Wil je een videoclip bekijken en stoort het X-files-deuntje jou daarbij. Schakel het deuntje gewoon uit door in deze kolon, helemaal beneden op de 2 witte balkjes in het blauwe cirkeltje te klikken, tot een pijltje verschijnt. Veel kijk- en luisterplezier en bedankt voor jouw bezoek.
The purpose of this blog is the creation of an open, international, independent and free forum, where every UFO-researcher can publish the results of his/her research. The languagues, used for this blog, are Dutch, English and French.You can find the articles of a collegue by selecting his category. Each author stays resposable for the continue of his articles. As blogmaster I have the right to refuse an addition or an article, when it attacks other collegues or UFO-groupes.
Deze blog is opgedragen aan mijn overleden echtgenote Lucienne.
In 2012 verloor ze haar moedige strijd tegen kanker!
In 2011 startte ik deze blog, omdat ik niet mocht stoppen met mijn UFO-onderzoek.
UFO'S - MET HET LAATSTE NIEUWS OVER UFO'S BOVEN BELGIË EN IN ANDERE LANDEN...
UFO's in België en de rest van de wereld In België heb je vooral BUFON of het Belgisch UFO-Netwerk, dat zich met UFO's bezighoudt. BEZOEK DUS ZEKER VOOR ALLE OBJECTIEVE INFORMATIE ww.ufo.be.
Verder heb je ook het Belgisch-Ufo-meldpunt en Caelestia, die prachtig, doch ZEER kritisch werk leveren, ja soms zelfs héél sceptisch...
Voor Nederland kan je de mooie site www.ufowijzer.nl bezoeken van Paul Harmans. Een mooie site met veel informatie en artikels.
MUFON of het Mutual UFO Network Inc is een Amerikaanse UFO-vereniging met afdelingen in alle USA-staten en diverse landen.
MUFON's mission is the analytical and scientific investigation of the UFO- Phenomenon for the benefit of humanity...
Je kan ook hun site bekijken onder www.mufon.com.
Ze geven een maandeliiks tijdschrift uit, namelijk The MUFON UFO-Journal. Since 02/01/2013 is Pieter not only president (=voorzitter) of BUFON, but also National Director MUFON / Flanders and the Netherlands. We work together with the French MUFON Reseau MUFON/EUROP.
Ancient Oceans on Mars May Have Been Older and Shallower Than Thought
Ancient Oceans on Mars May Have Been Older and Shallower Than Thought
By Charles Q. Choi, Space.com Contributor
The rise of the largest volcanoes in the solar system may have led Mars to possess oceans hundreds of millions of years earlier than previously thought, a new study finds.
For example, previous research found signs of ancient shorelines lining the northern plains of Mars for thousands of miles. However, skeptics point out that shorelines generally trace a mostly constant sea-level surface. In contrast, these Martian features are very irregular, "varying in elevation by up to several kilometers," study lead author Robert Citron, a planetary scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, told Space.com. [The Search for Water on Mars in Photos]
Previous research has suggested the variations in these shorelines might have occurred after the formation of Tharsis, a region 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) wide that holds the biggest volcanoes in the solar system. The creation of a "volcanic province" with the mass of Tharsis could have shifted the axis on which Mars spins, potentially explaining shoreline elevation variations.
However, for Tharsis to change Mars' pole of rotation, this volcanic region would need to have formed far from the equator. In contrast, prior work found that it formed near the equator.
Now, researchers suggest that Tharsis could help explain the irregular shorelines of Mars if oceans on the Red Planet existed before and/or during the time that Tharsis arose 3.7 billion years ago, instead of afterward, as once assumed. This new model suggests that oceans on Mars formed hundreds of millions of years earlier than previously thought.
The scientists modeled what previous research suggested was the first ocean of Mars, called Arabia, as well as a subsequent ocean, called Deuteronilus. They next calculated the effects of the rise of Tharsis on these oceans.
The scientists found that, if Arabia started forming on Mars at least 4 billion years ago and existed, perhaps intermittently, during as much as the first 20 percent of the growth of Tharsis, the volcanic province could have deformed Arabia's shoreline over time. Similarly, irregularities seen in the shoreline of Deuteronilus could be explained if it formed about 3.6 billion years ago, during the last 17 percent of Tharsis' growth.
"Massive deformation by Tharsis could explain why these shorelines deviated from a constant elevation," Citron said.
In addition, these findings suggested that the oceans on ancient Mars were shallower than previously thought. If the seas filled before Tharsis was fully formed — and therefore hadn't deformed the Red Planet crust too much yet — they would have held about half the water of prior estimates, the researchers determined.
The scientists also suggested that the volcanic eruptions that created Tharsis also generated channels that allowed water to fill the northern plains. This would account for the valley networks seen on Mars.
A map of Mars today shows where scientists have identified possible ancient shoreline that may have been etched by intermittent oceans billions of years ago. The irregular elevations of these shorelines can be explained by the growth of the volcanic province called Tharsis some 3.7 billion years ago, which would have deformed the topography and misaligned the shorelines. Arabia (magenta) is more than 4 million years old, while the Deuteronilus (white) and Isidis (cyan) shoreline are several million years younger. The solid contour lines represent the Tharsis bulge (left) and the antipodal bulge it created (right), with dashed contour lines indicating the depressions in between.
Robert Citron images, UC Berkeley.
Tharsis likely spewed gases into the atmosphere that created a global warming or greenhouse effect, said study senior author Michael Manga, also of UC Berkeley. This may have enabled liquid water to exist on the Martian surface, he added.
To further test these findings, more precise mapping and dating of Tharsis and these ancient shorelines is needed, Citron said. NASA's next Mars lander, InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport), which is scheduled for launch in May, will place a seismometer on the surface to probe the Red Planet's interior.
"It could potentially detect the presence of subsurface frozen water, which could be a remnant of a past ocean," Citron said.
Depiction of the InSight mission lander, which is scheduled for launch in May and expected to land on the surface of Mars in November to probe the interior of the planet.
The scientists detailed their findingsonline March 19 in the journal Nature.
David Bowie asked the question. Last week, Barry DiGregorio looked at rover photosof the surface of Mars and decided the grooves in the surface are the same type of fossilized trails and tracks left by bacterial life forms on prehistoric Earth … and NASA is covering up this fact to protect its upcoming manned space missions to allow humans to “discover” life on Mars. Now in a new interview in the Daily Star Online he’s warning NASA – not to mention Elon Musk — that sending humans to Mars would cause the late Mr. Bowie to write a sequel to his song, calling it “Is There Death on Mars?” and the girl with the mousy hair will find out why America has a tortured brow … the life on Mars will kill us.
“Astronauts could be exposed to unknown pathogenic microbes and viruses that we have no idea how to control. That is why it is so important to fly additional life detection instruments to Mars – to make sure it is safe to send human beings or to return samples to Earth.”
Dr. DiGregorio has a point – one that NASA dealt with during the Apollo lunar missions by quarantining everything that they brought back until it was determined there was no life on the astronauts, their equipment or their rocks. Since they were only there for a short period, covered a small area and never breathed the atmosphere – what little there is – NASA felt comfortable nothing would happen to the astronauts while on the Moon. That won’t be the case on Mars and DiGregorio singles out Elon Musk first, since he seems to be leading the way to not just visiting but establishing permanent colonies on the Red Planet.
“He’s totally ignoring the fact that there could be microbial life on Mars, and as far as being a scientist goes, the one thing you want to make sure of is that your people have a degree of confidence that the surface of Mars is sterile.”
Musk might be impressed that DiGregorio thinks he’s a scientist, but he’d most likely disagree that Mars needs to be “sterile” before going there. Livable, breathable and non-fatal are probably good enough for Elon. However, DiGregorio points out another thing that has nothing to do with science.
“If you sent astronauts to Mars and they die of pathogenic diseases from indigenous microbes, you’re not going to have another mission go back there, the publicity would be terrible.”
Have humans really evolved from the days of massive Earth exploration to the point where it will not take on a non-military mission with the near-certainty that some people won’t come back? DiGregorio wants NASA to reduce that risk to near-nothing by sending more robots and autonomous exploration vehicles to Mars with the equipment onboard to find and identify life forms without the need for humans on the Martian surface.
Not everyone in the Martian exploration community believes DiGregorio’s theory that the tracks on Mars are indications of bacterial life. However, his arguments for continued robotic exploration make sense. Is a robot discovering life forms on Mars really anathema to NASA management? NASA public relations? Elon Musk?
Are they spitting in the eyes of fools as they ask us to focus on the best-selling show?
Check Out These Amazing Images Snapped By NASA’s $1 Billion Spacecraft Orbiting Jupiter
Check Out These Amazing Images Snapped By NASA’s $1 Billion Spacecraft Orbiting Jupiter
Jupiter is, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating planets in our solar system.
Jupiter is huge. Mysterious. Colorful. Hypnotizing. And did I say it so big it doesn’t actually ‘orbit’ the sun?
Anyway, the gas giant has remained one of the most studied and revered planets since ancient times.
After the Sun, Jupiter is the largest celestial body in the solar system, with a mass almost two and a half times that of the other planets together (with a mass 318 times greater than that of Earth and three times greater than Saturn), besides being in terms of volume, 1317 times larger than Earth).
It is also the oldest planet in the solar system, being even older than the sun; this discovery was made by researchers from the University of Münster in Germany.
The Gas Giant has been explored on several occasions by spacecraft, most notably during the early Pioneer and Voyager flyby missions and later by the Galileo orbiter. In late February 2007, Jupiter was visited by the New Horizons probe, which used Jupiter’s gravity to increase its speed and bend its trajectory en route to Pluto. The latest probe to visit the planet is Juno, which entered into orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016.
Jupiter is the planet with the largest mass in the solar system: it is about 2.48 times the sum of the masses of all the other planets together.
Despite this, it is not the most massive planet known: more than a hundred extrasolar planets that have been discovered have masses similar or superior to Jupiter.
Jupiter also has the fastest rotation speed of the planets of the solar system: it rotates in less than ten hours on its axis.
Altogether, it is one heck of a planet.
The main satellites of Jupiter were discovered by Galileo Galilei on January 7, 1610, which is why they are called Galilean satellites.
They receive their names from Greek mythology although, in Galileo’s time, they were referred to by Roman numerals depending on their order of proximity to the planet.
The discovery of these satellites constituted a point of inflection in the already long dispute between those who supported the idea of a geocentric system, that is, with the Earth at the center of the universe, and the Copernican (or heliocentric system, that is, with the Sun at the center of the solar system), in which it was much easier to explain the movement and the very existence of Jupiter’s natural satellites.
And while I can continue writing about Jupiter the rest of the day, words can’t describe just how beautiful the largest planet in our solar system is.
Thankfully, images speak a thousand words so here we bring you some of the most fascinating images of Jupiter taken by the Juno Spacecraft.
Jupiter you SEXY beast! Image Credit: NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Uriel
Image Credit: NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Roman Tkachenko
This image shows Jupiter’s south pole, as seen by NASA’s Juno spacecraft from an altitude of 32,000 miles (52,000 kilometers). Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles
A swirling white spot captured by Juno. Image Credit: NASA / MSSS / JPL / SwRI / Bjorn Jonsson
Deep-Space Radiation May Be Getting More Dangerous for Future Astronauts
Deep-Space Radiation May Be Getting More Dangerous for Future Astronauts
By Mike Wall, Space.com Senior Writer
Space radiation may be a bigger worry for voyaging astronauts than scientists had thought, at least in the near future, a new study suggests.
"The radiation dose rates from measurements obtained over the last four years exceeded trends from previous solar cycles by at least 30 percent, showing that the radiation environment is getting far more intense," study lead author Nathan Schwadron, a professor of physics at the University of New Hampshire's Space Science Center, said in a statement.
Schwadron and his colleagues studied observations made by NASA'sLunar Reconnaissance Orbiter(LRO), which has been circling the moon since 2009. Specifically, they looked at dose rates of galactic cosmic rays measured over the past four years by LRO's Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRATER).
Galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) are super-energetic particles — mostly protons and atomic nuclei — that have been accelerated to tremendous speeds by distant and dramatic events, such as supernova explosions. GCRs can do damage to spacecraft electronics and, in large enough doses, can cause radiation sickness in astronauts, or longer-term problems such as cancer.
"We now know that the radiation environment of deep space that we could send human crews into at this point is quite different compared to that of previous crewed missions to the moon," Schwadron said, referring to NASA's Apollo missions, which landed six crews on the lunar surface between July 1969 and December 1972.
The rise in GCR levels is related to a prolonged stretch of low solar activity, which ebbs and flows on an 11-year cycle. During active phases, the sun's magnetic field spreads throughout the solar system more extensively (by the flow of charged particles known as the solar wind), and it deflects more incoming GCRs.
But an active sun poses its own problems. Solar flares and coronal mass ejections — powerful blasts that send huge clouds of superheated plasma rocketing out into space at millions of miles per hour — can also raise radiation levels significantly.
And big solar outbursts aren't limited to active periods in the solar cycle. Indeed, a series of solar outbursts in September 2017 raised deep-space radiation levels significantly, the researchers said.
The new study has been accepted for publication in the journal Space Weather.
The putative oceans on Mars may have been aided by an unlikely ally: volcanoes.
A depiction of how oceans on Mars might have looked like.
Image credits: Kevin McGill / Flickr.
The saga of Martian oceans — and if they truly existed or not — continues with a new episode. A team of geophysicists at the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that volcanoes may have helped pave the way for liquid water, by raising temperatures.
“Volcanoes may be important in creating the conditions for Mars to be wet,” said Michael Manga, a UC Berkeley professor of earth and planetary science and senior author of a paper appearing in Nature this week and posted online March 19.
While there is significant evidence that Mars once had oceans of liquid water, not everybody is convinced of their existence. The main argument against this existence is that… we don’t see them today. The estimated mass of the oceans just doesn’t fit with the how much water could be hidden today as permafrost underground and how much could have escaped into space. In other words, if Mars once had oceans, we should still see some water.
But Manga and his colleagues developed a new model which would help explain this disparity. They propose that the first ocean on the Red Planet (called Arabia) formed at about the same time as the planet’s largest volcanic feature, Tharsis, or even a bit sooner — instead of after it, as previous models suggested.
“The assumption was that Tharsis formed quickly and early, rather than gradually, and that the oceans came later,” Manga said. “We’re saying that the oceans predate and accompany the lava outpourings that made Tharsis.”
In particular, because Tharsis was smaller in its earlier days, it didn’t distort the seabed as much, meaning that the oceans were much shallower than previously assumed. This theory can also explain another counterargument to Martian oceans: the seashore problem. The proposed seashores are highly irregular, varying in height by up to 1 kilometer (0.6 miles), whereas on Earth seashores are largely at the same level (sea level).
If oceans were formed in the initial stages of Tharsis’ development, the volcano would have significantly depressed the land and deformed the shoreline, which would help explain the irregularity.
“These shorelines could have been emplaced by a large body of liquid water that existed before and during the emplacement of Tharsis, instead of afterwards,” said first author Robert Citron, a UC Berkeley graduate student.
Lastly, this model also proposes that Tharsis spewed gases into the atmosphere that created a global warming or greenhouse effect, which favored the formation of liquid water. However, more studies will be needed to confirm this theory.
The study has not been peer-reviewed, but Citron will present a paper about the new analysis on March 20 at the annual Lunar and Planetary Science conference in Texas.
Without an atmosphere to protect it, the Moon is under constant assault from meteorites and asteroids, hitting the satellite and leaving behind a horde of craters. Using a novel AI-based technique, a team of researchers has developed a new way to identify and count these craters.
An artificially colored mosaic constructed from a series of 53 images taken by the Galileo Spacecraft. Can you see the craters?
“When it comes to counting craters on the moon, it’s a pretty archaic method,” says Mohamad Ali-Dib, a postdoctoral fellow in the Centre for Planetary Sciences (CPS).
Indeed, while astronomy has benefitted from the automation of many processes, crater counting had lagged behind — but not anymore.
“Basically we need to manually look at an image, locate and count the craters and then calculate how large they are based off the size of the image. Here we’ve developed a technique from artificial intelligence that can automate this entire process that saves significant time and effort.”
Ali-Dib wasn’t the first to come up with this idea. Several projects have attempted to develop algorithms for the detection of lunar craters, but they performed rather poorly. However, the new algorithm, which was trained on a large dataset covering two-thirds of the moon, performed much better. It was so good at understanding the general shape and characteristics of a crater that it was even able to detect craters on other bodies, such as Mercury.
“It’s the first time we have an algorithm that can detect craters really well for not only parts of the moon, but also areas of Mercury,” says Ali-Dib, who developed the technique along with Ari Silburt, Chenchong Charles Zhu, and a group of researchers at CPS and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA).
They fed 90,000 images of the moon’s surface into an artificial neural network (ANN). ANNs mimic the vast network of neurons in a brain, simulating the biological learning process. After the learning process, the neural network was able to not only identify but also categorize craters larger than five kilometers. The team believes that with further “training” it will also be able to zoom in on smaller craters.
Some lunar craters last for billions of years.
Image credits: NASA.
Since the moon also doesn’t have tectonics or strong erosion, the craters can remain visible for extremely long periods of time, with Ali-Dib’s team finding craters as old as four billion years. However, this is also the main drawback of the algorithm: it requires an atmosphere-less body, without erosion, and clearly visible craters.
It was 53 years ago when a man walked in space for the first time, and he wasn’t American.
On March 18, 1965, the USSR took a big lead in the space race against the U.S. when cosmonaut Alexey Leonov left his spacecraft, the Voskhod 2, to enter into history as taking the first-ever spacewalk. Moments later, his life was in danger.
“My suit was becoming deformed, my hands had slipped out of the gloves, my feet came out of the boots,” Leonov told the BBC in 2014. “The suit felt loose around my body. I had to do something.”
The problem was the lack of atmospheric pressure in space causing his suit to inflate. Tethered to the spacecraft and with a suit too big to make it through the hatch, Leonov acted quickly by releasing oxygen from his suit to relieve the pressure.
He did make his way back into the capsule but the small explosive that opened the hatch had now caused it to rotate. This also caused a rise in oxygen making the cabin flammable.
It didn’t stop there for Leonov. He and his pilot, Pavel Belyayev, had to wait several hours before they could fire the retro-rockets to return to Earth. They found out quickly that the automated rockets did not work so they had to control the rockets manually. A miscalculation of how long to fire the rockets could either bounce them right back into space or crash into the ground.
The cosmonaunts did end up landing safely in Siberia.
The U.S. and NASA also ramped up the space program with multiple spaceflights in 1965. The Apollo and Gemini flights continued to make progress leading to the moon landing on Nov. 19, 1969.
Still, as the first person to see the Earth from 500km above, Leonov made an impact on history. What he saw on his trip also made an impact on him.
“My feeling was that I was a grain of sand,” he said. “You just can’t comprehend it. Only out there can you feel the greatness, the huge size of all that surrounds us.”
Steve looks like a neon purplish or green strip across the night sky, and it’s visible in Canada, though it’s not a streak of the aurora borealis. When Steve appears, it’s moving from east to West, and might be visible anywhere from Ontario to Alaska. It travels at about 4 miles per second, but appears static from the ground, and is routinely spotted at latitudes far further south than traditional northern lights.
Scientists identified the arc-shaped ribbon as an extremely hot (up to 10,000 degrees F), 16-mile thick river of ionized gas, about 200 miles above the earth’s surface. But much about Steve remains mysterious, even following the publication of the new study led by Elizabeth MacDonald, a space physicist at NASA. The researchers know that Steve is similar to a subauroral ion drift (SAID), except they are normally invisible to the naked eye.
The Alberta Aurora Chasers, a group of photographers who trade tips and images of the famed northern lights, had been capturing images of the gorgeous arc for years. According to the New York Times, the group initially thought the sightings of what would become Steve, which is whitish to the naked eye, might be condensation trails from planes. After manipulating the settings on their cameras, however, they realized that the streaks were self-illuminated and multihued.
In 2016, they met up with some astronomy professors at the University of Calgary at a bar and shared their photos, hoping to find out what caused the mysterious stroke of light. No one had an certain answer, but Eric Donovan, a professor of physics and astronomy, took an interest in the question. He turned to the European Space Agency and their Swarm satellites to begin collecting data.
The nickname was far humbler than the titles of most atmospheric optical phenomena, which have titles like Rayleigh scattering, crepuscular ray, or lunar corona, but “Steve” was meant to be temporary. And yet, it stuck. In honor of its origins, scientists have decided to keep the name, but have retroactively made it an acronym for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.
At a talk last year in Banff, Alberta, Donovan told the audience that he still occasionally turned to Ratzlaff’s team of citizen scientists for input as he investigated Steve. Once, when one of Donovan’s colleagues saw something unusual in his data, Donovan explained, “I did something right then and there that I never thought I’d do as part of my professional work.” He logged onto Facebook and typed in: “Did anyone see Steve last night?”
Pretty in pink.
(Courtesy Paul Zizka)
(Courtesy Philip Granrud)
NASA also asked the Chasers and other amateurs for assistance, and named them as co-authors of the new paper. Now NASA has opened their call for images to the general public:
Seen STEVE? Glowing in purple & green colors, a new celestial phenomenon, known as STEVE, is caused by charged particles from the Sun colliding with Earth's magnetic field. Discover how you can help us study these dancing lights by sending your pictures: http://go.nasa.gov/2phTVT5
Capturing Steve in an image is said to be easier than shooting the lights of the aurora borealis, which are more active. Steve will sit still for up to 20 minutes, a local photographer in Banff, Alberta, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
A Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement (STEVE) photographed near Regina on the night of July 24, 2016 (Notanee Bourassa)
Notanee Bourassa was a teenager in a run-down part of Regina. His father was dying of lung cancer. School and home were trouble alike. Then he tilted back his neck.
“The Northern Lights allowed me to escape all of that and to realize there’s more to life than where you are right now, and to survive,” he says, 30 years later. In his first sighting, he says bands of light on both sides of the sky appeared to meet in a continuous arc. “The aurora ribbons had actually joined, and I was underneath the ribbons in a back alley because it’s the darkest place I could find. I was hooked.”
Bourassa is an everyday citizen who helped NASA and other scientists identify for the first time a light display in thesky, on which they published a journal article in Science Advances. The purple and green streaks resemble an aurora borealis, but scientists say it’s a different phenomenon that “may be an extraordinary puzzle piece” in understanding Earth’s magnetic fields. Bourassa photographed the light and says he called it “Steve,” a name from an animated movie, for which scientists later matched an acronym: Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.
Researchers across North America and in the United Kingdom are now studying STEVEs; NASA has called for more citizens to help collect data on them; the discovery could be important for future aircrafts, and one of the catalysts behind the research was a 45-year-old father with a camera and a celestial coping mechanism.
For the first time, we have a better understanding of a mysterious phenomenon in the sky called STEVE, thanks to citizen scientist and satellite views. These new findings help us learn how Earth interacts with charged particles in space: https://go.nasa.gov/2FA0Elm
“The great magician out in the cosmos is making Northern Lights for us,” says Bourassa, who now works as a technical assistant for Sask Tel and, in recent years, has sought out the Lights one to four times per week. “That’s what keeps me going out there—just to get a feeling of, there’s something more to our lives than going to work and going to Walmart.”
On July 24, 2016, around 11 p.m., Bourassa drove to a wheat field 21 km from Regina to photograph the sky, bringing his five- and seven-year-old children because it was not a school night. From other “aurora chasers,” he had heard rumours of an unidentifiable glow, which they inaccurately called a proton arc, and which can last from 20 minutes to one hour.
“As it started to rain a little bit, out of the corner of my peripheral vision on the left, I had noticed there was a streak in the sky,” Bourassa recalls of the summer night. He rushed to change the settings on his camera and reposition it on his tripod on the gravel road. “I was thrilled and a lit bit panicked because I wanted to get good data.”
Bourassa had seen the Dreamworks movie, Over the Hedge, in which a group of animals one day discovers a man-made formation of shrubbery. Lacking a word for the hedge, a squirrel proposes they call it “Steve,” and thus his friends start worshipping “oh great and powerful Steve.” When Bourassa started talking about his sighting with other aurora enthusiasts on Facebook, he applied the name to what scientists later identified as a subauroral ion drift.
Bourassa tweeted about the light he’d seen, which was also captured by imaging equipment of the University of Calgary and the University of California, Berkeley, and later by other institutions including Athabasca University. Bourassa says he connected on Twitter with a heliophysicist, and soon, a scientist named Elizabeth MacDonald from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland, became the lead author on the paper published in March, along with 15 other authors based in Canada, the United States and Britain.
“Steve” stuck, as one American scientist realized the name could appropriately stand for: Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement (since the initials came before the words, they call it a “back-ronym”).
A traditional aurora borealis is a product of electrically-charged particles interacting with oxygen that get discharged as light,with green and red colours occurring depending on the pressure and violet caused by nitrogen. A STEVE is a similar process but travels on different magnetic field lines, closer to Earth.
The children of photographer Notanee Bourassa gaze at a STEVE, or “Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement” near Regina on the night of July 24, 2016. (Notanee Bourassa)
“It seems to be a channel of very hot air, very high up, that gets hot enough that it starts to glow,” explains Martin Connors, a physics professor at Athabasca University and an author of the recent journal article on STEVEs. “When you find a channel of gas as hot as the surface as the sun, and it’s 100 km above our heads, you kind of want to know why.”
An aurora borealis appears in broad bands of light sometimes called “curtains,” but a STEVE comes with skinny off-shoots. “It seems to have these green fingers associated with it,” says Connors. “To me those are very mysterious.”
Understanding this phenomenon could be still more important if future aircrafts fly at altitudes where STEVEs appear, Connors says. “If you’re suddenly in a channel of really hot gas, you’d want to be prepared for that.”
Climate change is highly unlikely to be a cause of STEVEs, Connors says. Rather, he suspects they are being seen every few weeks because technology is improving, enabling even iPhones to capture them—“less climate change than camera change,” he says.
Bourassa’s sightings reinforce the value of citizen science and also reinforce memories of his father, who he watched wither from a 230-pound man to a skeletal figure with a tube draining his lung. He died after two and a half years of severe illness when Bourassa was 15.
“I hadn’t really told him that I was watching the Northern Lights in the alleyway,” Bourassa admits. The Lights are miraculous, he says, for when a person is grieving, “it doesn’t make sense to a rational-thinking person, but it seems like they, for you, are dancing.”
China plans to develop a multipurpose, reusable space plane
China plans to develop a multipurpose, reusable space plane
by Staff Writers Beijing (XNA)
China is developing its homegrown reusable space plane, which observers said could be used to attack foreign aircraft, space stations and even intercept missiles if used for military purposes.
The reusable spacecraft can transport people or payloads in orbit from any airport and return to earth, CCTV reported.
Unlike rockets which have to be recycled, the space plane will revolutionize space transportation, Zhang Hongwen, president of the Third Academy of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) and a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told CCTV.
Although still at an early stage of research, the space plane will be capable of sending tourists to space, launching satellites and supplying the space station, providing emergency space rescue and offering cheap and timely space launching services, Zhang said.
China will launch a reusable spaceplane in 2020
"It could also be used as a military space plane equipped with detection and attack devices against foreign spacecraft, satellites and space stations," Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times.
Song said that the plane could also intercept ballistic missiles and conduct precision strikes on ground targets.
The CCTV report showed that the space plane is composed of two planes, with the larger aircraft acting as a carrier aircraft.
A military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times that the core technology of the larger aircraft is an air-breathing rocket engine using hydrogen fuel.
Such an engine could liquefy oxygen, and then fuel the aircraft with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen while flying in the atmosphere. The liquid fuel could accelerate the flight in space, with speeds potentially reaching 22 times the speed of sound, the expert said.
The larger aircraft, once used as a military aircraft, will be difficult to be intercepted by current anti-missile systems, he added.
The project, codenamed "Tengyun Project," was first revealed in 2016, and according to the plan, the plane will conduct its first test flight in 2030, said Liu Shiquan, vice president of CASIC, the Science and Technology Daily reported in December 2016.
China has made “significant progress” in building a spacecraft that can take off and land using an airstrip the way planes do, a development that one expert ...
In the CCTV report, Zhang also said that China is currently testing a near-space solar drone capable of providing a network and communications not subjected to regional restrictions, and assist in remote sensing images and meteorological observation.
"The solar drone is closer to the ground compared with satellites, which could better offer monitoring and communications services," Zhang was quoted as saying.
The solar drone will be put into use as early as the end of this year, CCTV reported.
In the Northern hemisphere’s sky, hovering above the Milky Way, there are two constellations—Cygnus the swan, her wings outstretched in full flight, and Lyra, the harp that accompanied poetry in ancient Greece, from which we take our word “lyric.”
Between these constellations sits an unusual star, invisible to the naked eye, but visible to the Kepler Space Telescope, which stared at it for more than four years, beginning in 2009.
“We’d never seen anything like this star,” says Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoc at Yale. “It was really weird. We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out.”
Kepler was looking for tiny dips in the light emitted by this star. Indeed, it was looking for these dips in more than 150,000 stars, simultaneously, because these dips are often shadows cast by transiting planets. Especially when they repeat, periodically, as you’d expect if they were caused by orbiting objects.
The Kepler Space Telescope collected a great deal of light from all of those stars it watched. So much light that Kepler’s science team couldn’t process it all with algorithms. They needed the human eye, and human cognition, which remains unsurpassed in certain sorts of pattern recognition. Kepler’s astronomers decided to found Planet Hunters, a program that asked “citizen scientists” to examine light patterns emitted by the stars, from the comfort of their own homes.
In 2011, several citizen scientists flagged one particular star as “interesting” and “bizarre.” The star was emitting a light pattern that looked stranger than any of the others Kepler was watching.
The light pattern suggests there is a big mess of matter circling the star, in tight formation. That would be expected if the star were young. When our solar system first formed, four and a half billion years ago, a messy disk of dust and debris surrounded the sun, before gravity organized it into planets, and rings of rock and ice.
But this unusual star isn’t young. If it were young, it would be surrounded by dust that would give off extra infrared light. There doesn’t seem to be an excess of infrared light around this star.
It appears to be mature.
And yet, there is this mess of objects circling it. A mess big enough to block a substantial number of photons that would have otherwise beamed into the tube of the Kepler Space Telescope. If blind nature deposited this mess around the star, it must have done so recently. Otherwise, it would be gone by now. Gravity would have consolidated it, or it would have been sucked into the star and swallowed, after a brief fiery splash.
Boyajian, the Yale Postdoc who oversees Planet Hunters, recently published a paper describing the star’s bizarre light pattern. Several of the citizen scientists are named as co-authors. The paper explores a number of scenarios that might explain the pattern—instrument defects; the shrapnel from an asteroid belt pileup; an impact of planetary scale, like the one that created our moon.
The paper finds each explanation wanting, save for one. If another star had passed through the unusual star’s system, it could have yanked a sea of comets inward. Provided there were enough of them, the comets could have made the dimming pattern.
But that would be an extraordinary coincidence, if that happened so recently, only a few millennia before humans developed the tech to loft a telescope into space. That’s a narrow band of time, cosmically speaking.
And yet, the explanation has to be rare or coincidental. After all, this light pattern doesn’t show up anywhere else, across 150,000 stars. We know that somethingstrange is going on out there.
When I spoke to Boyajian on the phone, she explained that her recent paper only reviews “natural” scenarios. “But,” she said, there were “other scenarios” she was considering.
Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University, is set to publish an alternative interpretation of the light pattern. SETI researchers have long suggested that we might be able to detect distant extraterrestrial civilizations, by looking for enormous technological artifacts orbiting other stars. Wright and his co-authors say the unusual star’s light pattern is consistent with a “swarm of megastructures,” perhaps stellar-light collectors, technology designed to catch energy from the star.
“When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Wright told me. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”
Boyajian is now working with Wright and Andrew Siemion, the Director of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. The three of them are writing up a proposal. They want to point a massive radio dish at the unusual star, to see if it emits radio waves at frequencies associated with technological activity.
If they see a sizable amount of radio waves, they’ll follow up with the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, which may be able to say whether the radio waves were emitted by a technological source, like those that waft out into the universe from Earth’s network of radio stations.
Assuming all goes well, the first observation would take place in January, with the follow-up coming next fall. If things go really well, the follow-up could happen sooner. “If we saw something exciting, we could ask the director for special allotted time on the VLA,” Wright told me. “And in that case, we’d be asking to go on right away.”
In the meantime, Boyajian, Siemion, Wright, the citizen scientists, and the rest of us, will have to content ourselves with longing looks at the sky, aimed between the swan and the lyre, where maybe, just maybe, someone is looking back, and seeing the sun dim ever so slightly, every 365 days.
NASA May Not Manage To Save Us From Massive Asteroid That Could Wipe Out Life On Earth
NASA May Not Manage To Save Us From Massive Asteroid That Could Wipe Out Life On Earth
There’s a chance that on Sept 21, 2135, a massive space rock impacts Earth.Researchers found that it might be impossible to stop a 500-meter wide asteroid from impacting our planet. It has been warned that even NASA’s most advanced technology could prove futile against such a threat. However, in order to deal with the problem, scientists have detailed a plan called HAMMER. In the proposal scientists from NASA and the National Nuclear Security Administration say a spacecraft could be used as an ‘impactor’ to deflect an object. However, experts warn that if there isn’t enough time, it would be better to nuke it.
According to a chilling scientific report, NASA won’t be able to stop a massive 500-meter wide asteroid that could impact Earth, bringing an end to civilization.
Researchers have discovered that it could be impossible to stop the massive comic rock, which is the size of the Empire State building, from impacting Earth in 2135, reports Daily Mail.
There’s a 1-in-2,700 chance that this will indeed happen, on Sept. 21, 2135, BuzzFeed News reported.
As noted by experts, even out most advanced technology would prove useless for deflecting a space rock of such size.
A scientific study performed in 2015 has shown that the highest impact probability for a planet is with Venus (26%), followed by the Earth (10%) and Mercury (3%). The odds of Bennu striking Mars are only 0.8% and there is a 0.2% chance that Bennu will eventually collide with Jupiter.
Scientists say that if such a rock would impact Earth, it would have terrible consequences for our planet, and the asteroid and its collision course have sparked fears it could wipe out civilization on Earth.
Scientists have calculated if an impact were to occur, the expected kinetic energy associated with the collision would be 1200 megatons in TNT equivalent
In order to avoid a civilization-ending scenario on Earth, experts are looking for ideas that could help them stop such a massive space rock from impacting our planet. So far, scientists are looking into the possibility of using a special spacecraft to ‘nuke’ asteroids such as Bennu, in hope that it could deflect the asteroid, altering its collision course.
HAMMER seems to be the best bet.
This 2013 plot by NASA JPL shows the orbits of potentially hazardous (more than 140 meters in diameter) near-Earth objects that pass within 4.7 million miles of Earth’s orbit. Earth’s orbit is represented by the darker black circle.
Scientists from NASA and the National Nuclear Security Administration have come up with a plan called HAMMER; Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response. Using a spacecraft that would act as an ‘imapctor’ NASA would slam an object into the oncoming space rock hoping to deflect it.
HAMMER is a nine-meter, 8.8-ton spacecraft that could be used to approach an asteroid and blow it up using a nuclear device, notes BuzzFeed.
Currently, the massive space rock is about 84 million kilometers from Earth and is moving slowly around the orbit of the sun, but since the orbits of the planets are not round, there is a point where it would pass relatively close to Earth.
NASA wants to take this opportunity to study the asteroid and possibly discover information about the origin of the universe, the formation of the planets and, if possible, determine where we come from.
Will the remains of an ancient Prometheus type civilization be buried there? Probably not, but we can still learn a lot about the universe.
Anyway. NASA has devised a plan around a potential impact with the 500-meter asteroid, which is currently the destination for NASA’s Osiris-Rex sample return mission.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured this image of the Earth and Moon system using its NavCam1 imager on January 17 from a distance of 39.5 million miles (63.6 million km). Earth is the largest, brightest spot in the center of the image, with the smaller, dimmer Moon appearing to the right.
Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin
Despite the fact that Earth isn’t in direct threat by Bannu, and it isn’t expected to impact Earth anytime soon, scientists say here’s a 1 in 2,700 chance it will slam into our planet sometime next century.
Luckily, Bennu happens to be the best-studied asteroids of all Near Earth Objects (NEOs).
‘The two realistic responses considered are the use of a spacecraft functioning as either a kinetic impactor or a nuclear explosive carrier to deflect the approaching NEO,’ the authors wrote in the study, published to the journal Acta Astronautica.
But there’s always a ‘but’.
“Whenever practical, the kinetic impactor is the preferred approach, but various factors, such as large uncertainties or short available response time, reduce the kinetic impactor’s suitability and, ultimately, eliminate its sufficiency,” the authors wrote.
As for HAMMER, mankind’s savior spacecraft does not yet exist, and at the moment it’s just a theory, but NASA knows it’s something they have to consider in the future, and hopefully, it will be ready before Bennu gets too close.
The Alien Planets of TRAPPIST-1 May Be Too Wet for Life
The Alien Planets of TRAPPIST-1 May Be Too Wet for Life
By Mike Wall, Space.com Senior Writer
The seven rocky planets circling the nearby star TRAPPIST-1 have lots of water, a new study suggests — perhaps too much to make them good bets for life.
All of the TRAPPIST-1 worlds likely harbor hundreds of Earth oceans' worth of water on their surfaces, and the wettest ones may have over 1,000 times more of the stuff than our planet does, according to the study.
"Too much water can be a bad thing," lead author Cayman Unterborn, a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, told Space.com. "The TRAPPIST-1s are interesting, but maybe not for life."
TRAPPIST-1 is a dim red dwarf star that lies about 39 light-years from Earth. Astronomers discovered three planets circling the star in 2016, and four more were announced a year later. Each of the seven worlds — which are known as TRAPPIST-1b, c, d, e, f, g and h — is about the same size as Earth. And three of the alien worlds (e, f and g) are thought to lie in TRAPPIST-1's "habitable zone" — that just-right range of distances where liquid water could likely exist on a planet's surface.
TRAPPIST-1 is about 2,000 times dimmer than the sun, so the red dwarf's habitable zone is very close-in. Indeed, all seven TRAPPIST-1 planets lie closer to their star than Mercury does to the sun.
All of the TRAPPIST-1 planets were discovered via the "transit method"; several different instruments noticed the tiny brightness dips that resulted when the worlds crossed their host star's face. The magnitude of these dips revealed the sizes of the worlds. And astronomers have been able to estimate the planets' masses, though not nearly as precisely, by studying how their transits have varied over time. (These variations occur as neighboring planets tug on one another gravitationally.)
With this mass and volume information in hand, Unterborn and his team used computer models to get a better idea of the composition of six of the TRAPPIST-1 worlds. (They didn't deal with TRAPPIST-1h, the outermost planet, because not enough is known about it.)
This modeling work suggested that there's a wetness gradient in the TRAPPIST-1 system. The innermost planets, b and c, are probably about 10 percent water by mass, whereas the wet stuff makes up at least 50 percent of the more distant f and g. The middle planets d and e fall somewhere in between.
All of these worlds are sopping wet, even at the low end of the gradient. For comparison, Earth is just 0.2 percent water by mass. Indeed, the TRAPPIST-1 planets are probably "water worlds," with no land to break the monotony of wind and wave, Unterborn said.
If that is indeed the case, the odds of finding life in the system may not be great.
"With no exposed land, key geochemical cycles including the drawdown of carbon and phosphorus into oceanic reservoirs from continental weathering will be muted, thus limiting the size of the biosphere," the researchers wrote in the new study, which was published online today (March 19) in the journal Nature Astronomy. "As such, although these planets may be habitable in the classical definition of the presence of surface water, any biosignature observed from this system may not be fully distinguishable from abiotic, purely geochemical sources."
And all that water might shut down some key geological processes that could help life get a foothold, Unterborn said. For example, rocks in Earth's mantle often become liquid after moving upward to a zone of lower pressure, where their melting point is lower. But such "decompression melting" may occur rarely, if at all, on the TRAPPIST-1 worlds, because the huge weight of the overlying global oceans jacks up mantle pressures so much.
Without molten rock near the surface, there can be no volcanoes (at least not the kind we're used to here on Earth). And without volcanoes, heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide, may have a hard time reaching the atmosphere — which means the TRAPPIST-1 planets may have been subjected to a "runaway snowball" effect, Unterborn said. [Gallery: The Strangest Alien Planets]
Planets orbiting red dwarfs face other habitability challenges, many researchers have stressed. For example, if these worlds orbit tightly enough to be in the habitable zone, they're almost certainly "tidally locked," meaning they always show the same face to their parent star. So, one side of such planets may be boiling hot while the other is frigid. This problem could be mitigated by the presence of a thick atmosphere, which would circulate heat. But red dwarfs fire off lots of powerful flares, which may quickly strip away the atmospheres of habitable-zone worlds.
Such issues are heavily debated and studied, which isn't surprising given the prevalence of red dwarfs: About 75 percent of the Milky Way's stars are red dwarfs, so they likely harbor most of the galaxy's real estate, habitable or otherwise.
The new study also sheds light on the formation and evolution of the TRAPPIST-1 system. For example, all seven planets currently lie inside the primordial "snow line" — the point beyond which it was cold enough for water to remain frozen when the worlds were taking shape. But the team's results suggest that planets f, g and h actually formed beyond this boundary and migrated inward over time. Planets b and c, on the other hand, coalesced inside the primordial snow line. (It's not clear where TRAPPIST-1d and e were born in relation to this line, which the researchers said was likely located somewhere between the newborn worlds c and f.)
Overall, the study indicates that red dwarf systems such as TRAPPIST-1 shouldn't be thought of as just miniature versions of our own solar system, Unterborn said; their planets may form in slightly different ways, and/or on slightly different timescales.
"Understanding it from a planetary formation and evolution perspective, I think, is — for the public especially — a much more powerful way of selling TRAPPIST-1 than life," he said. "No one likes being the wet blanket who says, 'Well, actually, they're not that great for life.' But they're really interesting, and we need to know these things in order to understand the planets that are likely to have life."
China Outlines Two-Phase Chang'e 4 Moon Lander Mission
China Outlines Two-Phase Chang'e 4 Moon Lander Mission
By Leonard David, Space.com's Space Insider Columnist
Later this year, the moon's far side will welcome its first robotic visitor — China's Chang'e 4 lander.
Zhao Xiaojin, a senior official at the China Aerospace Science and Technology (CAST), explained that the nation's two-phase Chang'e 4 missionis being readied for launch this year.
"In the first half of 2018, we will first launch a relay satellite to Lagrange L2 Point, where the satellite can keep communication with both the far side of the moon and the Earth," Zhao told China Central Television (CCTV) earlier this month. (The L2 Point is a gravitationally stable spot beyond the moon's far side.) [China's Moon Missions Explained (Infographic)]
"Therefore, we can control the lunar probe for data transmission using this relay satellite," Zhao added.
Launch of the Chang'e 4 lander is slated for the second half of 2018. After performing a soft touchdown on the lunar far side, the craft will "conduct in-situ and patrol exploration at the landing site," Zhao said.
Moon exploration program
China's Chang'e lunar exploration program takes its name from a Chinese moon goddess. The program's first phase consisted of the successful Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2 missions, which lifted off in 2007 and 2010, respectively.
Chang'e 3 marked the beginning of the second phase, which includes orbiting the moon, landing and returning lunar samples to Earth. In 2013, Chang'e 3 performed the nation's first-ever soft landing on the moon; the lander also deployed a rover known as Yutu ("Jade Rabbit").
Chang'e 4 was built as the backup to China's Chang'e 3 probe. But Zhao told CCTV that Chang'e 4's mission profile differs in key ways from that of Chang'e 3
"Chang'e 3 lunar probe used a slow and arc-shaped landing, while as for Chang'e 4 lunar probe, we have to adopt a steep and almost vertical landing," Zhao explained. "Chang'e 4 lunar probe will have huge improvements on its capabilities, because we have adopted new technologies and new products. For example, Chang'e 3 lunar probe could not work during the night, but Chang'e 4 lunar probe can do some measurement work at night."
Last year, Pei Zhaoyu, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center with the China National Space Administration (CNSA), told attendees at the 7th CSA-IAA Conference on Advanced Space Technology that China will implement three missions in the polar regions of the moon and set up scientific research stations there to offer a platform for future lunar probes.
"We will carry out three missions at the moon's polar regions to research the geological structure and mineral composition of its south pole, and we will take samples back from the moon during one of these missions," Pei told CCTV. "By building scientific research stations on the moon, we want to provide a platform for larger-scale and more rich lunar probe activities in the future."
China's blossoming robotic moon-exploration agenda suffered a setback last year, however: the July launch failure of the country's most powerful rocket, the Long March 5, on its second flight. That heavy-lifter is needed to launch China's planned lunar sample-return mission, Chinese officials have said.
Leonard David is author of "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet," published by National Geographic. The book is a companion to the National Geographic Channel series "Mars." A longtime writer for Space.com, David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. This version of the story published on Space.com.
TOO BIG, TOO SOON Supermassive black holes that are actively feeding on gas and dust, like the one shown in this artist’s rendition, have been spotted in the early universe — before they should have had time to grow.
The existence of supermassive black holes in the early universe has never made much sense to astronomers. Sightings since 2006 have shown that gargantuan monsters with masses of at least a billion suns were already in place when the universe was less than a billion years old – far too early for them to have formed by conventional means.
One or two of these old massive objects could be dismissed as freaks, says theoretical astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan of Yale University. But to date, astronomers have spotted more than 100 supermassive black holes that existed before the universe was 950 million years old. “They’re too numerous to be freaks now,” she says. “You have to have a natural explanation for how these things came to be.”
The usual hypotheses are that these black holes were either born unexpectedly big, or grew up fast. But recent finds are challenging even those theories and may force astronomers to rethink how these black holes grow.
That gas often organizes itself into a disk that spirals into the black hole, with friction heating the disk to white-hot temperatures that create a brilliant glow visible across billions of light-years. These black holes feeding on gas are called quasars. The faster a quasar eats, the brighter its disk glows.
But the glow from that gas also limits the black hole’s growth: The bright disk’s photons push away fresh material. That sets a physical limit on how fast black holes of a given mass can grow. Astronomers express how fast a black hole is eating with a term called the Eddington ratio, measuring the black hole’s actual brightness in relation to the brightness it would have if it were eating as fast as it possibly could.
Astronomers have measured Eddington ratios for only about 20 supermassive black holes in the early universe. Most seem to be eating at the limit, in contrast to quasars in the present-day universe that feed at about a tenth that speed. Those furious feeding rates still seem to defy the black holes’ supermassive size: A 100-solar-mass black hole accreting at the limit should take about 800 million years to reach a billion solar masses, even taking into account that it would eat faster as it grew. And that 800 million years doesn’t include the time it took the initial black hole seed to form.
But physicist Myungshin Im of Seoul National University in South Korea and colleagues worried that previous observations were missing pickier eaters because fast eaters are brighter and easier to spot. If some early massive black holes were lazy eaters, their super sizes become even more puzzling — and may rule out some theories for how they grew.
So the team deliberately sought out dimmer distant quasars in a September 2015 observing run at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.
The researchers found IMS J2204+0112, a billion-solar-mass black hole eating at a tenth of its speed limit and hailing from when the universe was about 940 million years old. But at its feeding rate, the black hole shouldn’t have fully matured until the universe was 8 billion years old, the team reported on arXiv.org February 9.
“We show for the first time that quasars with low Eddington ratio exist in the early universe,” Im says.
IMS J2204+0112 is the dimmest slow-eating quasar spotted yet, but it’s not alone. Physicist Chiara Mazzucchelli of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany and colleagues reported 11 fussy supermassive black holes that existed when the universe was less than 800 million years old, in the Astrophysical Journal last November.
On average, those quasars weigh in at around 1.62 billion solar masses but eat at about 40 percent of the speed limit, the team reported. Strangely, the largest black hole in that group, HSC J1205-0000, had the lowest feeding rate: The black hole is 4.7 billion solar masses yet eats at only 6 percent of its limit.
It was strange enough to find supermassive black holes with gluttonous appetites in the early universe, but these picky eaters are even harder to explain.
Astronomers hope peering farther back in time will help find the “seed” black holes that may grow into behemoths. If some black holes started out huge, from 10,000 to a million solar masses, they could grow even larger either by merging with each other or accreting at the Eddington limit.
“If you start with such a very massive seed, you have a jump-start,” says astrophysicist Avi Loeb of Harvard University. “Then you don’t need as much time to grow to a billion solar masses.”
But theorists have been trying for 15 years to figure out how such huge black holes could form in the first place. One idea is that massive gas clouds or supermassive stars collapsed directly into a massive black hole.
More recent work suggests it wouldn’t be that simple. Theoretical studies show it’s hard to prevent those gas clouds from fragmenting to form a cluster of small stars, rather than collapsing into one large star, says physicist Dominik Schleicher of the University of Concepción in Chile.
In the May 2018 Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Schleicher and colleagues show that such clusters also could create massive black hole seeds, as newly formed stars accrete gas left over in the cluster. Such stars could swell to 100 to 1,000 times the radius of the sun. Their inflated sizes and close proximity to one another would make these stars collide, triggering a domino effect that eventually collects all the stars in the cluster into a single supermassive star 10,000 times the mass of the sun. That supermassive star could then collapse to form a relatively massive seed black hole.
The other possibility is that early supermassive black holes simply broke the Eddington limit. They may have gone through periods of eating more quickly than was thought possible and grew to near-supermassive proportions before calming down.
Loeb points out that there are situations in the present-day universe where black holes eat faster than the Eddington limit, such as when they rip apart and devour a star(SN: 4/1/17, p. 5). There are also situations where radiation can be trapped near the surface of the black hole, preventing it from pushing material away. “In that case you can feed the black hole as fast as you want,” Loeb says.
Or, Natarajan and colleagues suggest, the answer could be both: Black holes that are born big get bigger faster. “Evidence is mounting slowly that we need to consider more than one way,” Natarajan says.
Simulations show that a small black hole seed will never grow fast enough to become supermassive before the universe is a billion years old. But a black hole that was born large will grow faster and faster.
F. PACUCCI ET AL/ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL LETTERS 2017
Still, only black holes born with masses at least 10,000 times that of the sun can grow to a billion solar masses within a billion years. But the most massive seeds are more likely to be born in a gas-rich environment.
“The environment around and the birth conditions for these black holes actually puts them on a track either for rapid growth spurts, or for rather slow growth,” Natarajan says. “The massive black hole seeds are the ones that won the birth lottery and got the best start in life.”
Twee weken voor zijn dood schreef Hawking nog paper waarin hij onthulde hoe onze Aarde zou ophouden te bestaan
Twee weken voor zijn dood schreef Hawking nog paper waarin hij onthulde hoe onze Aarde zou ophouden te bestaan
Zijn dood beroerde de hele wereld: Stephen Hawking stierf begin deze week. Amper twee weken voor zijn dood diende de wetenschapper nog een laatste baanbrekende onderzoekspaper in, waarin hij uitlegt hoe we bewijzen van een ‘multiversum’ kunnen vinden en waarin hij het einde van ons bestaan voorspelt.
De ‘multiversum’-theorie gaat ervan uit dat er naast ons universum nog andere universums zijn. Ons universum is slechts een van de vele anderen, veroorzaakt door de oerknal. En zo’n ander universum kunnen we detecteren en meten via een detector op een ruimteschip. Dat staat te lezen in de allerlaatste paper van wereldberoemd fysicus Stephen Hawking, die begin deze week stierf. Hij schreef de paper vanop zijn sterfbed, samen met Belgisch natuurkundige Thomas Hertog.
In de paper staat hoe de mensheid zo’n andere universums zouden kunnen vinden. De wiskundige berekeningen die nodig zijn om dat te kunnen bereiken, staan allemaal in die laatste, baanbrekende paper.
De kwestie van ‘multiversum’ hield Hawking al lang bezig. Ook al in 1983 schreef Hawking, samen met James Hartle, een onderzoekspaper waarin hij uitlegt hoe het universum is ontstaan, maar ook dat de oerknal oneindig veel andere oerknallen creëerde, die elk hun eigen universum hebben doen ontstaan.
De paper van Hawking suggereert ook dat het bestaan op Aarde uiteindelijk zal vervagen in de duisternis wanneer de energie van de sterren op is. Dat wordt in de kosmologie als een controversieel idee beschouwd, want het betekent meteen het einde van ons bestaan op Aarde, maar veel wetenschappers zien hierin ook een mogelijke doorbraak in de kosmologie.
A new photo shows a swirling maelstrom on Jupiter through rose-colored glasses.
NASA's Juno spacecraft snapped the original picture on Feb. 7, during its 11th close flyby of the gas giant. At the time, Juno was 7,578 miles (12,195 kilometers) above Jupiter's cloud tops, at a latitude of 49.2 degrees north, NASA officials said.
"Citizen scientist Matt Brealey processed the image using data from the JunoCam imager," NASA officials wrote in a photo description Friday (March 16). "Citizen scientist Gustavo B C then adjusted colors and embossed Matt Brealey's processing of this storm."
NASA and the Juno mission team encourage such image-processing efforts. To learn more or try your own hand, go to theJunoCam site.
The $1.1 billion Juno mission launched in August 2011 and arrived at Jupiter in July 2016. Juno loops around the solar system's largest planet in a highly elliptical orbit, zooming close once every 53 Earth days. It's during these close approaches — such as the Feb. 7 encounter — that the probe collects most of its science data.
That information consists largely of measurements of Jupiter's gravitational and magnetic fields, as well as details about the planet's structure and composition. Juno's observations should help scientists better understand how Jupiter — and, by extension, the solar system — formed and evolved, mission team members have said.
On Wednesday, Stephen Hawking’s family announced the legendary physicisthad died at age 76. It’s an enormous loss for space enthusiasts of all ages, but physicists tell Inverse there’s an additional layer of sadness for them.
Inverse asked physicists across the world to explain Hawking’s greatest scientific achievement, and it’s clear the Brief History of Time author challenged the community to think differently about the universe while touching millions of lives along the way.
Leo Stein, Postdoctoral Researcher at Caltech
“His greatest accomplishment was his discovery that black holes radiate. This has led to now more than four decades of head-scratching — more than four decades later, we still don’t understand how to cope with this fact,” Stein tells Inverse. “But it highlights one of the crucial thought experiments for constructing a consistent theory of quantum gravity — how do you keep black holes from destroying information as they evaporate and disappear? Hawking’s calculation led to thousands of publications trying to make sense of the puzzle.”
“Socially: His popular writing excited generations of science enthusiasts. I bet if you did a survey of scientists my age, a good chunk of them would’ve read A Brief History of Time or one of his other popular books when they were kids.”
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Astrophysicist
“Hawking’s belief that spending time sharing science with the public was a good is the reason I am a physicist,” tells Inverse. “My entire career he has been an example, especially when I became physically disabled and was for some time bedridden and realizing I would likely be in chronic pain for life.”
Seán Bartz, Visiting Assistant Professor at Macalester College
“Hawking’s greatest scientific contributions were in advancing our understanding of black holes,” tells Inverse. “He was instrumental in taking black holes from a nebulous idea to objects that could be studied with precision. Black hole thermodynamics is something that I use in my research as a means of studying nuclear physics. Hawking radiation tells us about the fate of black holes and possibly our entire universe.”
Robert McNees, Physicist
“It is difficult to single out one result, or even a group of closely related results, and call it ‘Stephen Hawking’s greatest scientific achievement.’ There were so many profound accomplishments across general relativity, quantum field theory, and cosmology that picking just one feels like an act of neglect. But if I had to choose one area, it would be his work transitioning from the classical laws of black hole mechanics to the quantum mechanical picture of black holes as fully thermodynamical objects. In 1973, Hawking, Bardeen, and Carter developed an elegant set of four laws governing the “mechanics” of all black holes — basic rules that explained how quantities like the mass, area of the event horizon, or surface gravity of a black hole change throughout very general physical processes. The rules bore a striking resemblance to the familiar laws of thermodynamics.
But if you’d asked me for his greatest achievement, and hadn’t specified ‘scientific,’ I think 13-year-old me would probably push adult me out of the way and say, ‘He makes me want to understand the universe.’”
Sabine Hossenfelder, Physicist
“I think his greatest achievement was to inspire huge numbers of people to think about space, time, and the origin of the universe — knowledge that before him was stuck in obscure corners of academia,” tells Inverse.
“He worked on many vital things in his career, but Stephen Hawking’s most significant and alarming scientific achievement is definitely the calculation that black holes can radiate and thus shrink and die,” he tells Inverse. “It’s a wonderful example of how, by simply and elegantly following through with the set of equations governing theories of nature — in this case quantum mechanics and general relativity — one arrives at a totally bizarre but mathematically sound conclusion. In the case of Hawking-Bekenstein radiation this concept is taken to its extreme, because the math part is pretty mundane and almost trivial, and the conclusion is bonkers. Just by doing a certain type of coordinate transformation near a black hole — that is, just by choosing a different set of coordinates to describe the physics going on, of which there are always many choices in physics, but they should all, at the end of the day, describe the same physics — you end up with the conclusion that particles are being emitted from the event horizon of the black hole! But nothing is supposed to be able to escape from a black hole!
This is a very odd but inescapable, inevitable conclusion of the math, and we love that in physics.”
Photo Credit: L Jaramillo and O Macias, Virginia Tech
The Week's Top Space Stories
People around the world remember the life of Stephen Hawking, the Great Red Spot on Jupiter is shrinking and turning orange and NASA's twin study with Scott and Mark Kelly confirm some fascinating findings. These are just some of this week's top stories on Space.com..
Photo Credit: The World in HDR/Shutterstock
1. Stephen Hawking, brilliant theoretical physicist, has died
Stephen Hawking, the iconic theoretical physicist, cosmologist and science communicator, died early Wednesday morning (Mar. 14) at the age of 76. Hawking was diagnosed with the degenerative nerve disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) as a 21 year old student at the University of Cambridge. Hawking persevered, and went on to make incredible contributions to modern understandings of physics and astronomy.
On Monday (Mar. 12) NASA Acting Chief Robert Lightfoot revealed he would retire from the agency at the end of April. The Senate has not taken measures to confirm the current nominee for the administrator position, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), and it is largely believed by the space industry that it's because he lacks to votes to win the nomination. Bridenstine has been criticized for his lack of a science background, in addition to comments he's made denying climate change and towards the LGBTQ community.
Plans to build an outpost near the moon for astronauts to live, learn and work on the lunar surface are underway. NASA is moving forward with its Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway project, whose first component might launch into space as early as 2022. The complex would include airlock capabilities, and would be significantly smaller than the International Space Station.
Photo Credit: A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center)/NASA/ESA
4. Orange is the new color of Jupiter's Great Red Spot
A new study reveals that the iconic Great Red Spot in Jupiter's atmosphere is growing taller as it shrinks. The storm system may also be funneling up particles that make it red, and scientists theorize that the spot is turning orange as a result of this upward movement, when this material gets hit by the sun's ultraviolet radiation and changes into the brighter color.
5. Twin study on space station has results confirmed
Scott Kelly's milestone flight aboard the International Space Station lasted 340 days, and the long-term investigation into human health changes under microgravity conditions recently confirmed findings from 2017. The mission compared space-faring Scott Kelly's health and gene expression with that of his twin brother Mark. The ends of chromosomes typically grow shorter as humans age, but Scott's were confirmed to have extended slightly longer. The NASA Twin Study also revealed long-term changes to Scott's gene expression and a decrease in his cognitive speed upon returning to Earth.
Photo Credit: L Jaramillo and O Macias, Virginia Tech
6. Faraway signal is not coming from dark matter
Ancient stars are actually the source of a mysterious cosmic signal radiating from the center of the Milky Way galaxy, not dark matter. According to a new study, the gamma-rays that make up the signal are emanating from a multitude of rapidly spinning neutron stars that are thought to be 10 billion years old, and were interpreted as dark matter because the thousands of signal sources are so far away, the signals seem to come from one spot.
7. Short up-and-down flights may be first BFR tests
At the South By Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced that the spaceflight company's new project, the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), could begin testing its components as early as next year. On March 11, Musk spoke in an on-stage interview, sharing that the upper-stage "spaceship" of the rocket is currently being built. The tests would include short up-and-down flights that may happen in the first half of 2019.
8. Lunar birth story supports watery moon findings
Some evidence suggests that water may exist on the moon, and scientists decided to model the creation of the moon and the Earth to see if hydrogen, a component of water, could have survived the temperatures created by the origin event. The team found that the impact theory of lunar creation, in which a massive rock hit proto-Earth and caused material to jet out and eventually collect again as the moon, does support recent findings of higher water content in lunar samples.
Photo Credit: Township of Hamilton Police Department
9. Fireball shoots across Washington
A minivan-sized object zoomed into Earth's atmosphere on Mar. 7, and, after lighting the night sky over the Pacific Northwest, the fireball broke up and crashed into the Pacific Ocean, according to a NASA official. Seismographs and satellites detected this meteor from the Canadian province of Manitoba as well.
10. Researchers model how to blast a dangerous asteroid
A Russian team of researchers found that to successfully obliterate a 650-foot-wide (200 meters) asteroid bound for a collision with Earth, a missile would need the power of a 3-megaton nuclear bomb. They modeled this doomsday scenario with tiny asteroid replicas and laser blasts in order to mimic what a nuclear warhead might do. By detonating inside a crater or a cavity on the asteroid, the destructive power would increase, according to the researchers.
Kunstmatige intelligentie ontdekt duizenden nieuwe kraters op de maan
Kunstmatige intelligentie ontdekt duizenden nieuwe kraters op de maan
Opnieuw moeten we onze meerdere erkennen in een computer.
De maan herbergt ontzettend veel kraters en we hebben ze dan ook lang nog niet allemaal ontdekt. Dat is ook niet zo gek; het ontdekken van kraters op de maan gaat er nog vrij ouderwets aan toe. “In feite moeten we naar een afbeelding kijken, de kraters lokaliseren en tellen en vervolgens aan de hand van de omvang van de foto berekenen hoe groot ze zijn,” vertelt onderzoeker Mohamad Ali-Dib.
Algoritme Natuurlijk hebben onderzoekers weleens geprobeerd om dat proces te automatiseren, bijvoorbeeld door algoritmes te ontwikkelen die kraters op de maan konden identificeren en tellen. Maar wanneer ze die algoritmes dan loslieten op nog niet eerder bestudeerde delen van het maanoppervlak, presteerden deze slecht. En dus bleef het ontdekken van kraters mensenwerk. Maar onderzoekers van de universiteit van Toronto brengen daar nu verandering in. “Voor het eerst hebben we een algoritme dat heel goed in staat is om kraters te detecteren, niet alleen op de maan, maar ook op Mercurius,” aldus Ali-Dib.
6000 kraters Het algoritme legt de grondslag voor een neuraal netwerk dan aan de hand van hoogtekaarten van de maan kraters kan identificeren. De onderzoekers ‘trainden’ het neutrale netwerk met behulp van een dataset met daarin gegevens van ongeveer tweederde van het maanoppervlak. Vervolgens was het tijd voor het echte werk en confronteerden de onderzoekers het algoritme met een dataset met daarin gegevens van het resterende derde deel van het maanoppervlak. Het algoritme bleek zo goed te presteren dat het bijna twee keer zoveel kraters identificeerde als mensen hadden ontdekt. In totaal stuitte de KI op zo’n 6000 nog niet eerder geïdentificeerde kraters op de maan.
Hulp van machines “Er zijn tienduizenden nog niet geïdentificeerde kleine kraters op de maan en het is niet realistisch dat wij mensen die allemaal kunnen vinden,” stelt onderzoeker Ari Silburt. “Machines kunnen ons daarbij helpen en nog niet ontdekte aanwijzingen over de totstandkoming van ons zonnestelsel onthullen.” Omdat de maan geen atmosfeer, platentektoniek en nauwelijks water herbergt, is er nauwelijks sprake van erosie en dat betekent dat kraters amper door de tand des tijds worden aangetast en er op het oppervlak van de maan tot wel 4 miljard jaar oude kraters zichtbaar zijn. Deze kunnen meer vertellen over wat zich allemaal in het jonge zonnestelsel heeft afgespeeld.
De onderzoekers hopen hun algoritme de komende tijd nog verder te verbeteren. Het kan leiden tot de ontdekking van nog meer kraters op de maan. Tevens kan het wellicht losgelaten worden op afbeeldingen van andere hemellichamen, zoals Ceres, Mars en ijzige manen van Jupiter en Saturnus.
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