вторник, 25 июня 2019 г.

X-rays reveal how cosmic giants meet

ESA — XMM-Newton Mission patch.

25 June 2019

Scientists have uncovered an extremely powerful shock wave in a distant part of the Universe where two massive galaxy clusters appear to come into first contact ahead of merging. The study is based on data from several astronomical facilities, including ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray space observatory.

Image above: Merging galaxy clusters at first contact. Image Credits: NASA/CXC (X-rays); SDSS (optical); GMRT (radio); Liyi Gu et al. 2019.

According to Liyi Gu, an astronomer from RIKEN High Energy Astrophysics Laboratory in Japan and the Netherlands Institute for Space Research, who is the lead author of a paper published today in Nature Astronomy, the observations capture the unique moment when the two clusters touch each other for the very first time – something that has never been observed before.

The clusters, called 1E2216 and 1E2215, are located over one billion light years away from the Earth and have been drawn towards each other by gravity for billions of years. Their first contact, indicated by the new data, marks the beginning of a dramatic and lengthy process that will completely mix the clusters up and combine them into one.

«Collisions between galaxy clusters are the most energetic events in the Universe since the Big Bang,» said Liyi. «The shocks that arise during the merger are probably the most important particle accelerator in the Universe, releasing a huge amount of heat, radiation and high-energy cosmic rays.»

Image above: Sequence of merging galaxy clusters. Image Credit: Abell 399/401: ROSAT (X-rays); GMRT/TGSS (radio); Abell 1758: ESA/XMM-Newton (X-rays); GMRT/TGSS (radio); 1E2215: NASA/Chandra (X-rays), GMRT (radio); CIZA J2242: ESA/XMM-Newton (X-rays); ASTRON/WSRT (radio).

Clusters of galaxies are the largest known objects in the cosmos bound by gravity, and can consist of hundreds of galaxies, each containing billions of stars or more. Interspersed between a cluster’s galaxies are huge amounts of hot, X-ray emitting gas, and even larger amounts of the invisible dark matter.

These enormous cosmic objects are thought to form gradually, starting first with individual galaxies encountering each other due to the effects of gravity. The process continues with the formation of smaller groups, which then merge into bigger and bigger clusters. While the first touch, the so-called pre-merger phase, lasts for a relatively short period of time – around 100 million years – the entire merging process takes billions of years to complete.

Liyi and collaborators around the world gathered about 40 hours of observations with ESA’s XMM-Newton in 2017 and another 40 hours with NASA’s Chandra X-ray telescope in 2018. These observations were combined with 2012 data from JAXA’s now decommissioned Suzaku satellite and with radio data from two ground-based telescopes located in Europe and India.

The scientists think that the data reveal a pre-merger shock caused by the first contact between the two clusters.

Image above: Shocks during galaxy cluster merger. Image Credits: Courtesy of H. Akamatsu (SRON).

In the observations, they could distinguish two very hot gas halos with temperatures in excess of 50 million degrees Celsius, each associated with either cluster, and connected by a bridge of even hotter gas.

«This gas bridge is shock-heated: on the two sides you can see a shock front propagating from the inside out along the equatorial plane of the merger,» explained Liyi. «The bridge was created by the merger itself. As the two clusters are getting closer, at some point they start getting connected.»

Liyi added that it was somewhat surprising to see the shock wave propagating outwards along the equatorial plane, as most shocks found in merging galaxy clusters usually propagate along the vertical axis of the merger. However, theoretical models and numerical simulations do predict that a similar phenomenon might occur during the pre-merger phase.

«The equatorial shock can be explained simply by a very strong compression along the merger axis,» said Liyi.

Image above: Temperature distribution of merging galaxy clusters IE2216 and IE2215. Image Credits: ESA/XMM-Newton; GMRT; Liyi Gu et al. 2019.

In particular, XMM-Newton enabled the scientists to calculate the temperature distribution of hot gas within the two clusters, as well as the extremely high temperature in the shock region, reaching up to 100 million degrees Celsius.

«From the XMM-Newton data, we could estimate the shock speed and the total dynamic energy of the system, including its pressure,» said Liyi.

The team is planning to keep monitoring this cosmic encounter with XMM-Newton and Chandra.

In coming years, XMM-Newton can be used to identify more cluster mergers like this one via dedicated observations of carefully selected portions of the sky. Next-generation X-ray observatories, such as the Japanese-led XRISM and ESA’s Athena missions, will enable astronomers to learn in even greater detail what is happening during these gigantic collisions.

«We have been very lucky to have seen this first encounter between the two clusters,» said co-author Jelle Kaastra from the Netherlands Institute for Space Research.

«Usually, we can see galaxy clusters getting closer to each other or already in the process of merging. With the next generation of X-ray telescopes, such as XRISM and Athena, we will be able not only to see more details of this particular merger but also find many more systems that are in different merging phases.»

Artist’s impression of ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory. Image Credit: ESA

XRISM, a collaboration between JAXA and NASA including ESA participation, is scheduled to launch in 2021. Athena, part of ESA’s Cosmic Vision programme, is expected to launch in 2031, and will carry instruments one hundred times more sensitive than those aboard Chandra and XMM-Newton.

Galaxy cluster mergers are among the most important processes that shape the structure of the Universe on very large scales. Yet, these giant collisions are poorly understood. With the facilities of the coming decades, scientists will be able to observe more such events at various stages and eventually piece together a complete ‘movie’ of the merging of galaxy clusters.

«Galaxy cluster mergers are difficult to observe because the timescales involved are so long,» said Norbert Schartel, XMM-Newton project scientist at ESA.

«It will take a long time to fully understand these processes. We are just getting started by collecting data about mergers at different stages, and it is exciting that XMM-Newton could help capture the beginning of such a clash.»

Notes for editors:

The results described here are reported in «Observations of a Pre-Merger Shock in Colliding Clusters of Galaxies» by Liyi Gu et al., published in Nature Astronomy:

The study is based on X-ray data from ESA’s XMM-Newton, NASA’s Chandra X-ray telescope and JAXA’s Suzaku satellite, along with radio-wave observations from the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR), located in the Netherlands and other European countries, and from the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, located in India.

The team involves scientists based in Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Hungary, the UK, India and South Africa.

Related link:

XMM-Newton: http://sci.esa.int/xmm-newton/

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: ESA/Norbert Schartel/SRON – Netherlands Institute for Space Research/Jelle S. Kaastra/RIKEN High Energy Astrophysics Laboratory/Liyi Gu.

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Down Syndrome Insights Brain organoids – 3D miniature…

Down Syndrome Insights

Brain organoids – 3D miniature brain-like structures formed from cultured brain cells – are providing novel insights into the cellular and molecular mechanisms of a range of neuropathologies. One of the latest conditions under study is Down syndrome (caused by having an extra copy of chromosome 21), which although not solely neurological has many neurological complications such as intellectual disability, cognitive delay, and vision problems. Down syndrome brain organoids (like the one pictured) were created via the reprogramming of patient skin cells and have revealed, among other things, an unusually high abundance of inhibitory neurons compared with organoids derived from healthy individuals. A similar neuronal bias was seen in mice whose brains contained patient cells. Moreover, studies showed that a gene on chromosome 21 called Olig2 was responsible for this bias and that inhibition of Olig2 could prevent the cellular overproduction and improve behavioural deficits in the mice.

Written by Ruth Williams

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2,000-year-old tomb complex discovered in central China

A 2,000-year-old tomb complex was discovered in Yunxi County in central China’s Hubei Province, local authorities said Wednesday.

2,000-year-old tomb complex discovered in central China
Credit: China News

The site was found during road construction on Friday in the Yaotanhe Village, according to the county’s publicity department.
Archaeologists said the complex consists of four tombs, and more than 10 cultural relics such as iron swords, ironware and pottery were excavated. Human bones and teeth were also found at the location.

2,000-year-old tomb complex discovered in central China

2,000-year-old tomb complex discovered in central China

2,000-year-old tomb complex discovered in central China
Credit: China News

2,000-year-old tomb complex discovered in central China

2,000-year-old tomb complex discovered in central China

2,000-year-old tomb complex discovered in central China
Credit: China News

Based on the structural characteristics of the unearthed cultural relics, archaeologists said that the tomb group belonged to the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220).

The discovery can help with the study of burial customs during that time, and further excavation is underway, according to the publicity department.

Source: Xinhua News Agency [June 19, 2019]



‘Everything is stolen from us’: Tunisians fight to preserve cultural heritage

Standing near the shrine of the Sufi saint Sidi Boughanem in western Tunisia, Karim points to the earth below his feet.

'Everything is stolen from us': Tunisians fight to preserve cultural heritage
Ruins of the Roman City of Sbeitla Sufetla and the three temples to Jupiter,
Mierva and Juno Tunisia [Credit: Reuters]

«There are stairs under the ground,» he said. «We started digging, but we had to stop because someone called the police.»

At the foot of a mountain covered with Roman villas and antique olive oil factories, the shrine sits atop buried structures and catacombs that date back to the Roman and Byzantine periods.

Archaeological sites such as this one in the region of Kasserine are often looted or damaged during illegal night-time excavations by people looking for goods to sell on, said Karim, a local historian from the nearby town of Foussana.

Farmers also stumble across antiques by accident while planting crops, he added, and other people who go digging on their own land in the hope of finding artefacts they can sell.

Karim takes part in these digs out of curiosity. But his colleagues are hunting for treasures, he said. «There are multiple groups (that do this),» said Karim, whose name has been changed for his safety. «It is happening almost on a daily basis.»

The looting of archaeological sites is a longstanding problem in Tunisia, said Yasser Jrad, head of the seized objects department at the National Heritage Institute. Objects of significant historical and cultural value often end up on the European market and in the homes of Tunisia’s rich and powerful, he explained.

The issue was brought into the spotlight in 2011 when Tunisia’s ousted autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, currently exiled in Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to 35 years in prison in the first of several trials for a range of crimes, including possession of archaeological artefacts.

In 2017, the Tunisian authorities seized a rare 15th-century Torah scroll they thought was being smuggled to Europe. More recently, in March customs seized 600 antique coins dating from the 2nd century from a car in the coastal town of Sfax.

Figures from the National Heritage Institute, which is tasked with protecting and recording the country’s artefacts, show that the team has received more than 25,000 recovered archaeological items since the 2011 uprising.

'Everything is stolen from us': Tunisians fight to preserve cultural heritage
Built as an entrance to the Roman city of Haidra, the Arc de Septime Severe in Tunisia was transformed into
a surveillance fort by the Byzantine rulers. The walls surrounding the arc were bombed by a Bey
 from Constantine who believed that there were treasures inside
 [Credit: Reuters/Layli Foroudi]

Today, the institute gets more than double the number of reports for Kasserine than it did before the uprising, said Mohamed Ben Nejma, head of the region for the institute, adding that the instability and chaos of conflict often provides a window for archaeological looting.

But he also attributed the increase in recovered objects to the authorities’ more serious approach to the illicit antiquities trade.

«It might have been partly to do with state interests,» said Mr Jrad. «Especially, since we discovered pieces stolen from our (national) sites in the houses of Ben Ali and his family.”

The western region of Kasserine, where the shrine of Sidi Boughanem is located, is one of the most marginalised parts of the country – with government figures showing about one in four people unemployed, far higher than the 15 per cent unemployment rate for the country as a whole.

It is also one of the most archaeologically rich. There are four major sites located in an area of 8,000 square kilometres, and the land is peppered with architectural ruins and antique stones.

Bigger sites are guarded around the clock, according to the National Heritage Institute, while less significant sites have security guards during the day. But the sheer number of small sites makes it impossible to keep an eye on all of them, said Mr Nejma.

Ridha Shili, an expert in national heritage promotion with the University of Tunis, said the lack of proper excavation projects and cultural investment leaves the Kasserine region open to looting.

«It is kind of a virgin region,» said Mr Shili, pointing out that his hometown of Thala alone has about 350 archaeological sites. «The state prefers for (these sites) to remain hidden because we don’t have the means to protect them,» he said. When a new site is discovered, instead of guarding it or moving the artefacts to somewhere secure, «the state documents it, they take photos and then they put the earth back over it», Mr Shili added.

As she surveys sites around Foussana for her research, Wafa Mouelhi, an archaeology masters student at the University of Tunis, takes pictures whenever she sees that someone has been digging. «You see holes, you notice with the placement of stones that someone has been there,» she said. «People are looking for statues or gold and jewellery.»

'Everything is stolen from us': Tunisians fight to preserve cultural heritage
Karim and a friend from the area stand besides an illegally excavated grave in Tunisia,
empty except for an ulna [Credit: Reuters/Layli Foroudi]

Mouelhi and other residents inform the local authorities about illegal excavations. In January, she caught someone from the town attempting to dig up a mosaic and ceramics from a Roman site that contains a church.

Matthew Hobson of the UK-based Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa project, said multiple factors need to be taken into account when it comes to protecting heritage sites from theft, which is often driven by poverty and political instability.

«There are economic reasons (for looting),» he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Tunis. «The blame should not be put on the people who are trying to get by day-to-day, but the persons who are furnishing these collections.»

Unlike in Libya or Egypt, the antiquities trade in Tunisia is fairly small and disorganised, according to a local policeman, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his job. «It’s just pocket money, people sell things for less than they are worth,» he said.

Abdelbaki Idoudi, a civil servant from Foussena, said the country’s unprotected artefacts are fair game. Citizens have the right to benefit from rogue archaeological digs. «The state left of all of (the artefacts) and doesn’t look after them,» he said. «I’m for the practice because people can profit, it can help people get some money from their (heritage).»

Others, such as Ayoub Sayhi, a 22-year-old amateur filmmaker from Thala, called on the government to do more to care for the country’s ancient objects. To Mr Sayhi, the looting of Kasserine’s antiquities was just another symptom of what he saw as the state’s neglect of the region. «(My film) is to get the government to do something about this region because it is poor even though it is rich in natural resources,» he said.

«Everything is stolen from us, both in the day and in the night.»

Author: Layli Foroudi | Source: Reuters [June 19, 2019]



2,700-year-old watchtower discovered in southern Israel

A 2,700-year-old watchtower was discovered at a military base in southern Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.

2,700-year-old watchtower discovered in southern Israel
The remains of the ancient watchtower [Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority]

The watchtower was built during the reign of Hezekiah King of Judah was revealed in archaeological excavations at a base of paratroopers.
The tower was made of large stones, weighing up to 8 tons each, and covers an area of 17.5 square meters at a high geographical point.

2,700-year-old watchtower discovered in southern Israel
The watchtower dates back to the 8th century BC [Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority]

In the days of the First Jewish Temple (1000 BC-586 BC), the Kingdom of Judah built a network of towers and fortresses that were used as points of communication, warning and signalling.
This watchtower is one of the observation points that connected the large cities in the area.

The activity in the ancient tower lasted until the military campaign of Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, in 701 BC. During the campaign, 46 cities and about 2,000 villages and farms were destroyed in Judah.

Source: Xinhua News Agency [June 20, 2019]



Germany returns ancient Roman bust to Italy

The marble bust of a Roman youth was returned to Italy this week for the first time since it was smuggled out over 50 years ago.

Germany returns ancient Roman bust to Italy
Credit: MiBAC

The ancient sculpture, which disappeared from Italy sometime between 1944 and the early 1960s, was handed back to the Italian Ministry of Culture in a ceremony at the German ambassador’s residence on Wednesday.

First unearthed in the 1930s in the city of Fondi between Rome and Naples, it dates from the second century AD and depicts the head and part of the shoulders of a young man.

It has spent the past 55 years in the University of Munster’s Archaeological Museum, whose then director acquired it from a private citizen. Germany offered to return it without being asked, according to Italy’s culture minister.

«This is a highly symbolic act,» said Alberto Bonisoli, who described it as a sign of the two countries’ shared commitment to protecting cultural heritage.

Germany returns ancient Roman bust to Italy
Credit: MiBAC

«Italy is not only in the position of reclaiming stolen works of art, but when circumstances demand it, we’re among the first to return works belonging to other countries’ cultural heritage,» the minister declared.
With centuries of art and artefacts strewn all over Italy, many pieces have been lost over the years to thieves, traffickers and natural disasters. Italian police are some of the world’s best at hunting down stolen works, with a specialized unit known as the ‘Art Squad’ devoted to tracking and protecting lost treasures.

But the new owners aren’t always keen to give them back. Among the most notable disputes is Italy’s ongoing tussle with the Getty Museum in the United States over the Statue of a Victorious Youth – better known as the Getty Bronze – which the American institution refuses to return despite a ruling by Italy’s highest court that it was removed from Italy illegally.

Source: The Local [June 20, 2019]



Mochica elite’s last woman unearthed in Lambayeque

A burial chamber of the last woman in the Mochica elite has been recently unveiled at Huaca Santa Rosa de Pucala archaeological site in northern Lambayeque region. The discovery dates back to the end of the Middle Horizon (Santa Rosa 4) AD 900-1000.

Mochica elite's last woman unearthed in Lambayeque
Credit: Andina

The announcement was made by the archaeological project director, Edgar Bracamonte, who claimed the body was buried after the collapse of the D-shaped structure unearthed last September at the same site.

Mochica elite's last woman unearthed in Lambayeque
Credit: Andina

«The adobe-walled funerary chamber features a roof held up by carob beams, cane coffins, 204 miniature pots, metal objects, two pictorially decorated face-neck jars, and many offerings, as well as a male companion,» he told Andina news agency.

Mochica elite's last woman unearthed in Lambayeque
Credit: Andina

No mention had been made about the Mochica culture at that time, he said, «but, curiously, this is clearly the Mochica style. In other words, some elites with the same relevance were still present after the fall of the Moche, so their important figures were buried in the same way. That is amazing.»

Mochica elite's last woman unearthed in Lambayeque
Credit: Andina

«This tomb exemplifies all the features of the Mochica culture of Sipan. It is the latest of its type reported in the Lambayeque Valley,» Bracamonte commented.

Mochica elite's last woman unearthed in Lambayeque
Credit: Andina

This may explain the existence of local elite members with undeniable Mochica patterns, different to other burials.

Mochica elite's last woman unearthed in Lambayeque
Credit: Andina

These types of grave goods, found within the coffins, reflect the loss of power, but the preservation of a social prestige or the transformation of content at the tombs of ancient Mochica elite members.

Source: Andina [June 21, 2019]



SpaceX — STP-2 Mission Success

SpaceX  — Falcon Heavy / STP-2 Mission patch.

June 25, 2019

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy STP-2 Mission launch

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launched the STP-2 mission (Space Test Program-2) from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A), at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 25 June 2019, at 06:30 UTC (02:30 EDT). Following booster separation, Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters (Block 5 B1052 and B1053) landed at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 (LZ-1 and LZ-2) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

First Falcon Heavy Night Launch

Falcon Heavy’s center core (Block 5 B1057) attempted to land on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. STP-2 mission from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Deployments began approximately 12 minutes after liftoff and ended approximately 3 hours and 32 minutes after liftoff.

Falcon Heavy boosters landing, June 2019

Following booster separation, Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters (Block 5 B1052 and B1053) landed at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 (LZ-1 and LZ-2) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Falcon Heavy’s center core (Block 5 B1057) attempted to land on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Falcon Heavy’s side boosters for the STP-2 mission previously supported the Arabsat-6A mission in April 2019. Following booster separation, Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters landed at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 (LZ-1 and LZ-2) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

For more information about SpaceX, visit: https://www.spacex.com/

Image, Videos, Text, Credits: SpaceX/SciNews/NASA.

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Expedition 59 Crewmates Return from Space Station Mission

ROSCOSMOS — Soyuz MS-11 Mission patch.

June 25, 2019

Expedition 59 Space Station Crew Lands Safely in Kazakhstan

Image above: The Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft is seen as it lands in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan with Expedition 59 crew members Anne McClain of NASA, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, Tuesday, June 25, 2019, Kazakh time (June 24 Eastern time). McClain, Saint-Jacques and Kononenko are returning after 204 days in space where they served as members of the Expedition 58 and 59 crews onboard the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain and two of her Expedition 59 crewmates returned to Earth from the International Space Station Monday, landing safely in Kazakhstan at 10:47 p.m. EDT (8:47 a.m. Tuesday, June 25, local time) after months of science and four spacewalks aboard the microgravity laboratory.

Soyuz MS-11 landing

McClain, Expedition 59/Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency launched Dec. 3, 2018. They arrived at the space station just six hours later to begin their 204-day mission, during which they orbited Earth 3,264 times traveling 86,430,555 miles.

After post-landing medical checks, McClain and Saint-Jacques will return to Houston and Kononenko to Star City, Russia.

The Expedition 59 crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science, including investigations into small devices that replicate the structure and function of human organs, editing DNA in space for the first time and recycling 3D-printed material.

McClain, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and native of Spokane, Washington, conducted two spacewalks totaling 13 hours and 8 minutes on her mission into space.

Saint-Jacques, also on his first space mission and only the sixth Canadian astronaut to perform a spacewalk, joined McClain on her second outing, which totaled 6 hours and 29 minutes. Kononenko, on his fourth mission, conducted two spacewalks totaling 13 hours and 46 minutes, bringing his career total to 32 hours and 13 minutes spread over five spacewalks.

Image above: Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques are seen shortly after landing on board Soyuz MS-11. Image Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

When their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft undocked at 7:25 p.m., Expedition 60 began aboard the station officially, with Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA as flight engineers, and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos as the station’s commander.

The next residents to arrive at the space station – Andrew Morgan of NASA, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos – will launch aboard Soyuz MS-13 on July 20, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and join Expedition 60 after a six-hour flight.

Related links:

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

Expedition 60: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition60/index.html

Small devices: https://www.nasa.gov/tissue-chips

Editing DNA in space: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/studying-dna-breaks-in-space

Recycling 3D-printed material: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7321

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

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Karen Northon/Joshua Finch/JSC/Gary Jordan/NASA TV/SciNews.

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Archaeologists unearth 9,000-year-old site in Vietnam

Archaeologists from the Vietnam Archaeology Institute and Bac Kan Museum have unearthed ancient artefacts on karst mountains in Ba Be district in the northern province of Bac Kan.

Archaeologists unearth 9,000-year-old site in Vietnam
Credit: Trinh Nang Chung

At Puong Cave, inside the Ba Be National Park, they found nearly 100 stone and bone objects indicating traces of early people.
Two ancient cookers have been discovered at the excavation site but no burials have been found as expected.

Some objects were made from small stones taken from the beds of streams and rivers, which share significant similarities with tools from the Hoa Binh civilisation (12,000-10,000BC). These include oval tools and short axes.

Archaeologists unearth 9,000-year-old site in Vietnam
Credit: Trinh Nang Chung

Remains of bones of pigs, monkeys, hedgehogs and deer as well as shells of oysters and snails and some nuts have been found, which archaeologists believe are remnants of food left by early people.
Archaeologists also found a rectangular stone with three round holes four centimetres apart. They have not determined its function.

According to Prof Trinh Nang Chung, head of the excavation team, the site belonged to New Stone Age Hoa Binh Civilisation residents, dating back some 8,000 to 9,000 years.

More research will be conducted at the Puong Cave in the next few months, he said.

Source: Vietnam Plus [June 20, 2019]



2019 June 25 25 Brightest Stars in the Night Sky Image Credit…

2019 June 25

25 Brightest Stars in the Night Sky
Image Credit & Copyright: Tragoolchitr Jittasaiyapan

Explanation: Do you know the names of some of the brightest stars? It’s likely that you do, even though some bright stars have names so old they date back to near the beginning of written language. Many world cultures have their own names for the brightest stars, and it is culturally and historically important to remember them. In the interest of clear global communication, however, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has begun to designate standardized star names. Featured above in true color are the 25 brightest stars in the night sky, currently as seen by humans, coupled with their IAU-recognized names. Some star names have interesting meanings, including Sirius (“the scorcher” in Latin), Vega (“falling” in Arabic), and Antares (“rival to Mars” in Greek). It’s also likely that other of these bright star names are not familiar to you, even though familiar Polaris is too dim to make this list.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190625.html

Expedition 59 Trio Leaves Station for Ride to Earth

ROSCOSMOS — Soyuz MS-11 Mission patch.

June 24, 2019

NASA Flight Engineer Anne McClain, Expedition 59/Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency undocked from the International Space Station at 7:25 p.m. EDT to begin their trip home.

Image above: The Soyuz MS-11 Spacecraft carrying three Expedition 59 crewmembers backs away from the International Space Station moments after undocking. Image Credit: NASA TV.

Deorbit burn is scheduled for approximately 9:55 p.m., with landing in Kazakhstan targeted for 10:48 p.m. NASA will resume coverage on TV and online at 9:30 p.m. for deorbit burn and landing.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 60 began aboard the space station under the command of Roscosmos’ Alexey Ovchinin. Along with his crewmates NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, the three-person crew will operate the station for a few weeks until the next residents arrive July 20.

Soyuz MS-11 undocking and departure

Andrew Morgan of NASA, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos will launch aboard Soyuz MS-13 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and join Expedition 60 after a six-hour flight on the 50th anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon.

Related links:

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

Expedition 60: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition60/index.html

NASA Television: http://nasa.gov/live

Soyuz MS-11: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/soyuz-launches-arrivals-and-departures/

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

Image (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia/NASA TV/SciNews.

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Peacock rock : What is Peacock rock? Where is peacock rock…

Peacock rock : What is Peacock rock? Where is peacock rock found? http://www.geologypage.com/2019/06/peacock-rock-what-is-peacock-rock-where-is-peacock-rock-found.html

Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech⁣In this large celestial mosaic,…

Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech⁣

In this large celestial mosaic, our Spitzer Space Telescope captured a stellar family portrait! You can find infants, parents and grandparents of star-forming regions all in this generational photo. 

There’s a lot to see in this image, including multiple clusters of stars born from the same dense clumps of gas and dust – some older and more evolved than others. Dive deeper into its intricacies by visiting https://go.nasa.gov/2XpiWLf ⁣

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Lung health, algae and radiation research on Space Station

ESA — Colombus Module logo.

24 June 2019

Join us as we look back at the past two weeks of European science on the International Space Station. These were also the last two weeks in space for NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques and Roscosmos astronaut Oleg Kononenko who are preparing to leave the Station at 23:25 GMT today.

David Saint-Jacques in Sokol suit

Strapped inside their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft, the astronauts will travel home alongside a multitude of carefully-packed pieces experiments and pieces of equipment. Among the cargo are dosimeters from the Dosis 3D experiment that is charting radiation levels on Station.

A breath of fresh science

On 13 June, Anne and NASA astronaut Nick Hague conducted their final session of the Airway Monitoring experiment. This was also the very last session for this experiment in space.

Starting with ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti in 2015, Airway Monitoring has gathered data on how astronauts exhale nitric oxide in space. The research is helping to build a better understanding of the lung problems astronauts might develop on long spaceflights. Dust circulates indefinitely in space, increasing the chance of entering an astronaut’s lungs. Lunar dust could also cause lung inflammation and this experiment is the first to see how astronauts’ lungs cope with the change in environment.

Anne McClain Airway Monitoring

The Airway Monitoring experiment is notable as it is the only experiment to use one of the Space Station’s airlock for research purposes. Part of the research requires the astronauts breathe while in reduced pressure so air is pumped out of the airlock during monitoring sessions.

On 20 June Nick gave some attention to the algae in German Aerospace Center DLR’s PhotoBioreactor. He provided fresh nutrients and removed excess algae in the experiment that is looking at how we can harness the power of Chlorella vulgaris to produce oxygen and food from water and carbon dioxide. Nick also took a sample of the algae and stored it in the Space Station’s –80°C freezer for analysis later on Earth.


The Electromagnetic Levitator was also powered up for another run of melting and solidifying alloys in space. Roscosmos astronaut Alexi Ovchinin configured the gas valves that allow the metals to be cast in an inert environment. Understanding the underlying physics of metal casting is complicated and factors such as gravity, and the mould used to hold the metal in place as the gas in which the metal is cast, can influence results. For example, gravity pulls on atoms in different ways and heat is transferred to the mould whereas the gas can interact with metal too. The facility was made ready for science on 19 June.

 Matiss experiment

Experiments that have kept on ticking without astronaut intervention are the space storm-hunter ASIM, France’s space agency CNES microbiological investigation Matiss-2, Europe’s commercial access to Space Station science ICE Cubes and the ‘air-traffic’ control for ships monitoring Vessel ID.

Soyuz MS-11

After the trio leave the Space Station tonight, Nick, NASA astronaut Christina Koch and Alexei will continue to orbit our planet as a trio until the arrival of Soyuz MS-13 crew. This crew includes ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and the launch, currently scheduled for 20 July 2019, marks the start of his second mission – Beyond: https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/International_Space_Station/Beyond_mission_Luca_Parmitano

Related links:

Airway Monitoring experiment: https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Research/Monitoring_the_airways

PhotoBioreactor: https://www.dlr.de/dlr/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-11017/1813_read-26324/#/gallery/30222

Electromagnetic Levitator: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Blue_dot/Electromagnetic_levitator

Space storm-hunter ASIM: http://www.esa.int/asim

CNES microbiological investigation Matiss-2: https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Proxima/Highlights/Clean_house

ICE: http://www.icecubesservice.com/

Vessel ID: https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Columbus/Vessel-ID

European space laboratory Columbus: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Columbus

International Space Station Benefits for Humanity: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/International_Space_Station_Benefits_for_Humanity

International Space Station (ISS): http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/International_Space_Station

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/NASA/Universität Stuttgart/CNES/Emmanuel Grimault.

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