“One hundred years ago in November 1915, Albert Einstein presented to the Prussian Academy of Sciences his new theory of general relativity. It is fair to say the theory turned out to be a great success.”
“This galaxy according to scientists, is the brightest ever discovered. It has a luminosity which is equivalent to 300 trillion stars. That’s pretty big compared to our Milky Way which is only able to garner billions of stars.”
Back in 2012, the Sun erupted with a powerful solar storm that just missed the Earth but was big enough to "knock modern civilization back to the 18th century," NASA said. The extreme space weather that tore through Earth's orbit on July 23, 2012, was the most powerful in 150 years, according to a statement posted on the US space agency website Wednesday.However, few Earthlings had any idea what was going on. "If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire," said Daniel Baker, professor of atmospheric and space physics at the University of Colorado. Instead the storm cloud hit the STEREO-A spacecraft, a solar observatory that is "almost ideally equipped to measure the parameters of such an event," NASA said. Scientists have analyzed the treasure trove of data it collected and concluded that it would have been comparable to the largest known space storm in 1859, known as the Carrington event. It also would have been twice as bad as the 1989 solar storm that knocked out power across Quebec, scientists said."I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did," said Baker. The National Academy of Sciences has said the economic impact of a storm like the one in 1859 could cost the modern economy more than two trillion dollars and cause damage that might take years to repair. Experts say solar storms can cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything from radio to GPS communications to water supplies -- most of which rely on electric pumps.They begin with an explosion on the Sun's surface, known as a solar flare, sending X-rays and extreme UV radiation toward Earth at light speed. Hours later, energetic particles follow and these electrons and protons can electrify satellites and damage their electronics.Next are the coronal mass ejections, billion-ton clouds of magnetized plasma that take a day or more to cross the Sun-Earth divide. These are often deflected by Earth's magnetic shield, but a direct hit could be devastating.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
The unusual variable star V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon) continues to puzzle astronomers. This previously inconspicuous star underwent an outburst early in 2002, during which it temporarily increased in brightness to become 600,000 times more luminous than our Sun. Light from this sudden eruption is illuminating the interstellar dust surrounding the star, producing the most spectacular "light echo" in the history of astronomy.As light from the eruption propagates outward into the dust, it is scattered by the dust and travels to the Earth. The scattered light has travelled an extra distance in comparison to light that reaches Earth directly from the stellar outburst. Such a light echo is the optical analogue of the sound echo produced when an Alpine yodel is reflected from the surrounding mountainsides.The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has been observing the V838 Mon light echo since 2002. Each new observation of the light echo reveals a new and unique "thin-section" through the interstellar dust around the star. This video morphs images of the light echo from the Hubble taken at multiple times between 2002 and 2006. The numerous whorls and eddies in the interstellar dust are particularly noticeable. Possibly they have been produced by the effects of magnetic fields in the space between the stars.VIDEO
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
“ A new study of supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies has found magnetic fields play an impressive role in the systems' dynamics. In fact, in dozens of black holes surveyed, the magnetic field strength matched the force produced by the black holes' powerful gravitational pull.”
“ Magnetars are the bizarre super-dense remnants of supernova explosions. They are the strongest magnets known in the universe — millions of times more powerful than the strongest magnets on Earth. Astronomers now believe they’ve found the partner star of a magnetar for the first time. This discovery helps to explain how magnetars form — a conundrum dating back 35 years — and why this particular star didn’t collapse into a black hole as astronomers would expect.”
New findings reveal the makings of magnetars. Astronomers have figured out how to make the universe’s most powerful magnet. All you need is two massive stars orbiting close to each other so that one swipes gas from the other, causing the thief to spin so quickly that its magnetic field dwarfs that of Earth by 100 trillion-fold. The finding offers fresh insight into how some of the galaxy's smallest but most extraordinary stars arise.Magnetars are a special breed of pulsars, which are fast-spinning neutron stars that form when a massive star explodes as a supernova: The star's outer layers shoot off into space, while its core collapses to become the pulsar. Magnetars are as rare as they are extraordinary. Known pulsars number in the thousands; known magnetars, only a couple of dozen.Astronomer Simon Clark of the Open University in Milton Keynes, U.K., and his colleagues observed a young star cluster named Westerlund 1, which sports one of the few known magnetars. The cluster is only 5 million years old and lies 16,000 light-years from Earth in Ara, a constellation just south of Scorpius.The astronomers identified a peculiar blue supergiant—a star much hotter and more luminous than the sun—that they believe once orbited the star that later became the magnetar. Named Westerlund 1-5, the blue supergiant dumped large amounts of gas onto its partner, speeding up its spin the way falling water makes a water wheel twirl. As Clark's team reports online this week in Astronomy & Astrophysics, this spin-up amplified the star's magnetic field so that when it exploded and collapsed, it became a magnetar rather than an ordinary pulsar.Furthermore, the blue supergiant saved its partner from a bleak fate. The premagnetar star was so massive that it should have collapsed into a black hole. But before it exploded, it began to expand, as aging stars do, and its partner grabbed enough gas back that the premagnetar star slimmed down, becoming a magnetar rather than a black hole. This removal of material also kept the premagnetar star spinning fast; normally, expanding stars spin more slowly, just as spinning ice skaters do when they extend their arms.The evidence? First, the blue supergiant is racing away from the cluster, suggesting that another star recently kicked it away when it exploded. Second, the blue supergiant has odd abundances of carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
“IANS 'Empty space' reveals pulsar's secrets ABC Science Online Reporting in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, a team of astronomers have found the region from which the beams originate from is much smaller and closer to the...”
Led by the University of Warwick, the research has found a stellar superflare on a star observed by NASA's Kepler space telescope with wave patterns similar to those that have been observed in solar flares. Superflares are thousands of times more powerful than those ever recorded on the Sun, and are frequently observed on some stars.
Found in the Milky Way, the binary star, KIC9655129, is known to superflare. The researchers suggest due to the similarities between the superflare on KIC9655129 and the Sun's solar flares, the underlying physics of the flares might be the same, supporting the idea that our Sun could also produce a superflare.
Typical solar flares can have energies equivalent to a 100 million megaton bombs, but a superflare on the Sun could release energy equivalent to a billion megaton bombs. If the Sun were to superflare the Earth's communications and energy systems could be at serious risk of failing.
Lead researcher, Chloë Pugh from the University of Warwick's Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics, explains: "Our solar system is filled with plasma, or ionised gas, originating from the Sun as a result of the solar wind and other more violent solar eruptions, such as solar flares. Stars very similar to the Sun have been observed to produce enormous flares, called superflares. To give us a better indication of whether the Sun could produce a catastrophic superflare, we need to determine whether the same physical processes are responsible for both stellar superflares and solar flares.
"Solar flares are commonly observed to consist of a series of regularly occurring pulses. Often these pulsations resemble waves, with a wavelength that relates to various properties of the region of the Sun that is producing the flare. The study of waves such as these is referred to as coronal seismology. Occasionally solar flares contain multiple waves superimposed on top of one another, which can easily be explained by coronal seismology. We have found evidence for multiple waves, or multiple periodicities, in a stellar superflare, and the properties of these waves are consistent with those that occur in solar flares.
Discussing the potential consequences of the Sun superflaring, Chloë Pugh says: "If the Sun were to produce a superflare it would be disastrous for life on Earth; our GPS and radio communication systems could be severely disrupted and there could be large scale power blackouts as a result of strong electrical currents being induced in power grids. "Fortunately the conditions needed for a superflare are extremely unlikely to occur on the Sun, based on previous observations of solar activity."
“The Hubble Space Telescope has now been returning dramatic pictures of the universe for quarter of a century. But beyond star gazing, astronomy is a science that has spin-off prizes, writes Robert Massey.”
“ Quantum Physics: The Multiverse of Parmenides 1 — Heinrich Pas. July 9, 2014. Heisenberg traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, in the fall of 1941 to visit his fatherly friend and mentor Niels Bohr. According to Heisenberg, his intention was to ...”
Via Ruby Carat
“Fars News Agency Powerful magnetic fields challenge black holes' pull Astronomy Magazine In a surprising twist, astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) have found that in...”
“Phys.Org ALMA upgrade to supercharge Event Horizon Telescope, astronomy's 'killer app' Phys.Org This upgrade will eventually allow ALMA to synchronize with a worldwide network of radio astronomy facilities collectively known as the Event Horizon...”
“The Weirdest Object in the Universe Daily Beast While every neutron star has an intense magnetic field, the ones known as magnetars are exceptional. They are rare: astronomers have found only 21 magnetars so far (with 5 more potential candidates).”
Scientists have unearth credible evidence to confirm a large asteroid was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs over 66 million years ago, it has been announced. This particular extinction event, which paved the way for the evolution of our species, has been attributed to several different things over the years. From climate change, a nuclear winter caused by basaltic lava eruptions of massive volcanoes in western India, an influx of radiation from a nearby supernova explosion (or perhaps a gamma-ray burst) to finally, an asteroid impact, which has been a favorite of biologist and paleontologist over the course of the past few decades.According to Paul Renne, the director at Berkeley University’s Geochronology Center in California, the asteroid impact was quite likely one of several contributing factors to the downfall of the prehistoric animals, as many of them were already on their way to extinction; however, Renne claims that this was the main catalyst that “pushed Earth past the tipping point.”The collision was never in question, but the exact date of it is. Scientists have been trying to determine if the impact took place more than 300,000 years after the last of the dinosaurs had already died off in the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event, which is where Renne and his team comes in: Using high-precision radiometric dating analysis, in this case “argon-argon dating,” the team were able to determine the most precise date yet of the impact: 66,038,000 years ago – give or take 11,000, which coincides with the impact of an asteroid or a comet in the Caribbean off the Yucatan coast of Mexico. “We have shown that these events are synchronous to within a gnat’s eyebrow,” Renne continued. Potassium-argon dating is perhaps, one of the most reliable means of determine how long a sample of materials have been decaying, as it utilizes the fact that potassium, a naturally radioactive element, decays into argon with regularity.
It only takes a relatively small asteroid to cause quite a bit of destruction on our planet, as any object large enough to survive the descent through Earth’s atmosphere would acquire quite a bit of kinetic energy before it hits the surface of the planet, traveling at VERY fast speeds. Just to throw out one example of this, if an object had a diameter of about 10 kilometers and was traveling at speeds between [approximately] 15 to 20 kilometers per second, it would have a kinetic energy equal to 300 million nuclear bombs, going off simultaneously.Almost instantly after the impact, the Earth would undergo rapid changes, including; “intense blinding light, severe radiation burns, a crushing blast wave, lethal balls of hot glass, winds with speeds of hundreds of kilometers per hour, and flash fires.” The rubble would be forced into the stratosphere, where it would block a majority of the sunlight from the plants and animals on the ground, which becomes problematic for the photosynthesis plants must undergo to derive energy to survive. With no plants converting sunlight into energy, our oxygen levels would decrease dramatically. I don’t have to explain why that is not an ideal situation to find ourselves in.The asteroid that hit our planet at the end of the Mesozoic Era was almost 6 miles (10 km) across, generating more energy than nearly 100 trillion tons of TNT, which is more than a billion times more energetic than the bombs that destroyed Nagasaki and Hiroshima during WWII — ultimately leaving behind a crater named Chicxulub, which is more than 110 miles (180 kilometers) wide.
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