Friday, March 30, 2007

The Missing Particle

LHC Cathedral

Mark Evans

Wishing you all a Magical weekend!

The missing (God) particle’s real name is the Higgs boson, named after British theoretical physicist Peter Higgs who first proposed its existence. It is believed to be the last missing piece to the puzzle of the so-called Standard Model – the 20 fundamental forces and particles that, in various permutations and combinations, account for everything around us – light, magnetism, gravity and all forms of matter.

The Higgs is what supposedly gives mass to fundamental particles, such as quarks and leptons, which in turn constitute neutrons, protons and electrons, which in turn make up atoms and molecules and eventually this page, you and the entire universe. The hadron of the Large Hadron Collider is the classification for neutrons and protons, from the Greek ‘hadros’ for strong, because they are held together in the nucleus of an atom by the strong nuclear force.

The God Particle could well turn out not to be the end of this quest to understand the ultimate nature of matter but instead the beginning of yet another phase.
Particle masses from intersecting braneworlds from Lubos Motl.
“Supersymmetry must exist if the universe is going to make sense”
Fermilab Statement on LHC Magnet Test Failure 27 March 2007.

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Light can bend liquid

Physicists have used a laser beam to produce a surprisingly long and steady jet of soapy liquid that is narrower than a human hair.

The researchers were then able to push the liquid into a "hump-like shape", by directing the laser at a different angle.

The discovery was made by accident while University of Chicago fluid scientist, Wendy Zhang, was visiting colleagues at the University of Bordeaux in France.

Here, physicist Jean-Pierre Delville had observed a strange and unexpected result after completing a previous experiment studying the behaviour of fluid under a low intensity laser beam.

Delville then turned up the laser power just to see what it could do - what they found was that the laser beam was able to direct and bend the fine jet of liquid.

While heat can set liquid in motion, the researchers discovered that in this case it was the gentle radiation pressure generated by photons - discrete packets of light energy - that moved the fluid.

This radiation pressure is so slight it ordinarily goes unnoticed, but the liquid used in the Bordeaux experiment has such an "incredibly weak surface" that even light can deform it. "It's basically soap," Zhang said of the experimental liquid, which was a mixture of water and oil that had been precisely blended to display varying characteristics under certain conditions.

The find, which was further probed by lead author and Chicago graduate student Robert Schroll, is detailed in the 30 March edition of the journal Physical Review Letters.
Read more Light can bend liquid from Cosmos Magazine
Physicists Shine A Light, Produce Startling Liquid Jet from Science Daily
The life and death of a photon 'filmed' for the first time from CNRS

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Starchart - Quasars


In the begining, hydrogen, helium and a few other light elements pervaded space. There were no heavier atoms, such as carbon, oxygen and iron. Heavy elements, which astronomers collectively refer to as metals, were forged later in the interior of stars, where nuclear fusion melded together hydrogen and helium atoms to make larger and more complex ones.

Current telescopes are not powerful enough to reach back to a time when hydrogen and helium were the only elements in the universe. No matter where we look, we never see pristine matter. Everything we look at is always contaminated with every element.

To determine when the first stars formed, the Keck telescope examines the light from quasars as it passed through gas clouds on its way toward Earth. These clouds are believed to be the progenitors of some of the first stars and galaxies. Certain wave lengths of quasar light are absorbed by the ancient gas clouds. We can determine the elements inside clouds by studying the wavelengths they absorb.

By measuring the shift of the quasar's light waves toward the red end of the light spectrum, astronomers can determine how far away the quasar and gas clouds are. In an expanding universe, quasars are moving away from Earth. By the time their light waves reach us, they have stretched out. The higher the red shift, the farther away the object is from Earth and the further back in time it lies.

To determine how fast stars formed in these primordial gas clouds, the quasar spectra can be used to calculate the rate at which the gas clouds cooled. Because these progenitor galaxies existed in a steady state – the energy flowing into them equaled the energy flowing out. The heating rate of the clouds is proportional to the amount of ultraviolet radiation the stars in the clouds emitted. And that amount of radiation is in proportion to the rate at which these stars formed.

Studies suggest that stars formed much more slowly than previously believed. The universe, it appears, was seeded with heavy elements not all at once, but steadily over time.

Although they can't look back to the emergence of the first stars, astronomers have speculated what may have happened. Starting with neutral hydrogen, atoms clouded the expanding and cooling universe, absorbing all light.

This hydrogen "fog" was not distributed uniformly. As it piled up in distinct regions, the gas collapsed under its growing gravity to form the first stars. Over time, the intense ultraviolet radiation streaming from these first stars gave the neutral hydrogen an electrical charge and made it transparent to light.

This has been considered a rapid change from darkness to light, as if a bank of fog suddenly succumbed to bright sunshine. But more recent measurements suggest it took longer to lift the shroud sufficiently to allow the light from rapidly forming stars to illuminate the universe.

Keck Observatory on the 13,800-foot summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii
Scientists look back in time for clues to how the first stars formed
Arthur Wolfe, chancellor's associates professor of physics at UCSD

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Artes GEO Sat

Small GEO Platform contract signed

Mr Viriglio, ESA's Director of Telecommunication and Navigation, shakes hands with Professor Manfred Fuchs, CEO of OHB-System AG, in Berlin on 28 March 2007, officialising the signing with OHB/Germany of a €100 million framework contract to develop a European Small Geostationary Satellite platform for telecommunication missions.

With this initiative, ESA is supporting European industry in broadening the product portfolio range on offer on the commercial telecommunication satellite market, by covering a market segment where no optimised European solutions currently exist.

The “ARTES 11” programme was approved at the ministerial meeting of the ESA Council held in Berlin in December 2005 and currently eight of the Agency’s Member States are participants.
ESA open-source software supports Germany's TerraSAR-X
ESA celebrates 50 years of Europe
Jules Verne - Space Station Supply Vehicle - pre flight checks

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Magnetic Carpet

Cluster reveals how Solar Magnetic fields get reconnected in turbulent plasma

This image provides a model of magnetic fields at the Sun's surface using SOHO data, showing irregular magnetic fields (the ‘magnetic carpet’) in the solar corona (top layer of the Sun's atmosphere).

Small-scale current sheets are likely to form in such turbulent environment and reconnection may occur in similar fashion as in Earth's magnetosheath.

Credits: Stanford-Lockheed Inst. for Space Research/NASA GSFC
Structure Of The Sun's Magnetic Field by Science Daily source ESA
Cassini - Odd Hexagon at Saturn’s Pole from Centauri Dreams

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Akari Results

Wealth of new results from AKARI infrared sky-surveyor
This artist’s concept illustrates the possible structure of the central core of the galaxy UGC05101 situated in the constellation Ursa Major , approximately 550 million light years away from the Earth. Termed an ‘ultraluminous infrared galaxy,’ the total energy it emits in the infrared alone is about one trillion times more than the that of the Sun. However, the central region is covered by a thick interstellar medium and can only be observed in the Infrared. Observations with AKARI have revealed evidence for active phenomena in the central part of this galaxy.

It has been postulated that at the centre of UGC05101 is a giant black hole, of mass more than a million times that of our Sun. In this case, the material around it would be expected to radiate enormous amounts of energy as it slowly tumbles into the black hole.

Credits: JAXA
Scientists Compute Death Throes Of White Dwarf Star In 3D
The Purple Rose of Virgo VLT Image of Bright Supernova - from ESO

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Near-Earth Routes

Spacenet: Solar System Supply Routes

It is worth noting that with today's technology and economic wealth, building three shuttles that can carry a crew to the Moon - is no more outrageous than building three ships for Columbus to open a route to the East via America.

For sure the Moon is no Caribbean filled with tropical plants and birds, and no trade route to the land of silk and spices.

Space whilst it may be a hostile environment, is no more deadly to men - than being caught in the doldrums on a sailing ship, with no food or fresh water (and wine). Even if there'd be plenty of fish swimming in the sea.

And the journey to Mars is not longer or much more frought with dangers than the first journeys by sea around Cape Horn or Cape of Good Hope to reach Australia & the East Indies.

Modern economies do not require a venture to produce an economic return or 'profit'. The benefits for the land based economies, or in this case earth based governments, is the increased economic activity and velocity of money (wealth) from job creation in research & development - without competing for resources or markets in the commercial 'private' sector.

After all any investment in Space, can only be spent on Earth - there are no 'shops' in Space.

"The Ultimate Surfing Adventure"
Space, One vast Ocean Open to All - Quasar9

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Space cooperation

Roscosmos signing. Credits: ESA

Europe and Russia confirm closer space cooperation
From left to right: ESA Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain, the Head of the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation (Roscosmos), Anatoly Perminov, and European Commission Director General Heinz Zourek met on 21 March 2007, at Roscosmos in Moscow within the framework of the Tripartite Space Dialogue between the European Commission, European Space Agency and Roscosmos.

Cooperation in space science is advancing satisfactorily. Russia will provide a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer instrument to ESA's BepiColombo mission. Russian scientists have also been invited to respond together with European scientists to the call for proposals for the first planning cycle of the new Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 recently issued by ESA.

Cooperation in the technology field will see the parties assessing potential domains of common interest and identifying concrete opportunities.

Cooperation in the launchers domain will see the two sides concentrate on the implementation of Soyuz launches from the Guiana Space Centre as well as looking into technologies for future launchers. Europe and Russia are also involved in discussions related to the next generation of crew vehicles with possible ESA involvement in the development of an Advanced Crew Transportation Vehicle to be tabled for decision at the ESA Council at ministerial level in 2008.

SPACE "The Ultimate Surfing Adventure" - Quasar9

OSIRIS camera on Rosetta obtains ‘light curve’ of asteroid Steins
IceSAR provides glimpse of future Sentinel-1 images over ice
Space Science - UK invests for the future more from PPARC.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Light thru Glass

A Question of Scale by Reciprocity © All rights reserved.

Analog images of the refraction patterns of light passing through textured glass objects. The glass used for this one is clear, colour has been introduced by inserting coloured optical filters into the light beam. The image is captured directly on to 35mm film, there is no camera lens ( this is a photogram using film instead of photographic paper). No Photoshop is used only Picasa2 for alignment and cropping. The negative film was lab processed and a print scanned for uploading.

shockwaves of light view the Slideshow © All rights reserved.

Every time you switch on a light bulb,
10 to the power of 15 (a million times a billion) visible photons, the elementary particles of light, are illuminating the room in every second. If that is too many for you, light a candle.

A Single-Photon Server with Just One Atom from the Max Planck Institute

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Cosmic Explosions


Scientists have used the world's largest robotic telescope to make the earliest-ever measurement of the optical polarisation of a Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) just 203 seconds after the start of the Cosmic Explosion. This finding which provides new insights into GRB physics was published in Science on 15th March 2007.

Read more Robotic Telescope Unravels Mystery of Cosmic Blasts

Optical Polarisation - Optical light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum and, as such is a wave with an electric vector, or vibration direction, that is usually randomly orientated relative to the direction of travel of the wave - this is unpolarised light.

When the light is produced by electrons that travel in a well-organised field the electric vector of the emitted light keeps a preferred direction. This alignment causes the light to be polarised. Measuring the amount of polarisation of light therefore probes the presence and structure of any guiding magnetic field in the object that has emitted the light.

Incoherent Radiation and Polarisation
Linear polarisation; Circular polarisation; Elliptical polarization

New Mechanism For Cosmic Gamma Rays From Starlight Is Proposed
New form of matter-antimatter transformation observed for the 1st time.
The 2007 Cambridge Science Festival March 18 - 25

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Spirit of Light

I am Spirit
I am Light



ramblings from the reservation

They may try to break My Spirit
They may try to break My Teeth
With the bit they may cause me pain
Ice cold fear, I shall feel the artic rain

Sticks and stones may break My Bones
burden or saddle with heavy undertones
But death I shall not fear, or let it reign
for the Spirit shall rise - and rise again

Light is light, the Spirit lighter still - Quasar9
A glimpse of heaven
three little angels singing ...

what a wondrous time is spring
when all the trees are budding
the birds begin to sing
the flowers start their blooming

I'll shout it from the mountain top
I want the world to know
the source of joy is in my heart
I want to pass it on ...

by Mystic Rose @ lightofrose
Famous Quotes One can never consent to creep
when one feels an impulse to soar. Helen Keller

Thursday, March 15, 2007

GRBs & Magnetars

Gamma-ray Birth Cries Suggest Massive Magnetic Engines

Swift's Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) detected the GRB in the constellation Pictor on 29 July 2006.

XRT picked up GRB 060729 (named for the date of its first observation) 124 seconds after the BAT detected it. Normally, XRT monitors an afterglow for a week or two until it fades to near invisibility. But GRB 060729's afterglow started off so bright and faded so slowly that XRT could regularly monitor it for months, and the instrument still was able to detect it in late November. The burst's relatively close proximity to Earth, about 5 billion light-years, also was a factor in XRT's ability to monitor the afterglow for such an extended period.

The slow fading of the X-ray afterglow has several important ramifications for our understanding of GRBs. "It requires a larger energy injection than we normally see in bursts, and may require continuous energy input from the central engine," says astronomer Dirk Grupe of Penn State University, in University Park, Pennsylvania, who is lead author of the international team that reports these results in a paper scheduled to appear in the June 20, 2007 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

One possibility is that the central engine, perhaps an accreting black hole, ejected multiple shells of material at near light speed. Forward shells may have decelerated when they slammed into interstellar gas, allowing back shells to catch up and slam into them with tremendous force. The resulting shock waves could have powered the afterglow and made it shine brightly in X-rays.

But another possibility is that the GRB's central engine was a magnetar -- a neutron star with an ultra-powerful magnetic field. The magnetar's magnetic field acts like a brake, forcing the star's rotation rate to spin down rapidly. The energy of this spin-down can be converted into magnetic energy that is continuously injected into the initial blast wave that triggered the GRB. Calculations show that this energy could power the observed X-ray afterglow and keep it shining for months.
NASA Mission Finds Link Between Big And Small Stellar Blasts
New Panorama Reveals More Than A Thousand Black Holes
"Quantum events are taking place all around us. They are very, very small. Some of these small quantum events caught up in the process of rapid expansion of space became galaxies along the way. During inflation, quantum fluctuations can produce not only galaxies, but also new parts of the universe. An infinite number of worlds could exist with different types of physical laws operating among them." - Andrei Linde
Cosmologist speaks of mind-bending dynamics from Stanford University

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Near-Earth Space

CLUSTER a collection of four spacecraft flying in formation around Earth, opens a new window on ‘magnetic reconnection’ in the near-Earth space

Magnetic reconnection is a process that can occur almost anywhere that a magnetic field is found. In a reconnection event, the magnetic field lines are squeezed together somehow and spontaneously reconfigure themselves, releasing energy.

When it occurs near the surface of the Sun, such an event powers giant solar flares that can release thousands of millions of tonnes of electrically charged particles into space.

The Earth's magnetic field creates a buffer zone, the magnetosphere, between our planet's atmosphere and the particles released during these eruptions. The Sun also releases a steadier flow of charged particles called the solar wind. On the large-scale, any heading this way buffet the magnetosphere, and are deflected by it. Plasma physicists describe this behaviour with a theory called 'magneto-hydrodynamics' (MHD).

On smaller scales, however, the picture becomes rather more complicated. The particles can actually flow across the magnetic field lines.This makes the mathematics of the behaviour more difficult. First to misbehave are the ions (positively charged particles). These break away from simple MHD on scales of less than a few hundred kilometres. On even smaller scales, less than 10 kilometres, the electrons (negatively charged particles) begin playing by other rules, too.

Magnetic reconnection within Earth's magnetosphere regularly takes place on the night-time side of our planet, where the flow of the solar wind stretches out the magnetic field into a long tail. When the field reconnects in this region, it triggers jets of energetic particles that can cause auroral lights but can also damage satellites.

Read more from ESA International
Cluster opens a new window on ‘magnetic reconnection’ in the near-Earth space
The original paper, "Cluster PEACE observations of electron pressure tensor divergence in the magnetotail," by P.D. Henderson et al., is published in Geophysical Research letters (Vol. 33, L22106, doi:10.1029/2006GL027868, 2006).
A Step Toward Fusion Energy from Science Daily
Solar Energy Conversion Offers A Solution To Help Mitigate Global Warming
New Gadget To Study Plasma Bubbles That Can Disrupt Satellite Communications

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Neural Spaces

HAL evolving by thinkingthing

The brain appears to process information more chaotically than has long been assumed.

The passing on of information from neuron to neuron does not occur exclusively at the synapses, i.e. the junctions between the nerve cell extensions. Rather, it seems that the neurons release their chemical messengers along the entire length of these extensions and, in this way, excite the neighbouring cells.

The findings of the study from Bonn University are of huge significance since they explode fundamental notions about the way our brain works. Moreover, they might contribute to the development of new medical drugs. The study is due to appear shortly in the academic journal "Nature Neuroscience."

Until now everything seemed quite clear. Nerve cells receive their signals by means of little "arms", known as dendrites. Dendrites pass on the electrical impulses to the cell body, or soma, where they are processed. The component responsible for "distributing" the result is the axon. Axons are long cable-like projections of the cell along which the electrical signals pass until they meet, at a synapse, the dendritic arm of another neuron.

The synapse presents an insurmountable barrier to the neuron's electrical pulses. The brain overcomes this obstruction by means of an amazing signal conversion: the synapse releases chemical messengers, known as neurotransmitters, which diffuse to the dendrites. There, they dock onto specific receptors and generate new electrical impulses. "It was previously thought that neurotransmitters are only released at synapses But new findings indicate that this is not the case."

The brain's white matter contains the "cable ducts" linking the right and left halves of the brain. They consist essentially of axons and ancillary cells. There are no dendrites or even synapses here. "So it is not a place where we would expect to see the release of messengers.

Yet it is in the white matter that scientists have made a remarkable discovery. As soon as an electrical impulse runs through an axon cable, tiny bubbles containing glutamate travel to the axon membrane and release their content into the brain. Glutamate is one of the most important neurotransmitters, being released when signal transmission occurs at synapses.

Researchers were able to demonstrate that certain cells in the white matter react to glutamate: the precursor to what are known as oligodendrocytes. Oligodendrocytes are the brain's "insulating cells". They produce the myelin, a sort of fatty layer that surrounds the axons and ensures rapid retransmission of signals. "It is likely that insulating cells are guided by the glutamate to locate axons and envelope them in a layer of myelin."

As soon as the axons leave the white "cable duct" they enter the brain's grey matter where they encounter their receptor dendrites. Here, the information is passed on at the synapses to the receptor cells. It is possible, however, that on their way though the grey matter the axons probably release glutamate at other points apart from the synapses. Nerve cells and dendrites are closely packed together here. So the axon could not only excite the actual receptor but also numerous other nerve cells.

If this hypothesis is correct, the accepted scientific understanding of the way neurons communicate, which has prevailed for over a hundred years, will have to be revised.
[+/-] Click here to expand

In 1897 Sir Charles Sherrington first put forward the idea that chemical messengers are only released at "synapses", a term he coined. According to the founder of modern neurophysiology this means that nerve cells can only communicate with a small number of other nerve cells, i.e. only with those with which they are connected via synapses. This concept is the basis of the notion that neuronal information in the brain, somewhat like electricity in a computer, only spreads directionally in the brain, following specific ordered circuits.

Too much glutamate is the death of cells

There is, however, also an aspect to the research team's discovery that is of considerable medical interest. It has long been known that in the event of oxygen deficiency or a severe epileptic fit, large numbers of insulating cells in the white matter are destroyed. The trigger for this damage is the neurotransmitter glutamate.

Nobody knew until now where the glutamate actually comes from. The new results might open the door to totally new therapeutic options. Drugs have already been developed that prevent glutamate bubbles from discharging their load into the brain. Indeed, Bonn's neuroscientists now know precisely which receptors of the insulating cells are stimulated by the neurotransmitter -- another starting point for developing new drugs.

Yet, why can glutamate sometimes be so dangerous? When an epileptic fit occurs, the nerve cells "fire" very rapidly and fiercely. In this event so many impulses run through the axons that large quantities of glutamate are released all at once. In these concentrations the neurotransmitter damages the insulating cells. It's the dosage that makes it harmful.

Brain Works More Chaotically Than Previously Thought from Science Daily

Fountain of Youth from Science Daily 12 March 2007
Whole Body Regeneration From A Blood Vessel 12 March 2007
Marine Moss Reveals Clues To Anti-cancer Compound 12 March 2007

Saturday, March 10, 2007

ESA invites proposals

ESA's Aurora Space Exploration Programme invites proposals for the Next Exploration Science and Technology (NEXT) mission.

The Aurora Programme is composed of two main elements: a Core Programme, which aims to establish the ability of Europe to participate as a recognised partner in future international space exploration endeavours, and an Exploration Robotic Missions component with a first mission, ExoMars, which is now being implemented for launch in 2013.

As an intermediate step, after ExoMars and before the international context will allow the initiation of a Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission, the Executive considers proposing to the next Ministerial Council an 'ExoMars class' mission.

Envisaged for launch in the period 2015-2018, the technological goal of NEXT is to demonstrate key enabling capabilities, such as descent and precision landing, as needed for a future Mars Sample Return mission.


To this end the Core Programme has initiated an MSR Phase A2 System Study, building on the results of two previous Phase A1 studies. In this frame Entry, Descent and Soft/Precision Landing on the one hand, and Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking/Capture on the other, were identified as key elements of interest for Europe.

Such a mission would demonstrate in particular key MSR technologies and achieve a step change in the European capabilities over and above present possible contributions to the MSR mission, whilst also providing an opportunity for scientific investigations. Ideas that would include aspects relevant to the human exploration scenario are welcome.

NEXT exploration mission - call for ideas
Proposals and suggestions are sought from Industry, Technical Centres and the Scientific Community for mission concepts that would combine, in the spirit of exploration, technology development with first class science.

Ideas should be submitted electronically to: not later than 13 April 2007.
Solar Sail Mission to an Asteroid by Centauri Dreams
Solar Power at Play - Observing the Spin-Up of an Asteroid ESO
Sensor Being Developed To Check For Life On Mars from Science Daily

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Centaurus A

This image of Centaurus A , also known as NGC 5128 , is an example of how frontier science can be combined with esthetic aspects.

This galaxy is a most interesting object for the present attempts to understand active galaxies . It is being investigated by means of observations in all spectral regions, from radio via infrared and optical wavelengths to X- and gamma-rays. It is one of the most extensively studied objects in the southern sky.

Centaurus A is one of the foremost examples of a radio-loud active galactic nucleus (AGN) . On images obtained at optical wavelengths, thick dust layers almost completely obscure the galaxy's centre. This structure was first reported by Sir John Herschel in 1847. Until 1949, NGC 5128 was thought to be a strange object in the Milky Way, but it was then identified as a powerful radio galaxy and designated Centaurus A .

The distance is about 10-13 million light-years (3-4 Mpc) and the apparent visual magnitude is about 8, or 5 times too faint to be seen with the unaided eye.

The core of Centaurus A is the smallest known extragalactic radio source, only 10 light-days across. A jet of high energy particles from this centre is observed in radio and X-ray images. The core probably contains a supermassive black hole with a mass of about 100 million solar masses.

Colour image of the two galaxies NGC 5011B (top) and NGC 5011C (bottom blue galaxy). NGC 5011C is a dwarf galaxy located in the Centaurus A group, while its companion on the sky is in fact a galaxy located 12 times further away and belonging to the Centaurus cluster of galaxies.

With this new distance determination, the astronomers also established that NGC 5011C lies 500,000 light-years away from the dominant galaxy in its group, Centaurus A. Centaurus A (NGC 5128) is the nearest giant elliptical galaxy, at a distance of about 13 million light-years. It is currently merging with a spiral companion galaxy. It possesses a very massive black hole at its centre and is a source of strong radio and X-ray emission.

The Giant That Turned Out To Be A Dwarf from European Southern Observatory.
Learning How Galaxies Form by Centauri Dreams
Double-star Systems Cycle Between Big And Small Blasts from SD
Jet Of Molecular Hydrogen Arising From A Forming High-mass Star

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

ESA's Cosmic Vision


The implementation of the new Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 science programme will be done in successive selection cycles of mission proposals, starting with this call for proposals for the first planning cycle

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Huygens Titan descent


The European-built Huygens probe was part of the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn - a joint endeavour of ESA, NASA and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). It is the most ambitious effort in planetary space exploration ever mounted. Launched on 15 October 1997, Cassini (a sophisticated robotic spacecraft designed to orbit the ringed planet and study the Saturnian system in detail), bearing the Huygens probe, reached Saturn on 1 July 2004. Cassini delivered Huygens to Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, on 14 January 2005. This was the first ever descent and landing onto a celestial body in the outer Solar System, and it provided the most spectacular view of Titan yet.

Now, thanks to the Huygens measurements and also to the complementary, global measurements made by Cassini, we actually know that Titan’s landscapes truly resemble those on Earth, with mountains, lakes, shorelines and outflow channels, where methane plays a role similar to that of water on Earth. By detecting Argon 40, Huygens also helped to reveal that the interior of Titan is still active, as confirmed later by Cassini, which observed icy 'lava' flows emerging from 'cryo-volcanoes'.

The Cassini-Huygens results so far tell us that Titan, once thought to resemble an early, frozen Earth, in reality appears to be as complex as any of the terrestrial planets that have an atmosphere. Huygens has exceeded expectations and shown Titan to be an 'alien earth', probably more similar to our own planet than either Mars or Venus, and is enabling planetary scientists to explore a new, fascinating world.

Huygens landing site to be named after Hubert Curien
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This image provides a comparison between the Huygens landing site on Titan as viewed by the Cassini Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) and the NACO/SDI instrument mounted on the 8-metre Yepun telescope of the VLT (Very Large Telescope) station, in Chile.

ESA Press Release 13-2007. As of 14 March, an epic space mission and one of the founding fathers of the European space endeavour will be forever linked.

ESA, the international Committee for Space Research (COSPAR) and NASA have decided to honour Professor Hubert Curien’s contribution to European space by naming the Huygens landing site on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, after him.

Cassini over Saturn - Enceladus and Rings by Louise Riofrio
PIA09180: Titan: Larger and Larger Lakes from JPL NASA
Venera 14 landing on Venus & Celestial coordinates by Astroprof

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Hubble Pans Heavens

Click on Image to Enlarge

Hubble Pans Across Heavens to Harvest 50,000 Evolving Galaxies

A narrow slice of sky near the Big Dipper yielded a goldmine of at least 50,000 galaxies, which were spied by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

The image at left, taken by Akira Fujii with a backyard telescope, shows the location of the Hubble observations near the Big Dipper. The long, narrow image in the center is Hubble's panoramic view of the area, made by assembling 500 photographs taken over a one-year period. The 50,000 galaxies spied in the image are scattered across a region that is equivalent to the apparent diameter of two full Moons. The dimensions of the final mosaic are 21 images long by 3 images tall.

The image at right is a section of the panoramic photo.

A wide diversity of galaxies can be seen throughout both Hubble images. Some are beautiful spirals or massive elliptical galaxies like those seen in the nearby universe, but others look like random assemblages of material, the leftovers from violent mergers of young galaxies. These resemble some of the most distant, youngest galaxies observed.

The Hubble observation, made with the Advanced Camera for Surveys, is part of the All-wavelength Extended Groth Strip International Survey (AEGIS), a collaborative effort using major ground-based and space-based telescopes to focus on a narrow swath of sky near the Big Dipper. The region offers a clear view of the distant universe.

Astronomers studying the Groth Strip find that star formation is largely driven by the supply of raw materials, such as gas and dust, collapsing under the force of gravity. More massive galaxies form stars early, whereas the smaller galaxies create their stars over longer timescales. Both normal-looking, undisturbed galaxies and those showing signs of catastrophic collisions were forming an abundance of stars 8 billion years ago. This evidence suggests that violent galaxy mergers were not required for rapid star formation.

The Hubble telescope images reveal a time when galaxies were starting to reach their mature shapes, looking like the nearby galaxies we see today. A wide diversity of galaxies can be seen throughout the images. Some are beautiful spirals or massive elliptical galaxies like those seen in the nearby universe, but others look like random assemblages of material, the leftovers from violent mergers of young galaxies. These resemble some of the most distant, youngest galaxies observed.
Celestial coordinates by Astroprof
Learning How Galaxies Form by Centauri Dreams
Galaxy Survey Focuses On 'Pre-teen' Years from Science Daily

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Comet Galaxy (Hubble)

Click on the Hubble Image for an extended view.
The Hubble image also shows the gravitational lensing effect -- an optical illusion -- caused by the cluster's gravitational tidal forces of the cluster and "ram pressure stripping" by the hot gas.

The strong gravitational pull exerted by the galaxy cluster's collective mass has also bent the light of distant galaxies, distorting their shapes. A giant luminous blue arc corresponds to the distorted image of a galaxy that lies behind the cluster's core.
[+/-] Click here to expand

This effect resembles the so-called caustic pattern of light ripples observed when looking at a sandy bottom as light is focused by the wave crests and valleys.

In the gravitational lens here, the yellow cluster galaxies act as wave crests whereas the banana-shaped arcs are the caustic patterns created by the focusing power of the matter cluster. Cluster Abell 2667 is a massive luminous galaxy cluster located 3.2 billion light-years from Earth.

There are many galaxies of different shapes and sizes around us today. Roughly half are gas-poor elliptical-shaped galaxies with little new star formation activity, and half are gas-rich spiral and irregular galaxies with high star formation activity. Observations have shown that gas-poor galaxies are most often found near the centre of crowded galaxy clusters, whereas spirals spend most of their lifetime in solitude.

The mystery, gleaned from deep observations of the Universe, is that when the Universe was half its present age only one in five galaxies was a gas-poor galaxy. So, where do all of today's gas-poor galaxies come from? Scientists suspect that some kind of transforming process must have taken place, but because galaxy evolution occurs over billions of years, scientists have so far not been able to see the transformation at work.

New observations with Hubble provide one of the best examples to date of this metamorphosis. While looking at the galaxy cluster Abell 2667, astronomers found an odd-looking spiral galaxy (shown here in the upper left hand corner of the image) that ploughs through the cluster after being accelerated to at least 3.5 million km/h by the enormous combined gravity of the cluster's hundreds of galaxies.

"By combining Hubble observations with various ground & space based telescopes, we have been able to shed some light on the evolutionary history of galaxies", said Luca Cortese of Cardiff University, United Kingdom.

As the galaxy speeds through, its gas and stars are being stripped away by the tidal forces exerted by the cluster -- just as the tidal forces exerted by the moon and Sun push and pull the Earth's oceans. Also contributing to this destructive process is the pressure of the cluster's hot gas plasma reaching temperatures as high as 10-100 million degrees.

Both processes -- the tidal forces and the aptly named "ram pressure stripping" resulting from the action of the hot cluster gas -- resemble those affecting comets in our Solar System. For this reason, scientists have nicknamed this peculiar spiral with its tail the "Comet Galaxy".

"This unique galaxy, has an extended stream of bright blue knots and diffuse wisps of young stars driven away by the tidal forces and the 'ram pressure stripping' of the hot dense gas," said Jean-Paul Kneib, a study collaborator from the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille.

Even though its mass is slightly larger than that of the Milky Way, the spiral will inevitably lose all its gas and dust as well as its chance of generating new stars later, and become a gas-poor galaxy with an old population of red stars. However, in the midst of all this destruction, the cluster's strong forces have triggered a baby-boom of star formation.

Scientists estimate that the total duration of the transformation process is close to one billion years. What is seen now in the Hubble image is roughly 200 million years into the process.

The strong gravitational pull exerted by the galaxy cluster's collective mass has bent the light of other, more distant galaxies and distorted their shapes - an effect called gravitational lensing. The giant bright banana-shaped arc seen just to the right of the centre in the photo corresponds to the magnified and distorted image of a distant galaxy that lies behind the cluster's core.

At the cluster's centre another rare feature can be seen: the vivid blue light from millions of stars created in a so-called cooling flow. Some of the hot cluster gas is cooling in a filamentary structure as it falls into the cluster's core, setting off the birth of lots of bright blue stars outshining their environment. This may be the clearest picture of this phenomenon yet.

News Release
Hubble sees “Comet Galaxy” being ripped apart by galaxy cluster
(Credit: NASA, ESA, Jean-Paul Kneib (Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille))


ESO's Very Large Telescope and the twin Keck Telescopes were used for optical spectroscopy and near-infrared photometry, which helped determine the age of the star-forming region.

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory were used jointly to confirm that the activity in the "Comet Galaxy" was due to vigorous star-formation and not a super-massive black hole.

The Hubble image was taken by Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 in October 2001 and is a composite of three observations through a blue filter (F450W, 12,000 seconds), a green filter (F606W, 4,000 seconds) and a near-infrared filter (F814W, 4,000 seconds).

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Black Hole (Paradox)

bubbles - from Stacey Whaley @ Intergalacticart

There is much speculation as to how the known or visible universe came to be, and how or what may be at the origin (or centre) of the cosmos driving the whole thing.

Blackholes are a theoretical body with massive density, which would explain how stars & galaxies spin, like the planets around the Sun, and the moons around planets.

However increasingly it is becoming evident that just as there are many types of supernovae, there may well be many types of blackhole, and depending on their neighbourhood they could grow to supermassive blackhole singularities, or evaporate into nothing at all.

These could be two phases (in Time) of the same event or result, or they could be two different types of blackholes with clearly different results. Ultimately though if the 'singularities' inside a blackhole can grow in size from matter that falls into the black hole, then their volume may well increase and the whole thing explode.

This could be one way that blackholes 'evaporate' and emit radiation. But where does the gravity go, to another dimension - or is gravity itself transformed, that is what we are looking for. If gravity can be created, then it follows that anti-gravity too - and as you may expect there are many applications to antigravity generating systems.

What is clear to us is that there may yet be millions of unobserved black hole singularities, which would account for a lot of the speculated missing mass of the universe, or that many may have evaporated - or transformed into dust? - which would explain where some of the mass has gone and gravity dissipated to.

Of course the ultimate answer could well be that the suspected singularity at the centre of the universe was never created or has long since evaporated, and the universe is moving from its own momentum - perhaps with no central gravity to hold its expansion - but rather the combined mass & gravity of the millions of stars and galaxies that populate it. And in this changing process of transformation, gravity and mass simply move from one place of the universe to another - or that gravity is dispersed (like gas & dust), and again accumulates at some other point into a massively dense object.

I would further add that there may also be a force no matter how weak at the ends of the visible universe, the periphery or cosmic event horizon, which contributes to creating something like surface tension, that enables all that is held within this bubble universe or visible universe, to preserve momentum and spin independent of what lays beyond - but still interacting with each other as a whole, like soap bubbles floating in Space.

Illustration of a black hole.

Image credit: Gallery of Tempolimit Lichtgesch windigkeit

In the mid 1970s, Stephen Hawking showed that black holes eventually evaporate away in a steady stream of featureless radiation containing no information. But if a black hole has completely evaporated, where has the information about it gone? This long standing question is known as the black hole information paradox.

more bubbles - from Stacey Whaley @ Intergalacticart

The no-hiding Theorem
If quantum information disappears from one place, it must have moved somewhere else. "The no-hiding theorem shows that there’s got to be new physics out there."
Professor Braunstein from York University uk
Evaporating micro-black-holes from Bee @ Backreaction.
LHC detector performs first test of fundamental forces by JoAnne.
For further insights, questions & comments one can visit
Quantum Gravity in The Lab - please stay on topic in comments!

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dialogues of Eide

A high-energy proton (yellow line) flung into a lower-energy proton in the hydrogen gas cloud. The green arrow represents the high-energy gamma ray that results from the proton collision. -Artwork by Sarah Ballantyne

In 2004 scientists were startled when they discovered that the center of our galaxy is emitting gamma rays.

Astrophysicists at The University of Arizona, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Adelaide (Australia) have discovered a mechanism that might produce these high-energy gamma rays. The black hole at the center of our Milky Way could be working like a cosmic particle accelerator, revving up protons that smash at incredible speeds into lower energy protons and creating high-energy gamma rays, they report.

When complete, the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland will be able to accelerate protons to seven trillion electronvolts. Our galaxy's black hole whips protons to energies as much as 100 trillion electronvolts, according to the team's new study. That's all the more impressive because "Our black hole is pretty inactive compared to massive black holes sitting in other galaxies," Ballantyne noted.

Even though the protons move close to the speed of light, their motion is so random that it takes several thousand years for the particles to travel beyond 10 light years of the black hole. After the high-energy protons escape the black hole environment, they fly off into the interstellar medium, where they collide with low-energy protons (hydrogen gas) in a smash-up so energetic that particles called 'pions' form. These particles of matter quickly decay into high-energy gamma rays that, like other radiation, travel in all directions.

"Ironically, even though our galaxy's central black hole does not itself abundantly eject hyper-relativistic plasma into the surrounding medium, this discovery may indirectly explain how the most powerful black holes in the universe, including quasars, produce their enormous jets extending over intergalactic proportions. The same particle slinging almost certainly occurs in all black-hole systems, though with much greater power earlier in the universe," Melia said.

A Particle Accelerator at Galactic Center? from Centauri Dreams
Milky Way Black Hole Is a Natural Particle Accelerator from Universe Today
Milky Way Black Hole May Be A Colossal 'Particle Accelerator' from Science Daily

Searching for Extra Dimensions
Possible extra-dimensional effect observable at collides.
A graviton leaves our 3-dimensional world for a short moment of time, just to come back and decay into a pair of photons.

The search for extra dimensions is not over yet. In fact, it has only just started. We are looking for the effects of extra dimensions in collisions that produce different types of particles, such as quarks. We are also looking for events where gravitons are produced in the collisions and then leave our three-dimensional world, possibly travelling off into one of the other dimensions. This would cause an apparent non-conservation of energy from the point of view of our three dimensional world.

We very well might see them in the next generation collider.
The LHC, that has been built at CERN (near Geneva, Switzerland) will allow us to ultimately probe the theory of large extra dimensions and either find them or show that the idea is actually wrong. But we will have to wait a little longer, before we learn that.

Where are my keys - Searching for Extra Dimensions
from Plato @ Dialogues of Eide.


In physics, a wormhole is a hypothetical topological feature of spacetime that is essentially a 'shortcut' through space and time. A wormhole has at least two mouths which are connected to a single throat. If the wormhole is traversable, matter can 'travel' from one mouth to the other by passing through the throat. While there is no observational evidence for wormholes, spacetimes containing wormholes are known to be valid solutions in general relativity.

I am inclined to 'believe' there is an arrow of Time.
That we cannot rewind Time (like on film, video or DVD) and, it would be peculiar to see people and cars moving backwards or rain pouring skyward.

We probably cannot 'travel' back in Time, after all even if we could travel at the speed of light and lived for a 163,000 years - it is unlikely that Supernova 1987A would have stood still waiting for us. We would still arrive there in 163,000 years Time or 326,000 years after the event took place. (unless there are shortcuts)
Evaporating micro-black-holes from Bee @ Backreaction.
The Principle of finite imagination-ii by B @ Backreaction.
LHC detector performs first test of fundamental forces by JoAnne.

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