Scientist May Have Had First Ever Glimpse of a Parallel Universe

artist's impression of parallel universes

Are we limited to parallel universes?  Prepare to be mind blown by these four other prevailing multiverse theories.

The theory of parallel universes is not a new concept — the term multiverse has been used as early as 1895.  But what exactly is a parallel universe? The theory of parallel universes states that many universes exist parallel to each other within a large multiverse. Not all scientists believe in these separate universes, but one cosmologist, Ranga-Ram Chany from the California Institute of Technology, believes he may have captured the first ever glimpse of a parallel universe.

Chany used data from the Planck telescope found at the European Space Agency, and subtracted cosmic microwave background models from Planck’s picture of the universe.  What he found were regions that were much brighter than they should be, almost 4,500 times brighter. This finding is consistent with the idea that bumping parallel universes leave behind a so-called “bruise” in the form of a ring of hot photons during a collision.

SEE ALSO: Our Place in the Universe

Cosmic microwave background research, analyses, and interpretation are extremely difficult, and Chany admits that there is a 30 percent chance his findings are just background noise or space dust.  He hopes to have more results in the next few years, but he likely won’t have proof of his hypothesis until the next generation of space scanning technology is complete in 15–20 years.

The advancement of space scanning technology could also help prove the existence of not only parallel universes, but other hypothesized forms of multiverses.  How many other theories of multiverses could there be?

1. Infinite Universe

An infinite universe is one that is flat and stretches infinitely in space and time.  Since there is a finite number of ways particles can be arranged in an infinite universe, eventually these arrangements will repeat.  This means that if you were to venture out far enough, you would run into infinite versions of yourself, some living the exact same life as you right now and others that are completely different.

2. Bubble Universe

A bubble universe is based on the idea that after the Big Bang, the universe expanded by inflating like a balloon.  The theory suggests that some parts of the universe stop inflating while others continue, resulting in bubble universes that may have completely different laws of physics.  According to the theory, our universe has stopped inflating which is why we have stars and galaxies.

3. Daughter Universe

Daughter universes are hypothesized to be a product of outcomes or choices, meaning each choice we make spawns a new universe.  For example, say you get acceptance letters for two different universities A and B, our universe would then create daughter universes: one where you go to university A, one where you go to university B, and one where you do not go to either.

4. Mathematical Universe

Mathematical universes are ones where mathematics is a physical reality, and the mathematical structure that makes up our universe is not the only structure that exists.  Separate universes are formed by different initial conditions, physical constants, and mathematical equations.

Will the proof of other universes continue to remain just beyond our grasp, or will we one day find the key to unlock the door separating us from the secrets of the cosmos?

Source: Scientist May Have Had First Ever Glimpse of a Parallel Universe

Scientist May Have Had First Ever Glimpse of a Parallel Universe

THIS OCTOBER SMASHED TEMPERATURE RECORDS AROUND THE WORLD

October

 

A map of temperature anomalies during October. Red shows the biggest deviation from the standard (temperatures recorded between 1951 and 1980).

If you’ve been wondering why your coats stayed in the closet and your heater remained off for the first part of fall, wonder no more. This October was the warmest on record. Ever.

Last month beat out all the other Octobers to get the title of hottest Octobersince record-keeping began in the late 1800’s. It was also the highest deviation from ‘normal’ global temperatures. Those temperatures were recorded between 1951 and 1980, and are averaged to get a general baseline. The data comes from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which looks at temperature changes over long periods of time (decades as opposed to days).

If it sounds like a familiar story, that’s because it is. Last winter was one of the warmest on record, even with all the snow. 2014 and 2012 were also record-breaking years, and with the addition of October to its already hot lineup, 2015 is likely to surpass both.

Extreme heat is now 4 times more likely than it was before the industrial revolution, and that shows no signs of stopping.

Source: THIS OCTOBER SMASHED TEMPERATURE RECORDS AROUND THE WORLD

THIS OCTOBER SMASHED TEMPERATURE RECORDS AROUND THE WORLD

How the Sun stole Mars’ atmosphere

The solar wind has made Mars a cold desert, and a tougher environment for would-be colonists. Alan Duffy explains the latest research.

 

Four billion years ago, Mars and Earth were like twins. Water flowed on the Martian surface beneath an atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide, oxygen, methane and water vapour. Today the Martian atmosphere is vanishingly thin, just a hundredth the density of Earth’s, and its surface water has disappeared.

Where did it all go? To find out NASA sent MAVEN – the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft – all decked out with sensitive new instruments. It’s been orbiting the planet since last September and this November it finally answered the riddle. The solar wind blew away the Martian atmosphere. This result was the highlight of a landslide of papers published in November using data collected by MAVEN – four inScience and 40 in Geophysical Research Letters.

The first hints water used to flow on Mars came from NASA’s Viking missions in the 1970s. The orbiters beamed back pictures of valleys that looked like they’d been carved by ancient rivers. More recent landers showed fossilised ripples of lakebeds and streams known as mudstone. And just in September, instruments on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter detected the signatures of hydrated salts streaking down crater edges. The briny residue showed water may still be found occasionally on the surface of Mars. But it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the bodies of water that resided in the ancient lakes some four billion years ago.

Billions of years ago when the Red Planet was young, it appears to have had a thick atmosphere that was warm enough to support oceans of liquid water – a critical ingredient for life. This animation shows what Mars might have looked like at the time, before transitioning to the dusty red planet we see today.

So where did the water go? Some thought it was locked away in subsurface ice deposits. And as for the atmosphere, carbon dioxide and other gases might have chemically reacted with rocks over hundreds of millions of years, and become locked away inside Mars’ geology – similar to the way carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere can get locked away as limestone.

The other possibility was that both had been lost to space: first the atmosphere, then the water, which in the thin air would simply have evaporated away. If this theory was right, the real question was, why did the atmosphere vanish in the first place? It shouldn’t have: Mars’ gravity, a third of Earth’s, is sufficiently strong to keep its atmosphere.

“Like the theft of a few coins from a cash register every day,

the loss becomes significant over time”

First off, MAVEN established that the Martian atmosphere was indeed vanishing into space. Dipping in and out of the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere, it detected wisps of ionised air escaping at the rate of about 100 grams each second. “Like the theft of a few coins from a cash register every day, the loss becomes significant over time,” says Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

MAVEN was also present when a solar storm hit Mars in March 2015.

The rate of atmospheric loss increased up to 20-fold when the storm struck. The storm was the result of a coronal mass ejection by the Sun, which hurled billions of tonnes of superhot material into space. Unlike the constant, steady stream of particles of the solar wind, these events are far more energetic and damaging. With each direct hit, more of the Martian atmosphere is lost.

The Sun had been caught in the act of planetary vandalism. MAVEN’s data showed the long suspected culprit, the solar wind (and its sometime partner in crime, solar storms), was easily capable of removing an atmosphere. While the Sun is still at work shearing away the Martian atmosphere today, four billion years ago a youthful Sun was even more tempestuous with storms that were more frequent and powerful than those of today.

So why was Earth spared this fate? Our planet is blessed with a magnetic shield that deflects the charged solar particles; Mars is not. A magnetic shield is created by a churning liquid iron core, which Earth has. Mars once had a molten core too but around four billion years ago, it cooled and solidified. Just why we have been spared this fate is not entirely understood – perhaps it is simply because Mars is smaller and lost heat more quickly. The same fate undoubtedly awaits Earth too, but not for many millions (if not billions) of years yet.

Without a liquid iron core, Mars’ magnetic field faded away. The solar wind then ripped away most of the atmosphere, leaving the oceans to evaporate into space. But the removal of its atmosphere would have taken place over a few hundred million years, so any life that existed had time to adapt to living underground; the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation would be fatal to life on the surface.

For the first time, NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft has observed the solar winds in action stripping away Mars’ atmosphere. This video shows a simulation of the solar wind striking Mars, then adds a colourful overlay of Mars’ atmosphere being removed (the new measurements taken by MAVEN).

This is good news for scientists hoping to find life on Mars, but bad news for human colonists.

Some had hoped the gases that made up the atmosphere might still be present beneath the surface, awaiting our arrival to unlock all that carbon dioxide, begin to grow plants and terraform the Red Planet. Not so: at least as far as the atmosphere goes, colonisers will need to bring their own.

Source: How the Sun stole Mars’ atmosphere

How the Sun stole Mars’ atmosphere

PLUTO HAS RED ICE AND BLUE SKIES

Pluto’s blue haze

NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

After New Horizons sped past Pluto in July, the spacecraft turned around to look at the dwarf planet’s silhouette against the sun. The backlighting gave New Horizons some insight into the planetoid’s atmosphere, and now the first color images of the haze has revealed that Pluto’s skies are partially blue.

If you were standing on Pluto, the sky would probably actually look reddish gray, though Miriam Kramer at Mashable reports that sunrise and sunset on Pluto could have a blue hue. The way the atmospheric particles are scattering blue light is a surprise to the New Horizons scientists. It also tells them a thing or two about the composition of the atmosphere.

“That striking blue tint tells us about the size and composition of the haze particles,” said New Horizons’ Carly Howett in a press release. “A blue sky often results from scattering of sunlight by very small particles. On Earth, those particles are very tiny nitrogen molecules. On Pluto they appear to be larger–but still relatively small–soot-like particles we call tholins.”

Tholins are simple organic molecules. Scientists think Pluto’s tholins come from ultraviolet light breaking up the methane and nitrogen in the atmosphere. Those reactive particles then combine together into complex molecules. Volatile gases condense on the molecules, making them heavy enough to rain down on Pluto. This is where Pluto gets its reddish-brown tint.

A second image, released today, shows the distribution of water ice across part of Pluto’s surface. Water ice in itself is not a surprise–scientists suspected the planetoid’s mountain ranges are made of ice. Still, there are only a few places where Pluto’s water ice isn’t buried in more volatile ices, such as those made from nitrogen and methane.

Map of exposed ice on Pluto’s surface

NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

What’s more, these water ices seem to be reddish in color, based on color maps from New Horizons.

“I’m surprised that this water ice is so red,” says Silvia Protopapa, another New Horizons team member. “We don’t yet understand the relationship between water ice and the reddish tholin colorants on Pluto’s surface.”

Source: PLUTO HAS RED ICE AND BLUE SKIES

PLUTO HAS RED ICE AND BLUE SKIES

Scientists can’t explain what huge object is blocking the light from this distant star

It’s not every day that we have permission to throw “Aliens?” out there in relation to a confounding astronomical discovery – in fact, I don’t think we ever have. But the discovery of a strange pattern of light surrounding a distant star called KIC 8462852 has seen even the most sensible astronomers throw their arms up with a, “Sure, why not?” arguing that the possibility of advanced alien technology can’t reasonably be ignored.

“Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilisation to build,” Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University in the US, told The Atlantic.

First up, though, a little about the star in question: KIC 8462852. Located about 1,500 light-years away between the Cygnus and Lyre constellations of our Milky Way galaxy, KIC 8462852 is brighter, hotter, and more massive than the Sun.

It was first discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope in 2009, and scientists have been tracking the light it emits ever since, along with the light of another 150,000 or so newly discovered stars. They do this because it’s the best way to locate distant planets – slight, periodic dips in a star’s brightness signal the fact that it might have one or more large objects orbiting it in a regular fashion.

These brightness dips are usually very slight, with the stars dimming by less than 1 percent every few days, weeks, or months, depending on the size of the planet’s orbit, says astronomer Phil Plait at Slate.

What makes KIC 8462852 such a strange star to study is that not only are there way more dips of brightness than expected, these dips are highly irregular. There’s no periodic orbiting going on here, just a bunch of strange, light-blocking shapes with no discernible pattern to them.

And these dimming effects are significant. Scientists are reporting that at one point, the amount of starlight dropped by 15 percent, and then at another, 22 percent. And this tells us a whole lot, says Plait:

“Straight away, we know we’re not dealing with a planet here. Even a Jupiter-sized planet only blocks roughly 1 percent of this kind of star’s light, and that’s about as big as a planet gets. It can’t be due to a star, either; we’d see it if it were. And the lack of a regular, repeating signal belies both of these as well. Whatever is blocking the star is big, though, up to half the width of the star itself!”

The most obvious explanation for hundreds of irregular dimming events is that KIC 8462852 has a mass of space junk – all kinds of rocks and dust of varying shapes and sizes – circling it in tight formation, says Ross Andersen at The Atlantic. The only problem is that this only occurs when a star is young, and the evidence points to KIC 8462852 being mature. “If it were young, it would be surrounded by dust that would give off extra infrared light,” says Andersen. “There doesn’t seem to be an excess of infrared light around this star.”

“We’d never seen anything like this star,” one of the researchers, Tabetha Boyajian from Yale University in the US, told him. “It was really weird.”

So what’s going on here? There are a number of reasonable possibilities to consider, and yep, aliens is actually one of them. First off, the scientists have already ruled out the possibility that the information they’re working with is faulty. “We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out,” says Boyajian.

The best explanation we have is that at one point, another star passed into KIC 8462852’s system and the disturbance of gravity caused a huge mess of comets to be pulled in towards it before being expelled again. And there just so happens to be another star close enough to KIC 8462852 to make this a possibility.

“But that would be an extraordinary coincidence, if that happened so recently, only a few millennia before humans developed the tech to loft a telescope into space. That’s a narrow band of time, cosmically speaking,” says Andersen.

And then there’s the question of the 22 percent dimming. Could a mass of comets really block that much light? When astronomer Jason Wright from Penn State got a look at the data, he said we need to consider that perhaps we’ve caught an advanced alien civilisation in the process of building something massive near KIC 8462852.

Plait points to the so-called Dyson Sphere from several science fiction stories: a gigantic sphere made of solar panels that completely encircles a star. And he’s not opposed to the idea:

“I actually kinda like it. I’m not saying it’s right, mind you, just that it’s interesting. Wright isn’t some wild-eyed crackpot; he’s a professional astronomer with a solid background. As he told me when I talked to him over the phone, there’s ‘a need to hypothesise, but we should also approach it skeptically’ (paraphrasing a tweet by another astronomer, David Grinspoon), with which I wholeheartedly agree.”

What does that mean? It means we’re allowed to get a little bit excited! Not because aliens are a likely possibility, but because we’re in the middle of an awesome mystery the likes of which we haven’t seen before in the history of space exploration. Word is that SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute scientists are considering devoting their time to it, and hopefully more research teams will get involved too. We seriously cannot wait to see what they come up with.

Source: Scientists can’t explain what huge object is blocking the light from this distant star

Scientists can’t explain what huge object is blocking the light from this distant star

Now’s your best chance to view Mercury

The month of October is going to be particularly kind to astronomy enthusiasts this year, with Jupiter, Mars, and Venus set to draw unusually close to each other in the night sky, and the tricky-to-spot Mercury scheduled to make a rare bright appearance in the Northern Hemisphere.

You don’t get this kind of show for free though – over the next three weeks, the best time to view Mercury will be at around 5:45am (ET), with Jupiter, Mars, and Venus expected to switch up their positions relative to each other every morning. So best set your alarm and get ready to tell your tired body it’s all for science.

The first morning of note is Friday October 17, when Jupiter will finally catch up to Mars in the east so they’re just 0.5 degrees apart – as Joe Rao at Space.com points out, that’s about the width of the Moon in our night sky. This will be the first such conjunction between these two planets since 22 July 2013, and it’ll be the last till 7 January 2018.

During the week of October 22 to 29, Venus will join the party, and the three planets will align, with just 5 degrees between them. “That’s a big deal, because the next planetary trio won’t occur again until January 2021,” Bruce McClure and Deborah Byrd report for Earthsky.org.

Jupiter, Mars, and Venus will be closest together early in the morning on October 26, with Jupiter having such a close encounter with Venus, they’ll form what’s known as a ‘double planet’ for about 3 hours. “Another grouping of three planets won’t happen again until 10 January 2021,” say McClure and Byrd.

If that’s not enough to get you up in the (very early) morning, perhaps the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Mercury will be.

“Mercury rises before the Sun all of this month and is surprisingly easy to see from now through Halloween,” Space.com advises. “All you have to do is just look well below and to the left of our three other morning planets and above the eastern horizon during morning twilight, from about 30 to 45 minutes before sunrise for a bright yellowish-orange ‘star’.”

October 16 is set to be the best morning for Mercury viewing for this entire year, with its position relative to the Sun – about 18-degrees to the east of it – causing the light reflected off its surface to increase dramatically over the next couple of days, making it easy to see with the naked eye. And if you miss that one, on October 30, Mercury will be brighter than any star in the sky, except the brightest of them all, Sirius.

If planets aren’t your thing (wait, what? who are you?) from October 20 to 22, you can view the incredible Orionids Meteor Shower. The shower will occur throughout October, but on the night of October 21 and the morning of October 22, it will hit its peak, often delivering around 20 meteors per hour. It’s made up of the dust trails left behind by comet Halley.

Happy sky watching!

Source: Now’s your best chance to view Mercury – here’s how

Now’s your best chance to view Mercury

What’s up in the night sky this month?

image

Stargazing and looking up into the night sky is always a fun thing to do. This month, it will be especially exciting because there will be a total eclipse of a supermoon, plus the opportunity to see planets and the late-summer Milky Way!

What is a supermoon?

image

A supermoon is a new or full moon that occurs when it is at, or near its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit. There are usually 4 to 6 supermoons every year.

Observers can view the total eclipse on September 27, starting at 10:11 p.m. EDT until 11:23 p.m. This event will be visible in North and South America, as well as Europe and Africa. So make sure to mark your calendars!

image

This month, you will also be able to see the planets! Look for Mercury, Saturn, Pluto and Neptune in the evening sky. Uranus and Neptune at midnight, and Venus, Mars and Jupiter in the pre-dawn sky.

image

Finally, if you’re able to escape to a dark location, you might be able to see a great view of our Milky Way!

So, make sure to get outside this month and take a look at everything our night sky has to offer.

image

Source: What’s Up for September?

What’s up in the night sky this month?

NASA Selects Mission Science Instruments Searching for Habitability of Jupiter’s Ocean Moon Europa

The fascinating surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa looms large in this newly-reprocessed color view, made from images taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s. This is the color view of Europa from Galileo that shows the largest portion of the moon's surface at the highest resolution.  Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

In a major move forward on a long dreamed of mission to investigate the habitability of the subsurface ocean of Jupiter’s mysterious moon Europa, top NASA officials announced today, Tuesday, May 26, the selection of nine science instruments that will fly on the agency’s long awaited planetary science mission to an intriguing world that many scientists suspect could support life.

“We are on our way to Europa,” proclaimed John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, at a media briefing today outlining NASA’s plans for a mission dedicated to launching in the early to mid-2020s. “It’s a mission to inspire.”

“We are trying to answer big questions. Are we alone?”

“The young surface seems to be in contact with an undersea ocean.”

The Europa mission goal is to investigate whether the tantalizing icy Jovian moon, similar in size to Earth’s moon, could harbor conditions suitable for the evolution and sustainability of life in the suspected ocean.

It will be equipped with high resolution cameras, radar and spectrometers, several generations beyond anything before to map the surface in unprecedented detail and determine the moon’s composition and subsurface character. And it will search for subsurface lakes and seek to sample erupting vapor plumes like those occurring today on Saturn’s tiny moon Enceladus.

“Europa has tantalized us with its enigmatic icy surface and evidence of a vast ocean, following the amazing data from 11 flybys of the Galileo spacecraft over a decade ago and recent Hubble observations suggesting plumes of water shooting out from the moon,” says Grunsfeld.

“We’re excited about the potential of this new mission and these instruments to unravel the mysteries of Europa in our quest to find evidence of life beyond Earth.”

Planetary scientists have long desired a speedy return on Europa, ever since the groundbreaking discoveries of NASA’s Galileo Jupiter orbiter in the 1990s showed that the alien world possessed a substantial and deep subsurface ocean beneath an icy shell that appears to interact with and alter the surface in recent times.

This 12-frame mosaic provides the highest resolution view ever obtained of the side of Jupiter's moon Europa that faces the giant planet. It was obtained on Nov. 25, 1999 by the camera onboard the Galileo spacecraft, a past NASA mission to Jupiter and its moons. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

NASA’s Europa mission would blastoff perhaps as soon as 2022, depending on the budget allocation and rocket selection, whose candidates include the heavy lift Space Launch System (SLS).

The solar powered probe will go into orbit around Jupiter for a three year mission.

“The mission concept is that it will conduct multiple flyby’s of Europa,” said Jim Green. director, Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters, during the briefing.

“The purpose is to determine if Europa is a habitable place. It shows few craters, a brown gum on the surface and cracks where the subsurface meet the surface. There may be organics and nutrients among the discoloration at the surface.”

Europa is at or near the top of the list for most likely places in our solar system that could support life. Mars is also near the top of the list and currently being explored by a fleet of NASA robotic probes including surface rovers Curiosity and Opportunity.

“Europa is one of those critical areas where we believe that the environment is just perfect for potential development of life,” said Green. “This mission will be that step that helps us understand that environment and hopefully give us an indication of how habitable the environment could be.”

The exact thickness of Europa’s ice shell and extent of its subsurface ocean is not known.

The ice shell thickness has been inferred by some scientists to be perhaps only 5 to 10 kilometers thick based on data from Galileo, the Hubble Space Telescope, a Cassini flyby and other ground and space based observations.

The global ocean might be twice the volume of all of Earth’s water. Research indicates that it is salty, may possess organics, and has a rocky sea floor. Tidal heating from Jupiter could provide the energy for mixing and chemical reactions, supplemented by undersea volcanoes spewing heat and minerals to support living creatures, if they exist.

This artist's rendering shows a concept for a future NASA mission to Europa in which a spacecraft would make multiple close flybys of the icy Jovian moon, thought to contain a global subsurface ocean.  Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Europa could be the best place in the solar system to look for present day life beyond our home planet,” says NASA officials.

The instruments chosen today by NASA will help answer the question of habitability, but they are not life detection instruments in and of themselves. That would require a follow on mission.

“They could find indications of life, but they’re not life detectors,” said Curt Niebur, Europa program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We currently don’t even have consensus in the scientific community as to what we would measure that would tell everybody with confidence this thing you’re looking at is alive. Building a life detector is incredibly difficult.”

‘During the three year mission, the orbiter will conduct 45 close flyby’s of Europa,” Niebur told Universe Today. “These will occur about every two to three weeks.”

The close flyby’s will vary in altitude from 16 miles to 1,700 miles (25 kilometers to 2,700 kilometers).

“The mass spectrometer has a range of 1 to 2000 daltons, Niebur told me. “That’s a much wider range than Cassini. However there will be no means aboard to determine chirality.” The presence of Chiral compounds could be an indicator of life.

Right now the Europa mission is in the formulation stage with a budget of about $10 million this year and $30 Million in 2016. Over the next three years the mission concept will be defined.

The mission is expected to cost in the range of at least $2 Billion or more.

Jupiter Moon Europa, Ice Rafting View

Here’s a NASA description of the 9 instruments selected:

Plasma Instrument for Magnetic Sounding (PIMS) — principal investigator Dr. Joseph Westlake of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Laurel, Maryland. This instrument works in conjunction with a magnetometer and is key to determining Europa’s ice shell thickness, ocean depth, and salinity by correcting the magnetic induction signal for plasma currents around Europa.

Interior Characterization of Europa using Magnetometry (ICEMAG)
— principal investigator Dr. Carol Raymond of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California. This magnetometer will measure the magnetic field near Europa and – in conjunction with the PIMS instrument – infer the location, thickness and salinity of Europa’s subsurface ocean using multi-frequency electromagnetic sounding.


Mapping Imaging Spectrometer for Europa (MISE)
— principal investigator Dr. Diana Blaney of JPL. This instrument will probe the composition of Europa, identifying and mapping the distributions of organics, salts, acid hydrates, water ice phases, and other materials to determine the habitability of Europa’s ocean.

Europa Imaging System (EIS) — principal investigator Dr. Elizabeth Turtle of APL. The wide and narrow angle cameras on this instrument will map most of Europa at 50 meter (164 foot) resolution, and will provide images of areas of Europa’s surface at up to 100 times higher resolution.

Radar for Europa Assessment and Sounding: Ocean to Near-surface (REASON) — principal investigator Dr. Donald Blankenship of the University of Texas, Austin. This dual-frequency ice penetrating radar instrument is designed to characterize and sound Europa’s icy crust from the near-surface to the ocean, revealing the hidden structure of Europa’s ice shell and potential water within.

Europa Thermal Emission Imaging System (E-THEMIS) — principal investigator Dr. Philip Christensen of Arizona State University, Tempe. This “heat detector” will provide high spatial resolution, multi-spectral thermal imaging of Europa to help detect active sites, such as potential vents erupting plumes of water into space.

MAss SPectrometer for Planetary EXploration/Europa (MASPEX) — principal investigator Dr. Jack (Hunter) Waite of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), San Antonio. This instrument will determine the composition of the surface and subsurface ocean by measuring Europa’s extremely tenuous atmosphere and any surface material ejected into space.

Ultraviolet Spectrograph/Europa (UVS) — principal investigator Dr. Kurt Retherford of SwRI. This instrument will adopt the same technique used by the Hubble Space Telescope to detect the likely presence of water plumes erupting from Europa’s surface. UVS will be able to detect small plumes and will provide valuable data about the composition and dynamics of the moon’s rarefied atmosphere.

SUrface Dust Mass Analyzer (SUDA) — principal investigator Dr. Sascha Kempf of the University of Colorado, Boulder. This instrument will measure the composition of small, solid particles ejected from Europa, providing the opportunity to directly sample the surface and potential plumes on low-altitude flybys.

Source: NASA Selects Mission Science Instruments Searching for Habitability of Jupiter’s Ocean Moon Europa

NASA Selects Mission Science Instruments Searching for Habitability of Jupiter’s Ocean Moon Europa

Scientists Find A Double Black Hole Inside A Nearby Quasar

Artist view of a binary black hole

NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

The brightest objects in the universe have massive black holes at their hearts.

Quasars (“quasi-stellar radio sources”) can be brighter than entire galaxies, and they’re thought to be fueled by the friction and heat of stuff that’s getting swallowed up by a black hole. (Although light can’t escape a black hole, it can escape from the event horizon—the boundary and point-of-no-return surrounding the black hole.)

Now, it turns out that the quasar nearest to Earth, located 600 million light-years away in a galaxy called Markarian 231, is actually built around two twirling black holes. It’s a first-of-its-kind type of find, and scientists think there could be a lot more quasars with binary hearts out there.

Hubble data revealed a mysterious hole in the quasar’s accretion disk, or the ring of gas that spirals around the black hole, waiting to fall in. After doing some modeling studies, scientists concluded that the system must be made of two black holes: a large one and a small one orbiting each other.

The larger of the pair is estimated to be 150 million times more massive than our sun, while the puny companion is only four million times the mass of the sun. In a few hundred thousand years, the two will spiral into each other, resulting in what we can only guess would be the end of the universe. (Kidding!)

The team, based partly in the U.S. and partly in China, thinks the binary formed when the two galaxies merged. The merger seems to have been good for the star-forming business: Mrk 231 births stars at a rate that is 100 times greater than our Milky Way.

“We are extremely excited about this finding because it not only shows the existence of a close binary black hole in Mrk 231, but also paves a new way to systematically search binary black holes via the nature of their ultraviolet light emission,” Youjun Lu of the National Astronomical Observatories of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in a press release.

Source:  SCIENTISTS FIND A DOUBLE BLACK HOLE INSIDE A NEARBY QUASAR

Scientists Find A Double Black Hole Inside A Nearby Quasar

How To Be An Expert In Anything?

NEIL deGRASSE TYSON

Host of StarTalk, director of the Hayden Planetarium

To be an expert means you are on the frontier, making discoveries, thinking thoughts never before dreamed of. I’m an expert in astrophysics.

I don’t generally share opinions. It may not feel that way because I speak passionately about what I know, but if you look at my tweets and books, I hardly ever express opinions—because I don’t care if you have them. I don’t care a rat’s ass. As an educator and as a scientist, I care only that you are scientifically literate.

The more informed you are, the more empowered you are to think for yourself, and the more representative our democracy will be.

Don’t come to me to debate whether climate change exists. If you’re coming to me in that fashion, you do not understand how and why science works. You’re expressing an opinion, and I’m expressing a fact.

Successful people are driven without regard to their social life, love life, or the opinions of others. Every one of them has a story saying, “Here’s a list of people who said I should do something safe.”

To be genius is to be misunderstood, but to be misunderstood is not necessarily to be genius.

I am the consequence of my life experience. Everything that has happened to me has summed to be what I am. If I jumped back in time, I would derail that learning curve, so I don’t have any urge to go to my younger self and say, “Do this, not that.” What would that mean? Making mistakes contributes to your wisdom.

It’s not that we fear technology, it’s that we occasionally take it for granted, and when we do, we discount the brilliance and work that went into it. You’ll say, “Oh, we don’t need to increase the funding on science; I’ve got my smartphone. We don’t need to go into space; I’ve got weather.com.” Well, where the hell do you think you got the image of the hurricane that just tore up Galveston, Texas?

If you want a career in science and technology, well, you better hang out with some geeks. Go ahead. They are a friendly people. They’re not talking about the clothing you are wearing. They’re not talking about your waistline. It’s just, “Who are you, and do you have interesting things to say?”

ONE OF MY
FAVORITE LINESCOMES FROM POET RAINER MARIA RILKE: “BE PATIENT TOWARD ALL THAT IS UNSOLVED IN YOUR HEART AND TRY TO LOVE THE QUESTIONS THEMSELVES.”

No matter what you do, you need to be able to fail and know how to recover from it in order to one day succeed. There is no successful person who has never failed. Think of the lessons you learn every time you fail. It’s the people who ignore those lessons who basically check out of that contest permanently.

The fastest way to end a career in science and technology is if you’re guilty of fraud. No one will listen to anything you publish thereafter. The greatest statement you can make to a scientist is to pay no attention to his or her science.

When you are first in the world to know something, there’s nothing like it. There is no salary, there’s no car you can drive to substitute for that feeling.

Source: HOW TO BE AN EXPERT IN ANYTHING

How To Be An Expert In Anything?