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  • richardmitnick 9:00 am on September 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Science Alert, University of Hawai’i   

    From University of Hawaii via Science Alert: “Black Holes May Hide Cores of Pure Dark Energy That Keep The Universe Expanding 

    From University of Hawaii



    Science Alert

    12 SEP 2019


    A fifty-year-old hypothesis predicting the existence of bodies dubbed Generic Objects of Dark Energy (GEODEs) is getting a second look in light of a proposed correction to assumptions we use to model the way our Universe expands.

    If this new version of a classic cosmological model is correct, some black holes could hide cores of pure dark energy, pushing our Universe apart at the seams.

    University of Hawai’i astrophysicist Kevin Croker and mathematician Joel Weiner teamed up to challenge the broadly accepted notion that when it comes to the Universe’s growing waistline, its contents are largely irrelevant.

    “For 80 years, we’ve generally operated under the assumption that the Universe, in broad strokes, was not affected by the particular details of any small region,” said Croker.

    “It is now clear that general relativity can observably connect collapsed stars – regions the size of Honolulu – to the behaviour of the Universe as a whole, over a thousand billion billion times larger.”

    Not only could this alternative interpretation of fundamental physics change how we understand the Universe’s expansion, but we might need to also consider how that growth might affect compact objects like the cores of collapsing stars.

    The fact that space has been steadily adding real estate for the past 13.8 billion years is by now a widely accepted feature of our Universe.

    The set of equations we use to describe this expansion was first put to paper just under a century ago by the Russian physicist Alexander Friedmann. They provided a solution to Einstein’s theory of general relativity that now underpins our big picture model of cosmology.

    As useful as Friedmann’s equations have been, they’re based on the assumption that any matter floating around inside this expanding space is more or less made of the same kind of stuff, and spread out fairly evenly.

    This means we tend to ignore the swirls of stars and galaxies – just like we might not include ducks in the hydrodynamics of a lake.

    But Croker and Weiner wonder what might happen to space and the objects it contains if we made some reasonable changes to the assumptions that inform these equations.

    The consequences aren’t trivial.

    According to their adjusted model, the averaged contributions of our metaphorical ducks might affect the lake’s water after all.

    What’s more, the lake’s expansion would also affect how the ducks swim, causing them to lose or gain energy depending on their species.

    Theoretically, this interpretation would mean we need to take the Universe’s growth into account when describing certain phenomena, such as the death of a star.

    In 1966, a Russian physicist named Erast Gliner considered how some densities of space close to the Big Bang might look – in terms of relativity – like a vacuum that could counter the effects of gravity.

    His solution would look like a black hole from the outside. But inside would be a bubble of energy shoving against the surrounding Universe.

    Half a century later, astrophysicists are on the hunt for just such a pushing power that might be responsible for the Universe’s expansion picking up speed over time.

    Today we refer to this undescribed force as dark energy, but could Gliner’s pockets of relativistic nothingness be the source of our Universe’s accelerating expansion?

    Based on Croker and Weiner’s work, if just a few ancient stars were to have collapsed into Gliner’s GEODEs instead of the more typical puckered space of a singularity, their average effect on expanding space would look just like dark energy.

    The pair go further, applying their corrected model to the first observation of gravitational waves from a black hole collision as measured by LIGO.

    To make the math fit, it’s assumed the stars that formed the merging black holes formed in a low-metallicity environment, which makes them somewhat rare.

    Technically, the energy of a GEODE should evolve as the Universe grows, effectively compacting as a cosmological equivalent of a ‘blueshift’.

    If the merging black holes were GEODEs, according to the researchers, there’d be no need to assume the black holes were born in an unusual patch of space.

    “What we have shown is that if GEODEs do exist, then they can easily give rise to observed phenomena that presently lack convincing explanations,” the researchers said.

    “We anticipate numerous other observational consequences of a GEODE scenario, including many ways to exclude it. We’ve barely begun to scratch the surface.”

    Testing assumptions like these is a vital part of physics. We’re a long way off including GEODEs in any official astrophysical zoo of weird objects, but it’s possible these could be the dark hearts of the Universe we’ve been looking for.

    This research was published in The Astrophysical Journal.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    System Overview

    The University of Hawai‘i System includes 10 campuses and dozens of educational, training and research centers across the Hawaiian Islands. As the public system of higher education in Hawai‘i, UH offers opportunities as unique and diverse as our Island home.

    The 10 UH campuses and educational centers on six Hawaiian Islands provide unique opportunities for both learning and recreation.

    UH is the State’s leading engine for economic growth and diversification, stimulating the local economy with jobs, research and skilled workers.

  • richardmitnick 7:47 am on September 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Physicists Have Finally Built a Quantum X-Ray Device", , Bar Ilon University, PDC-parametric down-conversion, , Quantum enhancement, , Quantum illumination, Quantum imaging, , Science Alert, X-ray PDC,   

    From Bar Ilon University and Riken via Science Alert: “Physicists Have Finally Built a Quantum X-Ray Device” 


    From Bar Ilon University


    RIKEN bloc

    From RIKEN



    Science Alert

    2 SEP 2019

    (APS/Alan Stonebraker)

    A team of researchers has just demonstrated quantum enhancement in an actual X-ray machine, achieving the desirable goal of eliminating background noise for precision detection.

    The relationships between photon pairs on quantum scales can be exploited to create sharper, higher-resolution images than classical optics. This emerging field is called quantum imaging, and it has some really impressive potential – particularly since, using optical light, it can be used to show objects that can’t usually be seen, like bones and organs.

    Quantum correlation describes a number of different relationships between photon pairs. Entanglement is one of these, and is applied in optical quantum imaging.

    But the technical challenges of generating entangled photons in X-ray wavelengths are considerably greater than for optical light, so in the building of their quantum X-ray, the team took a different approach.

    They used a technique called quantum illumination to minimise background noise. Usually, this uses entangled photons, but weaker correlations work, too. Using a process called parametric down-conversion (PDC), the researchers split a high-energy – or “pump” – photon into two lower-energy photons, called a signal photon and an idler photon.

    “X-ray PDC has been demonstrated by several authors, and the application of the effect as a source for ghost imaging has been demonstrated recently,” the researchers write in their paper.

    “However, in all previous publications, the photon statistics have not been measured. Essentially, to date, there is no experimental evidence that photons, which are generated by X-ray PDC, exhibit statistics of quantum states of radiation. Likewise, observations of the quantum enhanced measurement sensitivity have never been reported at X-ray wavelengths.”

    The researchers achieved their X-ray PDC with a diamond crystal. The nonlinear structure of the crystal splits a beam of pump X-ray photons into signal and idler beams, each with half the energy of the pump beam.

    Normally, this process is very inefficient using X-rays, so the team scaled up the power. Using the SPring-8 synchrotron in Japan, they shot a 22 KeV beam of X-rays at their crystal, which split into two beams, each carrying 11 KeV.

    SPring-8 synchrotron

    SPring-8 synchrotron, located in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan

    The signal beam is sent towards the object to be imaged – in the case of this research, a small piece of metal with three slits – with a detector on the other side. The idler beam is sent straight to a different detector. This is set up so that each beam hits its respective detector at the same place and at the same time.

    “The perfect time-energy relationship we observed could only mean that the two photons were quantum correlated,” said physicist Sason Sofer of Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

    For the next step, the researchers compared their detections. There were only around 100 correlated photons per point in the image, and around 10,000 more background photons. But the researchers could match each idler to a signal, so they could actually tell which photons in the image were from the beam, thus easily separating out the background noise.

    They then compared these images to images taken using regular, non-correlated photons – and the correlated photons clearly produced a much sharper image.

    It’s early days yet, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction for what could be a greatly exciting tool. Quantum X-ray imaging could have a number of uses outside the range of current X-ray technology.

    One promise is that it could lower the amount of radiation required for X-ray imaging. This would mean that samples easily damaged by X-rays could be imaged, or samples that require low temperatures; less radiation would mean less heat. It could also enable physicists to X-ray atomic nuclei to see what’s inside.

    Obviously, since these quantum X-rays require a hardcore particle accelerator, medical applications are currently off the table. The team has demonstrated that it can be done, but scaling down is going to be tricky.

    Currently, determining whether the photons are entangled is the next step. That would require the photons’ arrival at the detectors to be measured within attosecond scales, which is beyond our current technology.

    Still, this is a pretty amazing achievement.

    “We have demonstrated the ability to utilise the strong time-energy correlations of photon pairs for quantum enhanced photodetection. The procedure we have presented possesses great potential for improving the performances of X-ray measurements,” the researchers write.

    “We anticipate that this work will open the way for more quantum enhanced x-ray regime detection schemes, including the area of diffraction and spectroscopy.”

    The research has been published in Physical Review X.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    RIKEN campus

    RIKEN is Japan’s largest comprehensive research institution renowned for high-quality research in a diverse range of scientific disciplines. Founded in 1917 as a private research foundation in Tokyo, RIKEN has grown rapidly in size and scope, today encompassing a network of world-class research centers and institutes across Japan.

  • richardmitnick 10:38 am on August 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Millions of High-Speed Black Holes Could Be Zooming Around The Milky Way", , , , , , ICRAR-International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, Science Alert   

    From Curtin University and ICRAR via Science Alert: “Millions of High-Speed Black Holes Could Be Zooming Around The Milky Way” 

    From Curtin University


    ICRAR Logo
    From International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research



    Science Alert

    30 AUG 2019


    How are black holes born? Astrophysicists have theories, but we don’t actually know for certain. It could be massive stars quietly imploding with a floompf, or perhaps black holes are born in the explosions of colossal supernovas. New observations now indicate it might indeed be the latter.

    In fact, the research suggests that those explosions are so powerful, they can kick the black holes across the galaxy at speeds greater than 70 kilometres per second (43 miles per second).

    “This work basically talks about the first observational evidence that you can actually see black holes moving with high velocities in the galaxy and associate it to the kick the black hole system received at birth,” astronomer Pikky Atri of Curtin University and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) told ScienceAlert.

    And it means there are potentially millions stellar-mass black holes zooming around the galaxy at high speed. The paper has been accepted into the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    The study was based on 16 black holes in binary systems. Unless they’re actively feeding, we can’t actually find black holes, since no detectable electromagnetic radiation can escape their insane gravity. But if they’re in a binary pair and actively feeding on the other star, the matter swirling around the black hole gives off powerful X-rays and radio waves.

    Once we can see these black hole beacons, we can see how the black hole is behaving. The international team of researchers used this behaviour to try and reconstruct the black hole’s history.

    “We tracked how these systems were moving in our galaxy – so, figured out their velocities today, moved back in time, and tried to understand what the velocity was of the system when it was born, individually for each of these 16 systems,” Atri explained.

    “Based on the velocities, you can actually find out if they were born with a supernova explosion, or if the stars just directly collapsed onto themselves without a supernova explosion.”

    We know that neutron stars can be violently punted out across space at high speeds by their own supernova explosions – this is called a Blaauw kick, or natal kick, and it happens when the supernova explosion is lopsided, resulting in a recoil.

    It was unknown if black holes could be kicked in the same way. Hypothetically, they might – and indeed seven black hole x-ray binaries have been previously associated with natal kicks.

    The new research has analysed these, as well as nine others, in greater detail, combining measured proper motions, systemic radial velocities, and distances to these systems for the most detailed analysis yet.

    The motion of one of these black holes as calculated by the team can be seen in the video below.

    The researchers found that 12 of these 16 black hole X-ray binaries did indeed have high velocities and trajectories that indicated a natal kick. That’s 75 percent of the sample. If this scales up to the estimated 10 million black holes in the Milky Way, that might mean around 7.5 million high-speed black holes careening out there. And 10 million is a low estimate.

    In line with previous theories, these speeding black holes are slower than kicked neutron stars by a factor of about three or four, due to their higher mass. Interestingly, there seemed to be no correlation between black hole mass and velocity, which means we don’t yet know if there’s a correlation between progenitor star mass and the likelihood of a supernova.

    This is a relatively small sample size of black holes, of course. But, according to Atri, it’s a step towards building up a larger sample that can help us to understand how stars evolve and die, and give rise to black holes.

    “Eventually, all of this will feed into how many black holes we expect in our galaxy, how many black holes that will actually merge to give those gravitational wave detections that LIGO finds,” she added.

    To continue to build on the research, the team will keep watching the sky. These binary systems aren’t always bright – they come and go, transient. So the researchers are hoping to find more of these binary systems to continue building a census of Milky Way black holes, whether speeding or not.

    And, in case you’re worried right now abut a black hole cruising right into our Solar System, you don’t really need to panic.

    “The closest black hole, we think it’s two kiloparsecs away [6,523 light-years],” Atri said.

    “It’s very, very far away. So there’s no chance that we’re getting sucked up by any black hole any time soon.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ICRAR is an equal joint venture between Curtin University and The University of Western Australia with funding support from the State Government of Western Australia. The Centre’s headquarters are located at UWA, with research nodes at both UWA and the Curtin Institute for Radio Astronomy (CIRA).
    ICRAR has strong support from the government of Australia and is working closely with industry and the astronomy community, including CSIRO and the Australian Telescope National Facility, <a
    ICRAR is:

    Playing a key role in the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, the world's biggest ground-based telescope array.

    Attracting some of the world’s leading researchers in radio astronomy, who will also contribute to national and international scientific and technical programs for SKA and ASKAP.
    Creating a collaborative environment for scientists and engineers to engage and work with industry to produce studies, prototypes and systems linked to the overall scientific success of the SKA, MWA and ASKAP.

    Murchison Widefield Array,SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)

    A Small part of the Murchison Widefield Array

    Curtin University (formerly known as Curtin University of Technology and Western Australian Institute of Technology) is an Australian public research university based in Bentley and Perth, Western Australia. The university is named after the 14th Prime Minister of Australia, John Curtin, and is the largest university in Western Australia, with over 58,000 students (as of 2016).

    Curtin was conferred university status after legislation was passed by the Parliament of Western Australia in 1986. Since then, the university has been expanding its presence and has campuses in Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai and Mauritius. It has ties with 90 exchange universities in 20 countries. The University comprises five main faculties with over 95 specialists centres. The University formerly had a Sydney campus between 2005 & 2016. On 17 September 2015, Curtin University Council made a decision to close its Sydney campus by early 2017.

    Curtin University is a member of Australian Technology Network (ATN), and is active in research in a range of academic and practical fields, including Resources and Energy (e.g., petroleum gas), Information and Communication, Health, Ageing and Well-being (Public Health), Communities and Changing Environments, Growth and Prosperity and Creative Writing.

    It is the only Western Australian university to produce a PhD recipient of the AINSE gold medal, which is the highest recognition for PhD-level research excellence in Australia and New Zealand.

    Curtin has become active in research and partnerships overseas, particularly in mainland China. It is involved in a number of business, management, and research projects, particularly in supercomputing, where the university participates in a tri-continental array with nodes in Perth, Beijing, and Edinburgh. Western Australia has become an important exporter of minerals, petroleum and natural gas. The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited the Woodside-funded hydrocarbon research facility during his visit to Australia in 2005.

  • richardmitnick 9:40 am on August 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Scientists Detected 2 Black Hole Mergers Just 21 Mins Apart But It's Not What We Hoped", , , , , Science Alert   

    From Science Alert and LIGO: “Scientists Detected 2 Black Hole Mergers Just 21 Mins Apart, But It’s Not What We Hoped” 


    From Science Alert

    MIT /Caltech Advanced aLigo

    31 AUG 2019

    (Des Green/iStock)

    Last Wednesday, a gravitational wave detection gave astronomers quite the surprise. As researchers were going about their work at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), a pair of gravitational waves rolled in just minutes apart.

    Gravitational waves. Credit: MPI for Gravitational Physics/Werner Benger

    Cornell SXS, the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) project

    Localizations of gravitational-wave signals detected by LIGO in 2015 (GW150914, LVT151012, GW151226, GW170104), more recently, by the LIGO-Virgo network (GW170814, GW170817). After Virgo came online in August 2018

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA

    VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy

    The first, labelled S190828j, was picked up by all three of LIGO’s gravitational wave detectors at 06:34 am, coordinated universal time.

    MIT /Caltech Advanced aLigo

    VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy

    The second, S190828l, was measured at 06:55 – a mere 21 minutes later.

    Both seemed to be the run-of-the-mill dying screams of black holes as they squish together. But here’s why it’s so surprising: astronomers wouldn’t expect to see a pair of signals in such quick succession.

    In fact, this is only the second time two detections have rolled in on the same day. What’s more, at first glance they also seemed to echo from more or less the same patch of sky.

    “This is a genuine “Uh, wait, what?; We’ve never seen that before…” moment in gravitational wave astronomy,” astrophysicist Robert Routledge from McGill University later tweeted, after openly speculating that it mightn’t be a mere coincidence.

    Non-scientists — this is a genuine “Uh, wait, what? We’ve never seen that before…….” moment in gravitational wave astronomy. If you’d like to see how double-checks and confirmations and conclusions occur – pay attention, in real time. Happening now.
    — Robert Rutledge (@rerutled) August 28, 2019

    Nobody can blame Routledge for getting excited. Unexpected events like this are what discoveries are made of, after all. As he said, this is science in real time.

    One possibility briefly kicked around was that S190828j and S190828l were actually the same wave, divided by some sort of distortion in space before being roughly thrown together again. This would have been huge.

    Gravitational lensing – the warping effect an intervening mass has on space, as described by general relativity – can divide and duplicate the rays of light from far-off objects. It has become a useful tool for astronomers in the measurement of distances.

    Gravitational Lensing NASA/ESA

    If this had indeed been a two-for-one deal, it would be the first time a gravitational wave had been observed through a gravitational lens.

    Alas, it’s now looking pretty unlikely. As the hours passed, new details emerged indicating the two signals don’t overlap enough to be originating from the same source.

    If this were a lensing event, you’d expect the two localizations to sit more or less right on top of each other. They have similar shapes and appear in the same part of the sky, but they don’t really overlap: pic.twitter.com/lqvigNhyBl
    — Robert McNees (@mcnees) August 28, 2019

    So close, and yet so far. Right now, this twin event is looking more like a coincidence.

    To look on the bright side, we now live in an age where the detection of the crash-boom of galactic giants isn’t a rare event, but rather an endless peel of thunder we can record and measure with an insane level of accuracy. It’s hard to believe the first collision was detected only a few years ago.

    Scientists face a problem in the wake of freaky events like this one. On the one hand, wild speculations have a habit of taking on a life of their own when discussed so frankly in a public space, transforming into an established fact while barely half baked.

    But time can be of the essence when we’re scanning a near-infinite amount of sky for clues, too. By throwing ideas out broadly, different groups of researchers can turn their attention to a phenomenon and collect data while it’s still hot.

    This is what scientists do best – stumble across odd events, throw out ideas, and debate which ones deserve to be inspected and which should be abandoned.

    If there’s more to S190828j and S190828l than meets the eye, we’ll let you know. For now, we can be disappointed that there was no Earth-shaking discovery, while still being amazed that we have the technology to discover it at all.

    We really ought to celebrate the ‘disappointments’ a little more often.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 3:31 pm on August 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Administrator Says Pluto Is Still a Planet And Things Are Getting Heated, , Science Alert,   

    From Spaceflight Insider: “Second group of names approved for features on Pluto” and Defense of Pluto’s Status as a planet 


    From Spaceflight Insider

    August 26th, 2019
    Laurel Kornfeld

    A composite of images collected by New Horizons’ instruments during the spacecraft’s July 2015 Pluto flyby, this annotated map shows the newly-approved names in yellow and the ones approved in 2017 in white. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Ross Beyer

    A second set of names for features on Pluto, already used informally by members of NASA’s New Horizons mission, has received formal approval by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the organization that names celestial objects and their features.

    Submitted by the New Horizons mission, these 14 names honor pioneering explorers on Earth, space missions, scientists and engineers who have studied Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, and underworld mythology. Like the first set of 14 names for various features on Pluto’s surface, which were approved in 2017, all of these came from a 2015 public naming campaign organized jointly by the New Horizons mission, the SETI Institute, and the IAU.

    NASA/New Horizons spacecraft

    That campaign, titled “Our Pluto,” established a list of themes for names to be assigned to features on Pluto, Charon, and the system’s four small moons in advance of the July 2015 Pluto flyby. Themes for surface features on Pluto included names for the underworld from various world mythologies; gods, goddesses, and dwarfs associated with the underworld; heroes and other explorers of the underworld; writers associated with Pluto and the Kuiper Belt; and scientists and engineers associated with Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.

    Participants could vote for names from a list of nominations suggested by the organizers or nominate a name of their choosing under the established categories.


    From Science Alert
    NASA Administrator Says Pluto Is Still a Planet, And Things Are Getting Heated
    26 AUG 2019

    Pluto. The Hindu

    NASA Administrator Says Pluto Is Still a Planet, And Things Are Getting Heated.

    Saturday 24 August 2019 marked a vexing anniversary for planetary scientists. It was 13 years to the day that Pluto’s official definition changed – what was once numbered among the planets of the Solar System was now but a humble dwarf planet.

    But not everyone agreed with the International Astronomical Union’s ruling – and now NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has added his voice to the chorus declaring support for Pluto’s membership in the Solar System Planet Club.

    “Just so you know, in my view, Pluto is a planet,” he said during a tour of the Aerospace Engineering Sciences Building at the University of Colorado Boulder.

    “You can write that the NASA Administrator declared Pluto a planet once again. I’m sticking by that, it’s the way I learnt it, and I’m committed to it.”

    Now, this doesn’t officially change anything, and his reasoning is a little facile – having learnt something one way doesn’t mean it has to stay that way, thank you geocentrism. It’s an off-the-cuff lighthearted remark, and that’s fine.

    But it just so happens that planetary scientists have been banging the Pluto planet drum for years, and their reasons are a little more considered. Actually, a lot more.

    When the IAU removed Pluto from the list of what had been nine planets in the Solar System in August 2006, the move was a corollary of its official definitions of planets and dwarf planets.

    Before that, there had been no official definitions of these objects, which created problems when astronomer Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology and colleagues discovered an object that seemed to be bigger than Pluto. (This object was later designated a dwarf planet, and named Eris, after the Greek goddess of strife and discord.)

    The difference between a planet and a dwarf planet that changed Pluto’s status? Pluto – hanging out as it does in the Kuiper Belt asteroid field – has not cleared “the neighbourhood around its orbit” of other rocks.

    This helped to resolve the perceived problem of other objects around the same size of Pluto, of which there are potentially hundreds. If Pluto was in the planet club, what was keeping the rest of the riff-raff out?

    Planetary scientist Alan Stern, leader of NASA’s New Horizon’s mission, has been vocal about his disappointment with the decision to de-planet Pluto since it was made.

    “My conclusion is that the IAU definition is not only unworkable and unteachable, but so scientifically flawed and internally contradictory that it cannot be strongly defended against claims of scientific sloppiness, “ir-rigor,” and cogent classification,” he wrote in September 2006.

    “The New Horizons project, like a growing number of the public, and many hundreds if not thousands of professional research astronomers and planetary scientists, will not recognise the IAU’s planet definition resolution of Aug. 24, 2006.”

    And so he has not. In fact, earlier this year, he debated Ron Ekers of the IAU, defending Pluto’s planet status.


    It’s not just that only 424 of around 9,000 IAU members voted on the resolution, nor that hundreds of planetary scientists immediately petitioned against it.

    It’s also that Pluto has its own multilayered atmosphere, organic compounds, weather, moons.

    It has landscapes – rocky mountain ranges and wide plains. It has avalanches, maybe plutoquakes, maybe even liquid oceans. And that the definition based on orbital clearing has no historical merit.

    And even if it did, one could argue that other planets haven’t cleared their neighbourhoods either – there are a lot of asteroids hanging around both Earth and Jupiter’s orbits (although not nearly as many as the Kuiper Belt.)

    Scientists last year argued that a planet should be defined as an object that has become large enough to become a sphere.

    “It turns out this is an important milestone in the evolution of a planetary body, because apparently when it happens, it initiates active geology in the body,” explained planetary physicist Philip Metzger of the University of Central Florida.

    So far, the IAU has shown no signs of backing down, but neither do Pluto’s supporters. Perhaps Bridenstine joining Team Pluto will renew the fight. And we, for one, stand by to welcome our hundreds of new planetary pals.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SpaceFlight Insider reports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

  • richardmitnick 9:13 am on August 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Science Alert, XTE J1810-197   

    From Science Alert: “Analysis of a Strange Erupting Magnetar Hints Link With Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts” 


    From Science Alert

    23 AUG 2019

    Artist’s impression of a magnetar. (ESO/L. Calçada)

    A magnetar that recently erupted with a storm of activity may have given us a lead on the mystery of fast radio bursts (FRBs).

    According to a new analysis of the magnetar XTE J1810-197, millisecond bursts of low-frequency radio waves sputtered out by the dead star show an unusual similarity to FRB signals. It’s far from conclusive proof that the two phenomena are linked, but it’s one of the most tantalising hints yet.

    This claim is just one of several findings in a new paper, accepted into The Astrophysical Journal. The research team behind this work has analysed the magnetar’s low-frequency radio output using the second of just two outbursts we’ve ever caught from this source.

    Magnetars are a particularly strange type of neutron star. Their magnetic fields are somehow insanely strong – around a quadrillion times stronger than Earth’s own magnetic field. We don’t know what processes produce these magnetic fields, but they’re strong enough to make the space around them seriously screwy.

    We haven’t found many magnetars, as it’s thought that this life stage for a star lasts a very short time in cosmic terms: just 10,000 years. Of those we have found, XTE J1810-197 is among the strangest of them all.

    Located 10,000 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius, it was the first of only four magnetars found to emit radio waves – but it only does so intermittently. It was crackling away in radio frequencies when it was discovered in 2003. Then, in 2008, it mysteriously went radio silent.

    But December of last year, it flared to radio life again, and astrophysicists at the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics in India turned the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in to listen.

    Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, an array of thirty telecopes, located near Pune in India

    Their results, obtained mostly over four observation runs in the low-frequency 550 to 750 MHz range, revealed a rapid decrease in the radio flux density after the initial onset of the outburst. This was consistent with observations of the first outburst.

    “Similar to the previous outburst, the 650MHz flux density decreased by a factor of about 5 or more in the first 20 to 30 days,” the researchers write in their paper.

    What seemed to particularly intrigue them, however, is the possible link to fast radio bursts, mysterious spikes in radio data that last just a few milliseconds, but with as much energy as over 500 million Suns. Most FRBs have not been detected repeating (which the magnetar bursts did), but there were striking similarities.

    The team observed the magnetar emitting millisecond spikes of radio wave activity, with spectral structures that – just like FRBs – can’t be explained by effects caused by their passage through the interstellar medium, the gas and dust between the stars.

    “These structures might indicate a phenomenological link with the repeating fast radio bursts which also show interesting, more detailed frequency structures,” the researchers wrote.

    It’s only a “maybe” at this point. There are also a couple of features that would need to be looked into.

    Firstly, repeating FRBs often demonstrate a phenomenon known as frequency drift, where successive bursts drift downward in frequency like a sad trombone.

    Due to their resolution and scattering at the frequency range they were observing, the researchers were unable to resolve any frequency drift in their data. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t there, but it would require a different dataset to try and find it.

    Secondly, there’s the question of signal strength. The magnetar’s signal was an order of magnitude more powerful than the peak of repeating FRB 121102, but there’s a catch – the FRB travelled from much, much farther away.

    This implies the FRB’s source would have to be around 100 billion times more luminous than the peak of XTE J1810-197’s outburst as captured by the GMRT.

    “Nevertheless,” the researchers write, “the fact that the magnetar J1810−197 is only the third object after the repeating FRBs and the Crab pulsar which is found to exhibit frequency structures in its bursts, might provide a phenomenological link between the underlying emission mechanisms.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 10:53 am on August 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , European Space Agency's Euclid telescope, , , , , , , NASA's Lucy mission, NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope, Parker Solar Probe Plus, Science Alert   

    From Science Alert: “Here Are NASA’s Wild Plans to Explore Time And Space For The Next 10 Years” 


    From Science Alert

    21 AUG 2019

    NASA hopes to reach a dead planet called Psyche. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

    NASA’s 10-year plan involves billions of dollars and spans millions of miles. And much like the universe, it’s only expanding.

    Last year, the agency announced that it’s planning to send astronauts back to the Moon and eventually build a base there, with a Mars-bound mission to follow in the years after that.

    In June, the agency introduced a mission that aims to fly a nuclear-powered helicopter over the surface of Titan, an icy Moon of Saturn’s, to scan for alien life. NASA wants to looking for life in other places too, like the ocean below the icy surface of Jupiter’s Moon Europa.

    Other future missions will try to photograph our entire cosmic history and map the dark matter and dark energy that govern our Universe.

    Here are some of NASA’s biggest and most ambitious plans for the coming decade.
    1. Several ground-breaking NASA missions are already in progress, including the Parker Solar Probe, which will will rocket past the Sun a total of 24 times.

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

    Launched: August 12, 2018

    Arrived: November 5, 2018

    The probe is travelling closer to the Sun than anything from Earth before it. The mission aims to investigate the forces behind solar wind, which could inform efforts to protect technology on Earth from the Sun’s flare-ups.

    Parker slingshots around the Sun at record speeds of up to 213,200 mph (343,000 km/h); it’s currently approaching its third close encounter. A powerful heat shield keeps the spacecraft’s equipment cool.

    The Parker Solar Probe will get closer to the sun than any other probe before it. (NASA Goddard/Youtube)

    2. Far from the Sun, New Horizons is exploring the Kuiper Belt, a region of millions of chunks of ice left over from the Solar System’s birth.

    NASA/New Horizons spacecraft

    Kuiper Belt. Minor Planet Center

    Launched: January 19, 2006

    Arrived at Ultima Thule: January 1, 2019

    The New Horizons spacecraft visited Pluto and the ice dwarfs surrounding it in 2015. In January, the spacecraft reached the farthest object anything human-made has ever visited: a snowman-shaped space rock called 2014 MU69 (or Ultima Thule).

    It sent back the following video of Ultima Thule, though it will likely take until late 2020 for scientists to receive and download all the data from New Horizons’ flyby.

    So far, we’ve learned that the primordial object contains methanol, water ice, and organic molecules.

    3. On the surface of Mars, the InSight lander is listening for quakes.

    NASA/Mars InSight Lander

    Launched: May 5, 2018

    Arrived: November 26, 2018

    Since the InSight lander touched down on the surface of the red planet, it has detected dozens of Mars quakes. The early data is giving scientists new insight into the planet’s internal structure.

    Illustration of the InSight lander on Mars. (NASA/JPL-CaltechAn)

    4. A new Mars rover will join InSight next year. NASA is currently building the vehicle in its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    NASA Mars 2020 rover schematic

    NASA Mars 2020 Rover

    Members of NASA’s Mars 2020 project after attaching the rover’s mast. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    5. Researchers hope a future mission to Mars could return the Martian rock samples that the Mars 2020 rover collects back to Earth.

    Planned launch: Unknown

    Anticipated arrival: Unknown

    Until NASA sends another robot to Mars that could launch the stored samples to Earth, the 2020 rover will store the samples in its belly and search for a place on Mars where it can stash them for pickup.

    Proposed Mars Sample Return mission launching samples towards Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    Planned launch: July 2020

    Anticipated arrival: February 2021

    The Mars 2020 rover will search for signs of ancient microbial alien life on the red planet, collect and stash rock samples, and test out technology that could pave the way for humans to walk the Martian surface one day.

    You can tune in to NASA’s live broadcast of the Mars 2020 rover’s construction anytime to watch the US$2.1 billion mission take shape.

    6. NASA eventually hopes to send a crewed mission to Mars. But before that, the agency plans to return astronauts to the Moon and built a lunar base there.

    Planned launch: Unknown

    Anticipated arrival: 2024

    NASA wants to send humans to the Moon again by 2024. Those would be the first boots on the lunar surface since the Apollo program ended over 45 years ago. This time, however, NASA wants to build a Moon-orbiting space station with a reusable lunar-landing system.

    The idea is that the lunar base could allow for more in-depth scientific research of the Moon, and potentially even enable us to mine resources there that could be converted to fuel for further space travel.

    7. From the lunar surface, astronauts may springboard to Mars.

    Planned launch: 2030s

    Anticipated arrival: 2030s

    The next Moon mission will test deep-space exploration systems that NASA hopes will carry humans on to Mars.

    Astronauts travelling to Mars would have to spend about three years away from Earth. In order to explore of the red planet, human travellers would have to be able to use the materials available on the lunar and Martian surfaces.

    NASA is already designing future astronauts’ gear. They’re sending spacesuit material on the Mars 2020 rover to test how it holds up in the planet’s harsh atmosphere. A deep-space habitat competition this year yielded a 3D-printable pod that could be constructed using materials found on Mars.

    Concept illustration of Martian habitats. (JPL/NASA)

    8. NASA also plans to investigate our Solar System’s past by launching a mission to an asteroid belt surrounding Jupiter.

    Planned launch: October 2021

    Anticipated arrival: 2027

    A mysterious swarm of Trojan asteroids – the term for space rocks that follow planets – trail Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun. NASA’s Lucy mission plans to visit six of them.

    “We know very little about these objects,” Jim Green, the leader of NASA’s planetary science program, said in a NASA video. “They may be captured asteroids, comets, or even Kuiper Belt objects.”

    What we do know is that the objects are as old as the Sun, so they can serve as a kind of fossil record of the Solar System.

    9. Relatively nearby, a spacecraft will scan for alien life in the saltwater ocean on Jupiter’s Moon Europa.

    Planned launch: 2020s

    Anticipated arrival: Unknown

    When Galileo Galilei first looked at Jupiter through his homemade telescope in 1610, he spotted four Moons circling the planet. Nearly 400 years later, NASA’s Galileo mission found evidence that one of those Moons, Europa, conceals a vast ocean of liquid water beneath its icy crust.

    NASA is planning to visit that ocean with the Europa Clipper, a spacecraft that will fly by the Moon 45 times, getting as close at 16 miles above the Moon’s surface.

    NASA/Europa Clipper annotated

    Clipper will fly through water vapour plumes that shoot out from Europa’s surface (as seen in the NASA visual above) to analyse what might be in the ocean. Radar tools will also measure the thickness of the ice and scan for subsurface water.

    10. That investigation could help scientists prepare to land a future spacecraft on Europa’s surface and punch through the ice.

    NASA’s Lucy mission visiting asteroids near Jupiter. (Southwest Research Institute)

    Anticipated launch and arrival: Unknown

    The future lander would search for signs of life in the ocean, digging 4 inches below the surface to extract samples for analysis in a mini, on-the-go laboratory.

    11. A nuclear-powered helicopter called Dragonfly will take the search for alien life one planet further, to Saturn’s largest Moon, Titan.

    Dragonfly visiting sampling location on Titan. (NASA)

    Planned launch: 2026

    Anticipated arrival: 2034

    Titan is a world with ice, liquid methane pools, and a thick nitrogen atmosphere. It somewhat resembles early Earth, since it has carbon-rich organic materials like methane and ethane. Scientists suspect that an ocean of liquid water might lurk 60 miles below the ice.

    All that makes Titan a contender for alien life.

    But getting to the distant, cold Moon is not easy – Saturn only gets about 1 percent of the sunlight that bathes Earth, so a spacecraft can’t rely on solar energy. Instead, Dragonfly will propel itself using the heat of decaying plutonium.

    12. Another NASA team is developing a spacecraft to probe the metal core of a dead planet called Psyche.

    Planned launch: 2022

    Anticipated arrival: 2026

    Most of the asteroids in our Solar System are made of rock or ice, but Psyche is composed of iron and nickel. That’s similar to the makeup of Earth’s core, so scientists think Psyche could be a remnant of an early planet that was decimated by violent collisions billions of years ago.

    NASA is sending a probe to find out.

    “This is an opportunity to explore a new type of world – not one of rock or ice, but of metal,” Linda Elkins-Tanton, who’s leading the mission, said in a press release. “This is the only way humans will ever visit a core.”

    If Psyche really is the exposed core of a dead planet, it could reveal clues about the Solar System’s early years.

    The probe NASA plans to send to Psyche would be the first spacecraft to use light, rather than radio waves, to transmit information back to Earth. The agency gave the team the green light to start the final design and early assembly process in June.

    13. NASA also has 176 missions in the works that use CubeSats: 4-by-4-inch cube-shaped nanotechnology satellites.

    Three CubeSats ejected from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory. (NASA)

    NASA is partnering with 93 organisations across the US on these CubeSat projects. Such satellites have already been built and sent to space by an elementary school, a high school, and the Salish Kootenai College of the Flathead Reservation in Montana.

    The first CubeSats sent to deep space trailed behind the InSight Mars lander last year. They successfully sent data from the InSight lander back to Earth as it landed on the Martian surface.

    One planned mission using the nanotechnology will use lasers to search for ice on the Moon’s shadowy south pole. It’s expected to launch in November 2020.

    Another CubeSat mission, also set to launch in 2020, will fly past an asteroid near Earth and send back data. It will be the first exploration of an asteroid less than 100 meters in diameter.

    That data will help scientists plan for future human missions to asteroids, where astronauts might mine resources as they explore deep space.

    14. Closer to home, the European Space Agency’s Euclid telescope will study dark matter and dark energy.

    ESA/Euclid spacecraft

    Planned launch and arrival: 2022

    Dark matter makes up 85 percent of the universe, but nobody is sure what it is. Part of the problem is that we can’t see it because it doesn’t interact with light.

    Dark matter’s gravity holds the entire universe together, while an unknown force called dark energy pushes everything apart. Dark energy is winning, and that’s why the universe is expanding.

    As Euclid orbits Earth, the space telescope will measure the universe’s expansion and attempt to map the mysterious geometry of dark matter and energy.

    NASA is working with the ESA on imaging and infrared equipment for the telescope.

    15. The James Webb Space Telescope, which has a massive, 18-panel mirror, will scan the universe for life-hosting planets and attempt to look back in time to photograph the Big Bang.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    Planned launch and arrival: 2021

    It’s been almost 30 years since the Hubble Space Telescope launched. The James Webb Space Telescope is its planned replacement, and it packs new infrared technology to detect light beyond what the human eye can see.

    The telescope’s goal is to study every phase of the universe’s history in order to learn about how the first stars and galaxies formed, how planets are born, and where there might be life in the universe.

    A 21-foot-wide folding beryllium mirror will help the telescope observe faraway galaxies in detail. A five-layer, tennis court-size shield protects it from the Sun’s heat and blocks sunlight that could interfere with the images.

    16. The James Webb Space Telescope will be capable of capturing extremely faint signals. The farther it looks out into space, the more it will look back in time, so the telescope could even detect the first glows of the Big Bang.

    The telescope will also observe distant, young galaxies in detail we’ve never seen before.

    The expanding universe. (NASA)

    17. The Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is expected to detect thousands of new planets and test theories of general relativity and dark energy.


    Planned launch and arrival: mid-2020s

    WFIRST’s field of view will be 100 times greater than Hubble’s. Over its five-year lifetime, the space telescope will measure light from a billion galaxies and survey the inner Milky Way with the hope of finding about 2,600 exoplanets.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 8:29 am on August 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "This Superconductor Could Be Key to a Whole Different Type of Quantum Computer", Introducing the compound uranium ditelluride (UTe2) which a new study says could be used to build logic circuits with qubits., , Science Alert   

    From Science Alert: “This Superconductor Could Be Key to a Whole Different Type of Quantum Computer” 


    From Science Alert

    17 AUG 2019


    For quantum computing to become fully realised, we’re going to have to make a few huge scientific leaps along the way – including finding a superconductor that can act in the same way as silicon does in today’s computing. A team of researchers thinks that search might now be over.

    Introducing the compound uranium ditelluride (UTe2), which a new study says could be used to build logic circuits with qubits – those super-powerful quantum bits that can be in two states at once.

    One of the major problems quantum physicists are currently coming up against is keeping those qubits operational and stable for long enough to do some actual computing with them. It’s a thorny issue known as quantum decoherence.

    What makes UTe2 stand out as a superconductor is its strong resistance to magnetic fields – resistance to the errors that could otherwise creep into quantum calculations.

    “This is potentially the silicon of the quantum information age,” says physicist Nick Butch, from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). “You could use uranium ditelluride to build the qubits of an efficient quantum computer.”

    Butch and his colleagues stumbled on the quantum-friendly properties of UTe2 while investigating a variety of uranium-based magnets. The initial thinking was that UTe2 might become magnetic at low temperatures – and while that didn’t happen, the compound did become a superconductor.

    Technically, uranium ditelluride is a spin triplet, rather than a spin singlet, like most other superconductors are. This means that its Cooper pairs – electrons bound together at low temperatures – can be orientated differently.

    The physics can get very complex very quickly, but the important point is that these properties mean the Cooper pairs can be aligned in parallel rather than in opposition, and that in turn suggests UTe2 should retain its superconductivity in the face of external disturbances (threats to quantum coherence).

    “These parallel spin pairs could help the computer remain functional,” says Butch. “It can’t spontaneously crash because of quantum fluctuations.”

    One of the reasons why quantum computing can be a head-spinner is that there are several possible approaches to it, and scientists aren’t yet sure which one is going to work best (or at all).

    Using UTe2 in this way would take the topological quantum computing approach, an approach that hasn’t been explored as much as other options so far: essentially, it aims to encode qubits in a type of quasiparticle that may not actually exist.

    Much of topological quantum computing is still hypothetical, but its big advantage – if indeed it works – is that it wouldn’t require the same level of quantum error correction just to remain coherent and stable.

    That could give us logical qubits that work without the need for a lot of other qubits just for error correction. Topological quantum computing has challenges of its own, and we’re still a long way from a general purpose quantum computer, but it’s a step in the right direction – like many other exciting advancements we’re seeing.

    And the team thinks uranium ditelluride has a few more secrets to give up yet, both in regards to quantum computing and superconductors in general.

    “Exploring it further might give us insight into what stabilises these parallel-spin superconductors,” says Butch.

    “A major goal of superconductor research is to be able to understand superconductivity well enough that we know where to look for undiscovered superconductor materials.”

    “Right now we can’t do that. What about them is essential? We are hoping this material will tell us more.”

    The research has been published in Science.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 8:44 am on August 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Early Reports Indicate We May Have Detected a Black Hole And Neutron Star Collision", , , , , , If it really is a collision between a neutron star and a black hole it will be the first time such a binary system has ever been seen., , Merger event S190814bv, Science Alert   

    From Science Alert: “Early Reports Indicate We May Have Detected a Black Hole And Neutron Star Collision” 


    From Science Alert

    This distant galaxy is the target of our telescopes. (UCSC Transients)

    It looks like we’ve bagged another win for gravitational wave astronomy. A new gravitational wave detection is the best candidate yet for a type of cosmic collision never seen – the elusive merger between a black hole and a neutron star.

    The event, called S190814bv, was detected by the LIGO and Virgo interferometers at 11 minutes past 9 pm UTC on 14 August. And, based on initial analysis, there’s a 99 percent chance that it’s a neutron star-black hole kaboom.

    MIT /Caltech Advanced aLigo

    Advanced Virgo

    Even as you read this, scientists are poring over data and staring hard at the sky, looking for the light that may have been left behind by the neutron star as it is absorbed into the black hole.

    “It’s like the night before Christmas,” astronomer Ryan Foley of the University of California, Santa Cruz told ScienceAlert. “I’m just waiting to see what’s under the tree.”

    Since that amazing first gravitational wave detection – a collision between two stellar mass black holes – was announced in February 2016, the field has been only growing stronger. The technology is so sophisticated it can detect collisions between two neutron stars – objects much less massive than black holes.

    Both neutron stars and black holes are the ultradense remains of a dead star, but we’ve never seen a black hole smaller than 5 times the mass of the Sun, or a neutron star larger than around 2.5 times the mass of the Sun.

    But a collision between a black hole and a neutron star has evaded us. One detection looked like it might have been such an event, earlier this year, but the odds were just 13 percent. And the signal to noise ratio was so low, astronomers didn’t follow it up.

    That’s not the case with S190814bv. The signal is really strong, and astronomers are excited – if it really is a collision between a neutron star and a black hole, it will be the first time such a binary system has ever been seen.

    This would mean that such binary systems, hypothetical until now, are indeed possible. We could even get clues as to their formation – did they form as a binary, living, growing and dying together? Or did the black hole capture a passing neutron star into its orbit?

    Believe it or not, we can learn that from the gravitational wave signal – ripples in spacetime caused by a massive collision, like a rock dropped in a pond – if it’s strong enough. Clues to the formation of the binary are encoded in the waveform, along with the masses of the individual objects, their velocity and acceleration.

    “From the gravitational wave signal, one can get information about the spins of the individual objects and their orientation compared with the axis to the orbit,” physicist Peter Veitch from the University of Adelaide in Australia and OzGrav (the Australian branch of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration) told ScienceAlert.

    “[We’re] looking to see whether the rotational spin of the individual objects are aligned with each other, which might suggest that they were initially in a binary system. Whereas if one compact object was captured by another as galaxies merged, for example, then you might expect these objects have different spins pointing in different directions.”

    Foley and his colleagues are currently using the Keck Observatory to study a galaxy around 900 million light-years away.

    Keck Observatory, operated by Caltech and the University of California, Maunakea Hawaii USA, 4,207 m (13,802 ft)

    That’s where they think the signal might have originated. They’re looking for electromagnetic radiation that might result from the collision involving a neutron star.

    And, of course, there’s the burning question: what do neutron star guts look like?

    “We would love to observe a black hole ripping a neutron star apart as they come together,” says theoretical physicist Susan Scott of the Australian National University and OzGrav.

    “This would give us vital information about the material which makes up the densest stars in the Universe – neutron stars – which remains a very big open question in the field.”

    If there’s no electromagnetic radiation detected, that could mean astronomers are simply looking in the wrong place. Or it could mean that the electromagnetic radiation is too weak to be detected.

    It could also mean a neutron star isn’t involved – which would be very interesting, because the signal suggests that the smaller object is less than three times the mass of the Sun. If it’s not a neutron star, it might instead be the smallest black hole we’ve ever detected.

    Or it could mean that the dynamics between a neutron star and a black hole as they smoosh together into a slightly bigger black hole are even weirder than we knew.

    “My favourite way to think about it (for the moment) is that if a black hole is much more massive than a neutron star, then when they merge, the neutron star will be torn apart inside the event horizon of the black hole! In that case, even if there’s plenty of light generated, none will escape the black hole for us to see,” Foley told ScienceAlert.

    “That is about as close to science fiction as you get.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 8:36 am on August 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Jupiter May Have Absorbed a Whole Other Planet Early On, , , , , Science Alert, Study Suggests"   

    From Science Alert: “Jupiter May Have Absorbed a Whole Other Planet Early On, Study Suggests” 


    From Science Alert

    15 AUG 2019

    Jupiter. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill.

    Jupiter’s core is a bizarre mix of solid rocks mixed with a diffuse bubble of hydrogen gas. And the story of how it got that way has long eluded explanation.

    An artist’s impression of a collision between a young Jupiter and a massive still-forming protoplanet in the early solar system. (Credit: K. Suda & Y. Akimoto/Mabuchi Design Office/Astrobiology Center, Japan)

    A rendering shows the effect of a major impact on the core of a young Jupiter. Researchers say the collision about 4.5 billion years ago could explain surprising readings from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. (Credit: Shang-Fei Liu/Sun Yat-sen U.)
    But now scientists think they’re on to something, suggesting that the gas giant absorbed another protoplanet during a head-on collision some 4.5 billion years ago when our Solar System was forming, according to Science News.

    The hypothesis could finally explain why the planet’s core is so diffuse and fragmented – and also shed light on the Solar System’s earliest days.

    A team of astronomers from Japan, China, Switzerland, and the US used data from NASA’s Juno space probe to investigate Jupiter’s structure and composition, according to research published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

    They tested other possible explanations for how the inner core of Jupiter became so diffuse, such as gradual erosion caused by high-speed winds or the possibility that the core contained gas from the start.

    But the ancient impact, the scientists found, is not only a plausible explanation, but may be the one that best matches observational data.

    “Models of such a scenario lead to an internal structure that is consistent with a diluted core, persisting over billions of years,” the team writes in the study.

    If they’re right, it means our Solar System was a violent place colossal protoplanets could crash into one another and even merge.

    “We suggest that collisions were common in the young Solar System and that a similar event may have also occurred for Saturn, contributing to the structural differences between Jupiter and Saturn.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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