четверг, 19 декабря 2019 г.

ESO Observations Reveal Black Holes' Breakfast at the Cosmic Dawn

ESO - European Southern Observatory logo.

19 December 2019

Gas halo observed by MUSE surrounding a galaxy merger seen by ALMA

Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have observed reservoirs of cool gas around some of the earliest galaxies in the Universe. These gas halos are the perfect food for supermassive black holes at the centre of these galaxies, which are now seen as they were over 12.5 billion years ago. This food storage might explain how these cosmic monsters grew so fast during a period in the Universe’s history known as the Cosmic Dawn.

“We are now able to demonstrate, for the first time, that primordial galaxies do have enough food in their environments to sustain both the growth of supermassive black holes and vigorous star formation,” says Emanuele Paolo Farina, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, who led the research published today in The Astrophysical Journal. “This adds a fundamental piece to the puzzle that astronomers are building to picture how cosmic structures formed more than 12 billion years ago.”

Artistic impression of a distant quasar surrounded by a gas halo

Astronomers have wondered how supermassive black holes were able to grow so large so early on in the history of the Universe. "The presence of these early monsters, with masses several billion times the mass of our Sun, is a big mystery," says Farina, who is also affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching bei München. It means that the first black holes, which might have formed from the collapse of the first stars, must have grown very fast. But, until now, astronomers had not spotted ‘black hole food’ — gas and dust — in large enough quantities to explain this rapid growth.

To complicate matters further, previous observations with ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, revealed a lot of dust and gas in these early galaxies that fuelled rapid star formation. These ALMA observations suggested that there could be little left over to feed a black hole.

Artistic animation of a distant quasar surrounded by a gas halo

The research was possible thanks to the superb sensitivity of MUSE, the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer, on ESO’s VLT, which Farina says was “a game changer” in the study of quasars. “In a matter of a few hours per target, we were able to delve into the surroundings of the most massive and voracious black holes present in the young Universe,” he adds. While quasars are bright, the gas reservoirs around them are much harder to observe. But MUSE could detect the faint glow of the hydrogen gas in the halos, allowing astronomers to finally reveal the food stashes that power supermassive black holes in the early Universe.

In the future, ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will help scientists reveal even more details about galaxies and supermassive black holes in the first couple of billion years after the Big Bang. “With the power of the ELT, we will be able to delve even deeper into the early Universe to find many more such gas nebulae,” Farina concludes.

More information:

This research is presented in a paper to appear in The Astrophysical Journal.

The team is composed of Emanuele Paolo Farina (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy [MPIA], Heidelberg, Germany and Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics [MPA], Garching bei München, Germany), Fabrizio Arrigoni-Battaia (MPA), Tiago Costa (MPA), Fabian Walter (MPIA), Joseph F. Hennawi (MPIA and Department of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, US [UCSB Physics]), Anna-Christina Eilers (MPIA), Alyssa B. Drake (MPIA), Roberto Decarli (Astrophysics and Space Science Observatory of Bologna, Italian National Institute for Astrophysics [INAF], Bologna, Italy), Thales A. Gutcke (MPA), Chiara Mazzucchelli (European Southern Observatory, Vitacura, Chile), Marcel Neeleman (MPIA), Iskren Georgiev (MPIA), Eduardo Bañados (MPIA), Frederick B. Davies (UCSB Physics), Xiaohui Fan (Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, Tucson, US [Steward]), Masafusa Onoue (MPIA), Jan-Torge Schindler (MPIA), Bram P. Venemans (MPIA), Feige Wang (UCSB Physics), Jinyi Yang (Steward), Sebastian Rabien (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching bei München, Germany), and Lorenzo Busoni (INAF-Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory, Florence, Italy).

ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It has 16 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile and with Australia as a Strategic Partner. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope and its world-leading Very Large Telescope Interferometer as well as two survey telescopes, VISTA working in the infrared and the visible-light VLT Survey Telescope. Also at Paranal ESO will host and operate the Cherenkov Telescope Array South, the world’s largest and most sensitive gamma-ray observatory. ESO is also a major partner in two facilities on Chajnantor, APEX and ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, the ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.


ESOcast 214 Light: A Black Holes' Breakfast at the Cosmic Dawn: https://www.eso.org/public/videos/eso1921a/

Research paper: https://www.eso.org/public/archives/releases/sciencepapers/eso1921/eso1921a.pdf

Project website: https://emastro.github.io/requiem/index.html

Photos of the VLT: http://www.eso.org/public/images/archive/category/paranal/

Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA): https://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/alma/

ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT): https://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/elt/

MUSE instrument: https://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/paranal-observatory/vlt/vlt-instr/muse/

Images, Text, Credits: ESO/Bárbara Ferreira/Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics/Emanuele Paolo Farina/ESO/Farina et al.; ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Decarli et al./M. Kornmesser/Videos: ESO/Farina et al.; ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Decarli et al.; L. Calçada/ESO/M. Kornmesser.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

* This article was originally published here

Is Yamnaya overrated?

Four years after the publication of the seminal ancient DNA paper Massive migration from the steppe is a source for Indo-European languages in Europe by Haak et al., we're still waiting for some of its loose ends to be finally tied up with new samples. In particular... - if the men of the Corded Ware culture (CWC) were, by and large, derived from the population of the Yamnaya culture, then where

* This article was originally published here

Huge Fireball just South of Puerto Rico

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Channel: Frankie Lucena  

This fireball was captured on April 9, 2019 at 4:01am LT (08:01 UTC) facing south from Cabo Rojo,PR and towards the Caribbean Sea.

Video length: 0:09
Category: Science & Technology

International Space Station computer gets a heart transplant

ISS - International Space Station logo.

Dec. 19, 2019

Space Station office

The Space Station has grown to the size of a football field and space agencies are looking to extend its lifetime until 2030. European-built computers have quietly been keeping this orbital outpost on track and in the right position, running in the background since 2000.

The Data Management System (DMS) computers in the Russian Zvezda module were built over 20 years ago by what is now Airbus. Two fault-tolerant computers collect data and provide navigation, communications and operations for the Russian segment.

Zvezda burning its engines to adjust the Space Station's orbit

These are required for International Space Station operations, and a sudden breakdown could lead to catastrophic consequences. To ensure continuity three units work in parallel with two active and one standby to take over if one fails. A fourth computer is kept as spare that is used as soon as one of the computers in active duty has problems.

Mission-critical upgrade

More fault-tolerant computers were built for a Russian module soon to be launched to the International Space Station, the Multipurpose Laboratory Module. The new computers exhausted the spare parts kept aside for ground repairs and production of new computers.

Data Management System (DMS) computers

After years of operations, engineers noticed that most of the failures on ground and on-orbit computers occurred in memory modules on one the printed circuit boards of the computers. Each time, a failed computer was removed, returned to ground for repairs and then re-launched, with a long turn-around and impact on logistics. In addition it soon became clear that this approach was not sustainable due to the lack of parts.

Following extensive technical discussions and testing on Earth, engineers proved that a new printed circuit board, with the same form and function but built using modern and available components, could be the solution.

Full house on the Space Station

Teams in Russia and Europe considered upgrading the computer boards directly by an astronaut on the Space Station in weightlessness – the equivalent of open heart surgery on Earth! This was no easy task to demonstrate, considering the computers were not designed for maintenance on orbit and the units were closed with small screws, sometimes even glued in place.

Much like preparing for a spacewalk, engineers and Russian cosmonauts practiced and demonstrated the process on Earth to ensure the operations were feasible and could be performed in space without risk.

Convinced that this approach would work new computer boards were ordered in 2015 and sent to the Space Station in 2018.

Space transplant

Waiting for the new mainboards to reach the Space Station, a failed computer was kept on-orbit. When the new parts and trained astronauts arrived teams decided to use a failed unit as a test case.

Data Management System space upgrade

In January 2019 the older board was replaced with the new stock. At that time cosmonauts confirmed that the computer had survived the operation but were not yet certain that it was fully fit. Crew time in space is scarce and the teams planned to wait for the next failure before installing the computer that had undergone a heart transplant and fully check it. Last month one of the old computers had problems and so it was removed and replaced with the new unit.

All is now confirmed to be working properly, with great satisfaction to the personnel at RSC-Energia, Airbus and ESA. This solution requires less costly transport to Earth orbit as only the boards need to be swapped instead of the whole units – the repair time is now reduced from six months to a few days.

Future missions

This kind of behind-the-scenes work is the type that does not get much attention unless something goes wrong, but the new approach is needed as humans explore farther into our Solar System, starting on the Gateway, where supplies from Earth are not readily available.

International Space Station in 2018

Maintenance on the International Space Station demonstrates the experience and design knowledge needed to support future missions while ensuring more sustainable operations – a win-win situation.

Gateway and Moon

Related links:

Human and Robotic Exploration: http://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration

Science & Exploration: http://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration

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

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/NASA/Roscosmos/ATG Medialab.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

* This article was originally published here

The Battle Axe people came from the steppe (Malmstrom et al. 2019)

It's been obvious for a while now that the Corded Ware culture (CWC) and its Scandinavian variant, the Battle Axe culture (BAC), originated on the Pontic-Caspian steppe. However, Malmstrom et al. drive the point home in a new open access paper at Proceedings B [LINK]. From the paper, emphasis is mine: The Neolithic period is characterized by major cultural transformations and human migrations,

* This article was originally published here

SpaceX CRS-17 Launch Captured by Skycam

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Channel: Frankie Lucena  

The launch was captured by the allsky cam in Melbourne, Florida. I used the two video clips that I found at goskysentinel.com to make this video. The booster rocket fires twice so be sure to keep your eyes on the horizon, just above the city lights, and you will see it firing one more time. The launch was on May 4, 2019 at 02:48am local time (06:48 UTC).

Video length: 0:27
Category: Science & Technology

New Hubble Gallery Features Celestial Objects From Caldwell Catalog Visible to Amateur Astronomers

NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Dec. 18, 2019

Did you know that many of the galaxies, nebulas and star clusters observed by the Hubble Space Telescope can also be seen in backyard telescopes?

Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Animation Credits: NASA/ ESA

A new gallery of Hubble images highlights some of these celestial objects visible to amateur and professional astronomers alike. All of the objects are from a collection known as the Caldwell catalog, assembled by English amateur astronomer and science communicator Sir Patrick Caldwell-Moore and published in December 1995. It complements the popular Messier catalog, which includes only objects visible from the Northern Hemisphere. The Caldwell catalog includes 109 interesting objects visible in amateur-sized telescopes in both the northern and southern skies that are not included in the Messier catalog.

Hubble’s Caldwell gallery currently contains 56 objects from the catalog and includes 12 newly processed images never before released by NASA. The images were extracted from more than 1.4 million observations that reside in Hubble’s data archive. Some of these images are the first or only ones captured by Hubble of these objects, while some are updated, higher-resolution views using the telescope’s newer cameras.

Image above: This image of spiral galaxy NGC 6946 (Caldwell 12) is one of a dozen previously unreleased images in the new Hubble gallery of Caldwell catalog objects. Image Credits: NASA, ESA and L. Ho (Peking University); processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America).

While Hubble has not imaged all 109 objects in the Caldwell catalog, it has observed 95 of them as of late 2019. The remaining Caldwell objects have yet to earn enough scientific interest to warrant Hubble’s time, which is in extremely high demand, but some might be targeted in the future. Many Caldwell objects also appear so large in the sky that they do not fit in Hubble’s field of view (which examines tiny portions of the sky at high resolution). So while some of Hubble’s photographs capture a given object in its entirety, most images focus on smaller, more specific areas of interest.

This new gallery will be updated as more of Hubble’s images are processed. For each Caldwell member already in Hubble’s collection, a basic star chart shows observers when and where they can find that object in the night sky. All of the Caldwell objects can be seen with amateur telescopes, but some can also be spotted in binoculars or even with the unaided eye. Anyone can go outside under a clear, dark sky, look up, and gaze at some of the same celestial gems with their own eyes that Hubble has so beautifully captured in its images.

Hubble’s Caldwell catalog can be found online at https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/hubble-s-caldwell-catalog and on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasahubble/albums/72157711794133741.

Messier catalog: https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/hubble-s-messier-catalog

Hubble Space Telescope: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/main/index.html

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Rob Garner/Goddard Space Flight Center, by Vanessa Thomas.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

* This article was originally published here

Viking invasion at bioRxiv

A new preprint featuring hundreds of Viking Age genomes has appeared at bioRxiv [LINK]. Titled Population genomics of the Viking world, it looks like a solid effort overall, although I'm skeptical about its conclusions. I might elaborate on that in the comments below, but I'll have a lot more to say on the topic if and when I get to check out the ancient genomes with my own tools. Details about

* This article was originally published here

Red Sprites and Gigantic Jet Lightning

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Channel: Frankie Lucena  

These events were captured over Tropical Storm Harvey back on Aug 19, 2017. I used a Watec 902H2 Ultimate for the video footage and a modified Canon T3 for the color photos.

Video length: 1:36
Category: Science & Technology

Galaxy Gathering Brings Warmth

 NGC 6338
Credit X-ray: Chandra: NASA/CXC/SAO/E. O'Sullivan; XMM: ESA/XMM/E. O'Sullivan; Optical: SDSS

As the holiday season approaches, people in the northern hemisphere will gather indoors to stay warm. In keeping with the season, astronomers have studied two groups of galaxies that are rushing together and producing their own warmth. 

The majority of galaxies do not exist in isolation. Rather, they are bound to other galaxies through gravity either in relatively small numbers known as "galaxy groups," or much larger concentrations called "galaxy clusters" consisting of hundreds or thousands of galaxies. Sometimes, these collections of galaxies are drawn toward one another by gravity and eventually merge.

Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, ESA's XMM-Newton, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), and optical observations with the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, a team of astronomers has found that two galaxy groups are smashing into each other at a remarkable speed of about 4 million miles per hour. This could be the most violent collision yet seen between two galaxy groups.

The system is called NGC 6338, which is located about 380 million light years from Earth. This composite image contains X-ray data from Chandra (displayed in red) that shows hot gas with temperatures upward of about 20 million degrees Celsius, as well as cooler gas detected with Chandra and XMM (shown in blue) that also emits X-rays. The Chandra data have been combined with optical data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, showing the galaxies and stars in white.

The researchers estimate that the total mass contained in NGC 6338 is about 100 trillion times the mass of the Sun. This significant heft, roughly 83% of which is in the form of dark matter, 16% is in the form of hot gas, and 1% in stars, indicates that the galaxy groups are destined to become a galaxy cluster in the future. The collision and merger will complete, and the system will continue to accumulate more galaxies through gravity.

Previous studies of NGC 6338 have provided evidence for the regions of cooler, X-ray emitting gas around the centers of the two galaxy groups (known as "cool cores"). This information has helped astronomers to reconstruct the geometry of the system, revealing that the collision between the galaxy groups happened almost along the line of sight to Earth. This finding has been confirmed with the new study.

The new Chandra and XMM-Newton data also show that the gas to the left and right of the cool cores, and in between them, appears to have been heated by shock fronts — similar to the sonic booms created by supersonic aircraft — formed by the collision of the two galaxy groups. This pattern of shock-heated gas has been predicted by computer simulations, but NGC 6338 may be the first merger of galaxy groups to clearly show it. Such heating will prevent some of the hot gas from cooling down to form new stars.

A second source of heat commonly found in groups and clusters of galaxies is energy provided by outbursts and jets of high-speed particles generated by supermassive black holes. Currently this source of heat appears to be inactive in NGC 6338 because there is no evidence for jets from supermassive black holes using radio data from the GMRT. This absence may explain the filaments of cooling gas detected in X-ray and optical data around the large galaxy in the center of the cool core in the south. The filters used in the composite image do not show the optical filaments, and the X-ray filaments are the small, finger-like structures emanating from the center of the cool core in the south, at approximately 2 o'clock, 7 o'clock and 8 o'clock.

A paper describing these results was published in the September 2019 issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and is available online. The first author is Ewan O'Sullivan of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the co-authors are Gerrit Schellenberger (CfA), Doug Burke (CfA), Ming Sun (University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama), Jan Vrtilek (CfA), Larry David (CfA) and Craig Sarazin (University of Virginia, Virginia).

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge and Burlington, Massachusetts, controls Chandra's science and flight operations.

Fast Facts for NGC 6338:

Scale: Image is about 12 arcmin (1.3 million light years) across.
Category: Black Holes, Groups & Clusters of Galaxies
Coordinates (J2000): RA 17h 15m 23.0s | Dec +57° 24´ 40"
Constellation: Draco
Observation Date: 11 pointings from Sep 7, 2003 to July 23, 2017
Observation Time: 80 hours (3 days 8 hours)
Obs. ID: 4194, 18892-18893, 19934-19935, 19937, 20089, 20104, 20112-20113, 20117
Instrument: ACIS
References: E. O'Sullivan et al, 2019, MNRAS, 488, 2925; arXiv:1906.07710
Color Code: Low temperature X-rays (Chandra and XMM): blue; High temperature X-rays (Chandra): red; Optical: yellow
Distance Estimate: About 380 million light years (z=0.027427)

* This article was originally published here

Global25 workshop 3: genes vs geography in Northern Europe

To produce the intra-North European Principal Components Analysis (PCA) plot below, download this datasheet, plug it into the PAST program, which is freely available here, then select all of the columns by clicking on the empty tab above the labels, and choose Multivariate > Ordination > Principal Components or Discriminant Analysis. This is what you should end up with...

I'd say that the result more or less resembles a geographic map of Northern Europe. Of course, if you're in the possession of your own personal Global25 coordinates, you can add yourself to this plot to check whether your position matches your geographic origin.

Please keep in mind, however, that the vast majority (>90%) of your ancestry must be from north of the Alps, Balkans and Pyrenees to obtain a sensible outcome. Also please ensure that all of the columns in the datasheet are filled out correctly, including the group column, otherwise your position on the plot will be skewed.

See also...

Global25 workshop 1: that classic West Eurasian plot

Global25 workshop 2: intra-European variation

Global25 workshop 3: genes vs geography in Northern Europe

Global25 workshop 4: a neighbour joining tree

Modeling genetic ancestry with Davidski: step by step

Getting the most out of the Global25

Genetic ancestry online store (to be updated regularly)

* This article was originally published here

Red Sprite Lightning Captured by the ISS

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Channel: Frankie Lucena  

I spotted these Red Sprites while viewing a timelapse that was recently posted by Nasa. The caption mentions Lightning in the clouds but they didn't mention the red sprites so I guess they didn't see them. I have to admit that they are not easy to spot in a timelapse video.

Video courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center


Video length: 0:25
Category: Science & Technology

2019 December 19 Apollo 17’s Moonship Image Credit:...

2019 December 19

Apollo 17’s Moonship
Image Credit: Apollo 17, NASA, (Image Reprocessing: Andy Saunders)

Explanation: Awkward and angular looking, Apollo 17’s lunar module Challenger was designed for flight in the near vacuum of space. Digitally enhanced and reprocessed, this picture taken from Apollo 17’s command module America shows Challenger’s ascent stage in lunar orbit. Small reaction control thrusters are at the sides of the moonship with the bell of the ascent rocket engine underneath. The hatch allowing access to the lunar surface is seen at the front, with a round radar antenna at the top. Mission commander Gene Cernan is clearly visible through the triangular window. This spaceship performed gracefully, landing on the Moon and returning the Apollo astronauts to the orbiting command module in December of 1972. So where is Challenger now? Its descent stage remains at the Apollo 17 landing site in the Taurus-Littrow valley. The ascent stage pictured was intentionally crashed nearby after being jettisoned from the command module prior to the astronauts’ return to planet Earth. Apollo 17’s mission came to an end 47 years ago today. It was the sixth and last time astronauts landed on the Moon.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap191219.html

* This article was originally published here

Prehistoric Pottery, Doncaster Museum and Gallery, Doncaster, 14.12.19.

Prehistoric Pottery, Doncaster Museum and Gallery, Doncaster, 14.12.19.

* This article was originally published here

What's the difference between ancient Romans and present-day Italians?

The first paper on the genomics of ancient Romans was finally published today at Science [LINK]. It's behind a paywall, but the supplementary info is freely available here. Below is a quick summary of the results courtesy of the accompanying Ancient Rome Data Explorer. I'm told that the genotype data from the paper will be online within a day or so at the Pritchard Lab website here. I'll have

* This article was originally published here

Red Sprite Lightning Captured By The International Space Station

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Channel: Frankie Lucena  

I spotted these Red Sprites while viewing a timelapse that was recently posted by Nasa. The caption mentions Lightning in the clouds but they didn't mention the red sprites so I guess they didn't see them. I have to admit that they are not easy to spot in a timelapse video.

The background sound is an actual recording from inside the sleep station on the ISS. It was sent to me by Chris Hadfield a few years ago.

Video courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center


Video length: 0:38
Category: Science & Technology

Prehistoric Pottery with Etchings, Doncaster Museum and Gallery, Doncaster, 14.12.19.

Prehistoric Pottery with Etchings, Doncaster Museum and Gallery, Doncaster, 14.12.19.

* This article was originally published here

Station Preps for New U.S. Crew Ship in Middle of Space Research

ISS - Expedition 61 Mission patch.

December 18, 2019

Boeing’s new CST-100 Starliner crew ship rolled out to its launch pad in Florida today. The Expedition 61 crew is preparing the International Space Station for Starliner’s arrival while continuing advanced space research.

The Starliner spacecraft sits atop an Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance counting down to a liftoff Friday at 6:36 a.m. EST. This will be Boeing’s first Orbital Flight Test of the uncrewed vehicle that will dock to the station Saturday at 8:27 a.m.

Image above: NASA astronauts (from left) Nicole Mann, Michael Fincke, Suni Williams, Josh Cassada, and Eric Boe pose for a picture with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft behind them. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch are getting ready for duty Saturday morning when they will monitor Starliner’s automated rendezvous and docking with the orbiting lab. The duo will then conduct leak checks, open the hatch and ingress the vehicle to begin a week of docked operations. Starliner is also delivering about 600 pounds of cargo to the crew and will return science samples to Earth after its departure on Dec. 28.

Meanwhile, microgravity science is always ongoing aboard the station to improve life for humans on Earth and in space. Today, NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan studied how weightlessness affects an optical material that can control the reflection and absorption of light. Results could improve solar power technology and electronic mobile displays.

The Canadarm2 robotic arm with the Dextre robotic hand

Image above: The Canadarm2 robotic arm with the Dextre robotic hand attached seemingly protrudes from the side of the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA.

Meir had her eyes scanned with an ultrasound device by ESA (European Space Agency) Commander Luca Parmitano for a look at her cornea, lens and optic nerve. She had a second eye exam using optical coherence tomography for a view of her retina.

The flight engineers in the Russian side of the space station checked on a pair of docked spaceships while working science and maintenance. Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka charged electronics gear in the Soyuz MS-15 crew ship. He also worked on plumbing systems in the Progress 74 cargo craft. Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov set up hardware for an Earth imaging study that explores the effects of natural and manmade catastrophes.

Related articles:

Boeing Flight Test for Commercial Crew Program Will Pave the Way for Future Science

Boeing and NASA Approach Milestone Orbital Flight Test

Russian Space Freighter Docks Automatically to Station

Related links:

Expedition 61: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition61/index.html

CST-100 Starliner: https://www.boeing.com/space/starliner/

Soyuz MS-15: https://go.nasa.gov/2l8vit7

Earth imaging study: https://www.energia.ru/en/iss/researches/study/09.html

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.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

* This article was originally published here

Warlike herders and their weapons

Who had the best gear? The Yamnaya guys? And if it came down to it, who would've won an all out rumble? Let me know your thoughts after reading this paper... The weaponry of the pastoral societies in the context of the weaponry of the steppe/forest-steppe communities: 5000-2350 BC See also...

* This article was originally published here

GLM Detects Bolide Event South of Puerto Rico: Asteroid 2019 MO

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Channel: Frankie Lucena  

I was contacted by Dwayne Free this past saturday night and he asked me if I or anyone here in Puerto Rico had seen or taken any photos or videos of a Bolide event just south of the Island. He is the administrator of the goskysentinel.com website and he found the event using the Geostationary Lightning Mapper on the GOES-16 Satellite.

Unfortunately, the event occurred at around 5:25pm local time and it was still daylight, so my cameras weren't turned on yet. I contacted William Straka III to see if he could find something to confirm this GLM detection and he did find something and was kind enough to send me two images of the trail that was left by the Bolide.

I contacted the CTBTO last night and haven't heard from them yet and we are currently waiting for Nasa to check their detectors also.

So far, we know that the event occured on June 22, 2019 at 21:25 UTC (+/- 5 mins) and both Dwayne Free and William Straka III found data confirming that something did happen.

Here are the links that was sent to me by Dwayne Free:



Video length: 0:14
Category: Science & Technology

2019 December 18 A Hotspot Map of Neutron Star J0030’s...

2019 December 18

A Hotspot Map of Neutron Star J0030’s Surface
Image Credit: NASA, NICER, GSFC’s CI Lab

Explanation: What do neutron stars look like? Previously these city-sized stars were too small and too far away to resolve. Recently, however, the first maps of the locations and sizes of hotspots on a neutron star’s surface have been made by carefully modeling how the rapid spin makes the star’s X-ray brightness rise and fall. Based on a leading model, an illustrative map of pulsar J0030+0451’s hotspots is pictured, with the rest of the star’s surface filled in with a false patchy blue. J0030 spins once every 0.0049 seconds and is located about 1000 light years away. The map was computed from data taken by NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition ExploreR (NICER) X-ray telescope attached to the International Space Station. The computed locations of these hotspots is surprising and not well understood. Because the gravitational lensing effect of neutron stars is so strong, J0300 displays more than half of its surface toward the Earth. Studying the appearance of pulsars like J0030 allows accurate estimates of the neutron star’s mass, radius, and the internal physics that keeps the star from imploding into a black hole.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap191218.html

* This article was originally published here

Roman Snake Headed Silver Bracelet, Doncaster Museum and Gallery, Doncaster, 14.12.19.

Roman Snake Headed Silver Bracelet, Doncaster Museum and Gallery, Doncaster, 14.12.19.

* This article was originally published here

The Balkan connection

The hot topic at the moment is social inequality in Bronze Age Europe, thanks to a new paper by Mittnik et al. at Science. The full article is sitting behind an exceedingly robust paywall here. However, the genotype dataset from the paper is freely available at the Max Planck Society's Edmond data repository here. Below is my Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of ancient West Eurasian genetic

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large Celestial Objects And A Mysterious Planet Around Our Sun.

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Channel: Terry's Theories  

Source of video www.helioviewer.org

Video length: 4:52
Category: Science & Technology

A public talk on Galactic Archeology to celebrate Women in Astronomy

Poster for: MPE-Vortragsreihe: Frauen in der Astronomie 2020 

On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, The Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) is organising its annual free event "Women in Astronomy" on 11 February 2020 at 19:00 at the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre

This year, the event will feature a presentation from Prof. Dr. Ing. Eva Grebel, Director of the Astronomical Computing Institute, Centre for Astronomy, University of Heidelberg on the topic of Galactic Archeology. The public talk will be delivered in the German language only. Before and after the lecture, the astronomy exhibition at the ESO Supernova will also be open to visitors, offering you the opportunity to talk to female scientists who are researching various topics in the field of astronomy. 

If you would like to attend, tickets are free, but you need to book a seat in advance at this link.

The lecture will reveal various ways to look back into the history of galaxies. Our Sun is part of the Milky Way, our home galaxy, along with over one hundred billion other stars. There are countless such galaxies, but how do they form? We can investigate the formation and evolution of galaxies over cosmic time periods in two ways. Firstly, we can observe distant galaxies back in time because their light takes billions of years to reach us. However, because of the great distances to these young galaxies, it is difficult to perceive details and we can only detect the brightest ones. Secondly, one can explore nearby galaxies (including our Milky Way) in much greater detail — even individual stars can be analysed. Stars of different ages serve as fossils of bygone eras and allow us to track different stages of galaxy evolution. In the Milky Way, the Gaia satellite currently plays an important role, as it is surveying more than a billion stars.

The programme starts at 18:00, with an exploration of the Living Universe exhibition. Explore, touch and use real astronomical artefacts and conduct experiments to get an idea of what it means to be an astronomer, to work in science, and to discover the mysteries of the Universe. The displays cover the topic of life in the Universe in the broadest sense. The exhibition connects visitors with topics that can seem very distant and abstract by focusing on the human–Universe connection, general astronomy, life in the Universe, and how we observe the Universe using ESO facilities. 

The lecture on Galactic Archeology by Prof. Dr. Ing. Eva Grebel will take place from 19:00 to 20:00. After the public talk, the exhibition will remain open to visitors for another hour.

The Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) actively promotes equal opportunities for women and girls in science. The aim is to promote the share of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), where they are still underrepresented. 

The first “Women in Astronomy” event took place on 11 February 2019 and featured former ESO astronomer, Dr. Nadine Neumayer (MPIA Heidelberg).

More Information

The ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre

The ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre is a cooperation between the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS). The building is a donation from the Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS), a German foundation, and ESO runs the facility.

Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics

The Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) works on various topics in modern astrophysics, using mainly experimental but also theoretical methods. Its name was chosen to reflect its research — the physics of space — but also because of its research methods.

Many observations have to be carried out above the Earth’s dense atmosphere. These are complemented by instruments at ground-based observatories whenever possible. In central workshops, in-house staff build detectors, spectrometers, cameras and telescopes, as well as complete payloads for satellites. The observations are complemented by some experiments in laboratories and theoretical work.

The direct interaction of observers and experimenters under the same roof reinforces cooperation, improves the coordination of activities and often results in the early identification of promising new research directions through the interplay of hypotheses and new observations.



Tania Johnston
ESO Supernova Coordinator
Garching bei München, Germany
Email: tjohnsto@eso.org

Oana Sandu
ESO Community Coordinator & Communication Strategy Officer
Tel: +49 89 320 069 65
Email: osandu@partner.eso.org 

Source: ESO/News

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Roman Army Costume Reconstruction, Doncaster Museum and Gallery, Doncaster, 14.12.19.

Roman Army Costume Reconstruction, Doncaster Museum and Gallery, Doncaster, 14.12.19.

* This article was originally published here

On the surprising genetic origins of the Harappan people (Shinde et al. 2019)

The long awaited paper with ancient DNA from the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) site of Rakhigarhi has finally arrived. Courtesy of Shinde et al. at Current Biology: An ancient Harappan genome lacks ancestry from Steppe pastoralists or Iranian farmers The bad news is that the paper features just one low coverage IVC genome, and it belongs to a female, so there's no Y-haplogroup. However,

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Weird Atmospheric Sounds: Cosmic Ray with Audible Ping

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Channel: Frankie Lucena  

Instead of connecting a microphone to my PC sound card, I connected a 500 foot long unused telephone line in series with a 560pf capacitor and an 8.2 meg ohm resistor from the input to ground. Watec cameras are known for getting cosmic ray hits but I didn't know they can cause enough of a disturbance in the atmosphere to create an audible ping.

Video length: 0:09
Category: Science & Technology


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