суббота, 15 сентября 2018 г.

Uncovering the birthplaces of stars in the Milky Way

An international team of scientists led by Ivan Minchev of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) has found a way to recover the birth places of stars in our Galaxy. This is one of the major goals in the field of Galactic Archaeology, whose aim is to reconstruct the formation history of the Milky Way.

Uncovering the birthplaces of stars in the Milky Way
Left: A sample of about 600 stars situated very close to the Sun was used (approximate volume shown by arrow).
Right: Using precise stellar age and iron content measurements, the stellar birth places could be recovered.
Older stars were found to arrive preferentially from the inner parts of the disk (lighter coloured dots), while
younger ones (darker coluored dots) were born closer to their current distance from the Galactic centre.
The background image shows a simulation of a galaxy similar to the Milky Way for perspective
[Credit: I. Minchev (AIP)]

Stars in galactic discs have long been known to wander away from their birth sites owing to a phenomenon known as “radial migration.” This movement across the Galaxy severely hampers inferences of the Milky Way formation history. Radial migration is influenced by a number of parameters: for example, the size and speed of the Galactic bar, the number and shape of spiral arms in the Galactic disc, and the frequency of smaller galaxies colliding with the Milky Way during the past 10 billion years and their respective masses.
To circumvent these obstacles, the scientists devised a way of recovering the Galactic migration history using the ages and chemical composition of stars as “Archaeological artifacts.” They used the well-established fact that star formation in the Galactic disc progresses gradually outwards, following that stars born at a given position at a particular time have a distinct chemical-abundance pattern. Therefore, if the age and chemical composition (its iron content, for example) of a star can be measured very precisely, it becomes possible to directly infer its birth position in the Galactic disc without additional modeling assumptions.

The team used a sample of about 600 solar-neighborhood stars observed with the high-resolution spectrograph HARPS mounted on the 3.6 m telescope of ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Thanks to the very precise age and iron abundance measurements, it was found that these stars were born all across the Galactic disc, with older ones coming more from the central parts.

Researches can now use this method for calculation of birth places even for stars not in the original sample. For example, given the age of our Sun of 4.6 billion years and its iron content, it could be estimated that the Sun was born about 2,000 light years closer to the Galactic center than it is currently located.

Minchev comments: “Once in the possession of birth radii, a wealth of invaluable information could be gained about the Milky Way past, even from this small number of stars with precise enough measurements available to us at this time.” Co-author Friedrich Anders adds: “In the near future, applying this method to the extremely high-quality data from the Gaia mission and ground-based spectroscopic surveys will allow much more exact measurements of the migration history and, thus, the Milky Way past.”

The study is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Source: Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam [September 13, 2018]



Gravitational waves provide dose of reality about extra dimensions

While last year’s discovery of gravitational waves from colliding neutron stars was earth-shaking, it won’t add extra dimensions to our understanding of the universe—not literal ones, at least.

Gravitational waves provide dose of reality about extra dimensions
In new study, UChicago astronomers find no evidence for extra spatial dimensions to the universe based
on gravitational wave data [Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center CI Lab]

University of Chicago astronomers found no evidence for extra spatial dimensions to the universe based on the gravitational wave data. Their research, published in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, is one of many papers in the wake of the extraordinary announcement last year that LIGO had detected a neutron star collision.

The first-ever detection of gravitational waves in 2015, for which three physicists won the Nobel Prize last year, was the result of two black holes crashing together. Last year, scientists observed two neutron stars collide. The major difference between the two is that astronomers could see the aftermath of the neutron star collision with a conventional telescope, producing two readings that can be compared: one in gravity, and one in electromagnetic (light) waves.

“This is the very first time we’ve been able to detect sources simultaneously in both gravitational and light waves,” said Prof. Daniel Holz. “This provides an entirely new and exciting probe, and we’ve been learning all sorts of interesting things about the universe.”

Einstein’s theory of general relativity explains the solar system very well, but as scientists learned more about the universe beyond, big holes in our understanding began to emerge. Two of these are dark matter, one of the basic ingredients of the universe; and dark energy, the mysterious force that’s making the universe expand faster over time.

Scientists have proposed all kinds of theories to explain dark matter and dark energy, and “a lot of alternate theories to general relativity start with adding an extra dimension,” said graduate student Maya Fishbach, a coauthor on the paper. One theory is that over long distances, gravity would “leak” into the additional dimensions. This would cause gravity to appear weaker, and could account for the inconsistencies.

The one-two punch of gravitational waves and light from the neutron star collision detected last year offered one way for Holz and Fishbach to test this theory. The gravitational waves from the collision reverberated in LIGO the morning of Aug. 17, 2017, followed by detections of gamma-rays, X-rays, radio waves, and optical and infrared light. If gravity were leaking into other dimensions along the way, then the signal they measured in the gravitational wave detectors would have been weaker than expected. But it wasn’t.

It appears for now that the universe has the same familiar dimensions—three in space and one of time—even on scales of a hundred million light-years.

But this is just the beginning, scientists said. “There are so many theories that until now, we didn’t have concrete ways to test,” Fishbach said. “This changes how a lot of people can do their astronomy.”

“We look forward to seeing what gravitational-wave surprises the universe might have in store for us,” Holz said.

Author: Louise Lerner | Source: University of Chicago [September 13, 2018]



Pompeii and Delos come closer together

Pompeii and Delos: two unique archaeological sites and monuments on the UNESCO World Heritage list, come closer to one another through a collaboration which started recently between the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Cyclades and the Pompeii Archaeological Park. This important synergy not only includes the “voyage” of the jewelry exhibition Vanity: Stories of Jewelry in the Cyclades to the city with the catastrophic end (as we know, Pompeii was covered in volcanic matter and ash when Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD) but also exchanges of expertise as part of a groundbreaking programme that sees the ancient city holistically.

Pompeii and Delos come closer together
Aerial view of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii [Credit: David Hiser/National Geographic Creative]

The heads of the two services, director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Cyclades, Dimitris Athanasoulis and director of Pompeii Archaeological Park Massimo Osanna talked to the Athens and Macedonian News Agency on all the above. At the same time, the Italian archaeologist also spoke about the new discoveries at Pompeii that stand out for being well preserved and also for their proper documentation which was absent from earlier ones.

“I made my acquaintance with Massimo Osanna through the French School at Athens and its director Alexandre Farnoux. We have an excellent collaboration because of our common approach, which is to place emphasis on the upgrading of archeological sites with policies that will attract the greatest number of visitors” said Mr. Athanasoulis to the AMNA, further explaining: ‟We decided on a model of collaboration between two regional services; the Pompeii Archaeological Park from Italy and the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Cyclades from the Archaeological Service of Greece. It is the first time that two regional services are working together on all the range of their activities, i.e. from research to promotion, which I think is very interesting”.

Pompeii and Delos come closer together
Map of Pompeii [Credit: Dennis Jarvis/Flickr]

In this context, it was decided to transfer a modified version of the “Vanity” exhibition to Pompeii while, as the Greek Curator informed the AMNA, the two services will  also collaborate on the exhibition to be held in Rome on the Cities of Volcanoes, such as the two most important cities in the Mediterranean; the Prehistoric Akrotiri of Thera and Roman Pompeii.
As part of the collaboration, joint teams will be created for restoration work on Delos and in Italy, for there to be an exchange of experience which is a very important fact, points out Mr. Athanasoulis adding “We shall also get involved there with the conservation of a cave with frescoes”.

“Vanity” in Pompeii

For his part, Mr. Osanna spoke to the AMNA about the “Vanity” exhibition which will be transferred to Pompeii. “The plan is for it to open around Christmas. We are working with Greek colleagues on this exhibition that was held at the Archaeological Museum of Mykonos, but in a different context. We want to compare Greek and Roman jewelry through time “noted the Italian archaeologist pointing out that in Mykonos the jewelry exhibited was from the 2nd millennium BC to the present day.

Pompeii and Delos come closer together
House of the Faun in Pompeii [Credit: Porsche997SBS/WikiCommons]

‟We also wish to convey this ‘timeless’ dimension of jewelry, and this is possible since the history of Pompeii begins around the 7th c. BC. One more important element emerging from this collaboration is comparing two regions of the Mediterranean, through which one can find many similarities between the Aegean and the Tyrrhenian seas” he said.

He did not omit to mention what attracted him from the start in the “Vanity” exhibition: “There were two things. One was the layout, i.e. how one can exhibit all these artefacts in a museum. The display cases and the layout’s architecture in general was very interesting; the whole project was very modern and elegant. We wanted, therefore, to present this part of the exhibition in this modern way as if it were a presentation by Bulgari for example. Naturally for me as an archaeologist it was particularly interesting to see all those artefacts in an exhibition covering a period from the 2nd millennium BC up to the 1st millennium AD. It is a marvelous way of narrating history and the evolution of jewelry through time”.

Collaborating on Delos

Regarding his collaboration with the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Cyclades on Delos, Mr. Osanna said: “It is very significant because Greece and Italy have the same problems in conservation and restoration, the same research approach and interpretation of the past. Consequently, it was very important for Mr. Athanasoulis and me that Greece and Italy are collaborating on programmes conserving cultural heritage”. Why are you beginning with Delos? “Because it needs a very big conservation programme, like the one we are following in Pompeii, thanks to European funding. It is a huge programme that we began last year and which is truly revolutionary for Pompeii” he stressed.

Pompeii and Delos come closer together
Aerial view of Delos [Credit: John Trikeriotis/Twitter]

The two archaeologists referred to the innovative dimension of this programme. “Pompeii was in a very bad state and it was decided to implement an extensive programme of renovation with a large budget that approaches the archaeological site holistically. The equivalent is also being planned for Delos, i.e. we are approaching the enhancement of the archaeological site holistically; both as a sanctuary and a city. From then on we shall make a strategic plan and depending on the funding will implement parts of it, which nevertheless will already be more complete and our intervention not so fragmentary”, said Mr. Athanasoulis.
For his part Mr. Osanna pointed out when speaking to the AMNA that “In Pompeii we approach the city as a city. I.e. the programme we follow does not concern one house or a part of it, but the entire city. This means preserving everything, making everything comprehensible, opening all the streets and houses that were shut and above all not losing any archaeological material like wall paintings for example. In this context, Greek and French colleagues recently came to Pompeii to study our big programme of conservation and restoration”.

Pompeii and Delos come closer together
Artist’s impression of Ancient Delos at its height showing the Sacred Harbour (foreground) with Sanctuary just above. 
Also shown are: the Sacred Lake close alongside the Agora of the Italians; the Hippodrome (above the Sacred Lake) 
and beyond that the Stadium; Sanctuary of the Syrian and Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods(top right); 
and the Stadium (middle right). The city’s extensive residential areas are also depicted 
[Credit: Francesco Comi, 1995]

Regarding Delos, Mr. Osanna added that a memorandum has already been signed ‟of collaboration between the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Cyclades and the Pompeii Archaeological Park so as to share expertise on issues of conservation. In this context and given the impossibility of implementing such a programme without important research preceding it both in Italy and the Cyclades, we are organizing joint research programmes, such as a survey on the island of Reneia opposite Delos, which is a wonderful archaeological site that has not however been researched systematically. Next we shall go ahead with a restoration programme. For example, we are thinking of beginning the restoration of the House of Masks on Delos next October” said the Italian archaeologist to the AMNA, stressing that it is a very interesting collaboration ‟because in antiquity the ties between Italy and Delos were very strong. Delos was the most important port of the Mediterranean in the 2nd c. BC and many people from Campania, Napoli and Pompeii came here mainly for reasons of trade”.

Regarding the raising of money for the programme, Mr. Athanasoulis announced to the AMNA that it will be tried out through crowdfunding, while searching for sponsors in Greece and abroad, also with the help of the French School. ‟To my mind the great benefit comes from the collaboration between specialist scientists, archaeologists, architects and conservators of both services because both sides will acquire experience and expertise” explained the Greek Curator of Antiquities. “We don’t just want European money but European collaboration as well. We believe a lot in this approach”, added Mr. Osanna referring to the partnership between Greece, Italy and France.

Pompeii and Greece

What do we know however about Pompeii, an archaeological site with an area of 66 hectares of which 44 have been excavated? Is it perhaps a Greek colony, as has been suggested by many in the past?

Pompeii and Delos come closer together
A view of the courtyard of the House of the Trident with the floor mosaic in Delos
[Credit: Bernard Gagnon/WikiCommons]

“The origins of Pompeii have been discussed at length since the 19th century. There are scholars who say it was an Italian city, others that it was Greek and some Etruscan. During research this last year, amazing data was located connected to its founding and now it is my opinion that Pompeii was an Etruscan city. It is however significant that Pompeii of the 7th and 6th c. BC was an open community and that those who founded it had very strong cultural ties with Greece. We have stylistic traces in the architecture of the buildings that show this link between Etruscan families of Pompeii and Greek architects and craftsmen who came from Italy’s Greek colonies”, said Mr. Osanna to the AMNA.
As to the excavations of the city, he himself noted that “Pompeii was discovered in the mid-18th century and excavations have been conducted since then to the present day. This last year we have begun new research while simultaneously carrying out the conservation programme. Moreover, for the first time we are in a position of having reliable documentation of Pompeii’s excavations, i.e. to know the exact spot each artifact was found. The excavations of the last century, in the 1960s for example, had not been very well documented. Now the situation is entirely different”, he clarified.

Pompeii and Delos come closer together
An extensive restoration programme with a large budget is being implemented at Pompeii that approaches
the archaeological site holistically [Credit: AMNA, Massimo Osanna]

He explains what has impressed him most in the recent research: “We excavate streets with houses on either side of them. This means we have found furniture, vases and wall paintings in a wonderful state of preservation. We find all artefacts in their proper place inside the rooms and this is very significant. Because, as I told you, the archaeological context is missing from many objects already excavated in the 19th century and exhibited today in the Museum of Naples. We do not know where they were found. It is vital this context should exist and that we should “read” it properly if we wish to understand the ancient society.It is therefore a first-class opportunity to have this extraordinary documentation and reconstruction of the entire archaeological context for the first time,” he concluded in his talk to the AMNA.

Source: AMNA via Archaeology & Arts [September 13, 2018]



Man nabbed for carving message in Roman Forum stone

A Colombian man was arrested Tuesday for carving a message into a marble capital in the Roman Forum in Rome.

Man nabbed for carving message in Roman Forum stone
View of the Roman Forum [Credit: Gray Line I love Rome]

When police stopped him, he had carved the name “Lulu” onto the top of the stone pillar and was about to add “I love you”, police said.

He has been cautioned for damaging Italy’s artistic and archaeological heritage.

Source: ANSA [September 13, 2018]



Dog discovers Bronze Age treasure in the Czech Republic

It was a typical March day under the Orlické Mountains and Mr. Frankota was walking his dog, Monty, along one of the fields. Suddenly Monty began frantically digging and when Mr. Frankota came to have a look at what all the fuss was about, he noticed that bronze, sickle like objects were appearing.

Dog discovers Bronze Age treasure in the Czech Republic
While on a walk with his owner in the northern Bohemian village of Kostelecké Horky, a dog dug up
more than 20 unique Bronze Age objects [Credit: ČTK/PR/Královéhradecký kraj]

Eventually, 13 of the sickles, as well as two spear points, three axes and a number of bracelets were discovered. All are dated to be over 3000 years old.

Martina Beková is an archaeologist working for the Museum and Gallery of Orlické Mountains in the nearby town of Rychnov. She was a member of the team that examined the objects after their discovery.

“The fact that there are so many objects in one place is almost certainly tied to an act of honoration, most likely a sacrifice of some sorts. What particularly surprised us was that the objects were whole, because the culture that lived here at the time normally just buried fragments, often melted as well. These objects are beautiful, but the fact that they are complete and in good condition is of much more value to us.”

Mrs. Beková and her colleagues believe these pieces belong to a group of Indo-Europeans that lived in the region during the late Bronze Age. Their practice of creating large burial grounds, where the deceased were placed in urns, has led to their official archaeological designation as the ‘urnfield culture’.

Dog discovers Bronze Age treasure in the Czech Republic

Mr. Frankota has since received a reward of 7860 CZK from the Hradec Králové Region, which now owns the treasure. The region’s spokeswoman, Sylvie Velčovská, says that the surrounding fields have since become an area of interest.

“Archaeologists have searched the surrounding fields with metal detectors. There were some considerable changes to the surrounding terrain over the centuries, so it is possible that the deeper layers are still hiding some secrets.“

Mrs. Velčovská is also eager to say that the ‘Bronze Age treasure’, as the objects have since become known, is opening up to the eyes of the wider public.

“An exhibition titled ‘Journey to the Beginning of Time’, opened today in the town of Kostelec nad Orlicí, and the objects will be displayed there from the 13th to the 21st of September.

“After that they will have to go through a conservation process. However, for the long term, we intend to keep them in Kostelec as part of a permanent exhibition in the palace, which houses various archaeological objects discovered in the region.”

Author: Tom McEnchroe | Source: Radio Praha [September 13, 2018]



254 medieval copper coins discovered in the premises of Khirki Mosque in New Delhi

The Archaeological Survey of India (Delhi Circle) of Ministry of Culture has discovered a hoard of 254 Copper Coins in the premises of Khirki Mosque during the course of conservation of the monument. This mosque lies on the southern periphery of the village Khirki. The mosque was built by Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, the Prime Minister of Firoz Shah Tughluq (1351-88), and is believed to be one of the seven mosques built by him.

254 medieval copper coins discovered in the premises of Khirki Mosque in New Delhi
Credit: Press Information Bureau Government of India

The Archaeological Survey of India had taken up the task of cleaning of the area to initiate conservation of Khirki Mosque and during the cleaning, a hoard of 254 Coins of medieval period were found near entrance of the monument. Immediately, a team of archaeologist, consternation assistant and photographers rushed to the site and took the hoard of coins under their possession.
Several coins were cleaned by the experts of Science of Branch of Archaeological Survey of India and on the basis of preliminary observation, it can be said that some of the coins belong to the reign of Shershah Suri and his successors.

254 medieval copper coins discovered in the premises of Khirki Mosque in New Delhi
Credit: Press Information Bureau Government of India

It is pertinent to mention that in the year 2003 a hoard of 63 coins was found from the same premises during cleaning and conservation. Delhi Circle has started scientific clearance of the area under technical supervision of archaeologists. After cleaning of the coins process to decipher the same will be initiated with the help of experts.
Built with rubble stone, and thickly plastered, the Khirki Mosque is double-storeyed,  The lower storey consisting only of a series of basement cells. Battered bastions occupy its four corners, imparting it the look of a fortified building.

254 medieval copper coins discovered in the premises of Khirki Mosque in New Delhi
Credit: Press Information Bureau Government of India

Gateways project from its three sides, except on the west, each flanked by tapering minarets, the main entrance being from the east. Corresponding with the openings of cells on the lower storey, the upper storey contains perforated windows (khirkis), which have given it its present name.
The pillared courtyard is divided into twenty- five squares, five on each side, each square consisting of nine smaller squares. Among the larger squares, three on each side, two on the corners and one in the middle, together with the square in the centre of the courtyard, are each covered with a cluster of nine small low domes of Tughluq pattern.

Among the remaining squares, four on the diagonals are left uncovered to admit light, while the others are covered with flat roofs. This ingenious way of covering the courtyard is repeated only in one other mosque erected by the same builder. These two are the only examples of closed mosques in northern India.

Source: Press Information Bureau Government of India, Ministry of Culture [September 13, 2018]



Sprouting Hairs Most toddlers find endless fun in whirling…

Sprouting Hairs

Most toddlers find endless fun in whirling around until they’re dizzy. But when dizziness strikes unexpectedly in old age it’s quite the opposite. One cause is the loss of hair cells in a part of the ear called the vestibular epithelium. Researchers investigated whether support cells in this epithelium could be coaxed into becoming hair cells by adding the gene ATOH1, as had been achieved in mice. Human vestibular epithelium was treated with a drug to destroy the hair cells. The support cells were then genetically manipulated to add ATOH1. Genetic analysis showed hundreds of hair cell genes were now switched on in these cells. Imaging them using electron microscopy revealed hair cell-like projections had sprouted from their tops (pictured). ATOH1 does seem able to kickstart the transformation of human support cells into hair cells. Research continues in the hopes of creating fully functional hair cells to treat balance disorders.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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Turkish court rejects opening Hagia Sophia for Muslim prayers

Turkey’s Supreme Court has rejected an application calling for the opening of Hagia Sophia, a 6th-century Byzantine cathedral in Istanbul, to Muslim prayers, state-run Anadolu news agency said on Thursday.

Turkish court rejects opening Hagia Sophia for Muslim prayers
Credit: Arild Vågen

The Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage site, served as the centre of the Greek Orthodox church for more than 900 years before it was converted to a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the secularist founder of modern Turkey, had the giant building turned into a museum in 1935, but Islamists have campaigned ever since to make it into a mosque again.

The Supreme Court ruled that the person who filed the application to hold Muslim prayers inside Hagia Sophia on the grounds of religious freedom did not have the right to make an appeal as, according to the law, individual applications were not valid.

In recent years, thousands of Muslims have prayed outside the Hagia Sophia to demand it be reopened as a mosque.

In 2015, a cleric recited from the Quran inside the building, for the first time in 85 years. The following year, the state religious authority began hosting and broadcasting spiritual readings from Hagia Sophia during the holy month of Ramadan, and the call to prayer was recited to mark the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Mohammed.

Source: Ahval [September 13, 2018]



A mighty Egyptian fortress revealed

Since he and his team began excavating the ancient Egyptian colony of Tombos in Sudanese Nubia, Stuart Tyson Smith has made a host of discoveries. But something eluded the UC Santa Barbara professor of anthropology: evidence of the fortifications typical of a settlement on the frontier.

A mighty Egyptian fortress revealed
A head from a woman’s coffin dating to the 18th Dynasty, roughly 1400 BC. 
It came from tomb near Tombos [Credit: Stuart Tyson Smith/UCSB]

No longer. In a chapter of a new book, From Microcosm to Macrocosm: Individual households and cities in Ancient Egypt and Nubia (Sidestone Press, 2018), Smith and his co-author, Michele Buzon, a professor of anthropology at Purdue University, detail their discovery of the foundations of a fortress at Tombos that likely dates to the colony’s founding around 1450 BC.
The discovery of massive fortifications — 400 meters a side — helps cement Tombos’ place as an important Egyptian colony of the New Kingdom (c. 1550-1070 BC), said Smith, who has excavated the site in Sudan with Buzon since 2000.

“Karoy was a lost fortress — nobody knew exactly where it was and the likely candidates all had other names,” Smith said. “Once we started excavating in the cemetery people started speculating that it might be at Tombos, but there was no sign of a fort. It was puzzling, because it didn’t fit the bill; it was explicitly called a fortress, so it had to be fortified. Once we found a fortification, I went, ‘Aha! Here’s the smoking gun that lets us know that this is the place mentioned by the Vizier Merymose over 3,300 years ago at the edge of the colonized zone of Nubia.’ ”

A mighty Egyptian fortress revealed
UCSB alum Mohamed Faroug Abdelrahman Ali, who supervised the town excavation in Tombos,
 stands in a dry moat, part of an ancient fortification [Credit: Stuart Tyson Smith/UCSB]

In “The Fortified Settlement at Tombos and Egyptian Colonial Strategy in New Kingdom Nubia,” Smith and Buzon write that the first hints of a fortress at Tombos date to the first years of the 16th century BC, when the pharaoh Thutmose I conquered Kush and incorporated Nubia into an empire that would last through the end of the New Kingdom.

Not long after, Thutmose I ordered inscriptions carved on granite outcrops at Tombos, which Smith and others have argued signified an internal boundary within Egypt’s Nubian empire at the headwaters of the Third Cataract. Interpreters of the inscription have said it refers to the construction of a menenu, or fortress, at the site — although no fortification had been found.

Fast-forward more than 3,500 years. Beginning in 2013 and continuing through the 2015-17 field seasons at Tombos, Smith and Buzon discovered evidence of buildings and what they termed “a massive new fortification.” Distinctive pottery types, inscriptions and radiocarbon dates indicate that it was built around 50 years after the conquest, probably commissioned under the joint reign of Queen Hatshepsut and her stepson Thutmose III (c. 1578-1458 BC).

A mighty Egyptian fortress revealed
Inscriptions carved into granite outcroppings at the Third Cataract of the Nile. They’re about 100 yards north
of the Tombos fortress and commemorate Thutmose I’s conquest of the Kingdom of Kush in 1502 BC
[Credit: Stuart Tyson Smith/UCSB]

“One of our goals was to find the town where people were living,” Smith said. “We knew it was somewhere under the (modern) village because we’ve seen pottery and we’ve done a couple of little tests and found some foundations in one spot, a bunch of pottery in other places. And so we decided to go all in and just start digging in every open space the villagers would let us dig in. And they were very nice about it, which I have to say is typical of the Nubian people who have been our hosts all these years.
“Initially, we found this weird feature,” he continued. “It looked like a subterranean building of some kind.” Below ground, it was a trench lined with mud brick walls and had mud floors on a stone foundation. It was also filled with “heaps and heaps of pottery, so there were a lot of people living nearby.”

Smith and Buzon weren’t sure what it was, but in the next two seasons they kept following it in both directions. They dug a number of test trenches to see how far it went through the village. “It just kept going and going,” said Smith, noting it ran far past the southern edge of the modern village and out to the Nile to the west, a span of more than 200 meters to a side. It is, he said, larger than any of the other fortified colonies going back to the Middle Kingdom (c. 2050-1710 BC).

A mighty Egyptian fortress revealed
This heart scarab from the tomb of a woman named Weret, was inscribed with a spell from the Book of the Dead that
prevented a person’s heart from testifying against them in the divine judgement. A scarab with a person’s
head is rarer than the purely insect type [Credit: Elizabeth Drolet/UCSB]

Why such a big fortress at Tombos? Buttressing the newly discovered importance of the site, Smith said, was the earlier discovery of an elaborate tomb for an Egyptian official named Siamun. Originally arrayed across the façade of the tomb were funereal cones referring to him as “scribe-reckoner of the gold of Kush.”

Smith said he suspects Siamun was in charge of the annual payment of tribute to the pharaoh, likely gold as his title suggests, but also other products like cattle, ivory and ebony. He described it as taxation framed as reciprocity: provide for the king and he’ll assure your safety. It’s a common practice across cultures, Smith noted, one typically described as ritualized tribute framed as a kind of gift exchange.

Although the empire’s formal boundary lay far upstream near the Fifth Cataract of the Nile, Tombos’ location on the east bank of the Nile at the Third Cataract and its massive fortifications, Smith said, would have made it a powerful symbol of the kingdom’s power and influence at a symbolic internal boundary within the empire, only 10 kilometers north of the conquered capital at Kerma. Downstream the Egyptians inserted a series of fortified colonies like Tombos, but upstream they adopted a more hands-off policy, allowing a degree of local autonomy.

A mighty Egyptian fortress revealed
Two New Kingdom (c. 1550-1070 BC) tombs excavated near Tombos
[Credit: Stuart Tyson Smith/UCSB]

Smith estimates the fortress was an active defensive structure for 100-200 years, after which the trench begins to fill with trash. Why? The answer may lie in what he calls the “cultural entanglement” — the process by which colonizing powers and indigenous people influence one another and change over time — of Egypt and Nubia.
Smith and Buzon’s work in the cemetery just outside Tombos has provided strong evidence of such close integration between the Egyptian colonizers and their Nubian subjects that their cultural entanglement led to a blurring of cultural identities. With that, Smith suspects, the threat from Nubia — and the need for a great fortress — would have evaporated in the desert heat.

“It’s quite possible that later on,” Smith said, “Egyptian control of Nubia was so strong, and Nubia was so well integrated into the empire, and more broadly Egyptian society, that in fact the need for fortifications disappears, at least on the east bank at Tombos, since the New Kingdom colonies to the north, all located on the west bank, still maintained fortifications. Of course, it’s also possible they built another one and we haven’t found it.”

Looking ahead, Smith said he wants to search for the temple and houses that would have been a part of the fortress. Tombos, it turns out, is the gift that keeps on giving.

“Oh, it is,” he said. “It’s amazing, and I went into it initially thinking, ‘Oh, it’s maybe a five-year excavation campaign; we’ll figure out what’s going on here and then move on to something else.’ But we just kept finding more and more.”

Author: Jim Logan | Source: UC Santa Barbara [September 13, 2018]



First sequencing of Canada lynx genome

Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in collaboration with the Vertebrate Genome Laboratory (VGL), New York, this week are publishing the first-ever whole genome for the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis). It is one of 15 being released to the public data repository for use by researchers studying evolution, disease, genetics and conservation, says lynx team coordinator Tanya Lama, a doctoral candidate in environmental conservation at UMass Amherst.

First sequencing of Canada lynx genome
Scientists led by conservation geneticist Tanya Lama at the University of Massachusetts Amherst,
in collaboration with the Vertebrate Genome Laboratory (VGL), New York, published the first-ever
whole genome for the Canada lynx. It will aid researchers studying evolution, disease,
 genetics and conservation [Credit: Bill Byrne/MassWildlife]

Lama, who is also affiliated with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, says that as a conservation genetics tool, the genome provides information about the genetic health, demographic and evolutionary history of the species. It also helps to describe the viability of resident animals using precise estimates of population size, gene flow and adaptive genetic variation across real-world landscapes. This information is critical to wildlife management and policy decisions, she adds.

In particular, she and colleagues hope to learn more about the relationship between Maine lynx and neighboring populations in New Brunswick and Quebec, and their connections to the core lynx population in eastern Canada across “a formidable barrier,” the St. Lawrence River.

Lama points out, “Genetics can help us better understand the dynamics of the Maine lynx population and whether it will remain viable into the future. If populations become small and isolated, they’re more vulnerable to demographic and environmental changes and are at a higher risk of becoming locally extinct.”

Listed as threatened in 2000 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Canada lynx is a North American feline native to the boreal forest across Canada and in similar habitat in the northern United States, notably Maine. A recent recommendation by the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed delisting the lynx from Endangered Species Act protections.

If delisted, a monitoring program will be developed and information on the status of the Maine lynx population and its connectivity to neighboring populations will be extremely important to developing conservation strategies. Even in recovery, Lama says lynx will require monitoring and conservation action to track climate change and habitat loss.

First sequencing of Canada lynx genome
Conservation geneticist Tanya Lama and lynx biologist Jennifer Vashon of the Maine Department of Inland
Fisheries and Wildlife examine a lynx [Credit: University of Massachusetts Amherst]

Her co-advisors Stephen DeStefano, leader of the Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and John Organ, chief of the USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Program, say the connectivity between Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec lynx populations south of the St. Lawrence is key to viability, and genomic tools can help ensure appropriate conservation measures are developed.

Organ notes, “Connectivity among these populations south of the river will likely be essential to their persistence and if necessary, land conservation strategies would be designed to facilitate movement and gene flow across the landscape.”       

For this effort, Lama coordinates a team that includes DeStefano and Organ, plus conservation geneticist Warren Johnson at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., Jennifer Vashon and colleagues at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and bioinformatics experts at the VGL at Rockefeller University.

Lama says for her, this week’s public genome unveiling is not the end, but the beginning of years of analysis to follow. As conservation geneticists, she and Johnson at the Smithsonian will analyze data, produce reports and interpret findings that will be of great use to conservation teams across the rest of the lynx’s distribution in Minnesota, Montana/Northeastern Idaho, Washington, the Greater Yellowstone area and Colorado.

Johnson says that a visible and iconic species like the lynx “provides a great opportunity to explore the complex biological, ecological interactions among species and the natural environment and serves as a great model for using genomic approaches to inform our decisions.”

DeStefano adds, “Anytime we can get more information on their population fitness, we’ll take it. A lot of conservationists are deeply interested in the future of this beautiful cat,” he notes.

Author: Tanya Lama | Source: University of Massachusetts Amherst [September 14, 2018]



Indigenous peoples key to saving forests

Proven masters at sustainably managing forests that protect against global warming, indigenous peoples got a place at the table, and some cash, at an international climate summit in San Francisco this week.

Indigenous peoples key to saving forests
Up to now, native communities in the forests of Latin America, Africa and Asia have seen their ancestral lands
degraded and destroyed—sometimes with the blessing of local or national governments
[Credit: Apu Gomes/AFP]

New “guiding principles” for collaboration endorsed by three dozen mostly tropical provinces and states across nine countries bolster indigenous rights to land, self-governance and finance earmarked for safeguarding forests.

“The partnership between governments and indigenous leaders marks a paradigm shift for tribal and indigenous engagement,” Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, said at the Global Climate Action Summit.

Up to now, native communities in the forests of Latin America, Africa and Asia have seen their ancestral lands degraded and destroyed—sometimes with the blessing of local or national governments—by extraction industries (oil, gold) and big agriculture (soy, palm oil, cattle).

Even UN-led efforts to involve indigenous peoples in preventing deforestation have unfolded “in a context of rights abuses, displacement and dispossession, threats and harassment over territories, and the repression and assassination of environmental activists by state and private forces,” the non-profit Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) reported last year.

At least 207 environmental campaigners, half from indigenous tribes in tropical forests, were murdered in 2017, according to watchdog group Global Witness.

Deforestation—responsible for about a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions—intensifies global warming in two ways.

Losing a wooded area the size of Greece each year not only reduces Earth’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, it releases huge amounts of the planet-warming gas into the atmosphere.

The principles were negotiated within the decade-old Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force, made up of state and provincial leaders from eight tropical countries and the governors of California, Illinois and Catalonia.

Keeping carbon in the trees

“Today we recognize the essential role of local communities and indigenous peoples for the conservation of forest territories and the development of effective climate change strategies,” said Jorge Aristoteles Sandoval Diaz, governor of Jalisco, Mexico.

Indigenous peoples key to saving forests
New “guiding principles” for collaboration endorsed by three dozen mostly tropical provinces and states across nine
countries bolster indigenous rights to land, self-governance and finance earmarked for safeguarding forests
[Credit: Apu Gomes/AFP]

Tribal leaders, who helped forge the new charter, said it would make a difference.

“We live in, depend upon, and manage our forests—and have done so for centuries,” said Francisca Arara, leader of the Arara indigenous people in Acre, Brazil.

“These principals provide us with a stronger platform for negotiating equal ground with governments.”

Experts described the charter as “an important step forward,” but said more was needed.

“Recognizing the rights is really key to keeping the carbon in the trees and the soil,” said Andy White, Coordinator of the Washington-based Rights and Resources Initiative, a research group.

“But the real question is how much money they put behind implementing these commitments.”

Tropical forests provide livelihoods and anchor the cultural identities of tens of millions of indigenous people.

Research has shown that stewardship by local communities significantly slows the pace of deforestation.

“Thirty-seven percent of what is needed to stay below two degrees Celsius”—the cornerstone goal of the 196-nation Paris Agreement—”can be provided by land,” said Andrew Steer, WRI President and CEO of the World Resources Institute in Washington DC.

“But only three percent of the public funding for mitigation goes to land and forest issues. That needs to change.”

In a parallel announcement, nine foundations pledged nearly half-a-billion dollars over the next five years to boost indigenous management of carbon-rich forests.

“Solving climate change requires that forests, and land in general, be managed well,” Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, told AFP. “Indigenous peoples are the key to unlocking that solution.”

Author: Marlowe Hood | Source: AFP [September 14, 2018]



Half-billion-year-old fossils offer new clues to how life exploded on the sea floor

Stephen Pates, a researcher from Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, has uncovered secrets from the ancient oceans.

Half-billion-year-old fossils offer new clues to how life exploded on the sea floor
Artist reconstruction of Pahvantia hastasta [Credit: Masato Hattori]

With Dr. Rudy Lerosey-Aubril from New England University (Australia), he meticulously re-examined fossil material collected over 25 years ago from the mountains of Utah, USA. The research, published in a new study in Nature Communications, reveals further evidence of the great complexity of the oldest animal ecosystems.

Twenty hours of work with a needle on the specimen while submerged underwater exposed numerous, delicate microscopic hair-like structures known as setae. This revelation of a frontal appendage with fine filtering setae has allowed researchers to confidently identify it as a radiodont – an extinct group of stem arthropods and distant relatives of modern crabs, insects and spiders.

“Our new study describes Pahvantia hastasta, a long-extinct relative of modern arthropods, which fed on microscopic organisms near the ocean’s surface,” says Stephen Pates. “We discovered that it used a fine mesh to capture much smaller plankton than any other known swimming animal of comparable size from the Cambrian period. This shows that large free-swimming animals helped to kick-start the diversification of life on the sea floor over half a billion years ago.”

Causes of the Cambrian Explosion—the rapid appearance in the fossil record of a diverse animal fauna around 540-500 million years ago—remain hotly debated. Although it probably included a combination of environmental and ecological factors, the establishment of a system to transfer energy from the area of primary production (the surface ocean) to that of highest diversity (the sea floor) played a crucial role.

Even though relatively small for a radiodont (FIG), Pahvantia was 10-1000 times larger than any mesoplanktonic primary consumers, and so would have made the transfer of energy from the surface oceans to the deep sea much more efficient. Primary producers such as unicellular algae are so small that once dead they are recycled locally and do not reach the deep ocean. In contrast large animals such as Pahvantia, which fed on them, produce large faecal pellets and carcasses, which sink rapidly and reached the seafloor, where they become food for bottom-dwelling animals.

Amateur enthusiasts provide research gold-dust

The presence of Pahvantia in the Cambrian of Utah has been known for decades thanks to the efforts of local amateur collectors Bob Harris and the legendary Gunther family.

“This work also provides an opportunity to celebrate the exceptional contribution of local and amateur collectors to modern palaeontology,” explains Stephen. “Without their tireless efforts, knowledge, and generosity, thousands of specimens representing hundreds of new species, would not be known to science.”

Bob Harris is rumoured to have turned down a job offer from the CIA, instead opening up a fossil shop and a number of quarries in the spectacular House Range, Utah. He discovered the first specimens of Pahvantia in the 1970s, and donated them to Richard Robison, a leading expert on Cambrian life from the University of Kansas. The Gunther family are famous for their extensive fossil collecting in Utah and Nevada. Over a dozen species have been named in honour of their contributions to palaeontology, as they have shared thousands of specimens with museums and schools over the years. Among these were specimens of Pahvantia which they uncovered between 1987 and 1997. Donated to the Kansas University Museum of Invertebrate Paleontology (KUMIP), these specimens are described for the first time in our study.

“I visited the KUMIP in the first year of my Ph.D.,” says Stephen. “It was awesome, exploring such a fantastic collection of fossils from the Cambrian of Utah and Nevada.”

The study has produced the most up-to-date analysis of evolutionary relationships between radiodonts. It shows that filter feeding evolved twice, possibly three times in this group, which otherwise essentially comprised fearsome predators such as Anomalocaris canadensis from the Burgess Shale in Canada.

Pahvantia adds to an ever-growing body of evidence that radiodonts were vital in the structure of Cambrian ecosystems, in this case linking the primary producers of the surface waters to the highly diverse fauna on the sea floor. It also shows the importance of museum collections like the KUMIP, and local collectors, such as Bob Harris and the Gunther family, in uncovering new and exciting findings about early animal life.

Author: Ruth Abrahams | Source: University of Oxford [September 14, 2018]



Voyages gave Aichi men ‘the biggest arms’ in Jomon period

A group of big-boned men who lived on the coast of what is now southern Aichi Prefecture won the “arms” race at the end of the Jomon Pottery Culture period (c. 8000 B.C.-300 B.C.), researchers said.

Voyages gave Aichi men 'the biggest arms' in Jomon period
A humerus, below, of a Jomon period man found at the Hobi shell mound in Tahara, Aichi Prefecture,
is much thicker than that of average-sized humerus of a man from the Edo Period
[Provided by the holistic re-enactment project of the voyage 30,000 years ago/
The Asahi Shimbun]

The men at a settlement on the Atsumi Peninsula had the thickest upper arm bones of any group in Japan during that period, according to the research group, led by Yousuke Kaifu, chief of the Division of Human Evolution, Department of Anthropology, the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo.

The team hypothesizes that the massive upper arms were the result of the lifestyle at the Hobi shell mound in Tahara, which is known to have been an active fishing community.

The bones of large red sea bream and sea lions that usually inhabit the outer sea were discovered at the site. This shows that the men in the community rowed vessels far out to sea to gather food.

The researchers analyzed the sizes of humeri in the excavated remains of 797 people from Hokkaido to Okinawa Prefecture who lived in the Jomon period.

The analysis revealed that the humeri of all 22 males found at the Hobi site were much larger than the overall average.

Moreover, their bones were remarkably thick compared with their neighbors on the Atsumi Peninsula.

On the other hand, female humeri excavated from the Hobi site were about average in size.

Experts also said the Hobi community transported by sea a large amount of a particular stone, called “sanukite,” that can be found on Mount Nijosan on the Kii Peninsula between Osaka and Nara prefectures.

There has been no evidence of such long-distance expeditions at neighboring settlements on the Atsumi Peninsula.

The study results also showed that Jomon people living near coasts tended to have thicker humeri than those who lived inland.

Author: Akemi Kanda | Source: The Asahi Shimbun [September 14, 2018]



2018 September 15 Mont Blanc, Meteor, and Milky Way Image…

2018 September 15

Mont Blanc, Meteor, and Milky Way
Image Credit & Copyright: Adrien Mauduit

Explanation: Snowy Mont Blanc is near the center of this atmospheric night skyscape. But high, thin clouds fogged the skies at the photographer’s location, looking south toward Europe’s highest peak from the southern Swiss Alps. Still, the 13 second exposure finds the faint star fields and dark rifts of the Milky Way above the famous white mountain. Bloated by the mist, bright planet Saturn and Antares (right), alpha star of Scorpius, shine through the clouds to flank the galaxy’s central bulge. The high-altitude scene is from the rewarding night of August 12/13, so it also includes the green trail of a Perseid meteor shooting along the galactic plane.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180915.html

New research unravels the mysteries of deep soil carbon

Energy-starved microbes may be the force that causes huge amounts of carbon to be stored in deep soils, according to a Dartmouth College study. The research finds that less food energy at depth makes it more difficult to decompose deposits of organic carbon, creating an underground storehouse for the climate-destabilizing chemical element.

New research unravels the mysteries of deep soil carbon
This is ross-section of study site near Georgetown, CA. Over half of the world’s soil carbon is stored below 20 degrees cm,
 making deep soil a large potential emitter of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide [Credit: J. Bryan Curtis]

The study, published in Soil Biology and Biochemistry, outlines the conditions that underlie whether deep soil acts as a source or a sink for carbon.

The fate of deep soil carbon is of major consequence to researchers studying climate change. It is estimated that 2400 gigatons of carbon is stored in soil, with two-thirds of that lying below the 20 cm depth. The amount of deep soil carbon alone is about double the amount of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide that exists in the Earth’s atmosphere.

If decomposition rates increase as a result of climate change, then carbon stored in deep soils will be released into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The research tested how decomposition changes with soil depth to help predict whether deep soil carbon would be vulnerable to such climate-induced changes.

“Deep soil carbon is a really big deal for understanding the future of climate change,” said Caitlin Hicks Pries, an assistant professor of biology at Dartmouth. “Understanding the forces that cause that much carbon and all of its greenhouse gas potential to be stored underground helps us predict what our future climate will look like.”

Soil organic carbon comes from the decomposition of dead plants and can remain in soil for thousands of years. The research team set out to see how root litter decomposes at different depths to understand why some deep soil carbon can be stored for such a long period of time and why other carbon is released into the atmosphere.

The team incubated roots at depths ranging from 15 cm to 95 cm in an 80-year-old stand of conifer trees in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. According to the study, the loss of root litter carbon during the first six months was similar across all depths. However, after 30 months, carbon loss was significantly slower at the greater depths.

The team found that the smaller amount of energy that is readily-available to microbes in the form of dissolved carbon could be the reason for slower decomposition. As a result of the slower decomposition rates, carbon is more likely to be stored long-term.

“Live fine roots feed the soil with substrates that are like candy for microbes. The lack of this energy source at depth denies microbes the energy they need to efficiently decompose dead roots,” said Hicks Pries.

To conduct the study, the team also relied on the Carbon Organisms Rhizosphere and Protection in the Soil Environment model developed at Princeton University and the University of California, Merced. Known as CORPSE, the program predicts microbial activity and allows researchers to see how the amount of available energy translates into biological processes to decompose roots.

CORPSE showed that decomposition proceeds relatively quickly when food energy is available, but that without an external source of energy, microbes at depth lose the ability to decompose roots.

“CORPSE allows us to focus on the role of living things in the decomposition process when studying soil carbon, rather than just looking at the material that’s being decomposed,” said Benjamin Sulman, a project scientist at the University of California, Merced. “This study shows why it’s important to include those biological processes in the computer models we use to make predictions about how ecosystems and climate will change in the future.”

While the findings don’t predict how much carbon will be released from deep soil in a given amount of time, the results do allow researchers to understand how a change in climatic conditions could impact the fate of deep soil carbon.

For example, increased rainfall could transport more energy in the form of dissolved organic carbon to deeper soils and result in more carbon released into the atmosphere. A change in dominant plants to species with deep-growing fine roots, could also force more carbon into atmosphere, whereas plants with coarse roots could have the reverse impact.

“We should be concerned because as temperatures warm, this deep soil organic carbon has the potential to be released as carbon dioxide forcing a positive feedback to climate change,” said Hicks Pries.

According to the paper, the processes controlling the cycling of deep soil organic carbon have received little attention even though over half of the world’s soil carbon is stored below 20 cm.

“This approach misses the huge amount of carbon that resides in deep soil,” said Hicks Pries.

The research indicates that moisture level and temperature do not directly impact decomposition rates within deep soil and that microbial abundance likely does not either. Lower nitrogen levels could be a factor, but further testing would be needed.

Source: Dartmouth College [September 11, 2018]



Unique ancient Greek altar discovered on Russia’s southern Taman Peninsula

An ancient Greek altar untypical of Greek colonies on the Black Sea coast has been unearthed at the site of the antique city of Phanagoria on the Taman Peninsula in Russia’s southern Krasnodar Territory, Vladimir Kuznetsov, who leads the Phanagoria archaeological expedition, told TASS on Monday.

Unique ancient Greek altar discovered on Russia’s southern Taman Peninsula
© Сергей Савостьянов/ТАСС,архив

“The complex is dated back to the mid-6th century B.C., or the period when Phanagoria was founded,” he said. “This rarest find is one of the oldest and most unique ancient Greek sanctuaries in Russia. As far as I know, such complexes have not been found anywhere else on the Black Sea coast. Moreover, they are quite rare for the Mediterranean region in general,” he said. “The layout of this altar is absolutely unparalleled – there have been found no other similar altars with so highly specific elements.”

The clay-brick building was entrenched in the natural soil layer to a depth of two meters. A stairway leading from the vault ended in a small platform in front of a rectangular altar made of bricks. An 80 cm diameter bowl was placed at the edge of the altar and a deep pit was dug near it, with the altar’s surface and the pit’s verge showing traces of fire and ash.

“The complex requires serious study and our task is to try to understand how this structure functioned,” Kuztensov said, adding that archaeologists believe the building used to serve as a sanctuary dedicated to gods associated with the underworld. According to archaeologists, the altar was used to place a sacrifice on it, with the blood trickled to the bowl so that it would not be sprinkled on the altar. The pit, judging by the bone finds, was used to dispose of flesh.

The ancient city of Phanagoria was founded on the Taman Peninsula in the mid-6th century B.C. by the Greeks. For a long time, it was one of the two capitals of the ancient Kingdom of Bosporus (beginning from the 5th century B.C.), the most ancient state in the territory of today’s Russia.

The Greeks were driven out of the Taman Peninsula by the bellicose Hun tribes in the 4th century A.D.

Archaeological excavations at the site have been conducted since the 19th century. Currently, excavations are sponsored by Volnoye Delo Fund run by businessman Oleg Deripaska.

The fund also financed the establishment of a research and culture center on the Taman Peninsula in 2012.

Source: TASS [September 11, 2018]



WGN 46:4 out now!

WGN 46:4 august 2018
Front cover photo: All-sky composite image of 2018 Perseids, photographed on 2018 August 12/13 and 13/14 from Tepličné, Slovakia.
Photo courtesy: Stanislav Kaniansky and Marek Harman.

The August 2018 issue of the IMO Journal is now in print. It will be mailed shortly and subscribers can also immediately access the journal in PDF format. The contents this month:

  • In Memoriam: Dr. Eduard Pittich (J. Tóth)

  • Compressive strength of a skirting Daytime Arietid – first science results from low-cost Raspberry Pi-based meteor stations (D. Vida, M.J. Mazur, D. Šegon, P. Kukić, A. Merlak)

  • Different definitions make a meteor shower distorted. The views from SonotaCo net and CAMS. (M. Koseki)

  • Results of the IMO Video Meteor Network — October 2017 (S. Molau, S. Crivello, R. Goncalves, C. Saraiva, E. Stomeo, J. Strunk, J. Kac)

  • Results of the IMO Video Meteor Network — November 2017 (S. Molau, S. Crivello, R. Goncalves, C. Saraiva, E. Stomeo, J. Strunk, J. Kac)

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Meteor Activity Outlook for 15-21 September 2018

Perseid meteor and Delta IV Heavy rocket trail over Cape Canaveral on August 16, 2018.

Credit & Copyright: Derek Demeter (Emil Buehler Planetarium

During this period the moon will reach its first quarter phase on Sunday September 16th. At that time the moon will lie 90 degrees east of the sun and will set near midnight local summer time (LST). As the week progresses the waxing gibbous moon will set later and later, shrinking the window of opportunity to view meteor activity under dark skies. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near 3 as seen from mid-northern latitudes and also 2 for those viewing from subtropical southern latitudes (25S). For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near 14 for those viewing from mid-northern latitudes and 10 for those viewing from subtropical southern latitudes (25S). The actual rates will also depend on factors such as personal light and motion perception, local weather conditions, alertness and experience in watching meteor activity. Evening rates are reduced during this period due to moonlight. Note that the hourly rates listed below are estimates as viewed from dark sky sites away from urban light sources. Observers viewing from urban areas will see less activity as only the brighter meteors will be visible from such locations.

The radiant (the area of the sky where meteors appear to shoot from) positions and rates listed below are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning September 15/16. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period. Most star atlases (available at science stores and planetariums) will provide maps with grid lines of the celestial coordinates so that you may find out exactly where these positions are located in the sky. A planisphere or computer planetarium program is also useful in showing the sky at any time of night on any date of the year. Activity from each radiant is best seen when it is positioned highest in the sky, either due north or south along the meridian, depending on your latitude. It must be remembered that meteor activity is rarely seen at the radiant position. Rather they shoot outwards from the radiant so it is best to center your field of view so that the radiant lies near the edge and not the center. Viewing there will allow you to easily trace the path of each meteor back to the radiant (if it is a shower member) or in another direction if it is a sporadic. Meteor activity is not seen from radiants that are located far below the horizon. The positions below are listed in a west to east manner in order of right ascension (celestial longitude). The positions listed first are located further west therefore are accessible earlier in the night while those listed further down the list rise later in the night.

Radiant Positions at 21:00 LST

Radiant Positions at 21:00

Local Summer Time

Radiant Positions at 01:00 LST

Radiant Positions at 0100

Local Summer Time

Radiant Positions at 5:00 LST

Radiant Positions at 05:00

Local Summer Time

These sources of meteoric activity are expected to be active this week.

The last of the chi Cygnids (CCY) are expected this weekend. The radiant currently lies at 20:12 (303) +32 which places it in central Cygnus, 2 degrees west of the faint star known as 39 Cygni. Rates are expected to be less than 1 per hour no matter your location. This radiant is best near 22:00 (10pm LST) when it lies highest in the sky. With an entry velocity of 15 km/sec., the average chi Cygnid meteor would be very slow.

The center of the large Anthelion (ANT) radiant is currently located at 00:28 (007) +03. This position lies in southern Pisces, 5 degrees southwest of the 4th magnitude star known as delta Piscium. Due to the large size of this radiant, Anthelion activity may also appear from northwestern Cetus as well as Pisces. This radiant is best placed near 0200 LST, when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Hourly rates at this time should be near 2 no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Anthelion meteor would be of medium-slow velocity.

The September Epsilon Perseids (SPE) are active from September 3 through October 3 with the peak occurring on the night of September 10/11. The radiant is currently located at 03:40 (055) +40. This position lies just 3 degrees west of the 3td magnitude star known as epsilon Persei. The radiant is best placed near 0500 LST, when it lies highest above the horizon. Rates are expected to be near 1 per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and less than 1 as seen from the southern hemisphere. With an entry velocity of 65 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift.

The nu Eridanids (NUE) were co-discovered by Japanese observers using SonotoCo and Juergen Rendtel and Sirko Molau of the IMO. Activity from this long-period stream stretches from August 24 all the way to November 16. Maximum activity occurs on September 24th. The radiant currently lies at 04:38 (070) +05, which places it in southeastern Taurus, 3 degrees southwest of the 3rd magnitude star known as Tabit (pi 3 Orionis). This area of the sky is best seen during the last dark hour before dawn when the radiant lies highest in a dark sky. Current rates are expected to be near 1 per hour during this period no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 67 km/sec., the average meteor from this source would be of swift velocity.

The last of the eta Eridanids (ERI) are expected this weekend from a radiant located at 05:00 (075) -02, which places it in northeastern Eridanus, 4 degrees south of the 4th magnitude star known as pi 6 Orionis. This area of the sky is best seen during the last dark hour before dawn when the radiant lies highest in a dark sky. Current rates are expected to be less than 1 per hour during this period no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 65 km/sec., the average meteor from this source would be of swift velocity.

The Daytime Sextantids (DSX) are not well known due to the fact that the radiant lies close to the sun and these meteors are only visible during the last couple of hours before dawn. The radiant is currently located at 09:29 (142) +03. This position lies in western Hydra, 3 degrees northeast of the 4th magnitude star known as theta Hydrae. This area of the sky is best placed in the sky during the last hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Since the maximum is not until September 29th, current rates would be most likely less than 1 per hour no matter your location. Spotting any of this activity would be a notable accomplishment. With an entry velocity of 33km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be of medium-slow speed.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately 10 sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near 2 per hour. As seen from the tropical southern latitudes (25S), morning rates would be near 7 per hour as seen from rural observing sites and 1 per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Evening rates are reduced during this period due to moonlight.

The list below offers the information from above in tabular form. Rates and positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning except where noted in the shower descriptions.

RA (RA in Deg.) DEC Km/Sec Local Summer Time North-South
chi Cygnids (CCY) Sept 13-14 20:12 (303) +32 15 22:00 <1 – <1 IV
Anthelions (ANT) 00:28 (007) +03 30 02:00 2 – 2 II
September Epsilon Perseids (SPE) Sep 10 03:40 (055) +40 65 06:00 1 – <1 II
nu Eridanids (NUE) Sep 24 04:38 (070) +05 67 07:00 1 – 1 IV
eta Eridanids (ERI) Aug 11 05:00 (075) -02 65 08:00 <1 – <1 IV
Daytime Sextantids (DSX) Sep 29 09:29 (142) +03 33 12:00 <1 – <1 IV

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https://t.co/hvL60wwELQ — XissUFOtoday Space (@xufospace) August 3, 2021 Жаждущий ежик наслаждается пресной водой после нескольких дней в о...