понедельник, 18 ноября 2019 г.

2019 November 3 Daphnis and the Rings of Saturn Image Credit:...



2019 November 3

Daphnis and the Rings of Saturn
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, Space Science Institute, Cassini

Explanation: What’s happening to the rings of Saturn? A little moon making big waves. The moon is 8-kilometer Daphnis and it is making waves in the Keeler Gap of Saturn’s rings using just its gravity – as it bobs up and down, in and out. The featured image is a colored and more detailed version of a previously released images taken in 2017 by the robotic Cassini spacecraft during one of its Grand Finale orbits. Daphnis can be seen on the far right, sporting ridges likely accumulated from ring particles. Daphnis was discovered in Cassini images in 2005 and raised mounds of ring particles so high in 2009 – during Saturn’s equinox when the ring plane pointed directly at the Sun – that they cast notable shadows.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap191103.html



* This article was originally published here

Messapian tomb with man and child unearthed at archaeological site of Roca


The researchers of the Laboratory of Physical Anthropology of the Department of Cultural Heritage of the University of Salento will study the skeletons recently brought to light in the archaeological site of Roca, near the Grotta della Poesia, located on the Adriatic coast in the Apulian province of Lecce, Southern Italy.

Messapian tomb with man and child unearthed at archaeological site of Roca
Credit: Universita del Salento
The skeletons are those of an adult male and a child buried together around the middle of the fifth century BC. The date of the burial was determined by the grave goods that were found and, in particular, by a columned krater placed on the right side of the adult's skeleton.

The discovery of this burial, of a rather common type in the archaeological site of Roca, was made in 2008 as part of the excavation campaign then under way under the direction of Professor Cosimo Pagliara (who passed away in 2015), when about 20 Messapian tombs were discovered.


The site is still being investigated with the permission of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and for Tourism, under the direction of Professor Riccardo Guglielmino, professor of Aegean Civilization at UniSalento.

In 2008, after the usual scientific documentation of the discovery, the grave goods were taken but the skeletons, for technical and climatic reasons, were covered with green fabric sunshades, the tomb filled with earth and the three roof slabs repositioned.

Messapian tomb with man and child unearthed at archaeological site of Roca
Credit: Universita del Salento


At the reopening, a few days ago, the conditions of conservation were perfect, and the recovery of the bones was therefore undertaken. From a preliminary anthropological analysis, the adult individual is male, age at death 35-40 years, the other skeleton is a child of about 6 years.

"We had for some months resumed the study of burials found in 2008, so we decided to complete the excavation in this year", explains Professor Pier Francesco Fabbri, Professor of Physical Anthropology at UniSalento, who now directs the excavations.

"Studying this case will be interesting, since it is rather rare to find two individuals buried at the same time. It will be a matter of subjecting the skeletons to in-depth anthropological and radiological analysis to determine the exact age of death. Through DNA analysis we could also establish if the smaller skeleton belonged to a child, which is not possible to ascertain from the osteological analysis. Several of our students are involved both in the excavation of the medieval necropolis of Roca and in particular in that of this Messapian tomb, and various aspects of the finding will become the subject of graduation theses."

Source: Universita del Salento [trsl. TANN, November 10, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Impresionante bola de fuego del 16 de septiembre

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Channel: Meteors  

Una roca procedente de un asteroide ha entrado bruscamente en la atmósfera terrestre a las 21:32 horas del 16 de septiembre, generando una brillante bola de fuego que ha podido ser vista desde más de 400 kilómetros de distancia. Numerosos testigos, sobre todo de las provincias de Sevilla y Córdoba, se hicieron eco de este evento a través de redes sociales. El fenómeno ha podido ser grabado por los detectores que la Red de Bólidos y Meteoros del Suroeste de Europa opera en distintos puntos de Andalucía y Castilla-La Mancha. Concretamente, se han obtenido imágenes desde los observatorios de La Hita (Toledo), Sierra Nevada (Granada), La Sagra (Granada) y Sevilla. Estos detectores trabajan en el marco del Proyecto SMART, que tiene como objetivo monitorizar continuamente el cielo con el fin de registrar y estudiar el impacto contra la atmósfera terrestre de rocas procedentes de distintos objetos del Sistema Solar.

El evento ha sido analizado por el investigador responsable del Proyecto SMART, el astrofísico José María Madiedo del Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC). Este análisis ha permitido determinar que la roca que originó este fenómeno entró en la atmósfera a unos 61 mil kilómetros por hora sobre el noreste de la provincia de Sevilla. Esta enorme velocidad hizo que la roca se volviese incandescente, generándose así una brillante bola de fuego a una altitud de unos 85 kilómetros. La bola de fuego avanzó en dirección noroeste, pasando casi por la vertical de las localidades de San Nicolás del Puerto, Alanís y Guadalcanal. Finalmente se extinguió sobre la provincia de Badajoz, cuando se encontraba a una altitud de unos 42 kilómetros sobre la localidad de Zafra.

La roca se desintegró completamente en la atmósfera después de experimentar varias explosiones a lo largo de su trayectoria, lo que indica que se fragmentó en el aire. Ningún fragmento consiguió impactar contra el suelo y, por tanto, en ningún momento ha supuesto ningún tipo de peligro para la población.

La órbita que seguía la roca antes de entrar en la atmósfera terrestre era muy similar a la del asteroide 2000 QW7, un asteroide potencialmente peligroso que se acercó a la Tierra el pasado 14 de septiembre. No se descarta, por tanto, que la roca que generó la bola de fuego fuese un fragmento desprendido de ese asteroide. No obstante, la confirmación de este extremo requerirá de cálculos adicionales.

Video length: 1:35
Category: Science & Technology
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2019 November 4 Near the Center of the Lagoon Nebula Image...



2019 November 4

Near the Center of the Lagoon Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Zhuoqun Wu, Chilescope

Explanation: Stars are battling gas and dust in the Lagoon Nebula but the photographers are winning. Also known as M8, this photogenic nebula is visible even without binoculars towards the constellation of the Archer (Sagittarius). The energetic processes of star formation create not only the colors but the chaos. The glowing gas results from high-energy starlight striking interstellar hydrogen gas and trace amounts of sulfur, and oxygen gases. The dark dust filaments that lace M8 were created in the atmospheres of cool giant stars and in the debris from supernovae explosions. The light from M8 we see today left about 5,000 years ago. Light takes about 50 years to cross this section of M8.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap191104.html



* This article was originally published here

Roman-era catacomb unearthed in Egypt


The Ministry of Antiquities announced on the discovery of an ancient cemetery in Saqqara. It is the first discovered cemetery from the Roman era in this region.

Roman-era catacomb unearthed in Egypt
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities
During the last excavation season, a joint Egyptian-Japanese archaeological mission in North Saqqara headed by Nozomu Kawai of Kanazawa University and Waseda University in Japan succeeded in uncovering a Roman catacomb tomb, spanning back to the first and second centuries AD.

Roman-era catacomb unearthed in Egypt
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities


Saqqara's General Manager Sabry Farah said the mission found the catacombs in the area northeast the old Saqqara region, where no excavation work has been carried out before.

Roman-era catacomb unearthed in Egypt
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities
For his part, Kawai said the discovered catacombs consisted of a domed mud brick building with an internal staircase and a rock carved room made of limestone, where a rock-engraved plaque with a round plate was found containing images of Sokar, Thoth and Anubis from left to right and two lines of Greek inscriptions below the relief.

Roman-era catacomb unearthed in Egypt
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities


Five terra-cotta statues of Isis-Aphrodite were also found, in addition to a number of clay pots found by the entrance gate.

Roman-era catacomb unearthed in Egypt
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities
He added that the mission also found two statues of lions made of limestone. Each statue is about 55 cm in length.

Roman-era catacomb unearthed in Egypt
Credit: Egypt. Ministry of Antiquities
Farah indicated that the mission had found the rock-carved room outside the entrance gate. The room consists of a long hall of about 15 metres in length and about 2 metres in width, with a number of small chambers carved on the sidewalls. Inside the carved chambers a large clay statue of Isis-Aphrodite was discovered in addition to a number of mummies.

Author: Mustafa Marie | Source: Egypt Today [November 06, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Perseid meteor shower 2019

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Channel: OGVT - Observatoire géophysique, Val Terbi  

A few meteors during the maximum of the Perseid meteor shower 2019.

Recorded in Montsevelier (Val Terbi), Jura with the Sony a7sII, Canon NFD 24mm f/1.4, and UFOCaptureHD2

Video length: 0:28
Category: Science & Technology
2 comments

Galactic fountains and carousels

Fig 1: Images of disk galaxies from the TNG50 simulation in visible light. For each galaxy, there is a face-on view (top) and an edge-on view. TNG50 has thrown new light on how disk galaxies like this form. Credit: D. Nelson (MPA) and the Illustris TNG team

Order emerging from chaos 

Scientists from Germany and the United States have unveiled the results of a newly-completed, state of the art simulation of the evolution of galaxies. TNG50 is the most detailed large-scale cosmological simulation yet. It allows researchers to study in detail how galaxies form, and how they have evolved since shortly after the Big Bang. For the first time, it reveals that the geometry of the cosmic gas flows around galaxies determines galaxy structure, and vice versa.

Astronomers running cosmological simulations face a fundamental trade-off: with finite computing power, typical simulations so far have been either very detailed or have spanned a large volume of virtual space, but not both. Detailed simulations with limited volumes can model no more than a few galaxies, making statistical deductions difficult. Large-volume simulations, in turn, typically lack fine details on smaller scales, which are important for describing individual galaxies. The TNG50 simulation, which has just been published, manages to avoid this trade-off. For the first time, it combines the idea of a large-scale cosmological simulation – a Universe in a box – with the computational resolution of “zoom” simulations, at a level of detail that had previously only been possible for studies of individual galaxies.

In a simulated cube of space that is more than 230 million light-years across, TNG50 can discern physical phenomena that occur on scales one million times smaller, tracing the simultaneous evolution of thousands of galaxies over 13.8 billion years of cosmic history. It does so with more than 20 billion particles representing dark matter, stars, cosmic gas, magnetic fields, and supermassive black holes. The calculation itself required 16,000 cores on the Hazel Hen supercomputer in Stuttgart working together, 24/7, for more than a year – the equivalent of fifteen thousand years on a single processor, making it one of the most demanding astrophysical computations to date.


Fig 2: Outflow of gas from a galaxy. From top to bottom, each row represents a different snapshot, spanning 370 million years of cosmic evolution. The outflow is driven by energy set free near the active supermassive black hole in the galaxy’s center. From left to right, the columns show false-color representations of the velocity, temperature, density and heavy element content of the galaxy. The galaxy itself is the cold (blue, second column from left) and dense (yellow, third column) disk of star-forming gas visible as a small, vertical structure in the center of each image. Credit: D. Nelson (MPA) and the Illustris TNG team

The first scientific results from TNG50, presented in two articles that have just been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, by a team led by Dr. Annalisa Pillepich (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg) and Dr. Dylan Nelson (Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Garching), have revealed unforeseen physical phenomena. According to Nelson: “Numerical experiments of this kind are particularly successful when you get out more than you put in. In our simulation, we see phenomena that had not been programmed explicitly into the simulation code. These phenomena emerge in a natural fashion, from the complex interplay of the basic physical ingredients of our model universe.”

TNG50 features two prominent examples for this kind of emergent behavior. The first concerns the formation of “disk” galaxies like our own Milky Way. Using TNG50 as a time machine to rewind the evolution of cosmic structure, researchers have seen how the well-ordered, rapidly rotating disk galaxies (which are common in our nearby Universe) emerge from chaotic, disorganized, and highly turbulent clouds of gas at earlier epochs.

As the gas settles down, newborn stars are typically found on more and more circular orbits, eventually forming large spiral galaxies – galactic carousels. Annalisa Pillepich explains: “In practice, TNG50 shows that our own Milky Way galaxy with its thin disk is at the height of galaxy fashion: over the past 10 billion years, at least those galaxies that are still forming new stars have become more and more disk-like, and their chaotic internal motions have decreased considerably. The Universe was much more messy when it was just a few billion years old!”

Interplay of gas flows and galaxies

As these galaxies flatten out, researchers found another emergent phenomenon, concerning high-speed outflows and winds of gas flowing out of galaxies. Such outflows and winds are launched as a result of supernovae explosions and supermassive black hole activity. Galactic gaseous outflows are initially also chaotic and flow away in all directions, but over time, they begin to become more focused along a path of least resistance. In the late universe, outflows are oriented within two conical volumes, emerging from the galaxy in opposite directions – like two ice cream cones placed tip to tip, with the galaxy swirling at the center.

These winds slow down as they attempt to leave the gravitational well of the dark matter halo, and can eventually stall and fall back onto the galaxies, forming a galactic fountain of recycled gas. This process redistributes gas from the center of a galaxy to its outskirts, further accelerating the transformation of the galaxy itself into a thin disk: galactic structure shapes galactic fountains, and vice versa.

Just as for the other simulations of the TNG family, the team of scientists creating TNG50 (based at Max Planck Institutes in Heidelberg and Garching, Harvard University, MIT, and the CCA) will eventually release all simulation data to the astronomy community at large and to the public. Then, astronomers all over the world will be able to make their own discoveries in the TNG50 universe – and possibly find additional examples of emergent cosmic phenomena, of order emerging from chaos.

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Venice on its knees as floods devastate city


Venice was in a state of crisis on Wednesday due to huge flooding after the high-water mark reached 187cm late on Tuesday, the highest level since the record 1966 flood.

Venice on its knees as floods devastate city
Credit: ANSA/AP


"Venice is on its knees," Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said via Twitter. "St Mark's Basilica has suffered serious damage, like the whole city and the islands... We need everyone's help to get through the next few days that are putting us to the test.". A 78-year-old man was electrocuted due a short circuit, apparently linked to the flooding, at his home on the island of Pellestrina.

Another person also died during the flooding on the lagoon island, although in his case it may have been natural causes.

Venice on its knees as floods devastate city
Credit: ANSA/AP
There is massive damage. Brugnaro estimated that the cost ran into several hundred million euros. Three barges sank, while gondolas and other boats were stripped from their moorings. A fire broke our at the Ca' Pesaro museum because of an electrical malfunction.

Brugnaro said the council was asking central government to declare the city to be in a state of emergency and told local people and businesses to collect photographic and video evidence of the damage suffered for compensation claims. "We are faced with total, apocalyptic devastation," Veneto Governor Luca Zaia told Mediaset television.

Venice on its knees as floods devastate city
Credit: ANSA/AP


"I'm not exaggerating; 80% of the city is under water, the damage is unimaginable". Premier Giuseppe Conte is due to arrive in the city to assess the situation on Wednesday and Zaia said he would stay the night. Infrastructure Paola De Micheli is heading to Venice too.

President Sergio Mattarella called Brugnaro and Raffaello De Ruggieri, the mayor 2019 European Culture Capital Matera, which was badly hit by flooding on Tuesday.

Venice on its knees as floods devastate city
Credit: ANSA/AP
Venice's La Fenice has been temporarily put out of action too. Although the theatre itself is not flooded, water has entered an auxiliary area affecting the electrical and fire-prevention systems.

Pierpaolo Campostrini, a member of St. Mark's management board, said things could have been even worse for the cathedral.

Venice on its knees as floods devastate city
Credit: ANSA/AP


"We came within a whisker of the apocalypse," he said. "The water got into the basilica, it flooded the floor, broke windows and entered the crypt. It is dangerous, not so much because of what is contained in there, but because the water could have caused problems for the columns that hold up the basilica".


The devastation has led to controversy about the fact that the MOSE flood barrier system, which has been hit by delays and a corruption scandal, is still not operative. Environment Minister Sergio Costa linked the situation to the climate crisis.

The acqua alta came down to around 144cm on Wednesday after Tuesday's peak.

Source: ANSA [November 13, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Kornephoros Binary Star night vision filming

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Channel: déjà vu  

A 60 minute night vision shoot around Kornephoros, a variable double star.
Kornephoros was this evenings target star as the ISS that was due to pass close by.

Equipment used for filming-

Canon 60D through a Twiggy L4A1 + P8079HP image intensified F350mm telescope.

Canon Rebel T3i + P8079HP intensifier through a 50mm lens.


© Music, ambient sounds and atmospherics created by déjà vu

Video length: 7:45
Category: Science & Technology
8 comments

2019 November 18 Passing Asteroid Arrokoth Video Credit: NASA,...



2019 November 18

Passing Asteroid Arrokoth
Video Credit: NASA, JHU APL, SwRI

Explanation: What would it look like to pass asteroid Arrokoth? The robotic New Horizons spacecraft zoomed past Arrokoth in January, 3.5 years after the spacecraft passed Pluto. If this object’s name doesn’t sound familiar, that may be because the distant, double-lobed, Kuiper-belt object was unofficially dubbed Ultima Thule until recently receiving its official name: 486958 Arrokoth. The featured black and white video animates images of Arrokoth taken by New Horizons at different angles as it zoomed by. The video clearly shows Arrokoth’s two lobes, and even hints that the larger lobe is significantly flattened. New Horizons found that Arrokoth is different from any known asteroid in the inner Solar System and is likely composed of two joined planetesimals – the building blocks of planets as they existed billions of years ago. New Horizons continues to speed out of our Solar System gaining about three additional Earth-Sun separations every year.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap191118.html



* This article was originally published here

Ancient cup given to first marathon victor returned to Greece


An ancient Greek cup awarded as a prize to the marathon winner in the first modern Olympics of 1896 has been returned to Athens from a German university.

Ancient cup given to first marathon victor returned to Greece
An ancient Greek drinking cup decorated with runners, which was one of the awards presented to Spyros Louis,
the Greek winner of the Marathon in the 1896 first modern Olympic Games in Athens, is seen at the
National Archaeological Museum in Athens [Credit: Petros Giannakouris/AP]
Greece's Culture Ministry said Wednesday that the 6th century B.C. pottery vessel was considered lost for decades until research in 2014 by archaeologist Giorgos Kavvadias identified it in the University of Muenster's collections.

A ministry statement said it was proved "beyond any doubt" that the two-handled wine cup painted with ancient runners was the one given to Spiros Louis, the Greek marathon victor in the 1896.


Following correspondence with Greek officials, the university agreed to return the cup, which was part of a private German collection it had bought in 1986. The statement said the collection had been put together by Werner Peek, a scholar of Greek and historian who lived in Athens during the 1930s. But it was unclear how the cup ended up in Peek's hands.

The vessel was presented at a ceremony at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, where it will be exhibited for the next three months before being put on permanent display at a museum in Ancient Olympia, birthplace and venue of the ancient Games.

Louis, a humble water carrier with no training in running, won enduring fame in Greece for his unexpected victory on home turf in the marathon, seen as the most Greek of Olympic disciplines. He was presented with a silver cup and a silver medal—both of which are in Greece—as well as the drinking cup.

Source: Associated Press [November 13, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Amateur Astronomer catches UFOs?

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Channel: Terry's Theories  

Youtube channel M S makes a great catch as he views and records the moon through his telescope.
Source video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5JwK0jA1GI

Video length: 1:14
Category: Science & Technology
29 comments

Hubble Captures a Dozen Sunburst Arc Doppelgangers

The Sunburst Arc

Sunburst Arc 1

Sunburst Arc 2

Sunburst Arc 3

Area surrounding the Sunburst Arc (ground-based image)


Videos

Pan of the Sunburst Arc
Pan of the Sunburst Arc

Animation of gravitational lensing (artist’s impression)



Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have observed a galaxy in the distant regions of the Universe which appears duplicated at least 12 times on the night sky. This unique sight, created by strong gravitational lensing, helps astronomers get a better understanding of the cosmic era known as the epoch of reionisation.

This new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows an astronomical object whose image is multiplied by the effect of strong gravitational lensing. The galaxy, nicknamed the Sunburst Arc, is almost 11 billion light-years away from Earth and has been lensed into multiple images by a massive cluster of galaxies 4.6 billion light-years away [1].

The mass of the galaxy cluster is large enough to bend and magnify the light from the more distant galaxy behind it. This process leads not only to a deformation of the light from the object, but also to a multiplication of the image of the lensed galaxy.

In the case of the Sunburst Arc the lensing effect led to at least 12 images of the galaxy, distributed over four major arcs. Three of these arcs are visible in the top right of the image, while one counterarc is visible in the lower left — partially obscured by a bright foreground star within the Milky Way.

Hubble uses these cosmic magnifying glasses to study objects otherwise too faint and too small for even its extraordinarily sensitive instruments. The Sunburst Arc is no exception, despite being one of the brightest gravitationally lensed galaxies known.

The lens makes various images of the Sunburst Arc between 10 and 30 times brighter. This allows Hubble to view structures as small as 520 light-years across — a rare detailed observation for an object that distant. This compares reasonably well with star forming regions in galaxies in the local Universe, allowing astronomers to study the galaxy and its environment in great detail.

Hubble’s observations showed that the Sunburst Arc is an analogue of galaxies which existed at a much earlier time in the history of the Universe: a period known as the epoch of reionisation — an era which began only 150 million years after the Big Bang [2].

The epoch of reionisation was a key era in the early Universe, one which ended the “dark ages”, the epoch before the first stars were created when the Universe was dark and filled with neutral hydrogen [3]. Once the first stars formed, they started to radiate light, producing the high-energy photons required to ionise the neutral hydrogen [4].

This converted the intergalactic matter into the mostly ionised form in which it exists today. However, to ionise intergalactic hydrogen, high-energy radiation from these early stars would have had to escape their host galaxies without first being absorbed by interstellar matter. So far only a small number of galaxies have been found to “leak” high-energy photons into deep space. How this light escaped from the early galaxies remains a mystery.

The analysis of the Sunburst Arc helps astronomers to add another piece to the puzzle — it seems that at least some photons can leave the galaxy through narrow channels in a gas rich neutral medium. This is the first observation of a long-theorised process [5]. While this process is unlikely to be the main mechanism that led the Universe to become reionised, it may very well have provided a decisive push.




Notes

[1] The official designation of the Sunburst Arc galaxy is PSZ1 G311.65-18.48.

[2] The further we look into space, the further back we look in time. This allows astronomers to study different epochs of the Universe, by studying objects at different distances.

[3] Ionisation is the process of gaining or losing electrons to leave electrically charged particles. The era is known as reionisation because, after the Big Bang, matter formed first into protons and electrons. Then, during the era of recombination — about 380 000 years after the Big Bang — neutral hydrogen formed from these particles for the first time.

[4] While an ionised hydrogen atom consists of only the core of the atom (one proton) a neutral hydrogen atom contains a nucleus of one proton which is orbited by one electron.

[5] The paper outlining these observations will appear in Science on 8 November 2019.



More Information

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

The international team of astronomers in this study consists of T. Emil Rivera-Thorsen (University of Oslo, Norway), Håkon Dahle (University of Oslo, Norway), John Chisholm (Université de Genève, Switzerland; University of California Santa Cruz, USA), Michael K. Florian (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, USA), Max Gronke (University of California Santa Barbara, USA), Michael D. Gladders (University of Chicago, USA), Jane R. Rigby (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, USA), Guillaume Mahler (University of Michigan, USA), Keren Sharon (University of Michigan, USA), Matthew Bayliss (MIT-Kavli Center for Astrophysics and Space Research, USA) and included data from Hubble programs 15418 and 15101.

Image credit: ESA, NASA, E. Rivera-Thorsen et al.



Links



Contacts:

Emil Rivera-Thorsen
Department of Astronomy, Stockholm University
Stockholm, Sweden
Tel: +46 737 703 603
Email: trive@astro.su.se

Håkon Dahle
Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics
Oslo, Norway
Tel: +47 93266331
Email: hakon.dahle@astro.uio.no

Bethany Downer
ESA/Hubble, Public Information Officer
Garching, Germany
Email: bethany.downer@partner.eso.org




* This article was originally published here

Extinct giant ape directly linked to the living orangutan


By using ancient protein sequencing, researchers have retrieved genetic information from a 1.9 million year old extinct, giant primate that used to live in a subtropical area in southern China. The genetic information allows the researchers to uncover the evolutionary position of Gigantopithecus blacki, a three-meter tall and may be up to 600 kg heavy primate, revealing the orangutan as its closest, living relative.

Extinct giant ape directly linked to the living orangutan
Artistic representation of Gigantopithecus blacki [Credit: Ikumi Kayama
(Studio Kayama LLC)]
It is the first time that genetic material this old has been retrieved from a warm, humid environment. The study is published in the scientific journal Nature, and the results are groundbreaking within the field of evolutionary biology, according to Frido Welker, Postdoc at the Globe Institute at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences and first author of the study.


'Primates are relatively close to humans, evolutionary speaking. With this study, we show that we can use protein sequencing to retrieve ancient genetic information from primates living in subtropical areas even when the fossil is two million years old. Until now, it has only been possible to retrieve genetic information from up to 10,000-year-old fossils in warm, humid areas.

Extinct giant ape directly linked to the living orangutan
A Gigantopithecus blacki mandible (P1-M2=74mm) [Credit: Prof. Wei Wang;
Photo retouching: Theis Jensen]
This is interesting, because ancient remains of the supposed ancestors of our species, Homo sapiens, are also mainly found in subtropical areas, particularly for the early part of human evolution. This means that we can potentially retrieve similar information on the evolutionary line leading to humans', says Frido Welker.


Today, scientists know that the human and the chimpanzee lineages split around seven or eight million years ago. With the previous methodologies though, they could only retrieve human genetic information not older than 400,000 years. The new results show the possibility to extend the genetic reconstruction of the evolutionary relationships between our species and extinct ones further back in time, at least up to two million years -- covering a much larger portion of the entire human evolution.

Analyzing ancient dental enamel proteins using mass spectrometry-based proteomics

In a recent study, also published on Nature, Enrico Cappellini, Associate Professor at the Globe Institute and senior author on this study, initially demonstrated, together with an international team of colleagues, the massive potential of ancient protein sequencing.

Extinct giant ape directly linked to the living orangutan
Gigantopithecus blacki mandible [Credit: Prof. Wei Wang;
Photo retouching: Theis Jensen]
'By sequencing proteins retrieved from dental enamel about two million years old, we showed it is possible to confidently reconstruct the evolutionary relationships of animal species that went extinct too far away in time for their DNA to survive till now. In this study, we can even conclude that the lineages of orangutan and Gigantopithecus split up about 12 million years ago', says Enrico Cappellini.


Sequencing protein remains two million years old was made possible by stretching to its limits the technology at the base of proteomic discovery: mass spectrometry. State of the art mass spectrometers and the top palaeoproteomics expertise needed to get the best out of such sophisticated instrumentation are key resources deriving from the decade-long strategic collaboration with Jesper Velgaard Olsen, Professor at Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research and co-author on this study.

The mystery of Gigantopithecus

The fossil evidence attributed to Gigantopithecus was initially discovered in southern China in 1935, and it is currently limited to just a few lower jaws and lots of teeth. No complete skull and no other bone from the rest of the skeleton has been found so far. As a result, there has been a lot of speculation about the physical appearance of this mysterious animal.

Extinct giant ape directly linked to the living orangutan
This is a comparison graph comparing the hight of a 1.8 meter tall human male with Gigantopithecus species.
This graph is based on orangutan proportions in a bipedal stance. It is most likely that Gigantopithecus
would have spent most of its time in a quadrupedal stance on all fours [Credit: Discott]


'Previous attempts to understand which could be the living organism most similar to Gigantopithecus could only be based on the comparison of the shape of the fossils with skeletal reference material from living great apes. Ancient DNA analysis was not an option, because Gigantopithecus went extinct approximately 300,000 years ago, and in the geographic area Gigantopithecus occupied no DNA older than approximately 10,000 years has been retrieved so far. Accordingly, we decided to sequence dental enamel proteins to reconstruct its evolutionary relation with living great apes, and we found that orangutan is Gigantopithecus' closest living relative', says Enrico Cappellini.

Extinct giant ape directly linked to the living orangutan
View from the entrance of Chuifeng cave (China)
[Credit: Prof. Wei Wang]
The study of human evolution by palaeoproteomics will continue in the next years through the recently established "Palaeoproteomics to Unleash Studies on Human History (PUSHH)" Marie Skcodowska Curie European Training Network (ETN) Programme.

Source: University of Copenhagen [November 13, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Cassiopeia Night vision satellite & UFO Hunting

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Channel: déjà vu  

Two hour night vision filming around the constellation of Cassiopeia.
32 satellites were filmed, 15 appear in this video with 6 being identified.
Featuring the Steam Punk conversion of GOKO analogue cine super/single & regular-8 frame counter to film speed indicator gadget.

Equipment used for filming-

Canon 60D through a Twiggy L4A1 + P8079HP image intensified F350mm telescope.

© Music, ambient sounds and atmospherics created by déjà vu using DroneFX

Video length: 6:31
Category: Science & Technology
6 comments

2019 November 5 Spiral Galaxies Spinning Super-Fast Image...



2019 November 5

Spiral Galaxies Spinning Super-Fast
Image Credit: Top row: NASA, ESA, Hubble, P. Ogle & J. DePasquale (STScI);
Bottom row: SDSS, P. Ogle & J. DePasquale (STScI)

Explanation: Why are these galaxies spinning so fast? If you estimated each spiral’s mass by how much light it emits, their fast rotations should break them apart. The leading hypothesis as to why these galaxies don’t break apart is dark matter – mass so dark we can’t see it. But these galaxies are even out-spinning this break-up limit – they are the fastest rotating disk galaxies known. It is therefore further hypothesized that their dark matter halos are so massive – and their spins so fast – that it is harder for them to form stars than regular spirals. If so, then these galaxies may be among the most massive spirals possible. Further study of surprising super-spirals like these will continue, likely including observations taken by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope scheduled for launch in 2021.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap191105.html



* This article was originally published here

Roman Shrine to Minerva, Handbridge, Chester, 17.11.19.

Roman Shrine to Minerva, Handbridge, Chester, 17.11.19.



* This article was originally published here

Mysteries behind complex interstellar carbon molecules finally answered


Scientists have long been puzzled by the existence of so-called "buckyballs" - complex carbon molecules with a soccer-ball-like structure - throughout interstellar space. Now, a team of researchers from the University of Arizona has proposed a mechanism for their formation in a study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Mysteries behind complex interstellar carbon molecules finally answered
Artist's conception showing spherical carbon molecules known as buckyballs coming out from a planetary nebula
—  material shed by a dying star. Researchers at the University of Arizona have now created these molecules
under laboratory conditions thought to mimic those in their "natural" habitat in space
[Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]
Carbon 60, or C60 for short, whose official name is Buckminsterfullerene, comes in spherical molecules consisting of 60 carbon atoms organized in five-membered and six-membered rings. The name "buckyball" derives from their resemblance to the architectural work of Richard Buckminster Fuller, who designed many dome structures that look similar to C60. Their formation was thought to only be possible in lab settings until their detection in space challenged this assumption.

For decades, people thought interstellar space was sprinkled with lightweight molecules only: mostly single atoms, two-atom molecules and the occasional nine or 10-atom molecules. This was until massive C60 and C70 molecules were detected a few years ago.


Researchers were also surprised to find that that they were composed of pure carbon. In the lab, C60 is made by blasting together pure carbon sources, such as graphite. In space, C60 was detected in planetary nebulae, which are the debris of dying stars. This environment has about 10,000 hydrogen molecules for every carbon molecule.

"Any hydrogen should destroy fullerene synthesis," said astrobiology and chemistry doctoral student Jacob Bernal, lead author of the paper. "If you have a box of balls, and for every 10,000 hydrogen balls you have one carbon, and you keep shaking them, how likely is it that you get 60 carbons to stick together? It's very unlikely."

Bernal and his co-authors began investigating the C60 mechanism after realizing that the transmission electron microscope, or TEM, housed at the Kuiper Materials Imaging and Characterization Facility at UArizona, was able to simulate the planetary nebula environment fairly well.

The TEM, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA, has a serial number of "1" because it is the first of its kind in the world with its exact configuration. Its 200,000-volt electron beam can probe matter down to 78 picometers - scales too small for the human brain to comprehend - in order to see individual atoms. It operates under a vacuum with extremely low pressures. This pressure, or lack thereof, in the TEM is very close to the pressure in circumstellar environments.


"It's not that we necessarily tailored the instrument to have these specific kinds of pressures," said Tom Zega, associate professor in the UArizona Lunar and Planetary Lab and study co-author. "These instruments operate at those kinds of very low pressures not because we want them to be like stars, but because molecules of the atmosphere get in the way when you're trying to do high-resolution imaging with electron microscopes."

The team partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Lab, near Chicago, which has a TEM capable of studying radiation responses of materials. They placed silicon carbide, a common form of dust made in stars, in the low-pressure environment of the TEM, subjected it to temperatures up to 1,830 degrees Fahrenheit and irradiated it with high-energy xenon ions.

Then, it was brought back to Tucson for researchers to utilize the higher resolution and better analytical capabilities of the UArizona TEM. They knew their hypothesis would be validated if they observed the silicon shedding and exposing pure carbon.

"Sure enough, the silicon came off, and you were left with layers of carbon in six-membered ring sets called graphite," said co-author Lucy Ziurys, Regents Professor of astronomy, chemistry and biochemistry. "And then when the grains had an uneven surface, five-membered and six-membered rings formed and made spherical structures matching the diameter of C60. So, we think we're seeing C60."


This work suggests that C60 is derived from the silicon carbide dust made by dying stars, which is then hit by high temperatures, shockwaves and high energy particles , leeching silicon from the surface and leaving carbon behind. These big molecules are dispersed because dying stars eject their material into the interstellar medium - the spaces in between stars - thus accounting for their presence outside of planetary nebulae. Buckyballs are very stable to radiation, allowing them to survive for billions of years if shielded from the harsh environment of space.

"The conditions in the universe where we would expect complex things to be destroyed are actually the conditions that create them," Bernal said, adding that the implications of the findings are endless.

"If this mechanism is forming C60, it's probably forming all kinds of carbon nanostructures," Ziurys said. "And if you read the chemical literature, these are all thought to be synthetic materials only made in the lab, and yet, interstellar space seems to be making them naturally."

If the findings are any sign, it appears that there is more the universe has to tell us about how chemistry truly works.

Author: Rachel Abraham | Source: University of Arizona [November 13, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Amazing meteor event on September 25 // Gran bola de fuego del 25 de septiembre

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Channel: Meteors  

This amazing meteor overflew the Mediterranean Sea on 2019 September 25 at about 01:59 local time (equivalent to 22:59 universal time on September 24). It was generated by a rock from a comet that hit the atmosphere at about 140,000 km/h. It began at an altitude of about 108 km over the sea, and ended at a height of around 60 km.

The event was recorded in the framework of the SMART project, operated by the Southwestern Europe Meteor Network (SWEMN), from the meteor-observing stations located at Calar Alto (Almería), La Hita (Toledo), La Sagra (Granada), Sierra Nevada (Granada), and Sevilla.
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Esta bola de fuego sobrevoló el mar Mediterráneo en la madrugada del 25 de septiembre, a la 1:59 hora local. Se produjo al entrar en la atmósfera terrestre una roca procedente de un cometa a una velocidad de unos 140 mil kilómetros por hora. El evento se inició a una altitud de unos 108 km, frente a la costa de Almería. La bola de fuego avanzó en dirección sureste, hacia África. A lo largo de su trayectoria experimentó aumentos muy bruscos de brillo conforme la roca se fragmentaba en la atmósfera. Finalmente se extinguió a una altitud de unos 67 kilómetros sobre el nivel del mar, a unos 60 kilómetros de distancia de la costa de Argelia.

La bola de fuego ha sido registrada por los detectores del proyecto SMART desde los observatorios astronómicos de Calar Alto (Almería), La Hita (Toledo), La Sagra (Granada), Sierra Nevada y Sevilla. Estos detectores operan en el marco de la Red de Bólidos y Meteoros del Suroeste de Europa (SWEMN), que tiene como objetivo monitorizar continuamente el cielo con el fin de registrar y estudiar el impacto contra la atmósfera terrestre de rocas procedentes de distintos objetos del Sistema Solar.

Video length: 1:18
Category: Science & Technology
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2019 November 6 21st Century M101 Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC,...



2019 November 6

21st Century M101
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC, JPL - Caltech, STScI

Explanation: One of the last entries in Charles Messier’s famous catalog, big, beautiful spiral galaxy M101 is definitely not one of the least. About 170,000 light-years across, this galaxy is enormous, almost twice the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy. M101 was also one of the original spiral nebulae observed with Lord Rosse’s large 19th century telescope, the Leviathan of Parsonstown. In contrast, this multiwavelength view of the large island universe is a composite of images recorded by space-based telescopes in the 21st century. Color coded from X-rays to infrared wavelengths (high to low energies), the image data was taken from the Chandra X-ray Observatory (purple), the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (blue), Hubble Space Telescope(yellow), and the Spitzer Space Telescope(red). While the X-ray data trace the location of multimillion degree gas around M101’s exploded stars and neutron star and black hole binary star systems, the lower energy data follow the stars and dust that define M101’s grand spiral arms. Also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy, M101 lies within the boundaries of the northern constellation Ursa Major, about 25 million light-years away.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap191106.html



* This article was originally published here

Contemporary Mosaic of the Roman Shrine of Minerva, Handbridge, Chester, 17.11.19.

Contemporary Mosaic of the Roman Shrine of Minerva, Handbridge, Chester, 17.11.19.



* This article was originally published here

New study proposes light signature for detecting black hole mergers


Gravitational wave detectors are finding black hole mergers in the universe at the rate of one per week. If these mergers occur in empty space, researchers cannot see associated light that is needed to determine where they happened. However, a new study in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History and the City University of New York (CUNY), suggests that researchers might finally be able to see light from black hole mergers if the collisions happen in the presence of gas.

New study proposes light signature for detecting black hole mergers
In this artist’s conception of a supermassive black hole at the heart of a galaxy, dust and gas form a swirling disk
as they fall onto the hole, attracted by its gravity. A new study suggests researchers may be able to see
light from the effect black hole mergers have on the gas in the disk [Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]
"With a light signature, astronomers could easily pinpoint the cosmic location of these mergers and study them in much more detail than is presently possible," said paper author Barry McKernan, a research associate in the Museum's Department of Astrophysics as well as a professor at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY, and a faculty member at CUNY's Graduate Center.

Black holes form when massive stars die. Much like dense objects sinking into a river on Earth, black holes tend to sink into regions of galaxies where gravity is strongest. It is believed that large numbers of black holes build up in the centers of galaxies, where a much larger, single, supermassive black hole lurks.


If individual small black holes pass close enough to each other as they orbit, their mutual gravity allows them to pair off and orbit each other, while also orbiting the central supermassive black hole. But a second random close encounter with another small black hole can easily break apart such a pairing.

"So the black holes dance, forming and breaking partnerships, but rarely getting close enough to each other to merge," said paper coauthor K.E. Saavik Ford, who is also a research associate in the Museum's Department of Astrophysics as well as a professor at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY, and a faculty member at CUNY's Graduate Center. "If a merger does happen, it will occur in the dark, with no associated light."

This picture changes if a large mass of gas falls onto the central supermassive black hole. This will result in a bright gas disk that envelops many of the black holes swarming around the central supermassive black hole and changes their orbits. Once inside the disk, the gas tugs on the black holes, causing them to spiral closer to the central supermassive black hole. If the smaller black holes pass close enough to each other, gas very quickly drives them together causing a merger and a burst of gravitational waves that can be detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the United States and the European-based Virgo detector.


The new work by McKernan, Ford, and collaborators at the California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, University of Edinburgh, Columbia University, and University of Florida, suggests that it may be possible to see the effect of black hole mergers on the gas disk. The idea: once the black holes merge, they typically experience a kick at high speed (about 50 kilometers per second/112,000 miles per hour). Nearby gas attempts to follow the merger product, but smacks into neighboring disk gas causing a shock collision. If the gas disk is thin enough to let the light escape, the shock glow may be detectable with telescope sky surveys. The likelihood of detecting the shock glow against an already bright disk is best for large mass black hole mergers, around smaller-mass central black holes. The timescale during which the glow is released may help astronomers distinguish the black hole merger from random variations in the disk gas.

"LIGO has opened up this whole new way of letting us 'hear' how two black holes merge into one; and if we are correct, there may well now be a way we can see these otherwise invisible events happen," said co-author Nicholas Ross of the University of Edinburgh. "This would have deep implications for how we study black holes and for observational cosmology."

Co-author Matthew Graham of Caltech adds: "We've got lots of telescopes, such as ZTF [Zwicky Transient Facility], now covering large regions of the sky every night. If there is an optical counterpart, we should see it; if we don't find any then that also tells us something interesting."

Source: American Museum of Natural History [November 13, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

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