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The very low levels of water vapor discovered by the researchers raise questions about the current understanding of the chemical processes involved in planet formation.
A team of astronomers has made the most precise measurements yet of water vapor in the atmospheres of three Jupiter-like exoplanets and found them to be between ten and one-thousand times drier than models predicted.
“The low water vapor levels are surprising,” said Dr. Nicolas Crouzet of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto in a statement. “Our models predict a much higher abundance of water vapor, and so these results challenge our current understanding of planet formation. And they raise questions about our ability to identify water in an Earth-like exoplanet.”
The team analyzed near-infrared spectra, obtained using the Hubble Space Telescope, of three exoplanets between 60 and 900 light years away, identified as HD 189733b, HD 209458b, and WASP-12b. The exoplanets belong to a class of planets known as “hot Jupiters” and have average temperatures between 900 and 2200° C.
The Hubble Space Telescope collected light from the parent star as well as light that passed through the planet’s atmosphere as the planet passed in front of the star. The scientists then accounted for the recorded light differences in order to come up with an estimate of the amount of light that passed through the atmosphere of the planet.… Read the full article ···»
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Spend any amount of time reading climate arguments on the Internet, and you’ll undoubtedly hear some version of the following argument: the Earth hasn’t warmed in 17 years, and none of the climate models predicted that. Although there are a lot of problems with that statement (including the fact that it has warmed a bit), it’s probably safe to say that the warming hasn’t been as intense as many scientists expected.
Of course, to a scientist, unmet expectations are an opportunity, so a variety of papers have looked into why this has happened. They’ve found that, while volcanic eruptions seem to have contributed to the relatively slow rise in temperatures, a major player has been the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which has been stuck in a cool, La Niña state for most of the last decade. And, since climate models aren’t expected to accurately forecast each El Niño, there would be no reason to expect that they would match the actual atmospheric record.
At least not intentionally. But some researchers have found that, simply by chance, a few of the models do produce an accurate ENSO pattern. And when those models are examined in detail, it turns out they match the existing temperature record pretty well.
The issue the new paper examines comes down to the difference between long-term climate trends and intermediate-term variations.… Read the full article ···»
The first human built object to exit the solar system may not be gone after all
For a space probe that’s at least two decades beyond its sell-by date, Voyager 1 has a pretty impressive record of keeping itself in the news. Even more impressive is the fact that the topic is always the same. Either the aging craft, launched in 1977 to explore first Jupiter, then Saturn, has left the Solar System, en route to an eternal journey into deep space, or it hasn’t.
In 2003, for example, the reports were that Voyager had indeed left. But in 2010, it was merely getting ready to leave. Same thing in 2012. Then, last year, it definitely departed—but it didn’t leave the Solar System exactly. What it did do was depart the heliosphere, the region where the charged particles of the solar wind stream freely outward from the Sun before slamming into the particle clouds of interstellar space to form a shock wave known as the heliopause.
If you’re not confused enough already, you will be. It turns out that nobody actually knows whether Voyager really is outside the heliosphere at all, since all of the tests to date have been indirect, looking for charged particles and other clues that suggest but don’t prove anything. So now a pair of Voyager team scientists have proposed what they insist is a definitive test, in a paper accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
If the spacecraft is still inside the heliosphere, they say, it should encounter something called the “current sheet,” a place where the Sun’s magnetic field flips from north to south.… Read the full article ···»
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The Russian Ufology Research Center has a collection of “hydrosphere aspect” sightings The secret files of the Soviet Navy contain much valuable information on UFO sightings. Soviet military researchers quite thorough. The files have been largely inaccessible, even after the fall of the USSR. But I was able to collect some interesting information.
Mr. Krapiva attended lectures given by veteran officers of Soviet nuclear-powered submarines. They had served in the Soviet North, in secret naval installations and bases. The lectures sometimes veered off the planned presentations, and many spellbinding tales were told. For instance, episodes when Soviet sonar-operators (military hydroacoustics technicians) were “hearing” (at great depths) strange “targets”. Their submarines were actually being chased by other “submarines”. The pursuers changed their speed at will — speeds that were much faster than any other similar vessel in the world at that time Lieutenant-Commander Oleg Sokolov confidentially informed the students that while he was on duty during his submarine’s navigation, he had observed through a periscope an ascent of some strange object through the water.… Read the full article ···»