Saturday, 16 December 2017

Astronomers Have Discovered the First Star with an Almost Pure Oxygen Atmosphere

Artist's impression of a white dwarf. Sciencepics/

According to recent findings reported in Journal Science, astronomers have discovered a new type of star that up until this point had only been existed theoretically.

4 Crazy Things About Quantum Physics That Everyone Should Know

Quantum mechanics is the body of scientific laws that describe the wacky behavior of photons, electrons and the other particles that make up the universe. 

What Is This Pale Blue Dot 4 BILLION Miles Away In Space

IT’S a pale blue speck in the unimaginable expanse of space, a cosmic grain of sand less than one pixel wide against a background of endless night.

Life After Death? -- Physicists Says "It's Quantum Information that Transcends from One World to Another"

While scientists are still in heated debates about what exactly consciousness is, the University of Arizona’s Stuart Hameroff and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose conclude that it is information stored at a quantum level. Penrose agrees --he and his team have found evidence that "protein-based microtubules—a structural component of human cells—carry quantum information— information stored at a sub-atomic level.”

Friday, 15 December 2017

The Most Breathtaking Pictures of Earth from Space

If ever you want a surefire way to calm your nerves on those days when life's problems seem all-encompassing, wait until nighttime rolls around and head outside for a nice peek up at the stars. When's the last time you were disappointed by looking at the sky? Or by looking at pictures of the earth from space, even?

Why Is Space 3D? Physicists Finally Have a Plausible Explanation

You might never have wondered why the Universe has just three spatial dimensions, but it is a question that has long vexed physicists. 

Astronomers Just Revealed The Sharpest Ever Image of a Star in Another Solar System

An international team of astronomers from Chile and Germany has managed to capture an image of unprecedented detail of another star — that isn’t the Sun — the red supergiant star Antares. The team has also made the first map of the velocities of material in the atmosphere of a star other than the Sun, revealing unexpected turbulence in the extended atmosphere of Antares. Antares, also designated Alpha Scorpii, is a well-studied, close red supergiant star at a distance of 554 light years. It is the fifteenth-brightest star in the night sky and the brightest star in the constellation of Scorpius. With a diameter about 700 times that of the Sun and a mass about 12 times solar, Antares is one of largest stars.

It is thought that Antares started life with a mass more like 15 times that of the Sun, and has shed three solar-masses of material during its life. To directly see the gas motions in its atmosphere, Dr. Keiichi Ohnaka of the Universidad Católica del Norte in Chile and co-authors observed Antares with ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) located on Cerro Paranal in Chile.

“How stars like Antares lose mass so quickly in the final phase of their evolution has been a problem for over half a century,” Dr. Ohnaka said. “VLTI is the only facility that can directly measure the gas motions in the extended atmosphere of Antares — a crucial step towards clarifying this problem. The next challenge is to identify what’s driving the turbulent motions.”

This is the most detailed image ever of the red supergiant star Antares, or any other star apart from the Sun. Image credit: K. Ohnaka / ESO.

The astronomers created the first two-dimensional velocity map of the atmosphere of a star other than the Sun. They did this using the VLTI with three of the Auxiliary Telescopes and an instrument called AMBER to make separate images of the surface of Antares over a small range of infrared wavelengths.

They then used these data to calculate the difference between the speed of the atmospheric gas at different positions on the star and the average speed over the entire star. This resulted in a map of the relative speed of the atmospheric gas across the entire disc of Antares — the first ever created for a star other than the Sun.
“We found turbulent, low-density gas much further from the star than predicted,” the authors said. “The movement could not result from convection, that is, from large-scale movement of matter which transfers energy from the core to the outer atmosphere of many stars. A new, currently unknown, process may be needed to explain these movements in the extended atmospheres of red supergiants like Antares.”

The research is published in the journal Nature.