Saturday, November 17, 2018

SwRI Scientists Map Magnetic Reconnection in Earth’s Magnetotail

The latest findings of the SwRI-led Magnetospheric Multiscale mission detailed the magnetic reconnection processes taking place in the Earth’s magnetotail. Scientists discovered that the tail regions where magnetic fields meet, break apart and reconnect are surprisingly nonturbulent, but create hypersonic jets of electrons. Image Courtesy of Southwest Research Institute

Analyzing data from NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission, a team led by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has found that the small regions in the Earth’s magnetosphere that energize the polar aurora are remarkably calm and nonturbulent. The new observations, which also revealed intense electron jets associated with the regions where magnetic reconnection occurs, were outlined in a paper published in Science Nov. 15.

Trans-galactic Streamers Feeding Most Luminous Galaxy in the Universe

Composite image of W2246-0526 and its three companion galaxies shown in the ALMA portion of the image (orange). The blue background is an optical image of the same region from Hubble. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO);T. Díaz-Santos et al.; N. Lira

The most luminous galaxy in the universe has been caught in the act of stripping away nearly half the mass from at least three of its smaller neighbors, according to a new study published in the journal Science. The light from this galaxy, known as W2246-0526, took 12.4 billion years to reach us, so we are seeing it as it was when our universe was only about a tenth of its present age.

Auroras Unlock the Physics of Energetic Processes in Space

A close study of auroras has revealed new ways of understanding the physics of explosive energy releases in space, according to new University College London-led research. Auroras are an incredible light show caused by electrically charged particles in near-Earth space spiraling down Earth’s magnetic field and colliding with gases in the atmosphere, causing them to glow.

SpaceX Returns to LC-39A with Stunning Launch of Es’Hail 2

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launches the Es’Hail 2 communications satellite into orbit. Photo Credit: Michael Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

SpaceX just keeps pumping out launches with the latest seeing a Qatari communications satellite lift off from one of the most historic launch pads in the world and delivered into a geostationary transfer orbit.

Astronomers Find Possible Elusive Star Behind Supernova

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 3938 shows the location of supernova 2017ein, in a spiral arm near the bright core. The exploded star is a type Ic supernova, thought to detonate after its massive star has shed or been stripped of its outer layers of hydrogen and helium. Progenitor stars to type Ic supernovas have been hard to find. But astronomers sifting through Hubble archival images may have uncovered the star that detonated as supernova 2017ein. The location of the candidate progenitor star is shown in the pullout box at bottom left, taken in 2007. The bright object in the box at bottom right is a close-up image of the supernova, taken by Hubble in 2017, shortly after the stellar blast. NGC 3938 resides 65 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. The Hubble image of NGC 3938 was taken in 2007. CREDIT: NASA/ESA/S. VAN DYK (CALTECH)/W. LI (UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA)

Astronomers may have finally uncovered the long-sought progenitor to a specific type of exploding star by sifting through NASA Hubble Space Telescope archival data and conducting follow-up observations using W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Infinite-Dimensional Symmetry Opens Up Possibility of a New Physics – and New Particles

Professor Krzysztof Meissner from the Institute of Theoretical Physics, Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw. Credit: Copernicus Festival

The symmetries that govern the world of elementary particles at the most elementary level could be radically different from what has so far been thought. This surprising conclusion emerges from new work published by theoreticians from Warsaw and Potsdam. The scheme they posit unifies all the forces of nature in a way that is consistent with existing observations and anticipates the existence of new particles with unusual properties, which may even be present in our close environs.

Abell 1033: To Boldly Go into Colliding Galaxy Clusters

A new image with data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have science fiction fans doing a double take. This view of the galaxy cluster Abell 1033 combines X-rays from Chandra with radio emission from a network of telescopes in the Netherlands called LOFAR. The result is an image that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Starship Enterprise of the Star Trek franchise. In fact, Abell 1033 is the site of two merging clusters of galaxies, which are the largest structures in the Universe held together by gravity. Studies of Abell 1033 and other merging galaxy clusters help scientists better understand the physics that occurs when these cosmic giants collide. Credits: NASA/CXC

Hidden in a distant galaxy cluster collision are wisps of gas resembling the starship Enterprise — an iconic spaceship from the "Star Trek" franchise. Galaxy clusters — cosmic structures containing hundreds or even thousands of galaxies — are the largest objects in the Universe held together by gravity. Multi-million-degree gas fills the space in between the individual galaxies. The mass of the hot gas is about six times greater than that of all the galaxies combined. This superheated gas is invisible to optical telescopes, but shines brightly in X-rays, so an X-ray telescope like NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is required to study it.