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2015 posts

2015 Cosmology Posts

News Items discussed at the November 9th Cosmology Meeting

  1. Comets – Lovejoy & alcohol
    Date 24th October;   Source NASA/Goddard Space Centre;   Links:  Science Daily  :  ZME Science
  2. Comet – Rosetta & oxygen
    Date  29th October;   Source University of Bern;   Links:  Science Daily  :  ZME Science
  3. Chemicals – Common chemical makeup at largest cosmic scales
    Date 26th October;   Source  : NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center;   Links:  Science Daily
  4. The Moon – Origin of organic matter in Apollo lunar samples revealed by NASA study
    Date 29th October;   Source NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center;   Links:  Science Daily
  5. Gravity -Advanced LIGO On the Hunt
    Date 22nd October;   Source LIGO – Caltech;   Links Sky & Telescope  : Quanta Magazine
  6. Milky Way – New component discovered, a disc of young stars near the central bulge
    Date 28th October;    Source ESO;   Links:  Science Daily  : Quanta Magazine
  7. Milky Way – Astrophysicists produce the first age map of the halo
    Date 28th October;    Source ESO;   Links:  Science Daily 
  8. Milky Way – photo with 46 billion pixels, the largest astronomical image yet
    Date 21st October;    Source  : Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum;   Links:  Science Daily 
  9. The Universe – Birth of universe modelled in one of largest cosmological simulations
    Date 29th October;    Source  : DOE/Argonne National Laboratory;   Links:  Science Daily 
  10. Who’s there? – The Curious Case of KIC 8462852
    Date 17th October;    Source Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society;   Links:  Sky & Telescope 

News Items discussed at the October 12th Cosmology Meeting, plus web-links

1)  Converging black holes in Virgo Cluster     Link

2)  Eleven year cosmic search leads to black hole rethink     Link

3)  Too big for its boots: Black hole is too big     Link

4)  A new study predicts a quantum Goldilocks effect: Everything in moderation     Link

5)  ‘Fossils’ of galaxies reveal the formation & evolution of massive galaxies     Link

6)  Making the Brightest, Rarest Galaxies     Link

7)  New theory of stealth dark matter may explain universe’s missing Mass     Link


A couple of links to items which have come up at our April and May meetings  :  22nd May, 2015

Longterm galactic cosmic ray exposure leads to dementia like cognitive impairments

Findings of UCI study have implications for astronauts on extended spaceflights

Irvine, Calif., May 1, 2015 — What happens to an astronaut’s brain during a mission to Mars? Nothing good. It’s besieged by destructive particles that can forever impair cognition, according to a UC Irvine radiation oncology study appearing in the May 1 edition of Science Advances.  Charles Limoli and colleagues found that exposure to highly energetic charged particles – much like those found in the galactic cosmic rays that bombard astronauts during extended spaceflights – cause significant damage to the central nervous system, resulting in cognitive impairments.
……. While cognitive deficits in astronauts would take months to manifest, Limoli said, the time required for a mission to Mars is sufficient for such deficits to develop. People working for extended periods on the International Space Station do not face the same level of bombardment with galactic cosmic rays, as they are still within the protective magnetosphere of the Earth.


Mars trip to use astronaut poo as radiation shield

To protect themselves from cosmic rays the couple aboard the proposed Inspiration mission to Mars will line the craft’s walls with water, food – and their own faeces
Jacob Aron and Lisa Grossman 01 March 2013


or search http://www.newscientist.com/  for phrase “mars trip to use astronaut poo as radiation shield”

What Happens if You Fall Into a Black Hole? – from Quanta Magazine


Possible topics for future Cosmology Discussion group       Posted 14th April, 2015

Unsolved problems : Cosmology, and general relativity

Cosmic inflation;  Horizon problem;  Electroweak horizon problem;  Future of the universe;  Gravitational wave;  Baryon asymmetry;  Cosmological constant problem;  Dark matter;  Dark energy;  Dark flow;  Ecliptic alignment of CMB anisotropy;  Shape of the Universe

 Recent stories from the New Scientist



Looking into the voids could help explain dark energy (10/04/15);  Einstein puts a ring on distant galaxy (07/04/15);  Baby star before-and-after shows how it gets massive (02/04/15);   Alien FAQ: 6 questions about strange cosmic radio bursts (02/04/15);  Dark energy could signal collapse of the universe (01/04/15);  Is this ET? Mystery of strange radio bursts from space (31/03/15);  Twin Earths may lurk in our nearest star system (27/03/15);  Galaxy smash-ups show dark matter wants to be alone (26/03/15);  Black holes devour stars in gulps and nibbles (25/03/15)


The great antimatter mystery

If you want to lead a discussion or have any other points you wish to make my contact is:-   astrogw8@yahoo.com


 10 items that caught my attention in the last month           :  Posted 10th April, 2015

any comments to astrogw8@yahoo.com

1             Einstein Ring seen in stunning image of lensed galaxy
A very good picture of an Einstein Ring caused by a gravitational lens where a distant galaxy bends the light from a more distant source.

2          Black holes don’t erase information, scientists say
Another chapter in the Black Hole information debate

3          As stars form, magnetic fields influence regions big and small
Magnetic fields influence the dust clouds that form stars.

4          How Slippery Is Dark Matter?
5          Dark matter even darker than once thought
Dark matter doesn’t even seem to react with itself.

6          Mystery galaxies: Astronomers discover likely precursors of galaxy clusters we see today
More insight into galaxy formation from Planck & Hershel.

7          Milky Way’s center unveils supernova ‘dust factory’
As covered by Professor Steve Eales, at our March 9th meeting, more evidence supporting dust formation by supernova

8          Have alien civilizations built cosmic accelerators from black holes?
So, have aliens something better than the LHC??

9          New clues from the dawn of the solar system
Meteorite studies provide more info from the birth of our solar system.

10        First VIMOS Spectra of Faint Galaxies
Lots of spectra from the Visible MultiObject Spectrograph fitted to the ESO Melipal telescope in Chile.
1             Einstein Ring seen in stunning image of lensed galaxy  :  April 7, 2015  :   National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Einstein Ring 1
Astronomers have discovered that a distant galaxy — seen from Earth with the aid of a gravitational lens — appears like a cosmic ring, thanks to the highest resolution images ever taken with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).
Science Daily:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150407095345.htm

2          Black holes don’t erase information, scientists say  :  Apr 2, ’15  :  University at Buffalo

Shred a document, and you can piece it back together. But send information into a black hole, and it’s lost forever. A new study finds that contrary to what some physicists have argued for the years information is not lost once it has entered a black hole. The research presents explicit calculations showing how information is, in fact, preserved.
Science Daily: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150402132708.htm

3          As stars form, magnetic fields influence regions big and small             Mar 30, ’15               HarvardSmithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Stars form when gravity pulls together material within giant clouds of gas and dust. But gravity isn’t the only force at work. Both turbulence and magnetic fields battle gravity, either by stirring things up or by channeling and restricting gas flows, respectively. New research focusing on magnetic fields shows that they influence star formation on a variety of scales, from hundreds of lightyears down to a fraction of a lightyear.
Science Daily: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150330122613.htm
Nature: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature14291.html

 4         How Slippery Is Dark Matter? Mar 30, ’15
How slippery

Dozens of galaxy cluster collisions confirm that dark matter particles probably slip right past each other within messy cluster mergers.
Sky & Telescope: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/how-slippery-is-dark-matter-0330201534/

5          Dark matter even darker than once thought   Mar 26, ’15                    ESA/Hubble Information Centre
Astronomers have studied how dark matter in clusters of galaxies behaves when the clusters collide. The results show that dark matter interacts with itself even less than previously thought, and narrows down the options for what this mysterious substance might be.
Science Daily: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150326152238.htm
Science: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/347/6229/1462

6          Mystery galaxies: Astronomers discover likely precursors of galaxy clusters we see today    Mar 30, ’15              University of Arizona

Mystery Galaxies

Observations made with two space observatories, Herschel and Planck, reveal glimpses into how today’s galaxies came to be. Using one of a kind instrumentation, astronomers were able to study large numbers of ‘mystery galaxies’ that appear to be associated with clusters.
Science Daily: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150330173921.htm
Astronomy & Astrophysics: http://xxx.tau.ac.il/abs/1503.08773

7          Milky Way’s center unveils supernova ‘dust factory’    Mar 19, ’15               Cornell University

Sifting through the center of the Milky Way galaxy, astronomers have made the first direct observations using an infrared telescope aboard a modified Boeing 747 of cosmic building block dust resulting from an ancient supernova.
Science Daily: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150319143424.htm
Science: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2015/03/18/science.aaa2208

8         Have alien civilizations built cosmic accelerators from black holes?   Mar 19, ’15

Has an advanced alien civilization built a black hole powered particle accelerator to study physics at “Planck scale” energies? And if such a cosmic collider is lurking in a corner of the universe, could we detect it here on Earth?
Physics World: http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2015/mar/19/havealiencivilizationsbuiltcosmicacceleratorsfromblackholes

9         New clues from the dawn of the solar system  Mar 16, ’15               University of Arizona

Sulfide chondrules, a new type of building blocks discovered in meteorites left over from the solar system’s infancy, provide evidence for a previously unknown region in the protoplanetary disk that gave rise to the planets including Earth.
Science Daily: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150316102110.htm

10       First VIMOS Spectra of Faint Galaxies          13 Mar 2002
SciAm first VIMOS
Some of the first spectra of distant galaxies obtained with VIMOS in Multi-Object-Spectroscopy (MOS) mode. More than 220 galaxies were observed simultaneously, an unprecedented efficiency for such a “deep” exposure, reaching so far out in space.
European Southern Observatory: http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso0209b/


What’s New – March        Posted 19th March, 2015

At the meeting and AGM last week, 9th March, someone mentioned that they had read the previous cosmology postings so, taking that as an encouragement, here is another in the regular – but infrequent – musings.
If anyone has a view/comment on this posting, good, bad or indifferent, I would be pleased to hear from you.  It would be nice to know if someone is reading the page!
You can post comments on the Abergavenny AS website or by email to astrogw8@yahoo.com


The Kuiper Belt
Following on from the AGM there was an interesting presentation on the New Horizons mission due to fly-by pluto later in 2015.  Last November’s Scientific American had an article on “Pluto & Beyond” discussing current missions that are investigating the Kuiper Belt. This article considered the 2 missions, NASA’s New Horizons and ESA’s Rosetta and what we may learn about the origins of the solar system from the debris left over from its formation.
Links:       http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/kuiper-belt-missions-could-reveal-the-solar-systems-origins/

So, I will start this month’s letter with updates in the news on these 2 probes.

         The Rosetta Mission
Links:       Links: (http://sci.esa.int/rosetta/) (https://twitter.com/ESA_Rosetta)

As everyone is probably aware the Rosetta probe, launched in March 2004, went into orbit around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last August.
One of its objectives was to provide data to help answer the continuing speculation of the origin of the water on earth.  Any original water should have been lost when the earth was formed, as well as when the supposed collision that formed the moon.  Various suggestions have been made identifying asteroids, Kuiper belt objects, eg short return comets, and Oort cloud objects, eg long return comets.  One of the markers that is used to try and work this out is the Deuterium to Hydrogen ratio (Deuterium is a heavy version of Hydrogen having an extra neutron).
In the 90s the D:H ratio on some Oort cloud objects was found to be twice that of seawater, a problem for that theory.  Measurements of Kuiper belt objects in the last few years indicated a D:H closer to that of seawater.
However, data from Rosetta, published in December, 2014, found that 67P has a ratio 3 times that of earth.  So, is it now over to asteroids?
Links:       Water vapor on Rosetta’s target comet significantly different from that found on Earth : Posted: 10 Dec 2014 05:47 PM PST  (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141210204716.htm)
Asteroids, not comets, gave Earth most of its water : 10 Dec, 2014 (http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2014/dec/10/asteroids-not-comets-gave-earth-most-of-its-water)

Another objective was to land the Philae probe on the surface of the comet.  This was achieved in mid November.  Unfortunately the lander was going a bit too fast and bounced and is presumed to have landed on a shadow preventing the communication instruments from activating.  In order for the instruments to work the interior temperature of Philae has to be above -45degC and the solar panels have to generate 5.5Watts of energy.  The mission team are now hoping that the lander will be able to contact Rosetta sometime from now until the 20th March.  So, fingers crossed!
Links:       Touchdown! Rosetta’s Philae probe lands on comet   :  Posted: 12 Nov 2014 09:48 AM PST  :  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141112124834.htm
Waiting for a signal from Philae  :  Posted  16th March, 2015  :  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/waiting-for-a-signal-from-philae

New Horizons Mission
Links:               (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/) (https://twitter.com/NASANewHorizons)

Pluto, which New Horizons will fly by on the 14th July, 2015, was a planet when the probe was launched in 2006 but has now been reclassified as a Kuiper belt object.  Thus NH will give us more information about the Kuiper belt, the first Kuiper object having been spotted, apart from Pluto that is, only 23 years ago, in August 1992.  The probe is now close enough to be able to photograph the 4 moons of Pluto and gave a short engine burn to start slowing the probe down a few days ago.  It will be interesting to see what new information and ideas come out of this mission, from Pluto, it’s moons and any other objects that are examined  – although it will take 16 months for the data to be transmitted back to earth.


Large Hadron Collider (LHC)
Links:       (http://home.web.cern.ch/topics/large-hadron-collider)

The LHC has been in the press recently as it is about to restart after a 2 year upgrade programme which have increased the energy of the particle collisions from 8 TeV to 13 TeV.  This energy level takes us back well into the first second of the existence of the universe, around 10-10 secs.  As a comparison inflation is supposed to have happened at energies of around 1,000 TeV  However, this upgrade, the physicists are hoping, will enable them to probe for higher energy particles and to, in the words of one headline “For season 2 CERN to shed light on dark matter”.  CERN are hoping to find evidence of Supersymetry, which predicts that every particle in the Standard Model has a partner.  If correct this will help explain why the Higgs particle is lighter than expected and take Physics beyond the Standard Model.  If no evidence is found then it’s back to the drawing board, or white board with a marker pen.


Other Dark Matter items

New revelations on dark matter and relic neutrinos
Posted: 04 Dec 2014 09:13 AM PST

Satellite have been studying relic radiation (the most ancient light in the Universe). This light has been measured precisely across the entire sky for the first time, in both intensity and polarization, thereby producing the oldest image of the Universe. This primordial light lets us “see” some of the most elusive particles in the Universe: dark matter and relic neutrinos. Between 2009 and 2013, the Planck satellite observed relic radiation, sometimes called cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. Today, with a full analysis of the data, the quality of the map is now such that the imprints left by dark matter and relic neutrinos are clearly visible.


Researchers detect possible signal from dark matter
Posted: 11 Dec 2014 08:55 AM PST

Scientists have picked up an atypical photon emission in X-rays coming from space, and say it could be evidence for the existence of a particle of dark matter. If confirmed, it could open up new perspectives in cosmology.


Gravitational Waves

You may recall the results from BICEP2 last year that claimed they had found evidence of Inflation.  Recent analysis by the BICEP and Planck satellite teams have indicated that the effects seen by BICEP were probably caused by dust in our own galaxy.
Links:       Physics World  :  Posted 3rd Feb 2015  :  http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2015/feb/03/galactic-dust-sounds-death-knell-for-bicep2-gravitational-wave-claim


And finally:

Unexpected Structures in the Universe
Spooky alignment of quasars across billions of light-years

Posted: 19 Nov 2014 05:45 AM PST

New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed alignments over the largest structures ever discovered in the Universe. A European research team has found that the rotation axes of the central supermassive black holes in a sample of quasars are parallel to each other over distances of billions of light-years. The team has also found that the rotation axes of these quasars tend to be aligned with the vast structures in the cosmic web in which they reside.


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