Excerpt from huffingtonpost.comIntroductionWhy is it so hard to find ET? After 50 years of searching, the SETI project has so far found nothing. In the latest development, on April 14, 2015 Penn State researchers announced that after searching through...
Leapfrogging backward in time to when the universe was apparently feeling its oats, a group of astronomers reported Tuesday that they had measured a bona fide distance to one of the farthest and thus earliest galaxies known.
The galaxy, more than a few billion light-years on the other side of the northern constellation Boötes, is one of the most massive and brightest in the early universe and goes by the name of EGS-zs8-1.
It flowered into stardom only 670 million years after the Big Bang.
The light from that galaxy has taken 13 billion years to reach telescopes on Earth. By now, however, since the universe has continued to expand during that time, the galaxy is about 30 billion light-years away, according to standard cosmological calculations.
The new measurements allow astronomers to see the galaxy in its infancy. Despite its relative youth, however, it is already about one-sixth as massive as the Milky Way, which is 10 billion years old. And it is getting bigger, making stars 80 times faster than the Milky Way is making them today. The discovery was reported in The Astrophysical Journal by Pascal Oesch of Yale University and his colleagues.
By the rules of the expanding universe, the farther away a galaxy is, the faster it is retreating from us, measured by the “redshift” of its light being broadened to longer wavelengths, the way an ambulance siren seems to lower its pitch as it goes by.
In the past few years, as astronomers have raced one another into the past with instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope, galaxies have been found that appear even more distant. Those measurements, however, were estimates based on the colors of the objects — so-called photometric redshifts.
The new galaxy stuck out in a survey of distant galaxies by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes known as Candels, for Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey. Its redshift was precisely measured with a powerful spectrograph known as Mosfire — Multi-Object Spectrometer for Infrared Exploration — on Keck 1, one of a pair of 10-meter-diameter telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. That makes it the highest redshift confirmed in this way, said Garth Illingworth, of the University of California, Santa Cruz, one of the astronomers in the study.
How galaxies were able to form and grow so rapidly after the lights came on in the universe is a mystery that will be addressed by a coming generation of instruments like the James Webb Space Telescope and the Thirty Meter Telescope, a goliath planned for Mauna Kea, already home to a dozen telescopes.
Recently, however, construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, a $1.4 billion project, has been halted by protests by Hawaii residents who feel their mountain has been abused. An echo of that controversy appears in the new paper, in which Dr. Oesch and his colleagues write: “The authors wish to recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Mauna Kea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain.”
May 4, 2015 / Greg Giles / Comments Off on Desperately Seeking Extraterrestrials ~ Fermi’s Paradox Turns 65 ~ Part 1
Excerpt from huffingtonpost.comIntroduction 65 years ago, in 1950, while having lunch with colleagues Edward Teller and Herbert York, Nobel physicist Enrico Fermi suddenly blurted out, "Where is everybody?" His question is now known as Fermi's p...
The formation of water vapor after the Big Bang was constrained by the lack of oxygen; it and other elements heavier than hydrogen and helium were created only later on, in the death throes of the first generation of massive stars. Oxygen created by the demises of early stars was swept out in to space by the explosions of supernovae and stellar winds, eventually joining with hydrogen to form water.
This process created islands of gas replete with heavy elements, such as oxygen; these regions were more bereft of oxygen than gaseous regions in the modern Milky Way galaxy. However, a new study by Tel Aviv University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) has determined that, in certain islands, water vapor might have been as plentiful as it is today, only a billion years after the Big Bang.
According to a CfA statement, the researchers looked at whether water could form in the primordial molecular clouds, which were deficient in oxygen. Their analysis indicated that large quantities of water could form at around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Water molecules would have been shattered by ultraviolet light emitted by stars; however, after hundreds of millions of years, an equilibrium between water creation and destruction would be reached.
“We looked at the chemistry within young molecular clouds containing a thousand times less oxygen than our Sun. To our surprise, we found we can get as much water vapor as we see in our own galaxy,” said astrophysicist Avi Loeb of CfA.
The new study has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal and is accessible online.
“Space is just the construct that gives the illusion that there are separate objects” – Dr. Quantum (see video below)There is a phenomenon so strange, so fascinating, and so counter to what we believe to be the known scientific laws of the universe, that Einstein himself could not wrap his head around it. It’s called “quantum entanglement,” though Einstein referred to it as “spooky action at a distance.”An [...]
Marco Torres, Prevent DiseaseWith a progressively educated population becoming more aware of the inherent dangers of the conventional food supply, urban farming has become hugely popular. However, more people are also becoming aware of contaminated soil and how heavy metals pose potential risks to their food crops. As backyard gardening continues to explode in popularity, we must ask how contaminated is our soil?Many municipalities in many countries are embracing urban agri [...]
May 1, 2015 / Greg Giles / Comments Off on ‘Hats Off’ To HATS-6b: Discovery of ‘puffy’ new planet brings scientists closer to finding new life in outer space
An artist's impression of the planet HATS-6b, orbiting the star, HATS-6. (Supplied: ANU) Excerpt from abc.net.au A "puffy" new planet orbiting a small, cool star has been discovered 500 light years away from Earth, by a team of scientists c...
A team of scientists has created a detailed map of our cosmic “neighborhood” extending nearly two billion lights years in every direction. This 3-D map showing galaxies in their superclusters will aid astrophysicists in better understanding how matter, including dark matter, is distributed in the universe.
According to a Science Daily report, the map indicates the relative concentration of galaxies in different areas, including the largest nearby supercluster called the Shapely Concentration, as well as less explored areas. The scientists found no sign of any pattern in the distribution of matter.
“The galaxy distribution isn’t uniform and has no pattern. It has peaks and valleys much like a mountain range. This is what we expect if the large-scale structure originates from quantum fluctuations in the early universe,” Mike Hudson of the University of Waterloo said in a statement.
The researchers hope that a more complete view of the placement and movement of matter will aid in forming predictions about the expansion of the universe. In particular, the team hopes to gain insight into the phenomenon of peculiar velocity – the differences in galactic movement caused by the unevenness in the expansion of the universe. It is thought that the non-uniform movement of galaxies is influenced by dark matter – a form of matter only indirectly detectable through its gravitational influence on light and visible matter.
A cross-section of the cosmic map detailing accumulations of massive clusters. The dark red region is the famous Shapley Concentration, the largest collection of galaxies in the nearby universe.
Hudson et al./University of Waterloo
“A better understanding of dark matter is central to understanding the formation of galaxies and the structures they live in, such as galaxy clusters, superclusters and voids,” said Hudson.
The team plans to continue expanding and detailing the map in collaboration with additional researchers. The team’s work was published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.