BREAKING NEWS: Energetic Jets from Young Stars Formed by Magnetic Fields

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The team of scientists from France, Canada, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, and the United States demonstrated that stellar jets can be confined by a large-scale magnetic field aligned with their axis.

“Not only is it consistent with current astrophysics data, the…

The team of scientists from France, Canada, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, and the United States demonstrated that stellar jets can be confined by a large-scale magnetic field aligned with their axis.

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“Not only is it consistent with current astrophysics data, the proposed mechanism helps explain intriguing X-ray emissions that have been observed along the jets by the Chandra space telescope,” explains INRS professor emeritus Henri Pépin, who took part in the research. “This same mechanism could be at play in other types of astrophysical jets like white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes.”

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As part of the project, the scientists developed a model of the interstellar magnetic field in order to study the plasma jets of emerging stars. They were able to simulate this phenomenon in the lab for the first time using an experimental platform combining high intensity lasers and intense magnetic fields. After producing plasma at small scale typical of the atmosphere of young stars, the researchers generated a magnetic field representative of the interstellar environment inside a few cubic centimeters for a few millionths of a second.

Supercomputers were then used to model emerging young stars as well as the laboratory experiment. These simulations confirm the key role of interstellar magnetic fields in creating, accelerating, and directing the jets that travel astronomical distances.

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Partial Solar Eclipse over the U.S. on Thursday, Oct. 23

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People in most of the continental United States will be in the shadow of the Moon on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 23, as a partial solar eclipse sweeps across the Earth. For people looking through Sun-safe filters, from Los Angeles, 45% of the Sun’s diameter will be covered at 3:38 p.m. PDT…

People in most of the continental United States will be in the shadow of the Moon on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 23, as a partial solar eclipse sweeps across the Earth. For people looking through Sun-safe filters, from Los Angeles, 45% of the Sun’s diameter will be covered at 3:38 p.m. PDT (local time); from Seattle, 64% will be covered at 3 p.m. PDT; from Denver, 55% will be covered at 4:35 MDT; and in Chicago, 55% will be covered at 5:42 p.m.

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The Sun will set before the eclipse is visible in New York or New England. A tiny bite would be visible at Sunset while looking through special Sun-safe filters farther south on the Eastern Seaboard.

  

Jay Pasachoff, a professor at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., and Chair of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group on Eclipses, points out that “this partial eclipse visible to people looking through Sun-safe filters on Thursday is a coming attraction for the August 21, 2017, eclipse that will have the moon entirely covering the Sun in a 60-mile-wide band across the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina, with 80% or more of the Sun covered from most of the continental U.S.”

Pasachoff continued, though, “the Sun is so bright that even through ordinary Sunglasses you can damage your eyes if you stare at it. The special solar filters that are available, which are made of a black polymer, block out all but about a thousandth of a per cent of the Sun’s brightness, while ordinary Sunglasses would dim the Sun by only a relatively small bit even in the visible while allowing almost all the hazardous infrared to come through.”

For those who don’t have time to get inexpensive Sun-safe filters, which cost only about a dollar, number 12, 13, or 14 welder’s glass is safe to look through at the Sun. Also, when a substantial bite appears to be taken out of the Sun’s disk, a simple projection method works to see that the Sun is no longer round-shaped. Simply punch a hole a quarter of an inch or so in a piece of cardboard and use that hole to project the Sun’s image on the ground or on a wall, with the Sun behind you, over your shoulder.

Often, the spaces between the leaves of a tree provide this “pinhole” effect, and crescent Suns appear on the ground among the shadows of the leaves.

A hundred eclipse enthusiasts—amateurs and professionals alike—will gather at Sunspot, New Mexico, for viewing the eclipse and, the following days, a series of talks near the National Solar Observatory’s station there. The 4-day conference in New Mexico is organized by Patrick and Joanne Poitevin. These international Solar Eclipse Conferences are organized every non-central solar eclipse year. The next one will be in 2018. In recent years, ecotourism has increasingly involved thousands of tourists who travel the world to see solar eclipses, especially the total phases when the Moon entirely hides the Sun, allowing the Sun’s faint outer layers to be seen as the sky grows dark in midday. But this year’s partial eclipse will still leave so much of the everyday solar surface visible that the sky will not darken noticeably.

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Year’s Best Meteor Shower from Halley’s Comet

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As Earth orbits the Sun, it continually ploughs through dust and debris left behind by passing comets and asteroids. On any night of the year, a keen-eyed observer might see five, or even ten, meteors (shooting stars) per hour.

But over the next week, that number will rise markedly, as Earth…

As Earth orbits the Sun, it continually ploughs through dust and debris left behind by passing comets and asteroids. On any night of the year, a keen-eyed observer might see five, or even ten, meteors (shooting stars) per hour.

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But over the next week, that number will rise markedly, as Earth moves through the center of a stream of debris left behind by the most famous of all comets, comet 1P/Halley.

Most meteor showers have a short, sharp maximum that is best observed over a single night or two. But the Orionid meteors (which have already been active for a couple of weeks) will really kick into action this weekend, and should remain close to their peak for most of next week. Best viewing is likely on or around Tuesday evening, October 21.

Comet 1P/Halley is probably the best known of a vast population of dirty snowballs that circle the Sun. Every 76 years or so, it swings through the inner solar system.

As it flies by the Sun, ice on the comet’s surface sublimates (changes directly from solid to gas) to space. The ice carries with it vast quantities of dust and debris, causing the comet to shrink by about a meter with every apparition.

 

From the release of this gas and dust, as the comet sheds its skin it grows a magnificent tail and coma, making it easily visible with the unaided eye, once per generation.

The dust shed by the comet continues through space, following a very similar path to the comet itself.

Comet Halley has been trapped in its current orbit for thousands of years. The shells of dust ejected each time it has passed by the Sun, have gradually dispersed. They now form a wide tube of dust, sheathing the comet’s path.

Twice per year, once in May, and again in October, the Earth runs into this debris and sparks a meteor shower.

The shower in May, the Eta Aquarids, is actually the most impressive, as Earth passes closer to the centre of the debris swathe left by the comet. This means that the shower provides more meteors per hour, as we run through thicker dust. Unfortunately, it is hard to see, and is only really visible for a couple of hours before dawn.

The October Orionids, by contrast, are visible from around midnight onwards, and can still put on a spectacular show.

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Europe Secures New Generation of Weather Satellites

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Contracts were signed today to build three pairs of MetOp Second Generation satellites, ensuring the continuity of essential information for global weather forecasting and climate monitoring for decades to come.

MetOp-SG is a cooperative undertaking between ESA and Eumetsat, the European…

Contracts were signed today to build three pairs of MetOp Second Generation satellites, ensuring the continuity of essential information for global weather forecasting and climate monitoring for decades to come.

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MetOp-SG is a cooperative undertaking between ESA and Eumetsat, the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. These new satellites offer enhanced continuity of the current MetOp series, today’s main source of global weather data.

As with the first generation, the satellites will provide users with crucial information on atmospheric temperature and water profiles, cloud detection and analysis, and sea-surface temperature and winds, extending to aerosols, trace gases and air quality.

Comprising six satellites in total, the mission is based on a pair of satellites that carry different packages to deliver complementary meteorological information. The A series of satellites will be equipped with atmospheric sounders as well as optical and infrared imagers, while the B series focuses on microwave sensors.

Following the first documents that were signed at the Berlin Air Show earlier this year, the full contracts to build the six MetOp-SG satellites were signed today by ESA and Airbus Defence and Space.

The ceremony at ESA headquarters in Paris, France, was attended by Geneviève Fioraso, the French Minister for Higher Education and Research, and the Director-General of Eumetsat, Alain Ratier.

Airbus Defense and Space France now takes up the role as prime contractor for the A satellites and Airbus Defense and Space Germany for the B series.

Although the different satellites will be developed and built in Toulouse, France and Friedrichshafen, Germany, respectively, a large industrial consortium of many European companies will be involved under the leadership of Airbus Defense and Space.

Volker Liebig, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programs, said, “These contracts mark a very important milestone in maintaining Europe’s leading edge in the development of meteorological systems, and for the provision of weather forecasting and monitoring services.

“The MetOp-SG satellites will continue and enhance essential observations from polar orbit that are needed for numerical weather prediction.”

Alain Ratier remarked, “The signature of the MetOp-SG contracts is a new landmark in our highly successful cooperation with ESA.

“The MetOp-SG satellites will improve all the observations of the first MetOp generation and, in addition, will observe precipitation and cirrus clouds. This will further improve weather forecasting and climate monitoring from space in Europe and worldwide.”

MetOp-SG takes the highly successful cooperation with ESA into the next decades. The satellites constitute a true milestone for an innovative system that will yield benefits from 2022 onwards to further improve forecasting.”

As a cooperative effort, ESA funds the development of the first satellites and procures the repeat satellites on behalf of Eumetsat. Eumetsat then funds the duplicate satellites, develops the ground segment, operates the satellites and carries out the data processing.

New instruments observing extended spectral and frequency ranges will allow new environmental measurements to be collected.

In addition, the A series will carry the Copernicus Sentinel-5 instrument on behalf of the European Commission. Sentinel-5 includes five ‘spectrometers’ from the ultraviolet to the shortwave infrared, to monitor atmospheric composition and support the forecasting of air quality.

Each satellite will be launched separately. It is envisaged that the first A satellite will be launched in 2021, followed by the first B satellite in 2022.

The MetOp-SG satellites will orbit Earth at an average altitude of 831 km in a polar orbit to provide global coverage.

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JUST IN: Sun More Volatile Than Previously Thought

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Researchers under the lead of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research have now for the first time found evidence of such short-lived heat pockets in data from NASA’s space telescope IRIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph).

The Sun is more volatile than previously thought….

Researchers under the lead of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research have now for the first time found evidence of such short-lived heat pockets in data from NASA’s space telescope IRIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph).

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The Sun is more volatile than previously thought. Apart from the solar eruptions, huge bursts of particles and radiation from the outer atmosphere of our star, also the cooler layer right below can be the site of explosions: in some areas magnetic energy builds up and discharges within only a few minutes in temperature eruptions of up to 100,000 degrees.

The Sun is an incredibly hot place. But even though in all its layers the temperatures are daunting, some are hotter than others. With a temperature of approximately 5000 degrees, the Sun’s visible surface, the photosphere, for example, is comparatively cool. Going outward from there, the temperatures within the Sun’s atmosphere rise – first moderately and then sharply – until they reach one million degrees.

“Our analysis shows, that this temperature distribution is not the same everywhere – and is constantly in motion”, says Prof. Dr. Hardi Peter from the MPS, the paper’s first author. Together with an international team of scientists, Peter analyzed data from the space telescope IRIS taken from active regions on the Sun. These regions within the photosphere are characterized by high magnetic field strengths and are the “birth places” of the dark sunspots, which cover the Sun’s surface – at some times more, at others less abundantly. “In these regions we found heat pockets as big as half of Germany. They are up to 20 times as hot as their surroundings”, the astrophysicist describes. The heat pockets flash up for only minutes and then return to their normal state. The amount of energy released during these explosions would be sufficient to provide all of Germany with electrical power for 8000 years.

The massive photospheric explosions cannot be spotted in visible light, but leave traces in the ultraviolet radiation the Sun emits into space. IRIS can split this ultraviolet radiation into its constituting wavelengths more precisely than any other solar observatory before. In addition, it offers an unprecedented spatial resolution. When IRIS opened its eyes to the Sun for the first time in July of last year, it could discern structures with a size of only 250 kilometers and examine radiation from such small regions separately.

“To our great surprise, we found well-defined areas within the active regions emitting radiation quite unlike the radiation from their vicinity”, says Peter. The researchers discovered characteristic wavelengths that special highly ionized atoms within the solar plasma such as triply ionized silicon ions emit into space. “The presence of these wavelengths within the spectra points to very high temperatures”, says Peter. Only under such conditions can silicon loose three of its electrons. But in which of the Sun’s layers did this temperature arise? Truly within the cool photosphere? Or maybe – and this would be much less spectacular – farther outside in the much hotter atmosphere?

The spectral data from IRIS proved to be so detailed that the researchers could extract further decisive clues. For example, they were able to infer the density of the solar plasma where the radiation originated. In addition, they showed that the radiation had encountered singly-ionized iron ions on its way outward. These ions occur only in cooler regions. “All in all, we found a coherent picture: the unusual radiation must originate in the cool outer photosphere”, says Peter.

The researchers believe that the strong magnetic fields in the photosphere provide the necessary energy for the explosions. In the area of the sunspots, the magnetic field lines protrude in a loop-like fashion from the Sun’s surface; hot plasma flows there. When these flows are short-circuited, the explosions occur.

“The new results have fundamentally changed our understanding of the Sun’s outer buildup”, says Peter. “Instead of a stable temperature distribution, there are apparently dynamical processes within the cool photosphere that can turn everything topsy-turvy.” Already in 1917, the American physicist Ferdinand Ellermann hat discovered areas with higher temperatures within the photosphere. However, they differed from their surroundings only by a few thousand degrees and can therefore be considered rather minor temperature deviations. Whether the newly discovered explosions are linked to this phenomenon, is still unclear.

Researchers under the lead of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics found that the solar wind, the continuous stream of particles from the Sun, does not leave the Sun’s surface uniformly, but locally in highly energetic jets. These observations, too, are based on data from IRIS.

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BREAKING NEWS: Active Sunspot Sets Off X-Class Flare – Solar Eclipse Oct. 23rd

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This morning at 05:03UT, the Sun produced a strong solar flare from sunspot region 2192. Based on current available data, the consequences remain limited as related to geomagentic activity.

Region 2192 is a big and complex group near the southeast limb of the Sun. It is rotating towards the…

This morning at 05:03UT, the Sun produced a strong solar flare from sunspot region 2192. Based on current available data, the consequences remain limited as related to geomagentic activity.

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Region 2192 is a big and complex group near the southeast limb of the Sun. It is rotating towards the south-central meridian making any activity Earth’s directed.

Over the next 48 hours more X or M-class flares are possible which is expected to create geomagnetic storms as it hits the Earth’s magnetic field.

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In addition to solar flare activity, there will be a partial solar eclipse on October 23rd. History shows us the rapid cooling and heating fluids, such as oceans and magma, caused by a solar eclipse destabilizes tectonic plates escalating earthquake and volcanic activity.

See article on recent historic events: http://bit.ly/1CIxvrf

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Meteor Activity Outlook for October 18-24, 2014

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During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Thursday October 23rd. At this time the moon is located near the sun and cannot be seen at night. This weekend the waning crescent moon will rise during the early morning hours but will offer little trouble as long as the observer keeps the…

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Thursday October 23rd. At this time the moon is located near the sun and cannot be seen at night. This weekend the waning crescent moon will rise during the early morning hours but will offer little trouble as long as the observer keeps the moon out of their field of view. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near 3 as seen from the northern hemisphere and 2 as seen from southern tropical latitudes.

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For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near 12 for observers located in mid-northern latitudes and 7 for south tropical observers. Rates are slightly reduced for the morning hours during this period due to moonlight. The actual rates will also depend on factors such as personal light and motion perception, local weather conditions, alertness and experience in watching meteor activity. Note that the hourly rates listed below are estimates as viewed from dark sky sites away from urban light sources. Observers viewing from urban areas will see less activity as only the brightest meteors will be visible from such locations.

The radiant (the area of the sky where meteors appear to shoot from) positions and rates listed below are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning October 18/19. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period. Most star atlases (available at science stores and planetariums) will provide maps with grid lines of the celestial coordinates so that you may find out exactly where these positions are located in the sky. A planisphere or computer planetarium program is also useful in showing the sky at any time of night on any date of the year. Activity from each radiant is best seen when it is positioned highest in the sky, either due north or south along the meridian, depending on your latitude. It must be remembered that meteor activity is rarely seen at the radiant position. Rather they shoot outwards from the radiant so it is best to center your field of view so that the radiant lies at the edge and not the center.

Viewing there will allow you to easily trace the path of each meteor back to the radiant (if it is a shower member) or in another direction if it is a sporadic. Meteor activity is not seen from radiants that are located below the horizon. The positions below are listed in a west to east manner in order of right ascension (celestial longitude). The positions listed first are located further west therefore are accessible earlier in the night while those listed further down the list rise later in the night.

These sources of meteoric activity are expected to be active this week:

The Gamma Piscids (GPS) are a weak shower active from October 14 through the 21st with maximum activity occurring on the 17th. At maximum the radiant is located at 01:10 (017) +17. This position lies in central Pisces, 5 degrees northwest of the faint star known as Eta Piscium. Rates of less than 1 per hour are expected, even at maximum. With an entry velocity of 21 km/sec., the average Gamma Piscid meteor would be of slow velocity.

The Southern Taurids (STA) are currently active from a radiant located at 02:36 (039) +12. This position lies in southern Aries, 3 degrees northwest of the 4th magnitude star known as Mu Ceti. These meteors may be seen all night long but the radiant is best placed near 0100 local daylight time (LDT) when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Rates at this time should be near 3 per hour regardless of your location. With an entry velocity of 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor would be of slow velocity.

The Orionids (ORI) reach maximum activity on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning October 21/22. Unlike most major showers the Orionids offer a broad maximum with similar rates on the nights prior and after maximum. This weekend the radiant lies at 06:16 (094) +16, which places it in northeastern Orion, 4 degrees west of the 2nd magnitude star known as Alhena (Gamma Geminorum). This area of the sky is best placed near 0500 LDT, when it lies highest above the horizon. Rates this weekend would be near 10 per hour no matter your location. Rates should increase to 15-20 per hour at maximum With an entry velocity of 67 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be of swift speed.

The Epsilon Geminids (EGE) also reach maximum activity on the morning of October 22nd. On this morning the radiant is located at 06:58 (105) +28. This position is located in northern Gemini, 3 degrees northeast of the star known as Mebsuta (Epsilon Geminorum). This area of the sky is best placed in the sky during the last hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. This is fairly close to the Orionid radiant so care should be taken to separate these two sources. The best way to do this is to include both radiants within your field of view so that meteors can be easily traced back to their source. Current rates should be near 2 per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and 1 when view south of the equator. This should increase to near 3 per hour at maximum. With an entry velocity of 70 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be of swift speed.

The October Lyncids (OLY) were discovered by Peter Jenniskens and verified by IMO video data. This weak shower is active from October 16-24 with no distinct night of maximum activity. The date listed in the shower table is the midpoint of the activity curve. The radiant is currently located near 07:20 (110) +53. This position lies in a remote area of central Lynx, halfway between the stars Omicron Ursae Majoris and Menkalinan (Beta Aurigae). This area of the sky is best placed in the sky during the last hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Current rates should be less than 1 per hour no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 68 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be of swift speed.

The Tau Cancrids (TCA) are active from October 9-25 and also has no distinct night of maximum activity. The date listed in the shower table is the midpoint of the activity curve. This shower was also discovered by Peter Jenniskens and verified by IMO video data. The radiant currently located at 09:04 (136) +30. This position lies in northern Cancer, close to the faint star known as Tau Cancri. 4th magnitude Iota Cancri lies 3 degrees to the southwest. This area of the sky is best placed in the sky during the last hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Current rates should be near 2 per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and 1 as seen from south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 69 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be of swift speed.

The Leonis Minorids (LMI) are active from October 17-27 with maximum activity occurring on October 22nd. This radiant is currently located at 10:28 (157) +37, which places it in northeast Leo Minor, very close to the position occupied by the fourth magnitude star Beta Leonis Minoris . The radiant is best placed just before dawn when it lies highest in a dark sky. This shower is better situated for observers situated in the northern hemisphere where the radiant rises far higher into the sky before the start of morning twilight. Rates at maximum should be near 4 per hour for those in the northern hemisphere and 2 per hour as seen south of the equator. At 60km/sec., the average Leonis Minorid is swift.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately 8 sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near 3 per hour. As seen from the tropical southern latitudes (25S) morning rates would be near 5 per hour as seen from rural observing sites and 2 per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Note that sporadic rates are slightly reduced this week during the morning hours due to moonlight.

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