Saturday, December 16, 2017

Report Highlights Social and Economic Impacts of Space Weather

Some experts in the emergency management community believe that the first "trillion-dollar storm" won't come in the form of a tornado, hurricane, or flood, but rather will come from the sun. A new report funded by NOAA's National Weather Service begins to quantify impacts from space weather on the United States economy.

Discovery of New Planet Reveals Distant Solar System to Rival Our Own

With the discovery of an eighth planet, the Kepler-90 system is the first to tie with our solar system in number of planets. NASA/Ames Research Center/Wendy Stenzel

The discovery of an eighth planet circling the distant star Kepler-90 by University of Texas at Austin astronomer Andrew Vanderburg and Google’s Christopher Shallue overturns our solar system’s status as having the highest number of known planets. We're now in a tie.

Dawn of a Galactic Collision

NGC 5256 is a pair of galaxies in its final stage of merging. It was previously observed by Hubble as part of a collection of 59 images of merging galaxies, released on Hubble’s 18th anniversary on 24 April 2008. The new data make the gas and dust being whirled around inside and outside the galaxy more visible than ever before.  This image is composed of data gathered with the Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Wide-Field Camera 3.  Credit: ESA/Hubble, NASA

A riot of color and light dances through this peculiarly shaped galaxy, NGC 5256. Its smoke-like plumes are flung out in all directions and the bright core illuminates the chaotic regions of gas and dust swirling through the galaxy’s center. Its odd structure is due to the fact that this is not one galaxy, but two — in the process of a galactic collision.

Better Way to Weigh Millions of Solitary Stars

Astronomers have come up with a new and improved method for measuring the masses of millions of solitary stars, especially those with planetary systems. Getting accurate measurements of how much stars weigh not only plays a crucial role in understanding how stars are born, evolve and die, but it is also essential in assessing the true nature of the thousands of exoplanets now known to orbit most other stars.

GAMBIT Narrows the Hiding Places for ‘New Physics’

For 80 million working hours, the GAMBIT Collaboration tracked possible clues of ‘new physics’ with the Cracow supercomputer Prometheus, confronting the predictions of several models of supersymmetry with data collected by the most sophisticated contemporary scientific experiments. (Source: KSAF, Maciej Bernas)

The elementary particles of ‘new physics’ must be so massive that their detection in the LHC, the largest modern accelerator, will not be possible. This none- too-optimistic conclusion comes from the most comprehensive review of observational data from many scientific experiments and their confrontation with several popular varieties of supersymmetry theory. The complicated, extremely computationally demanding analysis was carried out by the team of the international GAMBIT Collaboration – and leaves a shadow of hope.

Giant Storms Cause Palpitations in Saturn’s Atmospheric Heartbeat

VLT image of Saturn's giant vortex at mid-infrared wavelengths. Credit: ESA

Immense northern storms on Saturn can disturb atmospheric patterns at the planet’s equator, finds the international Cassini mission in a study led by Dr Leigh Fletcher from the University of Leicester. This effect is also seen in Earth’s atmosphere, suggesting the two planets are more alike than previously thought.

Gaia's View of Our Galactic Neighbors

Gaia's view of the Large Magellanic Cloud. Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC

Measuring the positions and motions of more than a billion stars, ESA's Gaia mission will refine our knowledge about our place in the Universe, providing the best ever star chart of our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies. One of the nearest galaxies to our Galaxy is the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), located around 166 000 light-years away and visible to the naked eye at intermediate and southern latitudes.