Vital Clues to Unsolved Mysteries in Astrophysics Including Expansion of the Universe From Colliding Neutron Stars – SciTechDaily

An important breakthrough in how we can understand dead star collisions and the expansion of the Universe has been made by an international team, led by the University of East Anglia. They have discovered an unusual pulsar one of deep spaces magnetized spinning neutron-star lighthouses that emits highly focused radio waves from its magnetic poles. The newly discovered pulsar (known as PSR J1913+1102) is part of a binary system which means that it is locked in a fiercely tight orbit with another neutron star. Neutron stars are the dead stellar remnants of a supernova. They are made up of the most dense matter known packing hundreds of thousands of times the Earths mass into a sphere the size of a city. In around half a billion years the two neutron stars will collide, releasing astonishing amounts of energy in the form of gravitational waves and light. But the newly discovered pulsar is unusual because the masses of its two neutron stars are quite different with one far larger than the other. This asymmetric system gives scientists confidence that double neutron star mergers will provide vital clues about unsolved mysteries in astrophysics including a more accurate determination of the expansion rate of the Universe, known as the Hubble constant. The discovery, published in the journal Nature, was made using the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. Credit: Courtesy of Arecibo Observatory/University of Central Florida William Gonzalez and Andy Torres.

An important breakthrough in how we can understand dead star collisions and the expansion of the Universe has been made by an international team, led by the University of East Anglia.

They have discovered an unusual pulsar one of deep spaces magnetized spinning neutron-star lighthouses that emits highly focused radio waves from its magnetic poles.

The newly discovered pulsar (known as PSR J1913+1102) is part of a binary system which means that it is locked in a fiercely tight orbit with another neutron star.

The event caused gravitational-wave ripples through the fabric of space time, as predicted by Albert Einstein over a century ago.

Neutron stars are the dead stellar remnants of a supernova. They are made up of the most dense matter known packing hundreds of thousands of times the Earths mass into a sphere the size of a city.

In around half a billion years the two neutron stars will collide, releasing astonishing amounts of energy in the form of gravitational waves and light.

But the newly discovered pulsar is unusual because the masses of its two neutron stars are quite different with one far larger than the other.

This asymmetric system gives scientists confidence that double neutron star mergers will provide vital clues about unsolved mysteries in astrophysics including a more accurate determination of the expansion rate of the Universe, known as the Hubble constant.

The discovery, published today (July 8, 2020) in the journal Nature, was made using the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico.

Lead researcher Dr. Robert Ferdman, from UEAs School of Physics, said: Back in 2017, scientists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) first detected the merger of two neutron stars. The event caused gravitational-wave ripples through the fabric of space time, as predicted by Albert Einstein over a century ago.

Known as GW170817, this spectacular event was also seen with traditional telescopes at observatories around the world, which identified its location in a distant galaxy, 130 million light years from our own Milky Way.

Dr. Ferdman said: It confirmed that the phenomenon of short gamma-ray bursts was due to the merger of two neutron stars. And these are now thought to be the factories that produce most of the heaviest elements in the Universe, such as gold.

The power released during the fraction of a second when two neutron stars merge is enormous estimated to be tens of times larger than all stars in the Universe combined.

This matter is still a major mystery its so dense that scientists still dont know what it is actually made of. These densities are far beyond what we can reproduce in Earth-based laboratories.

So the GW170817 event was not surprising. But the enormous amount of matter ejected from the merger and its brightness was an unexpected mystery.

Dr. Ferdman said: Most theories about this event assumed that neutron stars locked in binary systems are very similar in mass.

Our new discovery changes these assumptions. We have uncovered a binary system containing two neutron stars with very different masses.

These stars will collide and merge in around 470 million years, which seems like a long time, but it is only a small fraction of the age of the Universe.

Because one neutron star is significantly larger, its gravitational influence will distort the shape of its companion star stripping away large amounts of matter just before they actually merge, and potentially disrupting it altogether.

This tidal disruption ejects a larger amount of hot material than expected for equal-mass binary systems, resulting in a more powerful emission.

Although GW170817 can be explained by other theories, we can confirm that a parent system of neutron stars with significantly different masses, similar to the PSR J1913+1102 system, is a very plausible explanation.

Perhaps more importantly, the discovery highlights that there are many more of these systems out there making up more than one in 10 merging double neutron star binaries.

Co-author Dr. Paulo Freire from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, said: Such a disruption would allow astrophysicists to gain important new clues about the exotic matter that makes up the interiors of these extreme, dense objects.

This matter is still a major mystery its so dense that scientists still dont know what it is actually made of. These densities are far beyond what we can reproduce in Earth-based laboratories.

The disruption of the lighter neutron star would also enhance the brightness of the material ejected by the merger. This means that along with gravitational-wave detectors such as the US-based LIGO and the Europe-based Virgo detector, scientists will also be able to observe them with conventional telescopes.

Dr. Ferdman said: Excitingly, this may also allow for a completely independent measurement of the Hubble constant the rate at which the Universe is expanding. The two main methods for doing this are currently at odds with each other, so this is a crucial way to break the deadlock and understand in more detail how the Universe evolved.


Reference: Asymmetric mass ratios for bright double neutron-star mergers by R. D. Ferdman, P. C. C. Freire, B. B. P. Perera, N. Pol, F. Camilo, S. Chatterjee, J. M. Cordes, F. Crawford, J. W. T. Hessels, V. M. Kaspi, M. A. McLaughlin, E. Parent, I. H. Stairs and J. van Leeuwen, 8 July 2020, Nature.DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2439-x

The research was led by UEA in collaboration with scientists at Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, Columbia University, Cornell University, Franklin and Marshall College, the University of Amsterdam, McGill University, West Virginia University, the University of British Columbia, the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory and the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON).

Asymmetric mass ratios for bright double neutron-star mergers is published in the journalNatureon July 8, 2020.

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Vital Clues to Unsolved Mysteries in Astrophysics Including Expansion of the Universe From Colliding Neutron Stars - SciTechDaily

Global Optical Telescope Market Insights And Extensive Research (2020-2025) : Celestron, Meade, Vixen Optics, TAKAHASHI, ASTRO-PHYSICS, Bushnell,…

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Astrophysicists May Have Discovered the Hidden Source of Mysterious Cosmic Neutrinos Seen on Earth – SciTechDaily

NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of Galaxy NGC 1068 with its active black hole shown as an illustration in the zoomed-in inset. A new model suggests that the corona around such supermassive black holes could be the source of high-energy cosmic neutrinos observed by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Excess neutrinos and missing gamma rays? Coronae of supermassive black holes may be the hidden sources of mysterious cosmic neutrinos seen on Earth.

The origin of high-energy cosmic neutrinos observed by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, whose detector is buried deep in the Antarctic ice, is an enigma that has perplexed physicists and astronomers. A new model could help explain the unexpectedly large flux of some of these neutrinos inferred by recent neutrino and gamma-ray data. A paper by Penn State researchers describing the model, which points to the supermassive black holes found at the cores of active galaxies as the sources of these mysterious neutrinos, appears June 30, 2020 in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Neutrinos are subatomic particles so tiny that their mass is nearly zero and they rarely interact with other matter, said Kohta Murase, assistant professor of physics and of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State and a member of Center for Multimessenger Astrophysics in the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos (IGC), who led the research. High-energy cosmic neutrinos are created by energetic cosmic-ray accelerators in the universe, which may be extreme astrophysical objects such as black holes and neutron stars. They must be accompanied by gamma rays or electromagnetic waves at lower energies, and even sometimes gravitational waves. So, we expect the levels of these various cosmic messengers that we observe to be related. Interestingly, the IceCube data have indicated an excess emission of neutrinos with energies below 100 teraelectron volt (TeV), compared to the level of corresponding high-energy gamma rays seen by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

Scientists combine information from all of these cosmic messengers to learn about events in the universe and to reconstruct its evolution in the burgeoning field of multimessenger astrophysics. For extreme cosmic events, like massive stellar explosions and jets from supermassive black holes, that create neutrinos, this approach has helped astronomers pinpoint the distant sources and each additional messenger provides additional clues about the details of the phenomena.

For cosmic neutrinos above 100 TeV, previous research by the Penn State group showed that it is possible to have concordance with high-energy gamma rays and ultra-high-energy cosmic rays which fits with a multimessenger picture. However, there is growing evidence for an excess of neutrinos below 100 TeV, which cannot simply be explained. Very recently, the IceCube Neutrino Observatory reported another excess of high-energy neutrinos in the direction of one of the brightest active galaxies, known as NGC 1068, in the northern sky.

Reference: Hidden Cores of Active Galactic Nuclei as the Origin of Medium-Energy Neutrinos: Critical Tests with the MeV Gamma-Ray Connection by Kohta Murase, Shigeo S. Kimura and Peter Mszros, 30 June 2020, Physical Review Letters.DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.125.011101

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Astrophysicists May Have Discovered the Hidden Source of Mysterious Cosmic Neutrinos Seen on Earth - SciTechDaily

Space has a diversity problem and big institutions like universities can do something about it – Space.com

Astronomy and physics have struggled with diversity and inclusion for as long as those fields have existed. But, as a recent report explained in depth, institutions have the power to improve.

The report, which was published in late 2019 by the American Institute of Physics' (AIP) National Task Force to Elevate African American Representation in Undergraduate Physics and Astronomy (TEAM-UP), pointed out inequalities in the two fields and outlined changes that institutions like universities can make in order to increase support for and participation by African American students in physics and astronomy.

So, why this report and this work is so important? "We never know where our next great idea is coming from," TEAM-UP Task Force member Tabbetha Dobbins, an assistant professor in the department of physics and astronomy at Rowan University, told Space.com.

To encapsulate the complex obstacles that African American students face in these fields and develop comprehensive solutions, TEAM-UP spent two years investigating the reasons African American students are underrepresented in physics. The report was motivated by findings showing that, according to the study, "the number and percentage of bachelor's degrees awarded to African Americans in these fields has been appallingly low."

As the report states, "the number and percentage of bachelors degrees awarded to African Americans in these fields," dropped "from about 5% in the late 1990s to less than 4% in recent years." The report added that over the past 20 years, while the number of bachelor's degrees in physics in the U.S. has dramatically increased overall, African American representation has not grown past levels observed in 1995.

The report found that the underrepresentation of African Americans in physics and astronomy is caused by two main factors: the lack of a supportive environment and financial challenges. "Solving these problems requires addressing systemic and cultural issues, and creating a large-scale change management framework," the report read.

The overall goal of the TEAM-UP report is to "at least double the number of bachelor's degrees in physics and astronomy awarded to African Americans by 2030," according to the report. Among the many key findings in the report is that fostering a sense of belonging in African American students in these fields is crucial for their success, and interactions with both faculty and peers can impact this sense of belonging.

The report's findings highlighted three major factors that are critical in supporting African American students, Dobbins told Space.com. First, students have to "feel a sense of belonging at the institution level and in the department," she said.

Second, the task force found that in order to persist in their chosen fields, African American students "must perceive themselves, and be perceived by others, as future physicists and astronomers," according to the report. Having that identify and being able to see themselves in that role is critical, Dobbins said.

"The third factor is effective teaching and mentoring students," Dobbins continued, adding that this will require inclusive approaches. Additionally, institutions can't just have "lone mentors," or individual faculty members who alone try to take on "all of the mentoring of students from diverse groups in the department," she said. "That's not sustainable."

The report analyzes systemic issues that persist for African American students and provides specific, detailed solutions that institutions can implement.

"Leaders in every institution of higher education, and every professional society representing a STEM discipline, should study this report and determine which recommendations make the most sense in their context," Edmund Bertschinger, a professor of physics at MIT who serves as a co-chair with TEAM-UP, told Space.com in an email.

However, Bertschinger added, predominantly white universities often have more resources to implement these recommended actions than Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). "This is compensated somewhat by the fact that many of the recommendations are already implemented at HBCUs," he said.

So, what is it really like for people who are part of marginalized groups working in these fields? Space.com spoke to a handful of researchers about their experiences in physics and astronomy and how being a part of a marginalized population has affected them both personally and professionally.

Naia Butler-Craig, a NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Fellow at Georgia Tech's High-Power Electric Propulsion Lab who was not involved in this report, shared her experiences and thoughts about these issues.

"It's definitely affected my comfort," she told Space.com. "It's not that I ever wanted to leave, it's more so that I was worried about people coming after me that would have to experience that."

Butler-Craig added that she didn't want those who have perpetrated harassment "to perpetuate that behavior to someone younger than me and push them out of a STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] field."

Sian Proctor, a STEM communicator, analog astronaut and geology, sustainability and planetary science professor at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona who was not involved in this report, reflected on the continued lack of diversity in speakers at space and science events, she told Space.com in an email.

"The biggest issue I face when I point out a lack of diversity for conference keynotes to my already included Caucasian friends is that they always say, 'You should say something.' Which makes me laugh," Proctor said. "You are at the table already so why aren't you saying something? We need white males to speak up and call out any lack of diversity and/or inclusion. They should have a list of people of color readily available to share when they do raise concerns so that they are part of the solution."

Lauren Chambers, a technology fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts who was not involved in this report, agreed with the findings from the report shared her thoughts with Space.com in an email.

"The report's findings agree with not only my own experiences in astronomy, but also with previous reading I've done on the culture of the field," Chambers told Space.com. "Systemic racism is wholly pervasive in astrophysics as it is in every academic field."

In 2019, Chambers submitted her 2017 undergraduate African American studies thesis as a white paper, called "A Different Kind of Dark Energy: Evidence for Placing Race and Gender in Physics," to the Astro2020 Decadal Survey. She also recently published a public letter on the topic of diversity and inclusion in astronomy titled "A Break-up Letter with Astronomy, From a Young Black Woman."

"Any individual experiences I've had brushing up against issues of discrimination are but symptoms of these larger problems," Chambers said. "In order to create a truly inclusive space for non-white students, astronomy must reimagine their systems, not just play whack-a-mole with the symptoms."

Isabel Rodriguez, an astrophysics graduate student at Oregon State University who also serves as vice president of the Black Graduate Student Association who was not involved in the report, also shared her experiences in the field.

"I graduated with my bachelors in physics in 2018, the only Black woman in my cohort. In my graduate institution, I am currently the only Black woman in my department," Rodriguez told Space.com in an email. "When I struggled during my first year of graduate school, I had professors who felt that I either wasnt studying hard enough or simply wasnt good enough to do physics."

Rodriguez ended up actually changing the course of her career because of these experiences. She shared this decision in a piece published July 2019 titled "Reclaiming my state of mind: Why I'm leaving my PhD program."

"In reality," she continued, "I felt isolated, unsupported, and lacked a sense of belonging. I had actually started at Oregon State as a Ph.D. student, but by the end of the year decided to switch tracks and Master out," Rodriguez said.

The American Institute of Physics' (AIP) National Task Force to Elevate African American Representation in Undergraduate Physics and Astronomy (TEAM-UP) published this report in 2019.

Follow Chelsea Gohd on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Space has a diversity problem and big institutions like universities can do something about it - Space.com

From cosmos to corona: an astrophysicist takes on the pandemic – Times Higher Education (THE)

If you had told Samuel Hinton six months ago that he would be spending half his working hours crunching corona data, he would probably have assumed you were talking about the plasma aura around some star.

Instead, the University of Queensland astrophysicist is leading a project to synthesise data on Covid-19 patients from 48 countries.

The skills that you get from astrophysics it turns out theyre fairly translatable, Dr Hinton said. In astrophysics we get raw, messy data that we cant use from a telescope. Wetake this data, homogenise it, process it [and] store it somewhere [so that] we can actually make use of it.

Its the same in the Covid collaboration. We take raw, messy data but instead of from a telescope, we take it from hospitals. You swap the telescope [for] 350 hospitals and hope you can get something of value.

As lead data analyst for the Covid-19 Critical Care Consortium, Dr Hinton has constructed what the Australian Academy of Science refers to as a data science pipeline. It ingests raw clinical data from around the world and processes it into a usable form for machine learning and statistical analysis.

Dr Hinton also built and maintained an interactive dashboard which aggregates the data and provides snapshot summaries for clinical teams. You could say: What is the chance that a person would develop this complication, whether theyre male or female, whether they come from the US or not?

The pandemic has bowled up new surprises for Dr Hinton, who was a contestant in the reality TV showAustralian Survivorduring his doctoral studies in 2018. Early this year he accepted a Chamberlain postdoctoral fellowship with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US. Im supposed to be there pretty soon, but obviously that isnt happening.

Hegot married in April and spent his wedding night plotting data for clinical staff at the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane. We were having the global consortium meeting the next night and needed the plots done.

The Academy has highlighted Dr Hintons efforts as an example of the unexpected spin-offs from Australias research strength in astronomy. Amid-term reviewof Australias 10-year plan for the discipline, overseen by the Academys National Committee for Astronomy, has found that Australias optical and radio observatories currently among the worlds best have fostered the application of advanced data analytics in completely unrelated fields.

Other by-products have included technologies that boost the output of solar farms, improve situational awareness and reduce vibrations in harsh environments.

Meanwhile, Australian researchers have played their part in some of the biggest astronomical discoveries of the past decade. They include the detection of gravitational waves and the use of mysterious fast radio bursts to find the universes missing matter floating around in interstellar space.

Review panel member Tamara Davis said that Australia had a natural advantage in astronomy research because of our radio-quiet skies and important southern hemisphere location. Many countries want to be involved in telescopes in Australia.

The review offers nine recommendations to consolidate Australias standing in the field. They include completing Australias component of the Square Kilometre Array radio observatory, funding Australian-built instrumentation for the Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile, laying the foundations for a gravitational wave detector in the southern hemisphere, and achieving full membership of the European Southern Observatory.


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From cosmos to corona: an astrophysicist takes on the pandemic - Times Higher Education (THE)

New map of the universe unveils a stunning X-ray view of the cosmos – Space.com

Wish you had X-ray vision? An extraordinary new map showcases the universe in striking, X-ray radiation.

Scientists created this stunning X-ray map of the universe using eROSITA (Extended Roentgen Survey with an Imaging Telescope Array), an instrument on the German-Russian satellite mission Spectrum-Rntgen-Gamma, or Spektr-RG.

The scientists completed a full sweep of the sky over the course of about six months, looking for sources of X-ray radiation a type of high-energy electromagnetic radiation. These X-ray sources include black holes, galaxy clusters and leftover remnants from supernova explosions.

In scouring the skies, eROSITA spotted over a million sources of X-ray radiation from all across the cosmos, with most of the sources being active galactic nuclei, or the luminous, compact region at the center of galaxies. This number of sources roughly doubles the number of known X-ray sources that have been discovered over the 60-year history of X-ray astronomy, according to a statement from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching, Germany. By studying clusters of galaxies with this new, detailed map, researchers hope to track how these cosmic structures grow.

"This all-sky image completely changes the way we look at the energetic universe," Peter Predehl, the Principal Investigator of eROSITA at MPE, said in the same statement. "We see such a wealth of detail the beauty of the images is really stunning."

Because it is not only stunning but incredibly detailed, this new X-ray map could "revolutionize" the way that we look at the cosmos, Kirpal Nandra, head of the high-energy astrophysics group at MPE, said in the same statement.

"With a million sources in just six months, eROSITA has already revolutionized X-ray astronomy, but this is just a taste of what's to come," Nandra said. "This combination of sky area and depth is transformational. We are already sampling a cosmological volume of the hot Universe much larger than has been possible before. Over the next few years, we'll be able to probe even further, out to where the first giant cosmic structures and supermassive black holes were forming."

Email Chelsea Gohd at cgohd@space.com or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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New map of the universe unveils a stunning X-ray view of the cosmos - Space.com

AstroDancing With The Stars | astrobites – Astrobites

Title: AstroDance: Engaging Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students in Astrophysics via Multimedia Performances

Authors: J. Nordhaus, M. Campanelli, J. Bochner, T. Warfield, H.-P. Bischof, J. Noel-Storr

First authors institution: Rochester Institute of Technology

Journal: Open Access here

Deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) students commonly come into and out of the classroom knowing less content than their hearing classmates (Marschark et al. 2008). As a direct consequence, DHH students earn STEM bachelor degrees at lower rates than their hearing classmates (15% DHH vs. 25% hearing); this in turn causes the DHH community to be underrepresented in STEM fields as a whole. It is important that we, as a scientific community, make science accessible and scientific careers attainable to all. One such method of making astronomy more inclusive to the DHH community is AstroDance!

What is AstroDance?

Created by a team of astrophysicists, science educators, dancers, computer programmers, and choreographers, AstroDance is a multi-media performance that incorporates both signed and visual components. Based largely around gravitational wave astronomy, each scientific section of this program starts with a short story narrated in English and American Sign Language (ASL) and is then followed by an interpretive dance with music and scientifically accurate images projected on the back of the stage. These images were largely taken from scientific work done by members of the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation at the Rochester Institute of Technology. See the video below from the authors of this paper summarizing their work and showing clips from a performance. AstroDance first premiered at the Little Theater in Rochester, NY as part of the Fringe Festival in 2012. Following this premiere was a year-long, 20-stop tour around the Northeastern states of the US.

What did audiences take away?

After each show, attendees were asked to complete a brief anonymous survey about their experience. In addition to demographic information {age, (binary) gender, race/ethnicity, & hearing status}, the survey asked participants to rate their enjoyment of the program, how much science they learned, and how much they participated in other science activities. Finally, survey participants were asked to describe the performance, share what they learned, and whether they had any comments.

Of the ~20 performances of AstroDance, 971 survey responses were collected. Though only binary gender options were presented, of the 971 responses, there were roughly equal numbers of boys/men and girls/women. 89% (866) participants offered ethnicity data (see Fig. 1 for a pie chart); all non-white ethnicity percentages are above the national average! Shown in Figure 2 is the distribution of hearing status of audience members by age. There were roughly equal numbers of DHH members as there were hearing.

When analyzing results from the scaled questions, the authors of todays paper enlisted an age cutoff of 22 years, as they expect a large majority of those responses are from students. The results from these three (3) questions are shown in Figure 3. Both the hearing and DHH groups equally enjoyed the performances, but the DHH group significantly learned more science from the performances and participated in more science related activities (p-values of 0.001 and 0.00001, respectively).

When analyzing the responses to the free-response questions, the authors chose to present a few representative responses for each in the paper. When asked how they might describe the performance to a friend or colleague, many of the responses said that this performance was a positive and complementary blend of art and science. A shared response was:

Different from regular performances I normally attend. There was narration, sign language interpretative audience interaction/participation, glow in the dark props. Yes, I learned that scientists and artists can work together to collaborate ideas/views.

Continuing on with the other free-response questions, when asked to explain something they had learned from the performance, many talked about the astrophysical objects taught in the show such as black holes and gravitational waves. The last free-response question allowed survey takers to leave any comments. The authors of the paper provided two given responses: This is great, creative, beautiful and didactic > do something please about cell biology and Artistic expression is a great way to teach an understanding of complex. scientific concepts. Beautiful costume design & props. Love the body movements forms!

What did AstroDance show?

Although dance is not usually someones idea of what science communication can be, this program has shown that it not only can be, but perhaps should be! The agreement between DHH and hearing students that they enjoyed the performances and learned a lot of science shows that AstroDance is an inclusive and effective science communication tool! The fact that DHH students learned more science than their hearing schoolmates highlights the importance of a program like AstroDance even more, as it shows that it was especially effective at engaging DHH audience members. Its important that we, as a scientific community, take every approach to make science accessible to all, especially by trying unconventional methods. AstroDance has offered us one way to make science, especially astronomy, more inclusive to the DHH community. I am excited to what AstroDance inspires us all to become!

About Huei SearsHuei Sears (she/her/hers) is a second-year graduate student at Ohio University studying astrophysics! Her research is focused on Gamma-Ray Burst host galaxies & how they fit into the mass-metallicity relationship. Previously she was at Michigan State University searching for the elusive period of B[e] supergiant, S18. In addition to research, she cares a lot about science communication, and is always looking for ways to make science more accessible. In her free time, she enjoys going to the gym, baking a new recipe, listening to Taylor Swift, watching the X-Files, and spending time with her little sister.

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AstroDancing With The Stars | astrobites - Astrobites

Nyx: Stellar Stream of Stars Discovered in Milky Way That Originated in Another Galaxy – SciTechDaily

Still from a simulation of individual galaxies forming, starting at a time when the Universe was just a few million years old. Credit: Hopkins Research Group, Caltech

Caltech researchers use deep learning and supercomputing to identify Nyx, a product of a long-ago galaxy merger.

Astronomers can go their whole career without finding a new object in the sky. But for Lina Necib, a postdoctoral scholar in theoretical physics at Caltech, the discovery of a cluster of stars in the Milky Way, but not born of the Milky Way, came early with a little help from supercomputers, the Gaia space observatory, and new deep learning methods.

Writing in Nature Astronomy this week, Necib and her collaborators describe Nyx, a vast new stellar stream in the vicinity of the Sun, that may provide the first indication that a dwarf galaxy had merged with the Milky Way disk. These stellar streams are thought to be globular clusters or dwarf galaxies that have been stretched out along its orbit by tidal forces before being completely disrupted.

The discovery of Nyx took a circuitous route, but one that reflects the multifaceted way astronomy and astrophysics are studied today.

Necib studies the kinematics or motions of stars and dark matter in the Milky Way. If there are any clumps of stars that are moving together in a particular fashion, that usually tells us that there is a reason that theyre moving together.

Since 2014, researchers from Caltech, Northwestern University, UC San Diego and UC Berkeley, among other institutions, have been developing highly-detailed simulations of realistic galaxies as part of a project called FIRE (Feedback In Realistic Environments). These simulations include everything scientists know about how galaxies form and evolve. Starting from the virtual equivalent of the beginning of time, the simulations produce galaxies that look and act much like our own.

Concurrent to the FIRE project, the Gaia space observatory was launched in 2013 by the European Space Agency. Its goal is to create an extraordinarily precise three-dimensional map of about one billion stars throughout the Milky Way galaxy and beyond.

The FIRE and FIRE-2 simulations follow the region that will become a single galaxy by the present time, tracing the evolution of dark matter and gas, which eventually turns into stars. Credit: Hopkins Research Group, Caltech

Its the largest kinematic study to date. The observatory provides the motions of one billion stars, she explained. A subset of it, seven million stars, have 3D velocities, which means that we can know exactly where a star is and its motion. Weve gone from very small datasets to doing massive analyses that we couldnt do before to understand the structure of the Milky Way.

The discovery of Nyx involved combining these two major astrophysics projects and analyzing them using deep learning methods.

Among the questions that both the simulations and the sky survey address is: How did the Milky Way become what it is today?

Galaxies form by swallowing other galaxies, Necib said. Weve assumed that the Milky Way had a quiet merger history, and for a while it was concerning how quiet it was because our simulations show a lot of mergers. Now, with access to a lot of smaller structures, we understand it wasnt as quiet as it seemed. Its very powerful to have all these tools, data and simulations. All of them have to be used at once to disentangle this problem. Were at the beginning stages of being able to really understand the formation of the Milky way.

A map of a billion stars is a mixed blessing: so much information, but nearly impossible to parse by human perception.

Before, astronomers had to do a lot of looking and plotting, and maybe use some clustering algorithms. But thats not really possible anymore, Necib said. We cant stare at seven million stars and figure out what theyre doing. What we did in this series of projects was use the Gaia mock catalogues.

The Gaia mock catalogue, developed by Robyn Sanderson (University of Pennsylvania), essentially asked: If the FIRE simulations were real and observed with Gaia, what would we see?

Necibs collaborator, Bryan Ostdiek (formerly at University of Oregon, and now at Harvard University), who had previously been involved in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project, had experience dealing with huge datasets using machine and deep learning. Porting those methods over to astrophysics opened the door to a new way to explore the cosmos.

At the LHC, we have incredible simulations, but we worry that machines trained on them may learn the simulation and not real physics, Ostdiek said. In a similar way, the FIRE galaxies provide a wonderful environment to train our models, but they are not the Milky Way. We had to learn not only what could help us identify the interesting stars in simulation, but also how to get this to generalize to our real galaxy.

The team developed a method of tracking the movements of each star in the virtual galaxies and labelling the stars as either born in the host galaxy or accreted as the products of galaxy mergers. The two types of stars have different signatures, though the differences are often subtle. These labels were used to train the deep learning model, which was then tested on other FIRE simulations.

After they built the catalogue, they applied it to the Gaia data. We asked the neural network, Based on what youve learned, can you label if the stars were accreted or not?' Necib said.

The model ranked how confident it was that a star was born outside the Milky Way on a range from 0 to 1. The team created a cutoff with a tolerance for error and began exploring the results.

This approach of applying a model trained on one dataset and applying it to a different but related one is called transfer learning and can be fraught with challenges. We needed to make sure that were not learning artificial things about the simulation, but really whats going on in the data, Necib said. For that, we had to give it a little bit of help and tell it to reweigh certain known elements to give it a bit of an anchor.

They first checked to see if it could identify known features of the galaxy. These include the Gaia sausage the remains of a dwarf galaxy that merged with the Milky Way about six to ten billion years ago and that has a distinctive sausage-like orbital shape.

It has a very specific signature, she explained. If the neural network worked the way its supposed to, we should see this huge structure that we already know is there.

The Gaia sausage was there, as was the stellar halo background stars that give the Milky Way its tell-tale shape and the Helmi stream, another known dwarf galaxy that merged with the Milky Way in the distant past and was discovered in 1999.

The model identified another structure in the analysis: a cluster of 250 stars, rotating with the Milky Ways disk, but also going toward the center of the galaxy.

Your first instinct is that you have a bug, Necib recounted. And youre like, Oh no! So, I didnt tell any of my collaborators for three weeks. Then I started realizing its not a bug, its actually real and its new.

But what if it had already been discovered? You start going through the literature, making sure that nobody has seen it and luckily for me, nobody had. So I got to name it, which is the most exciting thing in astrophysics. I called it Nyx, the Greek goddess of the night. This particular structure is very interesting because it would have been very difficult to see without machine learning.

The project required advanced computing at many different stages. The FIRE and updated FIRE-2 simulations are among the largest computer models of galaxies ever attempted. Each of the nine main simulations three separate galaxy formations, each with slightly different starting point for the sun took months to compute on the largest, fastest supercomputers in the world. These included Blue Waters at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), NASAs High-End Computing facilities, and most recently Stampede2 at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC).

The researchers used clusters at the University of Oregon to train the deep learning model and to apply it to the massive Gaia dataset. They are currently using Frontera, the fastest system at any university in the world, to continue the work.

Everything about this project is computationally very intensive and would not be able to happen without large-scale computing, Necib said.

Necib and her team plan to explore Nyx further using ground-based telescopes. This will provide information about the chemical makeup of the stream, and other details that will help them date Nyxs arrival into the Milky Way, and possibly provide clues on where it came from.

The next data release of Gaia in 2021 will contain additional information about 100 million stars in the catalogue, making more discoveries of accreted clusters likely.

When the Gaia mission started, astronomers knew it was one of the largest datasets that they were going to get, with lots to be excited about, Necib said. But we needed to evolve our techniques to adapt to the dataset. If we didnt change or update our methods, wed be missing out on physics that are in our dataset.

The successes of the Caltech teams approach may have an even bigger impact. Were developing computational tools that will be available for many areas of research and for non-research related things, too, she said. This is how we push the technological frontier in general.

Reference: Evidence for a vast prograde stellar stream in the solar vicinity by Lina Necib, Bryan Ostdiek, Mariangela Lisanti, Timothy Cohen, Marat Freytsis, Shea Garrison-Kimmel, Philip F. Hopkins, Andrew Wetzel and Robyn Sanderson, 6 July 2020, Nature Astronomy.DOI: 10.1038/s41550-020-1131-2

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Nyx: Stellar Stream of Stars Discovered in Milky Way That Originated in Another Galaxy - SciTechDaily

A forty-year-old puzzle about the stars is solved – The Hindu

A forty-year-old puzzle regarding the production of lithium in stars has been solved by Indian researchers. Stars, as per known mechanisms of evolution, actually destroy lithium as they evolve into red giants. Planets were known to have more lithium than their stars as is the case with the Earth-Sun pair. However, leading to a contradiction, some stars were found that were lithium-rich. The new work by Bharat Kumar, currently a post doctoral fellow at the National Astronomical Observatories of China, Beijing, and an international team of co-workers shows that, in fact, when stars grow beyond their Red Giant stage into what is known as the Red Clump stage, they produce lithium in what is known as a Helium Flash and this is what enriches them with lithium. The study has been published in the journal Nature Astronomy on July 7.

Lithium, a light element commonly used today in communication device technology, has an interesting story. It was first produced in the Big Bang, around 13.7 billion years ago when the universe came into being, along with other elements. While the abundance of other elements grew millions of times, the present abundance of lithium in the universe is only four times the original [Big Bang] value. It is actually destroyed in the stars. The Sun, for instance, has about a factor of 100 lower amount of lithium than the Earth. About 40 years ago, a few large stars were spotted that were lithium-rich. This was followed by further discoveries of lithium-rich stars, and that posed a puzzle if stars do not produce lithium, how do some stars develop to become lithium rich?

The planet engulfment theory was quite popular. For example, Earth-like planets may increase the stars lithium content when they plunge into [their] stars atmosphere when the latter become Red Giants. I was not comfortable with this idea, said Professor Eswar Reddy, Director of India Thirty Meter Telescope Centre, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru, who led the study.

Prof. Reddy has been working on this puzzle for nearly 20 years now, and had, along with his students, devised a method of measuring lithium content using low-resolution spectra in a large number of stars, with facilities provided at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics.

For the present study, the group studied over 200,000 stars using the Galactic Archaeology survey of the Anglo-Australian Telescope, Australia. This is a dedicated facility for obtaining high-resolution spectra for a large number of stars, explains Prof. Reddy. This is the first study to demonstrate that lithium abundance enhancement among low mass giant stars is common. Until now, it was believed that only about 1% of giants are lithium rich. Secondly, the team has shown that as the star evolves beyond the Red Giant stage, and before it reaches the Red Clump stage, there is a helium flash which produces an abundance of lithium. Lastly, they set a lower limit for helium abundance which will classify the star as lithium-rich. This value is about 250 times lower than the previous limit.

The study challenges the present understanding of nucleosynthesis in stars. Our next study may concentrate on helium-flash nucleosynthesis and how lithium escapes from destruction in the interior of stars and dredges-up to the surface, said Prof. Reddy.

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Astronomers spot mysterious objects in deep space, say unable to explain what it is – DNA India

A team of researchers headed by kectes Ray Norris, Professor of Applied Data Science in Astrophysics for Western Sydney discovered four mysterious circular objects made of radio waves in deep space.

The discovery was made while the astronomers were mapping the night sky as part of Evolutionary Map of the Universe (EMU) project. As these objects were brighter alon the edges, the astronomers named them odd radio circles or ORCs.

The astronomers stated that the four ORCs are only visible in radio wavelengths. They are invisible in X-ray, optical, or infrared wavelengths.

"We have found an unexpected class of astronomical objects which have not previously been reported, in the Evolutionary Map of the Universe Pilot survey, using the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope. The objects appear in radio images as circular edge-brightened discs about one arcmin diameter and do not seem to correspond to any known type of object." the astronomers cited in their paper.

"Circular features are well-known in radio astronomical images, and usually represent a spherical object such as a supernova remnant, a planetary nebula, a circumstellar shell, or a face-on disc such as a protoplanetary disc or a star-forming galaxy," it further added.

"They may also arise from imaging artefacts around bright sources caused by calibration errors or inadequate deconvolution. Here we report the discovery of a class of circular feature in radio images that do not seem to correspond to any of these known types of object or artefact, but rather appear to be a new class of astronomical object," the statement further read.

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Astronomers spot mysterious objects in deep space, say unable to explain what it is - DNA India

Barron inducted into Spring Valley Elementary’s Foundation Hall of Fame – Bureau County Republican

SPRING VALLEY - Spring Valley Elementary School is proud of the districts rich history.

Charles Palia played a major role in establishing the school district and he became the Spring Valley Elementary Foundation's first inductee into the Spring Valley C.C.S.D. Foundation Honors Hall of Fame in 2019.

The Foundation announced Darcy Barron as the the 2020 inductee in the virtual awards program that was held Thursday, July 9.

Barron grew up in Spring Valley and began her education at Lincoln Elementary School. She was always a straight A student, but her top scores on the fifth grade Illinois State Achievement Tests encouraged her teacher, Mrs. Hillstrom, to allow her to advance her studies at her own pace.

In sixth grade at JFK, Barron followed the same accelerated program. By the time she entered seventh grade, it was apparent to the teachers and staff that she should be allowed to skip seventh grade. She took the leap and continued with her extracurricularactivities as a seventh-grade cheerleader, and participated in girls basketball, volleyball, track, band and swing choir.

She shared valedictorian honors at eighth grade graduation.

At Hall High School, Barron continued her straight A streak. She also continued with sports, becoming track captain her senior year and setting a school record in the triple jump. She worked summers as a lifeguard at Spring Valley pool and helped with her familys business - Graphic Electronics - part-time during the school year.

She took the ACT twice to prepare for college applications, scoring 34.5 in her first attempt, and a perfect 36 on the second attempt. Only 134 students out of over a million who took the test that year achieved perfect scores. At graduation she shared valedictorian honors, graduating in 2004.

Barron attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, joining her two older sisters. She chose to major in Engineering Physics, following a passion for physics and cosmology first discovered while reading science magazines from the library as a child.

She became involved in research soon after arriving at U of I, beginning as a research assistant in professor Les Allen's materials science research group. Her undergraduate years at U of I also included two summers working for LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) at Caltech and participation in the Intel Scholars undergraduate research program during the academic year. She graduated with honors in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Physics, with a minor in Astronomy.

Barron continued her physics education, entering the PhD program at the University of California, San Diego in 2008. She joined a class of 27 students from all over the U.S. and around the world, but she was only one of two women. The other woman in the class grew up in Poland, but had a similar strong interest in cosmology. They remain close friends today.

Barron joined professor Brian Keatings experimental cosmology group as a graduate research assistant in 2009. The group builds telescopes and analyzes their data to measure the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), with the goal of discovering new properties of our universe.

In 2011, she helped commission a new CMB experiment, known as POLARBEAR, and continued to help design the next series of telescopes necessary to expand and improve the experiment. The group worked towards adding two more telescopes known as the Simons Array, named for funding through the Simons Foundation and its founder, mathematician and hedge fund manager Jim Simons.

When she first arrived at the experiment's new location in Chile, the observatory was just shipping containers and a bare telescope structure. By the time Barron graduated in 2015, the group had completed the initial CMB observations and published exciting new results, detecting the signal they had set out to measure, the B-mode gravitational lensing signal.

In 2015, after finishing her Ph.D. at UC San Diego, Barron moved to UC Berkeley to continue working on the POLARBEAR/Simons Array project under an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics postdoctoral fellowship. The fellowship supported her continued research as well as expanded involvement in education and outreach. Through the Multiverse group at UC Berkeleys Space Sciences Lab, she led an NSF-funded summer research experience program for undergraduates, aimed at first-generation college students and community college students.

The program brought a group of students to the lab over the summer to complete a research project in support of one of the NASA missions or other projects at the lab.

Barron received an offer to become an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M. in 2018. In addition to teaching physics courses, she is building up her research program.

She has designed and built a custom lab space, which features a new refrigeration system for cooling detectors within 0.01 degrees of absolute zero. She also continues her work with the POLARBEAR/Simons Array project, traveling to Chile three times in the past two years.

An additional project was funded in 2019 through the UNM Women in STEM awards, with the title Improving Physics Retention Rates through Early Undergraduate Research Experiences at UNM. Through this program, Barron aims to give students better context for their physics course work in the form of independent research projects.

New Mexico was a natural fit for Barron because she enjoys spending time in the mountains: backpacking, hiking and stargazing. In addition to spending significant time in the mountains of Chile, she has traveled frequently to Japan to work with collaborators building instruments for POLARBEAR/Simons Array. She has also had the opportunity to travel in Europe and Australia for cosmology conferences.

A favorite part of traveling for her is trying new foods, whether its exotic dishes at restaurants or exploring new snacks at a local grocery store. A memorable snack was fried pasta chips from a 7-Eleven in Japan. One of her absolute favorite treats is still Spring Valley Bakery cookies.

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Barron inducted into Spring Valley Elementary's Foundation Hall of Fame - Bureau County Republican

Virtual Women in STEM event on tap at science center – The Daily Times

PITTSBURGH Carnegie Science Center announces the Women in STEM Speaker Series, a weekly virtual event featuring interactive conversations with inspiring role models who have established themselves as experts in a variety of STEM fields. The series will be hosted by the science center through Facebook Live at 11 a.m. every Wednesday through Sept. 30.

Recordings of the conversations will be available on YouTube following the livestream.

The series is supported by an IF/THEN Gender Equity Grant from the Association of Science and Technology Centers and IF/THEN, an initiative of Lyda Hill Philanthropies. This program awarded funding to 26 science and technology centers to launch projects aimed at increasing the representation of women and gender minorities.

Our hope for this series is not only to celebrate the achievements of women and gender minorities in STEM, but to inspire young people who often dont see themselves represented in these fields, said Jason Brown, director of the science Center.

Feature conversations:

Wednesday: Wendy Bohon, geologist and science communication specialist at Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology;

July 22: Liz Engler-Chiurazzi, research assistant professor at West Virginia University Department of Neuroscience;

July 29: Dr. Rachel Levine, secretary of health for Pennsylvania;

Aug. 5: Roselin Rosario-Melendez, associate principal chemist and project leader at LOreal;

Aug. 12: Rika Wright Carlsen, associate professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at Robert Morris University;

Aug. 19: Ellen Bachman, inside sales engineer at Eaton;

Aug. 26: Kay Savage, senior data scientist at Spotify;

Sept. 2: Chavonda Jacobs-Young, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agricultures Agricultural Research Service;

Sept. 9: Sandhya Rao, professor of astrophysics at the University of Pittsburgh;

Sept. 16: Angela Cupelli, pediatric oncology and bone marrow transplant nurse;

Sept. 23: Mercy Shitemi, senior systems analyst at Zimmer Biomet; and

Sept. 30: Dr. Natasha Tilston-Lunel, postdoctoral associate at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research.

Viewers will be able to submit questions during the livestream or in advance by e-mailing Kaitlyn Zurcher at ZurcherK@CarnegieScienceCenter.org.

A sign language interpreter will be present for each.

The grant also will support Girls Rock Science, an event hosted at the science center in September that will celebrate women in STEM and encourage girls to pursue STEM careers. Details will be announced later this summer.

For information on the speaker series, go to carnegiesciencecenter.org/programs/women-in-stem-speaker-series/.

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Virtual Women in STEM event on tap at science center - The Daily Times

A Giant Galaxy Seen Lighting Up the Universe Shortly After the Big Bang – Universe Today

About 370,000 years after the Big Bang, the Universe experienced a period that cosmologists refer to as the Cosmic Dark Ages. During this period, the Universe was obscured by pervasive neutral gas that obscured all visible light, making it invisible to astronomers. As the first stars and galaxies formed over the next few hundred millions of years, the radiation they emitted ionized this plasma, making the Universe transparent.

One of the biggest cosmological mysteries right now is when cosmic reionization began. To find out, astronomers have been looking deeper into the cosmos (and farther back in time) to spot the first visible galaxies. Thanks to new research by a team of astronomers from University College London (UCL), a luminous galaxy has been observed that was reionizing the intergalactic medium 13 billion years ago.

The research was presented last week (July 2nd) during the annual meeting of the European Astronomical Society (EAS) because of the pandemic, this years meeting was virtual. During the course of their presentation, RomainMeyer (a PhD student at UCL and the lead author on the study) and his colleagues shared their findings, which is the first solid evidence of a galaxy reionizing a bubble of gas on its own 13 billion years ago.

The team responsible for this discovery was led by Romain Meyer, a Ph.D. student with the UCL Astrophysics Group. He was joined by UCL researchers Dr. Nicolas Laporte, and Prof. Richard S Ellis, as well as Prof. Anne Verhamme and Dr. Thibault Garel of the University of Geneva. Their findings are also the subject of a paper that was recently submitted to The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Studying galaxies that existed during this early period in the Universe is essential to understanding the origins of the cosmos as well as its subsequent evolution. According to our current cosmological models, the first galaxies formed from coalescing stellar clusters, which were in turn formed when the first stars in the Universe came together.

Over time, these galaxies blasted out the radiation that stripped the neutral gas in the intergalactic medium (IGM) of its electrons (aka. the ionization process). Astronomers know this because we have clear evidence for it, in the form of the Cosmic Dark Ages and the way the Universe is transparent today. But the key questions of how and when this all occurred remain unknown. As Dr. Meyer told Universe Today via email:

By looking at distant galaxies, we look into the early Universe, as the light has traveled for billions of years before reaching us. This is fantastic as we can look at what galaxies were like billions of years ago, but it comes with several drawbacks.

For starters, Meyer explained, distant objects are very faint and can only be observed using the most powerful ground-based and space-based telescopes. At this distance, theres also the tricky issue of redshift, where the expansion of the cosmos causes light from distant galaxies to have its wavelength stretched towards the red end of the spectrum.

In the case of galaxies that several billion years old, the light has been shifted to the point that it is only visible infrared (particularly the UV light Meyer and his colleagues were looking for). In order to get a good look at A370p_z1, a luminous galaxy 13 billion light-years away, the team consulted Using data from the Hubble Frontier Fields program which astronomers are still analyzing.

The Hubble data suggested that this galaxy was very redshifted, indicating that it was particularly ancient. They then made follow-up observations with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to get a better sense of this galaxys spectra. In particular, they looked for the bright line thats emitted by ionized hydrogen, known as the Lyman-alpha line. Said Meyer:

The big surprise was to find that this line, detected at 9480 Angstroms, was a double line. This is extremely rare to find in early galaxies, and this is only the fourth galaxy that we know of to have a double Lyman-alpha line in the first billion years. The nice thing with double Lyman-alpha lines is that you can use them to infer a very important quantity of early galaxies: what fraction of energetic photons they leak into the intergalactic medium.

Another big surprise was the fact that A370p_z1 appeared to be letting 60% to 100% of its ionized photons into intergalactic space, and was probably responsible for ionizing the bubble IGM around it. Galaxies that are closer to the Milky Way typically have escape fractions of about 5% (50% in some rare cases), but observations of the IGM indicate that early galaxies must have had a 10 to 20% escape fraction on average.

This discovery was extremely important because it could help resolve an ongoing debate in cosmological circles. Until now, the questions of when and how reionization occurred has produced two possible scenarios. In one, it was a population of numerous faint galaxies leaking about 10% of their energetic photons. In the other, it was an oligarchy of luminous galaxies with a much larger percentage (50% or more) of escaping photons.

In either case, the evidence has so far suggested that the first galaxies were very different from those today. Discovering a galaxy with nearly 100% escape was really nice because it confirms what astrophysicists suspected: early galaxies were very different from nowadays objects, and leaking energetic photons much more efficiently, said Meyer.

Studying reionization-era galaxies for Lyman-alpha lines has always difficult because of the way they are surrounded by neutral gas that absorbs that signature hydrogen emission. However, we now have strong evidence that reionization was complete 800 million years after the Big Bang, and that it was likely that a few luminous galaxies were responsible.

If what Meyer and his colleagues observed is typical of reionization-era galaxies, then we can assume that reionization was caused by a small group of galaxies that created large bubbles of ionized gas around them that grew and overlapped. As Meyer explained, this discovery could point the way towards the creation of a new cosmological model that accurately predicts how and when major changes in the early Universe took place:

This discovery confirms that early galaxies could be extremely efficient at leaking ionizing photons, which is an important hypothesis of our understanding of cosmic reionization the epoch when the intergalactic medium, 13 billion years ago, transitioned from neutral to ionized (e.g. electrons were ripped off hydrogen atoms by these energetic photons).

According to Meyer, more objects like A370p_z1 need to be found so astronomers can establish the average escape fractions of early galaxies. In the meantime, the next step will be to determine why these early galaxies were so efficient at leaking energetic photons. Several scenarios have been suggested, and getting a better look at the early Universe will allow astronomers to test them.

As Meyer was sure to note, a lot of that will depend upon next-generation telescopes that will be taking to space very soon. The most notable of these is the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which (after multiple delays) is still scheduled to launch sometime next year. Herein lies another significance for studies like these, which is how they will help the James Webb team decide what cosmological mysteries to investigate.

With the James Webb Space Telescope, we will follow-up this target deeper in the infrared to get access to what was emitted originally in the optical light, said Meyer. That will give us more insight into the physical mechanisms at play in early galaxies. JWSTs mission is limited in time, and thats why discovering these extreme objects now is so important: by knowing which objects are peculiar or extreme in the first billion years of our Universe, we will know what to look at when JWST is finally launched!

Exciting times lie ahead for astronomers, astrophysicists, exoplanet-hunters, SETI researchers, and cosmologists. Its hard to know who should be most excited, but something tells me that would be like asking a parent which of their children they love most. Inevitably, the answer is always, all of them!

Further Reading: EAS

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Research Fellow, Data Analytics job with QUEENS UNIVERSITY BELFAST | 212927 – Times Higher Education (THE)

Application closing date:03/08/2020Salary:33,797 to 35,845 per annumJob category/type:Research

Job description

As part of a new Data Analytics Research & Exploitation (DARE) initiative between QUB and the Northern Ireland Strategic Investment Board (SIB), this post will contribute to the delivery of research and data analytics-led solutions addressing a wide range of applications across the Northern Ireland public sector and economy. The work will typicallyinvolve problem definition, data sourcing, research and development of innovative analytical solutions and deployment of new applications to meet end-user needs.

The post is fully funded by the Northern Ireland Strategic Investment Board (SIB) for a two-year period.

The successful candidate must have:

For full job details and criteria please see the Candidate Information link on our website by clicking apply.You must clearly demonstrate how you meet the criteria when you submit your application. For further information please contact Resourcing Team, Queen's University Belfast, BT7 1NN.Telephone (028) 9097 3044 or emailresourcing@qub.ac.uk

Queens University Belfast is a driver of innovation based on our talented, multinational workforce. Throughout the University, our academics are collaborating across disciplines to develop new discoveries and insights, working with outside agencies and institutions on projects of international significance. We are connected and networked with strategic partnerships across the world, helping us to expand our impact on wider society locally, nationally and globally. The University is committed to attracting, retaining and developing the best global talent within an environment that enables them to realise their full potential.

The School has a commitment of becoming an academic home to researchers with a highly diverse cultural and professional background. It takes pride in its equal opportunity provision and in its work towards gender equality. This is demonstrated by the fact that Mathematics at Queen's was the first in the discipline to be granted a silver Athena SWAN award. We very much look forward to continuing to expand our reputation of an internationally leading academic discipline in a dynamic and vibrant research environment.We are ranked 1st in the UK for knowledge transfer partnerships, (Innovate UK) 9th in the UK for University facilities (Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2018) and 14th in the UK for research quality (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019).

Based in Belfast, a modern capital city, our beautiful campus is surrounded by abundant acres of parkland and is renowned as one of the safest and affordable cities in the UK. The choice of local Schools from pre-nursery upwards are some of the best available, and lovers of the outdoors can enjoy any number of activities from rowing and kayaking to top class golf among many others. We are immensely proud of what our city and our University will offer you.

Focussed research is pursued in the following fields: Mathematics, represented by the Mathematical Sciences Research Centre; Theoretical Physics, which includes the Centre for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (CTAMOP) and the Atomistic Simulation Centre (ASC); Experimental Physics, which includes the Centre for Nano-structured Media (CNM) and the Centre for Plasma Physics (CPP); Astrophysics, represented by the Astrophysics Research Centre (ARC). Research in Mathematics is represented by the Mathematical Sciences Research Centre (MSRC) grouped around the following main themes: Algebra, Analysis, Data Science, Optimization and Operational Research, Statistics, Topology and Geometry.

The School has over 900 registered students. We deliver a wide range of innovative undergraduate programmes, including the MSc Data Analytics, and a very popular BSc and MSci in Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research.

The University is committed to equality of opportunity and to selection on merit.We welcome applications from all sections of society and particularly from people with a disability.

Fixed term contract posts are available for the stated period in the first instance but, in particular circumstances, may be renewed or made permanent, subject to availability of funding.

Candidate CandidateAbout the SchoolAbout the PIInformation for International ApplicantsNote to EEA Applicants on Brexit

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Research Fellow, Data Analytics job with QUEENS UNIVERSITY BELFAST | 212927 - Times Higher Education (THE)

How to see Comet NEOWISE in the night sky this month – Space.com

The early reviews are in: Comet NEOWISE is a hit!

Those who have gotten up before sunrise to gaze into the twilight skies have been greeted by the best comet performance for Northern Hemisphere observers since the 1997 appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp. Indeed, NEOWISE (catalogued C/2020 F3), emphatically ended the nearly quarter-century lack of spectacular comets.

Early fears of another fizzler like comets ATLAS and SWAN quickly eased during June when NEOWISE proved to be an intrinsically bright comet with a highly condensed core. It brightened 100-fold from June 9, when as a seventh-magnitude object it disappeared into the glare of the sun, to June 27, when it appeared in the field of view of the LASCO-3 camera on NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory shining at second-magnitude.

Even before Comet NEOWISE arrived at perihelion its closest point to the sun observers could glimpse it very low to the northeast horizon, immersed deep in bright twilight, just before sunrise on July 1.

Related: The 9 most brilliant comets ever seen

The comet arrived at perihelion on July 3, sweeping to within 27.7 million miles (44.5 million km) of the sun and is now heading back out to the outer reaches of space. Nonetheless, the comet continues to evolve and its tail continues to grow.

Until now, the comet has been accessible only to those waking up at the break of dawn and scanning the sky near the northeast horizon. The comet has appeared to rise tail-first, followed by its bright head or coma, shining as bright as a first-magnitude star. So far, the comet has had to compete with low altitude, bright twilight and the light of a nearly-full moon. Some have been stymied from getting a good look at NEOWISE because of these factors, or perhaps because of poor weather. But things are going to be getting better for skywatchers in the days ahead.

As veteran comet observer Terry Lovejoy commented to Space.com: "The best is yet to come!"

Although the comet is moving away from the sun and beginning to fade, that dimming initially will likely be slow, because it is now approaching the Earth. It will be closest to our planet on the evening of July 22 ("perigee"), when it will be 64.3 million miles (103.5 million km) away. Thereafter, fading will be more rapid as the comet will then be receding from both the Earth and the sun.

The brightness of a sky object is based on magnitude. Bright stars are ranked "first magnitude." The star Deneb in the Summer Triangle falls into this ranking. The fairly bright stars are of second magnitude. Polaris, the North Star, is a second-magnitude star. A star of third magnitude is considered of medium brightness. Megrez, the star that joins the handle and bowl of the Big Dipper falls into this category.

Based on a special power-law brightness formula, astronomer Daniel Green at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has forecast how bright NEOWISE should appear in the coming days ahead. His forecast places the comet at first magnitude from now through July 11; second magnitude from July 12 through July 17 and third magnitude from July 18 through July 22.

As a morning object, the comet's best views will come during a three-day stretch on the mornings of July 11, 12 and 13, when it will stand 10 degrees above the northeast horizon, 80 minutes before sunrise the beginning of nautical twilight. Your clenched fist held at arm's length measures approximately 10 degrees in width. So, on these three mornings, the head of Comet NEOWISE will appear about "one fist" up from the northeast horizon.

The sky should appear reasonably dark at that time with only the light of the last quarter moon providing any interference. As the minutes tick off, the comet will be getting higher, but the dawn sky will be getting increasingly brighter as well.

After July 13, NEOWISE will drop rapidly lower and swing more toward the north-northeast. By July 18, it will appear only 5 degrees above the horizon at the start of nautical twilight. And only a few mornings later its altitude will have become too low to see it at all in pre-sunrise sky.

But as its morning visibility diminishes, there is good news: Comet NEOWISE will become prominent in the evening sky after sunset. That will also mean a much larger audience will be able to see it during "prime-time" viewing hours instead of having to awaken during the wee hours of the early morning.

The first good opportunity for evening viewing begins on July 12, when the head of the comet will stand 5 degrees above the north-northwest horizon, 80 minutes after sunset (the end of nautical twilight). By July 14 its altitude will have already doubled to 10 degrees, and by July 19 it will have doubled yet again to 20 degrees up by the end of nautical twilight. By then it will have moved to above the northwest horizon.

So, we at Space.com feel that the best time to view the comet during the evening will come during the July 14-19 time frame.

We also strongly recommend that observers should seek the most favorable conditions possible. Even a bright comet, like this one, can be obliterated by thin horizon clouds, haze, humid air, smoke, twilight glow and especially city lights. We especially emphasize that last factor: the farther away you get from a metropolitan area, the darker your sky and the better your view of NEOWISE. Binoculars will enhance your view.

And more good news: No moonlight will brighten the sky, as the moon will be a waning crescent and visible only in the morning sky through July 20. On successive July evenings the comet will grow fainter, but it will be farther from the sun, setting later and visible in a darker sky. As we move into August, the comet will be very well placed for observers with small telescopes.

Related: Dazzling Comet NEOWISE spotted by NASA sun-studying probe

As for the comet's tail, so far it has displayed a beautiful, gently curved tail of dust which many observers using binoculars and small telescopes have remarked has shown a noticeable yellowish tinge. A much fainter ion (gas) tail accompanies the dust tail. So far the dust tail measures about 4 or 5 degrees in length, but it continues to slowly lengthen and should get more easily seen as viewed against a darker sky and as the comet draws closer to the Earth.

In a comet-watching forum, Minnesota amateur astronomer Bob King wrote: "Comet NEOWISE was astonishingly beautiful this morning (July 7) with a strongly bifurcated (split) tail. Forgive my ignorance, but what causes the bifurcation?"Comet expert John Bortle of Stormville, NY provides us with the answer:

"The dark vacancy that appears to originate just behind the comet's head and extendsup the middle of the dust tail is a fairly rare cometary featuregenerallyreferred to by 19thcentury astronomers as, 'the shadow of the nucleus.' Of course, it is not truly a shadowat all, but rather a vacancy in the center of the dust tail, a regionlargely devoid of cometary dust," Bortle told Space.com in an email.

"In a sense, one can imagine the tail is like a thick-walled hollowtubewithitswalls impregnated with reflective dust that is being illuminated by sunlight. Would-be observersof the cometshould try to spot this rare feature soon, as it is unlikely to be visible once the comet starts fading significantly," Bortle added.

What more can we say? It isn't often we get a sight like this. "COMET get it!"

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York'sHayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy forNatural History magazine, theFarmers' Almanacand other publications. Follow uson Twitter@Spacedotcomand onFacebook.

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How to see Comet NEOWISE in the night sky this month - Space.com

Bengaluru scientists find out where the Lithium in your smartphone came from – Deccan Herald

How did lithium a metal integral to modern life, thanks to long-duration batteries come to the Earth?

This has been a long-held scientific puzzle that has now been cracked by astrophysicists from Bengaluru in collaboration with their international partners.

Analysing data from a galactic survey of 100,000 stars, researchers at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics have discovered that all low-mass Sun-like stars produce lithium from an internal process known as helium flash when the gas was cooked at high temperature inside the stellar ovens.

Such lithium generating stars would have a mass of up to two Solar masses or twice the weight of the Sun.

The discovery published in the Nature Astronomy on Monday sets aside a four-decades-old theory according to which only 1% of the stars produce lithium though little was known about the process.

Our discovery shows that any low mass stars where helium flash takes place will produce lithium. This challenges the long held idea that stars only destroy lithium during their lifetime. Our work also implies that the Sun itself will manufacture lithium in the future, which is not predicted by any models, indicating that there is some physical process missing in stellar theory. B Eswar Reddy, IIA professor and one of the authors of the paper told DH.

The origin of lithium - the only metal created from the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago was a mystery because stars with a temperature of 2.5 million degrees Kelvin annihilate it, leaving the scientists to wonder where it comes from.

Over the course of time, the lithium content in the physical Universe has increased by about a factor of four which is meagre compared to the rest of the elements like carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, nickel and so on which grew about a million times over the lifetime of the Universe.

Stars are primary contributors to this significant enhancement of these heavier elements through mass ejections and stellar explosions. Lithium, however, is understood to be an exemption! As per the current understanding, based on todays best models, lithium in stars like the Sun only gets destroyed over their lifetime.

"This was a great puzzle that existed for four decades because as soon as lithium was produced, it was destroyed, Reddy said.

Partnering with the researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Monash University, Australia and Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, the Bengaluru astrophysicists have not only demonstrated the genesis of lithium in the cosmic cauldrons, but also proposed an explanation for the underlying process.

"The result is potentially very important for the cosmos since the observations question the existing wisdom that limits the amount of lithium that could be expected to be formed and retained in stars (stellar nucleosysnthesis). It points to possible lack of understanding how light nuclei like lithium are cooked in the stellar furnaces," commented astrophysicist Tarun Sourdeep, a professor at the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research, Pune, who is not associated with the study.

Reddy said the work is far from over as the team would now seek to find an answer to another mystery how did the lithium survive in such stars with superlative temperature.

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Bengaluru scientists find out where the Lithium in your smartphone came from - Deccan Herald

International Astrophysics Collaboration Discovers Quasar Jets Are Particle Accelerators Thousands of Light-Years Long – SciTechDaily

Composite image of Centaurus A, showing the jets emerging from the galaxys central black hole, together with the associated gamma radiation. Credit: ESO/WFI (Optical); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (Submillimetre); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray), H.E.S.S. collaboration (Gamma)

An international collaboration bringing together over 200 scientists from 13 countries has shown that the very high-energy gamma-ray emission from quasars, galaxies with a highly energetic nucleus, is not concentrated in the region close to their central black hole but in fact extends over several thousand light-years along jets of plasma. This discovery shakes up current scenarios for the behavior of such plasma jets. The work, published in the journal Nature on June 18th, 2020, was carried out as part of the H.E.S.S collaboration, involving in particular the CNRS and CEA in France, and the Max Planck society and a group of research institutions and universities in Germany.

Over the past few years, scientists have observed the Universe using gamma rays, which are very high-energy photons. Gamma rays, which form part of the cosmic rays that constantly bombard the Earth, originate from regions of the Universe where particles are accelerated to huge energies unattainable in human-built accelerators. Gamma rays are emitted by a wide range of cosmic objects, such as quasars, which are active galaxies with a highly energetic nucleus. The intensity of the radiation emitted from these systems can vary over very short timescales of up to one minute. Scientists therefore believed that the source of this radiation was very small and located in the vicinity of a supermassive black hole, which can have a mass several billion times that of the Suns. The black hole is thought to gobble up the matter spiraling down into it and eject a small part of it in the form of large jets of plasma, at relativistic speeds, close to the speed of light, thus contributing to the redistribution of matter throughout the Universe.

Using the H.E.S.S.[1] observatory in Namibia, an international astrophysics collaboration observed a radio galaxy (a galaxy that is highly luminous when observed at radio wavelengths) for over 200 hours at unparalleled resolution. As the nearest radio galaxy to Earth, Centaurus A is favorable to scientists for such a study, enabling them to identify the region emitting the very high-energy radiation while studying the trajectory of the plasma jets. They were able to show that the gamma-ray source extends over a distance of several thousand light-years. This extended emission indicates that particle acceleration does not take place solely in the vicinity of the black hole but also along the entire length of the plasma jets. Based on these new results, it is now believed that the particles are reaccelerated by stochastic processes along the jet. The discovery suggests that many radio galaxies with extended jets accelerate electrons to extreme energies and might emit gamma-rays, possibly explaining the origins of a substantial fraction of the diffuse extragalactic gamma background radiation.

These findings provide important new insights into cosmic gamma-ray emitters, and in particular about the role of radio galaxies as highly efficient relativistic electron accelerators. Due to their large number, it would appear that radio galaxies collectively make a highly significant contribution to the redistribution of energy in the intergalactic medium. The results of this study required extensive observations and optimized analysis techniques with H.E.S.S., the most sensitive gamma-ray observatory to date. Next-generation telescopes (Cherenkov Telescope Array, or CTA) will no doubt make it possible to observe this phenomenon in even greater detail.


Reference: Resolving acceleration to very high energies along the jet of Centaurus A by The H.E.S.S. Collaboration, 17 June 2020, Nature.DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2354-1

[1] H.E.S.S.: High Energy Stereoscopic System, a network of atmospheric Cherenkov imaging telescopes located in Namibia and specializing in the study of cosmic gamma rays.

The H.E.S.S. International Observatory, consisting of five telescopes located in Namibia, involves laboratories from thirteen countries (mainly France and Germany, but also Namibia, South Africa, Ireland, Armenia, Poland, Australia, Austria, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Japan).

In France, the CNRS and the CEA are the research organisations most involved, mainly through nine laboratories:

France is also already committed to the CTA project for the development of next-generation telescopes. CTA is listed among the very large-scale research facilities (TGIR) on the roadmap of the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.

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International Astrophysics Collaboration Discovers Quasar Jets Are Particle Accelerators Thousands of Light-Years Long - SciTechDaily

‘Moving from astrophysics to supercomputing was a natural transition for me’ – Siliconrepublic.com

Computational scientist Elise Jennings talks about her career journey from astrophysics to supercomputing and how the STEM industry has changed in recent years.

The Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) recently appointed Elise Jennings as senior computational scientist. Jennings previously worked at the leadership computing facility at Argonne National Laboratory and as an associate fellow at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago. She has a research masters degree in theoretical physics and completed a PhD at the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University.

Unsurprisingly, her passion for STEM subjects started young. When I was studying for the Leaving Cert, I loved biology, mathematics and applied maths. Solving science problems and finding out how things worked was a lot of fun for me, she said.

I especially loved those rare moments where I felt I had understood something at a deep level or when a simple event in everyday life can lead to some interesting mathematics. For me, the fact that we could describe these events precisely and make predictions was amazing and certainly got me hooked on science.

The adoption of machine learning and deep learning methods for science has been phenomenal and has enormous potential to accelerate scientific discovery ELISE JENNINGS

Although she started her research work with a focus on astrophysics, Jennings said moving to supercomputing was a very natural transition because her PhD was focused on modified gravity and testing those theories using large N-body simulations of structure formation in the universe.

These simulations ran on a dedicated cluster at the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University and this gave me a great opportunity to understand how these codes run at scale and what it means to profile code for performance, she said.

Overall, many scientific applications from different domains require HPC [high-performance computing] systems to handle the data velocity or size, or to solve the complex scientific questions using advanced methods and simulations. My work has now expanded from astrophysics to include many of these areas and work with researchers looking to scale up and optimise their codes.

In her new role with the ICHEC, Jennings will be responsible for the creation of an exascaling team as part of the European High-Performance Computing (EuroHPC) Competence Centre for Ireland. This centre will operate a programme of mentoring and upskilling the most ambitious and scientifically accomplished academic groups in Ireland.

Jennings said this will enable Irish researchers to migrate from the national Tier-1 system to EuroHPC Tier-0 supercomputers, in preparation for European exascale systems and beyond.

It is exciting work engaging Irish research groups and industries as they develop competitive proposals for EuroHPC resources. I will also be developing HPC training programmes for simulations and emerging scientific machine learning and deep learning methods.

Jennings said one of the challenges she has encountered in her career is academic job uncertainty, noting that the first hurdle after a PhD is securing a postdoc, which can be very competitive.

After a couple of postdocs, the pressure is on to find a permanent research position or lectureship if you want to stay in academia, she said. After dedicating so many years to studying astrophysics, it was difficult to face the prospect of leaving and this fear would arise every couple of years when I had to reapply again. Tied in with this was the pressure to publish, which can drive research on but also adds stress if a line of research is not productive.

However, she also spoke about how incredibly lucky she feels to have worked in some of the top institutions in the world, witnessing cutting-edge research in real time.

From taking part in large astrophysics collaborations at Durham, [University of] Chicago and Fermilab, to working towards the first exascale machine in the world, the Aurora A21 machine at Argonne, she said.

A recent highlight that stands out for me was taking part in a small research team running benchmarks on a dedicated AI testbed at Argonne. I was one of the first people to run a deep learning benchmark on the Cerebras wafer-scale AI chip. It was very exciting to take part in cutting-edge development and innovation like that.

Jennings added that she has noticed several changes in the STEM industry since she began her PhD, including the increased need for HPC systems to process data or run simulations within scientific applications.

The adoption of machine learning and deep learning methods for science has been phenomenal and has enormous potential to accelerate scientific discovery. Many of these methods are built on advanced statistical techniques such as regression, which have a long history, she said.

Deep learning is a new methodology that allows us to process and understand very diverse datasets. Deep learning also poses some new challenges for HPC, particularly in terms of creating AI-driven infrastructure and code, handling massive datasets and coupling with traditional simulation and modelling techniques.

From a broader angle, Jennings also said the increase in diversity at all levels of STEM is another welcome change, which is slowly changing the perception of what it means to be a scientist.

At every stage of my career, I was very aware of diversity in my research groups and how it impacted the culture and productivity. It is encouraging to see more and more conversations about this and hopefully it will continue to bring about positive changes at all levels.

Jennings added that she would advise women who are pursuing a career in computer science to seek out companies and institutions that have a good reputation for a diverse workforce and a healthy work culture.

Most companies now recognise how crucial work-life balance is for the happiness and success of its employees but some academic institutions have been slow to learn these lessons, she said.

I would also recommend to any woman interested in pursuing a career in computer science to connect with the Women in STEM groups or outreach events which take place at their institution. It is invaluable to make contacts with leaders in the field at these events and hear their perspectives.

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'Moving from astrophysics to supercomputing was a natural transition for me' - Siliconrepublic.com

Telescope captures breathtaking new X-ray map of the sky – CBS News

A Russian and German telescope has completed its first full sweep of the sky and it's provided some breathtaking images to mark the occasion. A new map, roughly four times the depth of its predecessor, captures what the universe looks like through X-ray vision.

The eROSITA X-ray telescope, mounted on the space observatory Spektr-RG, launched last July, and finally reached its final position more than 900 million miles from Earth in December, according to anews release. It then spent 182 days slowly rotating, capturing the universe's mysterious dark energy with seven cameras.

A team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany said the resulting composite images show the deepest X-ray view of the sky we've ever seen.

"This all-sky image completely changes the way we look at the energetic universe," Peter Predehl, the Principal Investigator of eROSITA, said in the release. "We see such a wealth of detail the beauty of the images is really stunning."

The new map of the hot, energetic universe holds more than one million objects that emit X-rays also known as X-ray sources about 10 times more than what was found by the last all-sky sweep 30 years ago, the release said. The map roughly doubles the number of known X-ray sources, yielding about as many as have been discovered by all past X-ray telescopes in the field's 60-year history.

Scientists said putting together the image was a "mammoth" task that required sorting through 165 GB of data.

They generated the image using the so-called Aitoff projection, projecting the entire sky onto an ellipse with the Milky Way running horizontally through the middle and color-coding photons according to their energy, according to the release. Clusters of galaxies, "stellar cemeteries" made up of supernova remnants, and gas so hot it appears to glow can all be seen in the image.

Nearly 80% of the image is made up of active galactic nuclei supermassive black holes actively gobbling up material at the center of galaxies, the researchers said. In total, about one million X-ray sources were detected, "a treasure trove that will keep the teams busy for the coming years."

While scientists attempt to deepen their understanding of the development of the universe, the telescope is now sweeping the sky for the second time.

The project, which will run for four years, aims to map the positions of millions of galaxies and gain insight into how the universe is structured, according to the release. The project may also help to unravel the mystery of dark energy and how it counteracts gravity, pushing matter apart to accelerate the expansion of the universe.

"Overall, during the next 3.5 years, we plan to get seven maps similar to the one seen in this beautiful image," said Rashid Sunyaev, lead scientist of the Russian SRG team. "Their combined sensitivity will be a factor of five better and will be used by astrophysicists and cosmologists for decades."

"With a million sources in just six months, eROSITA has already revolutionized X-ray astronomy, but this is just a taste of what's to come," added Kirpal Nandra, head of the high-energy astrophysics group at MPE. "Over the next few years, we'll be able to probe even further, out to where the first giant cosmic structures and supermassive black holes were forming."

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Telescope captures breathtaking new X-ray map of the sky - CBS News

Scientists are searching the universe for signs of alien civilizations: ‘Now we know where to look’ – USA TODAY

A planet comparable to Earth's size and orbit has been discovered. Video Elephant

For the first time in more than three decades, research scientists have received grant money from NASA to search for intelligent life in outer space.

Specifically, the grant will provide funding for a project to search for signs of life via "technosignatures."

"Technosignatures relate to 'signatures' of advanced alien technologies similar to, or perhaps more sophisticated than, what we possess," said Avi Loeb, a professor of science at Harvard and one of the grant recipients.

"Such signatures might include industrial pollution of atmospheres, city lights, photovoltaic cells (solar panels), megastructures or swarms of satellites."

Researchers believe that although life appears in many forms, the scientific principles remain the same, and the technosignatures on Earth will also be identifiable in some fashion outside the solar system, according to a statement from one of the grant recipients, the Center for Astrophysics, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory.

The surge of results in exoplanetary research including planets in habitable zones and the presence of atmospheric water vapor over the past five years has revitalized the search for intelligent life.

Exoplanets are planets beyond our own solar system. Overall, in the past 25 years, researchers have discovered more than 4,000 exoplanets, including some Earth-like planets that may have the potential to harbor life.

"The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence has always faced the challenge of figuring out where to look,"said Adam Frank, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, and the primary recipient of the grant."Which stars do you point your telescope at and look for signals?

"Now we know where to look. We have thousands of exoplanets including planets in the habitable zone where life can form. The game has changed."

We are not alone, study says: There could be 'dozens' of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy

A civilization, by nature, will need to find a way to produce energy, and, Frank said, there are only so many forms of energy in the universe. Aliens are not magic.

The researchers will begin the project by looking at two possible technosignatures that might indicate technological activity on another planet: solar panels and pollutants, according to a statement from the University of Rochester.

Our job is to say, this wavelength band is where you might see certain types of pollutants, this wavelength band is where you would see sunlight reflected off solar panels, Frank said. This way astronomers observing a distant exoplanet will know where and what to look for if theyre searching for technosignatures.

The grant totals nearly$287,000 and will last two years, with the option of being extended to a third year.

This announcementcomes on the heels of a study released this month that said there could be more than 30 intelligent civilizations throughout our Milky Way galaxy alone.

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NASA andSpaceX make history by launching Americans into space from USsoil

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Scientists are searching the universe for signs of alien civilizations: 'Now we know where to look' - USA TODAY