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  • richardmitnick 1:49 pm on June 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Dr Wynn Ho, , , U Southampton   

    From Southampton: “Scientist works with NASA on world’s first neutron star mission” 

    U Southampton bloc

    University of Southampton

    9 June 2017
    No writer credit found

    A University of Southampton scientist will analyse data from the world’s first space mission devoted to the study of neutron stars – collapsed stars containing the densest matter in the Universe.

    1
    NICER is readied for its journey to the ISS. Credit: NASA

    NASA’s Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) mission arrived at the International Space Station this week, and will begin observing neutron stars after its installation as an external payload.

    The refrigerator-sized piece of equipment features 56 X-ray telescopes and silicon detectors to provide high-precision measurements of neutron stars.

    It will also test technology that relies on pulsars – spinning neutron stars that appear to wink on and off like lighthouses – as navigation beacons, a technique which could eventually be used to guide human exploration to the distant reaches of the solar system and beyond.

    Associate Professor Wynn Ho, of the University of Southampton, is an expert in neutron star interior composition, and part of a large team of scientists collaborating on the mission.

    1
    Dr Wynn Ho

    He will compute theoretical models that will be used to compare with the observational data obtained during the 18-month mission.

    He said: “I feel very privileged to be one of the few non-US-based scientists to have a major role in analyses of NICER’s science data. Neutron stars are unique tools for studying fundamental physics in environments that are inaccessible in laboratories on Earth.

    “With NICER, we hope to obtain valuable insights into nuclear and dense matter physics in a way that is complementary to results that will come out of gravitational wave detection of neutron stars, which our group here also works on.”

    Neutron stars are the remnants of massive stars that, after exhausting their nuclear fuel, went supernova and collapsed into super-dense spheres about 15 miles wide. Their intense gravity crushes an astonishing amount of matter — often more than 1.4 times the mass of the Sun, or at least 460,000 Earths — into these city-sized orbs, creating stable but incredibly dense matter not seen anywhere else in the universe. Just one teaspoonful of neutron star matter would weigh a billion tons on Earth.

    Although neutron stars emit radiation across the spectrum, observing them in the X-ray band offers unique insights into their structure and phenomena that can arise from these stars, including starquakes, thermonuclear explosions, and the most powerful magnetic fields in the Universe. NICER will collect X-rays generated from the stars’ tremendously strong magnetic fields and from hotspots located at their two magnetic poles.

    At these locations, the objects’ intense magnetic fields emerge from their interior and particles trapped within these fields rain down and generate X-rays when they strike the stars’ surfaces. In pulsars, these flowing particles emit powerful beams of radiation from the vicinity of the magnetic poles. On Earth these beams of radiation are observed as flashes of radiation ranging from milliseconds to seconds depending on how fast the pulsar rotates.

    Because these pulsations are predictable, they can be used as celestial clocks, providing high-precision timing, like the atomic-clock signals supplied through the Global Positioning System (GPS).

    Although ubiquitous on Earth, GPS signals weaken the farther one travels beyond Earth orbit. Pulsars, however, are accessible virtually everywhere in space, making them a valuable navigational solution for deep-space exploration.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    U Southampton campus

    The University of Southampton is a world-class university built on the quality and diversity of our community. Our staff place a high value on excellence and creativity, supporting independence of thought, and the freedom to challenge existing knowledge and beliefs through critical research and scholarship. Through our education and research we transform people’s lives and change the world for the better.

    Vision 2020 is the basis of our strategy.

    Since publication of the previous University Strategy in 2010 we have achieved much of what we set out to do against a backdrop of a major economic downturn and radical change in higher education in the UK.

    Vision 2020 builds on these foundations, describing our future ambition and priorities. It presents a vision of the University as a confident, growing, outwardly-focused institution that has global impact. It describes a connected institution equally committed to education and research, providing a distinctive educational experience for its students, and confident in its place as a leading international research university, achieving world-wide impact.

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  • richardmitnick 12:20 pm on August 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , The future of data storage, U Southampton   

    From Southampton: “Nanosize magnetic whirlpools could be the future of data storage” 

    U Southampton bloc

    University of Southampton

    3 August 2016
    No writer credit found

    1
    Skyrmions could be the future of data storage.

    The use of nanoscale magnetic whirlpools, known as magnetic skyrmions, to create novel and efficient ways to store data will be explored in a new £7M research programme involving University of Southampton researchers.

    Skyrmions, which are a new quantum mechanical state of matter, could be used to make our day-to-day gadgets, such as mobile phones and laptops, much smaller and cheaper whilst using less energy and generating less heat.

    It is hoped better and more in-depth knowledge of skyrmions could address society’s ever-increasing demands for processing and storing large amounts of data and improve current hard drive technology.

    Revolutionise data storage

    Scientists first predicted the existence of skyrmions in 1962 but they were only discovered experimentally in magnetic materials in 2009.

    The UK team, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), now aims to make a step change in our understanding of skyrmions with the goal of producing a new type of demonstrator device in partnership with industry.

    Skyrmions, tiny swirling patterns in magnetic fields, can be created, manipulated and controlled in certain magnetic materials. Inside a skyrmion, magnetic moments point in different directions in a self-organised vortex. Skyrmions are only very weakly coupled to the underlying atoms in the material, and to each other, and their small size means they can be tightly packed together. Together with the strong forces that lock magnetic fields into the skyrmion pattern, the result is that the magnetic information encoded by skyrmions is very robust.

    Scientists can potentially move a skyrmion with 100,000 times less energy than is needed to move a ferromagnetic domain, the objects currently used in the memory of our computers and smartphones. Currently when we access information through the web, we remotely use hard disk drives that generate lots of heat and waste lots of energy. Skyrmionic technology could allow this to be done on smaller scale devices which would use much less energy.

    Skyrmions could therefore revolutionise the way we store data.

    Consortium of experts

    The Southampton researchers involved in the project are Professor Hans Fangohr and Dr Ondrej Hovorka from the University’s Computational Modelling Group. Professor Fangohr said: “Southampton will support this national grant into Skyrmion research by providing the computational science expertise and computational modelling to underpin, help understand and guide experimental work at our partner sites in Cambridge, Durham, Oxford and Warwick.

    “The skyrmions provide rich physics – this project will explore both the more fundamental physics questions that they raise and the potential for skyrmion use in applications.”

    The national consortium includes experts from the universities of Durham, Warwick, Oxford, Cambridge and Southampton, plus industry partners.

    World of opportunities

    The first prediction of a new type of stable configuration came from British physicist Tony Skyrme and has since opened up a whole variety of different sized and shaped skyrmion objects with different properties to conventional matter. However, numerous questions remain unanswered which focus on how best to exploit the unique magnetic properties of these magnetic excitations in devices.

    The three generic themes the team will look at are:

    • The development, discovery and growth of magnetic materials that host skyrmion spin textures;

    • A greater understanding of the physics of these objects;

    • Engineering of the materials to application.

    The research team will use state-of-the-art facilities such as synchrotron, neutron and muon sources both within the UK and internationally. The research is funded from summer 2016 until 2022.

    The research team is currently looking for five postdoctoral research associates to join the project. For more information about these opportunities, please visit http://www.skyrmions.co.uk

    More information about the Southampton post on computational modelling is available at http://www.southampton.ac.uk/~fangohr/vacancies/programmegrant.html

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    U Southampton campus

    The University of Southampton is a world-class university built on the quality and diversity of our community. Our staff place a high value on excellence and creativity, supporting independence of thought, and the freedom to challenge existing knowledge and beliefs through critical research and scholarship. Through our education and research we transform people’s lives and change the world for the better.

    Vision 2020 is the basis of our strategy.

    Since publication of the previous University Strategy in 2010 we have achieved much of what we set out to do against a backdrop of a major economic downturn and radical change in higher education in the UK.

    Vision 2020 builds on these foundations, describing our future ambition and priorities. It presents a vision of the University as a confident, growing, outwardly-focused institution that has global impact. It describes a connected institution equally committed to education and research, providing a distinctive educational experience for its students, and confident in its place as a leading international research university, achieving world-wide impact.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:16 pm on July 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Superluminous supernovas, U Southampton   

    From IAC: “Light shed on a superluminous supernova which appears to have exploded twice” 

    IAC

    Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias – IAC

    Jul. 11, 2016
    By Javier Pérez Barbuzano

    1
    A supernova illustration. Credit: NASA

    Supernovae are among the most violent phenomena in the universe. They are huge explosions which put an end to the lives of certain types of stars. These explosions release immense amounts of energy, so much that sometimes we can see them from Earth with the naked eye, as points of light which for a short time are brighter than all the millions of stars in the galaxies where they are found. After an intense burst of light lasting a few weeks, supernovae start to fade gradually until they have effectively burned out.

    2
    This graph shows the evolution of the apparent brigntness of the new supernova it is shown according to data collected by the Dark Energy Survey. It can be seen how an initial increase in brightness occurs which is then reduced for several days. Subsequently, the brightness increases again during the main sequence of the supernova. Credit: Mathew Smith.

    There are several different types of supernovae. The astronomers classify them by their observable characteristics, which in turn give clues about how they have originated, among the most well known are those of Type Ia, which occur when a white dwarf (which is the final state of a star slightly more massive than the Sun) absorbs mass from another nearby star, or merges with another white dwarf. When that happens its mass grows until it becomes unstable (1), and a thermonuclear explosion is triggered. As these events produce a characteristic luminosity, they can be used by astronomers as “standard candles” to measure large distances in the universe, in a similar way to that used by sailors to infer the distance of a known lighthouse at night by estimating its brightness.

    The other types of supernovae are produced when very massive stars exhaust their fuel, so that nuclear fusion in their interiors comes to an end. This fusion not only causes stars to emit light and heat, but keeps them in equilibrium so that they don’t collapse under their own gravity. When the fusion stops, the centre of the star collapses and the outer layers are flung outwards with violence, causing a supernova, while the centre implodes, leaving a neutron star, or for very massive stars, a black hole.

    In recent years a new type of supernova has been discovered, about which still very little is known, and which are brighter and longer lasting, so that they have been called superluminous supernovae (SLSN). Although only about a dozen of them are known, an international group of researchers has been able to use the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC) to observe a superluminous supernova almost from the moment it occurred. The research has revealed surprising behaviour, because this supernova showed an initial increase in brightness which later declined for a few days, and later increased again much more strongly. The scientists have used the data observed at the GTC and has combined them with other observations in order to try to explain the origin of the phenomenon.

    “Superluminous supernovas are up to a hundred times more energetic than Type 1a’s because they can remain bright for up to six months before fading rather than just a few weeks” explained Mathew Smith, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Southampton (UK) and the person directing this study, whose results have been published in the specialized journal The Astrophysical Journal Letters. “What we have managed to observe, which is completely new” adds Smith, “is that before the major explosion there is a shorter, less luminous outburst, which we can pick out because it is followed by a dip in the light curve, and which lasts just a few days”. It is the first time that something like this has been observed in a supernova. “From our data we have tried to determine if this is a characteristic unique to this object, or whether it is a common feature of all superluminous supernovas, but has not been observed before, which is perfectly possible given their unpredictable nature” comments the scientist.

    This new, intriguing object, given the cryptic name of “DES14X3taz” by the astronomers, was discovered on December 21st 2014 by the Dark Energy Survey (2) an international project which surveys the night sky making precision measurements of over 300 million galaxies which are situated thousands of millions of light years from Earth, and incidentally detecting thousands of supernovae and other transient phenomena. The objective of this survey is to help explain the expansion of the universe, and to find clues to the nature of the elusive dark energy (3). To do this astronomers are using an extremely sensitive digital camera, of 570 Megapixels, on the four metre Victor M. Blanco telescope at the Inter-American Observatory at Cerro Tololo (Chile).

    Once DES14X3taz had been identified as a possible superluminous supernova an immediate observation was requested on the GTC, which turned its powerful eye towards it during the two nights of observation: January 26th and February 6th 2915. This could be done because the GTC devotes some of its observing time to “targets of opportunity” so that other, programmed observations which can be made at another time are postponed to give priority to transient phenomena, which may offer unrepeatable opportunities.

    “The GTC, with its huge 10.4m mirror, and its OSIRIS instrument, is the ideal tool to observer this SNSL, which is at a vast distance and because we are looking for information in the visible and the near infrared” commented Smith, who is a participant in the Dark Energy Survey. Thanks to the observations made with the GTC and other telescopes, Smith and his collaborators could reconstruct the evolution of the brightness of DES14X3taz from almost the moment of its detection. They have also determined its absolute brightness with great precision, as well as its distance, some 6,400 million light years (4),

    After comparing their observations with several physical models the astronomers concluded in their article that the most plausible explanation is that the mechanism which causes this supernova is the birth of a “magnetar”, a neutron star which rotates very rapidly on its axis. In the data the initial peak of the brightness graph is followed by rapid cooling of the object, after which there is a new, and quicker rise in brightness. This is consistent with the emission of a huge bubble of material into the surrounding space, with cools rapidly as it grows in size. “We think that a very massive star, some 200 times the mass of the Sun, collapses to form a magnetar. In the process the first explosion occurs, which expels into space a quantity of matter equivalent to the mass of our Sun, and this gives rise to the first peak of the graph. The second peak occurs when the star collapses to form the magnetar, which is a very dense object rotating rapidly on its axis, and which heats up the matter expelled from the first explosion. This heating is what generates the second peak in the luminosity” explains Smith.

    Research of this type allows us to get to know the physical phenomena which cause the superluminous supernovas, and this understanding may allow us to “standardize” it (as has been done for the type Ia’s) so we could use it as a reference source for distance measurement on large scales in the universe. Its high luminosity may make these objects very useful for making distances on larger scales, and with greater accuracy than we can do at the moment. However before we get to that point we need a much deeper understanding of their origin and their nature.

    Another mystery about this new type of supernovae is that, up to now, all the cases detected have been in small galaxies with low metallicity (low content in heavy elements) and we have no explanation of this. “It is a part of the mystery of these objects “says Smith, in humorous vein, and adds that among future priorities we need to detect more superluminous supernovae, and oberve them since the moment they explode, and in real time with a telescope of the size of the GTC.

    Notes:

    (1) The Chandrasekhar limit is the maximum mass which a white dwarf can attain without collapsing into a neutron star (or black hole) under its own gravity. This limit is at 1.4 times the mass of the Sum.

    (2) The Dark Energy Survey is an international collaboration of over 400 scientists from 25 institutions in 7 countries: The US, Spain, the UK, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, and Australia.

    Dark Energy Survey

    (3) Dark energy is a form of energy present throughout space, which produces a pressure tending to accelerate the expansion of the universe. This acts as a type of gravitational repulsion.

    (4) A light year, in spite of its name, is really a distance, defined by the distance light travels in a year. The light emitted by the explosion of DES14X3taz has taken 6,400 million years to reach the Earth. The age of the universe is almost 14 thousand million years.

    Article:

    DES14X3taz: A type I superluminous supernova showins a luminous, rapidly cooling initial pre-peak bump by M. Smith (University of Southampton), M. Sullivan (University of Southampton), C. B. D’Andrea (University of Southampton, Southampton), F. J. Castander (Institut de Ci`encies de l’Espai, IEEC-CSIC), R. Casas (Institut de Ci`encies de l’Espai, IEEC-CSIC), S. Prajs (University of Southampton) and others.

    Contact:

    Mathew Smith: School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK. mat.smith@soton.ac.uk

    See the full article here.

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    The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias(IAC) is an international research centre in Spain which comprises:

    The Instituto de Astrofísica, the headquarters, which is in La Laguna (Tenerife).
    The Centro de Astrofísica en La Palma (CALP)
    The Observatorio del Teide (OT), in Izaña (Tenerife).
    The Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM), in Garafía (La Palma).

    These centres, with all the facilities they bring together, make up the European Northern Observatory(ENO).

    The IAC is constituted administratively as a Public Consortium, created by statute in 1982, with involvement from the Spanish Government, the Government of the Canary Islands, the University of La Laguna and Spain’s Science Research Council (CSIC).

    The International Scientific Committee (CCI) manages participation in the observatories by institutions from other countries. A Time Allocation Committee (CAT) allocates the observing time reserved for Spain at the telescopes in the IAC’s observatories.

    The exceptional quality of the sky over the Canaries for astronomical observations is protected by law. The IAC’s Sky Quality Protection Office (OTPC) regulates the application of the law and its Sky Quality Group continuously monitors the parameters that define observing quality at the IAC Observatories.

    The IAC’s research programme includes astrophysical research and technological development projects.

    The IAC is also involved in researcher training, university teachingand outreachactivities.

    The IAC has devoted much energy to developing technology for the design and construction of a large 10.4 metre diameter telescope, the ( Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC), which is sited at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos.

    Gran Telescopio  Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, Spain
    Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC

     
  • richardmitnick 4:46 am on July 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Asthma, , U Southampton   

    From U Southampton: “Stop the rogue ADAM gene and you stop asthma” 

    U Southampton bloc

    University of Southampton

    22 July 2016
    No writer credit found

    Scientists at the University of Southampton have discovered a potential and novel way of preventing asthma at the origin of the disease, a finding that could challenge the current understanding of the condition.

    1
    Professor Hans Michael Haitchi

    The research, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI) Insight, analysed the impact of the gene ADAM33, which is associated with the development of asthma.

    ADAM33 makes an enzyme, which is attached to cells in the airway muscles. When the enzyme loses its anchor to the cell surface, it is prone to going rogue around the lung causing poorer lung function in people who have asthma.

    The studies in human tissue samples and mice, led by Hans Michel Haitchi, Associate Professor in Respiratory Medicine at the University of Southampton, suggests that if you switch off ADAM33 or prevent it from going rouge, the features of asthma – airway remodelling (more muscle and blood vessels around the airways), twitchiness and inflammation – will be reduced.

    “This finding radically alters our understanding of the field, to say the least,” says Professor Haitchi. “For years we have thought that airway remodelling is the result of the inflammation caused by an allergic reaction, but our research tells us otherwise.”

    The first study showed that rogue human ADAM33 causes airway remodelling resulting in more muscle and blood vessels around the airways of developing lungs but it did not cause inflammation. When a house dust mite allergen was introduced, which is a common human allergen, both, airway remodelling and allergic airway inflammation were more significantly enhanced.

    In another study, remodelling of the airway was shown in mice that had ADAM33 switched on from in utero. The gene was then switched off and the airway remodelling was completely reversed.

    Furthermore they studied the impact of house dust mite allergen on asthma features in mice that had the ADAM33 gene removed. Airway remodelling and twitchiness as well as airway inflammation rates were significantly reduced by 50 per cent and respectively 35 per cent in mice that did not have the rogue gene.

    These findings identify ADAM33 as a novel target for disease modifying therapy in asthma.

    Professor Haitchi, whose research was primarily funded by a Medical Research Council Clinician Scientist Fellowship said: “Our studies have challenged the common paradigm that airway remodelling in asthma is a consequence of inflammation. Instead, we have shown that rogue human ADAM33 initiates airway remodelling that promotes allergic inflammation and twitchiness of the airways in the presence of allergen.”

    “More importantly, we believe that if you block ADAM33 from going rogue or you stop its activity if it does go rogue, asthma could be prevented. ADAM33 initiated airway remodelling reduces the ability of the lungs to function normally, which is not prevented by current anti-inflammatory steroid therapy. Therefore, stopping this ADAM33 induced process would prevent a harmful effect that promotes the development of allergic asthma for many of the 5.4 million people in the UK with the condition.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    U Southampton campus

    The University of Southampton is a world-class university built on the quality and diversity of our community. Our staff place a high value on excellence and creativity, supporting independence of thought, and the freedom to challenge existing knowledge and beliefs through critical research and scholarship. Through our education and research we transform people’s lives and change the world for the better.

    Vision 2020 is the basis of our strategy.

    Since publication of the previous University Strategy in 2010 we have achieved much of what we set out to do against a backdrop of a major economic downturn and radical change in higher education in the UK.

    Vision 2020 builds on these foundations, describing our future ambition and priorities. It presents a vision of the University as a confident, growing, outwardly-focused institution that has global impact. It describes a connected institution equally committed to education and research, providing a distinctive educational experience for its students, and confident in its place as a leading international research university, achieving world-wide impact.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:17 pm on July 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , U Southampton,   

    From U Southampton: “Study suggests 1.6 million childbearing women could be at risk of Zika virus infection” 

    U Southampton bloc

    University of Southampton

    25 July 2016
    No writer credit found

    1
    This map shows the predicted distribution of Aedis aegypti, the mosquito that carries Zika virus. The redder the area, the higher the probability. eLife. NPR

    Research by scientists in the US and UK has estimated that up to 1.65 million childbearing women in Central and South America could become infected by the Zika virus by the end of the first wave of the epidemic.

    Researchers from the WorldPop Project and Flowminder Foundation at the University of Southampton and colleagues from the University of Notre Dame and University of Oxford have also found that across Latin America and the Caribbean over 90 million infections could result from the initial stages of the spread of Zika.

    The team’s projections, detailed in the paper Model-based projections of Zika virus infections in childbearing women in the Americas and published in Nature Microbiology, also show that Brazil is expected to have the largest total number of infections (by more than three-fold), due to its size and suitability for transmission.

    The estimates reflect the sum of thousands of localised projections of how many people could become infected within every five x five km grid cell across Central and South America. Because the virus may not reach each corner of this region, or may do so slowly, the total figure of 1.65 million represents an upper limit estimate for the first wave of the epidemic.

    Geographer at the University of Southampton and WorldPop and Flowminder Director Professor Andrew Tatem comments: “It is difficult to accurately predict how many child-bearing women may be at risk from Zika because a large proportion of cases show no symptoms. This largely invalidates methods based on case data and presents a formidable challenge for scientists trying to understand the likely impact of the disease on populations.”

    In fact, an estimated 80 per cent of Zika infections don’t show symptoms and of those which do, some may be due to other viruses. Coupled with inconsistent case reporting and variable access to health care for different populations, these factors make case based data unreliable.

    However, this latest research has built a picture of the projected spread of the disease by examining its likely impact at very local levels –at a scale of five kilometres squared. The researchers have brought this local data together to model infection rates across the region.

    The team took into account disease patterns displayed in similar epidemics, along with other factors such as how the virus is transmitted (in this instance by mosquito), climate conditions and virus incubation periods. They also examined transmission behaviour in dengue and chikungunya viruses. Their projections for Zika are largely consistent with annual, region-wide estimates of 53 million infections by the dengue virus (2010), which has many similarities to Zika.

    Coupled with existing data on population, fertility, pregnancies, births and socio-economic conditions for the region, the team has been able to model the possible scale of the projected spread of the Zika virus and provide a detailed understanding of the places likely to be most affected – helping to inform which areas will need the most support in combatting the disease and helping sufferers.

    Professor Tatem adds: “These projections are an important early contribution to global efforts to understand the scale of the Zika epidemic, and provide information about its possible magnitude to help allow for better planning for surveillance and outbreak response, both internationally and locally.”

    Scientists are still investigating the potential link between microcephaly in babies and Zika.

    Notes for editors

    On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the ongoing Zika virus epidemic in the Americas as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), defined as an “extraordinary event” that “potentially require[s] a coordinated international response”. This declaration acknowledges the high potential for Zika to establish across the Americas given that its dominant vector, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, are endophilic and occupy an exceptionally broad range. Concern underlying this rare WHO declaration also stems from an association between Zika virus infection in pregnant women and congenital microcephaly in their babies. Nearly 5,000 cases of microcephaly have been documented in areas experiencing Zika virus transmission, and there is widespread concern that these numbers could grow rapidly as the virus sweeps across the Americas.

    See the full article here .

    YOU CAN HELP FIND A CURE FOR THE ZIKA VIRUS.

    There is a new project at World Community Grid [WCG] called OpenZika.
    Zika
    Image of the Zika virus

    Rutgers Open Zika

    WCG runs on your home computer or tablet on software from Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing [BOINC]. Many other scientific projects run on BOINC software.Visit WCG or BOINC, download and install the software, then at WCG attach to the OpenZika project. You will be joining tens of thousands of other “crunchers” processing computational data and saving the scientists literally thousands of hours of work at no real cost to you.

    This project is directed by Dr. Alexander Perryman a senior researcher in the Freundlich lab, with extensive training in developing and applying computational methods in drug discovery and in the biochemical mechanisms of multi-drug-resistance in infectious diseases. He is a member of the Center for Emerging & Re-emerging Pathogens, in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Neuroscience, at the Rutgers University, New Jersey Medical School. Previously, he was a Research Associate in Prof. Arthur J. Olson’s lab at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), where he ran the day-to-day operations of the FightAIDS@Home project, the largest computational drug discovery project devoted to HIV/AIDS, which also runs on WCG. While in the Olson lab, he also designed, led, and ran the largest computational drug discovery project ever performed against malaria, the GO Fight Against Malaria project, also on WCG.

    Rutgers Seal

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    WCG Logo New

    BOINCLarge
    BOINC WallPaper

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Southampton campus

    The University of Southampton is a world-class university built on the quality and diversity of our community. Our staff place a high value on excellence and creativity, supporting independence of thought, and the freedom to challenge existing knowledge and beliefs through critical research and scholarship. Through our education and research we transform people’s lives and change the world for the better.

    Vision 2020 is the basis of our strategy.

    Since publication of the previous University Strategy in 2010 we have achieved much of what we set out to do against a backdrop of a major economic downturn and radical change in higher education in the UK.

    Vision 2020 builds on these foundations, describing our future ambition and priorities. It presents a vision of the University as a confident, growing, outwardly-focused institution that has global impact. It describes a connected institution equally committed to education and research, providing a distinctive educational experience for its students, and confident in its place as a leading international research university, achieving world-wide impact.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:18 am on June 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , U Southampton   

    From Southampton: “Black holes and measuring gravitational waves” 

    U Southampton bloc

    University of Southampton

    16 June 2016
    No writer credit found

    1
    Artist’s concept of a supermassive black hole. Credit: NASA – JPL/Caltech

    The supermassive black holes found at the centre of every galaxy, including our own Milky Way, may, on average, be smaller than we thought, according to work led by astronomer Dr Francesco Shankar.

    Sag A*  NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory 23 July 2014, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way
    Sag A* NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory 23 July 2014, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way

    If he and his colleagues are right, then the gravitational waves produced when they merge will be harder to detect than previously assumed. The international team of scientists published their results in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    Supermassive black holes have been found lurking in the cores of all galaxies observed with high enough sensitivity. Despite this, little is known about how they formed. What is known is that the mass of a supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy is related to the total mass and the typical speeds (the “velocity dispersion”) of the stars in its host.

    The very existence of this relationship suggests a close co-evolution between black holes and their host galaxies, and understanding their origin is vital for a proper model of how galaxies and black holes form and evolve. This is because many galaxy evolution models invoke powerful winds and/or jets from the central supermassive black hole to control or even stop star formation in the host galaxy (so-called “quasar feedback”). Alternatively, multiple mergers of galaxies – and their central black holes – are also often suggested as the primary drivers behind the evolution of massive galaxies.

    Despite major theoretical and observational efforts in the last decades, it remains unclear whether quasar feedback actually ever occurred in galaxies, and to what extent mergers have truly shaped galaxies and their black holes.

    The new work shows that selection effects – where what is observed is not representative – have significantly biased the view of the local black hole population. This bias has led to significantly overestimated black hole masses. It suggests that modellers should look to velocity dispersion rather than stellar mass as the key to unlocking the decades-old puzzles of both quasar feedback and the history of galaxies.

    With less mass than previously thought, supermassive black holes have on average weaker gravitational fields. Despite this, they were still able to power quasars, making them bright enough to be observed over distances of billions of light years.

    Unfortunately, it also implies a substantial reduction in the expected gravitational wave signal detectable from pulsar timing array experiments. Ripples in spacetime that were first predicted by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity in 1915; gravitational waves were finally detected last year and announced by the LIGO team this February.

    LSC LIGO Scientific Collaboration
    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation
    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation
    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA
    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA

    The hope is that coming observatories can observe many more gravitational wave events, and that it will provide astronomers with a new technique for observing the universe.

    VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy
    VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy, not yet taking data.

    Dr Shankar comments: “Gravitational wave astronomy is opening up an entirely new way of observing the universe. Our results though illustrate how challenging a complete census of the gravitational background could be, with the signals from the largest black holes being paradoxically among the most difficult to detect with present technology.”

    Researchers expect pairs of supermassive black holes, found in merging galaxies, to be the strongest sources of gravitational waves in the universe.

    Cornell SXS team. Two merging black holes simulation
    Cornell SXS team. Two merging black holes simulation

    However, the more massive the pairs, the lower the frequencies of the emitted waves, which become inaccessible to ground based interferometers like LIGO. Gravitational waves from supermassive black holes can however be detected from space via dedicated gravitational telescopes (such as the present and future ESA missions LISA pathfinder and eLISA), or by a different method using ‘pulsar timing arrays’.

    ESA/LISA Pathfinder
    ESA/LISA Pathfinder

    ESA/eLISA
    ESA/eLISA

    These devices monitor the collapsed, rapidly rotating remnants of massive stars, which have pulsating signals. Even this method though is still a few years from making a detection, according to a follow-up study by the same team expected to appear in another Monthly Notices paper later this year.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    U Southampton campus

    The University of Southampton is a world-class university built on the quality and diversity of our community. Our staff place a high value on excellence and creativity, supporting independence of thought, and the freedom to challenge existing knowledge and beliefs through critical research and scholarship. Through our education and research we transform people’s lives and change the world for the better.

    Vision 2020 is the basis of our strategy.

    Since publication of the previous University Strategy in 2010 we have achieved much of what we set out to do against a backdrop of a major economic downturn and radical change in higher education in the UK.

    Vision 2020 builds on these foundations, describing our future ambition and priorities. It presents a vision of the University as a confident, growing, outwardly-focused institution that has global impact. It describes a connected institution equally committed to education and research, providing a distinctive educational experience for its students, and confident in its place as a leading international research university, achieving world-wide impact.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:22 pm on June 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Professor Dame Wendy Hall, U Southampton,   

    From Southampton: Women in Science – “Southampton professor named as one of the most influential women in UK Engineering” 

    U Southampton bloc

    University of Southampton

    23 June 2016
    No writer credit found

    1
    Professor Dame Wendy Hall. No image credit.

    Professor Dame Wendy Hall from the University of Southampton has been named as one of the ‘Top 50 Women in Engineering’.

    The inaugural list, announced today on National Women in Engineering Day (23 June), was produced by The Daily Telegraph in collaboration with the Women’s Engineering Society (WES). The winners were announced at a special event in London this morning.

    Dame Wendy, who is one of the world’s leading computer scientists, was recognised for her significant contributions to the sector and using her influence to inspire others to study and pursue a career in engineering.

    Dame Wendy, said: “I’m deeply honoured and flattered to be part of this list as I know how many amazing women there are in engineering today, due in large part to the consistent and persistent campaigning by organisations such as WES. However, WES has been in existence for nearly a century and I hope it won’t be another century before the need for such lists is long forgotten and we recognise the vital role of women in engineering, and society generally, which is far more significant than is often realised.”

    Dame Wendy has held many leadership roles in addition to her academic research in computer science, in the development of the World Wide Web and, more recently, in establishing and developing the new discipline of Web Science.

    With Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Dame Wendy co-founded the Web Science Research Initiative in 2006. She is currently the Managing Director of the Web Science Trust, which has a global mission to support the development of research, education and thought leadership in Web Science. Dame Wendy is also Executive Director of the University’s Web Science Institute, which brings together world-leading multidisciplinary expertise to tackle the most pressing global challenges facing society today in the post-Web era.

    She was President of the British Computer Society; the first non-North American to lead the Association of Computing Machinery, the world’s largest organisation for computer professionals; a member of the Prime Ministers Council for Science and Technology; Senior Vice-President of the Royal Academy of Engineering; and a member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council.

    Dame Wendy became a Dame Commander of the British Empire in the 2009 UK New Year’s Honours list and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in June 2009.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

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    U Southampton campus

    The University of Southampton is a world-class university built on the quality and diversity of our community. Our staff place a high value on excellence and creativity, supporting independence of thought, and the freedom to challenge existing knowledge and beliefs through critical research and scholarship. Through our education and research we transform people’s lives and change the world for the better.

    Vision 2020 is the basis of our strategy.

    Since publication of the previous University Strategy in 2010 we have achieved much of what we set out to do against a backdrop of a major economic downturn and radical change in higher education in the UK.

    Vision 2020 builds on these foundations, describing our future ambition and priorities. It presents a vision of the University as a confident, growing, outwardly-focused institution that has global impact. It describes a connected institution equally committed to education and research, providing a distinctive educational experience for its students, and confident in its place as a leading international research university, achieving world-wide impact.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:45 am on May 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Stellar cannibalism transforms star into brown dwarf, U Southampton   

    From Southampton: “Stellar cannibalism transforms star into brown dwarf” 

    U Southampton bloc

    University of Southampton

    19 May 2016
    No writer credit found

    1
    The white dwarf (right) stripping mass from the brown dwarf.

    Astronomers have detected a sub-stellar object that used to be a star, after being consumed by its white dwarf companion.

    An international team of astronomers made the discovery by observing a very faint binary system, J1433 which is located 730 light-years away. The system consists of a low-mass object – about 60 times the mass of Jupiter – in an extremely tight 78-minute orbit around a white dwarf (the remnant of a star like our Sun).

    Due to their close proximity, the white dwarf strips mass from its low-mass companion. This process has removed about 90 per cent of the mass of the companion, turning it from a star into a brown dwarf.

    Artist's concept of a Brown dwarf [not quite a] star. NASA/JPL-Caltech
    Artist’s concept of a Brown dwarf [not quite a] star. NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Most brown dwarfs are ‘failed stars’, objects that were born with too little mass to shine brightly by fusing hydrogen in their cores. By contrast, the brown dwarf in this system was born as a full-fledged star, but has been stripped to its current mass by billions of years of stellar cannibalism.

    The study, published* in the journal Nature, used the X-Shooter instrument at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Cerro Paranal, Chile, in order to directly detect and characterise a system that has survived such a traumatic transition.

    ESO/VLT at Cerro Paranal, Chile
    ESO/VLT at Cerro Paranal, Chile

    ESO X-shooter on VLT at Cerro Paranal, Chile

    ESO X-shooter on VLT at Cerro Paranal, Chile

    Lead author Juan Venancio Hernández Santisteban, a PhD student at the University of Southampton, said: “X-Shooter is a unique instrument that can observe astronomical objects simultaneously all the way from the ultraviolet to the infrared. This allowed us to dissect the light of this system and uncover the hidden signal from the faint brown dwarf.

    “Our knowledge of binary evolution suggests that, if the companion star can survive the transition, brown dwarfs should be common in this type of system. However, despite several efforts, only a few candidate systems with tentative evidence for brown-dwarf companions had previously been found. Our results now confirm that the successful transformation of a star to a brown dwarf is indeed possible.”

    The astronomers also used their data to map the surface temperature across the brown dwarf. This turns out to be non-uniform, since this cool sub-stellar object is strongly irradiated by its much hotter white dwarf companion. The map shows a clear temperature difference between the dayside (the side facing the white dwarf) and the nightside. On average, the difference amounts to 57 degrees Celsius, but the hottest and coldest parts of the brown dwarf’s surface differ by a full 200 degrees Celsius.

    Professor Christian Knigge, from the University of Southampton who initiated and supervised the project, said: “The construction of this surface temperature map is a significant achievement. In many giant planets – the so-called ‘hot-Jupiters’ – irradiation by the host star completely overwhelms the planet’s internal heat flux. By contrast, internal heat flux and external irradiation are comparable for the brown dwarf in our study. This represents an unexplored regime, making such systems valuable as laboratories for irradiated (sub-) stellar and planetary atmospheres.”

    The study involved astronomers from the universities of Keele, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield, Southampton and Warwick (UK), the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (Spain) and Hamburger Sternwarte (Germany). It was funded by the Royal Astronomical Society, European Union Eleventh Framework Programme, European Research Council, CONACyT (Mexico) and the University of Southampton.

    *Science paper:
    An irradiated brown-dwarf companion to an accreting white dwarf

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Southampton campus

    The University of Southampton is a world-class university built on the quality and diversity of our community. Our staff place a high value on excellence and creativity, supporting independence of thought, and the freedom to challenge existing knowledge and beliefs through critical research and scholarship. Through our education and research we transform people’s lives and change the world for the better.

    Vision 2020 is the basis of our strategy.

    Since publication of the previous University Strategy in 2010 we have achieved much of what we set out to do against a backdrop of a major economic downturn and radical change in higher education in the UK.

    Vision 2020 builds on these foundations, describing our future ambition and priorities. It presents a vision of the University as a confident, growing, outwardly-focused institution that has global impact. It describes a connected institution equally committed to education and research, providing a distinctive educational experience for its students, and confident in its place as a leading international research university, achieving world-wide impact.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:39 pm on March 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Black hole feeding, U Southampton   

    From U Southampton: “Astronomers see black hole raging red” 

    U Southampton bloc

    University of Southampton

    Black hole feeding
    A black hole, similar to V404 Cyg, devouring material from an orbiting star. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

    Violent red flashes, lasting just fractions of a second, have been observed during one of the brightest black hole outbursts in recent years.

    In June 2015, a black hole called V404 Cygni underwent dramatic brightening for about two weeks, as it devoured material that it had stripped off an orbiting companion star.

    V404 Cygni, which is about 7,800 light years from Earth, was the first definitive black hole to be identified in our Galaxy and can appear extremely bright when it is actively devouring material.

    In a new study, published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, an international team of astronomers, led by the University of Southampton, report that the black hole emitted dazzling red flashes lasting just fractions of a second, as it blasted out material that it could not swallow.

    The astronomers associated the red colour with fast-moving jets of matter that were ejected from close to the black hole. These observations provide new insights into the formation of such jets and extreme black hole phenomena.

    Lead author of the study Dr Poshak Gandhi, Associate Professor and STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellow in the University of Southampton’s Astronomy Group, comments: “The very high speed tells us that the region where this red light is being emitted must be very compact. Piecing together clues about the colour, speed, and the power of these flashes, we conclude that this light is being emitted from the base of the black hole jet. The origin of these jets is still unknown, although strong magnetic fields are suspected to play a role.

    “Furthermore, these red flashes were found to be strongest at the peak of the black hole’s feeding frenzy. We speculate that when the black hole was being rapidly force-fed by its companion orbiting star, it reacted violently by spewing out some of the material as a fast-moving jet. The duration of these flashing episodes could be related to the switching on and off of the jet, seen for the first time in detail.”

    Due to the unpredictable nature and rarity of these bright black hole ‘outbursts’, astronomers have very little time to react. For example, V404 Cygni last erupted back in 1989. V404 Cygni was exceptionally bright in June 2015 and provided an excellent opportunity for such work. In fact, this was one of the brightest black hole outbursts in recent years. But most outbursts are far dimmer, making them difficult to study.

    Each flash was blindingly intense, equivalent to the power output of about 1,000 suns, and some of the flashes were shorter than 1/40th of a second — about ten times faster than the duration of a typical blink of an eye. Such observations require novel technology, so astronomers used the ULTRACAM fast imaging camera mounted on the William Herschel Telescope in La Palma, on the Canary Islands.

    ING William Herschel Telescope
    ING William Herschel Telescope Interior
    ING William Herschel Telescope

    Professor Vik Dhillon, of the University of Sheffield and co-creator of ULTRACAM, said: “ULTRACAM is unique in that it can operate at very high speed, capturing high frame-rate ‘movies’ of astronomical targets, in three colours simultaneously. This allowed us to ascertain the red colour of these flashes of light from V404 Cygni.”

    Dr Gandhi concluded: “The 2015 event has greatly motivated astronomers to coordinate worldwide efforts to observe future outbursts. Their short durations, and strong emissions across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, require close communication, sharing of data, and collaborative efforts amongst astronomers. These observations can be a real challenge, especially when attempting simultaneous observations from ground-based telescopes and space satellites.”

    This research was a collaboration between the universities of Southampton, Sheffield and Warwick, together with international partners in Europe, USA, India and the UAE.

    The research was supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the UK-India UKIERI-UGC Thematic Partnerships, the Royal Society, the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO), CONACyT (Mexico), and Spanish Ministerio de Educacion, Cultura y Deporte, a Marie Curie FP7-Reintegration-Grant and the University of Southampton.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Southampton campus

    The University of Southampton is a world-class university built on the quality and diversity of our community. Our staff place a high value on excellence and creativity, supporting independence of thought, and the freedom to challenge existing knowledge and beliefs through critical research and scholarship. Through our education and research we transform people’s lives and change the world for the better.

    Vision 2020 is the basis of our strategy.

    Since publication of the previous University Strategy in 2010 we have achieved much of what we set out to do against a backdrop of a major economic downturn and radical change in higher education in the UK.

    Vision 2020 builds on these foundations, describing our future ambition and priorities. It presents a vision of the University as a confident, growing, outwardly-focused institution that has global impact. It describes a connected institution equally committed to education and research, providing a distinctive educational experience for its students, and confident in its place as a leading international research university, achieving world-wide impact.

     
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