16th Apr 2014

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The world’s largest telescope made with data
Look up on a starry night and consider this: in our lifetime we just might find the answers to one of life’s biggest mysteries, and we mean BIG. Dutch research institute, Astron and its international partners are building the world’s largest radio telescope, aka The Square Kilometer Array, to get a glimpse of the origins of the universe. This big telescope is made up of thousands of interconnected smaller telescopes, carefully arranged in fractal patterns to let us look back in time more than 13 billion years—to mere seconds after the universe was created. How on Earth is this possible? By processing exabytes of Big Data (That’s a 1, plus 18 zeroes) in real time. Or roughly 3X the amount of data running through the Internet per day. Amazingly, this will let scientists map out how the universe came to be. Imagine the look on Galileo’s face if he were here to see it. Explore more stories →

15th Apr 2014
The Moon and Mars during the total lunar eclipse. The star Spica is faintly visible to the right of the Moon.

The Moon and Mars during the total lunar eclipse. The star Spica is faintly visible to the right of the Moon.

11th Apr 2014
Name the Final Phase of the Cassini Mission
In 2016, Cassini will dive between Saturn and it’s rings! By doing this, Cassini will be able to make detailed maps of Saturn’s gravity and magnetic fields. We will also learn more about the alluring rings.
The Cassini team has decided to let the public help come up with a name for this mission. If you have an idea for a name that describes this exciting mission, you can participate by submitting a name suggestion, or by selecting your favorite from a list. Both options can be done here.
Cassini’s final mission, before journeying into Saturn’s atmosphere, is “inspiring, adventurous and romantic – a fitting end to this thrilling story of discovery" (source). Let’s give it a name that shows just how thrilling this story actually was!
Image from the Cassini mission page (source).

Name the Final Phase of the Cassini Mission

In 2016, Cassini will dive between Saturn and it’s rings! By doing this, Cassini will be able to make detailed maps of Saturn’s gravity and magnetic fields. We will also learn more about the alluring rings.

The Cassini team has decided to let the public help come up with a name for this mission. If you have an idea for a name that describes this exciting mission, you can participate by submitting a name suggestion, or by selecting your favorite from a list. Both options can be done here.

Cassini’s final mission, before journeying into Saturn’s atmosphere, is “inspiring, adventurous and romantic – a fitting end to this thrilling story of discovery" (source). Let’s give it a name that shows just how thrilling this story actually was!

Image from the Cassini mission page (source).

9th Apr 2014
Tetraquark!!
Title: Observation of the resonant character of the Z(4430)− state
Authors: The LHCb collaboration
Yesterday, The LHCb collaboration at CERN reported having found an interesting and exotic particle state. What they have observed is a particle composed of four quarks, a tetraquark. This particle, called Z(4430)-, has a mass of 4430 MeV and holds a negative charge. Through measurements of 4D fits of the decay amplitudes, it is believed that the quarks that Z(4430)- is composed of is a charm, an anti-charm, a down, and an anti-up. At 13.9σ, this could be the first evidence for the existence of particles beyond the quark model.
Image from R. Aaij et al.

Tetraquark!!

Yesterday, The LHCb collaboration at CERN reported having found an interesting and exotic particle state. What they have observed is a particle composed of four quarks, a tetraquark. This particle, called Z(4430)-, has a mass of 4430 MeV and holds a negative charge. Through measurements of 4D fits of the decay amplitudes, it is believed that the quarks that Z(4430)- is composed of is a charm, an anti-charm, a down, and an anti-up. At 13.9σ, this could be the first evidence for the existence of particles beyond the quark model.

Image from R. Aaij et al.

8th Apr 2014
Want to know which elementary particle best describes you? Well this interactive quiz by the DESY research centre and Universum Bremen will show you based on how you see yourself.
* My top 3 particles were the gluon, tau neutrino, and up quark.

Want to know which elementary particle best describes you? Well this interactive quiz by the DESY research centre and Universum Bremen will show you based on how you see yourself.

* My top 3 particles were the gluon, tau neutrino, and up quark.

5th Apr 2014
A Centaur and Its Rings
Title: A ring system detected around the Centaur (10199) Chariklo
Authors: F. Braga-Ribas et al.
Up until now, rings have only been known around the four giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. It was recently observed that another body in our solar system also has a ring system. Chariklo is a centaur; a scattered KBO in orbit between Saturn and Uranus. Through stellar occultation observations at seven sites in South America, the authors, who announced the discovery, detected flux interruptions that can be explained by the presence of a ring system.
The light curve of the occultation showed two rings, the inner referred to as 2013C1R and the outer as 2013C2R. Ring 2013C1R is larger than 2013C2R, and they are both believed to be composed of water ice. These rings would appear brighter than Uranus’s rings, but dimmer than the A ring of Saturn.
It is still unclear how the rings originated, but the authors propose a few possibilities. All suggest that the rings formed from a debris disk. The first possibility is that the outer layers of Chariklo were disrupted by an impact. Another possibility is that two former satellites collided, or a retrograde satellite may have been disrupted by tidal forces from Chariklo. The authors also suggest the small probability that Chariklo’s rings formed due to a close encounter with Uranus.
Image: The star’s brightness as Chariklo passed in front. Time flows from left to right. Visible are the shadows of the two outer rings, 2013C2R and 2013C1R, as Chariklo is approaching the star and again as it is leaving. The big dip in the middle is the shadow of Chariklo. From F. Braga-Ribas et al.

A Centaur and Its Rings

Up until now, rings have only been known around the four giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. It was recently observed that another body in our solar system also has a ring system. Chariklo is a centaur; a scattered KBO in orbit between Saturn and Uranus. Through stellar occultation observations at seven sites in South America, the authors, who announced the discovery, detected flux interruptions that can be explained by the presence of a ring system.

The light curve of the occultation showed two rings, the inner referred to as 2013C1R and the outer as 2013C2R. Ring 2013C1R is larger than 2013C2R, and they are both believed to be composed of water ice. These rings would appear brighter than Uranus’s rings, but dimmer than the A ring of Saturn.

It is still unclear how the rings originated, but the authors propose a few possibilities. All suggest that the rings formed from a debris disk. The first possibility is that the outer layers of Chariklo were disrupted by an impact. Another possibility is that two former satellites collided, or a retrograde satellite may have been disrupted by tidal forces from Chariklo. The authors also suggest the small probability that Chariklo’s rings formed due to a close encounter with Uranus.

Image: The star’s brightness as Chariklo passed in front. Time flows from left to right. Visible are the shadows of the two outer rings, 2013C2R and 2013C1R, as Chariklo is approaching the star and again as it is leaving. The big dip in the middle is the shadow of Chariklo. From F. Braga-Ribas et al.

29th Mar 2014
Apollo 15 Moon Rock. Brought to Earth on August 7, 1971. (at Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum)

Apollo 15 Moon Rock. Brought to Earth on August 7, 1971.
(at Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum)

29th Mar 2014

Kicking Off the Comet Siding Spring Campaign!

Just like there was a Comet ISON observing campaign, there is now a Comet Siding Spring campaign! The comet, C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring), will closely approach Mars in October of 2014, providing a unique opportunity for the Mars rovers and satellites to observe a planet passing through a comet’s coma! The purpose of this campaign is to learn as much as we can about this comet and how it could affect the Martian atmosphere.

26th Mar 2014

First Ring System Found Around an Asteroid!

10199 Chariklo, a centaur orbiting between Saturn and Uranus, was discovered to have two dense, narrow rings around it. This is the smallest object in our solar system to have rings, where the other bodies with ring systems present are the four larger planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

I will provide a summary of the technical paper within the next few days.

25th Mar 2014
fuckyeahfluiddynamics:

A core-collapse, or Type II, supernova occurs in massive stars when they can no longer sustain fusion. For most of their lives, stars produce energy by fusing hydrogen into helium. Eventually, the hydrogen runs out and the core contracts until it reaches temperatures hot enough to cause the helium to fuse into carbon. This process repeats through to heavier elements, producing a pre-collapse star with onion-like layers of elements with the heaviest elements near the center. When the core consists mostly of nickel and iron, fusion will come to an end, and the core’s next collapse will trigger the supernova. When astronomers observed Supernova 1987A, the closest supernova in more than 300 years, models predicted that the onion-like layers of the supernova would persist after the explosion. But observations showed core materials reaching the surface much faster than predicting, suggesting that turbulent mixing might be carrying heavier elements outward. The images above show several time steps of a 2D simulation of this type of supernova. In the wake of the expanding shock wave, the core materials form fingers that race outward, mixing the fusion remnants. Hydrodynamically speaking, this is an example of the Richtmyer-Meshkov instability, in which a shock wave generates mixing between fluid layers of differing densities. (Image credit: K. Kifonidis et al.; see also B. Remington)

fuckyeahfluiddynamics:

A core-collapse, or Type II, supernova occurs in massive stars when they can no longer sustain fusion. For most of their lives, stars produce energy by fusing hydrogen into helium. Eventually, the hydrogen runs out and the core contracts until it reaches temperatures hot enough to cause the helium to fuse into carbon. This process repeats through to heavier elements, producing a pre-collapse star with onion-like layers of elements with the heaviest elements near the center. When the core consists mostly of nickel and iron, fusion will come to an end, and the core’s next collapse will trigger the supernova. When astronomers observed Supernova 1987A, the closest supernova in more than 300 years, models predicted that the onion-like layers of the supernova would persist after the explosion. But observations showed core materials reaching the surface much faster than predicting, suggesting that turbulent mixing might be carrying heavier elements outward. The images above show several time steps of a 2D simulation of this type of supernova. In the wake of the expanding shock wave, the core materials form fingers that race outward, mixing the fusion remnants. Hydrodynamically speaking, this is an example of the Richtmyer-Meshkov instability, in which a shock wave generates mixing between fluid layers of differing densities. (Image credit: K. Kifonidis et al.; see also B. Remington)