest grade” and that only white students would be permitted to attend. On the morning of September 23, 1900, Rice, age 84, was found dead by his valet, Charles F. Jones, and was presumed to have died in his sleep. Shortly thereafter, a large check made out to Rice’s New York City lawyer, signed by the late Rice, aroused the suspicion of a bank teller, due to the misspelling of the recipient’s name. The lawyer, Albert T. Patrick, then announced that Rice had changed his will to leave the bulk of his fortune to Patrick, rather than to the creation of Rice’s educational institute. A subsequent investigation led by the District Attorney of New York resulted in the arrests of Patrick and of Rice’s butler and valet Charles F. Jones, who had been persuaded to administer chloroform to Rice while he slept. Rice’s friend and personal lawyer in Houston, Captain James A. Baker, aided in the discovery of what turned out to be a fake will with a forged signature. Jones was not prosecuted since he cooperated with the district attorney, and testified against Patrick. Patrick was found guilty of conspiring to steal Rice’s fortune and he was convicted of murder in 1901 (he was pardoned in 1912 due to conflicting medical testimony). Baker helped Rice’s estate direct the fortune, worth $4.6 million in 1904 ($131 million today), towards the founding of what was to be called the Rice Institute, later to become Rice University. The board took control of the assets on April 29 of that year.

    In 1907, the Board of Trustees selected the head of the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy at Princeton University, Edgar Odell Lovett, to head the Institute, which was still in the planning stages. He came recommended by Princeton’s president, Woodrow Wilson. In 1908, Lovett accepted the challenge, and was formally inaugurated as the Institute’s first president on October 12, 1912. Lovett undertook extensive research before formalizing plans for the new Institute, including visits to 78 institutions of higher learning across the world on a long tour between 1908 and 1909. Lovett was impressed by such things as the aesthetic beauty of the uniformity of the architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, a theme which was adopted by the Institute, as well as the residential college system at Cambridge University in England, which was added to the Institute several decades later. Lovett called for the establishment of a university “of the highest grade,” “an institution of liberal and technical learning” devoted “quite as much to investigation as to instruction.” [We must] “keep the standards up and the numbers down,” declared Lovett. “The most distinguished teachers must take their part in undergraduate teaching, and their spirit should dominate it all.”

    Establishment and growth

    In 1911, the cornerstone was laid for the Institute’s first building, the Administration Building, now known as Lovett Hall in honor of the founding president. On September 23, 1912, the 12th anniversary of William Marsh Rice’s murder, the William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Letters, Science, and Art began course work with 59 enrolled students, who were known as the “59 immortals,” and about a dozen faculty. After 18 additional students joined later, Rice’s initial class numbered 77, 48 male and 29 female. Unusual for the time, Rice accepted coeducational admissions from its beginning, but on-campus housing would not become co-ed until 1957.

    Three weeks after opening, a spectacular international academic festival was held, bringing Rice to the attention of the entire academic world.

    Per William Marsh Rice’s will and Rice Institute’s initial charter, the students paid no tuition. Classes were difficult, however, and about half of Rice’s students had failed after the first 1912 term. At its first commencement ceremony, held on June 12, 1916, Rice awarded 35 bachelor’s degrees and one master’s degree. That year, the student body also voted to adopt the Honor System, which still exists today. Rice’s first doctorate was conferred in 1918 on mathematician Hubert Evelyn Bray.

    The Founder’s Memorial Statue, a bronze statue of a seated William Marsh Rice, holding the original plans for the campus, was dedicated in 1930, and installed in the central academic quad, facing Lovett Hall. The statue was crafted by John Angel. In 2020, Rice students petitioned the university to take down the statue due to the founder’s history as slave owner.

    During World War II, Rice Institute was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program, which offered students a path to a Navy commission.

    The residential college system proposed by President Lovett was adopted in 1958, with the East Hall residence becoming Baker College, South Hall residence becoming Will Rice College, West Hall becoming Hanszen College, and the temporary Wiess Hall becoming Wiess College.

    In 1959, the Rice Institute Computer went online. 1960 saw Rice Institute formally renamed William Marsh Rice University. Rice acted as a temporary intermediary in the transfer of land between Humble Oil and Refining Company and NASA, for the creation of NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (now called Johnson Space Center) in 1962. President John F. Kennedy then made a speech at Rice Stadium reiterating that the United States intended to reach the moon before the end of the decade of the 1960s, and “to become the world’s leading space-faring nation”. The relationship of NASA with Rice University and the city of Houston has remained strong to the present day.

    The original charter of Rice Institute dictated that the university admit and educate, tuition-free, “the white inhabitants of Houston, and the state of Texas”. In 1963, the governing board of Rice University filed a lawsuit to allow the university to modify its charter to admit students of all races and to charge tuition. Ph.D. student Raymond Johnson became the first black Rice student when he was admitted that year. In 1964, Rice officially amended the university charter to desegregate its graduate and undergraduate divisions. The Trustees of Rice University prevailed in a lawsuit to void the racial language in the trust in 1966. Rice began charging tuition for the first time in 1965. In the same year, Rice launched a $33 million ($268 million) development campaign. $43 million ($283 million) was raised by its conclusion in 1970. In 1974, two new schools were founded at Rice, the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management and the Shepherd School of Music. The Brown Foundation Challenge, a fund-raising program designed to encourage annual gifts, was launched in 1976 and ended in 1996 having raised $185 million. The Rice School of Social Sciences was founded in 1979.

    On-campus housing was exclusively for men for the first forty years, until 1957. Jones College was the first women’s residence on the Rice campus, followed by Brown College. According to legend, the women’s colleges were purposefully situated at the opposite end of campus from the existing men’s colleges as a way of preserving campus propriety, which was greatly valued by Edgar Odell Lovett, who did not even allow benches to be installed on campus, fearing that they “might lead to co-fraternization of the sexes”. The path linking the north colleges to the center of campus was given the tongue-in-cheek name of “Virgin’s Walk”. Individual colleges became coeducational between 1973 and 1987, with the single-sex floors of colleges that had them becoming co-ed by 2006. By then, several new residential colleges had been built on campus to handle the university’s growth, including Lovett College, Sid Richardson College, and Martel College.

    Late twentieth and early twenty-first century

    The Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations was held at Rice in 1990. Three years later, in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy was created. In 1997, the Edythe Bates Old Grand Organ and Recital Hall and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, renamed in 2005 for the late Nobel Prize winner and Rice professor Richard E. Smalley, were dedicated at Rice. In 1999, the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology was created. The Rice Owls baseball team was ranked #1 in the nation for the first time in that year (1999), holding the top spot for eight weeks.

    In 2003, the Owls won their first national championship in baseball, which was the first for the university in any team sport, beating Southwest Missouri State in the opening game and then the University of Texas and Stanford University twice each en route to the title. In 2008, President David Leebron issued a ten-point plan titled “Vision for the Second Century” outlining plans to increase research funding, strengthen existing programs, and increase collaboration. The plan has brought about another wave of campus constructions, including the erection the newly renamed BioScience Research Collaborative building (intended to foster collaboration with the adjacent Texas Medical Center), a new recreational center and the renovated Autry Court basketball stadium, and the addition of two new residential colleges, Duncan College and McMurtry College.

    Beginning in late 2008, the university considered a merger with Baylor College of Medicine, though the merger was ultimately rejected in 2010. Rice undergraduates are currently guaranteed admission to Baylor College of Medicine upon graduation as part of the Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars program. According to History Professor John Boles’ recent book University Builder: Edgar Odell Lovett and the Founding of the Rice Institute, the first president’s original vision for the university included hopes for future medical and law schools.

    In 2018, the university added an online MBA program, MBA@Rice.

    In June 2019, the university’s president announced plans for a task force on Rice’s “past in relation to slave history and racial injustice”, stating that “Rice has some historical connections to that terrible part of American history and the segregation and racial disparities that resulted directly from it”.

    Campus

    Rice’s campus is a heavily wooded 285-acre (115-hectare) tract of land in the museum district of Houston, located close to the city of West University Place.

    Five streets demarcate the campus: Greenbriar Street, Rice Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Main Street, and University Boulevard. For most of its history, all of Rice’s buildings have been contained within this “outer loop”. In recent years, new facilities have been built close to campus, but the bulk of administrative, academic, and residential buildings are still located within the original pentagonal plot of land. The new Collaborative Research Center, all graduate student housing, the Greenbriar building, and the Wiess President’s House are located off-campus.

    Rice prides itself on the amount of green space available on campus; there are only about 50 buildings spread between the main entrance at its easternmost corner, and the parking lots and Rice Stadium at the West end. The Lynn R. Lowrey Arboretum, consisting of more than 4000 trees and shrubs (giving birth to the legend that Rice has a tree for every student), is spread throughout the campus.

    The university’s first president, Edgar Odell Lovett, intended for the campus to have a uniform architecture style to improve its aesthetic appeal. To that end, nearly every building on campus is noticeably Byzantine in style, with sand and pink-colored bricks, large archways and columns being a common theme among many campus buildings. Noteworthy exceptions include the glass-walled Brochstein Pavilion, Lovett College with its Brutalist-style concrete gratings, Moody Center for the Arts with its contemporary design, and the eclectic-Mediterranean Duncan Hall. In September 2011, Travel+Leisure listed Rice’s campus as one of the most beautiful in the United States.

    Lovett Hall, named for Rice’s first president, is the university’s most iconic campus building. Through its Sallyport arch, new students symbolically enter the university during matriculation and depart as graduates at commencement. Duncan Hall, Rice’s computational engineering building, was designed to encourage collaboration between the four different departments situated there. The building’s foyer, drawn from many world cultures, was designed by the architect to symbolically express this collaborative purpose.

    The campus is organized in a number of quadrangles. The Academic Quad, anchored by a statue of founder William Marsh Rice, includes Ralph Adams Cram’s masterpiece, the asymmetrical Lovett Hall, the original administrative building; Fondren Library; Herzstein Hall; the original physics building and home to the largest amphitheater on campus; Sewall Hall for the social sciences and arts; Rayzor Hall for the languages; and Anderson Hall of the Architecture department. The Humanities Building winner of several architectural awards is immediately adjacent to the main quad. Further west lies a quad surrounded by McNair Hall of the Jones Business School; the Baker Institute; and Alice Pratt Brown Hall of the Shepherd School of Music. These two quads are surrounded by the university’s main access road, a one-way loop referred to as the “inner loop”. In the Engineering Quad, a trinity of sculptures by Michael Heizer, collectively entitled 45 Degrees; 90 Degrees; 180 Degrees are flanked by Abercrombie Laboratory; the Cox Building; and the Mechanical Laboratory housing the Electrical; Mechanical; and Earth Science/Civil Engineering departments respectively. Duncan Hall is the latest addition to this quad providing new offices for the Computer Science; Computational and Applied Math; Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Statistics departments.

    Roughly three-quarters of Rice’s undergraduate population lives on campus. Housing is divided among eleven residential colleges which form an integral part of student life at the university The colleges are named for university historical figures and benefactors.While there is wide variation in their appearance; facilities; and dates of founding are an important source of identity for Rice students functioning as dining halls; residence halls; sports teams among other roles. Rice does not have or endorse a Greek system with the residential college system taking its place. Five colleges: McMurtry; Duncan; Martel; Jones; and Brown are located on the north side of campus across from the “South Colleges”; Baker; Will Rice; Lovett, Hanszen; Sid Richardson; and Wiess on the other side of the Academic Quadrangle. Of the eleven colleges Baker is the oldest originally built in 1912 and the twin Duncan and McMurtry colleges are the newest and opened for the first time for the 2009–10 school year. Will Rice; Baker; and Lovett colleges are undergoing renovation to expand their dining facilities as well as the number of rooms available for students.

    The on-campus football facility-Rice Stadium opened in 1950 with a capacity of 70000 seats. After improvements in 2006 the stadium is currently configured to seat 47,000 for football but can readily be reconfigured to its original capacity of 70000, more than the total number of Rice alumni living and deceased. The stadium was the site of Super Bowl VIII and a speech by John F. Kennedy on September 12 1962 in which he challenged the nation to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. The recently renovated Tudor Fieldhouse formerly known as Autry Court is home to the basketball and volleyball teams. Other stadia include the Rice Track/Soccer Stadium and the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium. A new Rec Center now houses the intramural sports offices and provide an outdoor pool and training and exercise facilities for all Rice students while athletics training will solely be held at Tudor Fieldhouse and the Rice Football Stadium.

    The university and Houston Independent School District jointly established The Rice School-a kindergarten through 8th grade public magnet school in Houston. The school opened in August 1994. Through Cy-Fair ISD Rice University offers a credit course based summer school for grades 8 through 12. They also have skills based classes during the summer in the Rice Summer School.

    Innovation District

    In early 2019 Rice announced the site where the abandoned Sears building in Midtown Houston stood along with its surrounding area would be transformed into the “The Ion” the hub of the 16-acre South Main Innovation District. President of Rice David Leebron stated “We chose the name Ion because it’s from the Greek ienai, which means ‘go’. We see it as embodying the ever-forward motion of discovery, the spark at the center of a truly original idea.”

    Students of Rice and other Houston-area colleges and universities making up the Student Coalition for a Just and Equitable Innovation Corridor are advocating for a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA)-a contractual agreement between a developer and a community coalition. Residents of neighboring Third Ward and other members of the Houston Coalition for Equitable Development Without Displacement (HCEDD) have faced consistent opposition from the City of Houston and Rice Management Company to a CBA as traditionally defined in favor of an agreement between the latter two entities without a community coalition signatory.

    Organization

    Rice University is chartered as a non-profit organization and is governed by a privately appointed board of trustees. The board consists of a maximum of 25 voting members who serve four-year terms. The trustees serve without compensation and a simple majority of trustees must reside in Texas including at least four within the greater Houston area. The board of trustees delegates its power by appointing a president to serve as the chief executive of the university. David W. Leebron was appointed president in 2004 and succeeded Malcolm Gillis who served since 1993. The provost six vice presidents and other university officials report to the president. The president is advised by a University Council composed of the provost, eight members of the Faculty Council, two staff members, one graduate student, and two undergraduate students. The president presides over a Faculty Council which has the authority to alter curricular requirements, establish new degree programs, and approve candidates for degrees.

    The university’s academics are organized into several schools. Schools that have undergraduate and graduate programs include:

    The Rice University School of Architecture
    The George R. Brown School of Engineering
    The School of Humanities
    The Shepherd School of Music
    The Wiess School of Natural Sciences
    The Rice University School of Social Sciences

    Two schools have only graduate programs:

    The Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management
    The Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies

    Rice’s undergraduate students benefit from a centralized admissions process which admits new students to the university as a whole, rather than a specific school (the schools of Music and Architecture are decentralized). Students are encouraged to select the major path that best suits their desires; a student can later decide that they would rather pursue study in another field or continue their current coursework and add a second or third major. These transitions are designed to be simple at Rice with students not required to decide on a specific major until their sophomore year of study.

    Rice’s academics are organized into six schools which offer courses of study at the graduate and undergraduate level, with two more being primarily focused on graduate education, while offering select opportunities for undergraduate students. Rice offers 360 degrees in over 60 departments. There are 40 undergraduate degree programs, 51 masters programs, and 29 doctoral programs.

    Faculty members of each of the departments elect chairs to represent the department to each School’s dean and the deans report to the Provost who serves as the chief officer for academic affairs.

    Rice Management Company

    The Rice Management Company manages the $6.5 billion Rice University endowment (June 2019) and $957 million debt. The endowment provides 40% of Rice’s operating revenues. Allison Thacker is the President and Chief Investment Officer of the Rice Management Company, having joined the university in 2011.

    Academics

    Rice is a medium-sized highly residential research university. The majority of enrollments are in the full-time four-year undergraduate program emphasizing arts & sciences and professions. There is a high graduate coexistence with the comprehensive graduate program and a very high level of research activity. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as well as the professional accreditation agencies for engineering, management, and architecture.

    Each of Rice’s departments is organized into one of three distribution groups, and students whose major lies within the scope of one group must take at least 3 courses of at least 3 credit hours each of approved distribution classes in each of the other two groups, as well as completing one physical education course as part of the LPAP (Lifetime Physical Activity Program) requirement. All new students must take a Freshman Writing Intensive Seminar (FWIS) class, and for students who do not pass the university’s writing composition examination (administered during the summer before matriculation), FWIS 100, a writing class, becomes an additional requirement.

    The majority of Rice’s undergraduate degree programs grant B.S. or B.A. degrees. Rice has recently begun to offer minors in areas such as business, energy and water sustainability, and global health.

    Student body

    As of fall 2014, men make up 52% of the undergraduate body and 64% of the professional and post-graduate student body. The student body consists of students from all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, two U.S. Territories, and 83 foreign countries. Forty percent of degree-seeking students are from Texas.

    Research centers and resources

    Rice is noted for its applied science programs in the fields of nanotechnology, artificial heart research, structural chemical analysis, signal processing and space science.

    Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship – supports entrepreneurs and early-stage technology ventures in Houston and Texas through education, collaboration, and research, ranked No. 1 among university business incubators.
    Baker Institute for Public Policy – a leading nonpartisan public policy think-tank
    BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) – interdisciplinary, cross-campus, and inter-institutional resource between Rice University and Texas Medical Center
    Boniuk Institute – dedicated to religious tolerance and advancing religious literacy, respect and mutual understanding
    Center for African and African American Studies – fosters conversations on topics such as critical approaches to race and racism, the nature of diasporic histories and identities, and the complexity of Africa’s past, present and future
    Chao Center for Asian Studies – research hub for faculty, students and post-doctoral scholars working in Asian studies
    Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (CSWGS) – interdisciplinary academic programs and research opportunities, including the journal Feminist Economics
    Data to Knowledge Lab (D2K) – campus hub for experiential learning in data science
    Digital Signal Processing (DSP) – center for education and research in the field of digital signal processing
    Ethernest Hackerspace – student-run hackerspace for undergraduate engineering students sponsored by the ECE department and the IEEE student chapter
    Humanities Research Center (HRC) – identifies, encourages, and funds innovative research projects by faculty, visiting scholars, graduate, and undergraduate students in the School of Humanities and beyond
    Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (IBB) – facilitates the translation of interdisciplinary research and education in biosciences and bioengineering
    Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology – advances applied interdisciplinary research in the areas of computation and information technology
    Kinder Institute for Urban Research – conducts the Houston Area Survey, “the nation’s longest running study of any metropolitan region’s economy, population, life experiences, beliefs and attitudes”
    Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) – a resource for education and research breakthroughs and advances in the broad, multidisciplinary field of nanophotonics
    Moody Center for the Arts – experimental arts space featuring studio classrooms, maker space, audiovisual editing booths, and a gallery and office space for visiting national and international artists
    OpenStax CNX (formerly Connexions) and OpenStax – an open source platform and open access publisher, respectively, of open educational resources
    Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK) – space for undergraduate students to design, prototype and deploy solutions to real-world engineering challenges
    Rice Cinema – an independent theater run by the Visual and Dramatic Arts department at Rice which screens documentaries, foreign films, and experimental cinema and hosts film festivals and lectures since 1970
    Rice Center for Engineering Leadership (RCEL) – inspires, educates, and develops ethical leaders in technology who will excel in research, industry, non-engineering career paths, or entrepreneurship
    Religion and Public Life Program (RPLP) – a research, training and outreach program working to advance understandings of the role of religion in public life
    Rice Design Alliance (RDA) – outreach and public programs of the Rice School of Architecture
    Rice Center for Quantum Materials (RCQM) – organization dedicated to research and higher education in areas relating to quantum phenomena
    Rice Neuroengineering Initiative (NEI) – fosters research collaborations in neural engineering topics
    Rice Space Institute (RSI) – fosters programs in all areas of space research
    Smalley-Curl Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (SCI) – the nation’s first nanotechnology center
    Welch Institute for Advanced Materials – collaborative research institute to support the foundational research for discoveries in materials science, similar to the model of Salk Institute and Broad Institute
    Woodson Research Center Special Collections & Archives – publisher of print and web-based materials highlighting the department’s primary source collections such as the Houston African American, Asian American, and Jewish History Archives, University Archives, rare books, and hip hop/rap music-related materials from the Swishahouse record label and Houston Folk Music Archive, etc.

    Student life

    Situated on nearly 300 acres (120 ha) in the center of Houston’s Museum District and across the street from the city’s Hermann Park, Rice is a green and leafy refuge; an oasis of learning convenient to the amenities of the nation’s fourth-largest city. Rice’s campus adjoins Hermann Park, the Texas Medical Center, and a neighborhood commercial center called Rice Village. Hermann Park includes the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theatre and an 18-hole municipal golf course. NRG Park, home of NRG Stadium and the Astrodome, is two miles (3 km) south of the campus. Among the dozen or so museums in the Museum District was (until May 14, 2017) the Rice University Art Gallery, open during the school year from 1995 until it closed in 2017. Easy access to downtown’s theater and nightlife district and to Reliant Park is provided by the Houston METRORail system, with a station adjacent to the campus’s main gate. The campus recently joined the Zipcar program with two vehicles to increase the transportation options for students and staff who need but currently don’t utilize a vehicle.

    Residential colleges

    In 1957, Rice University implemented a residential college system, which was proposed by the university’s first president, Edgar Odell Lovett. The system was inspired by existing systems in place at Oxford(UK) and Cambridge(UK) and at several other universities in the United States, most notably Yale University. The existing residences known as East, South, West, and Wiess Halls became Baker, Will Rice, Hanszen, and Wiess Colleges, respectively.

    List of residential colleges:

    Baker College, named in honor of Captain James A. Baker, friend and attorney of William Marsh Rice, and first chair of the Rice Board of Governors.
    Will Rice College, named for William M. Rice, Jr., the nephew of the university’s founder, William Marsh Rice.
    Hanszen College, named for Harry Clay Hanszen, benefactor to the university and chairman of the Rice Board of Governors from 1946 to 1950.
    Wiess College, named for Harry Carothers Wiess (1887–1948), one of the founders and one-time president of Humble Oil, now ExxonMobil.
    Jones College, named for Mary Gibbs Jones, wife of prominent Houston philanthropist Jesse Holman Jones.
    Brown College, named for Margaret Root Brown by her in-laws, George R. Brown.
    Lovett College, named after the university’s first president, Edgar Odell Lovett.
    Sid Richardson College, named for the Sid Richardson Foundation, which was established by Texas oilman, cattleman, and philanthropist Sid W. Richardson.
    Martel College, named for Marian and Speros P. Martel, was built in 2002.
    McMurtry College, named for Rice alumni Burt and Deedee McMurtry, Silicon Valley venture capitalists.
    Duncan College, named for Charles Duncan, Jr., Secretary of Energy.

    Much of the social and academic life as an undergraduate student at Rice is centered around residential colleges. Each residential college has its own cafeteria (serveries) and each residential college has study groups and its own social practices.

    Although each college is composed of a full cross-section of students at Rice, they have over time developed their own traditions and “personalities”. When students matriculate they are randomly assigned to one of the eleven colleges, although “legacy” exceptions are made for students whose siblings or parents have attended Rice. Students generally remain members of the college that they are assigned to for the duration of their undergraduate careers, even if they move off-campus at any point. Students are guaranteed on-campus housing for freshman year and two of the next three years; each college has its own system for determining allocation of the remaining spaces, collectively known as “Room Jacking”. Students develop strong loyalties to their college and maintain friendly rivalry with other colleges, especially during events such as Beer Bike Race and O-Week. Colleges keep their rivalries alive by performing “jacks,” or pranks, on each other, especially during O-Week and Willy Week. During Matriculation, Commencement, and other formal academic ceremonies, the colleges process in the order in which they were established.

    Student-run media

    Rice has a weekly student newspaper (The Rice Thresher), a yearbook (The Campanile), college radio station (KTRU Rice Radio), and now defunct, campus-wide student television station (RTV5). They are based out of the RMC student center. In addition, Rice hosts several student magazines dedicated to a range of different topics; in fact, the spring semester of 2008 saw the birth of two such magazines, a literary sex journal called Open and an undergraduate science research magazine entitled Catalyst.

    The Rice Thresher is published every Wednesday and is ranked by Princeton Review as one of the top campus newspapers nationally for student readership. It is distributed around campus, and at a few other local businesses and has a website. The Thresher has a small, dedicated staff and is known for its coverage of campus news, open submission opinion page, and the satirical Backpage, which has often been the center of controversy. The newspaper has won several awards from the College Media Association, Associated Collegiate Press and Texas Intercollegiate Press Association.

    The Rice Campanile was first published in 1916 celebrating Rice’s first graduating class. It has published continuously since then, publishing two volumes in 1944 since the university had two graduating classes due to World War II. The website was created sometime in the early to mid 2000s. The 2015 won the first place Pinnacle for best yearbook from College Media Association.

    KTRU Rice Radio is the student-run radio station. Though most DJs are Rice students, anyone is allowed to apply. It is known for playing genres and artists of music and sound unavailable on other radio stations in Houston, and often, the US. The station takes requests over the phone or online. In 2000 and 2006, KTRU won Houston Press’ Best Radio Station in Houston. In 2003, Rice alum and active KTRU DJ DL’s hip-hip show won Houston Press‘ Best Hip-hop Radio Show. On August 17, 2010, it was announced that Rice University had been in negotiations to sell the station’s broadcast tower, FM frequency and license to the University of Houston System to become a full-time classical music and fine arts programming station. The new station, KUHA, would be operated as a not-for-profit outlet with listener supporters. The FCC approved the sale and granted the transfer of license to the University of Houston System on April 15, 2011, however, KUHA proved to be an even larger failure and so after four and a half years of operation, The University of Houston System announced that KUHA’s broadcast tower, FM frequency and license were once again up for sale in August 2015. KTRU continued to operate much as it did previously, streaming live on the Internet, via apps, and on HD2 radio using the 90.1 signal. Under student leadership, KTRU explored the possibility of returning to FM radio for a number of years. In spring 2015, KTRU was granted permission by the FCC to begin development of a new broadcast signal via LPFM radio. On October 1, 2015, KTRU made its official return to FM radio on the 96.1 signal. While broadcasting on HD2 radio has been discontinued, KTRU continues to broadcast via internet in addition to its LPFM signal.

    RTV5 is a student-run television network available as channel 5 on campus. RTV5 was created initially as Rice Broadcast Television in 1997; RBT began to broadcast the following year in 1998, and aired its first live show across campus in 1999. It experienced much growth and exposure over the years with successful programs like Drinking with Phil, The Meg & Maggie Show, which was a variety and call-in show, a weekly news show, and extensive live coverage in December 2000 of the shut down of KTRU by the administration. In spring 2001, the Rice undergraduate community voted in the general elections to support RBT as a blanket tax organization, effectively providing a yearly income of $10,000 to purchase new equipment and provide the campus with a variety of new programming. In the spring of 2005, RBT members decided the station needed a new image and a new name: Rice Television 5. One of RTV5’s most popular shows was the 24-hour show, where a camera and couch placed in the RMC stayed on air for 24 hours. One such show is held in fall and another in spring, usually during a weekend allocated for visits by prospective students. RTV5 has a video on demand site at rtv5.rice.edu. The station went off the air in 2014 and changed its name to Rice Video Productions. In 2015 the group’s funding was threatened, but ultimately maintained. In 2016 the small student staff requested to no longer be a blanket-tax organization. In the fall of 2017, the club did not register as a club.

    The Rice Review, also known as R2, is a yearly student-run literary journal at Rice University that publishes prose, poetry, and creative nonfiction written by undergraduate students, as well as interviews. The journal was founded in 2004 by creative writing professor and author Justin Cronin.

    The Rice Standard was an independent, student-run variety magazine modeled after such publications as The New Yorker and Harper’s. Prior to fall 2009, it was regularly published three times a semester with a wide array of content, running from analyses of current events and philosophical pieces to personal essays, short fiction and poetry. In August 2009, The Standard transitioned to a completely online format with the launch of their redesigned website, http://www.ricestandard.org. The first website of its kind on Rice’s campus, The Standard featured blog-style content written by and for Rice students. The Rice Standard had around 20 regular contributors, and the site features new content every day (including holidays). In 2017 no one registered The Rice Standard as a club within the university.

    Open, a magazine dedicated to “literary sex content,” predictably caused a stir on campus with its initial publication in spring 2008. A mixture of essays, editorials, stories and artistic photography brought Open attention both on campus and in the Houston Chronicle. The third and last annual edition of Open was released in spring of 2010.

    Vahalla is the Graduate Student Association on-campus bar under the steps of the chemistry building.

    Athletics

    Rice plays in NCAA Division I athletics and is part of Conference USA. Rice was a member of the Western Athletic Conference before joining Conference USA in 2005. Rice is the second-smallest school, measured by undergraduate enrollment, competing in NCAA Division I FBS football, only ahead of Tulsa.

    The Rice baseball team won the 2003 College World Series, defeating Stanford, giving Rice its only national championship in a team sport. The victory made Rice University the smallest school in 51 years to win a national championship at the highest collegiate level of the sport. The Rice baseball team has played on campus at Reckling Park since the 2000 season. As of 2010, the baseball team has won 14 consecutive conference championships in three different conferences: the final championship of the defunct Southwest Conference, all nine championships while a member of the Western Athletic Conference, and five more championships in its first five years as a member of Conference USA. Additionally, Rice’s baseball team has finished third in both the 2006 and 2007 College World Series tournaments. Rice now has made six trips to Omaha for the CWS. In 2004, Rice became the first school ever to have three players selected in the first eight picks of the MLB draft when Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann, and Wade Townsend were selected third, fourth, and eighth, respectively. In 2007, Joe Savery was selected as the 19th overall pick.

    Rice has been very successful in women’s sports in recent years. In 2004–05, Rice sent its women’s volleyball, soccer, and basketball teams to their respective NCAA tournaments. The women’s swim team has consistently brought at least one member of their team to the NCAA championships since 2013. In 2005–06, the women’s soccer, basketball, and tennis teams advanced, with five individuals competing in track and field. In 2006–07, the Rice women’s basketball team made the NCAA tournament, while again five Rice track and field athletes received individual NCAA berths. In 2008, the women’s volleyball team again made the NCAA tournament. In 2011 the Women’s Swim team won their first conference championship in the history of the university. This was an impressive feat considering they won without having a diving team. The team repeated their C-USA success in 2013 and 2014. In 2017, the women’s basketball team, led by second-year head coach Tina Langley, won the Women’s Basketball Invitational, defeating UNC-Greensboro 74–62 in the championship game at Tudor Fieldhouse. Though not a varsity sport, Rice’s ultimate frisbee women’s team, named Torque, won consecutive Division III national championships in 2014 and 2015.

    In 2006, the football team qualified for its first bowl game since 1961, ending the second-longest bowl drought in the country at the time. On December 22, 2006, Rice played in the New Orleans Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana against the Sun Belt Conference champion, Troy. The Owls lost 41–17. The bowl appearance came after Rice had a 14-game losing streak from 2004–05 and went 1–10 in 2005. The streak followed an internally authorized 2003 McKinsey report that stated football alone was responsible for a $4 million deficit in 2002. Tensions remained high between the athletic department and faculty, as a few professors who chose to voice their opinion were in favor of abandoning the football program. The program success in 2006, the Rice Renaissance, proved to be a revival of the Owl football program, quelling those tensions. David Bailiff took over the program in 2007 and has remained head coach. Jarett Dillard set an NCAA record in 2006 by catching a touchdown pass in 13 consecutive games and took a 15-game overall streak into the 2007 season.

    In 2008, the football team posted a 9-3 regular season, capping off the year with a 38–14 victory over Western Michigan University in the Texas Bowl. The win over Western Michigan marked the Owls’ first bowl win in 45 years.

    Rice Stadium also serves as the performance venue for the university’s Marching Owl Band, or “MOB.” Despite its name, the MOB is a scatter band that focuses on performing humorous skits and routines rather than traditional formation marching.

    Rice Owls men’s basketball won 10 conference titles in the former Southwest Conference (1918, 1935*, 1940, 1942*, 1943*, 1944*, 1945, 1949*, 1954*, 1970; * denotes shared title). Most recently, guard Morris Almond was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz. Rice named former Cal Bears head coach Ben Braun as head basketball coach to succeed Willis Wilson, fired after Rice finished the 2007–2008 season with a winless (0-16) conference record and overall record of 3-27.

    Rice’s mascot is Sammy the Owl. In previous decades, the university kept several live owls on campus in front of Lovett College, but this practice has been discontinued, due to public pressure over the welfare of the owls.

    Rice also has a 12-member coed cheerleading squad and a coed dance team, both of which perform at football and basketball games throughout the year.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:22 pm on May 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "High-mass stars are formed not from dust disk but from debris", , , , Basic Research, , , ,   

    From Leiden University [Universiteit Leiden] (NL) : “High-mass stars are formed not from dust disk but from debris” 


    From Leiden University [Universiteit Leiden] (NL)

    03 May 2021

    1
    Credit: CC0 Public Domain

    A Dutch-led team of astronomers has discovered that high-mass stars are formed differently from their smaller siblings. Whereas small stars are often surrounded by an orderly disk of dust and matter, the supply of matter to large stars is a chaotic mess. The researchers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope for their observations, and recently published their findings in The Astrophysical Journal.

    It is well known how small, young stars are created. They accrete matter from a disk of gas and dust in a relatively orderly fashion. Astronomers have already seen many of these disks of dust around young, low-mass stars but never around young, high-mass stars. This raised the question of whether large stars come into existence in the same way as small ones.

    Large stars are formed in a different way

    “Our findings now provide convincing evidence to show that the answer is ‘No'”, according to Ciriaco Goddi, affiliated with the ALMA expertise centre Allegro at Leiden University and with Radboud University [Radboud Universiteit](NL) in Nijmegen.

    Goddi led a team that studied three young, high-mass stars in star-forming region W51, roughly 17,000 light years from Earth. The researchers were looking in particular for large, stable disks expelling jets of matter perpendicular to the surface of the disk. Such disks should be visible with the high resolution ALMA telescopes.

    Not stable disks but chaos

    Goddi: “But instead of stable disks, we discovered that the accretion zone of young, high-mass stars looks like a chaotic mess.”

    The observation showed strands of gas coming at the young, high-mass stars from all directions. In addition, the researchers saw jets which indicate that there may be small disks, invisible to the telescope. Also, it would appear that some hundred years ago the disk around one of three stars studied rotated. In short: chaos.

    Matter from multiple directions

    The researchers concluded that these young, high-mass stars, in their early years at least, are formed by matter coming from multiple directions and at an irregular speed. This is different for small stars, where there is a stable influx of matter. The astronomers suspect that that multiple supply of matter is probably the reason that no large, stable disks can be created.

    “Such an unstructured influx model had previously been proposed, on the basis of computer simulations. We now have the first observational evidence to support the model”, says Goddi.

    See the full article here.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    Universiteit Leiden Heijmans onderhoudt

    Leiden University [Universiteit Leiden] (NL) is a public research university in Leiden, Netherlands. Founded in 1575 by William, Prince of Orange as a reward to the town of Leiden for its defense against Spanish attacks during the Eighty Years’ War, it is the oldest institution of higher education in the Netherlands.

    Known for its historic foundations and emphasis on the social sciences, the university came into particular prominence during the Dutch Golden Age, when scholars from around Europe were attracted to the Dutch Republic due to its climate of intellectual tolerance and Leiden’s international reputation. During this time, Leiden became the home to individuals such as René Descartes, Rembrandt, Christiaan Huygens, Hugo Grotius, Baruch Spinoza and Baron d’Holbach.

    The university has seven academic faculties and over fifty subject departments while housing more than 40 national and international research institutes. Its historical primary campus consists of buildings scattered across the college town of Leiden, while a second campus located in The Hague houses a liberal arts college and several of its faculties. It is a member of the Coimbra Group, the Europaeum, and a founding member of the League of European Research Universities.

    Leiden University consistently ranks among the top 100 universities in the world by major ranking tables. It was placed top 50 worldwide in thirteen fields of study in the 2020 QS World University Rankings: classics & ancient history, politics, archaeology, anthropology, history, pharmacology, law, public policy, public administration, religious studies, arts & humanities, linguistics, modern languages and sociology.

    The school has produced twenty-one Spinoza Prize Laureates and sixteen Nobel Laureates, including Enrico Fermi and Albert Einstein. It is closely associated with the Dutch Royal Family, with Queen Juliana, Queen Beatrix and King Willem-Alexander being alumni. Ten prime ministers of the Netherlands were also Leiden University alumni. Internationally, it is associated with nine foreign leaders, among them John Quincy Adams (the 6th President of the United States), two NATO Secretaries General, a President of the International Court of Justice, and a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

    In 1575, the emerging Dutch Republic did not have any universities in its northern heartland. The only other university in the Habsburg Netherlands was the University of Leuven [Universiteit Leuven](BE) in southern Leuven, firmly under Spanish control. The scientific renaissance had begun to highlight the importance of academic study, so Prince William founded the first Dutch university in Leiden, to give the Northern Netherlands an institution that could educate its citizens for religious purposes, but also to give the country and its government educated men in other fields. It is said the choice fell on Leiden as a reward for the heroic defence of Leiden against Spanish attacks in the previous year. Ironically, the name of Philip II of Spain, William’s adversary, appears on the official foundation certificate, as he was still the de jure count of Holland. Philip II replied by forbidding any subject to study in Leiden. Originally located in the convent of St Barbara, the university moved to the Faliede Bagijn Church in 1577 (now the location of the University museum) and in 1581 to the convent of the White Nuns, a site which it still occupies, though the original building was destroyed by fire in 1616.

    The presence within half a century of the date of its foundation of such scholars as Justus Lipsius; Joseph Scaliger; Franciscus Gomarus; Hugo Grotius; Jacobus Arminius; Daniel Heinsius; and Gerhard Johann Vossius rapidly made Leiden university into a highly regarded institution that attracted students from across Europe in the 17th century. Renowned philosopher Baruch Spinoza was based close to Leiden during this period and interacted with numerous scholars at the university. The learning and reputation of Jacobus Gronovius; Herman Boerhaave; Tiberius Hemsterhuis; and David Ruhnken, among others, enabled Leiden to maintain its reputation for excellence down to the end of the 18th century.

    At the end of the nineteenth century, Leiden University again became one of Europe’s leading universities. In 1896 the Zeeman effect was discovered there by Pieter Zeeman and shortly afterwards given a classical explanation by Hendrik Antoon Lorentz. At the world’s first university low-temperature laboratory, professor Heike Kamerlingh Onnes achieved temperatures of only one degree above absolute zero of −273 degrees Celsius. In 1908 he was also the first to succeed in liquifying helium and can be credited with the discovery of the superconductivity in metals.

    The University Library, which has more than 5.2 million books and fifty thousand journals, also has a number of internationally renowned special collections of western and oriental manuscripts, printed books, archives, prints, drawings, photographs, maps, and atlases. It houses the largest collections worldwide on Indonesia and the Caribbean. The research activities of the Scaliger Institute focus on these special collections and concentrate particularly on the various aspects of the transmission of knowledge and ideas through texts and images from antiquity to the present day.

    In 2005 the manuscript of Einstein on the quantum theory of the monatomic ideal gas (the Einstein-Bose condensation) was discovered in one of Leiden’s libraries.

    The portraits of many famous professors since the earliest days hang in the university aula, one of the most memorable places, as Niebuhr called it, in the history of science.

    In 2012 Leiden entered into a strategic alliance with Delft University of Technology [Technische Universiteit Delft](NL) and Erasmus University Rotterdam [Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam](NL)in order for the universities to increase the quality of their research and teaching. The university is also the unofficial home of the Bilderberg Group, a meeting of high-level political and economic figures from North America and Europe.

    The university has no central campus; its buildings are spread over the city. Some buildings, like the Gravensteen, are very old, while buildings like Lipsius and Gorlaeus are much more modern.

    Among the institutions affiliated with the university are The KITLV or Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies [Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde] (NL) (founded in 1851); the observatory 1633; the natural history museum; with a very complete anatomical cabinet; the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities) with specially valuable Egyptian and Indian departments; a museum of Dutch antiquities from the earliest times; and three ethnographical museums, of which the nucleus was Philipp Franz von Siebold’s Japanese collections. The anatomical and pathological laboratories of the university are modern, and the museums of geology and mineralogy have been restored.

    The Hortus Botanicus (botanical garden) is the oldest botanical garden in the Netherlands, and one of the oldest in the world. Plants from all over the world have been carefully cultivated here by experts for more than four centuries. The Clusius garden (a reconstruction), the 18th century Orangery with its monumental tub plants, the rare collection of historical trees hundreds of years old, the Japanese Siebold Memorial Museum symbolising the historical link between East and West, the tropical greenhouses with their world class plant collections, and the central square and Conservatory exhibiting exotic plants from South Africa and southern Europe.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:05 pm on May 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New sub-Neptune exoplanet discovered by astronomers", , , Basic Research, , , Newly found alien world designated TOI-269 b,   

    From phys.org : “New sub-Neptune exoplanet discovered by astronomers” 

    From phys.org

    May 10, 2021
    Tomasz Nowakowski

    1
    TESS target pixel file image of TOI-269 in Sector 3. Credit: Cointepas et al., 2021.

    A team of astronomers from the Grenoble Alps University [Université Grenoble Alpes] (FR) and elsewhere, reports the detection of a new sub-Neptune exoplanet orbiting an M dwarf star. The newly found alien world, designated TOI-269 b, is nearly three times larger than the Earth. The finding was detailed in a paper published April 30 in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is conducting a survey of about 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun with the aim of searching for transiting exoplanets. So far, it has identified nearly 2,700 candidate exoplanets (TESS Objects of Interest, or TOI), of which 125 have been confirmed so far.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) TESS

    Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; the Center for Astrophysics – Harvard and Smithsonian; MIT Lincoln Laboratory; and the NASA Space Telescope Science Institute (US) in Baltimore.

    TOI-269 (also known as TIC 220479565) is an M dwarf located some 186 light years away from the Earth. It has a spectral type of M2V, radius of about 0.4 solar radii and mass of approximately 0.39 solar masses. The star’s effective temperature is estimated to be some 3,500 K, while its metallicity is at a level of around -0.29.

    TOI-269 was observed by the TESS spacecraft between September 2018 and July 2019, which resulted in the identification of a transit signal in its light curve. Now, using various ground-based telescopes, including the Exoplanets in Transits and their Atmospheres (ExTrA) facility at La Silla Observatory in Chile, a group of astronomers led by Marion Cointepas has confirmed the planetary nature of this signal.

    “We present the confirmation of a new sub-Neptune close to the transition between super-Earths and sub-Neptunes transiting the M2 dwarf TOI-269,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

    The newly detected alien world has a radius of about 2.77 Earth radii, is 8.8 times more massive than our planet and orbits its host every 3.7 days. The observations show that TOI-269 b is separated by around 0.0345 AU from the parent star and its equilibrium temperature is most likely at a level of 530 K.

    What is interesting is that TOI-269 b has an unusually high orbital eccentricity—approximately 0.425. This is one of the highest eccentricities among the known extrasolar planets with periods below 10 days and suggests that the object may have recently arrived in its position.

    “We surmise TOI-269 b may have acquired its high eccentricity as it migrated inward through planet-planet interactions,” the astronomers wrote in the study.

    Moreover, the density of TOI-269 b, calculated to be some 2.28 g/cm3, is significantly lower than the typical density of rock planets and indicates the presence of a volatile envelope. Such low density and its other properties make it an interesting target for atmospheric characterization in order to compare it with other sub-Neptunes. In particular, the authors of the paper propose to probe the atmosphere of TOI-269 b with transmission spectroscopy to shed more light on its composition.

    See the full article here .

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    About Science X in 100 words
    Science X™ is a leading web-based science, research and technology news service which covers a full range of topics. These include physics, earth science, medicine, nanotechnology, electronics, space, biology, chemistry, computer sciences, engineering, mathematics and other sciences and technologies. Launched in 2004 (Physorg.com), Science X’s readership has grown steadily to include 5 million scientists, researchers, and engineers every month. Science X publishes approximately 200 quality articles every day, offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of sci-tech developments world-wide. Science X community members enjoy access to many personalized features such as social networking, a personal home page set-up, article comments and ranking, the ability to save favorite articles, a daily newsletter, and other options.
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  • richardmitnick 5:28 pm on May 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Black Hole Pairs Found in Distant Merging Galaxies Provide Crucial Insight Into the Early Universe", , , Basic Research, ,   

    From SciTechDaily : “Black Hole Pairs Found in Distant Merging Galaxies Provide Crucial Insight Into the Early Universe” 

    From SciTechDaily

    May 9, 2021

    1
    Astronomers have discovered two pairs of quasars in the distant Universe, about 10 billion light-years from Earth. In each pair, the two quasars are separated by only about 10,000 light-years, making them closer together than any other double quasars found so far away. The proximity of the quasars in each pair suggests that they are located within two merging galaxies. Quasars are the intensely bright cores of distant galaxies, powered by the feeding frenzies of supermassive black holes. One of the distant double quasars is depicted in this illustration. Credit: J. da Silva/ International Gemini Observatory (US)/NOIRLab (US)//National Science Foundation (US)/ Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (US).

    Gemini North spectroscopically resolves a pair of quasars that are closer together than any yet discovered in the distant Universe.

    Astronomers have found two close pairs of quasars in the distant Universe. Follow-up observations with Gemini North spectroscopically resolved one of the distant quasar pairs, after their discovery with the Hubble Space Telescope and Gaia spacecraft. These quasars are closer together than any pair of quasars found so far away, providing strong evidence for the existence of supermassive black hole pairs as well as crucial insight into galaxy mergers in the early Universe.

    The quasars in each of the two pairs are separated by just over 10,000 light-years, suggesting that they belong to two merging galaxies.[1] Double quasars are scientifically interesting but rare objects — particularly in the most distant reaches of the Universe — and these are the most distant quasars found that are so close together. We see these quasar pairs as they existed roughly 10 billion years ago.[2]

    “We estimate that in the distant Universe, for every one thousand quasars, there is one double quasar. So finding these double quasars is like finding a needle in a haystack,” commented Yue Shen, an astronomer at the University of Illinois (US) and lead author of the paper announcing this discovery.


    Black Hole Pairs Found in Distant Merging Galaxies.

    Quasars are the intensely bright cores of distant galaxies, powered by the feeding frenzies of supermassive black holes.[3] These energetic objects profoundly affect galaxy formation and evolution, making observations of quasar pairs in the early Universe a unique way for astronomers to investigate the evolution of merging galaxies. Quasar pairs also provide a natural laboratory in which to study the processes leading to the formation of binary supermassive black holes.

    “This truly is the first sample of dual quasars at the peak epoch of galaxy formation that we can use to probe ideas about how supermassive black holes come together to eventually form a binary,” elaborated team member Nadia Zakamska of Johns Hopkins University (US).

    Finding the two quasar pairs was a daunting challenge, requiring a new method that combined data from several space and ground-based telescopes, including the international Gemini Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab. Quasar pairs at such large distances can only be resolved by sharp-eyed telescopes such as Hubble or Gemini, but observing time on these telescopes is too valuable to use it to sweep through large areas of the night sky in search of rare astronomical objects.

    2
    Astronomers have discovered two pairs of quasars in the distant Universe, about 10 billion light-years from Earth, annotated. In each pair, the two quasars are separated by only about 10,000 light-years, making them closer together than any other double quasars found so far away. The proximity of the quasars in each pair suggests that they are located within two merging galaxies. Quasars are the intensely bright cores of distant galaxies, powered by the feeding frenzies of supermassive black holes. One of the distant double quasars is depicted in this illustration. Credit: J. da Silva/ International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/

    To focus their search, the researchers first identified 15 quasars for further investigation using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (US), a three-dimensional map of objects in the night sky.

    From this list of 15 quasars, they then used observations from the Gaia spacecraft to identify four potential quasar pairs.[4] Finally, these candidates were imaged with the Hubble Space Telescope, which visually resolved two quasar pairs, giving this novel method a success rate of 50%.

    The team then used the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) on Gemini North (located on Maunakea in Hawai‘i) to verify the discovery and further investigate one of the quasar pairs.[5]

    The combination of the sensitivity of GMOS and superb observing conditions allowed the team to resolve individual spectra from both quasars in the pair.[6] These spectra provided the team with independent measurements of the distance to the quasars and their composition, as well as confirming that the two quasars are indeed a pair rather than a chance alignment of a single quasar with a foreground star.

    “The Gemini observations were critically important to our success because they provided spatially resolved spectra to yield redshifts and spectroscopic confirmations simultaneously for both quasars in a double,” explained Yu-Ching Chen, a graduate student at the University of Illinois (US) who is on the discovery team. “This method unambiguously rejected interlopers due to chance superpositions such as from unassociated star-quasar systems.”

    While the team members are confident in their discovery, there is a small possibility that they have actually observed double images of single quasars. These astronomical doppelgängers can be formed by gravitational lensing, which occurs when an intervening massive galaxy distorts and splits the light from a distant object, often resulting in multiple images of that object.

    The researchers are convinced that this is highly unlikely, however, as they could not detect any foreground galaxies in their observations.

    With their method successfully demonstrated, the researchers now plan to search for more quasar pairs, building up a census of double quasars in the early Universe.

    “This proof of concept really demonstrates that our targeted search for dual quasars is very efficient,” concluded Hsiang-Chih Hwang, a graduate student at John Hopkins University (US) and the principal investigator of the Hubble observations. “It opens a new direction where we can accumulate a lot more interesting systems to follow up, which astronomers weren’t able to do with previous techniques or datasets.”

    “This exciting investigation illustrates yet again the discovery potential of combining archived survey data with new, focused observations from state-of-the-art facilities,” said Martin Still, Gemini Program Officer at National Science Foundation (US). “The international Gemini Observatory proved to be the ideal instrument to confirm the identity of these black holes and characterize their environment.”

    Notes

    1.By comparison, our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is around 100,000 light-years across.
    2.Distance and time are entwined in astronomy. The farther away astronomical objects are, the longer it takes for their light to reach us on Earth. In the Solar System, for example, it takes sunlight just over 8 minutes to reach Earth, meaning we see the Sun as it was 8 minutes ago. On a far grander scale, we can observe distant galaxies as they were billions of years ago — offering astronomers a window onto the early Universe. One pair of quasars has a redshift of 2.17, and the pair that Gemini spectroscopically resolved has a redshift of 2.95.
    3.As these black holes consume infalling matter from their surroundings, they produce an intense torrent of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum. The amount of energy released is enormous, enough to outshine entire galaxies, and makes quasars bright beacons in the night sky.
    4.The European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft measures the positions and distances of astronomical objects with painstaking precision. Gaia measures how the positions of stars subtly shift as Earth orbits the Sun, an effect known as parallax. Distant quasars are much too far from Earth to have measurable parallaxes, but the researchers realized that quasar pairs could mimic the motion of nearby stars. While these quasar pairs appear to be single points in the Gaia data, random fluctuations in the brightness of each quasar could make the pair resemble a nearby star “jiggling” from side to side. Identifying quasars with this apparent jiggling motion provided the team with a list of quasar pair candidates for further investigation with Hubble.
    5.The Gemini observations were awarded through Director’s Discretionary Time (DDT), a small portion of observing time that is reserved for testing new methods or responding to unexpected astronomical events. DDT can also be used for high-risk, high-reward observations — such as the ones in this discovery.
    6.The emission spectrum of an astronomical object is a measure of how intensely the object emits light at different wavelengths. This can provide astronomers with insights into the properties of an object, such as its chemical composition, mass, temperature, and distance.

    More information

    This research was presented in the paper in the journal Nature Astronomy.

    The team is composed of Yue Shen (Department of Astronomy and National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (US)), Yu-Ching Chen (Department of Astronomy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Hsiang-Chih Hwang (Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University (US)), Xin Liu (Department of Astronomy and National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Nadia Zakamska (Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University), Masamune Oguri (Research Center for the Early Universe, Department of Physics, and Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (JP), University of Tokyo[(東京大] (JP)), Jennifer I-Hsiu Li (Department of Astronomy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Joseph Lazio (NASA JPL-Caltech (US), California Institute of Technology (US)), and Peter Breiding (Department of Physics and Astronomy, West Virginia University (US) ).

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 2:40 pm on May 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "These 5 multi-star systems have habitable zones", , , , Basic Research, , , ,   

    From University of Washington (US) and From NYU Abu Dhabi via EarthSky : “These 5 multi-star systems have habitable zones” 

    From University of Washington (US)

    and


    From NYU Abu Dhabi

    NYU BLOC

    New York University

    via

    1

    EarthSky

    Astronomers have identified 5 multi-star systems that have stable habitable zones. This means that any rocky worlds that may exist in those zones could potentially have life.

    Planets orbiting in their stars’ Goldilocks zones or habitable zones are not too close and not too far from their stars. They’re in a place where water might exist as a liquid on a rocky planet. We tend to think of a planet in the Goldilocks zone of a single star, similar to Earth in our solar system. But what about multiple star systems? Do habitable zones exist in systems of two, three or more stars? Astronomers from New York University Abu Dhabi and the University of Washington show that it is indeed possible. Using a new mathematical model, they found that at least five such known systems – all within 6,000 light-years of Earth – have stable habitable zones where hypothetical planets could harbor life.

    The peer-reviewed study was published in Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences on April 15, 2021, and reported in Frontiers Science News on the same day.

    These findings are important because stable habitable zones would greatly increase the chances of life evolving on any planets that orbit within them. As lead author Nikolaos Georgakarakos said:

    “Life is far most likely to evolve on planets located within their system’s habitable zone, just like Earth. Here we investigate whether a habitable zone exists within nine known systems with two or more stars orbited by giant planets. We show for the first time that Kepler-34, -35, -64, -413 and especially Kepler-38 are suitable for hosting Earth-like worlds with oceans.”

    2
    Binary star systems, where two stars orbit each other, are common in our galaxy, and are thought to make up to 3/4 of all star systems. Image via Mark Garlick/ Science Photo Library/ New Scientist.

    The astronomers studied nine different multi-star systems, and found five of those – Kepler-34, Kepler-35, Kepler-38, Kepler-64 (PH 1) and Kepler-413 – to be the most likely to contain permanent habitable zones with worlds that could host life. Of those, they found Kepler-35, Kepler-38 and Kepler-64 to offer the most benign environment for possible life.

    The five star systems are located at distances between 2,764 and 5,933 light-years from Earth, in the constellations Lyra the Harp and Cygnus the Swan. Kepler-64 has at least four stars orbiting each other (!), and the rest are binary star systems with two stars.

    3
    The Kepler-64 system, also known as PH-1, has at least 4 stars, and is one of the 5 multi-star systems that could contain habitable planets. Image via Open Exoplanet Catalogue.

    It is important to note that while smaller rocky planets haven’t yet been found in these star systems, they are all known to have at least one planet as large as Neptune or bigger. This makes it likely that at least some of them also have smaller planets, since most planetary systems found so far tend to have planets of various sizes, like ours.

    Generally, multi-star systems are thought to be less likely to have habitable planets, due to all the intricate gravitational interactions going on, especially those with giant planets. But now this new research shows that some of them could be stable enough for life to originate on habitable zone planets. Co-author Ian Dobbs-Dixon said:

    “We’ve known for a while that binary star systems without giant planets have the potential to harbor habitable worlds. What we have shown here is that in a large fraction of those systems Earth-like planets can remain habitable even in the presence of giant planets.”

    This is good news for the prospects of finding life in such systems, since, for example, double star systems are estimated to compose up to 3/4 of all star systems. Our single star sun is actually in a minority.

    How did the researchers come to these conclusions? Their work is based on previous studies, with the goal of determining the existence, location, and extent of the permanent habitable zone in binary systems with giant planets. The researchers take various factors into consideration, such as the classification, mass, luminosity and spectral energy distribution of the stars, the added gravitational effect of the giant planet and the geometry of the system; the orbital eccentricity (how narrow an ellipse the orbit is), semi-major axis and period of the hypothetical planet’s orbit. They also look at the intensity of solar radiation from the star hitting the planet’s atmosphere and the planet’s climate inertia, the speed at which the atmosphere responds to changes in irradiation.

    By doing this, they determined that those five multi-star systems do indeed have permanent habitable zones. Each zone is between 0.4 and 1.5 astronomical units (AU) wide. One AU is the mean distance between Earth and the sun, about 93 million miles (150 million km).

    Other binary star systems are not as promising, however. In the Kepler-453 and Kepler-1661 systems, the habitable zones are estimated to be only about half the size as those of the other five. Two others, Kepler-16 and Kepler-1647, are unlikely to have any potentially habitable planets at all. As noted by co-author Siegfried Eggl:

    “In contrast, the extent of the habitable zones in two further binary systems, Kepler-453 and -1661, is roughly half the expected size, because the giant planets in those systems would destabilize the orbits of additional habitable worlds. For the same reason Kepler-16 and -1647 cannot host additional habitable planets at all. Of course, there is the possibility that life exists outside the habitable zone or on moons orbiting the giant planets themselves, but that may be less desirable real-estate for us.”

    So which system has the most potential for supporting life? Georgakarakos said:

    “Our best candidate for hosting a world that is potentially habitable is the binary system Kepler-38, approximately 3,970 light-years from Earth, and known to contain a Neptune-sized planet.

    Our study confirms that even binary star systems with giant planets are hot targets in the search for Earth 2.0. Watch out Tatooine, we are coming!”

    Habitable worlds are not limited to the habitable zone, however. In our own solar system there are multiple icy moons with subsurface oceans that could potentially be home to some kind of life. Europa, Enceladus and Titan in particular are now prime targets for further exploration. The fact that they are common in our solar system makes it reasonable that similar kinds of moons may also exist in some of these multi-star systems, and elsewhere.

    See the full article here .


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    New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD, Arabic: جامعة نيويورك أبوظبي‎) is a degree granting, portal campus of New York University serving as a private liberal arts college, located in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

    Together with New York University in New York City and New York University Shanghai, the portal campus is part of NYU’s Global Network University. It opened in 2008 at a temporary site for conferences and cultural events. The academic program opened in September 2010 at the university’s provisional downtown site and was later moved in 2014 to the permanent campus built on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi.

    In 2019, the university announced that it had produced “14 Rhodes Scholars in just seven years, more Rhodes Scholars per student than any university in the world.”

    NYU Campus

    More than 175 years ago, Albert Gallatin, the distinguished statesman who served as secretary of the treasury under Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, declared his intention to establish “in this immense and fast-growing city … a system of rational and practical education fitting for all and graciously opened to all.” Founded in 1831, New York University is now one of the largest private universities in the United States. Of the more than 3,000 colleges and universities in America, New York University is one of only 60 member institutions of the distinguished Association of American Universities (US).

    u-washington-campus

    The University of Washington (US) is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

    The University of Washington (US) is a public research university in Seattle, Washington, United States. Founded in 1861, University of Washington is one of the oldest universities on the West Coast; it was established in downtown Seattle approximately a decade after the city’s founding to aid its economic development. Today, the university’s 703-acre main Seattle campus is in the University District above the Montlake Cut, within the urban Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest. The university has additional campuses in Tacoma and Bothell. Overall, University of Washington encompasses over 500 buildings and over 20 million gross square footage of space, including one of the largest library systems in the world with more than 26 university libraries, as well as the UW Tower, lecture halls, art centers, museums, laboratories, stadiums, and conference centers. The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees through 140 departments in various colleges and schools, sees a total student enrollment of roughly 46,000 annually, and functions on a quarter system.

    University of Washington is a member of the Association of American Universities(US) and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to the National Science Foundation(US), UW spent $1.41 billion on research and development in 2018, ranking it 5th in the nation. As the flagship institution of the six public universities in Washington state, it is known for its medical, engineering and scientific research as well as its highly competitive computer science and engineering programs. Additionally, University of Washington continues to benefit from its deep historic ties and major collaborations with numerous technology giants in the region, such as Amazon, Boeing, Nintendo, and particularly Microsoft. Paul G. Allen, Bill Gates and others spent significant time at Washington computer labs for a startup venture before founding Microsoft and other ventures. The University of Washington’s 22 varsity sports teams are also highly competitive, competing as the Huskies in the Pac-12 Conference of the NCAA Division I, representing the United States at the Olympic Games, and other major competitions.

    The university has been affiliated with many notable alumni and faculty, including 21 Nobel Prize laureates and numerous Pulitzer Prize winners, Fulbright Scholars, Rhodes Scholars and Marshall Scholars.

    In 1854, territorial governor Isaac Stevens recommended the establishment of a university in the Washington Territory. Prominent Seattle-area residents, including Methodist preacher Daniel Bagley, saw this as a chance to add to the city’s potential and prestige. Bagley learned of a law that allowed United States territories to sell land to raise money in support of public schools. At the time, Arthur A. Denny, one of the founders of Seattle and a member of the territorial legislature, aimed to increase the city’s importance by moving the territory’s capital from Olympia to Seattle. However, Bagley eventually convinced Denny that the establishment of a university would assist more in the development of Seattle’s economy. Two universities were initially chartered, but later the decision was repealed in favor of a single university in Lewis County provided that locally donated land was available. When no site emerged, Denny successfully petitioned the legislature to reconsider Seattle as a location in 1858.

    In 1861, scouting began for an appropriate 10 acres (4 ha) site in Seattle to serve as a new university campus. Arthur and Mary Denny donated eight acres, while fellow pioneers Edward Lander, and Charlie and Mary Terry, donated two acres on Denny’s Knoll in downtown Seattle. More specifically, this tract was bounded by 4th Avenue to the west, 6th Avenue to the east, Union Street to the north, and Seneca Streets to the south.

    John Pike, for whom Pike Street is named, was the university’s architect and builder. It was opened on November 4, 1861, as the Territorial University of Washington. The legislature passed articles incorporating the University, and establishing its Board of Regents in 1862. The school initially struggled, closing three times: in 1863 for low enrollment, and again in 1867 and 1876 due to funds shortage. University of Washington awarded its first graduate Clara Antoinette McCarty Wilt in 1876, with a bachelor’s degree in science.

    19th century relocation

    By the time Washington state entered the Union in 1889, both Seattle and the University had grown substantially. University of Washington’s total undergraduate enrollment increased from 30 to nearly 300 students, and the campus’s relative isolation in downtown Seattle faced encroaching development. A special legislative committee, headed by University of Washington graduate Edmond Meany, was created to find a new campus to better serve the growing student population and faculty. The committee eventually selected a site on the northeast of downtown Seattle called Union Bay, which was the land of the Duwamish, and the legislature appropriated funds for its purchase and construction. In 1895, the University relocated to the new campus by moving into the newly built Denny Hall. The University Regents tried and failed to sell the old campus, eventually settling with leasing the area. This would later become one of the University’s most valuable pieces of real estate in modern-day Seattle, generating millions in annual revenue with what is now called the Metropolitan Tract. The original Territorial University building was torn down in 1908, and its former site now houses the Fairmont Olympic Hotel.

    The sole-surviving remnants of Washington’s first building are four 24-foot (7.3 m), white, hand-fluted cedar, Ionic columns. They were salvaged by Edmond S. Meany, one of the University’s first graduates and former head of its history department. Meany and his colleague, Dean Herbert T. Condon, dubbed the columns as “Loyalty,” “Industry,” “Faith”, and “Efficiency”, or “LIFE.” The columns now stand in the Sylvan Grove Theater.

    20th century expansion

    Organizers of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition eyed the still largely undeveloped campus as a prime setting for their world’s fair. They came to an agreement with Washington’s Board of Regents that allowed them to use the campus grounds for the exposition, surrounding today’s Drumheller Fountain facing towards Mount Rainier. In exchange, organizers agreed Washington would take over the campus and its development after the fair’s conclusion. This arrangement led to a detailed site plan and several new buildings, prepared in part by John Charles Olmsted. The plan was later incorporated into the overall University of Washington campus master plan, permanently affecting the campus layout.

    Both World Wars brought the military to campus, with certain facilities temporarily lent to the federal government. In spite of this, subsequent post-war periods were times of dramatic growth for the University. The period between the wars saw a significant expansion of the upper campus. Construction of the Liberal Arts Quadrangle, known to students as “The Quad,” began in 1916 and continued to 1939. The University’s architectural centerpiece, Suzzallo Library, was built in 1926 and expanded in 1935.

    After World War II, further growth came with the G.I. Bill. Among the most important developments of this period was the opening of the School of Medicine in 1946, which is now consistently ranked as the top medical school in the United States. It would eventually lead to the University of Washington Medical Center, ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top ten hospitals in the nation.

    In 1942, all persons of Japanese ancestry in the Seattle area were forced into inland internment camps as part of Executive Order 9066 following the attack on Pearl Harbor. During this difficult time, university president Lee Paul Sieg took an active and sympathetic leadership role in advocating for and facilitating the transfer of Japanese American students to universities and colleges away from the Pacific Coast to help them avoid the mass incarceration. Nevertheless many Japanese American students and “soon-to-be” graduates were unable to transfer successfully in the short time window or receive diplomas before being incarcerated. It was only many years later that they would be recognized for their accomplishments during the University of Washington’s Long Journey Home ceremonial event that was held in May 2008.

    From 1958 to 1973, the University of Washington saw a tremendous growth in student enrollment, its faculties and operating budget, and also its prestige under the leadership of Charles Odegaard. University of Washington student enrollment had more than doubled to 34,000 as the baby boom generation came of age. However, this era was also marked by high levels of student activism, as was the case at many American universities. Much of the unrest focused around civil rights and opposition to the Vietnam War. In response to anti-Vietnam War protests by the late 1960s, the University Safety and Security Division became the University of Washington Police Department.

    Odegaard instituted a vision of building a “community of scholars”, convincing the Washington State legislatures to increase investment in the University. Washington senators, such as Henry M. Jackson and Warren G. Magnuson, also used their political clout to gather research funds for the University of Washington. The results included an increase in the operating budget from $37 million in 1958 to over $400 million in 1973, solidifying University of Washington as a top recipient of federal research funds in the United States. The establishment of technology giants such as Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon in the local area also proved to be highly influential in the University of Washington’s fortunes, not only improving graduate prospects but also helping to attract millions of dollars in university and research funding through its distinguished faculty and extensive alumni network.

    21st century

    In 1990, the University of Washington opened its additional campuses in Bothell and Tacoma. Although originally intended for students who have already completed two years of higher education, both schools have since become four-year universities with the authority to grant degrees. The first freshman classes at these campuses started in fall 2006. Today both Bothell and Tacoma also offer a selection of master’s degree programs.

    In 2012, the University began exploring plans and governmental approval to expand the main Seattle campus, including significant increases in student housing, teaching facilities for the growing student body and faculty, as well as expanded public transit options. The University of Washington light rail station was completed in March 2015, connecting Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood to the University of Washington Husky Stadium within five minutes of rail travel time. It offers a previously unavailable option of transportation into and out of the campus, designed specifically to reduce dependence on private vehicles, bicycles and local King County buses.

    University of Washington has been listed as a “Public Ivy” in Greene’s Guides since 2001, and is an elected member of the American Association of Universities. Among the faculty by 2012, there have been 151 members of American Association for the Advancement of Science, 68 members of the National Academy of Sciences(US), 67 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 53 members of the National Academy of Medicine(US), 29 winners of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, 21 members of the National Academy of Engineering(US), 15 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, 15 MacArthur Fellows, 9 winners of the Gairdner Foundation International Award, 5 winners of the National Medal of Science, 7 Nobel Prize laureates, 5 winners of Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research, 4 members of the American Philosophical Society, 2 winners of the National Book Award, 2 winners of the National Medal of Arts, 2 Pulitzer Prize winners, 1 winner of the Fields Medal, and 1 member of the National Academy of Public Administration. Among UW students by 2012, there were 136 Fulbright Scholars, 35 Rhodes Scholars, 7 Marshall Scholars and 4 Gates Cambridge Scholars. UW is recognized as a top producer of Fulbright Scholars, ranking 2nd in the US in 2017.

    The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) has consistently ranked University of Washington as one of the top 20 universities worldwide every year since its first release. In 2019, University of Washington ranked 14th worldwide out of 500 by the ARWU, 26th worldwide out of 981 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and 28th worldwide out of 101 in the Times World Reputation Rankings. Meanwhile, QS World University Rankings ranked it 68th worldwide, out of over 900.

    U.S. News & World Report ranked University of Washington 8th out of nearly 1,500 universities worldwide for 2021, with University of Washington’s undergraduate program tied for 58th among 389 national universities in the U.S. and tied for 19th among 209 public universities.

    In 2019, it ranked 10th among the universities around the world by SCImago Institutions Rankings. In 2017, the Leiden Ranking, which focuses on science and the impact of scientific publications among the world’s 500 major universities, ranked University of Washington 12th globally and 5th in the U.S.

    In 2019, Kiplinger Magazine’s review of “top college values” named University of Washington 5th for in-state students and 10th for out-of-state students among U.S. public colleges, and 84th overall out of 500 schools. In the Washington Monthly National University Rankings University of Washington was ranked 15th domestically in 2018, based on its contribution to the public good as measured by social mobility, research, and promoting public service.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:53 pm on May 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "How do you measure the mass of a star?", , , Basic Research, ,   

    From EarthSky : “How do you measure the mass of a star?” 

    1

    From EarthSky

    May 9, 2021
    Bruce McClure
    Theresa Wiegert

    Binary stars – a star system consisting of two stars – are extremely useful. They give all the information needed to measure the stars masses’. Here is how.

    1
    Artist’s concept of the binary star system of Sirius A and its small blue companion, Sirius B, a hot white dwarf. The 2 stars revolve around each other every 50 years. Credit: G. Bacon/ European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU).

    There are lots of binary stars – two stars revolving around a common center of mass – populating the starry sky. In fact, a large majority of all stars we see (around 85%) are part of a multiple star system of two or more stars! This is fortunate for astronomers because two stars together provide an easy way to measure their respective masses.

    To find the masses of stars in double systems, you need to know only two things: the semi-major axis or mean distance between the two stars (often expressed in astronomical units, which is the average distance between the Earth and sun), and the time it takes for the two stars to revolve around one another (aka the orbital period, often expressed in Earth-years). With those two observations alone, astronomers are able to calculate the stars’ masses, which they typically do in units of solar masses (that is, a measure of how many of our suns the star “weighs”. One solar mass is 1.989 x 1030 kilograms or about 333,000 times the mass of our planet Earth.).

    We will use Sirius, the brightest star of the nighttime sky, as an example. It looks like a single star to the unaided eye, but it, too, is a binary star (and you can see it yourself, if you have a small telescope). The two stars orbit each other with a period of about 50 Earth-years, at an average distance of about 20 astronomical units (AU). The brighter of the two is called Sirius A, while its fainter companion is known as Sirius B (The Pup).

    2
    Michael Teoh at Heng Ee Observatory in Penang, Malaysia, captured this photo of Sirius A and Sirius B (a white dwarf) on January 26, 2021. He used 30 1-second exposures and stacked them together to make faint Sirius B appear. Thank you, Michael!

    So how would astronomers find the masses of Sirius A and B? They would simply plug in the mean distance between the two stars and their orbital period into the easy-to-use formula below, first derived by Johannes Kepler in 1618, and known as Kepler’s Third Law of Motion:

    Total mass = distance^3/period^2

    Here, the distance is the mean distance between the stars (or, more precisely, the semi-major axis) in astronomical units, so 20, and the orbital period is 50 years.

    The resulting total mass is about three solar masses. Note that this is not the mass of one star but of both stars added together. So, we know that the whole binary system equals three solar masses.

    The resulting total mass is about three solar masses. Note that this is not the mass of one star but of both stars added together. So, we know that the whole binary system equals three solar masses.

    To find out the mass of each individual star, astronomers need to know the mean distance of each star from the barycenter: their common center of mass. To learn this, once again they rely on their observations.

    It turns out that Sirius B, the less massive star, is about twice as far from the barycenter than is Sirius A. That means Sirius B has about half the mass of Sirius A.

    Thus, if you know the whole system is about three solar masses, you can deduce that the mass of Sirius A is about two solar masses, while Sirius B pretty much equals our sun in mass.

    But what about stars that are alone in their star systems, like the sun? The binary star systems are once again the key: Once we have calculated the masses for a whole lot of stars in binary systems, and also know how luminous they are, we notice that there is a relationship between their luminosity and their mass. In other words, for single stars we only need to measure its luminosity and then use the mass-luminosity relation to figure out their mass. Thank you, binaries!

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.orgin 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. “Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers,” she says.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:16 am on May 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Massive flare seen on the closest star to the solar system- What it means for chances of alien neighbors", , , Basic Research, , ,   

    From The Conversation : “Massive flare seen on the closest star to the solar system- What it means for chances of alien neighbors” 

    From The Conversation

    May 3, 2021

    R. O. Parke Loyd
    Post-Doctoral Researcher in Astrophysics
    Arizona State University

    The Sun isn’t the only star to produce stellar flares. On April 21, 2021, a team of astronomers published new research [The Astrophysical Journal Letters] describing the brightest flare ever measured from Proxima Centauri in ultraviolet light.

    Centauris Alpha Beta Proxima, 27 February 2012. Skatebiker.

    To learn about this extraordinary event – and what it might mean for any life on the planets orbiting Earth’s closest neighboring star – The Conversation spoke with Parke Loyd, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University and co-author of the paper. Excerpts from our conversation are below and have been edited for length and clarity.

    Why were you looking at Proxima Centauri?

    Proxima Centauri is the closest star to this solar system. A couple of years ago, a team discovered that there is a planet – called Proxima b – orbiting the star. It’s just a little bit bigger than Earth, it’s probably rocky and it is in what is called the habitable zone, or the Goldilocks zone. This means that Proxima b is about the right distance from the star so that it could have liquid water on its surface.

    But this star system differs from the Sun in a pretty key way. Proxima Centauri is a small star called a red dwarf – it’s around 15% of the radius of our Sun, and it’s substantially cooler. So Proxima b, in order for it to be in that Goldilocks zone, actually is a lot closer to Proxima Centauri than Earth is to the Sun.

    You might think that a smaller star would be a tamer star, but that’s actually not the case at all – red dwarfs produce stellar flares a lot more frequently than the Sun does. So Proxima b, the closest planet in another solar system with a chance for having life, is subject to space weather that is a lot more violent than the space weather in Earth’s solar system.

    What did you find?

    In 2018, my colleague Meredith MacGregor discovered flashes of light coming from Proxima Centauri that looked very different from solar flares. She was using a telescope that detects light at millimeter wavelengths to monitor Proxima Centauri and saw a big of flash of light in this wavelength. Astronomers had never seen a stellar flare in millimeter wavelengths of light.

    My colleagues and I wanted to learn more about these unusual brightenings in the millimeter light coming from the star and see whether they were actually flares or some other phenomenon. We used nine telescopes on Earth, as well as a satellite observatory, to get the longest set of observations – about two days’ worth – of Proxima Centauri with the most wavelength coverage that had ever been obtained.

    Immediately we discovered a really strong flare. The ultraviolet light of the star increased by over 10,000 times in just a fraction of a second. If humans could see ultraviolet light, it would be like being blinded by the flash of a camera. Proxima Centauri got bright really fast. This increase lasted for only a couple of seconds, and then there was a gradual decline.

    This discovery confirmed that indeed, these weird millimeter emissions are flares.

    What does that mean for chances of life on the planet?

    Astronomers are actively exploring this question at the moment because it can kind of go in either direction. When you hear ultraviolet radiation, you’re probably thinking about the fact that people wear sunscreen to try to protect ourselves from ultraviolet radiation here on Earth. Ultraviolet radiation can damage proteins and DNA in human cells, and this results in sunburns and can cause cancer. That would potentially be true for life on another planet as well.

    On the flip side, messing with the chemistry of biological molecules can have its advantages – it could help spark life on another planet. Even though it might be a more challenging environment for life to sustain itself, it might be a better environment for life to be generated to begin with.

    But the thing that astronomers and astrobiologists are most concerned about is that every time one of these huge flares occurs, it basically erodes away a bit of the atmosphere of any planets orbiting that star – including this potentially Earth-like planet. And if you don’t have an atmosphere left on your planet, then you definitely have a pretty hostile environment to life – there would be huge amounts of radiation, massive temperature fluctuations and little or no air to breathe. It’s not that life would be impossible, but having the surface of a planet basically directly exposed to space would be an environment totally different than anything on Earth.

    Is there any atmosphere left on Proxima b?

    That’s anybody’s guess at the moment. The fact that these flares are happening doesn’t bode well for that atmosphere being intact – especially if they’re associated with explosions of plasma like what happens on the Sun. But that’s why we’re doing this work. We hope the folks who build models of planetary atmospheres can take what our team has learned about these flares and try to figure out the odds for an atmosphere being sustained on this planet.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Conversation launched as a pilot project in October 2014. It is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.
    Our team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.
    Access to independent, high quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversation.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:49 am on May 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The Hubble Space Telescope As Cosmic-Ray Detector", , Basic Research, , ,   

    From Sky & Telescope : “The Hubble Space Telescope As Cosmic-Ray Detector” 

    From Sky & Telescope

    May 5, 2021
    Jure Japelj

    Astronomers, using Hubble Space Telescope as a particle detector, have traced cosmic rays flowing in Earth’s geomagnetic field.

    1
    Depiction of Earth’s geomagnetic field. Credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US)

    The Hubble Space Telescope requires little or no introduction. For more than three decades, the telescope has stood at the forefront of astronomical research, while its visually stunning images have served as a paragon of awe and inspiration.

    But all this time, Hubble has also been secretly acting as a particle detector. And a good one at that, as a team of scientists demonstrated in a pilot study to appear in The Astrophysical Journal.

    Energetic charged particles, or cosmic rays, populate every corner of the solar system. A near-constant flow of galactic particles originates from supernova remnants (and the stellar cinders at their cores).

    The Sun also sheds energetic particles, mostly protons, during solar flares and coronal mass ejections.

    These cosmic rays wiggle and push their way through the solar system under the influence of the magnetized solar wind. Many end up at Earth, where they threaten astronauts, disrupt satellites, and affect atmospheric chemistry.

    Cosmic rays are every astronomer’s nightmare. Neither ground nor space telescopes are immune to the barrage of the energetic particles, and when a particle travels through a camera, it leaves a sharp and bright trace on the resulting image. Needless to say, astronomers try to remove this pollution from their data.

    But now scientists have demonstrated that one person’s garbage is another’s treasure.

    Hubble’s Treasure Trove

    “The idea for this project started five or six years ago at a conference about space weather,” says Susana Deustua (Ars Metrologia, formerly at NASA Space Telescope Science Institute (US)), who led the study. An international group of astronomers, particle physicists, and planetary scientists put their heads together and came up with a plan. “Cosmic rays interact with the geomagnetic field,” Deustua adds. “We know that Hubble collects charged particles on its detector, therefore we should be able to glean information about the field from Hubble.”

    The team dug into Hubble’s rich data archive. They looked for calibration images that were particularly well-suited for their plan and ended up with almost 100,000 images collected over the past 25 years.

    Algorithms for finding and removing cosmic-ray traces from astronomical images have been around for decades. But rather than simply getting rid of the traces, the team wanted to learn as much as possible about the cosmic rays that caused them. “For example, we wanted to know how many pixels on the camera each cosmic ray affected and how much energy the particle lost in the process,” explains graduate student Nathan Miles (University of California (US)), who is first author on the study.

    Miles developed software to extract such information, using cloud computing services to carry out the time-demanding computations. His algorithm harvested more than 1 billion cosmic rays from the images.

    2
    Map of cosmic ray traces in one of the Hubble’s images. Traces may have different shapes and affect different number of pixels on the camera. Credit: Nathan Miles.

    A Cosmic-ray Image of Earth’s Magnetic Field

    The results provide an important proof of concept with encouraging results. The cosmic ray properties from Hubble data match those detected by the Pamela experiment (IT), a defunct particle detector in low-Earth orbit. The team also saw in their data the South Atlantic Anomaly, the famous dip in the Earth’s geomagnetic field. And they observed the expected response of cosmic rays to the solar cycle.

    Claudio Corti (University of Hawai‘i at Manoa (US)), who was not involved in the study, was pleasantly surprised by the work. “There is always interest in a better understanding of the geomagnetic field and the effect it has on the particle radiation for astronauts and electronics on the satellites,” he says. The data may prove valuable to understand cosmic ray populations in the solar system.

    The analysis so far has only scratched the surface. The team is looking forward to unleashing the full power of the data to better understand the relation between galactic cosmic rays, the Sun, and Earth’s environment. “One of our interests is to look if we can find subtle secular changes in the geomagnetic field,” Deustua says. “We also want to make comparisons with geophysical observatories.”

    Hubble’s uninterrupted monitoring of cosmic rays over a quarter of a century nicely complements other cosmic ray detectors. “From one single-point measurement, it is hard to get information on the global space environment,” Corti says. “The more points you have, the better it is.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sky & Telescope, founded in 1941 by Charles A. Federer Jr. and Helen Spence Federer, has the largest, most experienced staff of any astronomy magazine in the world. Its editors are virtually all amateur or professional astronomers, and every one has built a telescope, written a book, done original research, developed a new product, or otherwise distinguished him or herself.

    Sky & Telescope magazine, now in its eighth decade, came about because of some happy accidents. Its earliest known ancestor was a four-page bulletin called The Amateur Astronomer, which was begun in 1929 by the Amateur Astronomers Association in New York City. Then, in 1935, the American Museum of Natural History opened its Hayden Planetarium and began to issue a monthly bulletin that became a full-size magazine called The Sky within a year. Under the editorship of Hans Christian Adamson, The Sky featured large illustrations and articles from astronomers all over the globe. It immediately absorbed The Amateur Astronomer.

    Despite initial success, by 1939 the planetarium found itself unable to continue financial support of The Sky. Charles A. Federer, who would become the dominant force behind Sky & Telescope, was then working as a lecturer at the planetarium. He was asked to take over publishing The Sky. Federer agreed and started an independent publishing corporation in New York.

    “Our first issue came out in January 1940,” he noted. “We dropped from 32 to 24 pages, used cheaper quality paper…but editorially we further defined the departments and tried to squeeze as much information as possible between the covers.” Federer was The Sky’s editor, and his wife, Helen, served as managing editor. In that January 1940 issue, they stated their goal: “We shall try to make the magazine meet the needs of amateur astronomy, so that amateur astronomers will come to regard it as essential to their pursuit, and professionals to consider it a worthwhile medium in which to bring their work before the public.”

     
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