Tag: Sculptor

What It’s Like to Be at the 24th International UFO Congress

Excerpt from nbcnews.com
By Katie Linendoll
FOUNTAIN HILLS, Ariz. — If words like UFO, extraterrestrial, crops circles and abductee have ever piqued your paranormal interest, do yourself a favor and head to the International UFO Congress. 

The annual conference—which holds the Guinness record for being the largest convention dedicated to unidentified flying objects—takes place in the picturesque desert town of Fountain Hills, and this year it ran from Feb. 18 to 22. It's worth noting that Arizona is known as a hotbed of activity when it comes to sightings. Thousands flock to the annual event, which is produced by Open Minds, a paranormal research organization. 

Each attendee has his or her own reason for being there. My goal was to find out if modern science and technology have changed the game when it comes to UFO sightings and evidence gathering. 

"A lot of people think, go to a UFO convention, it's going to be tinfoil hats, but that's not what this is. We have NASA astrobiologists speak, scientists, high-ranking military officials, the works. I mean, there's a lot of really credible people covering this subject," said UFO Congress co-organizer and paranormal journalist Maureen Elsberry.

Air Force UFO documents now available online

When attending a UFO conference, the best approach is to come in with an open mind, ask lots of questions and talk with people about why they are there. Everyone has a story, from the speakers to the attendees, and even the vendors (some of whom double as ufologists). 

The highlight of this year's conference was undeniably the speaker series, and it was standing room only to see one man, Bob Lazar. Lazar first spoke out in 1989, claiming that he'd worked as a government scientist at a secret mountainside facility south of Area 51's main site, where he saw remarkably advanced UFO technology. Critics have sought to discredit Lazar, questioning his employment record and educational credentials. 

During the conference, George Knapp, an investigative TV reporter in Las Vegas who broke the Lazar story in '89, led an onstage question-and-answer session with Lazar, who discussed the work he did at a place called S4. Lazar spoke in detail about the alien UFO hangars and UFO propulsion systems he was allegedly asked to reverse engineer, and even loosely sketched them out for the audience. 

"All the science fiction had become reality," said Lazar, who was noticeably uncomfortable and clearly surprised by the fact that, decades later, he remains such a draw. 

You never know whom you'll bump into at the Congress. In the vendor hall, I met sculptor Alan Groves, who traveled all the way from Australia to peddle his "true to scale" Zetan alien figurines. I wondered if his side gig was lucrative, only to realize he was selling the figures like hotcakes. Then we talked about his day job, and he told me he's worked on special and creature effects for films such as "Star Wars," "Alien," "Labyrinth" and "Jurassic Park." 

Many of the attendees told me that hard evidence is a requirement for ufologists and paranormal field experts. Derrel Sims, also known as Alien Hunter, told me he spent two years in the CIA, and also has served as a police officer and licensed private investigator. 

He said his first alien encounter happened at age 4, and others in his family have also seen aliens. In 38-plus years of alien research, Sims has learned this: "If you look, the evidence is there." To date, he said, more than 4,000 pieces of that evidence exist. 

Sims is adamant about only working with evidence-based methods, using DNA tests and collecting samples as well as relying on ultraviolet, infrared and x-ray tools in his research. He said that, in 1992, he discovered aliens leave their own kind of fluorescent fingerprint, and he continues to test for these clues. He added that if you have had an alien encounter, it's important to react quickly to gather evidence: "fluorescence" stays on the skin for only 24 hours. He said that other marks aliens leave include "scoop" marks, which are an identifying thread some abductees have in common. 

Another commonality he's discovered is heritage. He said that, in his research, he has found 45 percent of all abductions happen to Native Americans, Irish and Celtic people, and he said that women also have a higher chance of being abducted. 

When it comes to filming hard-to-explain phenomena, Patty Greer, who makes documentaries about crop circles, said that quadcopters — a.k.a. drones — have added production value to her films. Lynne Kitei, who covered a mass UFO sighting in her book and in the documentary The Phoenix Lights, said that even low-tech tools, like the 35mm film she used, are still a reliable way to gather proof of inexplicable flying craft, especially because they offer something an iPhone doesn't: negatives.

White House responds to UFO request

Night vision also offers added opportunities for UFO researchers, according to Ben Hansen, who was the host and lead investigator of SyFy channel's "Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files." He's now the owner of Night Vision Ops, an online store that sells night-vision technology. Hansen said that the consumer accessibility of new military-grade technologies in thermal and light amplification scopes are upping the game for the everyday UFO enthusiast. 

To close out an intense few days on site at the Congress, Hansen's team invited me to a night watch near Arizona's Superstition Mountains. It was fascinating to see the latest optics add incredible clarity to the night sky, amplifying available light up to 50,000 times beyond what the unaided eye can see. Using the right technology, we were also able to see that a certain flying object, which made everyone nearby jump, wasn't a UFO after all. It was a bat. 

I was surrounded by some serious tech all weekend, and it was eye-opening to see the ways that UFO hunters are gathering scientific evidence to learn more about the paranormal world. But I have to say, the gadget that was the most useful to me at the conference was my iPhone, which I used to download a free nightlight app for kids. For the few hours I managed to sleep, it was with the soothing illumination provided by "Kiwi the Green Koala." In short, I was officially freaked out.

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ALMA uncovers stellar nurseries in the Sculptor Galaxy, 11.5 million light years from home

ALMA uncovers stellar nurseries in the Sculptor Galaxy, 11.5 million light years from home
The Sculptor Galaxy

Excerpt from sciencerecorder.com

Starburst galaxies are named for their ability to convert gasses rapidly into new stars, at an accelerated speed that can sometimes be 1,000 times more rapid than your average spiral galaxy, such as the Milky Way. Why the disparity? In order to further investigate the reason that some galaxies seem to “burst” into being, whereas others take the better part of a few billion years, an international team of astronomers analyzed a cluster of star-forming gas clouds in the heart of NGC 253 – the Sculptor Galaxy, with the aid of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The Sculptor Galaxy is among starburst galaxies closest to the Milky Way.

“All stars form in dense clouds of dust and gas,” said Adam Leroy, in an interview with Astronomy magazine. Leroy is an astronomer at Ohio State University in Columbus. “Until now, however, scientists struggled to see exactly what was going on inside starburst galaxies that distinguished them from other star-forming regions.”

Therefore, Leroy and his colleagues turn to the ALMA which is capable of examining star changing structures even in systems as distant as Sculptor. Already, they have successfully charted distribution and movement of various molecules within several clouds located at the Sculptor Galaxy’s core.

Because NGC 253, which is disk-shaped, is in the stages of a very intense starburst and located approximately 11.5 million light-years from home, it is the perfect target for study. ALMA picks it up with remarkable precision and resolution, so much so that the team was able to isolate and identify ten different stellar ‘nurseries,’ in which stars were in the process of forming. To appreciate the magnitude of this feat, it would have been impossible with previous telescopes, which blurred the regions together into one glow. 

“There is a class of galaxies and parts of galaxies, we call them starbursts, where we know that gas is just plain better at forming stars,” said Leroy. “To understand why, we took one of the nearest such regions and pulled it apart — layer by layer — to see what makes the gas in these places so much more efficient at star formation.”

More importantly, they recognized the distribution of several 40 millimeter-wavelength “signatures,” that given off by various molecules at the center of Sculptor Galaxy, signaling that a number of conditions were responsible for the development of these stars. This accounts for the diversity of the states of different stars corresponding to where they are found in star-forming clouds. One important compound, all too familiar and unwelcome on Earth, carbon monoxide (CO), correlates with massive envelopes of gases that are less dense within the stellar nurseries. Others, such as hydrogen cyanide (HCN), were present in the more dense reaches of active star formation. The rarer the molecules, for example, H13CN and H13CO+, suggest regions that are even denser.

Indeed, when the data was compared, researchers found that the gas clouds of the Sculptor Galaxy were ten times denser than those found in spiral galaxies, suggesting that because the clouds are so tightly packed, they can form star clusters much more rapidly than the Milky Way. At the same time, they give us further insight as to how stars are born, showing us the physical changes along the way, allowing astronomers a working model to compare with our own galaxy. 

“These differences have wide-ranging implications for how galaxies grow and evolve,” concluded Leroy. “What we would ultimately like to know is whether a starburst like Sculptor produces not just more stars, but different types of stars than a galaxy like the Milky Way. ALMA is bringing us much closer to that goal.”

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Our Milky Way strips nearby galaxies of star-forming hydrogen

 Artist's impression of the Milky Way. Its hot halo appears to be stripping away the star-forming atomic hydrogen from its companion dwarf spheroidal galaxies.  Image credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF
Artist’s impression of the Milky Way. Its hot halo appears to be stripping away the star-forming atomic hydrogen from its companion dwarf spheroidal galaxies. Image credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF

Excerpt from

Astronomers have discovered that our nearest galactic neighbors are devoid of star-forming gas, and that our Milky Way is to blame.

New observations by large radio telescopes reveal that within a well-defined boundary around our galaxy, dwarf galaxies are completely devoid of hydrogen gas. Beyond this point, dwarf galaxies are teeming with star-forming material. 

The Milky Way galaxy is actually the largest member of a compact clutch of galaxies that are bound together by gravity. Swarming around our home galaxy is a menagerie of smaller dwarf galaxies, the smallest of which are the relatively nearby dwarf spheroidals, which may be the leftover building blocks of galaxy formation.

Further out are a number of similarly sized and slightly misshaped dwarf irregular galaxies, which are not gravitationally bound to the Milky Way and may be relative newcomers to our galactic neighborhood.

Kristine Spekkens is an assistant professor at the Royal Military College of Canada and lead author on a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. She said:
"Astronomers wondered if, after billions of years of interaction, the nearby dwarf spheroidal galaxies have all the same star-forming ‘stuff’ that we find in more distant dwarf galaxies."

Previous studies have shown that the more distant dwarf irregular galaxies have large reservoirs of neutral hydrogen gas, the fuel for star formation. These past observations, however, were not sensitive enough to rule out the presence of this gas in the smallest dwarf spheroidal galaxies. 

Spekkens said:
"What we found is that there is a clear break, a point near our home galaxy where dwarf galaxies are completely devoid of any traces of neutral atomic hydrogen."
 Bottom line: New observations by large radio telescopes reveal that within a well-defined boundary around our galaxy, dwarf galaxies are completely devoid of star-making hydrogen gas. Astronomers say our Milky Way is to blame.

Known Milky Way satellite galaxies.  Click here for more about this diagram.
Neighboring galaxies to our own Milky Way (Descriptions below)

Canes Major 7.2Martin et al. 2004, A dwarf galaxy remnant in Canis Major: the fossil of an in-plane accretion on to the Milky Way
Segue 317 Belokurov et al. 2010, Big Fish, Little Fish: Two New Ultra-Faint Satellites of the Milky Way
Segue 123 Belokurov et al. 2007, Cats and Dogs, Hair and A Hero: A Quintet of New Milky Way Companions
Sagittarius24Ibata, Gilmore & Irwin, 1994, A dwarf satellite galaxy in Sagittarius 1995, Sagittarius: the nearest dwarf galaxy
Segue 234.7 Belokurov et al. 2009, The discovery of Segue 2: a prototype of the population of satellitesof satellites
Bootes II 43 Walsh, Jerjen & Willman, 2007, A Pair of Bootes: A New Milky Way Satellite
Coma 44 Belokurov et al. 2007, Cats and Dogs, Hair and A Hero: A Quintet of New Milky Way Companions
Willman 1 (SDSSJ1049+5103) 45Willman et al. 2005, A New Milky Way Companion: Unusual Globular Cluster or Extreme Dwarf Satellite?
Bootes III 46Grillmair 2009, Four New Stellar Debris Streams in the Galactic Halo
LMC 50.8-
SMC 59.7-
Bootes 60 Belokurov et al. 2006, A Faint New Milky Way Satellite in Bootes
Ursa Minor 66A.G. Wilson of the Lowell Observatory in 1955, Sculptor-Type Systems in the Local Group of Galaxies
Sculptor (Scl) 79discovered in 1938 by Harlow Shapley, A Stellar System of a New Type
Draco 82 A.G. Wilson of the Lowell Observatory in 1955, Sculptor-Type Systems in the Local Group of Galaxies
Sextans 89 Mike Irwin, M.T. Bridgeland, P.S. Bunclark and R.G. McMahon, 1990 A new satellite galaxy of the Milky Way in the constellation of Sextans
Ursa Major (UMa) 100Willman et al. 2005, A New Milky Way Dwarf Galaxy in Ursa Major
Carina 103Cannon, R. D., Hawarden, T. G., & Tritton, S. B., 1977, A new Sculptor-type dwarf elliptical galaxy in Carina
Hercules 140 Belokurov et al. 2007, Cats and Dogs, Hair and A Hero: A Quintet of New Milky Way Companions
Fornax 140discovered in 1938 by Harlow Shapley, described in "Two Stellar Systems of a New Kind", Nature, Vol. 142, p. 715
Canes Venatici II 150 Sakamoto & Hasegawa 2006, Discovery of a Faint Old Stellar System at 150 kpc
Leo IV 160 Belokurov et al. 2007, Cats and Dogs, Hair and A Hero: A Quintet of New Milky Way Companions
Pisces II 182 Belokurov et al. 2010, Big Fish, Little Fish: Two New Ultra-Faint Satellites of The Milky Way
Leo II (Leo B) 208 Robert G. Harrington and Albert George Wilson, 1950, Two New Stellar Systems in Leo
Canes Venatici 220Zucker et al. 2006 A New Milky Way Dwarf Satellite in Canes Venatici
Leo I 254 Robert G. Harrington and Albert George Wilson, 1950, Two New Stellar Systems in Leo

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Hubble Finds Jets and Explosions in Galaxy 13 Million Light Years Away

Hubble Finds Jets and Explosions in NGC 7793. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
This new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows NGC 7793, a spiral galaxy in the constellation of Sculptor some 13 million light-years away from Earth. NGC 7793 is one of the brightest galaxies in the Sculptor Group, one of the closest groups of galaxies to the Local Group — the group of galaxies containing our galaxy, the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds.
The image shows NGC 7793’s spiral arms and small central bulge.
Unlike some other spirals, NGC 7793 doesn’t have a very pronounced spiral structure, and its shape is further muddled by the mottled pattern of dark dust that stretches across the frame. The occasional burst of bright pink can be seen in the galaxy, highlighting stellar nurseries containing newly-forming baby stars.
Although it may look serene and beautiful from our perspective, this galaxy is actually a very dramatic and violent place. Astronomers have discovered a powerful micro-quasar within NGC 7793 — a system containing a black hole actively feeding on material from a companion star. A micro-quasar is an object that has some of the properties of quasars in miniature. While many full-sized quasars are known at the cores of other galaxies, it is unusual to find a quasar in a galaxy’s disk rather than at its center.
Micro-quasars are almost like scale models — they allow astronomers to study quasars in detail. As material falls inwards towards this black hole, it creates a swirling disk around it. Some of the infalling gas is propelled violently outwards at extremely high speeds, creating jets streaking out into space in opposite directions. In the case of NGC 7793, these jets are incredibly powerful, and are in the process of creating an expanding bubble of hot gas some 1,000 light-years across.

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Moves and Maneuvers Brinkmanship and Battles: November’s Sagittarius New Moon


November 20, 2011

A quarrel is quickly settled when deserted by one party: there is no battle unless there be two. Seneca

Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back into the same box. Italian proverb

It is one of...

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HEAVEN #3929 In a Beautiful Garden of Life on the Crest of a Hill , August 28, 2011


God said:

Hello, World. Are you rotating today? Are you the globe circling and meeting yourself?

And what are you, the world, without people milling around on you?

Is the world the world, or is the world the people on it? ...

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Knowledge, Passion, Temptation and Forbidden Fruit: The Aries New Moon


a message from Lynda Hill

Sunday, 27 March, 2011  (posted 1 April, 2011)

Religion has done love a great service by making it a sin. Anatole France

It was from the rind of one apple tasted that the know...

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Beauty, Reflection And Blessings: December’s Lunar Eclipse

a message from Lynda Hill

Sunday, 19 December, 2010  (posted 20 December, 2010)

A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study. Chinese Proverb

You can take no credit for beauty at sixte...

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