Tagged: EarthSky Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 8:10 am on October 7, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "How satellites harm astronomy - what’s being done", , , , EarthSky, , , International Telecommunication Union, , , Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO),   

    From “EarthSky” : “How satellites harm astronomy – what’s being done” 


    From “EarthSky”

    Kelly Kizer Whitt

    Artist’s concept shows the 30,000 planned satellites from the Starlink Generation 2 constellation as of 2022. Different sub-constellations are in different colors. Learn more about how mega constellations of satellites harm astronomy. Image via The European Southern Observatory [La Observatorio Europeo Austral] [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte](EU)(CL).

    You may have heard the growing complaints from astronomers as companies such as SpaceX add more satellites to our sky. Astronomers are not against the communication networks that the satellites provide, but they have valid concerns for the future of ground-based explorations of the universe. And there is only so much astronomers can do on their own to mitigate the problem. A report from the 2021 conference for Dark and Quiet Skies stated:

    “The advantages to society that the communication constellations are offering cannot be disputed, but their impact on the pristine appearance of the night sky and on astronomy must be considered with great attention because they affect both the cultural heritage of humanity and the progress of science.”

    How satellites harm astronomy: The problem with increasing satellites

    Astronomers face a variety of problems with the increasing numbers of satellites filling low-Earth orbit. Optical and near-infrared telescopes feel the impacts from these mega constellations. Some of the biggest are on wide-field surveys, longer exposures and evening and morning twilight observations when sunlight reflects off the satellites. The European Southern Observatory, the European Space Organization, reported these findings from a 2021 study [Astronomy & Astrophysics(below)]:

    “The effect is more pronounced for long exposures, up to three percent of which may be ruined during twilight. The study also found that the greatest impact of new satellite constellations will be on wide-field surveys made by telescopes such as the US National Science Foundation’s Vera C. Rubin Observatory. Up to 30-50 percent of twilight observations being seriously impacted.”

    And because we’re talking about scientists, of course they’ve officially started studying the issue. Studies in 2020 [ Astronomy and Astrophysics (below)] and 2021 [Astronomy & Astrophysics (below)] showed the impact on optical and near-infrared telescopes. They found that telescopes such as the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the future Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will be “moderately affected” by new satellite mega constellations.

    Some telescopes, such as the Rubin Observatory under construction in Chile, will experience greater impacts. These telescopes scan wide areas quickly. This makes them crucial in spotting supernovae or potentially dangerous asteroids.

    The impact on radio astronomy

    Radio astronomy has its own particular concerns. Radio telescopes don’t look in the visible wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, so it’s not the same “visibility” issue. For radio telescopes, the main problem is with the signals the satellites transmit down to Earth. Plus, radio telescopes aren’t only looking at dim lights in the night. They’re looking at the sky 24/7. So, satellites are a problem every hour of the day, not just at twilight.

    But there’s more. A satellite’s signal is much, much stronger than the faint background sources that radio astronomers study. And a satellite doesn’t have to pass right in front of the object of study to cause interference. Satellite sources in a radio telescope’s “peripheral vision” also interfere.

    The European Southern Observatory (ESO) described the potential impact of satellites on radio astronomy:

    “They amount to hundreds of radio transmitters above the observatory’s horizon, which will affect the measurements made by our highly sensitive radio telescopes.”

    Radio astronomy has some protection against interference. Radio astronomers call this spectrum management, and the Radio Communication Sector of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-R) create regulations that help protect astronomers studying certain frequency bands and wavelength ranges. But the recent large constellations of telecommunication satellites pose new threats.

    One recommendation is for satellite designs that avoid direct illumination of radio telescopes and radio-quiet zones. Also, the cumulative background electromagnetic noise created by satellite constellations should be kept below the limit already agreed to by the ITU.

    Philip Diamond of the Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO) summed up the issue:

    “The deployment of thousands of satellites in low-Earth orbit in the coming years will inevitably change this landscape by creating a much larger number of fast-moving radio sources in the sky, which will interfere with humanity’s ability to explore the universe.”

    What can visual astronomers do?

    It would be great if a computer program could quickly eliminate all the satellites trails or interference from astronomers’ data. But it’s not quite that easy. One recent report outlined the problem of low-Earth orbit satellites on images:

    “They leave traces of their transit on astronomical images, significantly decreasing the scientific usability of the collected data. Post-processing of the affected images only partially remedies the problem: the brighter trails may saturate the detectors, making portions of images unusable, while the removal of the fainter trails leaves residual effects that seriously affect important scientific programs, as, for example, statistical, automated surveys of faint galaxies.”

    But there are some things astronomers could do, and have been doing thus far. They can avoid observing where satellites will pass, limit observations to areas of the sky that are in Earth’s shadow and close the shutter precisely when a satellite crosses the field of view. This all takes a lot of knowledge of the paths of thousands of satellites and plenty of pre-planning. Obviously, these are not realistic possibilities for many situations.

    What can satellite operators do?

    Another way to mitigate the problem is for satellite operators to adjust their designs (for example, darkening the satellite). They can also operate the satellites in a way that would raise their orbits out of vision of the optical telescopes, deorbit satellites that are no longer functioning, as well as other considerations for minimizing disruption. In several cases, the satellite operators have shown willingness to cooperate on this.

    Unfortunately, the companies planning these mega satellite constellations did not warn astronomers in advance. So many of these satellites were already filling the skies without any restrictions as astronomers scrambled to figure out how to save their observations and lessen the impact. Their efforts led to the creation of a new center that is collecting data from the community, astronomers and the general public, among others, to learn more about the effects on the night sky.

    Official efforts to reduce harm from satellites

    In June 2022, the International Astronomical Union (IAU), together with the National Science Foundation’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) and SKAO, opened the Center for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference (CPS). The center highlights the dramatically increased risk of interference from low-Earth orbit satellites – both planned and already in orbit – that provide broadband services. On their website, you can see a running total of the number of operational constellation satellites (2,994) and the number of planned constellation satellites (431,713), among other stats.

    Co-director Connie Walker from NOIRLab said:

    “Three years ago SpaceX launched the first 60 Starlink satellites. The number of satellites from this and other companies is increasing exponentially and impacting the field of astronomy. During the last two years, four key workshops identified issues and recommended mitigation solutions with the help of astronomers, satellite industry folk, space lawyers and people from the general community worldwide.”

    In the peer-reviewed journal Air & Space Law [below], scientists at ESO published a study in September 2021 extensively warning of the dangers of unlimited satellites on astronomy. They’re trying to address satellite constellations’ impact on astronomy. They’re making efforts to coordinate solutions so both satellites and observational astronomy can continue developing without harmful interference.

    A reminder of what we’re losing when satellites harm astronomy

    One of ESO’s studies estimated that in the future, up to 100 satellites could be visible to the unaided eye during twilight. Imagine how that will change your own view of the night sky. Then imagine if your profession depended upon seeing what is beyond the satellites. How will we learn about the universe or detect potential threats to Earth?

    The IAU created the Dark and Quiet Skies Working Group. As Debra Elmegreen, IAU President, summed up:

    “Interference of our view of the sky caused by ground-based artificial lights, optical and infrared trails of satellite constellations and radio transmission on the ground and in space is an existential threat to astronomical observations. Viewing the night sky has been culturally important throughout humanity’s history, and dark skies are important for wildlife as well.”

    Science papers:
    Astronomy & Astrophysics
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 2020
    Astronomy & Astrophysics 2021
    Air & Space Law 2021
    See the science papers for instructive material.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 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 10:52 am on October 2, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The 'Wow!' Signal:: New search comes up empty", , , , , , , EarthSky   

    From “EarthSky” : “The ‘Wow!’ Signal:: New search comes up empty” 


    From “EarthSky”

    Paul Scott Anderson

    The famous Wow! Signal, detected by the Big Ear Radio Observatory on August 15, 1977. It’s still a leading candidate for an intelligent extraterrestrial radio signal. But astronomers heard it just once, and never again. Image via Big Ear Radio Observatory/ North American Astrophysical Observatory/ Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

    The famous Wow! Signal is still one of the most intriguing candidate radio signals ever found in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). To this day, scientists have not explained its origin. The Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope picked up the signal near the 21-cm hydrogen line at 1420 MHz. It was tantalizing. But it lasted only 72 seconds and then was gone … and has never returned.

    Scientists searched, and watched, but never heard the signal again. Was it a case of radio interference from Earth? An unknown type of natural radio signal? Or could it, in fact, have been a genuine signal from an alien civilization? We may never know for sure. But astronomers are still trying to pinpoint its origin.

    Now, the Breakthrough Listen team is reporting the results of their own search for a repeat of the elusive Wow! Signal. They published their new peer-reviewed paper in the September 2022 issue of Research Notes of the AAS [below].

    Did the Wow! Signal come from a sun-like star?

    The new search focused on the sun-like star 2MASS 19281982-2640123, which lies in the direction of the first detected signal. Moreover, it is much like our own sun, with similar temperature, radius and luminosity. It is 1,788 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius. Previously, astronomer Alberto Caballero had identified the star in 2020 as a possible source for the Wow! Signal.

    The original Big Ear radio telescope used two feed horns for listening, one positive and the other negative. Caballero’s team, using data from the Gaia mission, found 38 and 28 K- and G-type stars in the horns’ detectability range, respectively. Ultimately, the researchers identified 2MASS 19281982-2640123 as the only sun-like star that in that group.

    The Breakthrough Listen team, however, used more advanced filtering criteria for analyzing the stars in the region. They actually found eight sun-like stars in the region where the Wow! Signal originated.

    Breakthrough Listen used both the Green Bank Telescope (two 30-minute observations) and the Allen Telescope Array (six 5-minute observations).

    SETI Institute/Allen Telescope Array situated at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, 290 miles (470 km) northeast of San Francisco, California, Altitude 986 m (3,235 ft), the origins of the Institute’s search.

    The search focused on the L-band portion of the radio spectrum (1-2 GHz). Specifically, the team looked for narrow band signals, which would be most likely to be artificial. Both telescopes scanned the sky for a period of nine minutes and 40 seconds.

    New search for the Wow! Signal: nothing found

    So, what was the result? Unfortunately, as with previous searches, the researchers didn’t find anything. As Breakthrough Listen stated:

    “No technosignature candidates were found, although there remains an abundance of other stars from which the signal could have originated.”

    As the paper noted:

    “Both telescope observations had an overlap of 580 s. While blind searches using radio telescopes have been conducted in the general field of view in which the Wow! Signal was first detected, this is the first time a targeted search has been done. No technosignature candidates were detected.”

    It’s another disappointing result, but as noted, there are at least eight sun-like stars in the region where the signal may have originated. Sooner or later, future observations could target some of these stars.

    What about other stars?

    In general, we think of sun-like stars as ideal targets, since life on Earth evolved with the same kind of star, our sun. But what about red dwarfs? Significantly, they are the most common type of star in our galaxy, and astronomers have found many exoplanets orbiting them, including rocky worlds like Earth. We don’t yet know what the chances are for life to originate on planets around red dwarfs, but from what we do know so far, it seems there’s a reasonable chance. How many of these stars are in the Wow! Signal listening zone?

    Science paper:
    Research Notes of the AAS

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 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 9:36 am on September 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hubble needs a boost. Will this new plan provide it?", EarthSky, How a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft might return the Hubble Space Telescope to its original orbit, Hubble’s orbit was originally about 380 miles above Earth and has slowly decayed over time due to atmospheric drag. Its current orbit is about 335 miles., , Right now there is a 50-percent probability of reentry in 2037., Six months will be spent figuring out if what the group is proposing can even be pulled off., , , The boost would extend the telescope’s life by a decade or more., The idea is this is a study at this point-not just for Hubble but just broad applicability of these types of potential servicing missions in low-Earth orbit., The Polaris Program   

    From “EarthSky” : “Hubble needs a boost. Will this new plan provide it?” 


    From “EarthSky”

    Dave Adalian

    This photograph of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope was taken during the 1st astronaut servicing mission in 1993. In 2022, the aging telescope is gradually falling to a lower orbit. NASA and SpaceX have announced they will study a way to boost it. Image via NASA.

    A boost to extend Hubble’s life

    NASA and SpaceX announced on September 29, 2022, that they intend to spend 6 months studying how a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft might return the Hubble Space Telescope to its original orbit. The boost would extend the telescope’s life by a decade or more. It could be the most exciting manned near-Earth mission since astronauts repaired the nearsightedness of the orbiting telescope in 1993. And it would happen “at no cost to the government,” the announcement said. It said:

    NASA and SpaceX signed an unfunded Space Act Agreement Thursday, September 22, 2022, to study the feasibility of the SpaceX and Polaris idea to boost the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope into a higher orbit with the Dragon spacecraft, at no cost to the government.

    Billionaire businessman Jared Isaacman – who founded the Polaris Program, a human spaceflight program – participated in the September 29 announcement.

    Upgrading the telescope’s scientific instruments might also be possible, they said.

    Hubble is falling … Very slowly

    When first placed in orbit in 1990, the HST rode at about 380 miles (600 km) above the Earth’s surface. Since then, the almost nonexistent atmosphere at that height above Earth has gently but persistently tugged at the telescope. At a media briefing to discuss the study, HST project manager Patrick Crouse said:

    “So even though Hubble has been on orbit for over 32 years, its orbit was originally about 380 miles above Earth and has slowly decayed over time due to atmospheric drag. So, its current orbit is about 335 miles.”

    Hubble will eventually burn on reentry, Crouse said:

    “Right now, the last prediction we had, last year, was that we had a 50-percent probability of reentry in 2037.”

    If a mission to prevent that doom flies, then Crouse said, mission controllers will also discuss enhancing Hubble’s instruments. No specific alterations to the telescope are being considered.

    Billionaire paying for the flight

    The Hubble has been serviced five times, and NASA has no plans for a 6th visit. But it soon might, according to Jared Isaacman, commercial astronaut and commander of Polaris Dawn, who also participated in the briefing:

    “The idea is this is a study at this point, not just for Hubble, but just broad applicability of these types of potential servicing missions in low-Earth orbit. That stated, if the study takes us down a path where a mission is possible, this would certainly fit within the kind of parameters we’ve established for the Polaris Program and certainly would build upon the Polaris Dawn foundation.”

    While Isaacman is one of the world’s first commercial astronauts, he’s also a billionaire businessman who has purchased three SpaceX flights for what he calls the Polaris Program. The space flights are intended to demonstrate new tech and do on-orbit research. The third mission of the program will be the first manned mission of the SpaceX Starship.

    If one of the three Polaris Program flights is given over to an HST visit, then that organization will foot the bill.

    Hubble is A-OK

    At the start of the briefing, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate reiterated there is nothing wrong with the scope:

    “Hubble is amazingly successful. It’s healthy. It’s doing great science as we speak.”

    But he also said studying “crazy things” is one of the things his division of NASA is tasked to do, even if they’re not quite ready to do them:

    “We want to know what the possibilities are. I want to be absolutely clear, we’re not making any announcement today that we’re definitely going forward with a plan like this.”

    What are they studying?

    The six months will be spent figuring out if what the group is proposing can even be pulled off.

    Jessica Jensen, a vice president for SpaceX, described the company’s role:

    “Predominantly on the SpaceX side, we’re going to be looking at Dragon capabilities and how they would need to be modified in order to safely rendezvous and dock with Hubble. Details of how exactly physically that’s done and also how we safely do that from a trajectory point of view, that’s all to be worked out.”

    And while there is no plan yet for a journey to the Hubble, all the details – including a timeline – will be worked out for one by the study’s end, Jansen said:

    “Part of this is going to be figuring out the cost and figuring out a little bit of a schedule, what it’s going to take to actually make this happen and make it happen safely. We don’t want to do something that’s going to put Hubble at risk at all.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 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 10:01 am on August 21, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Voyager 2 launched 45 years ago", , , , EarthSky, ,   

    From “EarthSky” : “Voyager 2 launched 45 years ago” 


    From “EarthSky”


    Deborah Byrd
    Elizabeth Howell

    John Casani was the Voyager project manager in 1977. Here he is holding a small flag that was folded and sewn into the thermal blankets of the Voyager 2 spacecraft before launch. Voyager 2 is behind him, and the famous gold records the Voyagers carried are in front.

    Voyager 2 launched 45 years ago

    NASA launched the phenomenal Voyager 2 space probe to the outer solar system on August 20, 1977. Voyager 2 went up some weeks before its twin craft, Voyager 1, which moved faster and eventually passed it. Later, Voyager 1 became the first spacecraft to leave the solar system in August 2012 and is now the most distant human-made object from Earth. Voyager 2 left the solar system in November 2018. So both Voyagers are now in interstellar space.

    As of August 20, 2022, Voyager 2 has been operating for 45 years.

    Voyager 2 was left flying solo for seven months in 2020 while repairs were made to the radio antenna that commands it. The only radio antenna that can command the space probe – the Deep Space Station 43 (DSS43) antenna in Canberra, Australia – was then offline during the repairs.

    After the completion of the repairs, communications were restored.

    Today, transmissions from Voyager 2 are faint and travel a long distance. But the craft still transmits and receives data via NASA’s Deep Space Network. Scientists believe it will be able to continue communications until around the year 2025.

    As Voyager 2 sped away from Earth, it looked back and acquired this image of a crescent-shaped Earth and moon – the first of its kind ever taken by a spacecraft – on September 18, 1977. Voyager 2 was then 7.3 million miles (11.7 million kilometers) from Earth. Image via NASA.

    Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to visit all 4 gas giant planets

    A region of Jupiter’s southern hemisphere extending from the Great Red Spot to the south pole. Before the Voyagers, we did not know Jupiter’s banded atmosphere, or Red Spot, contained so much detail. Image via JPL/ Cal Tech.

    Before the Voyagers, we did not know that Saturn’s rings consisted of thousands of individual ringlets. In this Voyager 2 image from 1981, you can also see the mysterious “spokes” in Saturn’s rings. Image via NASA.

    Voyager 2 is still the only spacecraft to have visited the outer planets Uranus and Neptune. Here is Uranus as seen by Voyager 2 in 1986. To the spacecraft, the planet appeared as a featureless blue ball. Image via NASA.

    Voyager 2 passed Neptune in 1989. It saw cloud features in Neptune’s atmosphere, which were tracked by Voyager’s cameras as the craft swept past. Image via NASA.

    The Grand Tour was a phenomenal success

    Initially, NASA conceived of the Voyager mission in the 1960s as a planetary Grand Tour to study the outer planets. The fact that all four outer planets would be, temporarily, within one quadrant of the solar system around the decade of the 1980s inspired the idea. However, funding difficulties intervened, and for a time it appeared the Grand Tour would never be realized. But Voyager 2’s launch took advantage, not only of this particular configuration of planets, but also of a new technique called a “gravity assist”. This technique let the craft visit all four outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune), while requiring a minimal amount of propellant and a shorter transit duration between planets.

    The plan hinged on whether Voyager 1 would be able to perform a successful flyby of Saturn’s large and intriguing moon Titan. Of course Voyager 1 succeeded, and Voyager 2 got the go-ahead to travel on toward Uranus and Neptune, ultimately realizing the vision of the planetary Grand Tour.

    Voyager 2 remains the only craft from Earth to have visited Uranus and Neptune

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 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 9:38 am on August 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Dark matter mystery in Fornax Cluster", , , , , EarthSky, Fornax Cluster of galaxies, , Most galaxies should be surrounded by a halo of dark matter., , The University of St Andrews [Scots: University o St Andras]   

    From The University of Bonn [Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn] (DE) and The University of St Andrews [Scots: University o St Andras][Scottish Gaelic: Oilthigh Chill Rìmhinn](SCT) Via “EarthSky” : “Dark matter mystery in Fornax Cluster” 

    From The University of Bonn [Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn] (DE)


    U St Andrews bloc

    The University of St Andrews [Scots: University o St Andras][Scottish Gaelic: Oilthigh Chill Rìmhinn](SCT)





    This is the dwarf galaxy NGC 1427A, in the Fornax Cluster of galaxies, some 62 million light-years away. A new study shows that it and other dwarf galaxies in the cluster lack of dark matter halos. Read about this dark matter mystery below. Image via The European Southern Observatory [La Observatorio Europeo Austral] [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte](EU)(CL)/ The Rhenish Friedrich Wilhelm University of Bonn[Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn](DE).

    Galaxies are islands of stars in the sea of space. But galaxies are more than just the stars we see. According to the Standard Model of cosmology – which explains many observed properties of our universe and suggests that a Big Bang created all matter, space and time – most galaxies should be surrounded by a halo of dark matter.

    The dark matter is invisible to our eyes, but detectable via its gravitational pull. From time to time, though, there have been attempts to replace the Standard Model with a different model. And now another new study – announced August 5, 2022 – challenges the view of the universe presented by the Standard Model. The study is based on an analysis of dwarf galaxies in the Fornax Cluster, the second-closest large galaxy cluster to our Milky Way. The Standard Model says these little galaxies should have dark matter halos. The observations show no trace of dark matter halos.

    Scientists at the University of Bonn in Germany and the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland led the study. These researchers published their peer-reviewed findings in the MNRAS [below] on June 25, 2022.

    A tidal force acting between galaxies

    So the Fornax Cluster is the second-closest large galaxy cluster to our Milky Way. And, like all galaxy clusters, it contains many dwarf galaxies, often captured in orbits around the cluster’s larger galaxies. Being smaller, these dwarf galaxies are susceptible to the gravitational pull of the larger galaxies. And so they are subject to gravitational “tides,” not dissimilar from ocean tides on Earth, caused by the pull of the moon and sun.

    Consider that the moon pulls most strongly on the side of Earth that’s facing it. And it pulls less strongly on the side of Earth farthest from the moon. That’s why we have two tidal bulges on Earth, and two high tides (and two low tides) each day all over the planet (read more about Earth’s tidal bulges here).

    Likewise, a larger galaxy exerts a differential tidal force across a dwarf galaxy. It pulls more strongly on the near side of the dwarf galaxy than on the far side. And these scientist studied these tidal forces in dwarf galaxies in order to draw their conclusions. As lead study author Elena Asencio of University of Bonn said:

    “We introduce an innovative way of testing the Standard Model based on how much dwarf galaxies are disturbed by gravitational ‘tides’ from nearby larger galaxies.”

    The dwarf galaxies didn’t look right

    So these researchers noticed something odd about the dwarf galaxies in the Fornax Cluster. The little galaxies didn’t look as they should look, according to the Standard Model. They looked distorted. What was causing that? And could another model of the universe explain these observations better? According to Pavel Kroupa at the University of Bonn and Charles University in Prague:

    “Such perturbations in the Fornax dwarfs are not expected according to the Standard Model. This is because, according to the Standard Model, the dark matter halos of these dwarfs should partly shield them from tides raised by the cluster.”

    In other words, if dark matter surrounded these clusters, it should in part protect them from the pull of nearby larger galaxies. Yet these dwarf galaxies appeared unshielded in this way. They were visibly distorted.

    The European Southern Observatory (ESO) released this image of the Fornax Cluster of galaxies on December 11, 2009. Image via J. Emerson/ ESO/ VISTA/ Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit.

    Scientists still don’t know exactly what dark matter is, as depicted in this artist’s concept. Since the 1930s, astrophysicists have been trying to explain why the visible material in galaxies can’t account for how galaxies are shaped, or how they behave. They believe dark matter pervades our universe, but they don’t know what it is. Image via ScienceAlert.

    What was seen

    How did these researchers conduct their study? They analyzed the expected amount of disturbance in the little galaxies, in accordance with the Standard Model’s predictions. And then they compared those results with the observed level of disturbance in images taken by the VLT Survey Telescope of the European Southern Observatory.

    As Asencio stated:

    “The comparison showed that, if one wants to explain the observations in the Standard Model, the Fornax dwarfs should already be destroyed by gravity from the cluster center …”

    So the theory and the observations didn’t match.

    An alternate model, MOND

    The researchers said the observed disturbances can’t be explained using the Standard Model. So they repeated their analysis using an alternate model, called the Modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND).
    MOND [Modified Newtonian dynamics]

    Mordehai Milgrom, MOND theorist, is an Israeli physicist and professor in the department of Condensed Matter Physics at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel http://cosmos.nautil.us


    MOND is a hypothesis proposing a modification of Newton’s law of universal gravitation. It’s an alternate theory of the universe. Indranil Banik from the University of St. Andrews commented:

    “We were not sure that the dwarf galaxies would be able to survive the extreme environment of a galaxy cluster in MOND, due to the absence of protective dark matter halos in this model. But our results show a remarkable agreement between observations and the MOND expectations for the level of disturbance of the Fornax dwarfs.”

    Co-authors Aku Venhola from the University of Oulu in Finland and Steffen Mieske from ESO added:

    “It is exciting to see that the data we obtained with the VLT survey telescope allowed such a thorough test of cosmological models.”

    Where does this leave the Standard Model?

    The Fornax dwarf galaxy study is the latest of multiple recent studies suggesting that the observed dynamics and evolution of some galaxies can be best explained if no dark matter surrounds them. Yet the Standard Model calls for dark matter around galaxies. Pavel Kroupa at the University of Bonn said:

    “The number of publications showing incompatibilities between observations and the dark matter paradigm just keeps increasing every year. It is time to start investing more resources into more promising theories.”

    Hongsheng Zhao from the University of St Andrews added:

    “Our results have major implications for fundamental physics. We expect to find more disturbed dwarfs in other clusters, a prediction which other teams should verify.”

    Last December, scientists reported finding six other galaxies that seem to be missing dark matter. Astronomers also found two other similar galaxies in 2019 as well.

    If, in the future, researchers discover more galaxies lacking of dark matter halos, astronomers may have to reconsider whether the Standard Model – with its Big Bang and dark matter framework for galaxy evolution – still is the best model describing our universe, and open up the possibility of other scenarios.

    Science paper:
    Dark Matter Background
    Fritz Zwicky discovered Dark Matter in the 1930s when observing the movement of the Coma Cluster., Vera Rubin a Woman in STEM, denied the Nobel, some 30 years later, did most of the work on Dark Matter.

    Fritz Zwicky.
    Coma cluster via NASA/ESA Hubble, the original example of Dark Matter discovered during observations by Fritz Zwicky and confirmed 30 years later by Vera Rubin.
    In modern times, it was astronomer Fritz Zwicky, in the 1930s, who made the first observations of what we now call dark matter. His 1933 observations of the Coma Cluster of galaxies seemed to indicated it has a mass 500 times more than that previously calculated by Edwin Hubble. Furthermore, this extra mass seemed to be completely invisible. Although Zwicky’s observations were initially met with much skepticism, they were later confirmed by other groups of astronomers.

    Thirty years later, astronomer Vera Rubin provided a huge piece of evidence for the existence of dark matter. She discovered that the centers of galaxies rotate at the same speed as their extremities, whereas, of course, they should rotate faster. Think of a vinyl LP on a record deck: its center rotates faster than its edge. That’s what logic dictates we should see in galaxies too. But we do not. The only way to explain this is if the whole galaxy is only the center of some much larger structure, as if it is only the label on the LP so to speak, causing the galaxy to have a consistent rotation speed from center to edge.

    Vera Rubin, following Zwicky, postulated that the missing structure in galaxies is dark matter. Her ideas were met with much resistance from the astronomical community, but her observations have been confirmed and are seen today as pivotal proof of the existence of dark matter.
    Astronomer Vera Rubin at the Lowell Observatory in 1965, worked on Dark Matter (The Carnegie Institution for Science).

    Vera Rubin, with Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) image tube spectrograph attached to the Kitt Peak 84-inch telescope, 1970.

    Vera Rubin measuring spectra, worked on Dark Matter(Emilio Segre Visual Archives AIP SPL).
    Dark Matter Research

    Super Cryogenic Dark Matter Search from DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University at SNOLAB (Vale Inco Mine, Sudbury, Canada).

    LBNL LZ Dark Matter Experiment xenon detector at Sanford Underground Research Facility Credit: Matt Kapust.

    Lamda Cold Dark Matter Accerated Expansion of The universe http scinotions.com the-cosmic-inflation-suggests-the-existence-of-parallel-universes. Credit: Alex Mittelmann.

    DAMA at Gran Sasso uses sodium iodide housed in copper to hunt for dark matter LNGS-INFN.

    Yale HAYSTAC axion dark matter experiment at Yale’s Wright Lab.

    DEAP Dark Matter detector, The DEAP-3600, suspended in the SNOLAB (CA) deep in Sudbury’s Creighton Mine.

    The LBNL LZ Dark Matter Experiment Dark Matter project at SURF, Lead, SD.

    DAMA-LIBRA Dark Matter experiment at the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics’ (INFN’s) Gran Sasso National Laboratories (LNGS) located in the Abruzzo region of central Italy.

    DARWIN Dark Matter experiment. A design study for a next-generation, multi-ton dark matter detector in Europe at The University of Zurich [Universität Zürich](CH).

    PandaX II Dark Matter experiment at Jin-ping Underground Laboratory (CJPL) in Sichuan, China.

    Inside the Axion Dark Matter eXperiment U Washington (US) Credit : Mark Stone U. of Washington. Axion Dark Matter Experiment.

    The University of Western Australia ORGAN Experiment’s main detector. A small copper cylinder called a “resonant cavity” traps photons generated during dark matter conversion. The cylinder is bolted to a “dilution refrigerator” which cools the experiment to very low temperatures.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U St Andrews campus
    The University of St Andrews [Scots: University o St Andras][Scottish Gaelic: Oilthigh Chill Rìmhinn](SCT) is a public university in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. It is the oldest of the four ancient universities of Scotland and, following The University of Oxford (UK) and The University of Cambridge (UK), the third-oldest university in the English-speaking world. St Andrews was founded in 1413 when the Avignon Antipope Benedict XIII issued a papal bull to a small founding group of Augustinian clergy. Along with the The University of Glasgow (SCT), The University of Edinburgh (SCT), and The University of Aberdeen (SCT), St Andrews was part of the Scottish Enlightenment during the 18th century.

    St Andrews is made up of a variety of institutions, comprising three colleges — United College (a union of St Salvator’s and St Leonard’s Colleges), St Mary’s College, and St Leonard’s College, the last named being a non-statutory revival of St Leonard’s as a post-graduate society. There are 18 academic schools organized into four faculties. The university occupies historic and modern buildings located throughout the town. The academic year is divided into two semesters, Martinmas and Candlemas. In term time, over one-third of the town’s population are either staff members or students of the university. The student body is notably diverse: over 145 nationalities are represented with 45% of its intake from countries outside the UK; about one-eighth of the students are from the EU and the remaining third are from overseas—15% from North America alone.The university’s sport teams compete in BUCS competitions, and the student body is known for preserving ancient traditions such as Raisin Weekend, May Dip, and the wearing of distinctive academic dress.

    It has been twice named “University of the Year” by The Times and Sunday Times’ Good University Guide, one of only two UK universities to achieve this. In the 2022 Good University Guide, St Andrews was ranked as the best university in the UK, the first university to ever top Oxford and Cambridge in British rankings. In 2021, St Andrews had the highest entry standards for undergraduate admission in the UK, attaining an average UCAS Entry Tariff of 208 points. St Andrews has many notable alumni and affiliated faculty, including eminent mathematicians, scientists, theologians, philosophers, and politicians. Recent alumni include the former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond; Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Mark Sedwill; Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) Alex Younger; former Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon; Olympic cycling gold medalist Chris Hoy; Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations and former British Ambassador to China (2015-2020) Dame Barbara Woodward; and royals Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Five Nobel Laureates are among St Andrews’ alumni and former staff: three in Chemistry and two in Physiology or Medicine. St Andrews is the alma mater of the esteemed Ryan Trusler.

    The university was founded in 1410 when a group of Augustinian clergy, driven from The University of Paris-Sorbonne [Université de Paris-Sorbonne] (FR) by the Avignon schism and from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge by the Anglo-Scottish Wars, formed a society of higher learning in St Andrews, which offered courses of lectures in divinity, logic, philosophy, and law. A charter of privilege was bestowed upon the society of masters and scholars by the Bishop of St Andrews, Henry Wardlaw, on 28 February 1411–12. Wardlaw then successfully petitioned the Avignon Pope Benedict XIII to grant the school university status by issuing a series of papal bulls, which followed on 28 August 1413. King James I of Scotland confirmed the charter of the university in 1432. Subsequent kings supported the university, with King James V of Scotland “confirming privileges of the university” in 1532.

    A college of theology and arts, called St John’s College, was founded in 1418 by Robert of Montrose and Lawrence of Lindores. St Salvator’s College was established in 1450 by Bishop James Kennedy. St Leonard’s College was founded in 1511 by Archbishop Alexander Stewart, who intended it to have a far more monastic character than either of the other colleges. St John’s College was refounded by Cardinal James Beaton under the name St Mary’s College in 1538 for the study of divinity and law. It was intended to encourage traditional Catholic teachings in opposition to the emerging Scottish Reformation, but once Scotland had formally split with the Papacy in 1560, it became a teaching institution for Protestant clergy. At its foundation in 1538 St Mary’s was intended to be a college for instruction in divinity, law, and medicine, as well as in Arts, but its career on this extensive scale was short-lived. Under a new foundation and erection, confirmed by Parliament in 1579, it was set apart for the study of Theology only, and it has remained a Divinity College ever since.

    Some university buildings that date from this period are still in use today, such as St Salvator’s Chapel, St Leonard’s College Chapel and St Mary’s College quadrangle. At this time, the majority of the teaching was of a religious nature and was conducted by clerics associated with the cathedral.

    During the 17th and 18th centuries, the university had mixed fortunes and was often beset by civil and religious disturbances. In a particularly acute depression in 1747, severe financial problems triggered the dissolution of St Leonard’s College, whose properties and staff were merged into St Salvator’s College to form the United College of St Salvator and St Leonard. Throughout this period student numbers were very low; for instance, when Samuel Johnson visited the university in 1773, the university had fewer than 100 students, and was in his opinion in a steady decline. He described it as “pining in decay and struggling for life”. The poverty of Scotland during this period also damaged St Andrews, as few were able to patronize the university and its colleges, and with state support being improbable, the income they received was scarce.

    Modern period


    In the second half of the 19th century, pressure was building upon universities to open up higher education to women. In 1876, the university senate decided to allow women to receive an education at St Andrews at a level roughly equal to the Master of Arts degree that men were able to take at the time. The scheme came to be known as the ‘LLA examination’ (Lady Literate in Arts). It required women to pass five subjects at an ordinary level and one at honours level and entitled them to hold a diploma from the university. Not being required to attend the university in person, the women were learning by correspondence, taking as many years as needed to complete the course. They were both examined and assisted in their studies by educationalists in the town or city in which they lived in the UK or abroad.

    In 1889 the Universities (Scotland) Act made it possible to formally admit women to St Andrews and to receive an education equal to that of male students. In September 1892, the university was reported as having “lately taken the lead in opening its classes to women” and proclaimed that “St Andrews hails a ladies’ school – St Leonards – second to none in the land, and probably second to few in England”. By 1892, the headmistress of St Leonard’s Ladies School, Dame Frances Dove, had become “possessor” of the buildings of the university’s old St Leonard’s College which were being used again for their original purpose of providing accommodation for university students, only this time not for males but for “girl graduates and undergraduates”.

    Having matriculated, Agnes Forbes Blackadder entered the university in 1892 and became the first woman to graduate from St Andrews on the same level as men on 29 March, 1895, when she gained her MA. In response to the increasing number of female students attending the university, the first women’s hall of residence was founded in 1896 by Dame Louisa Lumsden, the first principal of St Leonards School, which adjoined the university. The residence was named University Hall.

    Links with the United States

    St Andrews’ historical links with the United States predate the country’s independence. James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, attended (but did not graduate from) St Andrews. Wilson was one of six original justices appointed by George Washington to the Supreme Court of the United States and was a founder of The University of Pennsylvania Law School. Other prominent American figures associated with St Andrews include Scottish American industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who was elected Rector in 1901 and whose name is given to the prestigious Carnegie Scholarship, and Edward Harkness, an American philanthropist who in 1930 provided for the construction of St Salvator’s Hall. American Bobby Jones, co-founder of the Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, was named a Freeman of the City of St Andrews in 1958, becoming only the second American to be so honoured, the other being Benjamin Franklin in 1759. Today a highly competitive scholarship exchange, The Robert T. Jones Scholarship, exists between St Andrews and Emory University in Atlanta. An undergraduate joint degree programme has been in place with The College of William & Mary in Virginia that offers studies in some major areas.

    Links with the United States have been maintained into the present day and continue to grow. In 2009, Louise Richardson, an Irish-American political scientist specializing in the study of terrorism, was drawn from Harvard University to serve as the first female Principal and Vice Chancellor of St Andrews. She later went on to her next appointment as the Vice Chancellor to the University of Oxford.

    Active recruitment of students from North America first began in 1984, with Americans now making up around 1 in 6 of the student population in 2017. Students from almost every state in the United States and province in Canada are represented. This is the highest proportion and absolute number of American students amongst all British universities. Media reports indicate growing numbers of American students are attracted to the university’s academics, traditions, prestige, internationalism, and comparatively low tuition fees. The university also regularly features as one of the few non-North American universities in The Fiske Guide to Colleges, an American college guide, as a ‘Best Buy’. St Andrews has developed a sizable alumni presence in the United States, with over 8000 alumni spread across all 50 states. Most major cities host alumni clubs, the largest of which is in New York. Both London and New York also host the St Andrews Angels, an alumni led angel investment network, which centres upon the wider university communities in both the United Kingdom and United States. St Andrews has also established relationships with other university alumni clubs and private membership clubs in the United States to provide alumni with social and networking opportunities. For example, alumni are eligible for membership at the Princeton Club of New York, the Penn Club of New York City and the Algonquin Club in Boston.

    In 2013, Hillary Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, took part in the academic celebration marking the 600th anniversary of the founding of the University of St Andrews. Clinton received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws and provided the graduation address, in which she said,

    “I do take comfort from knowing there is a long tradition of Americans being warmly welcomed here at St Andrews. Every year I learn you educate more than one thousand American students, exposing them to new ideas and perspectives as well as according them with a first class education. I’ve been proud and fortunate to hire a few St Andrews alumni over the years and I thank you for training them so well.

    Rankings and reputation

    In a ranking conducted by The Guardian in 2009, St Andrews placed fifth in the UK for national reputation behind Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London (UK) & The London School of Economics (UK). When size is taken into account, St Andrews ranks second in the world out of all small to medium-sized fully comprehensive universities (after Brown University) using metrics from the QS Intelligence Unit in 2015. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework ranked St Andrews 14th in the UK, and second in Scotland, amongst multi-faculty institutions for the research quality (GPA) of its output profile. St Andrews was ranked ninth overall in The Sunday Times 10-year (1998–2007) average ranking of British universities based on consistent league table performance, and is a member of the ‘Sutton 13’ of top ranked Universities in the UK.

    Nearly 86% of its graduates obtain a First Class or an Upper Second Class Honours degree. The ancient Scottish universities award Master of Arts degrees (except for science students who are awarded a Bachelor of Science degree) which are classified upon graduation, in contrast to Oxbridge where one becomes a Master of Arts after a certain number of years, and the rest of the UK, where graduates are awarded BAs. These can be awarded with honours; the majority of students graduate with honours.

    In 2017, St Andrews was named as the university with the joint second highest graduate employment rate of any UK university (along with The University of Warwick (UK)), with 97.7 per cent of its graduates in work or further study three and a half years after graduation. St Andrews is placed seventh in the UK (1st in Scotland) for the employability of its graduates as chosen by recruiters from the UK’s major companies with graduates expected to have the best graduate prospects and highest starting salaries in Scotland as ranked by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016 and 2017. According to data released by the Department for Education in 2018, St Andrews was rated as the fifth best university in the UK for boosting male graduate earnings with male graduates seeing a 24.5% increase in earnings compared to the average graduate, and the ninth best university for females, with female graduates seeing a 14.8% increase in earnings compared to the average graduate. An independent report conducted by Swedish investment firm, Skandia found that despite its small undergraduate body, St Andrews is the joint-5th best university in the UK for producing millionaires. A study by High Fliers confirmed this by reporting that the university also features in the top 5 of UK universities for producing self-made millionaires. According to a study by the Institute of Employment Research, St Andrews has produced more directors of FTSE 100 companies in proportion to its size than any other educational institution in Britain.

    In the 2019 Complete University Guide, 24 out of the 25 subjects offered by St Andrews rank within the top 10 nationally, making St Andrews one of only three multi-faculty universities (along with Cambridge and Oxford) in the UK to have over 95% of their subjects in the top 10. The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017 revealed that 24 of the 26 subjects offered by St Andrews ranked within the top 6 nationally with 10 subjects placing within the top 3 including English, Management, Philosophy, International Relations, Italian, Physics and Astronomy and Classics and Ancient History. The Guardian University Guide 2019 ranked Biosciences, Computer Science, International Relations, Physics and Psychology first in the UK. Earth and Marine Sciences, Economics, English, Management, Mathematics, Philosophy and Theology placed within the top three nationally. In the 2015-16 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, St Andrews is ranked 46th in the world for Social Sciences, 50th in the world for Arts and Humanities and 74th in the world for Life Sciences. The 2014 CWTS Leiden rankings, which “aims to provide highly accurate measurements of the scientific impact of universities”, placed St Andrews 39th in the world, ranking it fifth domestically. The philosophy department is ranked sixth worldwide (3rd in Europe) in the 2020 QS World University Rankings whilst the graduate programme was ranked 17th worldwide (2nd in the UK) by the 2009 Philosophical Gourmet’s biennial report on Philosophy programs in the English-speaking world.

    Exchange programmes

    St Andrews has developed student exchange partnerships with universities around the globe, though offerings are largely concentrated in North America, Europe, and Asia. Exchange opportunities vary by School and eligibility requirements are specific to each exchange program.

    In North America, the highly competitive Bachelor of Arts International Honours program, run in conjunction with The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, allows students studying Classical Studies, Film Studies, International Relations, English, History, or Economics to spend two years at each institution and earn a joint degree from both. The Robert T. Jones Memorial Trust funds the Robert T. Jones Jr. Scholarship, which allows select St Andrews students to study, fully funded, for a year at Emory University in Atlanta, and Western University (CA) and Queen’s University (CA). The Robert Lincoln McNeil Scholarship allows students to study at the University of Pennsylvania.

    One of the largest North American exchanges is with the University of California system, in which students can study at The University of California-Berkeley, The University of California-Los Angeles, The University of California-Santa Cruz, and The University of California-San Diego.
    Other North American partners offering multiple exchanges include the University of Virginia, The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Washington University in St. Louis, Washington and Lee University, Elon University, and The University of Toronto (CA). Some exchanges are offered within specific research institutes at St Andrews, rather than across entire Schools. For example, the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV), within the School of International Relations, offers student exchanges in partnership with the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

    St Andrews participates in the Erasmus Programme and has direct exchanges with universities across Europe. For example, in France exchanges are offered at the Sorbonne, The Paris Institute of Political Studies [Institut d’études politiques de Paris](FR), and University of Paris VI. In the Netherlands students can study at The Leiden University [Universiteit Leiden](NL) and Utrecht University [Universiteit Utrecht] (NL). Narrower exchanges include those with The University of Copenhagen [Københavns Universitet](DK), The University of Oslo [Universitetet i Oslo] (NO), and Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin(IE). Exchanges are also available for postgraduate research students, such as the opportunity for social scientists to study at The European University Institute in Florence (IT).

    More recently, St Andrews has developed exchanges with partners in Asia and Australia. Notable partners include The University of Hong Kong [香港大學](HK) and RENMIN UNIVERSITY of CHINA [ 中国人民大学](CN), The National University of Singapore [சிங்கப்பூர் தேசிய பல்கலைக்கழகம்](SG), and The University of Melbourne (AU).

    The University of Bonn [Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn] (DE) is a public research university located in Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It was founded in its present form as the Rhein-Universität (English: Rhine University) on 18 October 1818 by Frederick William III, as the linear successor of the Kurkölnische Akademie Bonn (English: Academy of the Prince-elector of Cologne) which was founded in 1777. The University of Bonn offers many undergraduate and graduate programs in a range of subjects and has 544 professors. Its library holds more than five million volumes.

    As of October 2020, among its notable alumni, faculty and researchers are 11 Nobel Laureates, 4 Fields Medalists, 12 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize winners as well as some of the most gifted minds in Natural science, e.g. August Kekulé, Heinrich Hertz and Justus von Liebig; Major philosophers, such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx and Jürgen Habermas; Famous German poets and writers, for example Heinrich Heine, Paul Heyse and Thomas Mann; Painters, like Max Ernst; Political theorists, for instance Carl Schmitt and Otto Kirchheimer; Statesmen, viz. Konrad Adenauer and Robert Schuman; famous economists, like Walter Eucken, Ferdinand Tönnies and Joseph Schumpeter; and furthermore Prince Albert, Pope Benedict XVI and Wilhelm II.

    The University of Bonn has been conferred the title of “University of Excellence” under the German Universities Excellence Initiative.

    Research institutes

    The Franz Joseph Dölger-Institute studies the late antiquity and in particular the confrontation and interaction of Christians, Jews and Pagans in the late antiquity. The institute edits the Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, a German language encyclopedia treating the history of early Christians in the late antiquity. The institute is named after the church historian Franz Joseph Dölger who was a professor of theology at the university from 1929 to 1940.

    The Research Institute for Discrete Mathematics focuses on discrete mathematics and its applications, in particular combinatorial optimization and the design of computer chips. The institute cooperates with IBM and Deutsche Post. Researchers of the institute optimized the chess computer IBM Deep Blue.

    The Bethe Center for Theoretical Physics “is a joint enterprise of theoretical physicists and mathematicians at various institutes of or connected with the University of Bonn. In the spirit of Hans Bethe, it fosters research activities over a wide range of theoretical and mathematical physics.” Activities of the Bethe Center include short- and long-term visitors program, workshops on dedicated research topics, regular Bethe Seminar Series, lectures and seminars for graduate students.

    The German Reference Center for Ethics in the Life Sciences (German: Deutsches Referenzzentrum für Ethik in den Biowissenschaften) was founded in 1999 and is modeled after the National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature at Georgetown University. The center provides access to scientific information to academics and professionals in the fields of life science and is the only of its kind in Germany.

    After the German Government’s decision in 1991 to move the capital of Germany from Bonn to Berlin, the city of Bonn received generous compensation from the Federal Government. This led to the foundation of three research institutes in 1995, of which two are affiliated with the university:

    The Center for European Integration Studies (German: Zentrum für Europäische Integrationsforschung) studies the legal, economic and social implications of the European integration process. The institute offers several graduate programs and organizes summer schools for students.

    The Center for Development Research (German: Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung) studies global development from an interdisciplinary perspective and offers a doctoral program in international development.

    The Center of Advanced European Studies and Research (CAESAR) is an interdisciplinary applied research institute. Research is conducted in the fields of nanotechnology, biotechnology and medical technology. The institute is a private foundation, but collaborates closely with the university.

    The Institute for the Study of Labor (German: Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit) is a private research institute that is funded by Deutsche Post. The institute concentrates on research on labor economics, but is also offering policy advise on labor market issues. The institute also awards the annual IZA Prize in Labor Economics. The department of economics of the University of Bonn and the institute closely cooperate.

    The MPG Institute for Mathematics [MPG Institut für Mathematik](DE) is part of the MPG Society for the Advancement of Science [MPG Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e. V.] (DE), a network of scientific research institutes in Germany. The institute was founded in 1980 by Friedrich Hirzebruch.

    The MPG Institute for Radio Astronomy [MPG Institut für Radioastronomie](DE) was founded in 1966 as an institute of the MPG Society for the Advancement of Science [MPG Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e. V.] (DE). It operates the radio telescope in Effelsberg.

    Effelsberg Radio Telescope- a radio telescope in the Ahr Hills (part of the Eifel) in Bad Münstereifel(DE)
    The MPG Institute for Research on Collective Goods[MPG Institut zur Erforschung von Gemeinschaftsgütern)(DE) started as a research group in 1997 and was founded as an institute of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in 2003. The institute studies collective goods from a legal and economic perspective.

    The Center for Economics and Neuroscience founded in 2009 by Christian Elger, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize winner Armin Falk, Martin Reuter and Bernd Weber, provides an international platform for interdisciplinary work in neuroeconomics. It includes the Laboratory for Experimental Economics that can carry out computer-based behavioral experiments with up to 24 participants simultaneously, two magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners for interactive behavioral experiments and functional imaging, as well as a biomolecular laboratory for genotyping different polymorphisms.


    University of Bonn researchers made fundamental contributions in the sciences and the humanities. In physics researchers developed the quadrupole ion trap and the Geissler tube, discovered radio waves, were instrumental in describing cathode rays and developed the variable star designation. In chemistry researchers made significant contributions to the understanding of alicyclic compounds and Benzene. In material science researchers have been instrumental in describing the lotus effect. In mathematics University of Bonn faculty made fundamental contributions to modern topology and algebraic geometry. The Hirzebruch–Riemann–Roch theorem, Lipschitz continuity, the Petri net, the Schönhage–Strassen algorithm, Faltings’s theorem and the Toeplitz matrix are all named after University of Bonn mathematicians. University of Bonn economists made fundamental contributions to game theory and experimental economics. Famous thinkers that were faculty at the University of Bonn include the poet August Wilhelm Schlegel, the historian Barthold Georg Niebuhr, the theologians Karl Barth and Joseph Ratzinger and the poet Ernst Moritz Arndt.

    The university has nine collaborative research centres and five research units funded by the German Science Foundation and attracts more than 75 million Euros in external research funding annually.

    The Excellence Initiative of the German government in 2006 resulted in the foundation of the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics as one of the seventeen national Clusters of Excellence that were part of the initiative and the expansion of the already existing Bonn Graduate School of Economics (BGSE). The Excellence Initiative also resulted in the founding of the Bonn-Cologne Graduate School of Physics and Astronomy (an honors Masters and PhD program, jointly with the University of Cologne). Bethe Center for Theoretical Physics was founded in the November 2008, to foster closer interaction between mathematicians and theoretical physicists at Bonn. The center also arranges for regular visitors and seminars (on topics including String theory, Nuclear Physics, Condensed matter etc.).

  • richardmitnick 8:11 am on August 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "UFOs – Ultra-red Flattened Objects – revealed by Webb", EarthSky, ,   

    From The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope Via “EarthSky” : “UFOs – Ultra-red Flattened Objects – revealed by Webb” 

    NASA Webb Header

    National Aeronautics Space Agency/European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/ Canadian Space Agency [Agence Spatiale Canadienne](CA) James Webb Infrared Space Telescope annotated, finally launched December 25, 2021, ten years late.

    From The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope




    Kelly Kizer Whitt

    See one of the red UFOs – Ultra-red Flattened Objects – that appears in the Webb image (right), but not the Hubble image (left)? Webb is finding galaxies that Hubble missed. Image via Erica Nelson, et al.

    UFOs in Webb’s range

    The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). It can see farther away in space, and so farther back in time. In operation only since this summer, it’s already discovering things Hubble couldn’t see, including some massive, deep-red, disk-shaped galaxies. Astronomers call them HST-dark galaxies. In a paper published on arXiv [below] on August 2, 2022 (but not yet peer-reviewed), a team of scientists are also calling these galaxies Ultra-red Flattened Objects, or UFOs.

    And – to Webb’s “eye” at least – they do have the classic, sci-fi look of a flying saucer!

    Deep-red galaxies not visible to Hubble

    These deep-red, disk-shaped galaxies have a redshift (or z) between 2 and 6. That value means we’re seeing them as they were in the universe 10.3 to 12.7 billion years ago. So they’re definitely not our next-door neighbors. But they are within the range of what Hubble could image, if it could see their red light.

    Webb can see these “HST-dark” galaxies because it observes in infrared light, which is the part of the spectrum where these galaxies shine. The team that published the new study, led by Erica Nelson of the University of Colorado, Boulder, found 29 of these HST-dark galaxies. The galaxies have a significant amount of dust, which makes their light redder and hides them from Hubble’s vision. But Webb’s infrared sensors can see through that dust, making the UFOs pop into view.

    The full sample. Credit: Erica Nelson, Wren Suess, Rachel Bezanson, Sedona Price, @gbrammer and their co-authors.

    Webb’s galactic discoveries

    Compare the UFOs to the record-breaking distant galaxies that Webb has spied, which have redshifts of 11-20. That would be when the universe was between 400 million and 150 million years old. The UFOs, with a redshift of 2-6, existed when the universe was between 3 1/2 and 1 billion years old (out of its current 13.7 billion years of age). So these galaxies aren’t real close to us in time, but they are still closer than the record-breaking discoveries.

    UFOs at “cosmic noon”

    The astronomers refer to the time period that UFOs thrived as “cosmic noon”. The early ages of the universe when galaxies began to grow was the cosmic dawn. Then cosmic noon arrived, about 3 billion years after the Big Bang. Astronomers think most of the universe’s stars and black holes formed around the time of cosmic noon. And now astronomers say that these UFOs, or dusty star-forming galaxies undergoing extreme starbursts, dominate the total star formation rate budget of the universe during cosmic noon. So, as the paper said, since we have not yet been able to study what we could not see:

    ” … we do not yet fully understand the growth of the most massive galaxies at cosmic noon.”

    From flattened to bulging

    The scientists also said that these massive, dusty UFOs may be the progenitors of today’s large elliptical galaxies. They’re surprised by this finding, because astronomers believed that the bulging elliptical galaxies we see now would have already had that bulging shape at an early age. But as the paper said:

    “Perhaps the most noteworthy result stems from the flattened shapes of these HST-dark galaxies. These massive, star-forming galaxies are the likely progenitors of today’s massive galaxies, which tend to be bulge/spheroid-dominated … The expectation may have been that the stellar bodies of these objects would already host significant bulges. This, however, is not what we observe in this sample.”

    Messier 87 is a large elliptical galaxy famous for the black hole at its center.

    The Hubble Space Telescope took this image in 2009. Messier 87 lies about 55 million light-years away. It may have begun life as a UFO, or Ultra-red Flattened Object. Image via Wikipedia.

    Webb is expanding our knowledge

    The discovery of these UFOs is helping astronomers get a better picture of the universe at a more recent age. As the paper noted:

    “The stellar masses, sizes, and morphologies of the sample suggest that some could be progenitors of lenticular or fast-rotating galaxies in the local Universe. The existence of this population suggests that our previous censuses of the universe may have missed massive, dusty edge-on disks, in addition to dust-obscured starbursts.”

    The paper concluded:

    “This sample highlights the fact that the JWST discovery extends studies of galaxy stellar structures to later cosmic epochs during which we thought we had a reasonable census of the universe already.”

    Science paper:

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope is a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. Webb was finally launched December 25, 2021, ten years late. The James Webb Space Telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.

    The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s largest, most powerful, and most complex space science telescope ever built. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it.

    Webb telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.

    Webb telescope was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST); it was renamed in Sept. 2002 after a former NASA administrator, James Webb.

    Webb is an international collaboration between National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center managed the development effort. The main industrial partner is Northrop Grumman; the Space Telescope Science Institute will operate Webb after launch.

    Several innovative technologies have been developed for Webb. These include a folding, segmented primary mirror, adjusted to shape after launch; ultra-lightweight beryllium optics; detectors able to record extremely weak signals, microshutters that enable programmable object selection for the spectrograph; and a cryocooler for cooling the mid-IR detectors to 7K.

    There are four science instruments on Webb: The Near InfraRed Camera (NIRCam), The Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRspec), The Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), and The Fine Guidance Sensor/ Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS-NIRISS). Webb’s instruments are designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range. It will be sensitive to light from 0.6 to 28 micrometers in wavelength.
    National Aeronautics Space Agency Webb NIRCam.

    The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU) Webb MIRI schematic.

    Webb Fine Guidance Sensor-Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph FGS/NIRISS.

    Webb has four main science themes: The End of the Dark Ages: First Light and Reionization, The Assembly of Galaxies, The Birth of Stars and Protoplanetary Systems, and Planetary Systems and the Origins of Life.

    Launch was December 25, 2021 on an Ariane 5 rocket. The launch was from Arianespace’s ELA-3 launch complex at European Spaceport located near Kourou, French Guiana. Webb is located at the second Lagrange point, about a million miles from the Earth.

    ESA50 Logo large

    Canadian Space Agency

  • richardmitnick 10:59 am on July 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Land on exoplanets a key to possible life", A new three-dimensional climate model called ExoPlaSim., A significant fraction of exoplanets – worlds orbiting other stars – likely have water on their surfaces., EarthSky, , Exoplanets – worlds orbiting other stars – likely have water on their surfaces., The location and amount of dry land plays a big role in a planet’s potential habitability.,   

    From “EarthSky” : “Land on exoplanets a key to possible life” 


    From “EarthSky”

    July 18, 2022
    Paul Scott Anderson

    Artist’s concept of an ocean planet not unlike our Earth, but with 2 moons. A new study suggests that land on exoplanets – both its location and its amount – profoundly affects habitability. Image via Lucianomendez/ Royal Astronomical Society (UK).

    Land on exoplanets key to life

    Factors affecting the habitability of distant worlds include things like their compositions, their surface temperatures, the make-up of their atmospheres, how much radiation they get from their stars and more. Now a new study – released July 11, 2022 – suggests another factor: the location and amount of dry land. Researchers at the University of Toronto said that their new climate model addresses the issue of land location and amount as they affect a rocky planet’s habitability. The study focuses on Earth-mass rocky planets orbiting M-dwarf (red dwarf) stars.

    Graduate student Evelyn Macdonald at the University of Toronto (previously at McGill University) presented the results at the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2022) in the U.K. on July 11. The researchers published their new peer-reviewed paper in the June 2022 issue of the MNRAS.

    Water worlds

    Astronomers say a significant fraction of exoplanets – worlds orbiting other stars – likely have water on their surfaces. And those water worlds don’t always need to be Earth-like, either.

    The amount of water will vary a lot from planet to planet, since no two planets will be just alike. About 71% of Earth’s surface, for example, is covered by water. Likewise, some exoplanets may have deep global oceans. And other worlds might be dotted only by lakes.

    Water covers about 71% of Earth’s surface. Other rocky planets may have similar amounts of water, less water or even global oceans. Image via Reto Stöckli/NASA/ Goddard Space Flight Center.

    In addition, some planets are tidally locked to their stars. That’s where one side of the planet always faces its star, much like how one side of the moon always faces Earth. This can make it more difficult for the planet to maintain a balanced climate. That’s because, ideally, the atmosphere and ocean need to redistribute some of the energy received from the star, on the dayside, to the nightside of the planet. On a tidally locked planet, however, the heat would mostly remain on the side of the planet facing its star.

    ExoPlaSim climate model simulates land on exoplanets

    Now, the researchers at the University of Toronto say they have devised a new three-dimensional climate model called ExoPlaSim. The model simulates rocky, Earth-like planets with two different dayside scenarios. The two configurations are basically opposite each other. In one, there is a circular continent on on the dayside of the planet, surrounded by ocean. In the second, however, there is a smaller circular ocean or sea surrounded by land everywhere else. This is a type of hypothesized “eyeball planet” where the ocean, or other prominent geographical feature, is centered on the star-facing side of a tidally-locked planet.

    For both cases, the size of the circular area in the model varies. This is to show how the percentage of available land affects the overall climate of the planet. The model also takes into account the net precipitation, amount of clouds and surface temperature across the dayside of the planet. This applies for different land configurations. Although not included in this study (but referenced in the paper), dust can also greatly affect a planet’s climate by reducing temperatures on large, dry continents.

    The researchers used 10-12 models at 20%, 40%, 60% and 80% dayside land cover.

    Large effect on planetary climate

    As the paper outlined:

    “A planet’s surface conditions can significantly impact its climate and habitability. In this study, we use the 3D general circulation model ExoPlaSim to systematically vary dayside land cover on a synchronously rotating, temperate rocky planet under two extreme and opposite continent configurations, in which either all of the land or all of the ocean is centered at the substellar point.”

    So, what were the results? The study showed that the location and amount of land does indeed have a significant effect on a planet’s climate.

    When a planet has similar amounts of land on the dayside, but in opposite configurations (land surrounded by ocean or an ocean surrounded by land), the average surface temperature of the planet can vary by up to 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees F). The area of ice-free ocean has a direct correlation with the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere.

    As might be expected, if a planet has a larger amount of land, then the climate will be drier and hotter on the dayside. Clouds and rain are more confined to smaller central regions.

    One type of hypothesized water world, similar to one of the planetary models in the new study, is where a smaller ocean is completely surrounded by land. Scientists have dubbed these “eyeball planets,” where the ocean (or other prominent geographical feature) is centered on the sun-facing side of a tidally-locked planet. Image via eburacum45/ DeviantArt.

    Prospects for life

    The location and amount of dry land plays a big role in a planet’s potential habitability. And, of course, the more habitable a planet is, the greater chance that it might actually be inhabited by some forms of life. As Macdonald surmised:

    “Finding out whether life exists elsewhere in the universe is a key challenge of astronomy and science as a whole. Our work demonstrates that the distribution of land on an Earth-like planet has a big impact on its climate, and should help astronomers looking at planets with instruments like the James Webb Space Telescope to better interpret what they’re seeing.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 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 10:18 am on July 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Webb could see biosignatures on distant planets", , , , , , EarthSky, , , The Nautilus Life-Finding Project, The University of Arizona Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory   

    From “EarthSky” and The University of Arizona Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory: “Webb could see biosignatures on distant planets” and “The Nautilus Life-Finding Project” 


    From “EarthSky”


    The University of Arizona Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory


    The University of Arizona

    July 22, 2022
    Chris Impey, University of Arizona
    Daniel Apai, University of Arizona

    The TRAPPIST-1 star and planet system; the ESO Belgian robotic Trappist National Telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile.


    The ingredients for life are spread throughout the universe. While Earth is the only known place in the universe with life, detecting life beyond Earth is a major goal of modern astronomy and planetary science.

    We are two scientists who study exoplanets and astrobiology. Thanks in large part to next-generation telescopes like James Webb, researchers like us will soon be able to measure the chemical makeup of atmospheres of planets around other stars.

    The hope is that one or more of these planets will have a chemical signature of life.

    There are many known exoplanets in habitable zones – orbits not too close to a star that the water boils off but not so far that the planet is frozen solid – as marked in green for both the solar system and Kepler-186 star system with its planets labeled b, c, d, e and f. Image via NASA Ames/ SETI Institute/ JPL-Caltech/ Wikimedia Commons.

    Habitable exoplanets

    Life might exist in the solar system where there is liquid water, such as the subsurface aquifers on Mars or in the oceans of Jupiter’s moon Europa. However, searching for life in these places is incredibly difficult. They are hard to reach and detecting life would require sending a probe to return physical samples.

    Many astronomers believe there’s a good chance that life exists on planets orbiting other stars. It’s possible that’s where life will first be found.

    Theoretical calculations suggest that there are around 300 million potentially habitable planets in the Milky Way galaxy alone. Calculations also suggest there are several habitable Earth-sized planets within only 30 light-years of Earth. They are essentially humanity’s galactic neighbors. So far, astronomers have discovered over 5,000 exoplanets, including hundreds of potentially habitable ones, using indirect methods that measure how a planet affects its nearby star. These measurements can give astronomers information on the mass and size of an exoplanet, but not much else.

    Every material absorbs certain wavelengths of light. This diagram depicts chlorophyll absorbing wavelengths of light. Image via Daniele Pugliesi/ Wikimedia Commons.

    Looking for biosignatures with Webb

    To detect life on a distant planet, astrobiologists will study starlight that has interacted with a planet’s surface or atmosphere. If life transformed the atmosphere or surface, the light may carry a clue, called a biosignature.

    For the first half of its existence, Earth sported an atmosphere without oxygen, even though it had simple, single-celled life. Earth’s biosignature was very faint during this early era. Then, 2.4 billion years ago, a new family of algae evolved. The algae used a process of photosynthesis that produces free oxygen, which isn’t chemically bonded to any other element. From then on, Earth’s oxygen-filled atmosphere has left a strong and easily detectable biosignature on light.

    When light bounces off the surface of a material or passes through a gas, certain wavelengths are more likely to remain trapped in the gas or material’s surface. This selective trapping of wavelengths of light is why objects are different colors. Leaves are green because chlorophyll is particularly good at absorbing light in the red and blue wavelengths. That leaves mostly green light to hit your eyes.

    The specific composition of the material the light interacts with determines the pattern of missing light. Because of this, astronomers can learn something about the composition of an exoplanet’s atmosphere or surface by, in essence, measuring the specific color of light that comes from a planet.

    Astronomers can recognize the presence of certain atmospheric gases associated with life – such as oxygen or methane – because they leave very specific signatures in light. It could also be used to detect peculiar colors on the surface of a planet. On Earth, for example, the chlorophyll and other pigments plants and algae use for photosynthesis capture specific wavelengths of light. These pigments produce characteristic colors that sensitive infrared cameras can detect. If you were to see this color reflecting off the surface of a distant planet, it would potentially signify the presence of chlorophyll.

    Enter the Webb telescope

    It takes an incredibly powerful telescope to detect these subtle changes to the light coming from a potentially habitable exoplanet. For now, the only telescope capable of such a feat is the new James Webb Space Telescope. As it began science operations in July 2022, James Webb took a reading of the spectrum of the gas giant exoplanet WASP-96b. The spectrum showed the presence of water and clouds. However, a planet as large and hot as WASP-96b is unlikely to host life.

    Yet, this early data shows that James Webb is capable of detecting faint chemical signatures in light coming from exoplanets. In the coming months, Webb is set to turn its mirrors toward TRAPPIST-1e [above], a potentially habitable Earth-sized planet a mere 39 light-years from Earth.

    Webb can look for biosignatures by studying planets as they pass in front of their host stars. It can capture starlight that filters through the planet’s atmosphere. But Webb’s goal was not to search for life. So the telescope is only able to scrutinize a few of the nearest potentially habitable worlds. It also can only detect changes to atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, methane and water vapor. While certain combinations of these gases may suggest life, Webb is not able to detect the presence of unbonded oxygen, which is the strongest signal for life.

    The James Webb Space Telescope is the 1st telescope able to detect chemical signatures from exoplanets. Image via NASA.

    Other telescopes

    Leading concepts for future, even more powerful, space telescopes include plans to block the bright light of a planet’s host star to reveal starlight reflected from the planet.

    This idea is like using your hand to block sunlight to better see something in the distance. Future space telescopes could use small, internal masks or large, external, umbrella-like spacecraft to do this. Once astronomers block the starlight, it becomes much easier to study light bouncing off a planet.

    There are also three enormous ground-based telescopes currently under construction that will be able to search for biosignatures. First is the Giant Magellan Telescope, then the Thirty Meter Telescope and lastly, the European Extremely Large Telescope. Each is far more powerful than existing telescopes on Earth. Despite the handicap of Earth’s atmosphere distorting starlight, these telescopes might be able to probe the atmospheres of the closest worlds for oxygen.

    Is it biology or geology?

    Even using the most powerful telescopes of the coming decades, astrobiologists will only be able to detect strong biosignatures from worlds where life has completely transformed them.

    Unfortunately, most gases released by terrestrial life can also have a nonbiological source. Cows and volcanoes both release methane. Photosynthesis produces oxygen, but sunlight does, too, when it splits water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen. There is a good chance astronomers will detect some false positives when looking for distant life. To help rule out false positives, astronomers will need to understand whether the planet’s geologic or atmospheric processes could mimic a biosignature.

    The next generation of exoplanet studies has the potential to pass the bar of the extraordinary evidence needed to prove the existence of life. The first data release from the James Webb Space Telescope gives us a sense of the exciting progress that’s coming soon.

    The Nautilus Life-Finding Project
    Daniel Apai
    Tom Milster

    While thousands of extra-solar planets have been discovered to date – including many potentially habitable planets with the same size and equilibrium temperature as the Earth – astronomers have so far been unable to rigorously survey their atmospheres for signs of life – such as the presence of oxygen, ozone, or methane. A key limitation is the size of space telescopes: even the James Webb Space Telescope, with its 6.5 meter diameter mirror – the largest and most expensive space telescope ever built for astronomy – will be able to search for biosignatures in only a handful of the closest potentially habitable worlds. To survey hundreds of such planets for evidence of life may require an orders of magnitude increase in the amount of light which space telescopes are able to collect.

    Motivated by this challenge, UA Professors Daniel Apai and Tom Milster are developing a concept for a space telescope called “Nautilus” which would maximize light collecting power by using a specially engineered lens instead of a mirror.

    Nautilus Array

    Nautilus would eschew a mirror in favor of a new type of large, light-weight, and reproducible lens which is currently being developed by Milster’s team at the College of Optical Sciences. Unlike traditional lenses, which are bulky and produce poorer quality images than mirrors, Nautilus’ lenses are precisely engineered to be lightweight while producing images of comparable quality to Hubble’s mirror. And unlike a mirror, a lens is more tolerant to misalignments, which enables a lightweight and less expensive spacecraft to support it. While the lens design is complex, it can be etched into a mold with diamond-tipped tools, allowing further lenses to be affordable and quickly reproduced.

    A single Nautilus telescope would boast an 8.5-meter lens with more than twice the light-collecting area of JWST and a lighter, inflatable spacecraft. Yet thanks to its simple design and reproducible lens, Nautilus telescopes could be replicated at low cost and launched in groups of up to fifteen using future launch fairings. The telescopes would observe a star as its planet transits in front of it, allowing astronomers to deduce the composition of the planet’s atmosphere by measuring how much of the star’s spectrum it absorbs.

    Through this technique, Apai and UA graduate student Alex Bixel estimate that with thirty-five Nautilus telescopes they could survey as many as a thousand potentially habitable planets for evidence of life. If even a fraction of these worlds are inhabited, the Nautilus array would discover dozens of examples of life beyond Earth.

    You can read articles about this project HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.

    See the full EarthSky article here .

    See The Nautilus Life-Finding Project here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Steward Observatory is the research arm of the Department of Astronomy at The University of Arizona. Its offices are located on The University of Arizona campus in Tucson, Arizona. Established in 1916, the first telescope and building were formally dedicated on April 23, 1923. It now operates, or is a partner in telescopes at five mountain-top locations in Arizona, one in New Mexico, one in Hawaii, and one in Chile. It has provided instruments for three different space telescopes and numerous terrestrial ones. Steward also has one of the few facilities in the world that can cast and figure the very large primary mirrors used in telescopes built in the early 21st century.

    As of 2019, The University of Arizona enrolled 45,918 students in 19 separate colleges/schools, including The University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix and the James E. Rogers College of Law, and is affiliated with two academic medical centers (Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix). The University of Arizona is one of three universities governed by the Arizona Board of Regents. The university is part of the Association of American Universities and is the only member from Arizona, and also part of the Universities Research Association . The university is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.

    Known as the Arizona Wildcats (often shortened to “Cats”), The University of Arizona’s intercollegiate athletic teams are members of the Pac-12 Conference of the NCAA. The University of Arizona athletes have won national titles in several sports, most notably men’s basketball, baseball, and softball. The official colors of the university and its athletic teams are cardinal red and navy blue.

    After the passage of the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, the push for a university in Arizona grew. The Arizona Territory’s “Thieving Thirteenth” Legislature approved The University of Arizona in 1885 and selected the city of Tucson to receive the appropriation to build the university. Tucson hoped to receive the appropriation for the territory’s mental hospital, which carried a $100,000 allocation instead of the $25,000 allotted to the territory’s only university Arizona State University was also chartered in 1885, but it was created as Arizona’s normal school, and not a university). Flooding on the Salt River delayed Tucson’s legislators, and by the time they reached Prescott, back-room deals allocating the most desirable territorial institutions had been made. Tucson was largely disappointed with receiving what was viewed as an inferior prize.

    With no parties willing to provide land for the new institution, the citizens of Tucson prepared to return the money to the Territorial Legislature until two gamblers and a saloon keeper decided to donate the land to build the school. Construction of Old Main, the first building on campus, began on October 27, 1887, and classes met for the first time in 1891 with 32 students in Old Main, which is still in use today. Because there were no high schools in Arizona Territory, the university maintained separate preparatory classes for the first 23 years of operation.


    The University of Arizona is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. UArizona is the fourth most awarded public university by National Aeronautics and Space Administration for research. The University of Arizona was awarded over $325 million for its Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) to lead NASA’s 2007–08 mission to Mars to explore the Martian Arctic, and $800 million for its OSIRIS-REx mission, the first in U.S. history to sample an asteroid.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft.

    The LPL’s work in the Cassini spacecraft orbit around Saturn is larger than any other university globally.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration/European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea][Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/ASI Italian Space Agency [Agenzia Spaziale Italiana](IT) Cassini Spacecraft.

    The University of Arizona laboratory designed and operated the atmospheric radiation investigations and imaging on the probe. The University of Arizona operates the HiRISE camera, a part of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

    U Arizona NASA Mars Reconnaisance HiRISE Camera.

    NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

    While using the HiRISE camera in 2011, University of Arizona alumnus Lujendra Ojha and his team discovered proof of liquid water on the surface of Mars—a discovery confirmed by NASA in 2015. The University of Arizona receives more NASA grants annually than the next nine top NASA/JPL-Caltech-funded universities combined. As of March 2016, The University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is actively involved in ten spacecraft missions: Cassini VIMS; Grail; the HiRISE camera orbiting Mars; the Juno mission orbiting Jupiter; Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO); Maven, which will explore Mars’ upper atmosphere and interactions with the sun; Solar Probe Plus, a historic mission into the Sun’s atmosphere for the first time; Rosetta’s VIRTIS; WISE; and OSIRIS-REx, the first U.S. sample-return mission to a near-earth asteroid, which launched on September 8, 2016.

    NASA – GRAIL Flying in Formation (Artist’s Concept). Credit: NASA.
    National Aeronautics Space Agency Juno at Jupiter.

    NASA/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.


    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration Wise/NEOWISE Telescope.

    The University of Arizona students have been selected as Truman, Rhodes, Goldwater, and Fulbright Scholars. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, The University of Arizona is among the top 25 producers of Fulbright awards in the U.S.

    The University of Arizona is a member of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy , a consortium of institutions pursuing research in astronomy. The association operates observatories and telescopes, notably Kitt Peak National Observatory just outside Tucson.

    National Science Foundation NOIRLab National Optical Astronomy Observatory Kitt Peak National Observatory on Kitt Peak of the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 88 kilometers (55 mi) west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona, Altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft). annotated.

    Led by Roger Angel, researchers in the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab at The University of Arizona are working in concert to build the world’s most advanced telescope. Known as the Giant Magellan Telescope (CL), it will produce images 10 times sharper than those from the Earth-orbiting Hubble Telescope.

    GMT Giant Magellan Telescope(CL) 21 meters, to be at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s NOIRLab NOAO Las Campanas Observatory(CL), some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high.

    The telescope is set to be completed in 2021. GMT will ultimately cost $1 billion. Researchers from at least nine institutions are working to secure the funding for the project. The telescope will include seven 18-ton mirrors capable of providing clear images of volcanoes and riverbeds on Mars and mountains on the moon at a rate 40 times faster than the world’s current large telescopes. The mirrors of the Giant Magellan Telescope will be built at The University of Arizona and transported to a permanent mountaintop site in the Chilean Andes where the telescope will be constructed.

    Reaching Mars in March 2006, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter contained the HiRISE camera, with Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen as the lead on the project. This National Aeronautics and Space Agency mission to Mars carrying the UArizona-designed camera is capturing the highest-resolution images of the planet ever seen. The journey of the orbiter was 300 million miles. In August 2007, The University of Arizona, under the charge of Scientist Peter Smith, led the Phoenix Mars Mission, the first mission completely controlled by a university. Reaching the planet’s surface in May 2008, the mission’s purpose was to improve knowledge of the Martian Arctic. The Arizona Radio Observatory , a part of The University of Arizona Department of Astronomy Steward Observatory , operates the Submillimeter Telescope on Mount Graham.

    University of Arizona Radio Observatory at NOAO Kitt Peak National Observatory, AZ USA, U Arizona Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory at altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft).

    Kitt Peak National Observatory in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert 88 kilometers 55 mi west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona in the Quinlan Mountains of the Tohono O’odham Nation, altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft)

    The National Science Foundation funded the iPlant Collaborative in 2008 with a $50 million grant. In 2013, iPlant Collaborative received a $50 million renewal grant. Rebranded in late 2015 as “CyVerse”, the collaborative cloud-based data management platform is moving beyond life sciences to provide cloud-computing access across all scientific disciplines.

    In June 2011, the university announced it would assume full ownership of the Biosphere 2 scientific research facility in Oracle, Arizona, north of Tucson, effective July 1. Biosphere 2 was constructed by private developers (funded mainly by Texas businessman and philanthropist Ed Bass) with its first closed system experiment commencing in 1991. The university had been the official management partner of the facility for research purposes since 2007.

    U Arizona mirror lab-Where else in the world can you find an astronomical observatory mirror lab under a football stadium?

    University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, located in the Sonoran desert. An entire ecosystem under a glass dome? Visit our campus, just once, and you’ll quickly understand why The University of Arizona is a university unlike any other.

    University of Arizona Landscape Evolution Observatory at Biosphere 2.

    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 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 8:31 am on July 15, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "What is a pulsar and why does it pulse?", , , , , , EarthSky   

    From “EarthSky” : “What is a pulsar and why does it pulse?” 


    From “EarthSky”

    July 15, 2022

    NASA | What is a Pulsar?

    What is a pulsar?

    A pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star. So, what’s a neutron star?

    A neutron star is the small, incredibly dense remnant of a much more massive star. Neutron stars are so dense that if you could scoop up a teaspoon from off the surface of the star, it would weigh as much as Mount Everest. A neutron star of about 15 miles (24 km) across would contain more matter than our sun. So why are some neutron stars – the ones we see as pulsars – pulsing?

    How a pulsar is born

    To learn how a pulsar is born, first you have to learn how a neutron star is born. When a large star – its core is about 1-3 times the mass of our sun – goes supernova, the result will be a neutron star. Much of the star billows outward, but the core collapses inward. Protons and electrons fuse into neutrons in the star. When the star shrinks but retains its mass, it begins to spin quickly, like a skater that pulls in their arms. The star follows the law of conservation of angular momentum.

    Rapidly spinning neutron stars have strong magnetic fields. Such a neutron star emits high-energy beams from its north and south magnetic poles.

    When these beams are pointed toward Earth and flash across us as the neutron star rotates, we see pulses. So astronomers named these beasts pulsars. Most neutron stars are observed as pulsars. So, all pulsars are neutron stars, but not all neutron stars are necessarily pulsars. But most neutron stars appear as pulsars from the proper vantage point – with their beams aimed at Earth as they rotate – as long as they are emitting enough radiation to be detectable.

    The first discovery and little green men

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered the first pulsar on August 6, 1967.

    Women in STEM – Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell Discovered pulsars


    British astrophysicist, scholar and trailblazer Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered the space-based phenomena known as pulsars, going on to establish herself as an esteemed leader in her field.Who Is Jocelyn Bell Burnell?
    Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a British astrophysicist and astronomer. As a research assistant, she helped build a large radio telescope and discovered pulsars, providing the first direct evidence for the existence of rapidly spinning neutron stars. In addition to her affiliation with Open University, she has served as dean of science at the University of Bath and president of the Royal Astronomical Society. Bell Burnell has also earned countless awards and honors during her distinguished academic career.

    Early Life

    Jocelyn Bell Burnell was born Susan Jocelyn Bell on July 15, 1943, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her parents were educated Quakers who encouraged their daughter’s early interest in science with books and trips to a nearby observatory. Despite her appetite for learning, however, Bell Burnell had difficulty in grade school and failed an exam intended to measure her readiness for higher education.

    Undeterred, her parents sent her to England to study at a Quaker boarding school, where she quickly distinguished herself in her science classes. Having proven her aptitude for higher learning, Bell Burnell attended the University of Glasgow, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1965.

    Little Green Men

    In 1965, Bell Burnell began her graduate studies in radio astronomy at Cambridge University. One of several research assistants and students working under astronomers Anthony Hewish, her thesis advisor, and Martin Ryle, over the next two years she helped construct a massive radio telescope designed to monitor quasars. By 1967, it was operational and Bell Burnell was tasked with analyzing the data it produced. After spending endless hours pouring over the charts, she noticed some anomalies that did not fit with the patterns produced by quasars and called them to Hewish’s attention.

    Over the ensuing months, the team systematically eliminated all possible sources of the radio pulses—which they affectionately labeled Little Green Men, in reference to their potentially artificial origins—until they were able to deduce that they were made by neutron stars, fast-spinning collapsed stars too small to form black holes.

    Pulsars and Nobel Prize Controversy

    Their findings were published in the February 1968 issue of Nature and caused an immediate sensation. Intrigued as much by the novelty of a woman scientist as by the astronomical significance of the team’s discovery, which was labeled pulsars—for pulsating radio stars—the press picked up the story and showered Bell Burnell with attention. That same year, she earned her Ph.D. in radio astronomy from Cambridge University.

    However, in 1974, only Hewish and Ryle received the Nobel Prize for Physics for their work. Many in the scientific community raised their objections, believing that Bell Burnell had been unfairly snubbed. However, Bell Burnell humbly rejected the notion, feeling that the prize had been properly awarded given her status as a graduate student, though she has also acknowledged that gender discrimination may have been a contributing factor.

    Life on the Electromagnetic Spectrum

    Nobel Prize or not, Bell Burnell’s depth of knowledge regarding radio astronomy and the electromagnetic spectrum has earned her a lifetime of respect in the scientific community and an esteemed career in academia. After receiving her doctorate from Cambridge, she taught and studied gamma ray astronomy at the University of Southampton. Bell Burnell then spent eight years as a professor at University College London, where she focused on x-ray astronomy.

    During this same time, she began her affiliation with Open University, where she would later work as a professor of physics while studying neurons and binary stars, and also conducted research in infrared astronomy at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. She was the Dean of Science at the University of Bath from 2001 to 2004, and has been a visiting professor at such esteemed institutions as Princeton University and Oxford University.

    Array of Honors and Achievements

    In recognition of her achievements, Bell Burnell has received countless awards and honors, including Commander and Dame of the Order of the British Empire in 1999 and 2007, respectively; an Oppenheimer prize in 1978; and the 1989 Herschel Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society, for which she would serve as president from 2002 to 2004. She was president of the Institute of Physics from 2008 to 2010, and has served as president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh since 2014. Bell Burnell also has honorary degrees from an array of universities too numerous to mention.

    Personal Life

    In 1968, Jocelyn married Martin Burnell, from whom she took her surname, with the two eventually divorcing in 1993. The two have a son, Gavin, who has also become a physicist.

    A documentary on Bell Burnell’s life, Northern Star, aired on the BBC in 2007.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Purnell at Perimeter Institute Oct 26, 2018.

    Initially, some thought the pulsar could be a signal from aliens. But on December 21, Bell discovered a second pulsar. Still, Bell and her supervisor, Antony Hewish, playfully nicknamed the first signal LGM-1 for little green men.

    The first pulsar is now known as CP 1919 or PSR B1919+21. This pulsar is in the constellation Vulpecula and has a period of 1.3373 seconds.

    The most famous pulsar

    The most famous pulsar is probably the one that sits inside the Crab Nebula. The Crab Nebula is the remnant of a supernova explosion.

    In 1054 CE, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Arab astronomers all reported sighting a new star in the sky.

    It took almost another 700 years before someone from Earth saw the dusty, nebulous remains of this exploded star. The pulsar near the center of the Crab Nebula spins about 30 times per second.

    The Hubble Space Telescope imaged the center of the Crab Nebula in 2016. There’s a rapidly spinning neutron star at the center of the nebula, known as a pulsar. It’s the rightmost of the 2 stars near the center of the image. The bluish light is radiation emitted by electrons speeding at close to the speed of light along the neutron star’s powerful magnetic field. Scientists think the wispy circular features move out of the pulsar due to a shockwave that piles up highly energetic particles coming from high-speed winds emanated from the neutron star. Image credit J. Hester/ M. Weisskopf/ NASA/ ESA.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 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 7:44 am on July 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Floating in Heaven:: Rock’s tribute to Webb’s new images", , , , EarthSky, Rock's Graham Gouldman and Brian May celebrate JWST.,   

    From “EarthSky” : “Floating in Heaven:: Rock’s tribute to Webb’s new images” 


    From “EarthSky”

    July 12, 2022
    Deborah Byrd

    JWST image video for Floating in Heaven by Graham Gouldman and Brian May.

    Floating in Heaven

    Just released! The Space Telescope Science Institute posted this new music video on its YouTube yesterday afternoon (July 12, 2022). The song is called Floating In Heaven, and its producers – 10cc founder Graham Gouldman and featuring astrophysicist and Queen lead guitarist and co-founder Brian May – call it:

    “… a soundtrack for the first full-color images from the James Webb Space Telescope … it commemorates the historic July 12, 2022, unveiling of Webb’s first images.”

    The song accompanies a Webb Telescope video that explores the wonders of the “Cosmic Cliffs” in the Carina Nebula, Stephan’s Quintet, the Southern Ring Nebula, and Webb’s First Deep Field, SMACS 0723.

    Brian May, astrophysicist and Queen Guitarist.

    Graham Gouldman performing in 2021, via Wikimedia Commons.


    Floating In Heaven
    Performed by Graham Gouldman and Brian May
    Written by Graham Gouldman

    Graham Gouldman: Lead vocal and backing vocals; bass guitar; acoustic guitars, slide guitar; drum programming; Gizmotron

    Brian May: Guitars, backing vocals

    Graeme Pleeth: Hammond organ; piano; synth

    Produced by Graham Gouldman, Graeme Pleeth and Brian May
    Engineered and mixed by Graeme Pleeth and Justin Shirley-Smith
    Additional engineering by Kris Fredriksson
    Mastered by Bob Ludwig

    Video Credits: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), and the Webb Early Release Observations (ERO) Production Team.

    The ERO Production Team is: Claire Blome, Hannah Braun, Matthew Brown, Margaret Carruthers, Dan Coe, Joseph DePasquale, Nestor Espinoza, Macarena Garcia Marin, Karl Gordon, Alaina Henry, Leah Hustak, Andi James, Ann Jenkins, Anton Koekemoer, Stephanie LaMassa, David Law, Alexandra Lockwood, Amaya Moro-Martin, Susan Mullally, Alyssa Pagan, Dani Player, Klaus Pontoppidan, Charles Proffitt, Christine Pulliam, Leah Ramsay, Swara Ravindranath, Neill Reid, Massimo Robberto, Elena Sabbi, Leonardo Ubeda.

    The EROs were also made possible by the foundational efforts and support from the JWST instruments, STScI planning and scheduling, Data Management teams, and Office of Public Outreach.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 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.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
%d bloggers like this: