Sunday, 19 August 2012

Astrophysics and Physics stuff from the week 13-19/8/12

[picture] The Perseids, from Germany, on a Milky Way backdrop

[picture] Gosh -- the Crescent Nebula - NGC 6888

[picture] Ionized environments of the Tarantula Nebula

[video] [picture] 'This is not a pipe' -- Barnard 59 / The Pipe Nebula
"as you take in this richly textured tapestry of celestial objects, consider for a moment that when you look up at this region of sky from Earth you would be able to fit this entire image under your thumb held at arms-length despite it being about six light-years across at the distance of Barnard 59."

[video] Why does the Sun get so much more interest around solar maxima? Oh, yeah - stuff like this:
'STEREO observes one of the fastest coronal mass ejections on record'

It was previously believed that energy radiated from the giant black holes in galaxy clusters' centres would heat the surrounding gas cloud so that it would quench star formation, and also produce sound waves at incredibly low notes - the collapse of giant cavities around the Perseus Cluster has produced B-flat notes 57 octaves below middle C!
But the Phoenix Cluster has lived up to its name, by renewing its star-forming activity, and not producing sound radiation. This means that not all galaxy clusters will behave as previously presumed -- the Phoenix Cluster's black holes do not have the power to suppress star formation.
"With its black hole not producing powerful enough jets, the center of the Phoenix Cluster is buzzing with stars that are forming about 20 times faster than in the Perseus cluster. This rate is the highest seen in"
It is expected that the growth of galaxies and black holes in the Phoenix Cluster (as the dust accretes onto them) will slow - it is already large for its kind.
"The Phoenix Cluster was originally detected by the National Science Foundation's South Pole Telescope, and later was observed in optical light by the Gemini Observatory in Chile as well as the Blanco 4-meter and Magellan telescopes, also in Chile. The hot gas and its rate of cooling were estimated from Chandra data. To measure the star formation rate in the Phoenix Cluster, several space-based telescopes were used including NASA's WISE and GALEX, and ESA's Herschel."

Don't say astronomy's just stargazing -- there's still plenty to see, and plenty to find out about.
'Hubble watches star clusters on a collision course'
"What at first was thought to be only one cluster in the core of the massive star-forming region 30 Doradus (also known as the Tarantula Nebula) has been found to be a composite of two clusters that differ in age by about one million years."

Don't mistakenly think that the LHC was built for the Higgs alone - there are four different experiments, and they each have many areas of nuclear physics to explore. One of these, is the conditions of the primordial universe.
In the early days of the universe, all that existed was what's known as a 'quark-gluon plasma', before it condensed out into the nucleons, compounds, and eventually organisms that we... are.
Following on from achievements at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York, the ATLAS, ALICE, and CMS experiments replicated conditions during this quark-gluon phase of the cosmos' development, which meant they heated it up to... hold onto your hats... 5 trillion degrees!
At temperatures like that, specifying a scale seems rather pointless! This is a record, of course, and is 100,000 times hotter than the interior of the sun, and 1500 times hotter than Tungsten's melting point (the highest known melting point for a metal).
The experiments also recreated immense pressures - denser than a neutron star. This is equivalent to cramming 200,00,000 elephants into a thimble. And here's a wink to anyone who reads New Scientist's Feedback column -> ;-)
These conditions will permit analysis of particles such as the charm quark, which is significantly slowed by q-g plasma.
Data is expected to be released in a few weeks' time.

[video] Bobby Llew's guide to the inductive charging of electric cars

[video] 'Crash test cow' helps prevent farmer death and injury
I was going to put this in 'Entertainment' because of the title, but actually, this is neat stuff.
"Hundreds of farmers and cattle handlers are injured in Australia operating cattle gates. According to latest statistics, 211 farmers were 'caught, crushed, jammed, or pinched in or between objects' between 2000 and 2005"

[video] "High above the clouds during thunderstorms, some 50 miles above Earth a different kind of lightning dances. Bursts of red and blue light, known as "sprites," flash for a scant one thousandth of a second. They are often only visible to those in flight above a storm, and happen so quickly you might not even see it unless you chance to be looking directly at it."

Agh -- how many harder-than-diamond materials do they want? Even play-dough's harder than diamond now... or at least, that's what i hear.
This is largely a symbolic achievement, of course, because the deliberate construction of this half-amorphous-half-bucky-lattice material, is expensive, and therefore unscaleable to practical use, unless in very small quantities.

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