Breaking science news and multimedia, heavy on astronomy and physics (and heavy on citing) New vids, pics, articles, and the occasional research post for ResearchBlogging.org.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

2 Exceptional Astrophysics Videos

I'd like to share with you a new TED Talk, a presentation about astrophysics and the dedication of the scientists in this discipline so full of wonder.
Here's Anil Ananthaswamy in:
"What it takes to do extreme astrophysics"



Video Credit: Anil Ananthaswamy/TED


Here's a very cool and very brief video, posted today as the Archive Video of the Day on Hubble's Site:
"Matter accreting around a supermassive black hole (artist's impression)"
"At the heart of most, if not all, giant galaxies lies a supermassive black hole. When dust and gas falls into the central black hole, it heats up and emits intense radiation. Quasars, some of the brightest objects in the cosmos, are powered by these phenomena. In this artist’s impression of a quasar, the rotating ring of matter, and powerful jets of particles thrown out at close to the speed of light can be seen." -ESA/Hubble (M. Kornmesser)

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Video Credit: ESA/Hubble (M. Kornmesser)


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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Time Lapse Video of the Milky Way and Undulating Clouds

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Today Gizmodo shared with us this captivating video:
"A Beautiful Glimpse of the Milky Way From Spain’s Tallest Mountain"
Absolutely incredible.


The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

Video Credit: Terje Sorgjerd via Gizmodo | thanks to my friend Jayrol San Jose for finding this!  His photo blog is here.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

The Best Recent Photographs of and from Space: Apr. 15, 2011

Our satellite Chandra just released a stunning new picture in their new article:
"Hunting for the Milky Way's Heaviest Stars"
"This image shows infrared data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope near the plane of the Milky Way galaxy. Both outlined boxes contain an artificially darkened view of the Spitzer data, to highlight a bright X-ray source (blue) detected at the center of each square with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory." -Chandra
Click to embiggen.

Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/U. of Sydney/G.Anderson et al; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech


An ethereal picture from space was released via ESA recently of
"Dust and plankton in the Atlantic"
"Envisat captures dust and sand from the Algerian Sahara Desert, located in northern Africa, blowing west across the Atlantic Ocean." -ESA 

Image Credit: ESA/Envisat's Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS)


HiRISE, our Martian orbiter I love so much recently gave us an image of
"Opportunity’s Goal: Northwest Endeavour Crater Rim"
"This observation is of the northwest rim of Endeavour Crater, which is the Opportunity rover's immediate driving goal on Mars." -Matt Golombek

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


Universe Today recently shared with us an awesome picture of
"A Twisted Sister Galaxy"
"...an unusual edge-on galaxy, that has been twisted by a recent collision with a nearby galaxy, and is in the process of being swallowed up. This could be a spiral sister to our own Milky Way, as the dust and arms of normal spiral galaxies appear flat when viewed edge-on." -NANCY ATKINSON/ Universe Today
No relation to the hair metal band of course, thankfully.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA



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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Collection of Best New Science Pix: Apr. 10, 2011

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NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day today is a real beaut!
"Sunspot Loops in Ultraviolet"
"...even during off days the Sun's surface is a busy place. Shown in ultraviolet light, the relatively cool dark regions have temperatures of thousands of degrees Celsius." -NASA

Image Credit: TRACE Project, NASA


Stunning pic today featured on Universe Today's article:
"Astronomy Without A Telescope – Our Unlikely Solar System"
"A circumstellar disk of debris around a matured stellar system may indicate that Earth-like planets lie within - since such a disk results from the collisional grinding of rocky planetesimals." -Universe Today

Image Credit; NASA


Earth Snapshot just released a photograph of the Florida, the Bahamas and Cuba.  Just look at the color of that water!
"Florida, the Bahamas and Cuba"
"The southern part of the Florida Peninsula, USA, can be seen in the upper left quadrant of this image. Lake Okeechobee appears as a dark blue, circular area near the east coast, while the Everglades are visible along the southwest coast." -Earth Snapshot
Click to embiggen.  This is my current computer wallpaper. Truly stunning.

Image Credit: Chelys srl


Last but not least, over on Hubble's site:
"The magnificent starburst galaxy Messier 82"
"This mosaic image of the magnificent starburst galaxy, Messier 82 (M82) is the sharpest wide-angle view ever obtained of M82. It is a galaxy remarkable for its webs of shredded clouds and flame-like plumes of glowing hydrogen blasting out from its central regions where young stars are being born 10 times faster than they are inside in our Milky Way Galaxy." -NASA/ESA

Image Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA). Acknowledgment: J. Gallagher (University of Wisconsin), M. Mountain (STScI) and P. Puxley (NSF)



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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stunning New Space Pics and OMG IS THAT THE FABLED MARTIAN LAND SQUID? (wink)

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HiRISE, our Martian orbiter, released a handful of stunning new hi-res photographs of the surface of Mars today.  Man do I love this project!

"If you look closely at the crater wall, you can see streaks going down the slope in many different areas. These are slope streaks which are thought to form from dust avalanches that remove a thin layer of bright dust from the surface" -HiRISE
Click to embiggen.  This pic is huge.  
OMG IS THAT A SQUID ON MARS!? Maybe it's just a ancient Martian umbrella? No, it's definitely a Martian Land Squid.  Must be evidence that Cthulu is living on Mars!
(just kidding of course)  

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona



Also from HiRISE today:

"This observation shows a small crater within the much larger Newton Crater, and is approximately 6 kilometers across." -HiRISE
Click to embiggen.  This is my current computer wallpaper.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona



Third from HiRISE today, particularly awesome not only for the explanation, but also for the depth and contrast in color:
"Dry Ice Gone Wild"
"On Mars the seasonal polar caps are composed of dry ice (carbon dioxide). In the springtime as the sun shines on the ice, it turns from solid to gas and causes erosion of the surface. I enjoy the incredible diversity of forms that the erosion takes, and am studying the factors that give us "spiders", "caterpillars", or "starbursts", all colloquial words for what we rigorously name "araneiform" terrain." -HiRISE
Click to embiggen.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona








Today ESA shares an animation of a swirling storm around the southern pole of Venus.




"New analysis of images taken by ESA's Venus Express orbiter has revealed surprising details about the remarkable, shape-shifting collar of clouds that swirls around the planet's South Pole." -ESA





Animation Credit: ESA/VIRTIS-VenusX/INAF-IASF/LESIA-Obs. Paris/ Univ. Lisbon/Univ. Evora (D. Luz, Univ. Lisbon & D. Berry, Univ. Evora)







Last but not least, a stunning artist's impression of a star and an orbiting planet, posted today on Space.com in their article:
"Starquakes and Eclipses: NASA Spacecraft Provides Star Mystery 'Treasure Trove'"
"In a pair of new studies, astronomers announced discoveries gleaned from Kepler measurements of distant starlight. In one report, researchers detected minuscule brightness oscillations in 500 sunlike stars — work that could help lay the foundation for a more robust understanding of star composition and evolution, according to the research team." -Space.com

Image Credit: Science/AAAS; courtesy of G. Perez, IAC, SMM



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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Starburst Galaxies

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A starburst galaxy is a galaxy in the process of "giving birth" to stars at a much quicker rate than normal.   Starburst conditions are thought to be brief, only a part of the lifetime of a galaxy or cluster.  It can be a natural part of the life-cycle or triggered by galactic collisions or near collisions, flybys close enough for gravity to be a powerful influence.

New studies on starburst galaxies we released recently.  These scientists use the Hubble Space Telescope to inspect these starburst galaxys' stellar halos, outer stellar envelopes comprised of intermediate to old age stars.  Their conclusions back up previous similar studys' conclusions:
"[These studied] galaxies have faint outer stellar envelopes, and are not tidally truncated within the range of radii addressed by our study."

With a tiny bit of info, the captions to the following images become clear.  The images below were taken by Hubble's powerful instrument, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ASC).   The F# notations refer to filters used in observation.  The boxes superimposed show their attention to the outer shells in study.  The term NGC is used throughout astronomy, standing for the "New General Catalog of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars," a cataloging system of almost 8000 celestial objects.

The new scientific paper on arXiv is titled:
"Hubble Space Telescope study of resolved red giant stars in the outer halos of nearby dwarf starburst galaxies"
Here's a beautiful picture of one of the galaxies being studied, Fig. 1: NGC 1569
"ACS 3-color F658N (Hα), F814W (I) and F606W (V ) composite image of NGC 1569 showing the locations of ACS subfields. Owing to the decrease in stellar density in the outer portions of the galaxy, we increased the size of our boxes as we move outward from the center of the galaxy."

Image Credit: Fig. 1 (cite at bottom)

Another gem of a find is Fig. 2 in the same paper this time of NGC 4449
"ACS 4-color F435W (B), F555W (V ), F814W (I), and F658N (Hα) composite image of NGC 4449 showing the locations of ACS subfields."

Image Credit: Fig. 2 (cite at bottom)


Disclaimer: Just because these starbursts are purple doesn't make them grape flavored.

CITATION:
Agnieszka Ryś, Aaron J. Grocholski, Roeland P. van der Marel, Alessandra Aloisi, & Francesca Annibali (2011). Hubble Space Telescope study of resolved red giant stars in the outer
halos of nearby dwarf starburst galaxies A&A arXiv: 1104.0899v1


ResearchBlogging.org

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spirituality and Neurotheology

Time's up for the poll I had over on the right.
29 votes in!
Here was the question:
"Have you ever had a non-religious experience you would call 'spiritual' when studying Science?"

18 voted YES

7 voted NO

4 voted for the third option, "Yes, and I'd consider it religious too."


Spirituality is a emotionally laden word.  To some, it seems inseparable from religion.  
First, we have to define spirituality as some of a certain set of feelings, easily lifted from wikipedia:


  • The perception that time, fear or self-consciousness have dissolved
  • Spiritual awe
  • Oneness with the universe
  • Ecstatic trance
  • Sudden enlightenment
  • Altered states of consciousness

The last three seem to me too vague, covering both mild and extreme states of mind.  Lots of further semantics would be required for it to be clear. 
My aim here is not to discredit those having religious experiences, but rather to point out how the act of studying science can induce spiritual feelings.  These feelings are the targeted areas of study by Neurotheologists.  The study of Neurotheology, also called Spiritual Neuroscience, attempts to make some sense of these special and common feelings.


The secular also experience feelings of spirituality, often in cases where the perceived border of the self becomes temporarily blurred with the world around us.
This, I think, is why study of science, especially on scales of the extremely small or large, can induce these feelings.  The results of the poll seem to back that up.







 

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Eye-Candy: Today's Cool Science Photos: Apr. 5, 2011

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To kick it off with a beaut of a biology pic, recently on New Scientist's Short Sharp Science, an x-ray of a new species of stingray:  
"X-rays expose new species of stingrays in Amazon"
"Biologists recently fished out two new species of freshwater stingray from a river in the Amazon rainforest near Iquitos, Peru." -New Scientist
Take that, cast of Tron!

Image Credit: Solent News / Rex Features


Hubble just released their weekly new picture, this of an odd looking planetary nebula:
"The Beauty of Asymmetry"
"The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a planetary nebula with unconventional good looks. Planetary nebulae signal the demise of mid-sized stars (up to about eight times the mass of the Sun)" -NASA/ESA/Hubble

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA


On the same site, http://www.spacetelescope.org/, you can see their choice for today's archive picture of the day, with a particularly interesting caption:  
"Flocculent spiral NGC 2841"
"Star formation is one of the most important processes in shaping the Universe; it plays a pivotal role in the evolution of galaxies and it is also in the earliest stages of star formation that planetary systems first appear.  Yet there is still much that astronomers don’t understand, such as how do the properties of stellar nurseries vary according to the composition and density of gas present, and what triggers star formation in the first place? The driving force behind star formation is particularly unclear for a type of galaxy called a flocculent spiral, such as NGC 2841 shown here, which features short spiral arms rather than prominent and well-defined galactic limbs." -NASA/ESA

Image Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration Acknowledgment: M. Crockett and S. Kaviraj (Oxford University, UK), R. O'Connell (University of Virginia), B. Whitmore (STScI) and the WFC3 Scientific Oversight Committee.



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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Recent Best of: Astronomy Photographs From Early April

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ESA, the European Space Agency, has released some exciting new photos of
"Neighboring Volcanoes on Mars"
"Ceraunius Tholus and Uranius Tholus are two volcanoes in the Tharsis region of Mars. Ceraunius Tholus is 130 km across and rises 5.5 km above its surroundings. The flanks of this volcano are etched with many valleys. Its neighbour, Uranius Tholus is a smaller volcano, with a base diameter of 62 km and a height of 4.5 km."-ESA

Image Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)


ESO, the European Southern Observatory, (not to be confused with ESA,) shares yet another beautiful photograph of space with us in:
"The Rose-red Glow of Star Formation"
"The vivid red cloud in this new image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope is a region of glowing hydrogen surrounding the star cluster NGC 371. This stellar nursery lies in our neighbouring galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud." -ESO
Click to embiggen! This is a great computer wallpaper.

Image Credit: ESO/Manu Mejias


NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day Today is a goodie!  
"Giant Galaxy NGC 6872"
"Over 400,000 light years across NGC 6872 is an enormous spiral galaxy, at least 4 times the size of our own, very large, Milky Way." -NASA

Image Credit: Sydney Girls High School Astronomy Club, Travis Rector (Univ. Alaska), Ángel López-Sánchez (Australian Astronomical Obs./ Macquarie Univ.), Australian Gemini Office


A gem of a find over on Boing Boing recently, featuring a new NASA image from WISE, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
"Swirling Palette of Star-Forming Clouds"
"The amazing variety of different colors seen in this image represent different wavelengths of infrared light. The bright white nebula in the center of the image is glowing due to heating from nearby stars, resulting in what is called an emission nebula." -NASA

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/WISE


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Friday, April 1, 2011

Preprint of My Latest Research Project: Analysis of Accelerating Baryonic Gasses in NGC 1411


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Here's the results of my latest research project!  I'm happy to be able to share it with you guys.
--
Draft Version 1 April 1, 2011



Analysis of Accelerating Baryonic Gasses in NGC 1411: Simulations of the Decoupling of Matter and Dark Matter with Modified Ram-Pressure Model Revealing the RAM-Constant, Requiring a Tweak to General Relativity
Dr. Richard A. F. D. Astley, David L. Morris, Dr. Mike Stock, Dr. Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman
North Waterman Laboratories Billboard, MI

ABSTRACT:
Of many similar processes, Ram pressure can, by ICM (the intracluster medium) remove baryonic gas from a galaxy, as shown herein with NGC 1411. Similar processes in various stages (Gunn & Gott 1972) and (Vollmer(2009) NGC 1411 via Chandra's X-Ray and Subaru imaging provided us gravitational strong-lensing. Post-peak, pre-peak, and peak groups of ram pressure through our new calculations in the Modified Ram-Pressure Model show how a decoupling of Matter and Dark Matter accelerates at a constant heretofore unmeasured and unaccounted for in standard General Relativity.







Fig. 1.— Rick Astley, discoverer of galaxy
NGC 1-4-2011. He's Never Gonna Give You Up. Never Gonna Let You Down. Never Gonna Turn Around, and Hurt You.
Happy April Fools!


REFERENCES:
Dr. Richard April Fools Day Astley (1985) VH1 Behind the Music VH1(April) DOI:arXiv:woot.0



Abstract and Title inspired by:

Stephanie Tonnesen, Greg L. Bryan, Rena Chen (2011). How To Light It Up: Simulating Ram-Pressure Stripped X-ray Bright Tails ApJ (April) DOI: arXiv:1103.3273

I think I might be the first person to Rick Roll ResearchBlogging.org!

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