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Artist’s impression of a young star surrounded by a protoplanetary disc
This is an artist’s impression of a young star surrounded by a protoplanetary disc in which planets are forming. Using ALMA’s 15-kilometre baseline astronomers were able to make the first detailed image of a protoplanetary disc, which revealed the complex structure of the disc. Concentric rings of gas, with gaps indicating planet formation, are visible in this artist’s impression and were predicted by computer simulations. Now these structures have been observed by ALMA for the first time.
Now, Anyone On Earth Can See A View Of Our Planet From Space In Real Time
There's nothing as profound as seeing Earth from space.
Yet, only the 543 people who have trained as astronauts ever get to experience the Earth in a way that boggles the human mind — called the overview effect — until now.
But now, thanks to the High Definition Earth Viewing experiment, anyone with access to a computer and internet can watch Earth float in space from the perspective of the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
The HDEV experiment was activated on April 30 of this year, and so far over 32 million people have experienced the Earth in a way unlike any other — at a height of 268 miles above the surface.
Several commercial HD video cameras are attached to the European Space Agency's Columbus module aboard the ISS. Each camera is pointed at Earth, and live records and streams what they see.
The live stream cycles through the different cameras on board. When that happens, the live stream cuts out for a few seconds, but the fresh, new view you get is completely worth the few seconds it takes for the switch.
As gorgeous as it is, this experiment has a purpose besides awing people on Earth: Each camera is protected inside a pressurized, temperature-controlled case. The experiment aims to test the effects of space on this equipment and the video quality it produces.
High school students helped design some of the components of the experiment through the High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware program.
Live video from the International Space Station includes internal views when the crew is on-duty and Earth views at other times. The video is accompanied by audio of conversations between the crew and Mission Control. This video is only available when the space station is in contact with the ground. During "loss of signal" periods, viewers will see a blue screen. Since the station orbits the Earth once every 90 minutes, it experiences a sunrise or a sunset about every 45 minutes. When the station is in darkness, external camera video may appear black, but can sometimes provide spectacular views of lightning or city lights below.
If the streaming doesn't work, check out this video for samples
Australians Could Expect To See 30-40 Meteors An Hour During Geminid Shower On Dec 13-14
A meteor shower lights up the sky over the Mexican volcano Popocatepetl near the village San Nicolas de los Ranchos in Mexican state of Puebla in the early hours of December 14, 2004. The shower, named Geminid because it appears to originate from the constellation Gemini, lit up the sky with dozens of shooting stars per hour.
The peak of the Geminid Meteor Shower in 2014 would be on Dec 13 and 14, with Australians having the chance to see the shower of 30 to 40 meteors and hour. There would also be an occasional bright fireball that would light up the sky, said Perry Vlahos of the Astronomical Society of Victoria.
He said that the meteors could show some hints of colours with long-lasting trains. Vlahos does not discount the possibility that there might be more meteors that the number initially predicted. By tracing back the path of these meteors, they lead back to the constellation Gemini where the meteors got their name.
While meteor showers are usually made up of small particles not bigger than sand grains and are comets boiled off by the sun's heat as it enters the inner solar system, while the Geminids come from the asteroid Phaeton, believed to be an old spent comet.
The Geminid showers usually occurs when the Earth's orbit intersects with the comet's orbit and sweeps the debris, causing a "spectacular natural light show in Earth's atmosphere when it burns up, although none would ever reach the ground.
Vlahos added that Dec 13-14 would also be the 24th yearly Star-Be-Cue of the ASV that is open to the public, though non-members must book. There would be solar observing, wine tasting and site tours in the afternoon and guided tour of the sky plus free coffee, tea or hot chocolate at night.
Geminids: most spectacular meteor shower in the world heads over UK this weekend
As many as 100 meteors an hour will be visible during the most intense bits of the show.
Beginning this weekend, the UK’s most spectacular meteor shower will be visible, as the Geminids pass overhead.
The showers peak next weekend, on 13-14 December, when more than 50 meteors an hour will be visible. At its peak, more than 60-100 shooting stars can be seen.
The meteor shower will be most visible if the skies are clear and cloudless.
To get the best view, you should head away from lights to a clear place. (It will likely be cold, so wrap up warm.) Let your eyes get used to the dark, which will take about 15-20 minutes.
They will be visible from around 10pm, and will get most visible at around 2am-3am.
Lie looking up to the skies and look anywhere — meteors appear randomly in the sky, so keep an eye on as much of it as possible. It can take a few minutes before any appear, so don’t look away for too long.
The Geminids are different from other meteor showers because they come from an asteroid, rather than a comet. That makes them more gritty and rocky than other meteor showers, and means that they’re easier to see.
The meteor shower got its name because they come from a part of the sky associated with Gemini.
They have been getting stronger over time — and always appear in December — being first reported in the mid-1800s. Every time the asteroid goes past the sun, more bits break off and join the shower.
Microbes discovered by deepest marine drill analysed By Rebecca Morelle
Science Correspondent, BBC News, San Francisco
The small single-celled organisms expend very little energy
Life uncovered by the deepest-ever marine drilling expedition has been analysed by scientists.
The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) found microbes living 2,400m beneath the seabed off Japan.
The tiny, single-celled organisms survive in this harsh environment on a low-calorie diet of hydrocarbon compounds and have a very slow metabolism.
The findings are being presented at the America Geophysical Union Fall Meeting.
Elizabeth Trembath-Reichert, from the California Institute of Technology, who is part of the team that carried out the research, said: "We keep looking for life, and we keep finding it, and it keeps surprising us as to what it appears to be capable of."
The IODP Expedition 337 took place in 2012 off the coast of Japan’s Shimokita Peninsula in the northwestern Pacific.
From the Chikyu ship, a monster drill was set down more than 1,000m (3,000ft) beneath the waves, where it penetrated a record-breaking 2,446m (8,024ft) of rock under the seafloor.
Samples were taken from the ancient coal bed system that lies at this depth, and were returned to the ship for analysis.
Japan's Chikyu vessel has the ability to drill deep into the Earth's crust
The team found that microbes, despite having no light, no oxygen, barely any water and very limited nutrients, thrived in the cores.
To find out more about how this life from the "deep biosphere" survives, the researchers set up a series of experiments in which they fed the little, spherical organisms different compounds.
Dr Trembath-Reichert said: "We chose these coal beds because we knew there was carbon, and we knew that this carbon was about as tasty to eat, when it comes to coal, as you could get for microbes.
"The thought was that while there are some microbes that can eat compounds in coal directly, there may be smaller organic compounds – methane and other types of hydrocarbons - sourced from the coal that the microbes could eat as well."
The experiments revealed that the microbes were indeed dining on these methyl compounds.
The tests also showed that the organisms lived life in the slow lane, with an extremely sluggish metabolism.
They seem to use as little energy as possible to get by.
The researchers are now trying to work out if there are lots of different kinds of microbes living in the coal beds or whether there is one type that dominates.
They also want to find out how the microbes got there in the first place.
"Were these microbes just in a swamp, and loving life in a swamp, because there is all sorts of carbon available, oxygen, organic matter... and then that gets buried?" pondered Dr Trembath-Reichert.
"It could be that they didn’t get a chance to escape – they couldn’t exactly walk out. So is it that they were there to begin with and then they could maintain life?
"Or were they like microbes that were able to travel down to those depths from the surface?"
The discovery of vast ecosystems of microbes deeper and deeper underground is causing scientists to reassess the role that these organisms play in the carbon cycle.
Because these organisms take in hydrocarbons and expel methane, a greenhouse gas, as a waste product, they may be having a greater impact on the system that governs the Earth’s climate than was previously thought.
The findings also have implications for the hunt for life on other planets.
If life can survive in the most extreme conditions on Earth, perhaps it has found a way to cope with harsh environments elsewhere in the cosmos.
The Rosetta Comet: New pictures emerge in colour, very exciting!
I'm not sure what they were expecting to find in colour! Beats me.
The first colour image from the Rosetta spacecraft shows that Comet 67P is even more dark and monochrome than expected.
Despite being carefully assembled from three images taken with red, green and blue filters, the shot still looks effectively black and white.
It comes from the Osiris camera, which is on board the orbiting craft that last month made history by dropping a lander onto the comet's surface.
The Osiris team says 67P is "as black as coal" and surprisingly uniform.
The image was released by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, which leads the consortium behind the camera.
"We like to refer to Osiris as the eyes of Rosetta," said the instrument's principal investigator Dr Holger Sierks.
But the camera is unlike human eyes, and so the colour image had to be produced by combining three separate shots.
This was no easy task. Rosetta is constantly moving and the comet beneath is spinning, so various changes in angle had to be accounted for.
The result is an image that looks remarkably similar to previous, greyscale views of 67P.
"As it turns out, 67P looks dark grey, in reality almost as black as coal," Dr Sierks said.
By the time the image is brightened enough for us to see the comet's features, it looks much lighter grey - but not what anyone would call colourful.
Using observations from the ground, scientists had already observed that Comet 67P, like many other small bodies in our Solar System, appeared to be grey "on average".
But the new results reveal that it seems to be this dark, coal colour all over - with little variation.
That suggests that its surface composition is fairly uniform and shows no sign of ice patches, which would appear bluish.
The comet's ice is presumably hidden below its dusty, boulder-strewn surface.
12bn suns, 13bn light years away: Ancient black hole blows scientists’ minds Published time: February 26, 2015 18:35
An artist's impression of a quasar with a supermassive black hole in the distant universe. (Image: Zhaoyu Li/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Misti Mountain Observatory)
A gigantic black hole has been discovered with an astonishing mass 12 billion times bigger than the sun’s. Its age – it was formed 900 million years after the Big Bang – undermines modern scientific theories.
The new “object,” dubbed SDSS J0100+2802, was found 12.8 billion light years from Earth at the center of a quasar – a core element of a galaxy that emits radiation – with a million billion times the sun's energy output.
The newly discovered quasar SDSS J0100+2802 is the one with the most massive black hole and the highest luminosity among all known distant quasars. (Image: Zhaoyu Li/Shanghai Observatory)
The results of the finding by an international team of astronomers were published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
The black hole was formed right at the dawn of our 13.8 billion-year-old universe, and was called “the brightest lighthouse in the distant universe” by Xue-Bing Wu, the leading author of the paper. What astronomers find unexplainable is the fact that such an enormous black hole was formed following the first stars and galaxies, which contradicts theories that black holes are formed while sucking in celestial objects nearby.
“Forming such a large black hole so quickly is hard to interpret with current theories,” co-author Fuyan Bian from Australian National University said in a statement. “This black hole at the center of the quasar gained enormous mass in a short period of time.”
The team of astronomers from China, the US, Australia, and Chile were studying materials obtained by several telescopes from all over the globe, when they found the brightest ever quasar with a black hole, with a “redshift” of 6.30. The “redshift” is a way to measure the distance and age of an object emitting light by the stretching of light to the red end of the spectrum. Quasars exceeding a “redshift” of 6.0 are extremely rare – only 40 of them have been discovered so far.
“This quasar is very unique. We are so excited, when we found that there is such a luminous and massive quasar only 0.9bn years after the Big Bang. Just like the brightest lighthouse in the distant universe, its glowing light will help us to probe more about the early universe,” Xue-Bing Wu from Peking University in China said in a press release.
Mysterious quasars were discovered in the 1950s. For the time being, scientists have counted over 200,000 quasars, which are extremely difficult to find. They are believed to consist of heated matter, surrounding supermassive black holes that can be found in the center of galaxies. The black hole in the center of our Milky Way galaxy has a mass of three million suns.
“This quasar is a unique laboratory to study the way that a quasar’s black hole and host galaxy co-evolve. Our findings indicate that in the early universe, quasar black holes probably grew faster than their host galaxies, although more research is needed to confirm this idea,” co-author Yuri Beletsky from the Carnegie Institution said.
Seismologists have long known that Earth can oscillate like a planet-sized bell after the shock of an earthquake. More mysterious is why our planet is also oscillating all the time—at low frequencies and barely detectable by instruments.
A new study suggests a surprising answer: waves at the bottom of the ocean.
Long ocean waves can actually travel thousands of miles from coast to coast, hugging the seafloor. The immense pressure of these waves on the ocean bottom generates the oscillation waves that makes the whole Earth resonate, according to computer models described by French scientists in Geophysical Research Letters. These oscillations are very slow, with periods of up to 300 seconds.
A second and better known mechanism explains the faster oscillations. They are the result of waves colliding in the oceans, generating seismic waves with periods of less than 13 seconds.
Together, the authors say two mechanisms account for the tiny seismic waves that continuously rock our planet. Understanding these small oscillations could help seismologists separate signal from noise, picking out ever fainter seismic signatures from earthquakes or nuclear explosions far away. [Geophysical Research Letters, AGU]
Muslim Ummah aspires to attain a rightful and honored place among the civilizations of the world and make our proportionate contribution towards international peace, progress and happiness of humanity.
Why can't we extract electricity from lightning? Another Magnificent creation!
From purely electrical charge calculations:
1. Each lightning strike has on average only five billion joules, that is equivalent to only around 1,400kWh of energy if we assume zero loss in transfer and storage.
2. Lightning strikes over a year are around 1.4 billion, and of those, only about 25 per cent are actually ground strikes since most (75 per cent) are intra-cloud and cloud-cloud, and cannot be harnessed. That leaves only 350 million lightning strikes that could possibly be harnessed. Also, assuming 100 per cent harnessing of all lightning strikes, no loss in capture, transfer and storage, that is 490,000,000,000kWh/year.
3. In 2009, the world used around 20,279,640,000,000kWh – over 40 times the electrical energy that all the hypothetically harness-able land strikes contain. So, basically, all the lightning we can capture will give the world enough electricity for only nine days!
But there is more. If you want to see how much it would cost to do that:
To capture each and every lightning strike (land strikes only) we would most likely have to put extremely tall towers (think the Eiffel Tower) around a mile apart in a grid formation covering the entire globe. That is one tower for each of the almost 200,000,000sq m of the Earth's surface.
The equipment to capture the electrical energy in a strike would have to handle the extreme amount of charge in only around 30 milliseconds (approximate duration of a lighting strike). To handle that kind of instantaneous power, heavy conduction rods would need to be used, with ultra-heavy-duty electrical circuits and storage super-capacitors.
Although we do not have that technology in electrical energy storage yet, let's assume we do, and let's also assume that the energy system is 100 per cent efficient (understanding that most electrical systems when working optimally are less than 70-80 per cent efficient at best), then we can imagine a cost for each tower and electrical circuitry storage would be around £350,000. That is £67 trillion for the land equipment only, ie, with no flotation device for ocean and sea versions. Not to mention installation costs and regular maintenance, as well as the wire grid connecting all the towers together, and the havoc that will cause with air traffic... More money than the world has!
In comparison, one hour of sunlight has the same amount of energy that we use in a year! We have much more power available from the sun and we only need our rooftops to accumulate all we need.
Now ask the question, 'Why haven't we covered all the roofs with solar panels?'.
This amazing map shows just how little of our galaxy we’ve explored so far
By Jamie Lendino on April 15, 2015
Using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OLGE), astronomers have discovered a planet that’s roughly 13,000 light-years from Earth — one of the furthest ever such exoplanets ever discovered. The official name for it is OGLE-2014-BLG-0124L, which like most of these, rolls right off the tongue. Not much is known about this planet other than the fact that it’s a gas giant.
Coinciding with the discovery, NASA/JPL has released an artist’s rendering of a map showing exactly where we’ve found exoplanets to date. It’s amazing: We’ve barely scratched the surface of our own galaxy, which is 100,000 light-years across, even after finding more than 1,800 exoplanets so far (and 4,600 other possible suspects). Each time we get a little push or bump in technology or search methods, we’re able to push our search that much further out.
There are many methods scientists use to find exoplanets, and nearly all of them are indirect in some way (i.e. not visibly observed). Let’s review three of the most common ones.
The ‘transit’ method: Scientists discovered the first exoplanets using ground telescopes and what’s called pulsar timing and radial velocity, but a more common method used since the turn of the century is the ‘transit’ method. It’s pretty simple; when a planet crosses in front of a star, that star dims ever so slightly. So going by the distance to that star, and the relative sizes of the star and planet, you can confirm a planet is orbiting a star by the regular, very small dips in brightness.
In the map below, most of the planets found this way are in the orange-pink circle around our Solar System. More recently, scientists are sifting through data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, using the transit method and others to find possible candidates. Exoplanets found with Kepler are shown with the orange-pink “cone” that extends outward, representing the space telescope’s field of view.
Gravitational microlensing: Astronomers are also working with a technique called microlensing (illustrated below) to reach these further-out exoplanets, like the one that’s 13,000 light-years away. The gravitational field of the star acts like a lens that magnifies the light from a distant background star. If there’s a planet present, that will affect the results in an extremely tiny, but still detectable way. Exoplanets found with microlensing are in yellow. The furthest-out one we found so far is about 25,000 light years away, and sits just near the center of our galaxy.
Direct observation and imaging: This one is extremely tough with our current level of technology, and only relatively recently (2008) was it confirmed that the first exoplanet was found in this manner. In these cases, usually the planet is very young, emits infrared light, and is far enough from the glare of the star that you can pick it out.
We’re finding everything from so-called “super Earths” to hot Jupiters and massive gas giants. But all of this is not just about finding other worlds. There’s the search for exoplanets (and exomoons) in general, and then specifically the search for planets that could harbor alien life. For the latter, scientists have been looking in what’s called the ‘Goldilocks’ zone. And of course, we’re still looking within our own Solar System for alien life as well.
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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