This sounds exactly like something out of Star Wars. We may soon be able to breathe underwater without having to carry massive oxygen tanks on our backs. All we’ll need is a a few drops of a newly discovered material.
Astronomers have discovered a black hole that is consuming gas from a nearby star 10 times faster than previously thought possible. The black hole—known as P13—lies on the outskirts of the galaxy NGC7793 about 12 million light years from Earth and is ingesting a weight equivalent to 10 billion billion pounds every minute. The discovery was published today in the journal Nature.
International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research astronomer Dr Roberto Soria, who is based at ICRAR’s Curtin University node, said that as gas falls towards a black hole it gets very hot and bright. He said scientists first noticed P13 because it was a lot more luminous than other black holes, but it was initially assumed that it was simply bigger.
“It was generally believed the maximum speed at which a black hole could swallow gas and produce light was tightly determined by its size,” Dr Soria said. “So it made sense to assume that P13 was bigger than the ordinary, less bright black holes we see in our own galaxy, the Milky Way.”
When Dr Soria and his colleagues from the University of Strasbourg measured the mass of P13 they found it was actually on the small side, despite being at least a million times brighter than the Sun. It was only then that they realized just how much material it was consuming.“
There’s not really a strict limit like we thought, black holes can actually consume more gas and produce more light,” Dr Soria said.
Dr. Soria said P13 rotates around a supergiant ‘donor’ star 20 times heavier than our own Sun. He said the scientists saw that one side of the donor star was always brighter than the other because it was illuminated by X-rays coming from near the black hole, so the star appeared brighter or fainter as it went around P13.
“This allowed us to measure the time it takes for the black hole and the donor star to rotate around each other, which is 64 days, and to model the velocity of the two objects and the shape of the orbit," Dr Soria said. “From this, we worked out that the black hole must be less than 15 times the mass of our Sun.”
Dr Soria said P13 is a member of a select group of black holes known as ultraluminous X-ray sources. “These are the champions of competitive gas eating in the Universe, capable of swallowing their donor star in less than a million years, which is a very short time on cosmic scales,” he said.
Scientists believe that a better understanding of neutrinos, one of the most abundant and difficult-to-study particles, may lead to a clearer picture of the origins of matter and the inner workings of the universe. Using the world’s most powerful beam of neutrinos , generated at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago, the NOvA experimentcan precisely record the telltale traces of those rare instances when one of these ghostly particles interacts with matter.
For the next six years, Fermilab will send tens-of thousands of billions of neutrinos every second in a beam aimed at both detectors, and scientists expect to catch only a few each day in the far detector, so rarely do neutrinos interact with matter. From this data, scientists hope to learn more about how and why neutrinos change between one type and another. The three types, called flavors, are the muon, electron and tau neutrino. Over longer distances, neutrinos can flip between these flavors. NOvA is specifically designed to study muon neutrinos changing into electron neutrinos. Unraveling this mystery may help scientists understand why the universe is composed of matter, and why that matter was not annihilated by antimatter after the Big Bang. NOvA, is the most powerful accelerator-based neutrino experiment ever built in the United States, and the longest-distance one in the world. It’s called and after nearly five years of construction, scientists are now using the two massive detectors – placed 500 miles apart – to study one of nature’s most elusive subatomic particles. Scientists will also probe the still-unknown masses of the three types of neutrinos in an attempt to determine which is the heaviest. Construction on NOvA’s two massive neutrino detectors began in 2009. “With every neutrino interaction recorded, we learn more about these particles and their role in shaping our universe,” said James Siegrist, DOE Associate Director of Science for High Energy Physics. NOvA’s particle detectors were both constructed in the path of the neutrino beam sent from Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois , to northern Minnesota. The 300-ton near detector, installed underground at the laboratory, observes the neutrinos as they embark on their near-light-speed journey through the earth, with no tunnel needed. The 14,000-ton far detector - constructed in Ash River, Minnesota, near the Canadian border – spots those neutrinos after their 500-mile trip, and allows scientists to analyze how they change over that long distance. The far detector in Minnesota is believed to be the largest free-standing plastic structure in the world, at 200 feet long, 50 feet high and 50 feet wide. Both detectors are constructed from PVC, and filled with a scintillating liquid that gives off light when a neutrino interacts with it. Fiber optic cables transmit that light to a data acquisition system, which creates 3-D pictures of those interactions for scientists to analyze.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
The web of the Darwin's bark spider (Caerostris darwini), can span some square feet (2.8 square meters) and is attached to each riverbank by anchor threads as long as 82 feet (25 meters).
Scientists have found the toughest material made by life yet — the silk of a spider whose giant webs span rivers, streams and even lakes. Spider silks were already the toughest known biomaterials, able to absorb massive amounts of energy before breaking. However, researchers have now revealed the Darwin's bark spider (Caerostris darwini) has the toughest silk ever seen — more than twice as tough as any previously described silk, and more than 10 times stronger than Kevlar.
Although scientists have investigated silks from 20-to-30 species of spiders before, most of these were chosen haphazardly — for instance, from researchers' backyards. There are over 40,000 species of spiders and each spider can produce up to seven different kinds of silk. Thus, more than 99.99 percent of spider silks are yet to be explored.
CREDIT: Shutterstock Lockheed Martin announced Wednesday that it thinks it will have an ultra-compact fusion reactor operating in ten years — though it’s an open question whether this will be in time to matter in the fight against climate change.
Do you ever wonder about the meaning of life, and in particular your life? Well, of course you do, but maybe you should ease up on the angst. There are academics who say you don't have a life. You're just an app....
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