October 21, 2012 – SPACE – Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Halley’s Comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower. Forecasters expect ~25 meteors per hour when the shower peaks on Oct. 21st. No matter where you live, the best time to look is during the dark hours before sunrise on Sunday morning. Observers in both hemispheres can see this shower. On Oct. 19th, as Earth was making first contact with the debris stream, NASA’s All-sky Fireball Network recorded 10 Orionid fireballs over the southern USA.
On Oct. 20th at 1814 UT, Earth-orbiting satellites detected a strong M9-class solar flare. The source was a new sunspot, AR1598, emerging over the sun’s southeastern limb. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash (image), which sent waves of ionization rippling through Earth’s upper atmosphere. More flares are in the offing. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of M-flares and a 10% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours. –Space Weather
updated 10/19/2012 7:34:27 PM ET
A giant wave of super-hot solar plasma larger than the Earth erupted from the sun on Friday in a spectacular display captured by a NASA spacecraft.
The huge solar prominence occurred at 4:15 a.m. EDT (0815 GMT) and was recorded in amazing detail by the high-definition cameras aboard NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory before escaping the sun.
“Once it started breaking away, the process only took 10 hours before it was out of sight,” NASA media specialist Steele Hill explained in a photo description. “The prominence stretched out many times the size of Earth.”
The Solar Dynamics Observatory showed the solar prominence as a wispy red-orange wave stretching out from the lower right section of the sun. The image was recorded in the 304 Angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light, according to Hill.
Prominences are eruptions of charged solar plasma that appear to arc out away from the sun’s edge, or limb, in spacecraft and telescope views.
The structures are shaped by extreme magnetic field. Some loop-like prominences are short-lived, lasting only a few minutes. Others can be more stable, lasting hours or days, NASA scientists have said in the past.
October 18, 2012 – CLIMATE – Are there more tropical cyclones now than in the past? – or is it just something we believe because we now hear more about them through media coverage and are better able detect them with satellites? New research from the Niels Bohr Institute clearly shows that there is an increasing tendency for cyclones when the climate is warmer, as it has been in recent years. The results are published in the scientific journal PNAS. How can you examine the frequency of tropical cyclones throughout history when they have not been systematically registered? Today cyclones are monitored from satellites and you can follow their progress and direction very accurately. But it is only the last approx. 40 years that we have been able to do this. Previously, they used observations from ships and aircraft, but these were not systematic measurements. In order to get a long-term view of the frequency of cyclones, it is necessary to go further back in time and use a uniform reference. Climate scientist Aslak Grinsted of the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen therefore wanted to find some instruments that have stood and registered measurements continuously over a long period of time. “Tropical cyclones typically form out in the Atlantic Ocean and move towards the U.S. East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. I found that there were monitoring stations along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States where they had recorded the daily tide levels all the way back to 1923. I have looked at every time there was a rapid change in sea level and I could see that there was a close correlation between sudden changes in sea level and historical accounts of tropical storms,” explains Aslak Grinsted. Aslak Grinsted now had a tool to create statistics on the frequency of cyclones that make landfall – all the way back to 1923. He could see that there has been an increasing trend in the number of major storm surges since 1923.
It seems there’s no place like home, anywhere.
Scientists are discovering that planets appear to be a normal phenomenon around stars, however, they are also noticing that their distances are typically much closer than those in our solar system. The implication is that while planets are normal, habitable systems like ours may not be.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – Recent evidence for this notion is being delivered by the Kepler Space Observatory. The space telescope has detected some 2,300 planets orbiting nearby stars by measuring the reduction in light reaching Earth as planets pass in front of the stars.
The most recently announced discovery is of a system which has five rocky planets all larger than the Earth, orbiting their parent star so close that their orbits range from one day to 9.5 days.
The planets orbit the star KOI-500, in the constellation Lyra. These planets orbit their parent star so closely, it’s difficult to imagine any hope of life.
Farther out from the star, there are 4 larger planets, probably gas giants that also orbit relatively close to KOI-500.
What intrigues scientists the most is the knowledge that the planets had to have formed farther from the star, then as a result of gravitational interactions, their orbits shrank.
In fact, astronomers are finding many systems with planets too close for liquid water to exist, which scientists consider a prerequisite for life.
So while planets may be common, habitable worlds may prove decidedly uncommon.
ScienceDaily (Oct. 17, 2012) — Among the oddities of the outer solar system are the middle-sized moons of Saturn, a half-dozen icy bodies dwarfed by Saturn’s massive moon Titan. According to a new model for the origin of the Saturn system, these middle-sized moons were spawned during giant impacts in which several major satellites merged to form Titan.
Erik Asphaug, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, will present this new hypothesis October 19 at the annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society in Reno, Nevada. Asphaug and his coauthor, Andreas Reufer of the University of Bern, Switzerland, also describe their model in detail in a paper to be published in Icarus (in press).
Asphaug and Reufer propose that the Saturn system started with a family of major satellites comparable to the four large moons of Jupiter (known as the Galilean moons, discovered by Galileo in 1610). The Galilean moons account for 99.998 percent of the mass in Jupiter’s satellite system; although it has dozens of small satellites, Jupiter has no middle-sized moons. The new model may explain why the two systems are so different.
“We think that the giant planets got their satellites kind of like the Sun got its planets, growing like miniature solar systems and ending with a stage of final collisions,” Asphaug said. “In our model for the Saturn system, we propose that Titan grew in a couple of giant impacts, each one combining the masses of the colliding bodies, while shedding a small family of middle-sized moons.”
Earth is thought to have undergone a similar kind of giant impact, in which our planet gained the last ten percent of its mass and spawned the moon. Just as our moon is thought to be made out of material similar to Earth’s rocky mantle, the middle-sized moons of Saturn are made of material similar to Titan’s icy mantle, Asphaug said.
Nasa has released spectacular high definition video of a solar flare breaking away from the surface of the Sun.
The coronal mass ejection, captured by Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows a filament that had been hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, erupting into space at nearly 1500 kilometres per second.
The eruption happened at 8.36pm (Irish time) on August 31st this year and was large enough to engulf the Earth many times over.
The associated coronal mass ejection passed by Earth on the night of Monday, September 3rd, connecting with Earth’s magnetic environment, or magnetosphere, causing aurora to appear.
The video is shot in 1080p high definition and shows the filament from several different angles allowing viewers to observe how the solar flare behaved.
I was a bit freaked out when I learned that the Earth is singing. Apparently an electromagnetic phenomenon caused by plasma waves in radiation belts, causes Earth to make whale type noises. This noise is called “chorus.” Chorus is made of radio waves that oscillate at acoustic frequencies, between 0 and 10 kHz. In short the planet in which we all live is making a singing type noise for the universe to hear – how jovial.
That’s fine and dandy; half awesome, half terrifying. On top of this, chorus may be responsible for “killer electrons.” These are high energy particles that can harm satellites and astronauts. “Killer” anything is a bit unnerving… but electrons? Not the electrons though, man.
Watch the video below and listen as NASA explains it better than I ever could. Those sounds make me feel uneasy like it’s the last recording before something horrible in space murdered the entire recording crew. Either that or is sounds peaceful, I can’t decide
Space is scary.
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