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  • richardmitnick 11:45 am on November 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Simulation Gives a Peek Into The Cosmic 'Dark Age' of Star Formation", , , , , , MACS 1149-JD, , , Universe Today   

    From Georgia Institute of Technology via Science Alert (AU): “Simulation Gives a Peek Into The Cosmic ‘Dark Age’ of Star Formation” 

    From Georgia Institute of Technology



    Science Alert (AU)

    8 NOVEMBER 2020

    Credit: NASA/ESA/UCSC/Leiden University/HUDF09 Team.

    For astronomers, astrophysicists, and cosmologists, the ability to spot the first stars that formed in our Universe has always been just beyond reach. On the one hand, there are the limits of our current telescopes and observatories, which can only see so far.

    The farthest object ever observed was MACS 1149-JD, a galaxy located 13.2 billion light-years from Earth that was spotted in the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) image.

    Hubble Ultra Deep Field NASA/ESA Hubble.

    Early Galaxy Found from the Cosmic ‘Dark Ages’
    In the big image at left, the many galaxies of a massive cluster called MACS J1149+2223 dominate the scene. Gravitational lensing by the giant cluster brightened the light from the newfound galaxy, known as MACS 1149-JD, some 15 times. At upper right, a partial zoom-in shows MACS 1149-JD in more detail, and a deeper zoom appears to the lower right. Image credit: NASA/ESA/STScI/JHU via Universe Today.

    The Distant Galaxy MACS 1149-JD – NASA Spitzer Space Telescope
    Creator: Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach. Credit: NASA/ESA/STScI/W. Zheng (JHU), and the CLASH team.

    On the other, up until about 1 billion years after the Big Bang, the Universe was experiencing what cosmologists refer to as the “Dark Ages” when the Universe was filled with gas clouds that obscured visible and infrared light.

    ALMA Schematic diagram of the history of the Universe. The Universe is in a neutral state at 400 thousand years after the Big Bang, until light from the first generation of stars starts to ionise the hydrogen. After several hundred million years, the gas in the Universe is completely ionised. Credit. NAOJ.

    Luckily, a team of researchers from Georgia Tech’s Center for Relativistic Astrophysics recently conducted simulations that show what the formation of the first stars looked like.

    The study that describes their findings, published in the MNRAS, was led by Gen Chiaki and John Wise – a post-doctoral researcher and associate professor from the CfRA (respectively).

    They were joined by researchers from the Sapienza Università di Roma (IT), the Astronomical Observatory of Rome (IT), the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF) (IT), and the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) (IT).

    Based on the life and death cycles of stars, astrophysicists theorize that the first stars in the Universe were very metal-poor. Having formed about 100 million years after the Big Bang, these stars formed from a primordial soup of hydrogen gas, helium, and trace amounts of light metals.

    These gases would collapse to form stars that were up to 1,000 times more massive than our Sun.

    Because of their size, these stars were short-lived and probably only existed for a few million years. In that time, the new and heavier elements in their nuclear furnaces, which were then dispersed once the stars collapsed and exploded in supernovae.

    As a result, the next generation of stars with heavier elements would contain carbon, leading to the designation of Carbon-Enhanced Metal-Poor (CEMP) stars.

    The composition of these stars, which may be visible to astronomers today, is the result of the nucleosynthesis (fusion) of heavier elements from the first generation of stars.

    By studying the mechanism behind the formation of these metal-poor stars, scientists can infer what was happening during the cosmic ‘Dark Ages’ when the first stars formed. As Wise said in a Texas Advanced Computer Center (TACC) press release:

    “We can’t see the very first generations of stars. Therefore, it’s important to actually look at these living fossils from the early universe, because they have the fingerprints of the first stars all over them through the chemicals that were produced in the supernova from the first stars.

    That’s where our simulations come into play to see this happening. After you run the simulation, you can watch a short movie of it to see where the metals come from and how the first stars and their supernovae actually affect these fossils that live until the present day.”

    Density, temperature, and carbon abundance (top) and the formation cycle of Pop III stars (bottom). Credit: Chiaki, et al.

    For the sake of their simulations, the team relied predominantly on the Georgia Tech PACE cluster.

    Georgia Tech Hive Pace HPC supercomputer cluster.

    Additional time was allocated by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), the Stampede2 supercomputer at TACC and NSF-funded Frontera system (the fastest academic supercomputer in the world), and the Comet cluster at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC).

    TACC DELL EMC Stampede2 supercomputer.

    TACC Frontera Dell EMC supercomputer fastest at any university.

    SDSC Dell Comet supercomputer at San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC).

    With the massive amounts of processing power and data storage these clusters provided, the team was able to model the faint supernova of the first stars in the Universe.

    What this revealed was that the metal-poor stars that formed after the first stars in the Universe became carbon-enhanced through the mixing and fallback of bits ejected from the first supernovae.

    Their simulations also showed the gas clouds produced by the first supernovae were seeding with carbonaceous grains, leading to the formation of low-mass ‘giga-metal-poor’ stars that likely still exist today (and could be studied by future surveys). Said Chiaki of these stars:

    “We find that these stars have very low iron content compared to the observed carbon-enhanced stars with billionths of the solar abundance of iron. However, we can see the fragmentation of the clouds of gas. This indicates that the low mass stars form in a low iron abundance regime. Such stars have never been observed yet. Our study gives us theoretical insight of the formation of first stars.”

    A new study looked at 52 submillimeter galaxies to help us understand the early ages of our Universe. Credit:U Nottingham/Omar Almaini.

    With the massive amounts of processing power and data storage these clusters provided, the team was able to model the faint supernova of the first stars in the Universe.

    These investigations are part of a growing field known as “galactic archaeology.”

    Much like how archaeologists rely on fossilized remains and artifacts to learn more about societies that disappeared centuries or millennia ago, astronomers look for ancient stars to study in order to learn more about those that have long since died.

    According to Chiaki, the next step is to branch out beyond the carbon features of ancient stars and incorporate other heavier elements into larger simulations. In so doing, galactic archaeologists hope to learn more about the origins and distribution of life in our Universe. Said Chiaki:

    “The aim of this study is to know the origin of elements, such as carbon, oxygen, and calcium. These elements are concentrated through the repetitive matter cycles between the interstellar medium and stars. Our bodies and our planet are made of carbon and oxygen, nitrogen, and calcium. Our study is very important to help understand the origin of these elements that we human beings are made of.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    The Georgia Institute of Technology, commonly referred to as Georgia Tech, is a public research university and institute of technology located in the Midtown neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. It is a part of the University System of Georgia and has satellite campuses in Savannah, Georgia; Metz, France; Athlone, Ireland; Shenzhen, China; and Singapore.

    The school was founded in 1885 as the Georgia School of Technology as part of Reconstruction plans to build an industrial economy in the post-Civil War Southern United States. Initially, it offered only a degree in mechanical engineering. By 1901, its curriculum had expanded to include electrical, civil, and chemical engineering. In 1948, the school changed its name to reflect its evolution from a trade school to a larger and more capable technical institute and research university.

    Today, Georgia Tech is organized into six colleges and contains about 31 departments/units, with emphasis on science and technology. It is well recognized for its degree programs in engineering, computing, industrial administration, the sciences and design. Georgia Tech is ranked 8th among all public national universities in the United States, 35th among all colleges and universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report rankings, and 34th among global universities in the world by Times Higher Education rankings. Georgia Tech has been ranked as the “smartest” public college in America (based on average standardized test scores).

    Student athletics, both organized and intramural, are a part of student and alumni life. The school’s intercollegiate competitive sports teams, the four-time football national champion Yellow Jackets, and the nationally recognized fight song “Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech”, have helped keep Georgia Tech in the national spotlight. Georgia Tech fields eight men’s and seven women’s teams that compete in the NCAA Division I athletics and the Football Bowl Subdivision. Georgia Tech is a member of the Coastal Division in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

  • richardmitnick 1:54 pm on September 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hubble's New Photo of The Cygnus Loop Looks Too Perfect to Be Real", , , , , , , Universe Today, Veil Nebula   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope via Science Alert and Universe Today: “Hubble’s New Photo of The Cygnus Loop Looks Too Perfect to Be Real” 

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope



    Science Alert



    Universe Today

    6 SEPTEMBER 2020

    (W. Blair/Leo Shatz/NASA/ESA Hubble.)

    If you’re a Star Trek fan, you may think the above image portrays the “Nexus” from the movie Star Trek: Generations. In the film, the Nexus was a ribbon-like extra-dimensional realm that exists outside of normal space-time.

    But this is actually a real image from the venerable Hubble Space Telescope, of the Cygnus Loop.

    This stunning picture from space shows just a small portion of a blast wave left over from a supernova that took place, from our vantage point, in the northern constellation Cygnus the Swan.

    The original supernova explosion blasted apart a dying star about 2,600 light-years away.

    This star was approximately 20 times more massive than our Sun, and the blast likely occurred between 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. Since then, the remnant has expanded 60 light-years from its center.

    The shockwave marks the outer edge of the supernova remnant and continues to expand at incredible speeds, around 350 kilometers per second. The interaction of the ejected material and the low-density interstellar material swept up by the shockwave forms the distinctive veil-like structure seen in this image.

    In Star Trek lore, if you were inside the Nexus, you existed in a perfect, idealized world. Staring at an incredible image like this makes you consider that something like that might just be possible.

    Here’s another, previous Hubble image of the Cygnus Loop supernova remnant from 1991, and below that is an image of the famous Veil Nebula, which is inside the larger Cygnus supernova remnant.

    This 1991 Hubble image shows a small section of the Cygnus Loop. (NASA/ESA Hubble.)

    Veil Nebula. (ESA/Hubble Space Telescope.)

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

    ESA50 Logo large

  • richardmitnick 12:47 pm on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Magnetic Fields Around NASA's Mars Lander Are 10 Times Stronger Than Scientists Expected", , , , , , , NASA Incite, , Universe Today   

    From Universe Today via Science Alert: “Magnetic Fields Around NASA’s Mars Lander Are 10 Times Stronger Than Scientists Expected” 


    From Universe Today



    Science Alert

    9 MARCH 2020

    NASA Insight (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    When NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (Insight) lander set down on Mars in November of 2018, it began its two-year primary mission of studying Mars’ seismology and interior environment.

    And now, just over a year and a half later, the results of the lander’s first twelve months on the Martian surface have been released in a series of studies.

    One of these studies, which was recently published in the journal Nature Geosciences, shared some rather interesting finds about magnetic fields on Mars.

    According to the research team behind it, the magnetic field within the crater where InSight’s landed is ten times stronger than expected. These findings could help scientists resolve key mysteries about Mars’ formation and subsequent evolution.

    These readings were obtained by InSight’s magnetic sensor, which studied the magnetic fields within the mission’s landing zone. This shallow crater, known as “Homestead hollow”, is located in the region called Elysium Planitia – a flat-smooth plain just north of the equator.

    This region was selected because it has the right combination of flat topology, low elevation, and low debris to allow InSight to probe deep into the interior of Mars.

    Sources of magnetism detected by magnetic sensor aboard the Mars InSight Lander. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    Prior to this mission, the best estimates of Martian magnetic fields came from satellites in orbit and were averaged over distances of more than 150 kilometres (93 miles).

    Catherine Johnson, a professor of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columbia and a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute (PSI), was the lead author on the study. As she said in a recent UBC News story:

    “One of the big unknowns from previous satellite missions was what the magnetization looked like over small areas. By placing the first magnetic sensor at the surface, we have gained valuable new clues about the interior structure and upper atmosphere of Mars that will help us understand how it – and other planets like it – formed.”

    “The ground-level data give us a much more sensitive picture of magnetization over smaller areas, and where it’s coming from. In addition to showing that the magnetic field at the landing site was ten times stronger than the satellites anticipated, the data implied it was coming from nearby sources.”

    Measuring magnetic fields on Mars is key to understanding the nature and strength of the global magnetic field (aka magnetosphere) that Mars had billions of years ago.

    The presence of this magnetosphere has been inferred from the presence of magnetized rocks on the planet’s surface, leading to localized and relatively weak magnetic fields.

    According to data gathered by MAVEN and other missions, scientists predict that roughly 4.2 billion years ago, this magnetic field suddenly ‘switched off’. This resulted in solar wind slowly stripping the Martian atmosphere away over the next few hundred million years, which is what led to the surface becoming the dry and desiccated place it is today.

    Because most rocks on the surface of Mars are too young to have been magnetized by this ancient field, the team thinks it must be coming from deeper underground.

    As Johnson explained:

    “We think it’s coming from much older rocks that are buried anywhere from a couple hundred feet to ten kilometers below ground. We wouldn’t have been able to deduce this without the magnetic data and the geology and seismic information InSight has provided.”

    By combining InSight data with magnetic readings obtained by Martian orbiters in the past, Johnson and her colleagues hope to be able to identify exactly which rocks are magnetized and how old they are.

    These efforts will be bolstered by future missions to study Martian rocks, such as NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, the ESA’s Rosalind Franklin rover, and China’s Huoxing-1 (HX-1) mission – all of which are scheduled to launch this summer.

    Depiction of NASA Mars 2020 Rover officially named “Perseverence”

    ESA/Roscosmos Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover depiction

    Huoxing-1 (HX-1) depiction. China

    Artist’s impression of the interaction between solar wind and the planets Mars (left) and Earth (right).(NASA)

    InSight’s magnetometer also managed to gather data on phenomena that exist high in Mars’ upper atmosphere as well as the space environment surrounding the planet.

    Like Earth, Mars is exposed to solar wind, the stream of charged particles that emanate from the Sun and carry its magnetic field into interplanetary space – hence the name interplanetary magnetic field (IMF).

    But since Mars lacks a magnetosphere, it is less protected from solar wind and weather events. This allows the lander to study the effects of both on the surface of the planet, which scientists have been unable to do until now.

    Said Johnson:

    “Because all of our previous observations of Mars have been from the top of its atmosphere or even higher altitudes, we didn’t know whether disturbances in solar wind would propagate to the surface. That’s an important thing to understand for future astronaut missions to Mars.”

    Another interesting find was the way the local magnetic field fluctuated between day and night, not to mention the short pulsations that occurred around midnight and lasted for just a few minutes. Johnson and her colleagues theorize that these are caused by interactions between solar radiation, the IMF, and particles in the upper atmosphere to produce electrical currents (and hence, magnetic fields).

    These readings confirm that events taking place in and above Mars’ upper atmosphere can be detected at the surface. They also provide an indirect picture of the planet’s atmospheric properties, like how charged it becomes and what currents exist in the upper atmosphere.

    As for the mysterious pulses, Johnson and her team are not sure what causes them but think that they are also related to how solar wind interacts with Mars.

    In the future, the InSight team hopes that their efforts to gather data on the surface magnetic field will coincide with the MAVEN orbiter passing overhead, which will allow them to compare data.

    As InSight’s principal investigator, Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, summarized:

    The main function of the magnetic sensor was to weed out magnetic ‘noise,’ both from the environment and the lander itself, for our seismic experiments, so this is all bonus information that directly supports the overarching goals of the mission. The time-varying fields, for example, will be very useful for future studies of the deep conductivity structure of Mars, which is related to its internal temperature.”

    This study is one of six that resulted from InSight’s first year of mission data, which can be accessed here. However, this is just the beginning for the InSight mission, which will wrap up its two-year primary mission towards the end of 2020.

    Of particular interest are the X-band radio measurements that will show how much Mars’ “wobbles” as it spins on its axis, which in turn will help reveal the true nature of the planet’s core (solid or liquid?).

    Exciting times lie ahead for the many missions we have (or will be sending) to Mars! Be sure to check out this video of the InSight mission too, courtesy of NASA JPL:

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 8:32 am on June 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "This Incredible Orbit Map of Our Solar System Makes Our Brains Ache", Eleanor Lutz, , , Universe Today,   

    From University of Washington via Science Alert: Women in STEM- “This Incredible Orbit Map of Our Solar System Makes Our Brains Ache” Eleanor Lutz 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington



    Science Alert

    (Eleanor Lutz)

    17 JUN 2019

    If you want to know what a talent for scientific visualizations looks like, check out Eleanor Lutz. She’s a PhD student in biology at the University of Washington, and at her website Tabletop Whale, you can see her amazing work on full display.

    Her latest piece is a map showing all the orbits of over 18,000 asteroids in the Solar System. It includes 10,000 asteroids that are over 10 km in diameter, and about 8,000 objects of unknown size.

    As the tagline at her website says, she produces “Charts, infographics, and animations about any and all things science.”

    This includes things like a “Visual Compendium of Glowing Creatures,” “All the Stars You Can See From Earth,” and a beautiful topographic map of Mercury.


    But it’s her newest project that is garnering her a lot of attention in the space community. Lutz is working on an Atlas of Space, and has been for the last year and a half. It’s a collection of ten visualizations including planets, moons, and outer space.

    As she says on her website, “I’ve made an animated map of the seasons on Earth, a map of Mars geology, and a map of everything in the solar system bigger than 10 km.”

    It’s that map of objects larger than 10 km that is generating buzz.

    (Eleanor Lutz)

    All of the data for Lutz’s Atlas of Space is public data, freely available. She gets if from sources like NASA and the US Geological Survey.

    Part of what drives her is that even though the data is public and freely available, it’s raw. And taking that raw data and turning it into a helpful, and even beautiful, visualization, takes a lot of work.

    In an interview with Wired, Lutz said, “I really like that all this data is accessible, but it’s very difficult to visualize. It’s really awesome science, and I wanted everyone to be able to see it in a way that makes sense.”

    ( Eleanor Lutz)

    (Eleanor Lutz)

    Lutz’s work is really more than data visualizations. She has a designer’s eye, and some of her work is very artful.

    But being a scientist, she’s inspired to share the data and the methods she used to create her work. She plans to publish the open source code for each of her pieces, and also tutorials for how to create them yourself.

    It’s difficult to understand our world, or anything in nature really, without engaging with science. Without science, all we have is anecdote and opinion.

    But science is all about data, and dense data is not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s taxing and time-consuming to understand.

    Lutz’s work is making it easier. In an interview with Wired, she said, “There’s a knowledge barrier to accessing some of the interesting, awesome things about science. There are so many facts and equations, and I want those cool ideas to be accessible.”

    To access some of those cool ideas she’s talking about, visit her website, tabletopwhale.com, where you can explore her work and her methods. You can also purchase prints there.

    This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

  • richardmitnick 2:05 pm on December 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA/ESA Hera, NELIOTA-NEO Lunar Impacts and Optical TrAnsients, , Universe Today   

    From Science Alert: “Every Few Hours a Flash of Light Comes From The Moon. Another Impact” 


    From Science Alert

    15 DEC 2018

    Ever since the Apollo missions explored the lunar surface, scientists have known that the Moon’s craters are the result of a long history of meteor and asteroid impacts. But it has only been in the past few decades that we have come to understand how regular these are.

    In fact, every few hours, an impact on the lunar surface is indicated by a bright flash. These impact flashes are designed as a “transient lunar phenomena” because they are fleeting.

    Basically, this means that the flashes (while common) last for only a fraction of a second, making them very difficult to detect. For this reason, the European Space Agency (ESA) created the NEO Lunar Impacts and Optical TrAnsients (NELIOTA) project in 2015 to monitor the moon for signs of impact flashes.

    By studying them, the project hopes to learn more about the size and distribution of near-Earth objects to determine if they pose a risk to Earth.

    To be fair, this phenomena is not new to astronomers, as flashes have been reportedly seen lighting up dark sections of the Moon for at least a thousand years.

    It has only been recently, however, that scientists have had telescopes and cameras sophisticated enough to observe these events and characterize them (i.e. size, speed and frequency).

    (NASA/Jennifer Harbaugh)

    Determining how often such events take place, and what they can teach us about our Near-Earth environment is the reason the ESA created NELIOTA.

    In February of 2017, the project began a 22 month-long campaign to observe the Moon using the 1.2 m telescope at the Kryoneri Observatory located in Greece. This telescope is the largest instrument on Earth ever dedicated to monitoring the Moon.

    Kryoneri Observatory, Greece

    In addition, the NELIOTA system is the first to use a 1.2 m-telescope for monitoring the Moon. Traditionally, lunar monitoring programs have relied on telescopes with primary mirrors measuring 0.5 m in diameter or smaller.

    The larger mirror of the Kryoneri telescope allows the NELIOTA scientists to detect flashes two magnitudes fainter than other lunar monitoring programs.

    But even with the right instruments, detecting these flashes is no easy task. In addition to lasting for only a fraction of a second, it is also impossible to spot them on the bright side of the Moon since the sunlight reflected from the surface is much brighter.

    For this reason, these events can only be seen on the Moon’s “dark side” – i.e. between a New Moon and First Quarter and between a Last Quarter and New Moon.

    The Moon must also be above the horizon at the time and observations must be conducted using a fast-frame camera. Because of these necessary conditions, the NELIOTA project has only been able to obtain 90 hours of observation time over a 22-month period, during which time 55 lunar impact events were observed.

    From this data, scientists were able to extrapolate that an average of about 8 flashes occur every hour on the surface of the Moon.


    Another feature that sets the NELIOTA project apart is its two fast-frame cameras that enable lunar monitoring in the visible and near-infrared bands of the spectrum.

    This allowed the project scientists to conduct the first study ever where the temperatures of lunar impacts were calculated. Of the first ten they detected, they obtained temperature estimates ranging from about 1,300 to 2,800 °C ( 2372 to 5072 °F).

    With the extension of this observing campaign to 2021, the NELIOTA scientists hope to obtain further data that will improve impact statistics.

    In turn, this information will go a long way towards addressing the threat of Near-Earth Objects – which consist of asteroids and comets that periodically pass close to Earth (and on rare occasions, impact on the surface).

    In the past, the ESA has monitored these objects through its Space Situational Awareness (SSA) program, of which the NELTIOA project is part.

    Today, the SSA is building infrastructure in space and on the ground (such as the deployment of Flyeye telescopes across the globe) to improve our monitoring and understanding of potentially hazardous NEOs.

    ESA Flyeye telescope

    In the future, the ESA plans to transition from monitoring NEOs to developing mitigation and active planetary defense strategies.

    This includes the proposed NASA/ESA Hera mission – formerly known as the Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA) – which is scheduled to launch by 2023.

    NASA ESA Hera

    In the coming decades, other measures (ranging from directed energy and ballistic missiles to solar sails) are also likely to be investigated.

    But as always, the key to protecting Earth from future impacts is the existence of effective detection and monitoring strategies. In this respect, projects like NELIOTA will prove to be invaluable.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 7:06 am on February 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Universe Today   

    From Universe Today: “Amazing High Resolution Image of the Core of the Milky Way, a Region with Surprisingly Low Star Formation Compared to Other Galaxies” 


    Universe Today

    27 Feb , 2018
    Matt Williams

    The centre of the Milky Way Galaxy seen through NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/1540-ssc2006-02a-A-Cauldron-of-Stars-at-the-Galaxy-s-Center

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    Compared to some other galaxies in our Universe, the Milky Way is a rather subtle character. In fact, there are galaxies that are a thousands times as luminous as the Milky Way, owing to the presence of warm gas in the galaxy’s Central Molecular Zone (CMZ). This gas is heated by massive bursts of star formation that surround the Supermassive Black Hole (SMBH) at the nucleus of the galaxy.

    The core of the Milky Way also has a SMBH (Sagittarius A*) and all the gas it needs to form new stars.

    SgrA* NASA/Chandra

    But for some reason, star formation in our galaxy’s CMZ is less than the average. To address this ongoing mystery, an international team of astronomers conducted a large and comprehensive study of the CMZ to search for answers as to why this might be.

    The study, titled Star formation in a high-pressure environment: an SMA view of the Galactic Centre dust ridge recently appeared in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The study was led by Daniel Walker of the Joint ALMA Observatory and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and included members from multiple observatories, universities and research institutes.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 9:25 am on February 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Universe Today   

    From Universe Today: “For the First Time, Planets Have Been Discovered in ANOTHER Galaxy!” 


    Universe Today

    3 Feb , 2018
    Matt Williams

    Using the microlensing metthod, a team of astrophysicists have found the first extra-galactic planets! Credit: NASA/Tim Pyle

    Gravitational microlensing, S. Liebes, Physical Review B, 133 (1964): 835

    The first confirmed discovery of a planet beyond our Solar System (aka. an Extrasolar Planet) was a groundbreaking event. And while the initial discoveries were made using only ground-based observatories, and were therefore few and far between, the study of exoplanets has grown considerably with the deployment of space-based telescopes like the Kepler space telescope.

    As of February 1st, 2018, 3,728 planets have been confirmed in 2,794 systems, with 622 systems having more than one planet. But now, thanks to a new study by a team of astrophysicists from the University of Oklahoma, the first planets beyond our galaxy have been discovered! Using a technique predicting by Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, this team found evidence of planets in a galaxy roughly 3.8 billion light years away.

    The study which details their discovery, titled Probing Planets in Extragalactic Galaxies Using Quasar Microlensing, recently appeared in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The study was conducted by Xinyu Dai and Eduardo Guerras, a postdoctoral researcher and professor from the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Oklahoma, respectively.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 11:33 am on January 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Π1 Gruis, This is the Surface of a Giant Star 350 Times Larger Than the Sun, Universe Today   

    From Universe Today: “This is the Surface of a Giant Star, 350 Times Larger Than the Sun” 


    Universe Today

    24 Jan , 2018
    Matt Williams

    This artist’s impression shows the red supergiant star. Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer, an international team of astronomers have constructed the most detailed image ever of this, or any star other than the Sun. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser.

    2009 ESO VLT Interferometer image, Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    When it comes to looking beyond our Solar System, astronomers are often forced to theorize about what they don’t know based on what they do. In short, they have to rely on what we have learned studying the Sun and the planets from our own Solar System in order to make educated guesses about how other star systems and their respective bodies formed and evolved.

    For example, astronomers have learned much from our Sun about how convection plays a major role in the life of stars. Until now, they have not been able to conduct detailed studies of the surfaces of other stars because of their distances and obscuring factors. However, in a historic first, an international team of scientists recently created the first detailed images of the surface of a red giant star located roughly 530 light-years away.

    The study recently appeared in the scientific journal Nature under the title Large Granulation cells on the surface of the giant star Π¹ Gruis. The study was led by Claudia Paladini of the Université libre de Bruxelles and included members from the European Southern Observatory, the Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, Georgia State University, the Université Grenoble Alpes, Uppsala University, the University of Vienna, and the University of Exeter.

    For the sake of their study, the team used the Precision Integrated-Optics Near-infrared Imaging ExpeRiment (PIONIER) instrument on the ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) to observe the star known as Π¹ Gruis.

    ESO VLTI PIONIER instrument [First light October 2010]

    Located 530 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Grus (The Crane), Π1 Gruis is a cool red giant. While it is the same mass as our Sun, it is 350 times larger and several thousand times as bright.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 8:57 am on January 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A Black Hole is Pushing the Stars Around in this Globular Cluster, , , , , Universe Today   

    From Universe Today: “A Black Hole is Pushing the Stars Around in this Globular Cluster” 


    Universe Today

    19 Jan , 2018
    Matt Williams

    Artist’s impression of the star cluster NGC 3201 orbiting an black hole with about four times the mass of the Sun. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

    Astronomers have been fascinated with globular clusters ever since they were first observed in 17th century. These spherical collections of stars are among the oldest known stellar systems in the Universe, dating back to the early Universe when galaxies were just beginning to grow and evolve. Such clusters orbit the centers of most galaxies, with over 150 known to belong to the Milky Way alone.

    One of these clusters is known as NGC 3201, a cluster located about 16,300 light years away in the southern constellation of Vela. Using the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, a team of astronomers recently studied this cluster and noticed something very interesting. According to the study they released, this cluster appears to have a black hole embedded in it.

    ESO VLT Platform at Cerro Paranal elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft)

    The study appeared in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society under the title A detached stellar-mass black hole candidate in the globular cluster NGC 3201. The study was led by Benjamin Giesers of the Georg-August-University of Göttingen and included members from Liverpool John Moores University, Queen Mary University of London, the Leiden Observatory, the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences, ETH Zurich, and the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP).

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 8:43 am on January 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Researchers Develop a New Low Cost/Low Weight Method of Searching for Life on Mars, Universe Today   

    From Universe Today: “Researchers Develop a New Low Cost/Low Weight Method of Searching for Life on Mars” 


    Universe Today

    19 Jan , 2018
    Evan Gough

    Study co-author I. Altshuler sampling permafrost terrain near the McGill Arctic research station, Canadian high Arctic. Image: Dr. Jacqueline Goordial

    Researchers at Canada’s McGill University have shown for the first time how existing technology could be used to directly detect life on Mars and other planets. The team conducted tests in Canada’s high arctic, which is a close analog to Martian conditions. They showed how low-weight, low-cost, low-energy instruments could detect and sequence alien micro-organisms. They presented their results in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

    Getting samples back to a lab to test is a time consuming process here on Earth. Add in the difficulty of returning samples from Mars, or from Ganymede or other worlds in our Solar System, and the search for life looks like a daunting task. But the search for life elsewhere in our Solar System is a major goal of today’s space science. The team at McGill wanted to show that, conceptually at least, samples could be tested, sequenced, and grown in-situ at Mars or other locations. And it looks like they’ve succeeded.

    See the full article here .

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