среда, 22 мая 2019 г.

News Maunakea Observatories Help Shed New Light on Obscured Infant Solar System



LkCa 15



An expanded view of the central part of the cleared region around LkCa 15, showing a composite of two reconstructed images (blue: 2.1 microns, from November 2010; red: 3.7 microns) for LkCa 15. The location of the central star is also marked. Credit:Kraus & Ireland, 2011



Figure 1 – Keck Observatory/NIRC2 image of the Sun-like star LkCa 15 obtained from data taken in November 2009 and retrieved from the Keck Observatory Archive (top left) and taken in December 2017 (bottom-left). Both images show two arcs of light consistent with two components of LkCa 15’s circumstellar disk. The right panels show the 2009 and 2017 images of the innermost arc of light were three planets around LkCa 15. North is up and east is left in the images. The star is about 500 light-years from Earth. Light around LkCa 15 can be seen as close as ~9 au from the star (dark-blue masked region in the upper-right panel; Sun-to-Saturn distance); the innermost arc of light extends out to ~0.2” or ~30 au (Sun-to-Pluto distance). While the combined light from the simulated planets is blended, the NIRC2 data would show evidence of their orbital motion if the planets were present in these data. Analysis of Keck/NIRC2 data shows that most of the light around LkCa 15 comes from disk material instead of from planets. 






W. M. Keck Observatory and Subaru Telescope Data Taken Over Eight Years Solve Planet Formation Mystery


Maunakea, Hawaii – Astronomers using the combined power of two Hawaii telescopes have taken groundbreaking, sharp new images of a distant planetary system that likely resembles a baby version of our solar system.


Using Subaru Telescope and W. M. Keck Observatory, the team obtained and analyzed data for an infant Sun-like star named LkCa 15. Previous studies using an advanced interferometry method had inferred that three infant planets were orbiting this star. However, for this method, determining exactly how much light comes from a planet versus other sources like a disk can be particularly difficult. New Subaru and Keck Observatory data appear to solve this mystery; most of the light thought to come from the three candidate planets appears to originate from a disk of gas and dust.


“LkCa 15 is a highly complex system,” said Thayne Currie, lead author of the study and astrophysicist at NASA-Ames Research Center and the Subaru Telescope. “Prior to analyzing our Keck & Subaru data and given the same prior aperture masking data, we also would have concluded that LkCa 15 has three detected superjovian planets.”


The team’s results will soon be published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters; a preprint is available here: https://arxiv.org/abs/1905.04322 .


LkCa 15 is surrounded by a massive protoplanetary disk made of gas and dust, which are the building blocks of planets. Early analysis of this disk showed it has a large cavity depleted of dust – a tell-tale sign that much of the disk material has already been incorporated into massive, developing planetary embryos, or “protoplanets.” While the study rules out very bright superjovian planets, Currie says it is likely that fainter, less massive planets may be in the LkCa 15 system: perhaps those like Jupiter and Saturn.


“The planets in this infant solar system could actually be a lot more like our own solar system than previously thought. They are certainly there somewhere, possibly embedded in the disk. We will keep trying to find them,” said Currie.


Methodology


The findings were made using high-resolution images of the LkCa 15 system obtained from complementary instruments on Maunakea. At Subaru, researchers used a new cutting-edge planet imaging instrument – the Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics (SCExAO) system coupled to the CHARIS integral field spectrograph to obtain extremely sharp images at near-infrared wavelengths. The team also used Keck Observatory’s powerful adaptive optics system and Near-Infrared Camera (NIRC2) to obtain new sharp images at longer, thermal-infrared wavelengths where young planets emit more light.


The team also obtained a ‘before-and-after’ view of the system by accessing the Keck Observatory Archive (KOA) to find NIRC2 data taken for LkCa 15 from 2009 – over eight years before the most recent SCExAO/CHARIS and NIRC2 images. KOA is a publicly accessible repository of all the high-value data obtained at the Observatory and is operated by Keck Observatory in partnership with the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) at Caltech.


The combined data showed that most of the light surrounding LkCa 15 originates from an extended arc-like structure – the visible edge of another component of LkCa 15’s disk. This arc has the same brightness previously attributed to planets around LkCa 15. The nearly decade-old KOA data for LkCa 15 play a unique role in understanding this planetary system. When compared with new Keck Observatory and Subaru Telescope data, the KOA data also showed that light emitted from LkCa 15’s arc-like structure is static over the course of eight years.


“This is consistent with a fixed, disk-like structure. Without the KOA, we would not have been able to know this key fact,” said Currie.


“It’s great to see this new data from Keck and Subaru combined with data from the KOA,” said John O’Meara, chief scientist at Keck Observatory. “This result shows the importance of the KOA, and is a great demonstration of how new discoveries can be made with ‘old’ data.”




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Star Formation in Young Galaxies Not Affected by Environment


Figure 1: Photo of the proto-cluster field from about 11 billion years ago (redshift z = 2.5) taken with MOIRCS on the Subaru Telescope. The insets are high-resolution narrow-band images of individual star-forming galaxies taken with IRCS+AO188. (Credit: NAOJ)


A team of astronomers used the Subaru Telescope to observe a proto-cluster of galaxies in the early Universe and found that the galaxies in it are forming stars in the same manner as isolated galaxies in the same era. This suggests that the galactic environment does not have a large influence on star formation in young galaxies.


Galaxies grow by forming new stars. By looking at where new stars are forming in young galaxies in the early Universe, astronomers can model how they will evolve into modern galaxies. A team led by Tomoko Suzuki, a post-doctoral researcher at Tohoku University, used the Subaru Telescope to observe a proto-cluster of galaxies from 11 billion years ago in the constellation Serpens. Using an Adaptive Optics (AO) system to correct for the blurring effect of Earth’s atmosphere they successfully mapped the galaxies with a resolution of 0.2 arcsec (corresponding to 20/0.7 vision). Regions where young stars are forming are a different color than normal stars, so by using special filters to separate the colors, the team was able to observe both the stellar structure and the star-forming regions.


The observations show that on average for the more massive star-forming galaxies in the proto-cluster, the star-forming regions are more extended than the existing stellar structure. This means that the galaxies are growing by adding stars to their peripheries, rather than to their cores. This same pattern of star formation has been observed in isolated galaxies in sparsely populated regions in the same era. This result suggests that star formation in the early Universe is largely independent of galactic environment.


«The distribution of the star-forming region within galaxies is key information to understand the physical processes occurring in galaxies. We need to investigate not only the averaged structures but also the structure of the star-forming region within individual galaxies for more detailed studies.» says Suzuki. «The next generation instrument ULTIMATE-Subaru will allow us to trace the individual structural growth of a large number of young galaxies in various environments.»


These results will be published in Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan (T. L. Suzuki, Y. Minowa, Y. Koyama, T. Kodama, M. Hayashi, R. Shimakawa, I. Tanaka, K.-i. Tadaki, «Extended star-forming region within galaxies in a dense proto-cluster core at z=2.53», 2019, Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan, XX, XX). A preprint is available here. This study is supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP18H03717.




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ISRO — PSLV-C46 Mission Success


ISRO — Indian Space Research Organisation logo.


May 22, 2019



PSLV-C46 lift-off

India’s PSLV-C46 successfully launched RISAT-2B satellite from of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.



PSLV-CA launches RISAT-2B

PSLV-C46 lifted-off at 05:30 Hrs (IST) on May 22, 2019 from the First Launch Pad of SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota. PSLV-C46 was the 72nd launch vehicle mission from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota. In this mission, the ‘Core-Alone’ configuration of PSLV was flown (without the use of solid strap-on motors).


About 15 minutes and 30 seconds after lift-off, RISAT-2B was injected into an orbit of 555 km at an inclination of 37 degree to the equator.



RISAT-2B

RISAT-2B with a lift-off mass of 615 kg, is a radar imaging earth observation satellite. The satellite is intended to provide services to Agriculture, Forestry and Disaster Management domains.


For more information about Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO): https://www.isro.gov.in/


Images, Video, Text, Credits: ISRO/Günter Space Page/SciNews.


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2019 May 22 Primordial Contact Binary 2014 MU69 Image Credit:…


2019 May 22


Primordial Contact Binary 2014 MU69
Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins University APL, Southwest Research Institute, Roman Tkachenko


Explanation: Primordial contact binary 2014 MU69, also known as Ultima Thule, really is very red. In fact, it’s the reddest outer solar system object ever visited by a spacecraft from Earth. Its reddish hue is believed to be due to organic materials on its surface. Ruddy color and tantalizing surface details seen in this composite image are based on data from the New Horizons spacecraft recorded during the January 1 flyby of the farthest world yet explored. Embedded in the smaller lobe Thule (top), the 8 kilometer wide feature nick named Maryland crater is the largest depression known on the surface of Ultima Thule. Transmission of data collected from the flyby continues, and will go on until the late summer 2020 as New Horizons speeds deeper into the dim and distant Kuiper Belt.


∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190522.html


Space Station Science Highlights: Week of May 13, 2019


ISS — Expedition 59 Mission patch.


May 21, 2019


The members of Expedition 59 continued work on dozens of science experiments aboard the International Space Station. Many of these experiments contribute knowledge and technology needed for sustained presence on the moon as well as future longer-term space exploration, as outlined in NASA’s Moon to Mars program.


Here are details on some of the scientific investigations conducted in the orbiting lab the week of May 13:


Protecting kidney health



Image above: NASA astronaut Christina Koch conducts research inside the Life Sciences Glovebox for the Kidney Cells investigation, which seeks better treatments for kidney-related diseases on Earth and on future long-duration space missions. Image Credit: NASA.


Serious medical conditions caused by poor kidney health, including protein in the urine (proteinuria), osteoporosis, and kidney stones, occur more often and more quickly in space. This represents a threat to astronaut health on future missions deeper into space. Kidney Cells examines how microgravity and other factors of space travel affect kidney health. Knowledge gained can contribute to better treatments to protect the health of astronauts on longer duration missions to the moon and Mars and for kidney-related conditions on Earth as well. The crew performed Kidney Cell fixation inside the Life Science Glovebox (LSG) and prepared the hardware for return.


The challenges of gardening in space



International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

On future long-duration space missions and to maintain a sustained presence on the moon, crew members need to grow their own food. Understanding how plants respond to microgravity and demonstrating reliable vegetable production on orbit are important steps toward that goal. The crew took photos of the Veggie PONDS modules in order to examine water distribution in the units and determine why the plants do not appear to be growing as expected. The investigation uses a newly developed passive nutrient delivery system and the Veggie plant growth facility to cultivate lettuce and greens on the space station for on-orbit consumption and analysis on Earth.


Overcoming oxidative stress



Image above: Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques installs experiment containers for the Nano Antioxidants investigation, which researches innovative approaches to counteract the negative effects of long-term microgravity exposure on the musculoskeletal system. Image Credit: NASA.


The crew completed an automated run with twelve experiment containers for Nano Antioxidants. This investigation studies innovative approaches to counteract the negative effects of long-term space travel on the musculoskeletal system. This research has numerous potential applications on Earth as well, including new therapies for the elderly and people with muscle atrophy disorders and other diseases involving oxidative stress.


Examining pathogen adaptation to microgravity



Image above: NASA astronaut Nick Hague conducts operations in the Microgravity Sciences Glovebox for the Micro-14 investigation. This study evaluates changes in the yeast Candida albicans in microgravity and characterizes its virulence factors. A better understanding of microbial adaption to environmental stresses contributes to maintenance of crew member health during long-duration spaceflight. Image Credit: NASA.


Micro-14 extends previous studies on the yeast Candida albicans, seeking to define mechanisms behind its cellular adaptation to spaceflight. This investigation evaluates changes at the physiological, cellular, and molecular level and characterizes virulence factors of the yeast. A better understanding of microbial adaption to environmental stresses contributes to maintenance of crew member health during long-duration spaceflight. On Earth, C. albicans can cause severe, life-threatening illness in people with compromised immune systems. The crew used the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) to inoculate the investigation culture bag with the yeast.



Space to Ground: Watching the Earth Breathe: 05/17/2019

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:


— Rodent Research-12 (RR-12) examines the effects of spaceflight on the function of antibody production and immune memory using a mouse model: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7868


— Food Acceptability examines changes in the appeal of food aboard the space station during long-duration missions. “Menu fatigue” from repeatedly consuming the limited foods available in a closed system may contribute to the loss of body mass often experienced by crew members, potentially affecting astronaut health, especially as mission length increases.: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7562


— Circadian Rhythms investigates the role of the biological clock and how it changes during long-duration spaceflight in order to help address the effects of spaceflight, including reduced physical activity and microgravity, and protect crew performance and health on future longer missions: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=869


— Genes in Space-6 evaluates the process of DNA repair in space by inducing DNA damage in cells and assessing mutation and repair at the molecular level using the miniPCR and the Biomolecule Sequencer tools aboard the ISS: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7893


— MicroAlgae studies the effects of microgravity on Haematococcus pluvialis, a tiny freshwater algae capable of producing astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that could be useful as a food supplement on long space missions: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7689


— MVP Cell-01 studies a disease called Post-traumatic Osteoarthritis, in which a traumatic joint injury may lead to arthritis after loss of cartilage and bone: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7663


Related links:


Expedition 59: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition59/index.html


Kidney Cells: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7819


Veggie PONDS: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7581


Nano Antioxidants: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7744


Micro-14: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7642


Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=341


Spot the Station: https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/


Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html


International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html


Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/Jorge Sotomayor, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 59/60.


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Today’s DNA, Immunity, Time Studies Boost Health in Space and on Earth


ISS — Expedition 59 Mission patch.


May 21, 2019


The Expedition 59 crew is spending all day Tuesday exploring how astronauts adjust with Earth’s gravity no longer bearing down on them. Spacewalk preparations and lab maintenance are also ongoing aboard the International Space Station.


Station crewmembers and future astronauts going to the Moon in 2024 have to adjust to the lack of a sunrise/sunset cycle humans experience everyday on Earth. As a result, time perception is impacted and may affect sleep and work patterns. Astronauts Anne McClain, Nick Hague and David Saint-Jacques started the day on a study, going on since July 2017, exploring subjective changes in time that can alter physical and cognitive performance.



Image above: The full moon is pictured from the International Space Station as the orbiting complex orbited 263 miles above the South Atlantic Ocean. Image Credit: NASA.


Hague later sequenced DNA samples for a study exploring how increased exposure to space radiation impacts crew health. He used the Biomolecule Sequencer for the investigation to demonstrate DNA sequencing in space. The Genes In Space-6 experiment is researching how space radiation damages DNA and how the cell repair mechanism works in microgravity.


Immune system studies continued full speed ahead today to test the hypothesis the immune response decreases in space. Astronaut Christina Koch teamed up with McClain and Saint-Jacques throughout the day observing mice for the study. Observations may help scientists develop advanced vaccines and therapies benefiting both astronauts and Earthlings.



From Day Into Night on the International Space Station

Image above: NASA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch posted this image of Earth taken from aboard the International Space Station. She said: «A couple times a year, theInternational Space Stationorbit happens to align over the day/night shadow line on Earth. We are continuously in sunlight, never passing into Earth’s shadow from the Sun, and the Earth below us is always in dawn or dusk. Beautiful time to cloud watch. #nofilter». Image Credit: NASA.


Commander Oleg Kononenko continues to set up a pair of Russian Orlan spacesuits and outfit the Pirs airlock as the May 29 spacewalk approaches. Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin worked on space cardiology research before switching to space plumbing and pumping urine into the Progress 71 cargo craft.


Related links:


Expedition 59: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition59/index.html


Time perception: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7504


Biomolecule Sequencer: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1917


Genes In Space-6: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7893


Immune system studies: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7868


Space cardiology research: https://www.energia.ru/en/iss/researches/human/11.html


Pirs airlock: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/pirs-docking-compartment


Moon in 2024: https://www.nasa.gov/specials/moon2mars/


Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html


International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html


Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.


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Lock the Planck: the kilogram has a new definition


CERN — European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.


21 May, 2019


Since yesterday, all SI base units will be defined based on natural constants, with the kilogram the last to join the ranks 



Image above: The Kibble balance built by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology to measure the Planck constant with ultra-high precision (Image: METAS).


Until yesterday, a kilogram was defined as the mass of the International Prototype Kilogram (IPK), a platinum–iridium cylinder located in Paris, France. While all the other base units of the International System of Units (SI) had been redefined over the years based on fundamental constants of nature or atomic properties, the kilogram had remained since the late 19th century the only one to rely on a human-made artefact.


This changes yesterday, and metrologists – those who study measurement – are excited. On the occasion of World Metrology Day, which commemorates the signing of the Metre Convention back in 1875, the kilogram has been given a new definition. From now on, it will be defined based on the most precise measurement ever made of the Planck constant, which can be expressed in terms of the SI units kilogram, metre and second. Since the latter two units are already defined by constants of nature, the value of a kilogram can be obtained without relying on comparing it with a physical reference block.


But measuring the Planck constant to a suitably high precision of ten parts per billion required decades of work by international teams across continents, and CERN played a small part in the endeavour.


In 1975, British physicist Bryan Kibble proposed a device, then known as a watt balance and now called the Kibble balance in his honour, which would allow the Planck constant to be measured precisely based on the IPK. Once the precision was achieved, the Planck constant’s value could be fixed and the definitions inverted, removing the kilogram’s dependence on the IPK. Several Kibble balances around the world were constructed to compare measurements, including one in Switzerland. METAS, the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology, has been working on their Kibble balance project for almost two decades, the activity being led by Ali Eichenberger and Henri Baumann. Knowing CERN’s expertise in magnet systems, Eichenberger and Baumann reached out to the Laboratory to help prepare the required magnets.


“I am extremely proud to have participated in this adventure,” says Davide Tommasini from CERN’s Magnets, Superconductors and Cryostats group, who was directly involved in the project. “I do not know if the redefinition of the kilogram has a direct impact on the experiments at CERN, but the past teaches us that there are many new advancements which, at their initial moment, may not appear in their whole potential.”


In 2018, the Kibble balance in Canada measured the Planck constant with necessary ultrahigh precision, allowing a combination of measurements from around the world to help fix its value. But does it affect the value of the kilogram itself? Not really. “The Plank constant has been fixed at 6.626070150 × 10−34 kg⋅m2/s using the IPK as standard,” explains Eichenberger. “So from today, one kilogram will stay the same. If the IPK drifts further with time then its value will change, but any mass calibration will have an uncertainty of the order of 20 parts per billion.”


So while it is a momentous occasion worthy of celebration, you won’t have to recalibrate your bathroom scales just yet.


Note:


CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. Its business is fundamental physics, finding out what the Universe is made of and how it works. At CERN, the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments are used to study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of Nature.


The instruments used at CERN are particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.


Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 23 Member States.


Related links:


International System of Units (SI): https://www.bipm.org/en/measurement-units/


CERN’s Magnets, Superconductors and Cryostats group: http://te-dep.web.cern.ch/content/magnets-superconductors-and-cryostats-msc


For more information about European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Visit: https://home.cern/


Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/Achintya Rao.


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A Good Life Protecting our body from the myriad threats of the…


A Good Life


Protecting our body from the myriad threats of the world is a complex job. So our immune system employs cells of all shapes and sizes to stave off danger. For a long time we didn’t know how the various elements functioned or were produced, until Robert A. Good – born on this day in 1922 – did pioneering work to reveal this hidden defence system. In 1962 he showed the thymus [in the upper chest] produces much of the system, and later discovered that tonsils – previously thought to be largely redundant – are key to early immune development. He performed the first successful bone marrow transplant between people that weren’t identical twins, and prompted the discovery that two major players in the immune system are the B cells – from bone marrow – and T cells – from the thymus. In founding the field of immunology he initiated research that has saved countless lives, and revealed the immune system’s role in almost every disease we face.


Written by Anthony Lewis



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