Astronomers find closest known black hole to Earth, hints of more – KING5.com

The black hole is about 1,000 light-years away, but it's close enough that the stars around it can be seen by the naked eye.

Meet your new but shy galactic neighbor: A black hole left over from the death of a fleeting young star.

European astronomershave found the closestblack hole to Earth yet, so near that the two stars dancing with it can be seen by the naked eye.

Of course, close is relative on the galactic scale. This black hole is about 1,000 light-years away and each light-year is 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion kilometers). But in terms of the cosmos and even the galaxy, it is in our neighborhood, said European Southern Observatory astronomer Thomas Rivinius, who led the study published Wednesday in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The previous closest black hole is probably about three times further, about 3,200 light-years, he said.

The discovery of a closer black hole, which is in the constellationTelescopium in the Southern Hemisphere, hints that there are more of these out there. Astronomers theorize there are between 100 million to 1 billion of these small but dense objects in the Milky Way.

The trouble is we cant see them. Nothing, not even light, escapes a black holes gravity. Usually, scientists can only spot them when they're gobbling up sections of a partner star or something else falling into them. Astronomers think most black holes, including this newly discovered one, don't have anything close enough to swallow. So they go undetected.

Astronomers found this one because of the unusual orbit of a star. The new black hole is part of what used to be a three-star dance in a system called HR6819. The two remaining super-hot stars aren't close enough to be sucked in, but the inner star's orbit is warped.

Using atelescope in Chile, they confirmed that there was something about four or five times the mass of our sun pulling on the inner star. It could only be a black hole, they concluded.

Outside astronomers said that makes sense.

It will motivate additional searches among bright, relatively nearby stars, said Ohio State University astronomer Todd Thompson, who wasnt part of the research.

Like most of these type of black holes this one is tiny, maybe 25 miles (40 kilometers) in diameter.

Washington, D.C. would quite easily fit into the black hole, and once it went in it, would never come back, said astronomer Dietrich Baade, a study co-author.

These are young hot stars compared to our 4.6 billion-year-old sun. Theyre maybe 140 million years old, but at 26,000 degrees F (15,000 degrees C) they are three times hotter than the sun, Rivinius said. About 15 million years ago, one of those stars got too big and too hot and went supernova, turning into the black hole in a violent process, he said.

It is most likely that there are black holes much closer than this one, said Avi Loeb, director of Harvards Black Hole Initiative, who wasnt part of the study. If you find an ant while scanning a tiny fraction of your kitchen, you know there must be many more out there.

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Super Flower Moon 2020: All you need to know about the last super moon of this year – Jagran English

Publish Date: Wed, 06 May 2020 03:47 PM IST

New Delhi | Jagran Lifestyle Desk:The final super moon of the year will be seen on Thursday 7th May, worldwide. That will exactly be the time when a full moon is expected to occur at the closest point to Earth during its orbit, making it appear way too larger and brighter than usual.

The phenomenon, though will start appearing from sunset itself, but will be visible to its fullest glory during 10:30-11:30 PM, Indian Standard Time according to NASA.

Also Read: Super Flower Moon 2020: When, where and how to watch last 'Super Moon' of this year

The May moon has earned its "flower" nickname as a dedication to the spring in the Northern Hemisphere part of the globe. NASA said in a statement that the nomenclature traces back to the Maine Farmers of USAs Almanac in the 1930s.

The full moon measures about 0.52 degrees wide in the night sky at an average, and on May 7 it will be about 33 arc minutes (0.55 degrees) across. A clenched fist can get you the reference for it measures about 10 degrees wide at your arm's length, a report from space.com stated.

Though binoculars and telescopes are not specifically required, but these devices can certainly provide a more unadulterated view of the magnificent event.

Such super moon events are usually the affairs full of glitz among the astrophysics enthusiasts, but the Space Centers in India and beyond are closed for the normal public in the wake of novel Coronavirus pandemic.

So your homes balcony or buildings terrace is all youve got for a super moon view this time amid the lockdown in-place to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic.

Also Read: Super Flower Moon 2020: From Aries to Virgo to Pisces, how supermoon will affect your zodiac sign

According to CGTN, while a super moon is considered less serious and scientific than an eclipse, it represents a chance to encourage people to start looking at the moon. The next full super moon won't come around until late April in 2021.

Posted By: Talib Khan

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Super Flower Moon 2020: All you need to know about the last super moon of this year - Jagran English

Lessons from above: U of T astronomers help bring the heavens into homes during COVID-19 – News@UofT

If you are searching for homeschooling activities for your children or looking to try a new hobby during the pandemic, now might be the perfect time to turn your gaze toward the heavens as the weather gets warmer. From stars and galaxies to the cultural importance of the night sky, theres a fascinating universe out therewaiting to be explored andastronomers from the University of Toronto can help guide you on your journey.

The moon, for example, is obviously easy to spot and can be followed through its phases. Percy, who is also affiliated with the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education andhelped develop curriculum for elementary and high school students, suggests budding astronomers keep a moon diary, noting their observations. Arethere lighter and darker regions visible or are they able to glimpse a face on the surface of the moon? Its good practice, he says, because science is based on recording observations.

Those searching out planets will find Venus shining brightly throughout May, very low in the west after sunset. Mercury, which is usually too close to the sun to be seen, will appear close to Venus on May 21, Percy says. To know what to look for when and where, its best to use a star chart. Percy recommendsSkymapsor an interactive star chart fromSky and Telescope.

For those who cant get out to view the night sky or who simply want to learn more, Dunlap is a co-sponsor ofDiscover the Universe, a program that offers daily astronomy-at-home talks at 2 p.m. daily for young people. The universitys partner,The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada(RASC), offers regular presentations, with aneducation sectionthat contains activities and links that are especially useful for children learning online. U of T astronomers, meanwhile, have createdCosmos on Your Couch, a series of weekly talks on YouTube.

Today at 7 p.m., Percy will be talking about archeoastronomy during a Cosmos on Your Couch livestream(above). He says he will explore astronomy of pre-technology civilizations, which used the daytime and nighttime sky as a calendar and compass.

It was high-tech for them, he says, noting earlier civilizations found direction and marked time by looking at the sky. Clocks would be set based on the position of the sun and sea captains had to learn basic astronomy because they navigated by the stars, Percy says.

People also looked to the heavens for religious reasons.

It is preserved today in the names of the planets because they were assumed to have a connection with the gods, Percy says, noting that Mars is the Roman god of war, Venus the goddess of beauty, and so on. Much of what can be seen in the sky is similarlyimbued with cultural meaning. Different cultures see different things, Percy says.

When physical distancing measures are lifted, Percy suggests attending one of RASCs star parties atThe Riverwood Conservancy. Its anopportunity for those who have become familiar with the sky to see different telescopes in action and talk to fellow stargazers.

Be curious, Percy advises. Theres a whole universe up there.

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The Inconstant Universe Weird Findings Point to a New Physics – The Daily Galaxy –Great Discoveries Channel

Posted on Apr 27, 2020 in Astronomy, Astrophysics, Science

Our standard model of cosmology is based on an isotropic universe, one that is the same, statistically, in all directions, says astrophysicist John Webb at the University of New South Wales about the universal constant which appears inconstant at the outer fringes of the cosmos, it occurs in only one direction. .That standard model itself is built upon Einsteins theory of gravity, which itself explicitly assumes constancy of the laws of Nature. If such fundamental principles turn out to be only good approximations, the doors are open to some very exciting, new ideas in physics.

Those looking forward to a day when sciences Grand Unifying Theory of Everything could be worn on a t-shirt may have to wait a little longer as astrophysicists continue to find hints that one of the cosmological constants is not so constant after all.

In a paper published in Science Advances, scientists from UNSW Sydney reported that four new measurements of light emitted from a quasar 13 billion light years away reaffirm past studies that found tiny variations in the fine structure constant.

UNSW Sciences Professor Webb says the fine structure constant is a measure of electromagnetismone of the four fundamental forces in nature (the others are gravity, weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force).

The fine structure constant is the quantity that physicists use as a measure of the strength of the electromagnetic force, Professor Webb says. Its a dimensionless number and it involves the speed of light, something called Plancks constant and the electron charge, and its a ratio of those things. And its the number that physicists use to measure the strength of the electromagnetic force.

The electromagnetic force keeps electrons whizzing around a nucleus in every atom of the universewithout it, all matter would fly apart. Up until recently, it was believed to be an unchanging force throughout time and space. But over the last two decades, Professor Webb has noticed anomalies in the fine structure constant whereby electromagnetic force measured in one particular direction of the universe seems ever so slightly different.

Great Unknown Question The End of Spacetime

We found a hint that that number of the fine structure constant was different in certain regions of the universe. Not just as a function of time, but actually also in direction in the universe, which is really quite odd if its correct but thats what we found.

Ancient Quasars Offer Clues

Ever the sceptic, when Professor Webb first came across these early signs of slightly weaker and stronger measurements of the electromagnetic force, he thought it could be a fault of the equipment, or of his calculations or some other error that had led to the unusual readings. It was while looking at some of the most distant quasarsmassive celestial bodies emitting exceptionally high energyat the edges of the universe that these anomalies were first observed using the worlds most powerful telescopes.

The most distant quasars that we know of are about 12 to 13 billion light years from us, Professor Webb says.

So if you can study the light in detail from distant quasars, youre studying the properties of the universe as it was when it was in its infancy, only a billion years old. The universe then was very, very different. No galaxies existed, the early stars had formed but there was certainly not the same population of stars that we see today. And there were no planets.

He says that in the current study, the team looked at one such quasar that enabled them to probe back to when the universe was only a billion years old which had never been done before. The team made four measurements of the fine constant along the one line of sight to this quasar. Individually, the four measurements didnt provide any conclusive answer as to whether or not there were perceptible changes in the electromagnetic force. However, when combined with lots of other measurements between us and distant quasars made by other scientists and unrelated to this study, the differences in the fine structure constant became evident.

Our weird universe

And it seems to be supporting this idea that there could be a directionality in the universe, which is very weird indeed, Professor Webb says. So the universe may not be isotropic in its laws of physicsone that is the same, statistically, in all directions. But in fact, there could be some direction or preferred direction in the universe where the laws of physics change, but not in the perpendicular direction. In other words, the universe in some sense, has a dipole structure to it.

In one particular direction, we can look back 12 billion light years and measure electromagnetism when the universe was very young. Putting all the data together, electromagnetism seems to gradually increase the further we look, while towards the opposite direction, it gradually decreases. In other directions in the cosmos, the fine structure constant remains just thatconstant. These new very distant measurements have pushed our observations further than has ever been reached before.

In other words, in what was thought to be an arbitrarily random spread of galaxies, quasars, black holes, stars, gas clouds and planetswith life flourishing in at least one tiny niche of itthe universe suddenly appears to have the equivalent of a north and a south. Professor Webb is still open to the idea that somehow these measurements made at different stages using different technologies and from different locations on Earth are actually a massive coincidence.

This is something that is taken very seriously and is regarded, quite correctly with scepticism, even by me, even though I did the first work on it with my students. But its something youve got to test because its possible we do live in a weird universe.

But adding to the side of the argument that says these findings are more than just coincidence, a team in the US working completely independently and unknown to Professor Webbs, made observations about X-rays that seemed to align with the idea that the universe has some sort of directionality.

I didnt know anything about this paper until it appeared in the literature, he says.

And theyre not testing the laws of physics, theyre testing the properties, the X-ray properties of galaxies and clusters of galaxies and cosmological distances from Earth. They also found that the properties of the universe in this sense are not isotropic and theres a preferred direction. And lo and behold, their direction coincides with ours.

Answers the Cosmic Why

While still wanting to see more rigorous testing of ideas that electromagnetism may fluctuate in certain areas of the universe to give it a form of directionality, Professor Webb says if these findings continue to be confirmed, they may help explain why our universe is the way it is, and why there is life in it at all.

For a long time, it has been thought that the laws of nature appear perfectly tuned to set the conditions for life to flourish. The strength of the electromagnetic force is one of those quantities. If it were only a few percent different to the value we measure on Earth, the chemical evolution of the universe would be completely different and life may never have got going. It raises a tantalising question: does this Goldilocks situation, where fundamental physical quantities like the fine structure constant are just right to favor our existence, apply throughout the entire universe?

Shape-Shifting Cosmos Physicists Seek the Question to Which the Universe is the Answer

If there is a directionality in the universe, Professor Webb argues, and if electromagnetism is shown to be very slightly different in certain regions of the cosmos, the most fundamental concepts underpinning much of modern physics will need revision.

Our standard model of cosmology is based on an isotropic universe, one that is the same, statistically, in all directions, he says. That standard model itself is built upon Einsteins theory of gravity, which itself explicitly assumes constancy of the laws of Nature. If such fundamental principles turn out to be only good approximations, the doors are open to some very exciting, new ideas in physics.

Webbs team believe this is the first step towards a far larger study exploring many directions in the universe, using data coming from new instruments on the worlds largest telescopes. New technologies are now emerging to provide higher quality data, and new artificial intelligence analysis methods will help to automate measurements and carry them out more rapidly and with greater precision.

Sources: Michael R. Wilczynska et al. Four direct measurements of the fine-structure constant 13 billion years ago, Science Advances (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay9672. K. Migkas et al. Probing cosmic isotropy with a new X-ray galaxy cluster sample through the LXT scaling relation, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2020). DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201936602

The Daily Galaxy, Max Goldberg, via University of New South Wales

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NSF funds RIT researchers to develop code for astrophysics and gravitational wave calculations – RIT University News Services

The National Science Foundation recently awarded researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Louisiana State University, Georgia Tech and West Virginia University grants totaling more than $2.3 million to support further development of the Einstein Toolkit.

The Einstein Toolkit is a community-developed code for simulating the collisions of black holes and neutron stars, as well as supernovas and cosmology. The RIT numerical Relativity group, including Associate Professor Yosef Zlochower, Professor Manuela Campanelli and Professor Joshua Faber, have been part of the Einstein Toolkit consortium since its creation more than a decade ago.

The Einstein Toolkit has been critical to our simulations of binary black hole and binary neutron star mergers and our modeling of gravitational waveforms for LIGO, said Zlochower, principal investigator of the grant to RIT.

One of the key targets of modern numerical relativity simulations is the mergers of black holes and neutron stars, particularly the extreme mass ratio limit of binary black holes and evolutions of the hypermassive remnant from neutron star mergers. These challenging simulations will require exascale-level resources, and the NSF award to RIT of a grant of nearly $440,000 will support RIT students and faculty as they work to make the toolkit scale to hundreds of thousands of processors on some of the largest super computers in the world.

The Einstein Toolkit is used extensively by graduate and undergraduate students at RIT working with faculty at the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation, according to co-PI Faber.

The Einstein Toolkit has been a critical resource for the Center for over a decade, added co-PI Campanelli, director of the CCRG.

Zlochower noted that these efforts will have an impact on numerical relativity groups around the world, since the Toolkit is open source and available for use by researchers and students at institutions ranging in size from small colleges up to large research universities. For more information, visit the Einstein Toolkit website.

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Astronomers Have Watched a Nova Go From Start to Finish For The First Time – ScienceAlert

A nova is a dramatic episode in the life of a binary pair of stars. It's an explosion of bright light that can last weeks or even months. And though they're not exactly rare - there are about 10 each year in the Milky Way - astronomers have never watched one from start to finish.

Until now.

A nova occurs in a close binary star system, when one of the stars has gone through its red giant phase. That star leaves behind a remnant white dwarf. When the white dwarf and its partner become close enough, the massive gravitational pull of the white dwarf draws material, mostly hydrogen, from the other star.

That hydrogen accretes onto the surface of the white dwarf, forming a thin atmosphere. The white dwarf heats the hydrogen, and eventually the gas pressure is extremely high, and fusion is ignited. Not just any fusion: rapid, runaway fusion.

Artist's impression of a nova eruption, showing the white dwarf accreting matter from its companion. (Nova_by K. Ulaczyk, Warschau Universitt Observatorium)

When the rapid fusion ignites, we can see the light, and the new hydrogen atmosphere is expelled away from the white dwarf into space. In the past, astronomers thought these new bright lights were new stars, and the name "nova" stuck.

Astronomers now call these types of nova "classical" novae. (There are also recurrent novae, when the process repeats itself.)

This is an enormously energetic event, that produces not only visible light, but gamma rays and x-rays too. The end result is that some stars that could only be seen through a telescope can be seen with the naked eye during a nova.

All of this is widely accepted in astronomy and astrophysics. But much of it is theoretical.

Recently, astronomers using the BRITE (BRIght Target Explorer) constellation of nanosatellites were fortunate enough to observe the entire process from start to finish, confirming the theory.

BRITE is a constellation of nanosatellites designed to "investigate stellar structure and evolution of the brightest stars in the sky and their interaction with the local environment," according to the website.

They operate in low-Earth orbit and have few restrictions on the parts of the sky that they can observe. BRITE is a coordinated project between Austrian, Polish, and Canadian researchers.

This first-ever observation of a nova was pure chance. BRITE had spent several weeks observing 18 stars in the Carina constellation. One day, a new star appeared. BRITE Operations Manager Rainer Kuschnig found the nova during a daily inspection.

"Suddenly there was a star on our records that wasn't there the day before," he said in a press release. "I'd never seen anything like it in all the years of the mission!"

Werner Weiss is from the Department of Astrophysics at the University of Vienna. In a press release, he emphasized the significance of this observation.

A shows bright V906 Carinae labelled with a white arrow. B and C show the star before and after the V906 Carinae nova. (A. Maury and J. Fabrega)

"But what causes a previously unimpressive star to explode? This was a problem that has not been solved satisfactorily until now," he said.

The explosion of Nova V906 in the constellation Carina is giving researchers some answers and has confirmed some of the theoretical concept behind novae.

V906 Carinae was first spotted by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae. Fortunately, it appeared in an area of the sky that had been under observation by BRITE for weeks, so the data documenting the nova is in BRITE data.

"It is fantastic that for the first time a nova could be observed by our satellites even before its actual eruption and until many weeks later," says Otto Koudelka, project manager of the BRITE Austria (TUGSAT-1) satellite at TU Graz.

V906 Carinae is about 13,000 light years away, so the event is already history. "After all, this nova is so far away from us that its light takes about 13,000 years to reach the earth," explains Weiss.

The BRITE team reported their findings in a new paper. The paper is titled "Direct evidence for shock-powered optical emission in a nova." It's published in the journal Nature Astronomy. First author is Elias Aydi from Michigan State University.

"This fortunate circumstance was decisive in ensuring that the nova event could be recorded with unprecedented precision," explains Konstanze Zwintz, head of the BRITE Science Team, from the Institute for Astro- and Particle Physics at the University of Innsbruck.

Zwintz immediately realised "that we had access to observation material that was unique worldwide," according to a press release.

Novae like V906 Carinae are thermonuclear explosions on the surface of white dwarf stars. For a long time, astrophysicists thought that a nova's luminosity is powered by continual nuclear burning after the initial burst of runaway fusion. But the data from BRITE suggests something different.

In the new paper, the authors show that shocks play a larger role than thought. The authors say that "shocks internal to the nova ejecta may dominate the nova emission."

These shocks may also be involved in other events like supernovae, stellar mergers, and tidal disruption events, according to the authors. But up until now, there's been a lack of observational evidence.

"Here we report simultaneous space-based optical and gamma-ray observations of the 2018 nova V906 Carinae (ASASSN-18fv), revealing a remarkable series of distinct correlated flares in both bands," the researchers write.

Since those flares occur at the same time, it implies a common origin in shocks.

"During the flares, the nova luminosity doubles, implying that the bulk of the luminosity is shock powered." So rather than continual nuclear burning, novae are driven by shocks.

"Our data, spanning the spectrum from radio to gamma-ray, provide direct evidence that shocks can power substantial luminosity in classical novae and other optical transients."

In broader terms, shocks have been shown to play some role in events like novae. But that understanding is largely based on studying timescales and luminosities. This study is the first direct observation of such shocks, and is likely only the beginning of observing and understanding the role that shocks play.

In the conclusion of their paper the authors write: "Our observations of nova V906 Car definitively demonstrate that substantial luminosity can be produced - and emerge at optical wavelengths - by heavily absorbed, energetic shocks in explosive transients."

They go on to say that: "With modern time-domain surveys such as ASAS-SN, the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) and the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, we will be discovering more - and higher luminosity - transients than ever before. The novae in our galactic backyard will remain critical for testing the physical drivers powering these distant, exotic events."

This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.

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Astronomers Have Watched a Nova Go From Start to Finish For The First Time - ScienceAlert

Experimenting in the Universe’s Laboratory – NC State News

Noah Wolfe was self-quarantining in the Homewood Suites hotel in Davidson, North Carolina, last month when the email arrived to tell him he won the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship.

He immediately set about informing his family and friends from the seclusion of his room a call to his mom, a text to a friend, a Slack message to his academic adviser Professor Carla Frhlich.

Wolfe juggles ideas and scientific theories as easily as he does communication platforms. The focus of his research is computational astrophysics, but hes also founder of an environmental nonprofit and believes strongly in outreach and education.

Im starting to realize that I really love these kinds of interdisciplinary intersections, says the sophomore and Park Scholar, who is majoring in physics and math. I dont know how environmental justice and public education exactly fit with theoretical astrophysics, but Im really excited to see what it looks like.

Wolfe studies supernovas, the explosion of stars. They occur when a star runs out of nuclear fuel at its core, cools down and collapses under its own gravitational force; or when a white-dwarf star absorbs too much matter from another star in its orbit, setting off a nuclear reaction. They are impossible to recreate on Earth, Wolfe says, the equivalent of taking something many times bigger than the sun and compressing it into the size of Manhattan Island in seconds.

Scientists use computational astrophysics to make mathematical models of supernovas and then change variables to try to learn more about them. Wolfe compares the process to cooking: Like chefs, astrophysicists experiment with ingredients, only their ingredients are things like the general theory of relativity, hydrodynamics and information about miniscule particles called neutrinos.

If we want to model the supernova, we dont have infinite computation time, so we need to create a recipe, tailored to answering a specific question, Wolfe says. What if we use general relativity code that we know is accurate? And lets say we ignore some of the hydrodynamics because we dont think its that important. And lets make a good guesstimate of how the neutrino stuff works, because it might be important. You mix all of that together, and then you actually model the evolution of this system.

Astrophysicists then compare the results of the computation to existing observations. Nearby supernovas are uncommon, but they provide plenty of fodder when they do happen. A supernova 200,000 light-years away detected in 1987 is still yielding data, Wolfe says.

A supernova doesnt affect life on Earth, and Wolfe acknowledges his research likely wont solve todays scientific problems.

To be honest and this is something Ive personally struggled with a little bit the time horizon for when this research will be applicable is up in the air, he says. And its probably after I die, to be frank.

One topic that interests Wolfe is the behavior of nuclear matter in neutron stars, which form when a collapsing star compresses into a small parcel so dense that an amount the size of a sugar cube would weigh 1 billion tons, according to NASA. Thats why Wolfe finds supernovas so exciting: They are laboratories where multiple types of physics intersect under extreme conditions.

You need to understand everything from fundamental particle physics in the center of the neutron star all the way into hydrodynamics and fluid flow in the materials surrounding it as its going crazy, Wolfe says.

To study supernovas is to push the boundaries of what scientists know about physics, he says, even if that means storing the knowledge for later.

This is the challenge of all fundamental research, he says. It says were just trying to answer these questions regardless of whether or not well know if theyll have an impact in 10 or 15 years.

Wolfe isnt waiting for his research to make a difference in the world; hes trying to make one now.

Hes president of NCStates Astronomy Club, where everyone is invited to learn more about the universe. In January, he founded a nonprofit organization called Scivir (pronounced SEE-ver) to gather data on air quality in North Carolina. Scivirs goal is to ensure everyone has clean air one day regardless of socioeconomic status.

Then theres the reason why Wolfe was self-quarantining when he received his Goldwater Scholarship email. He flew through Seattle during an outbreak of COVID-19 on the way back from an Alternative Service Break trip to Hoonah, Alaska. That trip helped Wolfe realize how much he values education and outreach. He says the scholarship will help him achieve his goal of getting his Ph.D. in astrophysics and becoming a professor and mentor. He likes the idea of teaching undergraduates while using the position to welcome newcomers to the world of physics.

Education is super important, equal to the value of research, he says. Im only so smart and theres only so much I can do. Its really important that we encourage the next generation of scientists to figure out what I miss.

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Hungry galaxies grow fat on the flesh of their neighbours – UNSW Newsroom

Galaxies grow large by eating their smaller neighbours, new research reveals.

Exactly how massive galaxies attain their size is poorly understood, not least because they swell over billions of years. But now a combination of observation and modelling from researchers led by UNSWs Dr Anshu Gupta from Australias ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) has provided a vital clue.

In a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal, the scientists combine data from an Australian project called the Multi-Object Spectroscopic Emission Line (MOSEL)survey with a cosmological modelling program running on some of the worlds largest supercomputers in order to glimpse the forces that create these ancient galactic monsters.

By analysing how gases within galaxies move, Dr Gupta said, it is possible to discover the proportion of stars made internally and the proportion effectively cannibalised from elsewhere.

We found that in old massive galaxies those around 10 billion light years away from us things move around in lots of different directions, she said.

That strongly suggests that many of the stars within them have been acquired from outside. In other words, the big galaxies have been eating the smaller ones.

Because light takes time to travel through the universe, galaxies further away from the Milky Way are seen at an earlier point in their existence. Dr Guptas team found that observation and modelling of these very distant galaxies revealed much less variation in their internal movements.

We then had to work out why older, closer big galaxies were so much more disordered than the younger, more distant ones, said second author ASTRO 3Ds Dr Kim-Vy Tran, who like Dr Gupta, is based at UNSW.

The most likely explanation is that in the intervening billions of years the surviving galaxies have grown fat and disorderly through incorporating smaller ones. I think of it as big galaxies having a constant case of the cosmic munchies.

Distribution of dark matter particles around the galaxy. Big galaxies have been eating the smaller ones, this piece of research shows.

The research team which included scientists from other Australian universities plus institutions in the US, Canada, Mexico, Belgium and the Netherlands ran their modelling on a specially designed set of simulations known as IllustrisTNG.

This is a multi-year, international project that aims to build a series of large cosmological models of how galaxies form. The program is so big that it has to run simultaneously on several of worlds most powerful supercomputers.

The modelling showed that younger galaxies have had less time to merge with other ones, said Dr Gupta.

This gives a strong clue to what happens during an important stage of their evolution.

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Hungry galaxies grow fat on the flesh of their neighbours - UNSW Newsroom

UAH reports record research results of $109.7 million in 2019: NSF survey – UAH News

UAH achieved a record $109.7 million in research and development expenditures in fiscal year 2019.

Michael Mercier | UAH

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) achieved a record $109.7 million in research and development expenditures in fiscal year 2019 (FY19), according to the National Science Foundations (NSF) Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey.

The universitys federal research expenditures have increased by 24 percent over two years. UAH had active contracts and research partnerships with more than 90 commercial companies during 2019. The universitys five-year contract and grant research total is $489 million.

This achievement indicates the degree of trust our collaborators place in UAH research endeavors, says Dr. Robert Lindquist, vice president for research and economic development. UAH has a long history of science and engineering research and working together with our federal government and private sector partners to find creative solutions for some of the nations most challenging technological issues.

Five UAH research thrusts rank in the top 20 nationally, according to the National Science Foundation:

Key research areas at UAH include:

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UAH reports record research results of $109.7 million in 2019: NSF survey - UAH News

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences Inducts 12 Columbia Faculty Members – Columbia University

TwelveColumbia professors have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, joining some of the worlds most accomplished leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities and the arts in one of the nations most prestigious honorary societies.

The members of the class of 2020 have excelled in laboratories and lecture halls, they have amazed on concert stages and in surgical suites, and they have led in board rooms and courtrooms, said Academy PresidentDavid W. Oxtoby. With todays election announcement, these new members are united by a place in history and by an opportunity to shape the future through the Academys work to advance the public good.

Elena Aprile is a physics professor whose research interests include high-energy nuclear and particle physics, astrophysics, gravitational waves and cosmology. She is the founderof the XENON Dark Matter Experiment, an underground research facility in Italy that engages in experiments aiming to detect dark matter particles.

Zainab Bahrani is the Edith Porada Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Art and Archaeology. Much of her work has focused on the role of the image in art, particularly in the ancient world. A former curator of ancient Near Eastern art at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, Professor Bahrani is director of the Mapping Mesopotamian Monuments project at Columbia, which locates and assesses the condition of monuments in Iraq and southern Turkey.

Pierre-Andr Chiappori is the E. Rowan and Barbara Steinschneider Professor of Economics. He specializes in contracts and organization, development economics, health and education, and microeconomics.

Brent Hayes Edwards is a professor of English and Comparative Literature. His 2017 book, Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination, won the 2018 ASCAP Foundation Virgil Thomson Award for Outstanding Music Criticism as well as the 2019 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism.

Bernard Faure, the Kao Professor of Japanese Religion, is interested in various aspects of East Asian Buddhism, with an emphasis on Chan/Zen and Tantric or esoteric Buddhism.His work is influenced by anthropological history and cultural theory.

Andrew Gelman is the Higgins Professor of Statistics, Professor of Political Science and director of theApplied Statistics Center at Columbia. His research spans a wide range of topics, including why it is rational to vote, why campaign polls are so variable when elections are so predictable and why redistricting is good for democracy.

Michal Lipson is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering and Professor of AppliedPhysics, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.She pioneered critical building blocks in the field of silicon photonics, which today is recognized as one of the most promising directions for solving the major bottlenecks in microelectronics.

Colin P. Nuckolls is the Sheldon and Dorothea Buckler Professor of Chemistry. His research focuses on integrating reaction chemistry into electrical devices. He is a founding member of the Columbia University Nano Initiative.

Molly Przeworski is a professor in the department of biological sciences. Her work aims to understand how natural selection has shaped patterns of genetic variation, and to identify the causes and consequences of variation in recombination and mutation rates, in humans and other organisms.

Sarah Stillman directs the Global Migration Project at the Journalism School, which offers several reporting fellows the opportunity to pursue stories on gender and migration, focusing on U.S. immigration law, border politics, international refugee policy and more. She is a staff writer for The New Yorker.

Sarah Sze is a professor in the visual arts programat the School of the Arts whose work has been exhibited in museums worldwide and spans sculpture, multimedia installations, collage and painting. She spent 2019 as the Alan Kanzer artist-in-residence at the Zuckerman Institute.

Mihalis Yannakakis is the Percy K. and Vida L.W. Hudson Professor of Computer Science. He works on the theoretical foundations of computing, seeking to understand the inherent computational complexity of problems and to design efficient algorithms for their solution.

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The American Academy of Arts and Sciences Inducts 12 Columbia Faculty Members - Columbia University

WATCH: Eyewitness News talks with NASA astrophysicist about Hubble Space Telescopes 30th Anniversary – Eyewitness News (WEHT/WTVW)

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) Eyewitness News Joe Bird talks with NASAs Director of Physics about the 30th Anniversary of the iconic Hubble Space Telescope, what its done for science, and what we might be able to see with it in the future.

TRANSCRIPTION

Joe Bird: Well, a special something is turning 30 today. NASAs iconic Hubble Space Telescope commemorates three decades of discovery. And, joining is live this morning via Skype from NASA is NASAs Director of Astrophysics, Dr. Paul Hertz. You are responsible for the agencys research programs and missions necessary to discover how the universe began, how the universe works what a job you have, Dr. Hertz!

Dr. Paul Hertz: Thank you very much. Its got to be the coolest job in the world.

Joe Bird: I tell you, it sounds absolutely fantastic. Lets talk about Hubble, because I know you use Hubble a lot. Youve seen a lot of the images Hubble sends us. The views of the universe that we get from Hubble they have not only changed the way we think of space, but they have basically even rewritten some science books. What are some of the most important discoveries?

Dr. Paul Hertz: Well, when we launched Hubble, we werent sure how fast the universe was expanding. One of the first things we did was measure that very accurately, and by it backwards, we now know the universe is 13.8 billion years old. When we launched Hubble, we didnt know if black holes were common or rare in the universe. Hubble discovered that every galaxy has a super-massive black hole. Black holes are as common as galaxies in our universe. And, when Hubble launched, we hadnt discovered a single planet around another star. Now, we know there are planets around just about every star. Weve found over 5,000 of them. Hubble was the first telescope to observe the atmosphere of a planet around another star, was able to measure water and carbon monoxide in that planets atmosphere. So, thats just a few of the things that Hubble has done.

Joe Bird: And, the list really continues on with Hubble, and what its done and what it will do. So, lets talk closer to home really fast here, with this one. So, Hubble has also taken a look at planets right here in our region. What have we learned from our solar system, and even our own moon? What changes have we seen over all these years?

Dr. Paul Hertz: Well, Hubble has been watching our solar system for the entire 30 years its been up there. Weve seen the great red spot on Jupiter that Galileo discovered. Weve seen it shrinking over time. One of the moons of Jupiter, Europa, we have seen water plumes erupting from the surface of that moon, with Hubble, telling us about the ocean under the surface. And, we can see that theres even salt in those water plumes, letting us know there might be nutrients in that ocean. Maybe conducive for life, somewhere else in our solar system. When we launched Hubble, we only knew about one moon of Pluto. Hubble discovered four more moons of Pluto. We now know of five. So, when the new Horizon spacecraft flew by, it was able to study all of those moons, with Hubble. And, you mentioned our own moon. Because Hubble has an ultraviolet camera, and, its one of the very few there are, because ultraviolet light cant reach the surface of our Earth, the atmosphere absorbs it. So, a space telescope can take pictures in ultraviolet. With ultraviolet pictures, we can find resources on the moon, such as minerals, or possible water, that astronauts will be able to take advantage of when the U.S. returns to the moon.

Joe Bird: Now, we didnt almost have these nice, sharp images today, because there was a flaw when Hubble made it up into space with those mirrors. Thanks to astronauts, that was all fixed. So, Hubble lives on to 30. How is it doing?

Dr. Paul Hertz: Hubble is doing great! As you pointed out, its been serviced by astronauts five times, actually. The last servicing was in 2009. At that time, the astronauts upgraded all the science instruments, replaced all the aging systems lie batteries and gryos that hold the telescope steady. So, Hubble is in great shape right now. Its a hundred times more powerful now than when we launched it, because of those upgraded instruments. Everything is working fine. In fact, everything is still redundant. So, we can suffer the eventual aging failures. Were confident Hubble will last through the 2020s. well be able to use it in conjunction with the James Webb Space Telescope, NASAs next large space telescope, which well be launching next year.

Joe Bird: All right, doctor. Thanks so much for your time this morning. We greatly appreciate it. I wish I could meet you and come join you for a board game over your shoulder and just talk a little more about Hubble. We greatly appreciate your time, today. Thank you so much.

Dr. Paul Hertz: My pleasure and everybody should check out nasa.gov/hubble for lots more information.

Joe Bird: All rightie.

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WATCH: Eyewitness News talks with NASA astrophysicist about Hubble Space Telescopes 30th Anniversary - Eyewitness News (WEHT/WTVW)

The College honors outstanding academic achievement with 2020 Dean’s Medals – ASU Now

April 28, 2020

On Monday, May 11,The College of Liberal Arts and Sciencesat Arizona State University will recognize its highest achieving students from the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities at the 2020 virtual convocation ceremony.

Each department and school within The College has selected an outstanding student who has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to academic excellence during their time at ASU. These students will be awarded a prestigious Deans Medal in honor of their scholastic achievements.

Meet the outstanding spring 2020 Deans Medalist awardees from around The College.

Deans Medal:Department of EconomicsMajor:EconomicsMinor:Statistics

Mann is a student at Barrett, The Honors College at ASU, a New American University Scholar and a National Merit Scholar who is passionate about economics and statistics.

While at ASU, Mann researched projects including assisting in econometric research examining the effects of spatial and temporal disaggregation on the relationship between extreme weather and GDP in the United States.

I could not think of a more ideal recipient for this award than John, said Jose Mendez, chair of the awards committee for the Department of Economics. Not only is he outstanding academically, he is also truly remarkable as an individual. I have never had a student that was so respectful and gracious. I feel privileged having had him in my class.

During his college career, Mann worked at a number of places, including the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., where he provided research and analysis to inform reports, and at ASUs Office of University Initiatives, where he worked as a strategic research analyst.

Deans Medal:School of Civic and Economic Thought and LeadershipMajors:Civic and economic thought and leadership, political scienceMinors:Film and media production, Spanish

Throughout his time at ASU, Doebbeling stood out as a leader among his peers. As an early adopter of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, Doebbeling was able to grow alongside a new program.

Doebbeling served as the secretary of ASU Young Democrats and is a member of ASU Students for Education Equity. Taking a substantial international approach to his education, Doebbeling participated in numerous Global Intensive Experiences including traveling to India, Israel and the West Bank, Trinidad, Spain and Cuba. His capstone project makes an interesting comparison between founding father George Washington and revolutionary founder Fidel Castro.

Cormac Doebbling possesses a rare combination of intellectual breadth and depth, said Paul Carrese, director and professor at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. Whether it is international politics, grassroots political activism, political philosophy, film, theater or literature Cormac is enthusiastic and knowledgeable. It has been a pleasure having him as part of our schools founding generation of students.

After graduating from ASU, he plans on completing his masters degree in comedic writing at DePaul University in Chicago in order to pursue a career in political satire in television and film.

Deans Medal:School of Earth and Space ExplorationMajors:Earth and space exploration (astrophysics), physicsMinor:Mathematics

Through his endless dedication and determination, Bechtel exemplifies the interdisciplinary spirit and community engagement the School of Earth and Space Exploration thrives for. During his time at ASU, Bechtel, a New American University Scholar and ASU/NASA Space Grant Scholar, participated in several research projects (including both Barrett and senior thesis projects), mentored incoming students and volunteered in support of STEM education.

He has outperformed every other student in the class, including the graduate students by a substantial margin, said Judd Bowman, a professor at the School of Earth and Space Exploration. He is a joy to have in class. While many students balk at working with raw untested data, Shane faced the challenge head on.

Bechtel wrote and contributed to many academic papers and gave several presentations on his research. For his senior thesis, Bechtel worked with research scientist Rolf Jansen to conduct an in-depth structural analysis of a small sample of intermediate redshift galaxies.

He approached this new topic of research with enthusiasm and more importantly produced tangible results in a very short period of time, while juggling his many other commitments, Jansen said. Moreover, he implemented his code in a general pipeline that will prove useful for related future research projects.

Deans Medal:School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious StudiesMajor:Philosophy (morality, politics and law)

Leland, a Barrett student, stands out for her outstanding hard work, compelling and clear writing ability and her helpful class participation.

Her honors thesis explores disability from a personal perspective and aims to dramatically shift the way we think about disabilities while recognizing that the stigmatization of disabilities affects other marginalized identities. Leland alsostudied abroad in Greece and Italy, and served as a study abroad diversity panelist.

Shawn E. Klein, philosophy faculty at the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, said Leland is the kind of student who goes above and beyond to help her peers come to better understand content.

What distinguishes Morgan is that she is an educator, that she is committed to the potential of higher education for producing broader social changes, and that she is personally devoted to changing the content of, social relations in, and standard operating procedure of academia, Klein said.

Deans Medal:Hugh Downs School of Human CommunicationMajors:Communication, political scienceCertificates:Cross-sector leadership, political entrepreneurship through internships: local to global and international studies

Throughout Hinshaws time at ASU, she has engaged in a wide variety of opportunities, including 11 different internships across the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Hinshaw is a Barrett student and two-time Hugh Downs School of Human Communication Scholar. She also served as the 201819 Barrett Honors Fellow, working with Keith Brown, director and professor at the Melikian Center: Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies.

It has been a great experience to be part of her ASU journey, and an inspiration to observe her clarity of purpose, her organizational skills and her poise and professionalism, Brown said. Besides her innovative and meticulous thesis work on the impact of Tempe Sister Cities youth exchange program, she also personified ASU's commitment to community engagement."

Hinshaw explored her interest in intercultural communication and international affairs while studying abroad in Ghana, Israel and the West Bank as well as nationally in Washington, D.C., with the McCain Institutes Policy Design Program.

In addition to internships, Hinshaw works as the communications coordinator for ASU Project Humanities and also served in leadership roles for the Next Generation Service Corps, the Global Leadership Development Program and the advisory board of ASU Global Guides.

Deans Medal:School of International Letters and CulturesMajor:Russian

Philipson is an outstanding student, employee and volunteer with an extraordinary talent for languages including Russian, English and Latin. She has a passion for foreign affairs, which she is using to make a difference in the world through public, government service.

With an impeccable knowledge of Russian grammar, Philipson is an outstanding student who always understands what she is reading and is prepared to discuss her ideas, said Hilde Hoogenboom, an associate professor in the School of International Letters and Cultures.

Philipson is a semifinalist for the U.S. State Departments highly competitive Critical Languages scholarship for advanced Russian study in Russia and is one of the first students from ASU who was offered a prestigious summer internship as a Russian Language Analyst with the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland.

In the fall she will attend the University of Oxford to pursue her masters degree in Russian and East European studies. Afterwards she plans on attending law school and hopes to work in the Department of Homeland Security to fight against human trafficking.

Deans Medal:Department of PhysicsMajor:Physics

Johnson is an accomplished student interested in applying physics to real-world problems, specifically when it comes to renewable energy. She is the co-author of three published papers and an award-winning presenter who has received the NASA Space Grant consecutively for the past few years.

Anna Zaniewski, an associate instructional professional in the Department of Physics, said Johnsons outstanding productivity, skills and maturity were exemplified in her work.

Holly demonstrates an ability to learn quickly, think independently and collaborate well. Her technical skills are impressive Zaniewski said. She learns each new technique quickly and carefully. She takes detailed notes and is trusted with our most essential samples and research projects.

In addition to her research, Johnson regularly volunteers and contributes to the development of other students through her position as a mentor in ASUs Sundial Project. Johnson has been accepted into several prestigious graduate programs including Princeton.

Deans Medal:School of Transborder StudiesMajor:Transborder Chicana/o & Latina/o studies (U.S. and Mexican regional immigration policy and economy)Certificate:Cross-sector leadership

Austin is known for her diligence, persistence, community outreach, involvement and educational excellence. Through her life experiences in between high school and college, Austin realized that she wanted to dedicate her life to public service and building a better community.

Austin served as the transfer chair for the Next Generation Service Corps scholarship where she connected and assisted potential transfer students by providing them with resources. As a transfer student herself, she was able to provide helpful insights that have helped many students succeed in transitioning to the university.

Throughout her time at ASU, Austin successfully balanced schoolwork, community service and leadership roles while simultaneously working two to three jobs. Austin has also been a strong ambassador for the School of Transborder Studies by representing the unit in The College Welcome Assembly and being recognized as a Student Leader in The College.

Lorena is vividly passionate about her current studies and future career in law. In the classroom, she is fully engaged and contributes to the learning of every student, said Irasema Coronado, director and professor at the School of Transborder Studies.

Deans Medal:School of Social TransformationMajors:Justice studies, politics and the economyCertificate:Socio-legal studies

Saunders, a Barrett student, has actively shown her commitment to social innovation and fostering a more inclusive and just society by participating in campus residence life and leadership positions in political advocacy and nonprofit organizations.

In her honors thesis, Saunders drew from her own experience as a walking paraplegic and aimed to expand access for ASU students with physical disabilities. By conducting an extensive inventory of nearly all buildings on the Tempe campus, she identified physical accessibility issues across campus.

Mackenzie is a pathbreaker who rises above the small-mindedness of individuals and the restrictions of society, said Annamaria Oliverio, a lecturer in the School of Social Transformation. She elegantly transforms challenges into opportunities, not just for herself, but also others.

Saunders works as a deputy campaign manager for the November 2020 and March 2021 elections for the Phoenix City Council and as Director of Operations for a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for disability rights.

Through an early decision, two-year deferral program that encourages students to gain professional experience before law school, Saunders wasaccepted to Harvard Law School. After earning her law degree she aspires to work in disability rights law to strengthen the ADA and eventually become a federal judge.

Deans Medal:T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family DynamicsMajor:Family and human developmentMinor:Sociology

Since her freshman year, Berendzen demonstrated a high level of involvement in research, teaching, optional advanced coursework and leadership roles.

She pursued advanced statistical methods courses, served as a research assistant on six research projects and worked as a grader or teachers assistant for four different courses. Through this work, she has a first-author manuscript in progress and presented at the National Conference on Family Relations.

Clearly, Hannah is a highly accomplished student. More importantly, however, interacting with her is a pleasure, said Stacie Foster, director of undergraduate programs at the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics. She is kind, compassionate towards others, and incredibly hard-working.

Following graduation Berendzen plans to continue her education in family and human development by pursuing her PhD at ASU.

Deans Medal:Department of PsychologyMajor:PsychologyMinor:Statistics

Smola is a first-generation college student whose early experiences inspired her to pursue a psychology degree at ASU with a focus on success and well-being of students and adolescents from underrepresented backgrounds.

Xochitl Arlene Smola is an exemplary student who has overcome adversity and taken advantage of everything that ASU has to offer, the Department of Psychology awards committee said in their nomination letter. She represents us all well and is truly worthy of the Dean's Medal.

She worked for multiple research programs including as a field manager for the Bridges Project at the REACH Institute during her freshman year, where she interviewed parents and adolescents, oversaw program interventions and supervised the field work of 30 of her peers. During her junior year, she worked in the Adolescent Stress and Emotion Lab, where she studied the Latino transition to college. Smola also represented ASUs Department of Psychology in summer research training programs at the University of California, Los Angeles and University of Minnesota.

Following graduation, Smola will attend graduate school for developmental psychology at one of the five programs that she was accepted into. She aspires to be a research professor in developmental psychology.

Deans Medal:School of Life SciencesMajor:Biological sciences (biology and society)Minors:Spanish, civic and economic thought and leadershipCertificate:History and philosophy of science

In her time at ASU, Buckerexplored a diverse span of activitiesand engaged in a variety of leadership positions, often forming connections and establishing partnerships across departments and academic disciplines at ASU and on a global level. Bucker, an ASU Tillman Scholar, successfully channeled her passion for community development, educational access and science communication with her skills in design-based research and curriculum-building.

Bucker co-founded the community initiative, INvision, which seeks to excite low-opportunity background youth about higher education through partnering ASUs diverse learning opportunities with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona.

She studied abroad in the rural village of Tilonia, Rajasthan, India, where she developed an understanding of mental health in the rural context through participant observation, interviews and community engagement.

In addition to her academic and research work, Bucker participated in athletic endeavors on the womens triathlon team swimming, biking and running her way to two consecutive NCAA National Championships.

Deans Medal:School of Mathematical and Statistical SciencesMajors:Mathematics, physicsCertificate:Cryptology

Burgueno is a first-generation college student who is known for her creative, self-driven and collaborative nature. She performed several research projects on MRI imaging and on applications of p-adic number theory to quantum physics.

In her honors thesis Burgueno continued her research on applications of p-adic number theory to quantum physics. Her research has been published and presented at conferences. In her work, Burgueno also initiated collaboration with researchers in Europe

Burgueno served as an officer of the schools flagship program, Association of Women in Mathematics, various extracurricular activities as a tutor and a contributor to an online physics program for high school students.

Upon graduation she plans on continuing her studies and pursuing a PhD in mathematics modern particle physics.

Deans Medal:Department of EnglishMajors:English (literature), French, political scienceMinor:Asian languages (Chinese)Certificate:International studies

McCrearys diverse set of interests pushed him to take on three majors, a minor and a certificate while working as a teaching assistant at Barrett and a research assistant and French tutor.

During his time at ASU, McCreary participated in both the International Chinese Language Program and the French Language and Culture in Lyon programs. He is the founder and president of ASU Cultural Attachs, hosting weekly meetings where American and international students practice languages and learn about other cultures. In addition, he serves as a chief ambassador of ASU Global Council of Diplomats and as the membership chair of ASU United Nations Association.

As a student, Micah was prepared, attentive, respectful and participated regularly and thoughtfully, said Stephanie R. deLus, principal honors faculty fellow at Barrett. His willingness to learn and inquiring mind served him well as he built on his strong foundation to become even more excellent as time unfolded.

McCreary studied abroad several times, traveling to China and Taiwan to immerse himself in his study of the languages. McCreary was accepted to many prestigious law programs and will pursue his graduate degree at Harvard Law School in fall 2020.

Deans Medal:School of Molecular SciencesMajor:ChemistryMinors:Materials science and engineering, mathematics

Howell has been extensively involved in undergraduate research at ASU in the interfaces of materials chemistry and health and co-authored several peer-reviewed, published papers. Her accomplishments have been recognized with the Goldwater Scholarship, the highest recognition for undergraduate research in science in the nation.

Howell excelled in her coursework and her research, receiving the ACS Divisions of Physical Chemistry and Inorganic Chemistry awards from the School of Molecular Sciences.

It is remarkable for a student to earn one of these awards, and almost unheard of for a student to earn two, the school of Molecular Sciences awards committee said in their nomination letter.It is a testament to Ms. Howells success and its recognition broadly by SMS faculty. In short, Ms. Howell is a standout who makes an impression on those who interact with her.

Following graduation, Howell plans topursue a PhDin physical chemistry at Harvard University. Her long-term career goal is to become tenure-track faculty at a large research university.

Deans Medal:School of Geographical Sciences and Urban PlanningMajor:GeographyMinors:Sustainability, urban planning

Berry is atop-performing graduating seniorin the geography, urban planning and sustainability programs, making the Deans list every semester. She has balanced her studies while juggling many duties in her position as a student retention assistant.

Faculty in the school speak glowingly about Berry, noting her exemplary performance in class and her outstanding projects including her study of agricultural land loss in the U.S. using GIS and statistics.

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The College honors outstanding academic achievement with 2020 Dean's Medals - ASU Now

Asteroid set to miss Earth, so there’s one less worry – ANU College of Science

As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, we can be thankful that humanity will be spared from another catastrophe tonight when a big asteroid skims past Earth, according to ANU astronomer Dr Brad Tucker.

He said Asteroid 1998 OR2, which is about four kilometres in diameter and travelling 36,000 kilometres per hour based on the latest data from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, will pass the Earth at a distance of 6.2 million kilometres at 6.56 pm AEDT tonight far enough away to allow us not to panic.

This asteroid poses no danger to the Earth and will not hit - it is one catastrophe we wont have, said Dr Tucker from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

While it is big, it is still smaller than the asteroid that impacted the Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs.

Dr Tucker said an asteroid is classified as potentially hazardous if it is 150 metres in diameter or bigger, and it passes Earth within 7.5 million kilometres.

And while its far enough away to not cause concern about planet-wide extinction, the asteroid will still be close enough for us to see, he said.

Avid amateur astronomers will be able to catch a glimpse of the bright rock as it hurtles along in space, through a small telescope, by looking near the constellation Centaurus in the night sky.

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Asteroid set to miss Earth, so there's one less worry - ANU College of Science

HPU Students, Faculty and Staff Recognized for Research and Innovation – High Point University

HIGH POINT, N.C., April 24, 2020 Members of the High Point University community frequently conduct, publish and share research and creative works in a variety of ways. Below is a recap of recent research initiatives.

HPU Biology Professor Leading Student Research on COVID-19

Dr. Davin Townley-Tilson, instructor of biology, is working with students to take the novel coronavirus genome and perform real-time phylogenetic analysis, which compares the new genomes to other coronavirus genomes. This allows students to see how their learnings can be applied in the real-world, while supporting efforts to understand the COVID-19 virus.

We are teaching students crucial genomic and bioinformatic techniques through experiential learning, using real-world data that is incredibly germane to current events, said Townley-Tilson. The students analysis of the novel SARS-CoV-2 genome may serve to be incredibly important for clinicians and scientists who are using this data to produce therapeutics and vaccines against the virus.

The research started in March as part of a class assignment in Townley-Tilsons Principles of Genetics Lab. Although students are currently learning remotely, they were able to monitor and analyze the evolution of the novel coronavirus in real-time through the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a genetic-sequence repository that is part of the National Institute of Health.

The students have been able to observe that, unlike influenza virus or rhinovirus, which are responsible for the flu and common cold, that this novel coronavirus actually mutates relatively slowly, Townley-Tilson said. Using multiple sequence alignment of several CoV-2 isolates, or viral strains, demonstrates the evolution, or mutation rate, of the virus is slow enough to allow for an effective vaccine, something that is exceedingly difficult with most other viruses.

Townley-Tilson plans to use both the teaching methodology and research findings in an upcoming National Science Foundation (NSF) Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) grant proposal.

HPU Faculty Research Recognized by Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

Dr. Matthew Ritter and Dr. Sarah Vaala, assistant professors of strategic communication in the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication, were recognized by the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior for a co-authored article, titled, Child-Oriented Marketing on Cereal Packaging: Associations with Sugar Content and Manufacturer Pledge.

The research assesses sugar content and child-oriented promotional features on packaging among cereals manufactured by companies with varying Childrens Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) participation.

Consumers often confuse what they consider to be a single serving and what is listed as the products suggested serving size, generally eating more than what is recommended for a healthy diet, Ritter said. Through this research, we found child-oriented features were rare on low-sugar cereals and highest on cereals with higher sugar content per ounce produced by CFBAI-participating companies.

Findings suggest variable cereal-suggested serving sizes may contribute to consumers misunderstanding of sugar content, and CFBAI manufacturers continue to market cereals with high sugar to children.

There is a long history of the food industry being at odds with public health advocates when it comes to child-directed foods, said Vaala. Raising awareness of this issue is important.

HPU Religion Professor Published in Multiple Research Journals

Dr. Joe Blosser, associate professor of religion and philosophy and Robert G. Culp Jr. director of service learning, recently had three separate research articles published in national journals.

Maintaining an active research agenda is critical to being a relevant and innovative teacher who can prepare students for the world as it is going to be, said Blosser. I work at the intersections of economics and religion, helping students understand the ways our faith shapes our world and the economic choices we make.

The Journal of Business Ethics Education published Blossers piece titled, Faith and Ethics at Work: A Study of the Role of Religion in the Teaching and Practice of Workplace Ethics. The research is based on a study Blossers students conducted around young professionals in High Point, through a partnership with the High Point Chamber of Commerce.

This is a practical article that demonstrates how faith works to impact ethical decision-making in the lives of young professionals in High Point, said Blosser. As my students conducted this research, they met these young professionals, and a few of my students even ended up with internships based on the connections they made through these classes.

Secondly, Blosser was featured in Intgrit: A Journal of Faith and Learning, for his work, titled, Johnny Cash: An American Prophet. The article explores how Cashs faith shaped his music and his life, and includes original interviews with his family members.

I grew up in a small town, went to school in Texas and Nashville, and have always loved country music, said Blosser. Cash is a legend and lived out his faith in unique and powerful ways. I love teaching at local churches about Cash because his faith is a relatable way to connect people to the power of Christianity.

The third article, published by the Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, is titled, Relational History: Adam Smiths Types of Human History, which expands on how capitalism has shaped our world.

Adam Smith set the foundations for capitalism as we know it, and this work explores how he understood human development over time, said Blosser.

These three scholarly publications demonstrate Blossers commitment to an active research agenda in Christian ethics and economic thought. As the director of service learning, he uses insights gained from his research to ensure HPU students are doing the kind of service that makes the biggest impact on our local community so they grow to become responsible citizens in a global environment. He is available to local churches and civic groups for lectures on any of these topics.

HPU Faculty Research Recognized with National Award

Dr. Allie Blosser, assistant professor in the Stout School of Education, along with her co-authors Dr. Joe Blosser, HPUs Robert G. Culp Jr. director of service-learning, and Mrs. Pam Greene, volunteer coordinator with Communities in Schools High Point, were recently awarded the Service-Learning and Experiential Education SIG Outstanding Conference Submission Award from the American Educational Research Association (AARA) for research conducted in Blossers honors social scientific inquiry service-learning class.

Their paper, titled, How can I uproot the system?: Justice-oriented outcomes from community-based research in schools, analyzed student learning. The class partnered with local Title I schools to collect data and research topics the local schools wanted to address, like school readiness, parent engagement, teacher morale and student transiency. Then, students presented their recommendations to the schools based on the data they collected and analyzed.

We found that partnering with local Title 1 schools cultivated several justice-oriented learning outcomes for students, like a recognition of deficit perspectives, a deepened understanding of systemic poverty and the ability to distinguish empowering models of service from paternalistic ones, said Blosser. Essentially, the course prepared students for being better stewards in their communities because it taught them how research, as a form of service, can be used to promote positive social change in organizations like schools.

Through a rigorous blind review process by colleagues and experts in the field, Blossers work was identified as exceptional at the level of general AERA conference submission and again by the Service Learning special interest group, which is dedicated to bringing together researchers, practitioners and community partners to build and promote understanding and practice of service-learning and experiential education for the betterment of the field and the reform of PK-20 education, both in the United States and abroad. The AERA Conference is one of the most highly revered conferences in the field of education.

I am thankful to teach at a place like HPU that values experiential education and service learning because I believe that students learn more by doing, said Blosser. In this case, my students learned a lot and simultaneously empowered schools with the research they needed to make informed decisions that will benefit students and families.

HPU Psychology Professor Published in National Journal

Dr. Sarah Ross, assistant professor in the Psychology Department, was recently published in the peer-reviewed, American Psychological Associations The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention for her article, titled, The Suicide Prevention for College Student Gatekeepers Program: A Pilot Study.

American college students are exhibiting increasingly lower levels of mental health and higher levels of anxiety and depression, said Ross. Designed to provide college students with information about the warning signs of suicide, as well as how to intervene when indicated, I worked with a team of students to develop the Suicide Prevention for College Student Gatekeepers training program.

HPU graduate, Megan Deiling, co-authored the article, which highlights the campus suicide prevention program that Ross and colleagues developed based on evidence-based practice in suicide prevention. Ross and her team of student researchers implemented suicide prevention training across HPUs campus, and to-date, have trained over 500 students.

Because of the programs success, Ross and colleagues have received SAMSHA funding to disseminate the program across other campuses in the United States.

HPU Astrophysics Professor, Physics Student Publish Research in Top-Tier Journal

Senior physics major Stephen Walser and Dr. Brad Barlow, associate professor of astrophysics and director of the Culp Planetarium, recently published an article titled, Hot Subdwarf All Southern Sky Fast Transit Survey with the Evryscope, in the Astrophysical Journal,alongwith collaborators from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.The peer-reviewed article presents a survey of 1,400 stars and the discovery of more than two dozen new variable stars, including several rare compact binaries.

We have been working hard on this survey for several years, and its nice to publish our results and share our efforts with others, said Barlow. Stephen played an integral role in helping us nail down the properties of one of these exciting binaries by taking follow-up observations with a remote telescope in Chile.

The work was carried out with the Evryscope, the worlds first gigapixel-scale telescope built by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and deployed on Cerro Tololo in the Chile Andes mountain range. The work was also supported in part by a $349,621 research grant the group received from the National Science Foundation.

This is my first peer-reviewed publication, said Walser. I am grateful for the opportunity to work alongside Barlow and other great astrophysicists and gain this invaluable experience conducting astrophysics research and disseminating science results

Barlow is a member of the Evryscope Science Collaboration and has been working with their team over the past few years to identify and study new variable stars. He also helped advise and served on the Ph.D. committee of the lead author, Jeff Ratzloff.

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Astronomers Watch a Nova Go From Start to Finish for the First Time – Universe Today

A nova is a dramatic episode in the life of a binary pair of stars. Its an explosion of bright light that can last weeks or even months. And though theyre not exactly rarethere are about 10 each year in the Milky Wayastronomers have never watched one from start to finish.

Until now.

A nova occurs in a close binary star system, when one of the stars has gone through its red giant phase. That star leaves behind a remnant white dwarf. When the white dwarf and its partner become close enough, the massive gravitational pull of the white dwarf draws material, mostly hydrogen, from the other star.

That hydrogen accretes onto the surface of the white dwarf, forming a thin atmosphere. The white dwarf heats the hydrogen, and eventually the gas pressure is extremely high, and fusion is ignited. Not just any fusion: rapid, runaway fusion.

When the rapid fusion ignites, we can see the light, and the new hydrogen atmosphere is expelled away from the white dwarf, into space. In the past, astronomers thought these new bright lights were new stars, and the name nova stuck. Astronomers now call these types of nova classical novae. (There are also recurrent novae, when the process repeats itself.)

Suddenly there was a star on our records that wasnt there the day before.

This is an enormously energetic event, that produces not only visible light, but gamma rays and x-rays too. The end result is that some stars that could only be seen through a telescope can be seen with the naked eye during a nova.

All of this is widely accepted in astronomy and astrophysics. But much of it is theoretical. Recently, astronomers using the BRITE (BRIght Target Explorer) Constellation of nanosatellites were fortunate enough to observe the entire process from start to finish, confirming the theory.

BRITE is a constellation of nanosatellites designed to investigate stellar structure and evolution of the brightest stars in the sky and their interaction with the local environment, according to the website. They operate in Low-Earth Orbit and have few restrictions on the parts of the sky that they can observe. BRITE is a coordinated project between Austrian, Polish, and Canadian researchers.

This first-ever observation of a nova was pure chance. BRITE had spent several weeks observing 18 stars for several weeks in the Carina constellation. One day, a new star appeared. BRITE Operations Manager Rainer Kuschnig found the nova during a daily inspection. Suddenly there was a star on our records that wasnt there the day before, he said in a press release. Id never seen anything like it in all the years of the mission!

Professor Werner Weiss is from the Department of Astrophysics at the University of Vienna. In a press release, he emphasized the significance of this observation. But what causes a previously unimpressive star to explode? This was a problem that has not been solved satisfactorily until now, he said. The explosion of Nova V906 in the constellation Carina is giving researchers some answers and has confirmed some of the theoretical concept behind novae.

It is fantastic that for the first time a nova could be observed by our satellites even before its actual eruption and until many weeks later.

V906 Carinae was first spotted by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae. Fortunately, it appeared in an area of the sky that had been under observation by BRITE for weeks, so the data documenting the nova is in BRITE data. It is fantastic that for the first time a nova could be observed by our satellites even before its actual eruption and until many weeks later, says Prof. Otto Koudelka, project manager of the BRITE Austria (TUGSAT-1) satellite at TU Graz.

V906 Carinae is about 13,000 light years away, so the event is already history. After all, this nova is so far away from us that its light takes about 13,000 years to reach the earth, explains Weiss.

The BRITE team reported their findings in a new paper. The paper is titled Direct evidence for shock-powered optical emission in a nova. Its published in the journal Nature Astronomy. First author is Elias Aydi from Michigan State University.

This fortunate circumstance was decisive in ensuring that the nova event could be recorded with unprecedented precision, explains Prof. Konstanze Zwintz, head of the BRITE Science Team, from the Institute for Astro- and Particle Physics at the University of Innsbruck. Zwintz immediately realised that we had access to observation material that was unique worldwide, according to a press release.

Novae like V906 Carinae are thermonuclear explosions on the surface of white dwarf stars. For a long time, astrophysicists thought that a novas luminosity is powered by continual nuclear burning after the initial burst of runaway fusion. But the data from BRITE suggests something different.

In the new paper, the authors show that shocks play a larger role than thought. The authors say that shocks internal to the nova ejecta may dominate the nova emission. These shocks may also be involved in other events like supernovae, stellar mergers, and tidal disruption events, according to the authors. But up until now, theres been a lack of observational evidence.

Here we report simultaneous space-based optical and ?-ray observations of the 2018 nova V906 Carinae (ASASSN-18fv), revealing a remarkable series of distinct correlated flares in both bands, the researchers write. Since those flares occur at the same time, it implies a common origin in shocks.

During the flares, the nova luminosity doubles, implying that the bulk of the luminosity is shock powered. So rather than continual nuclear burning, novae are driven by shocks. Our data, spanning the spectrum from radio to gamma-ray, provide direct evidence that shocks can power substantial luminosity in classical novae and other optical transients.

In broader terms, shocks have been shown to play some role in events like novae. But that understanding is largely based on studying timescales and luminosities. This study is the first direct observation of such shocks, and is likely only the beginning of observing and understanding the role that shocks play.

In the conclusion of their paper the authors write Our observations of nova V906 Car definitively demonstrate that substantial luminosity can be producedand emerge at optical wavelengthsby heavily absorbed, energetic shocks in explosive transients.

They go on to say that With modern time-domain surveys such as ASAS-SN, the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) and the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, we will be discovering moreand higher luminositytransients than ever before. The novae in our galactic backyard will remain critical for testing the physical drivers powering these distant, exotic events.

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Q&A: Putting the Sky in Everyone’s Hands – Physics

I was asked to coordinate the disability projects in Spain for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy. In searching for ideas, I learned about a planetarium show for the blind in Argentina. My colleagues and I contacted the shows creator Sebastian Musso, and with his input we developed a tactile planetarium show. The shows key element is a half-sphere made of resin with constellations in relief on the surface. Each blind visitor is given one of these half-spheres so that they can feel the shape of the constellations, while listening to the planetarium presentation.

Afterwards, somebody approached our group and said, Hey, you have this sky, why dont you make a tactile Moon? We said okay and spent the next year developing a model with craters and other features. Since then, we have made tactile models of Mars, Venus, and Mercury. And were now working on a model of Earth.

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Q&A: Putting the Sky in Everyone's Hands - Physics

A Star is Orbiting the Milky Way’s Black Hole and Moving Exactly How Einstein Predicted it Should – Universe Today

At the center of our galaxy, roughly 26,000 light-years from Earth, is the Supermassive Black Hole (SMBH) known as Sagittarius A*. The powerful gravity of this object and the dense cluster of stars around it provide astronomers with a unique environment for testing physics under the most extreme conditions. In particular, it offers them a chance to test Einsteins Theory of General Relativity (GR).

For example, in the past thirty years, astronomers have been observing a star in the vicinity of Sagittarius A* (S2) to see if its orbit conforms to what is predicted by General Relativity. Recent observations made with the ESOs Very Large Telescope (VLT) have completed an observation campaign that confirmed that the stars orbit is rosette-shaped, once again proving that Einstein theory was right on the money!

The study that describes the international teams findings recently appeared in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. The team responsible was made up of members of the GRAVITY Collaboration, which includes researchers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE), the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPA), CERN, and multiple institutes and universities.

To break it down, General Relativity states that the curvature of space-time is altered in the presence of a massive object. When Einstein formalized this theory by 1915, it explained a number of things, not the least of which was the strange orbit of Mercury. By the early 20th century, astronomers had noted that the perihelion of Mercury was subject to precession i.e. it rotated over time.

Most stars and planets have elliptical orbits, which means that their distance to the object theyre orbiting changes. But in the case of precession, the closest point in their orbit (perihelion) rotates around the object itself. This is known as a Schwarzschild precession which (when visualized) looks like a rosette instead of an ellipse, with each individual orbit resembling a petal of the flower.

As Reinhard Genzel, the director of the MPE and the architect of the nearly 30-year-long program that led to this result, explained in a recent ESO press release:

Einsteins General Relativity predicts that bound orbits of one object around another are not closed, as in Newtonian Gravity, but precess forwards in the plane of motion. This famous effect first seen in the orbit of the planet Mercury around the Sun was the first evidence in favour of General Relativity. One hundred years later we have now detected the same effect in the motion of a star orbiting the compact radio source Sagittarius A* at the centre of the Milky Way. This observational breakthrough strengthens the evidence that Sagittarius A* must be a supermassive black hole of 4 million times the mass of the Sun.

In the case of S2, its orbit takes it from a distance of less than 20 billion km (12.4 billion mi), or one hundred and twenty times the distance between the Sun and Earth making it one of the closest stars ever found in orbit around Sagittarius A*. At its closest approach, S2 is hurtling through space at almost 3% of the speed of light, completing an orbit once every 16 years. This long orbit is why it was necessary to monitor the star for nearly thirty years.

In so doing, the GRAVITY Collaboration was able to see a Schwarzschild precession around an SMBH for the very first time. Said Stefan Gillessen, an MPE researcher who led the analysis of the teams measurements: After following the star in its orbit for over two and a half decades, our exquisite measurements robustly detect S2s Schwarzschild precession in its path around Sagittarius A*.

These results confirm General Relativity, which accurately predicts how much the orbit of S2 should change over time. The study with the VLT is also a boon for astronomers because it allows them to learn more about what is taking place in the vicinity of Sagittarius A*, which could shed light on the evolution of our galaxy and other cosmological mysteries. Said Guy Perrin and Karine Perraut, the French lead scientists of the project:

Because the S2 measurements follow General Relativity so well, we can set stringent limits on how much invisible material, such as distributed dark matter or possible smaller black holes, is present around Sagittarius A*. This is of great interest for understanding the formation and evolution of supermassive black holes.

These findings are the result of 27 years of observations of S2 that (for the majority of that time) relied on a fleet of instruments at the ESOs VLT. These included the GRAVITY, Spectrograph for INtegral Field Observations in the Near Infrared (SINFONI), and the Nasmyth Adaptive Optics System (NAOS) Near-Infrared Imager and Spectrograph (NACO), which together took over 330 measurements of the stars position and velocity.

The GRAVITY Collaboration is named after the instrument they developed for the VLT Interferometer, which combines the light of all four 8-m (26.25 ft) VLT telescopes into a super-telescope with a resolution equivalent to that of a 130-m (426.5 ft) telescope. This same team was responsible for the 2018 study that confirmed General Relativity by showing how light from S2 was stretched to longer wavelengths when passing close to Sagittarius A*.

Looking ahead, the team believes that they will be able to see much fainter stars orbiting Sagittarius A* using the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). Andreas Eckart, a researcher from Cologne University and one of the lead scientists of the project, believes that they will be able to measure the spin and mass of Sagittarius A*, thus characterizing it and defining the nature of space-time around it.

If we are lucky, we might capture stars close enough that they actually feel the rotation, the spin, of the black hole, he said. That would be again a completely different level of testing relativity.

Further Reading: ESO, Astronomy and Astrophysics

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New Theory and Space X-Rays – What Does It Entail? – Communal News

There is a group of physicists specifically dedicating their work to the physics of high energy densities. High-energy-density physics (HEDP) is a relatively new subfield of physics intersecting condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, astrophysics and plasma physics. It has been defined as the physics of matter and radiation at energy densities in excess of about 100 GJ/m^3.

High energy density physics studies the collective properties of matter under extreme conditions of temperature and density. Not surprisingly, this study of extreme science has considerable overlap with astrophysics and nuclear weapons physics, as well as inertial confinement fusion research. It is a highly specialized and narrow subfield.

In addition, the entire field of relativistic HED physics, also known as high-field physics, was enabled by the invention in the early 1980s of so-called chirped-pulse amplification of laser light, a technique that generated laser electromagnetic fields of unprecedented intensities.

The physicists in this unique sub field of physics are extremely passionate about the matter inside planets and one of the main component of this subfield is highly classified nuclear weapons work and research, which is part of the defense spectrum.

A new work has become available by a very distinguished physicist Suxing HU, who works in the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, University of Rochester in New York. His latest work, in collaboration with French physicists, is titled Interspecies radiative transition in warm and superdense plasma mixtures.

The work includes the new theoretical idea that interatomic radiation transitions can occur at the high pressure. A radiation transition is simply a jump of an electron into the orbit of a neighboring electron within a single atom. Hus idea is that interatomic radiation transitions can occur at high pressures.

The new proposed theory by Hu brings complexity to the spectral method of identifying substances from the cosmic depths. When atoms come together the electron shells overlap due to high pressure. Electrons become shared. You cant tell which is which. According to Hu, under these conditions, radiation transitions between the electron orbits of not one, but different, atoms are possible. The energy of the emitted or absorbed photon is different from what it would be at the transition inside the native atom.

Some electrons fly in a circular orbit, others in a dumbbell-shaped orbit and that there are also hybrid orbitals. Inside the atom, transitions are possible only to the orbit whose shape differs from the one from which the electron jumps. When pressure mixes atoms into an incomprehensible heap, transitions between identical orbits, according to Hus theory, become possible. As a result of the new allowed jumps of electrons between atoms, new lines should appear in the spectrum of x-ray radiation coming from astronomical objects,

As a result of the new allowed jumps of electrons between atoms, new lines corresponding to previously unknown radiation transitions should appear in the spectrum of x-ray radiation coming from astronomical objects. These lines must be interpreted correctly.

The physicists that are part of this project plan to test the new theory by using a laser installation, while transferring the substance to an exotic state. In 2018, NASA created a rare, exotic state of matter in space. NASA was able to cool a cloud of rubidium atoms to ten-millionth of a degree above absolute zero, producing the fifth exotic state of matter in space. The experiment also now holds the record for the coldest object we know of in space.

Hus experiment will be done on our planet, hence an exotic state can only be held at best for a couple of nanoseconds. If the test is successful it would lead to a completely different approach for physicists and amendments would have to be made in the academic world.

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New Theory and Space X-Rays - What Does It Entail? - Communal News

The silliest string-theory alternative yet draws inspiration from video games – The Next Web

Noted physicist, computer scientist, and mathematician Stephen Wolfram recently stunned the science community at-large after announcing hed pretty much figured out how the universe works.

Wolframs a household name in the science community. Hes responsible for Wolfram Alpha, the search engine that AskJeeves wished it was, and the creation of a math-based programming language called Wolfram Language used to power the popular Mathematica system and, now, the creation of the Wolfram Physics Project. His contributions go back to his formative years where, by age 14, hed written three books on the subject of physics.

Its important to understand that Wolframs considered a respected scientific mind because his new theory, which is represented as simply A Class of Models with the Potential to Represent Fundamental Physics, come straight out of left field with a pretty wacky approach.

Read: Our universe may be part of a giant quantum computer

Now, of course, wacky is a relevant term when it comes to physics. Woframs attempting to do what Einstein and Stephen Hawking have tried before him: create an explanation for the universe that makes sense. To this end, physicists and other scientists have come up with theories that range from multiple worlds (as in, more than one universe) to were all living in a computer simulation (which just begs the question, whats the universe that the computer is in made of?). So calling a physics theory wacky implies an entirely different level of weirdness.

Lets start at the beginning. According to a blog post from Wolfram, he had a sort-of eureka moment a few months back that gave him insight into the inner workings of the universe. The post begins with the ominous phrase I never expected this.

Then Wolframs fervor immediately paints the picture of a scientist in semi-mad mode:

Its unexpected, surprisingand for me incredibly exciting. To be fair, at some level Ive been working towards this for nearly 50 years. But its just in the last few months that its finally come together. And its much more wonderful, and beautiful, than Id ever imagined.

In many ways its the ultimate question in natural science: How does our universe work? Is there a fundamental theory? An incredible amount has been figured out about physics over the past few hundred years. But even with everything thats been doneand its very impressivewe still, after all this time, dont have a truly fundamental theory of physics.

This all adds up. We do have quantum mechanics, but despite being a very, very successful theory it doesnt quite explain everything. Then theresstring theory, which has taken a bit of a beating in recent years. So yeah, maybe we do need a new kind of physics.

What makes Wolframs theory different is that, well, its not really a theory. Its more like the frame-work of a theory. It seems like hes just saying the universe is made of a 3D mesh with enough point-to-point lines added in to create a physical topography. In other words, it feels like Wolframs proposing that the universe works exactly like a 3D computer model.

This seems like just the kind of thing someone who specializes in creating computer languages would say. Much like how Einstein and Hawking, scientists who specialized in nuclear and astrophysics, decided that gravity and black holes were the key to understanding the universes true nature.

Mathematicians tend to think the universe is made of math and physicists tend to think its made of tiny stuff that keeps getting tinier the closer you look.

Wolfram describes the basics of his new concept as thus:

In the early 1980s, when I started studying the computational universe of simple programs, I made what was for me a very surprising and important discovery: that even when the underlying rules for a system are extremely simple, the behavior of the system as a whole can be essentially arbitrarily rich and complex.

What he then proposes is that everything in the universe can be explained by imagining it all as a series of interconnected points. He explains the topography and physical structure of the universe as a series of unfolding events that follow precise mathematical rules. This seemingly allows Wolfram to explain the concept of time, which Einstein side-steps by combining it with space, as a sort of backdoor math modifier to rationalize expansion.

Per the blog post:

So what then is time? In effect its much as we experience it: the inexorable process of things happening and leading to other things. But in our models its something much more precise: its the progressive application of rules, that continually modify the abstract structure that defines the contents of the universe.

Wolframs offering a set of math-based rules that he believes could eventually become the foundation for a unified theory of everything. But theres a catch: hes asking for the science community at large to help him prove it. Like many big theories especially those that come along to challenge quantum mechanics or string-theory this one has all the answers, but it hasnt worked out which questions make them relevant quite yet.

Perhaps the biggest criticism of Wolframs work is that its a bit dense. The technical explanation alone weighs in at over 400 pages. Its going to take a few months for all of his ideas to see peer-review. That makes it a bit odd that hes already publishing a book, running a project website, and soliciting partnerships to move the work forward. Whats the rush? The universe will still need explaining after everyones had a glance at the paper.

At the end of the day, one has to wonder how much chance a unified theory of the universe that cribs from both the arcade gaming era and Nick Bostroms simulation hypothesis has against M-theory, relativity, or other long-standing remedies.

Still, a rising tide lifts all vessels and Wolframs current passion is bound to yield some interesting mathematical results.

Are you a physicist or physics enthusiast? Let me know what you think about Wolframs new project on Twitter @mrgreene1977.

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Astronomers Find a Six-Planet System Which Orbit in Lockstep With Each Other – Universe Today

To date, astronomers have confirmed the existence of 4,152 extrasolar planets in 3,077 star systems. While the majority of these discoveries involved a single planet, several hundred star systems were found to be multi-planetary. Systems that contain six planets or more, however, appear to be rarer, with only a dozen or so cases discovered so far.

This is what astronomers found after observing HD 158259, a Sun-like star located about 88 light-years from Earth, for the past seven years using the SOPHIE spectrograph. Combined with new data from the Transiting Exoplanet Space Satellite (TESS), an international team reported the discovery of a six planet system where all were in near-perfect rhythm with each other.

The international team responsible for this discovery was led by Dr. Nathan Hara, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), a member of the Swiss PlanetS institute, and a Fellow with the European Space Agencys (ESA) CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite (CHEOPS) mission. The study that describes their findings recently appeared in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Using SOPHIE, astronomers have been conducting velocity measurements of many stars in the northern hemisphere to determine if they have exoplanets orbiting them. This method, known as the Radial Velocity Method (or Doppler Spectroscopy), consists of measuring the spectra a star to see if it is moving in place which is an indication that the gravitational force of one or more planets is working on it.

Interestingly enough, it was SOPHIEs predecessor (the ELODIE spectrograph) that led to one of the earliest exoplanet discoveries in 1995 the hot Jupiter 51 Peg b (Dimidium). After examining HD 158259 for seven years, SOPHIE succeeded in obtaining high-precision radial velocity measurements that revealed the presence of a six planet system.

This system consists of an innermost large rocky planet (a super-Earth) and five small gas giants (mini-Neptunes) that have exceptionally regular spacing between them. As Franois Bouchy, a professor of astronomy and science at UNIGE and the coordinator of the observation program, explained in a UNIGE press release:

The discovery of this exceptional system has been made possible thanks to the acquisition of a great number of measurements, as well as a dramatic improvement of the instrument and of our signal processing techniques.

These planets range from being 2 (the innermost super-Earth) to 6 times (the mini-Neptunes) as massive as Earth. The system is also very compact, with all of six planets orbit closely to the star and the outermost being just 0.38 times as distant as Mercury is from the Sun. This places the planets well inside the stars habitable zone (HZ), which means none are likely to have water on the surfaces or dense enough atmospheres to support life.

Meanwhile, TESS monitored HD 158259 for signs of transits (aka. the Transit Method) and observed a decrease in the stars brightness as the innermost planet passed in front of the star. According to Isabelle Boisse, a researcher at the Marseille Astrophysics Laboratory and co-author of the study, the TESS readings (combined with the radial velocity data) allowed them to constrain the properties of this planet (HD 158259 b) further.

The TESS measurements strongly support the detection of the planet and allow to estimate its radius, which brings very valuable information on the planets internal structure, she said. But as noted earlier, the most impressive feature of this system is its regularity. Basically, the planets in the system have an almost exact 3:2 orbital resonance

This means that for every three orbits the innermost planet makes, the second one will complete about two. In the time it takes the second planet to complete three orbits, the third will complete about two. This ratio applies to all six planets in the system and came as quite a surprise to Hara and his colleagues.

When describing the planets orbits, Hara compared it to an orchestra playing music, though the arrangement is not quite perfect:

This is comparable to several musicians beating distinct rhythms, yet who beat at the same time at the beginning of each bar. Here, about is important. Besides the ubiquity of the 3:2 period ratio, this constitutes the originality of the system.

Resonances, even imperfect ones, are of interest to astronomers because of how they provide hints to a star systems formation and evolution. In astronomical circles, there is still considerable debate about how star systems come together and change over time. A particularly contentious point is whether planets form close to their final position in the system, or if they change their orbits after forming.

This latter scenario (known as planetary migration) has been gaining traction in recent years thanks to the discovery of exoplanets like Hot-Jupiters, leading many astronomers to question if planetary shake-ups occur. This theory would appear to explain the formation of the six planets in the HD 158259 system. Said Stephane Udry, a professor of astronomy and science at UNIGE:

Several compact systems with several planets in, or close to resonances are known, such as TRAPPIST-1 or Kepler-80. Such systems are believed to form far from the star before migrating towards it. In this scenario, the resonances play a crucial part.

The fact that HD 158259s planets are close to a 3:2 resonance, but not exactly within one, suggests that they were trapped in one in the past. However, they would have subsequently undergone synchronous migration and moved away from the resonance. According to Hara, thats not all that this system can tell us.

Furthermore, the current departure of the period ratios from 3:2 contains a wealth of information, he said. With these values on the one hand, and tidal effect models on the other hand, we could constrain the internal structure of the planets in a future study. In summary, the current state of the system gives us a window on its formation.

The more we learn about this multi-planet system and others like it, the more we can learn about how star systems like our own came to be. The resolution of these and other questions about the formation and evolution of planetary systems will put us one step closer to knowing how life can emerge (and perhaps where to look for it!)

Further Reading: University of Geneva, Astronomy & Astrophysics

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