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 Post subject: Re: Space Is Deep
PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:17 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Space Is Deep
PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2020 11:31 am 
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in local space news

Weather forecast fine to see first supermoon of the decade
on Sunday night

Denise Piper·16:44
February 8th, 2020


The weather forecast is looking good for most Kiwis to see the first supermoon of the decade on Sunday evening.

Also known as a Super Snow Moon for the US winter, the supermoon will appear more than
10% brighter than a usual full moon.

Met Service meteorologist Andrew James said the weather should be fine and clear for the phenomenon, with a ridge of high pressure across the country.

Image
GRANT SHEEHAN/THE NIGHT WATCHERS
February 2019's supermoon silhouettes the Castlepoint lighthouse.

"There will be a bit of cloud around in the morning but fine conditions for almost all of New Zealand by evening," James said.

"There will be some clouds around the far south and near East Cape but it is mostly clear skies so most Kiwis will be able to look."

Image
Josh Kirkley
Stardome educator Josh Kirkley captured a supermoon rising over thhti Auckland on December 3rd, 2017.

The moon will rise in the east-northeast around 9:00pm and will look biggest and brightest when sitting just off the horizon.

WHAT IS A SUPERMOON?

Although it is not an official astronomical term, a supermoon is when a full moon aligns with the moon being at perigee, or closest to the earth.

Other supermoons will occur in 2020 on March 10th, April 8th (the biggest moon this year) and May 7th.

Image
ANTHONY PETERS
February 2019's supermoon is captured rising behind thhti Auckland's Sky Tower.

There will also be a penumbral eclipse of the moon - when the earth partially blocks the sun's light from the moon - on June 6th.

Send us your supermoon pictures at newstips@stuff.co.nz

The February full moon is also known as the Storm Moon, Hunger Moon, Magha Purnima, Magha Puja, the Mahamuni Pagoda Festival Moon, the Chinese Lantern Festival Moon and the Full Moon of Tu B'Shevat, according to NASA.

Image
ALEX CAIRNS
February 2019's supermoon had an array of colours as it set over thhti Auckland's Bean Rock lighthouse.

WHAT TIME WILL THE SUPERMOON RISE?

The moon will rise between 8:37pm and 9:28pm on Sunday, depending on where in New Zealand you live, although viewers will need to set aside 30 minutes to see the moon rise, according to Forbes Science.

Key times are:
• 8:37pm: Moon rises in Kerikeri, thhti Auckland and Hamilton
• 8:47pm: Moon rises in Wellington
• 8:53pm: Moon rises in Nelson
• 9:02pm: Moon rises in Christchurch
• 9:28pm: Moon rises in Invercargill.

Image
NASA/Bill Ingalls via Getty Images
A supermoon is captured rising over Washington DC on December 3rd, 2017.

WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO SEE THE SUPERMOON?

Apart from the far south of New Zealand and around East Cape, all places across the country are expected to have fine weather.

However, you want a clear view of the northeastern horizon to get the best view.

In thhti Auckland, volcanic peaks Maungawhau/Mt Eden, Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill and
Mt Victoria will offer good viewing platforms, while the Dark Sky Sanctuary on Aotea/Great Barrier Island also offers spectacular night sky viewing.

In Wellington, the Pariwhero/Red Rocks beach offers a clear view of the sky.

In the South Island, south of Amberley and north of Christchurch, Leithfield beach offers panoramic views of the sky.

In the South Island, Leithfield beach and Oamaru's Cape Wanbrow offer unobstructed sky viewing.


Stuff

https://www.stuff.co.nz/science/1193682 ... nday-night

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 Post subject: Re: Space Is Deep
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 5:39 am 
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Powerful Radio Signal From Deep Space Appears to Be Repeating in a 16-Day Cycle
MICHELLE STARR
10 FEB 2020

https://www.sciencealert.com/periodicity-has-been-detected-in-a-repeating-fast-radio-burst

One of the defining characteristics of the mysterious deep-space signals we call fast radio bursts is that they are unpredictable. They belch out across the cosmos without rhyme or reason, with no discernible pattern, making them incredibly hard to study.

Now, for the first time, astronomers have found a fast radio burst (FRB) that repeats on a regular cycle.

Every 16.35 days, the signal named FRB 180916.J0158+65 follows a similar pattern. For four days, it will spit out a burst or two every hour. Then it falls silent for 12 days. Then the whole thing repeats.

Astronomers with the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) Collaboration in Canada observed this cycle for a total of 409 days. We don't yet know what it means; but it could be another piece in the complicated conundrum of FRBs. The research has been uploaded to pre-print server arXiv, where it awaits scrutiny from other experts in the field.

It's easy to become somewhat obsessed with fast radio bursts, a fascinating space mystery that has so far defied any attempts at a comprehensive explanation.

To recap, FRBs are hugely energetic flares of radiation in the radio spectrum that last just a few milliseconds at most. In that timeframe, they can discharge as much power as hundreds of millions of Suns.

Most of them spark once, and we have never detected them again. This makes it rather difficult to track these bursts down to a source galaxy. Some FRBs spit out repeating radio flares, but wildly unpredictably. These are easier to track to a galaxy, but so far, that hasn't brought us a great deal closer to an explanation.

Last year, the CHIME collaboration announced they had detected a whopping eight new repeating fast radio bursts, bringing the then-total of repeaters to 10 out of over 150 FRB sources. (Another paper recently brought that total up to 11.)

FRB 180916.J0158+65 was among the eight repeaters included in last year's haul; apart from its repeat bursts, initially it didn't appear to be anything special. But as the CHIME experiment continued to stare at the sky, a pattern emerged.

This is exciting, because it offers new information that can be used to try and model what could be causing FRB 180916.J0158+65.

"The discovery of a 16.35-day periodicity in a repeating FRB source is an important clue to the nature of this object," the researchers wrote in their paper.

Other objects that demonstrate periodicity tend to be binary systems - stars and black holes. The 16.35-day period could be the orbital period, with the FRB object only facing Earth during a certain part of the orbit.

FRB 180916.J0158+65 is one of the handful of FRBs that have been traced back to a galaxy. It's on the outskirts of a spiral galaxy 500 million light-years away, in a star-forming region. This means a supermassive black hole is unlikely, but a stellar-mass black hole is possible.

"The single constraint on the orbital period still allows several orders of magnitude range in companion mass amongst known stellar-mass compact object binaries: from so-called 'black widow' binary systems, consisting of a low-mass star and a powerful millisecond pulsar whose wind ablates the companion (albeit typically with few-hour orbital periods), to massive O/B stars with highly eccentric companion pulsar orbits," the researchers wrote.

Alternatively, winds from the companion object, or tidal disruptions from a black hole, may periodically somehow block the FRB radiation.

It also can't be ruled out that the FRB source is a single, lone object such as a magnetar or X-ray pulsar, although the researchers note this explanation is a little harder to reconcile with the data. That's because those objects have a wobbling rotation that produces periodicity, and none are known to wobble that slowly.

And radio pulsars that do have periodic intervals of several days are orders of magnitude fainter than FRBs. So it's still a mystery.

But remember that 11th repeater we mentioned earlier? It was found coming from an FRB astronomers had thought was a one-off; its repeats were simply too faint for the equipment that had initially been used to look for them.

This suggests that many more FRBs could be repeating, but outside our detection range. And the fact that FRB 180916.J0158+65 seemed more or less the same as other FRBs could mean that other repeating FRBs are also on a cycle - we just haven't detected those cycles yet.

So, the next step would be, of course, to continue staring at FRB 180916.J0158+65 for a bit. But it also would be pretty interesting to try and see if periodicity can be detected in other bursts as well.

"Future observations, both intensity and polarimetric, and at all wavebands, could distinguish among models and are strongly encouraged," the researchers wrote, "as are searches for periodicities in other repeaters, to see if the phenomenon is generic."

The research is available on arXiv ahead of peer review:
https://arxiv.org/abs/2001.10275


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 Post subject: Re: Space Is Deep
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:29 pm 
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Nasa's New Horizons images of Arrokoth show building blocks for planets
Joel Achenbach·13:10, February 14th, 2020

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Nasa/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/
It’s red and it’s cold. Nasa data from Arrokoth reveals ‘profound truths’ about the solar system.

Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft zoomed past a city-sized object just over a year ago. The most distant object ever explored, since named Arrokoth, was a "planetesimal" lurking quietly in the outer solar system a billion miles past Pluto. The spacecraft beamed back images of what looked like two lumpy, reddish snowballs, one larger than the other, gently pressed together to form an extraterrestrial snowperson.

On Thursday the New Horizons scientists published their full analysis and high-resolution images of Arrokoth in three voluminous reports in the journal Science. They contend this quirky object provides compelling evidence for how planets in our solar system, including Earth, formed four and a half billion years ago from a primordial cloud of dust. The reports suggest planet formation is not as violent and chaotic a process as once assumed.

Arrokoth is a fossil. It has not changed for billions of years. It has been immaculately preserved, like an insect trapped in amber, in a cold, dim, stupendously serene realm of the solar system where nothing much happens, ever.

"This is the best archaeological dig we've ever found into the history of the solar system," enthused Alan Stern, the scientific leader of the New Horizons team.

"We have a lot of thoughts about how the solar system formed, but we really need a lot more actual data and direct evidence in order to see which of those models are correct. We just could not have gotten this information any other way," said Kelsi Singer, deputy project scientist for the mission.

The striking feature of Arrokoth is the two lobes. Originally they were separate, but mutually attracted by gravity. They slowly spiralled together and gently merged like two spaceships docking in low Earth orbit. They became a "contact binary."

"Sometimes we call it the head and the body," said Singer, noting the snowperson-like shape of the object. "And it's got a neck," she added.

Image
Nasa/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/
Beyond Pluto, an immaculate 4.5 billion-year-old fossil suggests gentler origins for solar system objects.

The New Horizon team ran computer simulations that suggest the "collision" of the so-called head and body occurred at a brisk walking pace. There are no signs of compression fractures, no snowball-smushing.

That suggests the two lobes formed close to one another in individual clouds of dust and gas that coalesced due to gravity. The new papers suggest this "local" cloud collapse was the norm in the embryonic solar system. The result of the process was the creation of Arrokoth-like objects that served as fundamental building blocks for larger planetesimals, dwarf planets, full-blown planets like Earth and eventually giant planets - with a couple of them, Jupiter and Saturn, so big they became gas giants.

This model for planet formation rejects an older theory of "hierarchical accretion" in which there is no gentle building-block stage but rather a wild and woolly process in which particles, pebbles and boulders of all sizes gradually come together amid many violent collisions to form a planet.

"To build planets, you don't just start with small grains and gradually they build up to larger and larger objects progressively, but instead you have local gravitational collapse of clusters of material in the solar nebula, that come together to form medium-size objects," said John Spencer, an astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and lead author of one of the new papers.

One scientist outside of the New Horizons team, Anders Johanson of Lund University in Sweden, applauded the Arrokoth findings, having spent many years developing the local cloud collapse model for planet formation.

"There was a previous picture that planetesimals formed 'bottom-up' as larger and larger chunks of rock would collide to form increasingly massive bodies. But this picture does not agree with Arrokoth, since that body has very few craters and since the collision of the two components must have been very slow," he said Thursday. "This then also implies that the Solar System planets formed by gentle pebble accretion and not by violent collisions."

Arrokoth is one of billions of small bodies orbiting the sun at a distance of several billion kilometres, out beyond the orbit of Neptune, in a chilly region known as the Kuiper belt. To be more precise, Arrokoth is part of the "Cold Classical" Kuiper belt, which is distinguished by how remarkably well-preserved everything is.

The objects do not get disturbed gravitationally by nearby planets. They never make a dash toward the sun and turn into a comet, as do many Kuiper belt objects with orbits that wander outside the Cold Classical region. They do nothing, for eons, bathed in a dim light of the distant sun, a bright point of light with just enough candlepower to read a book if such a thing could be located.

Only two interesting things appear to have happened to Arrokoth in four and a half billion years. The first was the merger of the larger lobe with the smaller lobe. The second was the visit by a spaceship from Earth.

Arrokoth happened to be roughly in the path of New Horizons after it made its historic flyby of Pluto in 2015. It was spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope in a search for something New Horizons could visit as it exited the more familiar realms of the solar system. The spacecraft burned some fuel to adjust its trajectory, and on January 1, 2019, passed by the planetesimal at a distance of 3537 kilometres.

During the flyby the spacecraft had to be oriented precisely, via remote-control instructions sent far in advance, lest the cameras miss the shot. They did not miss.

"It's kind of amazing that we can target this tiny thing, 43 times farther from the sun than Earth is, and actually go there and see what it's like," Singer said. "Pluto was obviously hard to top, but this was pretty darn cool too."

Arrokoth was briefly dubbed "Ultima Thule" before the New Horizons team learned the term was used by white supremacists to refer to a mythological Ayran homeland. Instead, with the endorsement of Powhatan elders, scientists gave it a name meaning "sky" in the Powhatan/Algonquian language.

The trio of papers published Thursday represent a massive download of data from the distant spacecraft, combined with computer modeling in the months since the flyby.

New Horizons is not dead yet. The spacecraft is continuing on its journey into what is clearly not quite a void.

Later this year, Stern said, telescopes on Earth will examine that part of the sky to see if there is another target for observation somewhere in the path of the spacecraft. The spacecraft has enough power to operate for another 15 to 20 years, he said.

The Washington Post

https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/119524931 ... or-planets

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 Post subject: Re: Space Is Deep
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:05 pm 
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The Moon Will Make Mars Disappear Next Week
Ellen Gutoskey
2 days ago

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© Pitris/iStock via Getty Images
On Tuesday, February 18, the moon will float right in front of Mars, completely obscuring it from view.

The moon covers Mars relatively often—according to Sky & Telescope, it will happen five times this year alone—but we don’t always get to see it from Earth. Next week, however, residents of North America can look up to see what’s called a lunar occultation in action. The moon's orbit will bring it between Earth and Mars, allowing the moon to "swallow" the Red Planet over the course of 14 seconds. Mars will stay hidden for just under 90 minutes, and then reemerge from behind the moon.

Depending on where you live, you might have to set your alarm quite a bit earlier than you usually do in order to catch the show. In general, people in eastern parts of the country will see Mars disappear a little later; in Phoenix, for example, it’ll happen at 4:37:27 a.m., Chicagoans can watch it at 6:07:10 a.m., and New Yorkers might even already be awake when the moon swallows Mars at 7:36:37 a.m.

If you can’t help but hit the snooze button, you can skip the disappearing act (also called immersion) and wait for Mars to reappear on the other side of the moon (called emersion). Emersion times vary based on location, too, but they’re around an hour and a half later than immersion times on average. You can check the specific times for hundreds of cities across the country here [PDF].

Since it takes only 14 seconds for Mars to fully vanish (or reemerge), punctuality is a necessity—and so is optical aid. Mars won’t be bright enough for you to see it with your naked eye, so Sky & Telescope recommends looking skyward through binoculars or a telescope.

Thinking of holding an early-morning viewing party on Tuesday? Here are 10 riveting facts about Mars that you can use to impress your guests.


h/t Sky & Telescope

http://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/techandsc ... ocid=ientp

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 Post subject: Re: Space Is Deep
PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 3:04 pm 
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Astronomers Detect a Doomed 'Hot Jupiter' With an Insane 18-Hour-Short Orbit
Michelle Starr
1 hour ago


Image
© NASA, ESA and G. Bacon Artist's impression of a transiting gas giant.

We have a new record. Perhaps 1,060 light-years away, a gas giant called NGTS-10b is whipping around its star so closely, it completes an entire orbit in just 18.4 hours.

That's nearly as close as the planet can get to the host star without being ripped apart by gravitational forces. But it will get closer.

Astronomers have estimated that the exoplanet is spiralling in towards the star, and will cross that ripping-apart point - called the Roche limit - in just 38 million years. It's utterly doomed.

The finding makes this solar system an incredible laboratory for studying tidal interactions between a star and a perilously close giant exoplanet, which belongs to the 'hot Jupiter' type.

Hot Jupiters are fascinating exoplanets. As the name suggests, they are gas giants like Jupiter; unlike Jupiter, however, they orbit very closely to their host stars, with orbital periods of less than 10 days. This is what makes them "hot" (and here you were thinking it was the swimsuits).

According to current models of planet formation, technically hot Jupiters shouldn't exist. A gas giant can't form that close to their star, because the gravity, radiation, and intense stellar winds ought to keep the gas from clumping together.

However, they do exist; of the over 4,000 confirmed exoplanets discovered to date, up to 337 could be hot Jupiters. It's thought that they form farther out in their planetary systems, then migrate inwards towards the star.

We may not know much about their mysterious births, but hot Jupiters that are particularly close to their stars can tell us a lot about star-planet tidal interactions. Hence, they are among the most studied exoplanets in the galaxy.

Until this latest breakneck discovery, only six of these enigmatic gas giants had ever been detected with an orbital period of less than one day - WASP-18b (22.6 hours), WASP-19b (18.9 hours), WASP-43b (19.5 hours), WASP-103b (22.2 hours), HATS-18b (20.1 hours) and KELT-16b (23.3 hours).

NGTS-10b, discovered using the ground-based Next-Generation Transit Survey in Paranal, Chile, marks the seventh of these ultra-close hot Jupiters, and it has the shortest orbital period of them all.

Between 21 September 2015 and 14 May 2016, a single telescope observed the star now known as NGTS-10 over 237 nights. The survey wasn't officially operational yet, but it captured 220,918 10-second exposures of the star during this commissioning phase.

It seemed like a relatively unremarkable main sequence star - around 10 billion years old K-type orange star, just under 70 percent of the Sun's size and mass.

But a closer look at those images revealed that the star was dimming slightly every 18.4 hours. So an international team of astronomers led by James McCormac of the University of Warwick set to work, using that data and additional observations to characterise the exoplanet responsible for the dimming.

They determined that NGTS-10b is just over 1.2 times the size of Jupiter, and just over 2.1 times its mass. And it's orbiting the star at 1.46 times the Roche radius - meaning it's right on the verge (in cosmic time) of tidal devastation.

At such proximity to the star, even though it's not yet close enough to pull NGTS-10b apart, the exoplanet will be flattened at the poles as the star's gravity pulls it out of shape, an oblate spheroid rather than a nice, plump round sphere.

The team was careful to rule out a binary companion of the host star as a cause of the dimming. So, we are as sure as we can be that the exoplanet exists. The problem is that the light from the neighbouring stars has made it somewhat difficult to calculate an accurate distance to NGTS-10.

The 1,060 light-year distance was calculated based on Gaia data, the most accurate three-dimensional map of the Milky Way galaxy to date, but there's still a margin for error. If the distance is incorrect, that may mean some of the size and mass data is slightly incorrect, too.

That issue can be resolved by studying the next release of Gaia data, due to drop in batches in 2020 and 2021.

Meanwhile, continued observations of the system could reveal the exoplanet's orbital decay. The team predicts that the orbit will shorten by 7 seconds over the next 10 years. If astronomers can obtain precise enough measurements of the system, they may be able to see it happening.

The research has been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

A version of this article was originally published in October 2019, when the study was available in pre-print.

http://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/world/ast ... ocid=ientp

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 Post subject: Re: Space Is Deep
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2020 1:32 pm 
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVMZxH1TIIQ

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 Post subject: Re: Space Is Deep
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2020 5:49 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 12:08 am 
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No Signs of Alien Tech Found by SETI Scans of Our Interstellar Visitor 2I/Borisov
Peter Dockrill
3 hrs ago

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© Gemini Observatory/NSF/AURA 2I/Borisov captured by the Gemini North telescope.

A mysterious comet identified last year as only the second-ever known interstellar object in our Solar System inevitably prompted some big scientific questions. Chief among them: what, if anything, can it tell us about the hypothesised existence of extraterrestrial intelligence out there in space?

Well, if the object known as 2I/Borisov holds alien secrets, they're staying secrets for now. A recent announcement by scientists behind the Breakthrough Listen project reveals that scans of the comet reveal no signs of technosignatures we can identify that would indicate the presence of advanced, intelligent life.

The news, revealed by SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) scientists at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) this month, highlights the almost overwhelming amount of unknowns and variables that challenge SETI researchers.

"If interstellar travel is possible, which we don't know, and if other civilisations are out there, which we don't know, and if they are motivated to build an interstellar probe, then some fraction greater than zero of the objects that are out there are artificial interstellar devices," explains astronomer Steve Croft UC Berkeley's SETI Research Centre.

"Just as we do with our measurements of transmitters on extrasolar planets, we want to put a limit on what that number is."

Scanning objects like 2I/Borisov to look for evidence of alien technology might seem like a decidedly sci-fi premise, but scientists are entirely open-minded when it comes to investigating these mysterious interstellar interlopers.

Before the world became aware of 2I/Borisov, another interstellar object, 'Oumuamua, made history, becoming the first-ever known interstellar visitor scientists had observed in our Solar System.

Amidst the excitement and curiosity, it didn't take long for some researchers to speculate as to whether 'Oumuamua could be an alien spacecraft of some description. Subsequent analyses suggested otherwise, though.

An attempt by SETI researchers to find alien technosignatures produced by 'Oumuamua – in the form of radio signals that might be emitted from the object – turned up nothing.

"We were looking for a signal that would prove that this object incorporates some technology – that it was of artificial origin," astrophysicist Gerry Harp from the SETI Institute explained in 2018.

"We didn't find any such emissions, despite a quite sensitive search."

Now, the same methods have also failed to find technosignatures coming from 2I/Borisov.

That doesn't necessarily mean there is no technology of any sort functioning on these interstellar objects; just that we can't identify evidence of the kind of electromagnetic radiation we would expect to see from Earth-based technology that emits radio signals.

Of course, 2I/Borisov, as intriguing as it may be, is just a tiny target in the much greater SETI hunt.

At the AAAS meeting this month, Breakthrough Listen researchers publicly released almost 2 petabytes of radio telescope survey data gleaned from observatories in the US and Australia. 2I/Borisov might not show any hits as yet, but there's no knowing for sure just what this giant data dump could reveal, which is why scientists are encouraging the public to help sift through said data.

"It is our hope that these data sets will reveal something new and interesting, be it other intelligent life in the Universe or an as-yet-undiscovered natural astronomical phenomenon," says Breakthrough Listen lead system administrator Matt Lebofsky.

In a new paper, one subset of the data provides a focus on radio emissions from 20 nearby star systems in what's known as the Earth Transit Zone, the region of the sky from which an observer would see the Earth transit the Sun.

"This is a unique geometry," lead researcher Sofia Sheikh from Penn State University explains.

"It is how we discovered other exoplanets, so it kind of makes sense to extrapolate and say that that might be how other intelligent species find planets, as well."

So far, there's no evidence of alien technosignatures in the data subset either, but there's no dampening the enthusiasm of the SETI community, especially as their own technological capabilities are only getting ever stronger.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) simultaneously announced this month it will be collaborating with the SETI Institute to add SETI capabilities to NRAO radio telescopes.

Whether those new powers will finally help reveal the existence of a distant alien technology – or simply provide more examples of where ET isn't – it's impossible to say right now. But if the truth is out there, there's never been a better time to go looking for it.

http://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/techandsc ... ocid=ientp

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 Post subject: Re: Space Is Deep
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2020 7:51 am 
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Scientists Claim to Have Found The First Known Extraterrestrial Protein in a Meteorite
MICHELLE STARR
2 MAR 2020

https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-claim-to-have-found-the-first-known-extraterrestrial-protein-in-a-meteorite

A new discovery could be a clue for us to see if life could emerge elsewhere in the Solar System. Using a new analysis technique, scientists think they have found an extraterrestrial protein, tucked inside a meteorite that fell to Earth 30 years ago.

If their results can be replicated, it will be the first protein ever identified that didn't originate here on Earth.

"This paper characterises the first protein to be discovered in a meteorite," the researchers wrote in a paper uploaded to preprint server arXiv. Their work is yet to be peer reviewed, but the implications of this finding are noteworthy.

Over the last few years, meteorites from the wider Solar System have been yielding some building blocks for life as we know it. Cyanide, which could play a role in building molecules necessary for life; ribose, a type of sugar that is found in RNA; and amino acids, organic compounds that combine to form proteins.

Researchers have now revisited the meteorites that yielded the latter. Led by physicist Malcolm McGeoch of superconductor X-ray source supplier PLEX Corporation, the team focussed their search for something more.

Using "state-of-the-art" mass spectrometry, they found what they believe to be protein in a meteorite called Acfer 086, found in Algeria in 1990.

While not proof of extraterrestrial living creatures, this protein discovery makes for yet another of life's building blocks to be found in a space rock. There are many processes that can produce protein, but life, as far as we know, can't exist without it.

"In general, they're taking a meteor that has been preserved by a museum and has been analysed previously. And they are modifying the techniques that they're using in order to be able to detect amino acid inside of this meteor, but in a higher signal ratio," astronomer and chemist Chenoa Tremblay of CSIRO Astronomy & Space Science in Australia, who was not involved in the research, told ScienceAlert.

Not only did the team find the glycine amino acid with a stronger signal than previous analysis, they found that it was bound with other elements, such as iron and lithium. When they performed modelling to see what was occurring, they found that the glycine wasn't isolated; it was part of a protein.

The researchers are calling this newly discovered protein hemolithin. While hemolithin is structurally similar to terrestrial proteins, its ratio of deuterium to hydrogen was not matched by anything on Earth. It is, however, consistent with long-period comets.

This suggests, the researchers argue, that the structure they have identified as protein is of extraterrestrial origin, and possibly formed in the proto-solar disc, over 4.6 billion years ago.

But, they also note that there's a possibility what they found might not be protein. Although the team thinks it's the most likely explanation, it's also possible that their finding is actually a polymer - a broad class of molecules, of which proteins are only one.

So it's a little too early to get too carried away. But, overall, Tremblay is impressed with the work.

"I think this is really exciting," she said. "I think that it's got a lot of really interesting implications and a lot of compelling arguments. And I think it's a really great step forward."

There are several next steps that the research could take. Other scientists can take the spectra, and use modelling software to try to replicate structures that produce the same or similar spectra. That could help determine whether we're looking at protein or a different kind of polymer.

Similar techniques could now be used on other meteorites in which amino acids have been found, to see if similar structures can be found.

As Tremblay explains, recent studies on the International Space Station have indicated that "protein should be easier to make in space because of the reduced gravity", and astronaut scientists have actually managed to produce quite large protein molecules, stable enough to bring down to Earth.

"So we're pretty sure that proteins are likely to exist in space," she says. "But if we can actually start finding evidence of their existence, and what some of the structures and the common structures might be, I think that's really interesting and exciting."

The research is currently available on arXiv.


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 Post subject: Re: Space Is Deep
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2020 10:40 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Space Is Deep
PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2020 11:54 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Is Uranus Leaking?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2020 6:51 pm 
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Is Uranus leaking into space? Data hidden in the Voyager 2 spacecraft since 1986 reveals the planet's twisted magnetic field is releasing bits of its atmosphere

Stacy Liberatore For Dailymail.com 8 minutes ago

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© Provided by Daily Mail
A startling discovery has been by NASA after analyzing data from the Voyager 2's 1986 visit to Uranus - the magnetic bubble surrounding the planet is funneling the atmosphere out into space.

A startling discovery has been by NASA after analysing data from the Voyager 2's 1986 visit to Uranus - the magnetic bubble surrounding the planet is funneling its atmosphere out into space.

The atmospheric loss is due to the planet's twisted magnetic field that causes the magnetosphere to wobble 'like a poorly-thrown football.'

This results in parts of Uranus' atmosphere leaking out in charged bubbles of plasma, called plasmoids, which pinch off from the magnetic field as it moves around by the Sun.

Scientists have determined that the plasmoid around Uranus measures about 127,000 miles (204,387 kilometres) by 250,000 miles (402,336 kilometres) and has pulled between 15 to 55 percent of Uranus' atmosphere out from the planet.

Scientists have long theorized that magnetic fields protect the planet by keeping solar winds at bay.

However, NASA explains that they can also create funnels for the atmosphere to escape.

This event has been observed to occur in both Saturn and Jupiter, and leaves experts to think Mars had once experienced a loss in its atmosphere.

Gina DiBraccio, space physicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and project scientist for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN mission, said: 'Mars used to be a wet planet with a thick atmosphere.'

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© Provided by Daily Mail
The planet's twisted magnetic field causes the magnetosphere to wobble 'like a poorly-thrown football, allowing bubbles of plasma to escape that hold parts of the atmosphere. Pictured is a concept drawing of the Voyager 2 spacecraft

'It evolved over time' — 4 billion years of leakage to space — 'to become the dry planet we see today.'

However, unlike most planets, Uranus seems to beat to its own drum when it rotates – it sits almost perfectly on its side.

'Its magnetic field axis points 60 degrees away from that spin axis, so as the planet spins, its magnetosphere — the space carved out by its magnetic field — wobbles like a poorly-thrown football, NASA explains in a statement.

This movement is so unique, it caught the attention of DiBraccio and her team, who extracted 34 years of data from Voyager 2's magnetometer readings.

This information shows the strength and direction of the magnetic fields near Uranus the craft flew by.

The plasmoid DiBraccio and coauthor Dan Gershman, a fellow Goddard space physicist to the project, found appeared during just 60 seconds of Voyager 2’s 45-hour-long flight passed the giant planet.

The magnetic looked like a quick up-down blip in the magnetometer data, Gershman said that when recreated in 3D it appears more like a cylinder.

Comparing their results to plasmoids observed at Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury, they estimated a cylindrical shape at least 127,000 miles (204,387 kilometres) long, and up to roughly 250,000 miles (402,336 kilometres) across.

And the team believes this plasmoid, like others in space, contains charged particles — mostly ionised hydrogen.

Whereas some plasmoids have a twisted internal magnetic field, DiBraccio and Gershman observed smooth, closed magnetic loops.

Such loop-like plasmoids are typically formed as a spinning planet flings bits of its atmosphere to space.

'Centrifugal forces take over, and the plasmoid pinches off,' Gershman said.

According to their estimates, plasmoids like that one could account for between 15 and 55 percent of atmospheric mass loss at Uranus, a greater proportion than either Jupiter or Saturn.

https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/techands ... id=BHEA000

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 Post subject: Re: Space Is Deep
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2020 4:12 pm 
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Cloudy weather forecast might hinder views of biggest, brightest supermoon
Brittney Deguara·12:01, April, 7th, 2020.

Stargazers are set to be treated to one of the biggest and brightest full moons of the year on Tuesday night.

The supermoon's orbit is nearing Earth and set to peak above New Zealand on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

Astronomy guide Akihiro Tamura explained that New Zealand won't be able to see the moon when it is at its closest - around 2.35pm on Wednesday - but "we have a chance to enjoy a brighter and bigger moon than usual whenever that moon is in the night sky tonight".

Supermoon isn't an official astronomical term, but it is the name given when a full moon occurs at the same time as it being at perigee - the point on the orbit that's closest to the Earth. At its closest, it will be approximately 357,042 kilometres away, but visibility on Tuesday night is reliant on the weather forecast.

The outlook isn't looking too great for most of the country to see it. Overnight the forecast is set to be quite cloudy and wet in thhti Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, according to the MetService website.

These conditions are expected to continue on Wednesday. Meteorologist Tahlia Crabtree says a front moving over the North Island is expected to bring cloud cover for most of the day.

In the South Island, the upper and lower regions are forecast to be relatively fine, but those on the east coast in the Canterbury region might not be as lucky.

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Craig Shearer/Supplied
A shot of the supermoon from February 9th, 2019, over Hobsonville, thhti Auckland.

To have the best view of the phenomenon, Tamura suggests heading out at moonset (just before 6am) to enjoy the supermoon and the sunrise. A telescope isn't necessary to view it, just "eyes and pure heart".

"Everyone who lives under the sky is able to see [it]."

It is the second supermoon for the year - the first was on March 10th, and the last will be on May 7th.

If you snap a photo of the supermoon, send your pictures through to newstips@stuff.co.nz.


Stuff

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/weathe ... -supermoon

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