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  • richardmitnick 2:32 pm on October 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , New telescope attachment allows ground-based observations of new worlds to rival those from space, Penn State, You can see that from here   

    From Penn State: “You can see that from here: New telescope attachment allows ground-based observations of new worlds to rival those from space” 

    Penn State Bloc

    Pennsylvania State University

    05 October 2017
    Gudmundur Stefansson
    gudmundur@psu.edu
    +1 814-777-8712 (mobile)

    Suvrath Mahadevan
    suvrath@astro.psu.edu
    +1 814-865-0261

    Barbara K. Kennedy
    (PIO): http://bkk1@psu.edu,
    +1 814-863-4682

    A new, low-cost attachment to telescopes allows previously unachievable precision in ground-based observations of exoplanets — planets beyond our solar system. With the new attachment, ground-based telescopes can produce measurements of light intensity that rival the highest quality photometric observations from space. Penn State astronomers, in close collaboration with the nanofabrication labs at RPC Photonics in Rochester, New York, created custom “beam-shaping” diffusers — carefully structured micro-optic devices that spread incoming light across an image — that are capable of minimizing distortions from the Earth’s atmosphere that can reduce the precision of ground-based observations. A paper describing the effectiveness of the diffusers appears online on October 5, 2017, in The Astrophysical Journal.

    “This inexpensive technology delivers high photometric precision in observations of exoplanets as they transit — cross in front of — the bright stars that they orbit,” said Gudmundur Stefansson, graduate student at Penn State, NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow, and lead author of the paper. “This technology is especially relevant considering the impending launch of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) early in 2018.

    NASA/TESS

    It is up to ground-based facilities to rapidly and reliably follow-up on candidate planets that are identified by TESS.”

    2
    A team of astronomers led by researchers at Penn State have developed beam-shaping diffusers – small pieces of etched glass that can be mounted on telescopes – that increase the quality of ground-based photometric observations. The research team tested the diffusers on the ARC 3.5m Telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico (left), the 5m Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory (middle), and the 0.6m telescope at Davey Lab Observatory at Penn State (right). Image credit left/right: Gudmundur Stefansson; middle: Caltech/Palomar Observatory.

    1
    ARC 3.5m Telescope at Apache Point Observatory, NM, USA

    Caltech Palomar 200 inch Hale Telescope, at Mt Wilson, CA, USA

    3
    0.6m telescope at Davey Lab Observatory at Penn State

    Diffusers are small pieces of glass that can be easily adapted to mount onto a variety of telescopes. Because of their low cost and adaptability, Stefansson believes that diffuser-assisted photometry will allow astronomers to make the most of the information from TESS, confirming new planet candidates from the ground.

    “Beam-shaping diffusers are made using a precise nanofabrication process,” said Suvrath Mahadevan, associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State and an author of the paper, “where a carefully designed surface pattern is precisely written on a plastic polymer on a glass surface or directly etched on the glass itself. The pattern consists of precise micro-scale structures, engineered to mold the varying light input from stars into a predefined broad and stable output shape spread over many pixels on the telescope camera.”

    4
    Left: Light from a laser pointer is shaped into a wide and stable output using a beam-shaping diffuser. A carefully designed pattern is precisely molded into plastic polymers or directly into a glass substrate, creating micro-structures on the surface of the diffuser (inset). Right: The diffuser installed at the ARC 3.5m Telescope at Apache Point Observatory (image credit left: RPC Photonics; right: Gudmundur Stefansson).

    The research team tested the new diffuser technology “on-sky” on the Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory in California, the 0.6m telescope at Davey Lab Observatory at Penn State, and the ARC 3.5m Telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. In all cases, images produced with a diffuser were consistently more stable than those using conventional methods — they maintained a relatively consistent size, shape, and intensity, which is integral in achieving highly precise measurements. Using a focused telescope without a diffuser produced images that fluctuate in size and intensity. A common method of “defocusing” the telescope — deliberately taking the image out of focus to spread out light — yielded higher photometric precision than focused observations, but still created images that fluctuated in size and intensity.

    “Diffused observations are by far the most stable”, said Ming Zhao, data scientist at The New York Times and former research associate at Penn State who led the diffuser effort at the 5m Hale telescope at Palomar.


    The stability of the stellar image on a telescope detector is integral in achieving high precision photometric measurements. This video compares diffuser-assisted observations (right) to the two other most commonly used observing modes to observe transiting exoplanets: (left) observations using a defocused telescope, creating broad, but often highly unstable stellar images, and (middle) in-focus observations, which often fluctuate and “dance” around on the detector, degrading their precision. The diffused observations consistently deliver a broad and stable image of the star throughout the observations. The video images were obtained with the wide-field Infrared camera (WIRC) on the 5m Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory, with and without a diffuser. (Video credit: Ming Zhao).

    By shaping the output of light, the diffuser allows astronomers to overcome noise created by the Earth’s atmosphere. “The stable and smooth images delivered by diffusers are essential in minimizing the adverse effects of the turbulent atmosphere on our measurements, and in maximizing our precision,” said Zhao.

    “This technology works over a wide range of wavelengths, from the optical — visible by humans — to the near infrared,” said Jason Wright, associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State and an author of the paper. “As such, diffusers can be used for a wide range of exoplanet science. We can use them to precisely measure the times exoplanetary worlds transit their stars, which will help us measure their masses and compositions, and even find new planets in their systems; and we can use them to study the temperature structures of giant planets’ atmospheres.”

    The research team is already establishing collaborations to implement this technology on other telescopes around the world. “Our goal is to equip the broader exoplanet community with low-cost precision tools to deliver precise measurements to aid future observations in exoplanet science,” said Stefansson.

    In addition to Stefansson, Mahadevan, Zhao, and Wright, the research team at Penn State includes graduate students Shubham Kanodia, Lea M. Z. Hagen, and Leo J. Liu; undergraduate student Yiting Li; and postdoctoral researchers Thomas Beatty and Paul Robertson. The diffuser development and research team also includes Leslie Hebb, assistant professor of physics at Hobart and William Smith Colleges; John Wisniewski, presidential professor and assistant professor of physics at the University of Oklahoma; Joseph Huehnerhoff, previous instrument engineer at the Apache Point Observatory 3.5m telescope, now an opto-mechanical engineer at Hindsight Imaging, Inc.; Brett Morris, graduate student at the University of Washington; Sam Halverson, NASA Sagan postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania; Joseph O’Rourke, postdoctoral researcher at the California Institute of Technology; Heather Knutson, professor of astronomy at the California Institute of Technology; Suzanne Hawley, professor of astronomy at the University of Washington; Chad Bender, associate astronomer at the University of Arizona; Jack Dembicky, Candace Gray, and Theodore Rudyk, Telescope Operating Specialists at the Apache Point Observatory 3.5m telescope; Russet McMillan, Manager of Night Operations at the Apache Point Observatory; and William Ketzeback, the Apache Point Observatory 3.5m Chief Telescope Engineer.

    This research was funded by a Scialog grant from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (Rescorp) and supported by the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds, a Leifur Eiriksson Foundation Scholarship, the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship Program, the National Science Foundation, and the Penn State Astrobiology Research Center.

    [ Gudmundur Stefansson / Suvrath Mahadevan / Gail McCormick ]

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Penn State Campus

    WHAT WE DO BEST

    We teach students that the real measure of success is what you do to improve the lives of others, and they learn to be hard-working leaders with a global perspective. We conduct research to improve lives. We add millions to the economy through projects in our state and beyond. We help communities by sharing our faculty expertise and research.

    Penn State lives close by no matter where you are. Our campuses are located from one side of Pennsylvania to the other. Through Penn State World Campus, students can take courses and work toward degrees online from anywhere on the globe that has Internet service.

    We support students in many ways, including advising and counseling services for school and life; diversity and inclusion services; social media sites; safety services; and emergency assistance.

    Our network of more than a half-million alumni is accessible to students when they want advice and to learn about job networking and mentor opportunities as well as what to expect in the future. Through our alumni, Penn State lives all over the world.

    The best part of Penn State is our people. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends in communities near our campuses and across the globe are dedicated to education and fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.

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  • richardmitnick 9:23 pm on September 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Penn State,   

    From Penn State: “Mystery solved: Super-energetic space particles crash to Earth from far away” 

    Penn State Bloc

    Pennsylvania State University

    September 21, 2017

    1
    An image of the Earth showing the continent of South America, with faint white streaks representing cosmic rays streaming toward the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina. Image: Pierre Auger Observatory

    Super-energetic space particles, which were thought to have been blasted toward Earth from somewhere outside our solar system, now have been discovered to be from very far away indeed — from far outside our Milky Way galaxy. The discovery was made by an international team that includes Penn State scientists and the Pierre Auger Collaboration, using the largest cosmic-ray instrument ever built, the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina. A paper describing the discovery will be published in the journal Science on Sept. 22.


    This animation illustrates the long journey of high-energy cosmic waves from the time they are shot into space from powerful events in galaxies far away from our Milky Way Galaxy until they eventually crash on Earth, leaving clues among the large array of cosmic-ray detectors in western Argentina, the Pierre Auger Observatory. Penn State scientists are members of the Pierre Auger Consortium.
    Pierre Auger Collaboration

    “After more than a century since cosmic rays were first detected, this is the first truly significant result from our analysis of the detections, which now have revealed the distant origin of these ultra-high-energy cosmic rays,” said Miguel Mostafá at Penn State. He and Stephane Coutu — both professors of physics and of astronomy and astrophysics and Fellows of the American Physical Society — lead teams of students and post-doctoral scientists in research at Penn State’s Pierre Auger Collaboration group.

    Pierre Auger Observatory in the western Mendoza Province, Argentina, near the Andes

    “Now we know that the highest-energy particles in the universe came from other galaxies in our cosmological neighborhood,” Mostafá said.

    Mostafá and Coutu have been working on the project since 1996 and 1997, respectively, with support from the U.S. National Science Foundation. Mostafá has been a coordinator of the Auger team in charge of this analysis of cosmic-ray arrival directions, and is one of the corresponding authors on the Science article.

    Although the Pierre Auger Collaboration’s discovery clearly shows an origin outside our Milky Way galaxy, the specific sources that are producing the particles have not yet been discovered. “We are now considerably closer to solving the mystery of where and how these extraordinary particles are produced, a question of great interest to astrophysicists,” said Karl-Heinz Kampert, professor of physics at the University of Wuppertal in Germany and spokesperson for the Pierre Auger Collaboration.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Penn State Campus

    WHAT WE DO BEST

    We teach students that the real measure of success is what you do to improve the lives of others, and they learn to be hard-working leaders with a global perspective. We conduct research to improve lives. We add millions to the economy through projects in our state and beyond. We help communities by sharing our faculty expertise and research.

    Penn State lives close by no matter where you are. Our campuses are located from one side of Pennsylvania to the other. Through Penn State World Campus, students can take courses and work toward degrees online from anywhere on the globe that has Internet service.

    We support students in many ways, including advising and counseling services for school and life; diversity and inclusion services; social media sites; safety services; and emergency assistance.

    Our network of more than a half-million alumni is accessible to students when they want advice and to learn about job networking and mentor opportunities as well as what to expect in the future. Through our alumni, Penn State lives all over the world.

    The best part of Penn State is our people. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends in communities near our campuses and across the globe are dedicated to education and fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:31 am on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Harnessing the energy generated when freshwater meets saltwater, Penn State,   

    From Penn State via phys.org: “Harnessing the energy generated when freshwater meets saltwater” 

    Penn State Bloc

    Pennsylvania State University

    phys.org

    May 29, 2017
    Jennifer Matthews

    2
    Credit: Pennsylvania State University

    Penn State researchers have created a new hybrid technology that produces unprecedented amounts of electrical power where seawater and freshwater combine at the coast.

    “The goal of this technology is to generate electricity from where the rivers meet the ocean,” said Christopher Gorski, assistant professor in environmental engineering at Penn State. “It’s based on the difference in the salt concentrations between the two water sources.”

    That difference in salt concentration has the potential to generate enough energy to meet up to 40 percent of global electricity demands. Though methods currently exist to capture this energy, the two most successful methods, pressure retarded osmosis (PRO) and reverse electrodialysis (RED), have thus far fallen short.

    PRO, the most common system, selectively allows water to transport through a semi-permeable membrane, while rejecting salt. The osmotic pressure created from this process is then converted into energy by turning turbines.

    “PRO is so far the best technology in terms of how much energy you can get out,” Gorski said. “But the main problem with PRO is that the membranes that transport the water through foul, meaning that bacteria grows on them or particles get stuck on their surfaces, and they no longer transport water through them.”

    This occurs because the holes in the membranes are incredibly small, so they become blocked easily. In addition, PRO doesn’t have the ability to withstand the necessary pressures of super salty waters.

    The second technology, RED, uses an electrochemical gradient to develop voltages across ion-exchange membranes.

    “Ion exchange membranes only allow either positively charged ions to move through them or negatively charged ions,” Gorski explained. “So only the dissolved salt is going through, and not the water itself.”

    Here, the energy is created when chloride or sodium ions are kept from crossing ion-exchange membranes as a result of selective ion transport. Ion-exchange membranes don’t require water to flow through them, so they don’t foul as easily as the membranes used in PRO; however, the problem with RED is that it doesn’t have the ability to produce large amounts of power.

    3
    Photograph of the concentration flow cell. Two plates clamp the cell together, which contains two narrow channels fed with either synthetic freshwater or seawater through the plastic lines. Credit: Pennsylvania State University

    A third technology, capacitive mixing (CapMix), is a relatively new method also being explored. CapMix is an electrode-based technology that captures energy from the voltage that develops when two identical electrodes are sequentially exposed to two different kinds of water with varying salt concentrations, such as freshwater and seawater. Like RED, the problem with CapMix is that it’s not able to yield enough power to be viable.

    Gorski, along with Bruce Logan, Evan Pugh Professor and the Stan and Flora Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering, and Taeyoung Kim, post-doctoral scholar in environmental engineering, may have found a solution to these problems. The researchers have combined both the RED and CapMix technologies in an electrochemical flow cell.

    “By combining the two methods, they end up giving you a lot more energy,” Gorski said.

    The team constructed a custom-built flow cell in which two channels were separated by an anion-exchange membrane. A copper hexacyanoferrate electrode was then placed in each channel, and graphite foil was used as a current collector. The cell was then sealed using two end plates with bolts and nuts. Once built, one channel was fed with synthetic seawater, while the other channel was fed with synthetic freshwater. Periodically switching the water’s flow paths allowed the cell to recharge and further produce power. From there, they examined how the cutoff voltage used for switching flow paths, external resistance and salt concentrations influenced peak and average power production.

    “There are two things going on here that make it work,” said Gorski. “The first is you have the salt going to the electrodes. The second is you have the chloride transferring across the membrane. Since both of these processes generate a voltage, you end up developing a combined voltage at the electrodes and across the membrane.”

    To determine the gained voltage of the flow cell depending on the type of membrane used and salinity difference, the team recorded open-circuit cell voltages while feeding two solutions at 15 milliliters per minute. Through this method, they identified that stacking multiple cells did influence electricity production. At 12.6 watts per square meter, this technology leads to peak power densities that are unprecedentedly high compared to previously reported RED (2.9 watts per square meter), and on par with the maximum calculated values for PRO (9.2 watts per square meter), but without the fouling problems.

    “What we’ve shown is that we can bring that power density up to what people have reported for pressure retarded osmosis and to a value much higher that what has been reported if you use these two processes alone,” Gorski said.

    Though the results are promising, the researchers want to do more research on the stability of the electrodes over time and want to know how other elements in seawater— like magnesium and sulfate— might affect the performance of the cell.

    “Pursuing renewable energy sources is important,” Gorski said. “If we can do carbon neutral energy, we should.”

    No science paper referenced.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Penn State Campus

    WHAT WE DO BEST

    We teach students that the real measure of success is what you do to improve the lives of others, and they learn to be hard-working leaders with a global perspective. We conduct research to improve lives. We add millions to the economy through projects in our state and beyond. We help communities by sharing our faculty expertise and research.

    Penn State lives close by no matter where you are. Our campuses are located from one side of Pennsylvania to the other. Through Penn State World Campus, students can take courses and work toward degrees online from anywhere on the globe that has Internet service.

    We support students in many ways, including advising and counseling services for school and life; diversity and inclusion services; social media sites; safety services; and emergency assistance.

    Our network of more than a half-million alumni is accessible to students when they want advice and to learn about job networking and mentor opportunities as well as what to expect in the future. Through our alumni, Penn State lives all over the world.

    The best part of Penn State is our people. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends in communities near our campuses and across the globe are dedicated to education and fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:56 am on August 31, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Penn State, , Subatomic microscopy   

    From phys.org: “Subatomic microscopy key to building new classes of materials” 

    physdotorg
    phys.org

    August 31, 2016

    1
    Colorized sub-Angstrom scanning transmission electron microscope image clearly shows individual atomic columns of strontium (green), titanium (blue), and oxygen (red). A simulated image is overlaid showing close agreement between theory and experiment. The brick and mortar structure is visible. Credit: Greg Stone/Penn State

    Researchers at Penn State and the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are pushing the limits of electron microscopy into the tens of picometer scale, a fraction of the size of a hydrogen atom.

    The ability to see at this subatomic level is crucial for designing new materials with unprecedented properties, such as materials that transition from metals to semiconductors or that exhibit superconductivity. The researchers’ work describing the first atomic scale evidence for strain-induced ferroelectricity in a layered oxide appears online today, (Aug. 31), in Nature Communications.

    “This paper is important because it highlights our ability to design new classes of materials that can be tuned, one atomic layer at a time, to get interesting new properties such as high-frequency tunable dielectrics, which are of interest to the semiconductor industry,” said first author Greg Stone, a former Penn State post-doctoral scholar now at the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Center.

    Designing new materials with potentially useful properties requires the close collaboration of theory, synthesis and characterization – the first to build the mathematical models needed, the second to create the material in the lab, and the third to visualize and measure the material’s properties and provide feedback to tweak theories and improve synthesis.

    This study builds on previous theoretical work by coauthors Turan Birol and Craig Fennie of Cornell University and experimental work by coauthors Venkatraman Gopalan of Penn State and Darrell Schlom, formerly at Penn State and now at Cornell, and their students. Gopalan and Nasim Alem, professors of materials science and engineering at Penn State, led the current study.

    “The material we are looking at is a form of strontium titanate called a layered oxide,” said Gopalan. “This study brings together electron microscopy and density functional theory on a 5 to 10 picometer length scale to show why these materials are such good tunable dielectrics. The key is phase competition, and for the first time, we show that many polar phases with similar energies compete in this material on the atomic scale, just as theory predicted, which gives it large tunability under a voltage.”

    Complex oxides are materials that form by combining negatively charged oxygen and two other positively charged ions. In this instance, the team examined strontium titanate with a structure called Ruddlesden-Popper (RP), after the two scientists who discovered it. The structure looks like a brick and mortar wall, with the bricks made of the strontium titanate and the thin mortar between the bricks made up of strontium oxide. When the bricks are layered in this fashion, new properties emerge that would not appear in a single brick.

    “In the case of RP-strontium titanate, the emergent property is ferroelectricity, which means it has a built-in electrical polarization within its structure,” said Gopalan. “But it could be magnetism or metal-insulator transitions or superconductivity, depending on the atoms involved and the layering order of the materials.”

    Because each layer of brick has a weak connection to other layers, the material can have competing states, with one layer polarized in a direction opposite to a neighboring layer. These competing states result in a material with a strong response to a small external stimulus, such as an electric or magnetic field or temperature. In the case of strontium titanate, there is a large dielectric response, which is the ability to store large amounts of energy, as in a capacitor.

    Cell phones have many dielectric components that are very small and have to hold a charge. As cell phones transition from 4G networks to 5G, which means they are processing at 5 billion cycles per second, better materials that respond at higher frequencies are crucial. RP-strontium titanate is a material that is definitely superior to current materials.

    Colin Ophus of the National Center for Electron Microscopy facility of the Molecular Foundry, said, “This work is an excellent example of the materials advances possible when we close the feedback loop between first principles calculations and atomic resolution electron microscopy.”

    His colleague Jim Ciston at the Molecular Foundry adds, “The precision of the agreement between theory and experiment is critical to unraveling the subtle differences in structure between competing ferroelectric phases. These images of atomic positions are more than pretty pictures of remarkable precision, but contain an enormous amount of quantifiable information about the minute distortions in atomic positions that can lead to surprising properties.”

    See the full article here .

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    About Phys.org in 100 Words

    Phys.org™ (formerly Physorg.com) is a leading web-based science, research and technology news service which covers a full range of topics. These include physics, earth science, medicine, nanotechnology, electronics, space, biology, chemistry, computer sciences, engineering, mathematics and other sciences and technologies. Launched in 2004, Phys.org’s readership has grown steadily to include 1.75 million scientists, researchers, and engineers every month. Phys.org publishes approximately 100 quality articles every day, offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of sci-tech developments world-wide. Quancast 2009 includes Phys.org in its list of the Global Top 2,000 Websites. Phys.org community members enjoy access to many personalized features such as social networking, a personal home page set-up, RSS/XML feeds, article comments and ranking, the ability to save favorite articles, a daily newsletter, and other options.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:57 am on July 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Penn State   

    From Penn State: “Super-Cold Microscope Has Super Cool Uses” 

    Penn State Bloc

    Pennsylvania State University

    July 22, 2016
    No writer credit found

    1
    Cryo-electron microscopes enable the creation of detailed atomic and molecular models such as this one, a full cryo-EM reconstruction of F-actin and a corresponding close-up view with the atomic and molecular model of an F-actin subunit (cyan) and tropomyosin (yellow).
    Image: Courtesy of Julian von der Ecken and Prof. Dr. Stefan Raunser, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology, Dortmund, Germany

    2
    Cryo-EM image of human papillomavirus. These images can be used to reconstruct the structure of the virus in 3-D. This approach also works for proteins, protein complexes, DNA-complexes. Resulting maps can be resolved at atomic resolution. Image: Susan Hafenstein, Director of Cryo-EM Imaging Facility, Penn State College of Medicine

    2
    Cryo-electron microscope at Penn State

    While “go big” is the motto for many science initiatives, Penn State researchers are hoping a cutting-edge microscope will allow them to “go deep” to promote biomedical research and discoveries in materials science.

    The purchase of a cryo-electron microscope, recently approved by the Penn State Board of Trustees, freezes samples at cryogenic temperatures — which usually start at or below -238 degree Fahrenheit — to cut down on radioactive interference and improve resolution to the atomic level. Penn State’s cryo-electron microscope will allow researchers to see down to 3 Angstroms, almost at the resolution of a single carbon atom, according to Jim Marden, professor of biology and director of operations, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences.

    Marden added that the device will likely find immediate use in research conducted by Penn State scientists on enzymes, viruses and the structure of RNA. Solving these structures will lead to other discoveries and new disease treatments, since drug and vaccine design require knowledge about how molecules interact at the scale of individual atoms. But, its potential to lead to other discoveries and treatments is considerable.

    “Now we have a novel freezing technique, image sensor and algorithms that allow us to see these detailed structures and thus understand function,” said Marden. “We are on the edge of revealing how life works and we know that this involves imaging — and being able to see detail.”

    The cryo-electron microscope is a specialized piece of research equipment that costs $8.6 million. Marden expects the Materials Characterization Lab in the Institute for Materials Research to also benefit from the cryo-electron microscope.

    “The materials scientists will use this scope to better understand soft materials and this new microscope will allow new types of collaborations at the interface of the fields of materials science and life sciences,” said Marden. “For example, targeted delivery of drugs using nanoparticles will benefit greatly from visualizing the engineered particles and how they interact with cell surfaces.

    The microscope will also serve as a critical tool in reaffirming Penn State’s role as a leader in promoting the convergence of the life sciences and materials science, according to Peter Hudson, the Willaman Professor of Biology and director of the Huck Institutes of Life Sciences.

    “We are at a most exciting time in the life sciences — the technological developments with the Cryo EM will allow us to interpret function from structure and in so doing revolutionize biomedical, food, disease and materials research,” said Hudson. “Universities are at an auspicious junction and the leading universities like Penn State need to invest in this technology to be able to be in the leading pack of researchers and entrepreneurs.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

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    Penn State Campus

    WHAT WE DO BEST

    We teach students that the real measure of success is what you do to improve the lives of others, and they learn to be hard-working leaders with a global perspective. We conduct research to improve lives. We add millions to the economy through projects in our state and beyond. We help communities by sharing our faculty expertise and research.

    Penn State lives close by no matter where you are. Our campuses are located from one side of Pennsylvania to the other. Through Penn State World Campus, students can take courses and work toward degrees online from anywhere on the globe that has Internet service.

    We support students in many ways, including advising and counseling services for school and life; diversity and inclusion services; social media sites; safety services; and emergency assistance.

    Our network of more than a half-million alumni is accessible to students when they want advice and to learn about job networking and mentor opportunities as well as what to expect in the future. Through our alumni, Penn State lives all over the world.

    The best part of Penn State is our people. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends in communities near our campuses and across the globe are dedicated to education and fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:19 pm on July 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Penn State,   

    From Penn State: “New, better way to build circuits for world’s first useful quantum computers” 

    Penn State Bloc

    Pennsylvania State University

    June 25, 2016
    Barbara K. Kennedy

    1
    The research team led by David Weiss at Penn State University performed a specific single quantum operation on individual atoms in a P-S-U pattern on three separate planes stacked within a cube-shaped arrangement. The team then used light beams to selectively sweep away all the atoms that were not targeted for that operation. The scientists then made pictures of the results by successively focusing on each of the planes in the cube. The photos, which are the sum of 20 implementations of this process, show bright spots where the atoms are in focus, and fuzzy spots if they are out of focus in an adjacent plane — as is the case for all the light in the two empty planes. The photos also show both the success of the technique and the comparatively small number of targeting errors.
    Image: David Weiss lab, Penn State University

    The era of quantum computers is one step closer as a result of research published in the current issue of the journal Science. The research team has devised and demonstrated a new way to pack a lot more quantum computing power into a much smaller space and with much greater control than ever before. The research advance, using a 3-dimensional array of atoms in quantum states called quantum bits — or qubits — was made by David S. Weiss, professor of physics at Penn State University, and three students on his lab team. He said, “Our result is one of the many important developments that still are needed on the way to achieving quantum computers that will be useful for doing computations that are impossible to do today, with applications in cryptography for electronic data security and other computing-intensive fields.”

    The new technique uses both laser light and microwaves to precisely control the switching of selected individual qubits from one quantum state to another without altering the states of the other atoms in the cubic array. The new technique demonstrates the potential use of atoms as the building blocks of circuits in future quantum computers.

    The scientists invented an innovative way to arrange and precisely control the qubits, which are necessary for doing calculations in a quantum computer. “Our paper demonstrates that this novel approach is a precise, accurate, and efficient way to control large ensembles of qubits for quantum computing,” Weiss said.

    The paper in Science [no link provided] describes the new technique, which Weiss’s team plans to continue developing further. The achievement also is expected to be useful to scientists pursuing other approaches to building a quantum computer, including those based on other atoms, on ions, or on atom-like systems in 1 or 2 dimensions. “If this technique is adopted in those other geometries, they would also get this robustness,” Weiss said.

    To corral their quantum atoms into an orderly 3-D pattern for their experiments, the team constructed a lattice made by beams of light to trap and hold the atoms in a cubic arrangement of five stacked planes — like a sandwich made with five slices of bread — each with room for 25 equally spaced atoms. The arrangement forms a cube with an orderly pattern of individual locations for 125 atoms. The scientists filled some of the possible locations with qubits consisting of neutral cesium atoms — those without a positive or a negative charge. Unlike the bits in a classical computer, which typically are either zeros or ones, each of the qubits in the Weiss team’s experiment has the difficult-to-imagine ability to be in more than one state at the same time — a central feature of quantum mechanics called quantum superposition.

    Weiss and his team then use another kind of light tool — crossed beams of laser light — to target individual atoms in the lattice. The focus of these two laser beams, called “addressing” beams, on a targeted atom shifts some of that atom’s energy levels by about twice as much as it does for those of any of the other atoms in the array, including those that were in the path of one of the addressing beams on its way to the target. When the scientists then bathe the whole array with a uniform wash of microwaves, the state of the atom with the shifted energy levels is changed, while the states of all the other atoms are not.

    “We have set more qubits into different, precise quantum superpositions at the same time than in any previous experimental system,” Weiss said. The scientists also designed their system to be very insensitive to the exact details of the alignments or the power of those light beams they use — which Weiss said is a good thing because “you don’t want to be dependent upon exactly what the intensity of the light is or exactly what the alignment is.”

    One of the ways that the scientists demonstrated their ability to change the quantum state of individual atoms was by changing the states of selected atoms in three of the stacked planes within the cubic array in order to draw the letters P, S, and U — the letters that represent Penn State University. “We changed the quantum superposition of the PSU atoms to be different from the quantum superposition of the other atoms in the array,” Weiss said. “We have a pretty high-fidelity system. We can do targeted selections with a reliability of about 99.7%, and we have a plan for making that more like 99.99%.”

    Among the goals that Weiss has for his team’s future research is to get the qubits to “have entangled quantum wave functions where the state of one particle is implicitly correlated with the state of the other particles around it.” Weiss said that this entangled connection between qubits is a critical element needed for quantum computing. He said he hopes that building on the techniques demonstrated in his team’s prototype system eventually will enable his lab to demonstrate high-quality entangling operations for quantum computing. “Filling the cube with exactly one atom per site and setting up entanglements between atoms at any of the sites that we choose are among our nearer-term research goals,” Weiss said.

    In addition to Weiss, the other members of the Penn State research team are Yang Wang, Aishwarya Kumar, and Tsung-Yao Wu, all graduate students. The research was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Penn State Campus

    WHAT WE DO BEST

    We teach students that the real measure of success is what you do to improve the lives of others, and they learn to be hard-working leaders with a global perspective. We conduct research to improve lives. We add millions to the economy through projects in our state and beyond. We help communities by sharing our faculty expertise and research.

    Penn State lives close by no matter where you are. Our campuses are located from one side of Pennsylvania to the other. Through Penn State World Campus, students can take courses and work toward degrees online from anywhere on the globe that has Internet service.

    We support students in many ways, including advising and counseling services for school and life; diversity and inclusion services; social media sites; safety services; and emergency assistance.

    Our network of more than a half-million alumni is accessible to students when they want advice and to learn about job networking and mentor opportunities as well as what to expect in the future. Through our alumni, Penn State lives all over the world.

    The best part of Penn State is our people. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends in communities near our campuses and across the globe are dedicated to education and fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:50 pm on March 31, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Penn State   

    From Penn State: “NASA selects Penn State to lead next-generation planet finder” 

    Penn State Bloc

    Pennsylvania State University

    29 March 2016
    Kimberly M. S. Cartier / B K K

    A Penn State-led research group has been selected by NASA’s Astrophysics Division to build a $10-million, cutting-edge instrument to detect planets orbiting stars outside our solar system. The team, led by Suvrath Mahadevan, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State University, was selected after an intense national competition. When completed in 2019, the instrument will be the centerpiece of a partnership between NASA and the National Science Foundation called the NASA-NSF Exoplanet Observational Research program (NN-EXPLORE).

    NOAO WIYN 3.5 meter telescope exterior
    NOAO WIYN 3.5 meter telescope interior
    NOAO WIYN 3.5 meter telescope at Kitt Peak, AZ, USA

    “We are privileged to have been selected to build this new instrument for the exoplanet community,” Mahadevan said. “This is a testament to our multi-institutional and interdisciplinary team of talented graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and senior scientists.” The instrument is named NEID – derived from the word meaning “to discover/visualize” in the native language of the Tohono O’odham, on whose land Kitt Peak National Observatory is located. NEID also is short for “NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler Spectroscopy.” NEID will detect planets by the tiny gravitational tug they exert on their stars.

    NOAO Kitt Peak National Observatory
    NOAO Kitt Peak National Observatory

    “NEID will be more stable than any existing spectrograph, allowing astronomers around the world to make the precise measurements of the motions of nearby, Sun-like stars,” said Jason Wright, associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State and a member of the science advisory team. “Our team will use NEID to discover and measure the orbits of rocky planets at the right distances from their stars to host liquid water on their surfaces.”

    “Winning this competition is a tremendous honor and a mark of recognition for our Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds,” said Donald Schneider, Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Many NEID team members are graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. Schneider added, “We are proud that our junior scientists are a significant part of this ground-breaking project.”

    NEID Project Manager and Senior Scientist Fred Hearty said, “Building this instrument is a wonderful opportunity for Penn State and our partners. R&D here at Penn State established a foundation to advance the state-of-the-art in planet finding almost thirty years ago. Today’s Habitable-zone Planet Finder project is proving the entire system works as planned.”

    NEID will be built over the next three years in laboratories at Innovation Park on the Penn State University Park Campus and at partnering institutions. It will be installed on the 3.5-meter WIYN telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) in Arizona. NEID will provide new capabilities for the National Optical Astronomical Observatory (NOAO)3, which operates the Kitt Peak telescopes. When NEID is completed, astronomers worldwide will have access to this state-of-the-art planet finder.

    Astronomer and Penn State Research Associate Chad Bender, who will help to oversee the construction of the instrument, noted that “NEID’s capabilities are critical to the success of NASA’s upcoming exoplanet missions. NEID will follow-up on planets discovered by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and also will identify exciting targets to be observed by the James Webb Space Telescope and the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope.”

    NASA/TESS
    NASA/TESS

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb telescope annotated
    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb telescope annotated

    NASA/WFIRST
    NASA/WFIRST

    The NEID team is a multi-institutional collaboration, consisting of exoplanet scientists and engineers from Penn State, University of Pennsylvania, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, University of Colorado, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Macquarie University in Australia, Australian Astronomical Observatory, and Physical Research Laboratory in India. “NEID is a transformative capability in the search for worlds like our own, Mahadevan said.”

    NASA and NSF established the NN-EXPLORE partnership in February 2015 to take advantage of the full NOAO share of the 3.5-meter WIYN telescope at KPNO, to provide the science community with the tools and access to conduct ground-based observations that advance exoplanet science, and to support the observations of NASA space astrophysics missions. KPNO is operated on behalf of NSF by NOAO. The NEID project will be managed on behalf of NASA’s Astrophysics Division by the Exoplanet Exploration Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Penn State Campus

    WHAT WE DO BEST

    We teach students that the real measure of success is what you do to improve the lives of others, and they learn to be hard-working leaders with a global perspective. We conduct research to improve lives. We add millions to the economy through projects in our state and beyond. We help communities by sharing our faculty expertise and research.

    Penn State lives close by no matter where you are. Our campuses are located from one side of Pennsylvania to the other. Through Penn State World Campus, students can take courses and work toward degrees online from anywhere on the globe that has Internet service.

    We support students in many ways, including advising and counseling services for school and life; diversity and inclusion services; social media sites; safety services; and emergency assistance.

    Our network of more than a half-million alumni is accessible to students when they want advice and to learn about job networking and mentor opportunities as well as what to expect in the future. Through our alumni, Penn State lives all over the world.

    The best part of Penn State is our people. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends in communities near our campuses and across the globe are dedicated to education and fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:23 pm on February 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Penn State   

    From Penn State: “New clues in the hunt for the sources of cosmic neutrinos” 

    Penn State Bloc

    Pennsylvania State University

    cosmic-ray accelerator hidden
    This illustration is an example of a hidden cosmic-ray accelerator. Cosmic rays are accelerated up to extremely high energies in dense environments close to black holes. High-energy gamma rays (marked by the “Y” gamma symbol) are blocked from escaping, while neutrinos (marked by the “V”nu symbol) easily escape and can reach the Earth. Credit: Bill Saxton at NRAO/AUI/NSF, modified by Kohta Murase at Penn State University

    The sources of the high-energy cosmic neutrinos that are detected by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory buried in the Antarctic ice may be hidden from observations of high-energy gamma rays, new research reveals.

    ICECUBE neutrino detector
    IceCube neutrino detector interior
    U Wisconsin/NSF/ICECUBE

    These high-energy cosmic neutrinos, which are likely to come from beyond our Milky Way Galaxy, may originate in incredibly dense and powerful objects in space that prevent the escape of the high-energy gamma rays that accompany the production of neutrinos. A paper describing the research will be published in the early online edition of the journal Physical Review Letters on February 18, 2016.

    “Neutrinos are one of the fundamental particles that make up our universe,” said Kohta Murase, assistant professor of physics and of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State and the corresponding author of the studies. “High-energy neutrinos are produced along with gamma rays by extremely high-energy radiation known as cosmic rays in objects like star-forming galaxies, galaxy clusters, supermassive black holes, or gamma-ray bursts [GRB’s]. It is important to reveal the origin of these high-energy cosmic neutrinos in order to better understand the underlying physical mechanisms that produce neutrinos and other extremely high-energy astroparticles and to enable the use of neutrinos as new probes of particle physics in the universe.”

    Neutrinos are neutral particles, so they are not affected by electromagnetic forces as they travel through space. Neutrinos detected here on Earth therefore trace a direct path back to their distant astrophysical sources. Additionally, these neutrinos rarely interact with other kinds of matter — many pass directly through the Earth without interacting with other particles — making them incredibly difficult to detect, but ensuring that they escape the incredibly dense environments in which they are produced.

    The high-energy cosmic neutrinos detected by IceCube are believed to originate from cosmic-ray interactions with matter (proton-proton interactions); from cosmic-ray interactions with radiation (proton-photon interactions); or from the decay or destruction of heavy, invisible dark matter. Because these processes generate both high-energy neutrinos and high-energy gamma rays, the scientists compared the IceCube neutrino data to high-energy gamma rays detected by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

    NASA Fermi Telescope
    Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

    “If all of the high-energy gamma rays are allowed to escape from the sources of neutrinos, we had expected to find corresponding data from IceCube and Fermi,” said Murase. In previous papers, including one that was featured as an Editorial Suggestion in Physical Review Letters in 2015, Murase and his colleagues showed the power of such a “multi-messenger” comparison. Now, the researchers suggest that the new neutrino data collected by IceCube has lead to intriguing contradictions with the gamma-ray data collected by Fermi.

    “Using sophisticated calculations and a detailed comparison of the IceCube data with the gamma-ray data from Fermi has led to new and interesting implications for the sources of high-energy cosmic neutrinos,” said Murase. “Surprisingly, with the latest IceCube data, we don’t see matching high-energy gamma-ray data detected by Fermi, which suggests a ‘hidden accelerator’ origin of high-energy cosmic neutrinos that Fermi has not detected.”

    In order to explain the multi-messenger data without any of the intriguing contradictions, the scientists propose that the high-energy gamma rays must be blocked from escaping the sources that created them. The researchers then asked what kinds of astrophysical events could produce high-energy neutrinos but also could suppress the high-energy gamma rays detectable by Fermi. “Interestingly, we found that the suppression of high-energy gamma rays should naturally occur when neutrinos are produced via proton-photon interactions,” said Murase. The low-energy photons that interact with protons to produce neutrinos in these events simultaneously prevent high-energy gamma rays from escaping via a process called ‘two-photon annihilation.’ The new finding implies that the amount of high-energy gamma rays associated with the neutrinos that reach the Earth can easily be below the level detectable by Fermi.

    According to the researchers, the results imply that high-energy cosmic neutrinos can be used as special probes of dense astrophysical environments that cannot be seen in high-energy gamma rays. Candidate sources include supermassive black holes and certain types of gamma-ray bursts. The results also motivate further theoretical and observational studies, such as the use of lower-energy gamma rays or X rays to help scientists understand the origin of high-energy neutrinos and cosmic rays.

    “The next decade will be a golden era for multi-messenger particle astrophysics with high-energy neutrinos detected in IceCube as well as gravitational waves detected with advanced-LIGO,” said Murase.

    Caltech Ligo
    MIT/Caltech Advanced aLIGO

    “Our work demonstrates that multi-messenger approaches are indeed very powerful tools for probing fundamental questions in particle astrophysics. I believe that the future is bright and that we will be able to find sources of neutrinos and cosmic rays, probably with other surprising new discoveries.”

    In addition to Murase, the research team includes Dafne Guetta from the Osservatorio Astronomic di Roma in Italy and ORT Braude College in Israel, and Markus Ahlers from the University of Wisconsin.

    The research was funded by Penn State University, the U.S. Nation Science Foundation (grant numbers OPP-0236449 and PHY-0236449) and by the U.S. Israel Binational Science Foundation.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Penn State Campus

    WHAT WE DO BEST

    We teach students that the real measure of success is what you do to improve the lives of others, and they learn to be hard-working leaders with a global perspective. We conduct research to improve lives. We add millions to the economy through projects in our state and beyond. We help communities by sharing our faculty expertise and research.

    Penn State lives close by no matter where you are. Our campuses are located from one side of Pennsylvania to the other. Through Penn State World Campus, students can take courses and work toward degrees online from anywhere on the globe that has Internet service.

    We support students in many ways, including advising and counseling services for school and life; diversity and inclusion services; social media sites; safety services; and emergency assistance.

    Our network of more than a half-million alumni is accessible to students when they want advice and to learn about job networking and mentor opportunities as well as what to expect in the future. Through our alumni, Penn State lives all over the world.

    The best part of Penn State is our people. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends in communities near our campuses and across the globe are dedicated to education and fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:09 am on October 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Penn State   

    From Penn State: “New mathematical method reveals structure in neural activity in the brain” 

    Penn State Bloc

    Pennsylvania State University

    19 October 2015
    Contacts:
    Vladimir Itskov: vladimir.itskov@math.psu.edu
    Carina Curto: cpc16@psu.edu
    Barbara Kennedy: science@psu.edu, phone: (814) 863-4682

    1
    Illustration of neurons. Credit: Benedict Campbell, Wellcome Images/CC

    A newly-developed mathematical method can detect geometric structure in neural activity in the brain. “Previously, in order to understand this structure, scientists needed to relate neural activity to some specific external stimulus,” said Vladimir Itskov, associate professor of mathematics at Penn State University. “Our method is the first to be able to reveal this structure without our knowing an external stimulus ahead of time. We’ve now shown that our new method will allow us to explore the organizational structure of neurons without knowing their function in advance.”

    “The traditional methods used by researchers to analyze the relationship between the activities of neurons were adopted from physics,” said Carina Curto, associate professor of mathematics at Penn State, “but neuroscience data doesn’t necessarily play by the same rules as data from physics, so we need new tools. Our method is a first step toward developing a new mathematical toolkit to uncover the structure of neural circuits with unknown function in the brain.”

    The method — clique topology — was developed by an interdisciplinary team of researchers at Penn State, the University of Pennsylvania, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The method is described in a paper that will be posted in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week ending October 23, 2015.

    “We have adopted approaches from the field of algebraic topology that previously had been used primarily in the domain of pure mathematics and have applied them to experimental data on the activity of place cells — specialized neurons in the part of the brain called the hippocampus that sense the position of an animal in its environment,” said Curto.

    The researchers measured the activity of place cells in the brains of rats during three different experimental conditions. They then analyzed the pairwise correlations of this activity — how the firing of each neuron was related to the firing of every other neuron.

    In the first condition, the rats were allowed to roam freely in their environment — a behavior where the activity of place cells is directly related to the location of the animal in its environment. They searched the data to find groups of neurons, or “cliques,” in which the activity of all members of the clique was related to the activity of every other member. Their analysis of these cliques, using methods from algebraic topology, revealed an organized geometric structure. Surprisingly, the researchers found similar structure in the activities among place cells in the other two conditions they tested, wheel-running and sleep, where place cells are not expected to have geometric organization.

    “Because the structure we detected was similar in all three experimental conditions, we think that we are picking up the fundamental organization of place cells in the hippocampus,” said Itskov.

    In addition to Itskov and Curto, other members of the research team include Chad Giusti at the University of Pennsylvania and Eva Pastalkova at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

    The research was supported by the National Science Foundation (grant numbers DMS 1122519, DMS 122566, and DMS 1537228), the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Young Faculty Award (grant number W911NF-15-1-0084), and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

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    WHAT WE DO BEST

    We teach students that the real measure of success is what you do to improve the lives of others, and they learn to be hard-working leaders with a global perspective. We conduct research to improve lives. We add millions to the economy through projects in our state and beyond. We help communities by sharing our faculty expertise and research.

    Penn State lives close by no matter where you are. Our campuses are located from one side of Pennsylvania to the other. Through Penn State World Campus, students can take courses and work toward degrees online from anywhere on the globe that has Internet service.

    We support students in many ways, including advising and counseling services for school and life; diversity and inclusion services; social media sites; safety services; and emergency assistance.

    Our network of more than a half-million alumni is accessible to students when they want advice and to learn about job networking and mentor opportunities as well as what to expect in the future. Through our alumni, Penn State lives all over the world.

    The best part of Penn State is our people. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends in communities near our campuses and across the globe are dedicated to education and fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:55 am on April 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Penn State   

    From Penn State: “Data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has found no evidence for a hypothesized body sometimes referred to as “Planet X.” 

    Penn State Bloc

    Pennsylvania State University

    07 March 2014
    No Writer Credit

    1
    Credit: Penn State University

    Data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has found no evidence for a hypothesized body sometimes referred to as “Planet X.”

    NASA Wise Telescope
    NASA/Wise

    This body was thought to be a large planet or small star orbiting in the far reaches of our solar system. Astronomers searched millions of images taken by WISE over the whole sky, finding no Saturn-like body out to a distance of 10,000 astronomical units (au) from the sun, and no Jupiter-like body out to 26,000 au. One astronomical unit equals 93 million miles. Earth is 1 au, and Pluto about 40 au, from the sun.

    This chart shows what types of objects WISE can and cannot see at certain distances from our sun. Bodies with larger masses are brighter, and therefore can be seen at greater distances. For example, if a Jupiter-mass planet existed at 10,000 au, WISE would have easily seen it. But WISE would not have been able to see a Jupiter-mass planet residing at 100,000 au — it would have been too faint.

    The chart was created by Janella Williams of Penn State University, University Park, Pa.

    WISE was put into hibernation upon completing its primary mission in 2011. In September 2013, it was reactivated, renamed NEOWISE and assigned a new mission to assist NASA’s efforts to identify the population of potentially hazardous near-Earth objects. NEOWISE will also characterize previously known asteroids and comets to better understand their sizes and compositions.

    More information on WISE, and its latest adaptation, the asteroid-hunting mission NEOWISE, is online here http://www.nasa.gov/wise.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Penn State Campus

    WHAT WE DO BEST

    We teach students that the real measure of success is what you do to improve the lives of others, and they learn to be hard-working leaders with a global perspective. We conduct research to improve lives. We add millions to the economy through projects in our state and beyond. We help communities by sharing our faculty expertise and research.

    Penn State lives close by no matter where you are. Our campuses are located from one side of Pennsylvania to the other. Through Penn State World Campus, students can take courses and work toward degrees online from anywhere on the globe that has Internet service.

    We support students in many ways, including advising and counseling services for school and life; diversity and inclusion services; social media sites; safety services; and emergency assistance.

    Our network of more than a half-million alumni is accessible to students when they want advice and to learn about job networking and mentor opportunities as well as what to expect in the future. Through our alumni, Penn State lives all over the world.

    The best part of Penn State is our people. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends in communities near our campuses and across the globe are dedicated to education and fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.

     
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