Thursday, November 26

Science

Science

Most massive black hole merger yet puzzles astronomers
Science

Most massive black hole merger yet puzzles astronomers

<!----> The merger of middleweight black holes churned up gravitational waves that were detected on Earth. Deborah Ferguson, Karan Jani, Deirdre Shoemaker, Pablo Laguna, Georgia Tech, MAYA Collaboration By Daniel ClerySep. 2, 2020 , 8:00 AM Far away in the depths of space, two black holes spiral toward each other and merge. Powerful gravitational waves from that dance of death race across the cosmos until their ripples reach three giant detectors on Earth: two with the U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) ...
Watch levitating upside-down boats flip the law of buoyancy
Science

Watch levitating upside-down boats flip the law of buoyancy

<!----> Appfel et al., Nature 2020 By Edd GentSep. 2, 2020 , 11:00 AM If you’re a water sports fan looking for a new thrill, what about upside-down sailing? The idea might not be so outlandish. In a new study, physicists have managed to float tiny boats on the underside of a layer of liquid levitating in midair (see animation, above). Besides opening up some unusual nautical possibilities, the discovery quite literally flips our understanding of buoyancy on its head. The science behind why boats float has remained largely unchanged since the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes explained h...
Poisoning of Putin opponent renews spotlight on deadly Russian chemical weapon
Science

Poisoning of Putin opponent renews spotlight on deadly Russian chemical weapon

<!----> Investigators examine the site in the United Kingdom where a former Russian spy was poisoned with a Novichok agent in 2018. German officials today said a similar agent was used to poison a prominent Russian opposition leader. ANDREW MATTHEWS/PRESS ASSOCIATION VIA AP IMAGES By Science's News StaffSep. 2, 2020 , 1:35 PM A notorious nerve poison is back in the news. The German government said today that Alexei Navalny, a prominent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was poisoned with a chemical similar to Novichok, a deadly...
Want to Support Wildlife Conservation in Africa? Start by Going on a Virtual Safari
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Want to Support Wildlife Conservation in Africa? Start by Going on a Virtual Safari

As of this August, more than 90 percent of safari tour operators have reported losing 75 percent or more of their annual business due to Covid-19. The pandemic has dealt a devastating blow to an industry that was booming just six months earlier. As country after country went into lockdown and emergency quarantine protocols were put in place, lodges had to put a halt to safaris—not just because customers weren't making new reservations, but also because scheduled safaris were consistently canceled. Tony Mobile Safari in Botswana lost more than 150 expected customers. Mankwe Wildlife Reserve in South Africa saw every customer cancel. Mofeg Travel and Tours in Ghana normally operates seven tours ...
What A 1,000-Year-Old Seal Skull Can Tell Us About Climate Change
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What A 1,000-Year-Old Seal Skull Can Tell Us About Climate Change

Smithsonian Voices National Museum of Natural History What A 1000-Year-Old Seal Skull Can Say About Climate Change September 2nd, 2020, 9:00AM / BY Abigail Eisenstadt <!-- var pwidget_config = { mobileOverlay: true, }; --> Southern elephant seals normally live in the South Atlantic, often as far south as Antarctica. These are young male Southern elephant seals from the South Shetland and Anvers islands, Antarctica. (Daniel Costa / University of California, Santa Cruz under the National Marine Fisheries Service permits (numbers 87-1593 and 87-1851-00) and ACA authorization)Once in a while, scientists re-discover an unusual specimen hidden on the shelves o...
Hubble’s Photo of the Cygnus Loop is, Of Course, Incredible
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Hubble’s Photo of the Cygnus Loop is, Of Course, Incredible

If you’re a Star Trek fan, you may think the above image portrays the “Nexus” from the movie Star Trek: Generations. In the film, the Nexus was a ribbon-like extra-dimensional realm that exists outside of normal space-time. But this is actually a real image from the venerable Hubble Space Telescope, of the Cygnus Loop. This stunning picture from space shows just a small portion of a blast wave left over from a supernova that took place, from our vantage point, in the northern constellation Cygnus the Swan.   The original supernova explosion blasted apart a dying star about 2,600 light-years away. This star was approximately 20 times more massive than our Sun, and the blast likely occurred between 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. Since then, the remnant has expanded 60 light-years from its cen...
The Solar System has been Flying Through the Debris of a Supernova for 33,000 Years
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The Solar System has been Flying Through the Debris of a Supernova for 33,000 Years

An Ancient Voyage Earth is on a journey… While our planet orbits the Sun each year – a billion kilometers – our entire Solar System is drifting through the Milky Way Galaxy making one rotation every 225-250 million years (that means dinosaurs actually lived on the other side of the Galaxy!) Humanity has been on Earth for a small fraction of that journey, but parts of what we’ve missed is chronicled. It is written into the rock and life of our planet by the explosions of dying stars – supernova. Turns out supernovas write in radioactive ink called Iron-60. The Crab Nebula is the remains of a Supernova which occurred about a thousand years ago and was visible on Earth recorded by ancient astronomers – C. NASA/ESA/HubbleAs the Sun travels through the Galaxy, so too do the hundreds of billion...
Quasars can twinkle?
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Quasars can twinkle?

It turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks. With a recent upgrade to a 50-year-old radio telescope, astronomers have spotted nearly a dozen of a rare class of quasars, ones capable of flickering in less than an hour. Quasars are among the most powerful sources of radiation in the universe. Powered by a giant black hole in the center of a galaxy gobbling down material as quickly as it can, quasars emit more light than millions of galaxies combined. But because of their extreme distance, they only appear to us as spots of intense radio emission on the sky. Among the quasars, one kind is very peculiar: the so-called intra-hour variable, or IHV, quasars. These quasars appear to twinkle in less than an hour, which shouldn’t be possible given the vast bulk of the quasar itself. Instead...
Hubble Shows the True Size of Andromeda
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Hubble Shows the True Size of Andromeda

It’s possible that you’ve seen the Andromeda galaxy (M31) without even realizing it. The massive spiral galaxy appears as a grey, spindle-shaped blob in the night sky, visible with the naked eye in the right conditions. It’s the nearest major galaxy to ours, and astronomers have studied it a lot. Now astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to map out Andromeda’s enormous halo of hot gas. Scientists call the halo of gas surrounding galaxies the circumgalactic medium (CGM.) The CGM is diffuse, and nearly invisible. But as scientists get the technology to study it more closely, they’re starting to understand the important role it plays in galactic evolution. They think that the CGM is an important source of star-forming material, and that it regulates a galaxy’s gas supply. “It’s f...
Astronomers Thought They’d Found a Red Dwarf That Wasn’t Hostile to its Habitable Zone Planets. They Were Wrong
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Astronomers Thought They’d Found a Red Dwarf That Wasn’t Hostile to its Habitable Zone Planets. They Were Wrong

In the past decade, the study of exoplanets has grown by leaps and bounds. At present, a total of 4,201 planets have been confirmed beyond the Solar System and another 5,481 candidates await confirmation. In the midst of all this, M-type red dwarf stars have become a focus of exoplanet research because they appear to be the most likely place where rocky (aka. Earth-like) planets can be found orbiting within the star’s habitable zone (HZ). However, that does not mean that red dwarf stars are good candidates for hosting habitable planets. Take GJ 887, for example, one of the brightest M stars in the sky that has a system of two (possibly three) planets. In the past, this star was believed to be calm and stable, but new research by astronomers from Arizona State University has shown that GJ ...