Andromeda’s First Spinning Neutron Star Found

Decades of searching in the Milky Way’s nearby ‘twin’ galaxy Andromeda have finally paid off, with the discovery of an elusive breed of stellar corpse, a neutron star, by ESA’s XMM-Newton space telescope.

Andromeda galaxy

Andromeda, or M31, is a popular target among astronomers. Under clear, dark skies it is even visible to the naked eye. Its proximity and similarity in structure to our own spiral galaxy, the Milky Way, make it an important natural laboratory for astronomers. It has been extensively studied for decades by telescopes covering the whole electromagnetic spectrum.

Despite being extremely well studied, one particular class of object had never been detected: spinning neutron stars.

Neutron stars are the small and extraordinarily dense remains of a once-massive star that exploded as a powerful supernova at the end of its natural life. They often spin very rapidly and can sweep regular pulses of radiation towards Earth, like a lighthouse beacon appearing to flash on and off as it rotates.

These ‘pulsars’ can be found in stellar couples, with the neutron star cannibalizing its neighbor. This can lead to the neutron star spinning faster, and to pulses of high-energy X-rays from hot gas being funneled down magnetic fields on to the neutron star.

Binary systems hosting a neutron star like this are quite common in our own galaxy, but regular signals from such a pairing had never before been seen in Andromeda.

Now, astronomers systematically searching through the archives of data from XMM-Newton X-ray telescope have uncovered the signal of an unusual source fitting the bill of a fast-spinning neutron star.

It spins every 1.2 seconds, and appears to be feeding on a neighboring star that orbits it every 1.3 days.

“We were expecting to detect periodic signals among the brightest X-ray objects in Andromeda, in line with what we already found during the 1960s and 1970s in our own galaxy,” says Gian Luca Israel, from INAF-Osservatorio Astronomica di Roma, Italy, one of the authors of the paper describing the results, “But persistent, bright X-ray pulsars like this are still somewhat peculiar, so it was not completely a sure thing we would find one in Andromeda.

“We looked through archival data of Andromeda spanning 2000-13, but it wasn’t until 2015 that we were finally able to identify this object in the galaxy’s outer spiral in just two of the 35 measurements.”

While the precise nature of the system remains unclear, the data imply that it is unusual and exotic.

“It could be what we call a ‘peculiar low-mass X-ray binary pulsar’—in which the companion star is less massive than our Sun—or alternatively an intermediate-mass binary system, with a companion of about two solar masses,” says Paolo Esposito of INAF-Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica, Milan, Italy.

“We need to acquire more observations of the pulsar and its companion to help determine which scenario is more likely.”
“The well-known Andromeda galaxy has long been a source of exciting discoveries, and now an intriguing periodic signal has been detected by our flagship X-ray mission,” adds Norbert Schartel, ESA’s XMM-Newton Project Scientist.

“We’re in a better position now to uncover more objects like this in Andromeda, both with XMM-Newton and with future missions such as ESA’s next-generation high-energy observatory, ATHENA.”

Laser Cloaking Device Can Conceal Earth

Two astronomers at Columbia University in New York suggest humanity could use lasers to conceal the Earth from searches by advanced extraterrestrial civilizations. Professor David Kipping and graduate student Alex Teachey made the proposal in a paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

lasercloakin

Several prominent scientists, including Stephen Hawking, have cautioned against humanity broadcasting our presence to intelligent life on other planets. Other civilisations might try to find Earth-like planets using the same techniques we do, including looking for the dip in light when a planet moves directly in front of the star it orbits.

These events – transits – are the main way that the Kepler mission and similar projects search for planets around other stars. So far Kepler alone has confirmed more than 1,000 planets using this technique, with tens of these worlds similar in size to the Earth. Kipping and Teachey speculate that alien scientists may use this approach to locate our planet, which will be clearly in the ‘habitable zone’ of the Sun, where the temperature is right for liquid water, and so be a promising place for life.

Hawking and others are concerned that extraterrestrials might wish to take advantage of the Earth’s resources, and that their visit, rather than being benign, could be as devastating as when Europeans first travelled to the Americas.

The two authors of the new study suggest that transits could be masked by controlled laser emission, with the beam directed at the star where the aliens might live. When the transit takes place, the laser would be switched on to compensate for the dip in light.

According to the authors, emitting a continuous 30 MW laser for about 10 hours, once a year, would be enough to eliminate the transit signal, at least in visible light. The energy needed is comparable to that collected by the International Space Station in a year. A chromatic cloak, effective at all wavelengths, is more challenging, and would need a large array of tuneable lasers with a total power of 250 MW.

“Alternatively, we could cloak only the atmospheric signatures associated with biological activity, such as oxygen, which is achievable with a peak laser power of just 160 kW per transit. To another civilisation, this should make the Earth appear as if life never took hold on our world”, said Alex.

As well as cloaking our presence, the lasers could also be used to modify the way the light from the Sun drops during a transit to make it obviously artificial, and thus broadcast our existence. The authors suggest that we could transmit information along the laser beams at the same time, providing a means of communication.

David comments: “There is an ongoing debate as to whether we should advertise ourselves or hide from advanced civilisations potentially living on planets elsewhere in the Galaxy. Our work offers humanity a choice, at least for transit events, and we should think about what we want to do.”

Given that humanity is already capable of modifying transit signals, it may just be that aliens have had the same thought. The two scientists propose that the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), which mostly currently looks for alien radio signals, could be broadened to search for artificial transits.

Gold Star: Seeking The Origin Of Gold In The Universe

Michigan State University researchers, working with colleagues from Technical University Darmstadt in Germany, are zeroing in on the answer to one of science’s most puzzling questions: Where did heavy elements, such as gold, originate?

gold star

Currently there are two candidates, neither of which are located on Earth — a supernova, a massive star that, in its old age, collapsed and then catastrophically exploded under its own weight; or a neutron-star merger, in which two of these small yet incredibly massive stars come together and spew out huge amounts of stellar debris.

In a recently published paper in the journal Physical Review Letters, the researchers detail how they are using computer models to come closer to an answer.

“At this time, no one knows the answer,” said Witold Nazarewicz, a professor at the MSU-based Facility for Rare Isotope Beams and one of the co-authors of the paper. “But this work will help guide future experiments and theoretical developments.”

By using existing data, often obtained by means of high-performance computing, the researchers were able to simulate production of heavy elements in both supernovae and neutron-star mergers.

“Our work shows regions of elements where the models provide a good prediction,” said Nazarewicz, a Hannah Distinguished Professor of Physics who also serves as FRIB’s chief scientist. “What we can do is identify the critical areas where future experiments, which will be conducted at FRIB, will work to reduce uncertainties of nuclear models.”

Other researchers included Dirk Martin and Almudena Arcones from Technical University Darmstadt and Erik Olsen of MSU.

MSU is establishing FRIB as a new scientific user facility for the Office of Nuclear Physics in the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science.

Titan’s Tallest Peaks: Towering Mountain Discovered On Saturn’s Largest Moon

Titan’s tallest peak is 10,948 feet (3,337 meters) high and is found within a trio of mountainous ridges called the Mithrim Montes. The researchers found that all of Titan’s highest peaks are about 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) in elevation. The study used images and other data from Cassini’s radar instrument, which can peer through the obscuring smog of Titan’s atmosphere to reveal the surface in detail.

titan

“It’s not only the highest point we’ve found so far on Titan, but we think it’s the highest point we’re likely to find,” said Stephen Wall, deputy lead of the Cassini radar team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The results, which use data collected by Cassini’s radar instrument, are being presented today at the 47th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference at The Woodlands, Texas.

Most of Titan’s tallest mountains appear to be close to the equator. The researchers identified other peaks of similar height within the Mithrim Montes, as well as in the rugged region known as Xanadu, and in collections of more isolated peaks called “ridge belts” located near the landing site of ESA’s Huygens probe.

The investigation was originally motivated by a search for active zones within Titan’s crust — places where dynamic forces have shaped the landscape, perhaps in the relatively recent past.

“As explorers, we’re motivated to find the highest or deepest places, partly because it’s exciting. But Titan’s extremes also tell us important things about forces affecting its evolution,” said Jani Radebaugh, a Cassini radar team associate at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, who led the research.

Mountains and cliffs on Earth usually are found in locations where forces have shoved the surface upward from underneath. Forces of erosion, including wind, rain and runoff, slowly wear them down over time. The Himalaya and Andes Mountains are examples of places where interior forces are at work today. The Appalachian Mountains represent much more ancient activity that produced similarly gigantic peaks long ago, which have since eroded.

Cassini has found that Titan also has rain and rivers that erode its landscape. According to Radebaugh, the process probably proceeds much more slowly on Titan than on Earth because, at 10 times Earth’s distance from the sun, there is less energy to power erosive processes in the moon’s atmosphere.

Titan’s icy crust sits atop a deep ocean of liquid water that probably acts much like Earth’s upper mantle — the layer of hot, high-pressure rock below the crust that can slowly flow and deform over time. Once a period of mountain-building ends, these fluid layers (Earth’s upper mantle and Titan’s liquid ocean) allow the crust to relax, like a person settling into a waterbed. Also, at great depth, the water-ice bedrock of Titan is softer than rock on Earth. Because of these characteristics, scientists didn’t expect mountains on Titan would tower quite as high as those on Earth, which can rise to more than 5 miles (nearly 9 kilometers) tall.

The fact that Titan has significant mountains at all suggests that some active tectonic forces could be affecting the surface, for example, related to Titan’s rotation, tidal forces from Saturn or cooling of the crust. The next step for the researchers will be trying to figure out what could produce such tall peaks on an icy ocean world.

“There is lot of value in examining the topography of Titan in a broad, global sense, since it tells us about forces acting on the surface from below as well as above,” said Radebaugh.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter. The radar instrument was built by JPL and the Italian Space Agency, working with team members from the US and several European countries.

Scientists Explain Evolution Of Some Of The Largest Dinosaurs

Scientists from the University of Liverpool have developed computer models of the bodies of sauropod dinosaurs to examine the evolution of their body shape.

dinosaurs

Sauropod dinosaurs include the largest land animals to have ever lived. Some of the more well-known sauropods include Diplodocus, Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus. They are renowned for their extremely long necks, long tails as well as four thick, pillar-like legs and small heads in relation to their body.

To date, however, there have been only limited attempts to examine how this unique body-plan evolved and how it might be related to their gigantic body size. Dr Karl Bates from the University’s Department of Musculoskeletal Biology and his colleagues used three-dimensional computer models reconstructing the bodies of sauropod dinosaurs to analyse how their size, shape and weight-distribution evolved over time.

Evolutionary history

Dr Bates found evidence that changes in body shape coincided with major events in sauropod evolutionary history such as the rise of the titanosaurs. The early dinosaurs that sauropods evolved from were small and walked on two legs, with long tails, small chests and small forelimbs. The team estimate that this body shape concentrated their weight close to the hip joint, which would have helped them balance while walking bipedally on their hind legs.

As sauropods evolved they gradually altered both their size and shape from this ancestral template, becoming not only significantly larger and heavier, but also gaining a proportionally larger chest, forelimbs and in particular a dramatically larger neck.

The team’s findings show that these changes altered sauropods’ weight distribution as they grew in size, gradually shifting from being tail-heavy, two-legged animals to being front-heavy, four-legged animals, such as the large, fully quadrupedal Jurassic sauropods Diplodocus and Apatosaurus.

The team found that these linked trends in size, body shape and weight distribution did not end with the evolution of fully quadrupedal sauropods. In the Cretaceous period — the last of the three ages of the dinosaurs — many earlier sauropod groups dwindled. In their place, a new and extremely large type of sauropod known as titanosaurs evolved, including the truly massive Argentinosaurus and Dreadnoughtus, among the largest known animals ever to have lived.

Front heavy

The team’s computer models suggest that in addition to their size, the titanosaurs evolved the most extreme ‘front heavy’ body shape of all sauropods, as a result of their extremely long necks.

Dr Bates said: “As a result of devising these models we were able to ascertain that the relative size of sauropods’ necks increased gradually over time, leading to animals that were increasingly more front-heavy relative to their ancestors.”

Dr Philip Mannion from Imperial College London, a collaborator in the research, added: “These innovations in body shape might have been key to the success of titanosaurs, which were the only sauropod dinosaurs to survive until the end-Cretaceous mass extinction, 66 million years ago.”

Dr Vivian Allen from the Royal Veterinary College London, who also collaborated in the research, added: “What’s important to remember about studies like this is that there is a very high degree of uncertainty about exactly how these animals were put together. While we have good skeletons for many of them, it’s difficult to be sure how much meat there was around each of the bones. We have built this uncertainly into our models, ranging each body part from emaciated to borderline obesity, and even using these extremes we still find these solid, trending changes in body proportions over sauropod evolution.”

Quiet Sunspot

Sunspot AR2526 is big enough to swallow our entire planet–twice–and today it is crossing the center of the solar disk, directly facing Earth. Amateur astronomer J. P. Brahic took advantage of the crossing to photograph the behemoth from his backyard observatory in Uzès, France.

quietsunspot_strip

Surrounded by a maelstrom of swirling red-hot plasma, the sunspot’s dark core looks menacing indeed. But looks can be deceiving. In fact, sunspot AR2526 is one of the least threatening sunspots to come along this year. AR2526 has a stable magnetic field that resists exploding. As a result, NOAA forecasters say there is no more than a 1% chance of a strong solar flare for the next three days.

MITCH BATTROS RESEARCH ENDORSEMENTS _ GALAXY – SUN – EARTH (TRILOGY)

It has been a most challenging task as a writer, producer and research journalist, maintaining a measured balance between two highly esteemed yet often discordant disciplines. One telling of our ancient ancestors and their wisdom passed on through hundreds of generations – and the other, providing evidence of new discoveries through advanced scientific technology.

book_combo_lg

After publishing my first book “Solar Rain” in 2005 outlining the Sun-Earth connection which introduced the causal effects of solar and atmospheric weather “now measured in hours and days”, introduced a dramatic shift from the standard of measuring climate variability over periods of decades and centuries.

equation_1998

In 1998, I published my ‘equation’ which illustrates the sequence of events beginning with our Sun and showing the effects of charged particles, in the form of solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and coronal holes and the following residual effects on Earth’s magnetic field, through the ionosphere and down into our upper and lower atmosphere. The time-linked means of the Sun-Earth connection is now measured as “weather” not ‘climate’.

Two years later, I published my 2nd book titled: “Global Warming Disguise”. This book was one of the first to convoke the falling of science to a political themed dilemma when both advocates and dissenters turned away from the filtering discernment of science, and began their campaigns on “winning the hearts and minds of an unprepared less knowing public.”

new_equation 2012_m

After completing my first two books, my research took me beyond our Sun asking what to me was an effortless question: “What causes the Sun’s cycles?” The making of a 3rd book Trilogy was inescapable. It brings together newly discovered scientific findings, which could have only happened at this time in history as a result of new technology, spacecraft, telescopes, and satellites. Only now can we confirm a close symbiotic relation between our galaxy Milky Way, the Sun, the Earth, and Humans. Furthermore, it is only now that we have a better understanding of what our ancient ancestors have been trying to tell us for thousands of years. 1) “Change is coming in this (our) time”. 2) It will come from the sky 3) It is connected to the heavens (galaxy/universe).

science-of-cycles600x600

I would suggest we have entered an era establishing a seamless overlap between modern science and ancient text. Perhaps the conduit which associates with both ‘modern science’ and ‘ancient text’ is “matter”. Science calls it “charged particles” – Ancient text called it: spirit, logos, ki, chi, prana, ether.

“A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME; IS STILL A ROSE” (or would smell as sweet)

__________________

“I would say that your “equation” which I will call a very logical premise is real and plausible. The American Meteorological Society has asked the NOAA Space Environment Center to conduct trainings with local meteorologist on how to read and present space weather. So Mitch, your ‘super-duper doppler weatherman’ is a reality.”
Dr. Ernest Hildner, Director NOAA Space Weather Center

 

“Mitch Battros is one of those amazing individuals that has taken as his mission to disseminate on a broad scale information of great relevance that otherwise might have remained hidden in the archives of specialized scholars. With his great understanding not only of spiritual undercurrents, but also of science, he builds bridges between science and spirituality as well as between ancient wisdom and modern knowledge and makes them accessible to a broad range of people. Mitch Battros has presented us with a well researched study of the origin of these phenomena and we are being brought into a world of richness that I for one hardly knew existed before-the Sun.
Carl Johan Calleman, Historical Scholar – author of Enlightenment: The Mayan Calendar

 

“Scientists have more recently begun to consider a Sun-Earth connection in the way of weather as you describe. Mitch, I believe your (equation) is right on target. We know the recent ozone depletion which measured up to 60% was caused by the Sun. Your study of charged particles from the Sun and its effect to our magnetic field and further down to the stratosphere and even ionosphere can cause disturbance to the Northern and Southern Pacific Oscillation.”
Dr. Pål Brekke, Deputy Director of SOHO project- European Space Agency

 

“When I first interacted with Mitch Battros, I was most impressed with his grasp of the challenges we face in disaster preparedness. I am thrilled that Mitch has taken on both the physical and emotional aspects of preparedness in this powerful book about earth and our solar context. Mitch’s outstanding contribution is bridge-building from solar phenomena that influence conditions we experience down to implications, consequences and appropriate actions for us as individuals and members of organizations.”
Richard Gelb, former regional Training Coordinator Emergency Management Office

 

“I have been reading the earth changes newsletter of Mr. Mitch Battros, in which he addresses all aspects of the Sun-Earth connection as well as other important humanitarian issues, for a number of years and I have been impressed by the scientific competence of Mr. Battros and by his high ethical standards. I also admire his broad knowledge, dedicated commitment and unusually high diligence. I agree with his views on the physics underlying the Sun to Earth influence. (Of course, I am convinced that one day science will speak of a Galactic Center – Sun – Earth connection.) I wish Mr. Battros the continued professional success that his admirable and exemplary work deserves.”
Dr. Gerhard
 Loebert, recipient of the Needle of Honor in astrophysics, designer of project “Firefly” 2nd generation stealth fighter, published post-Einsteinian theory of gravitation.

 

“We have carefully followed the research of Mitch Battros for several years and continue to do so with increasing interest as so many of his theories and prognostications prove themselves to be accurate and true. His provocative new theory about the Sun-Earth relationship is certain to arouse serious thought as Battros carefully balances the latest science with ancient texts. Such a mixture will reassure and fascinate a wide range of readers.”
Brad Steiger and Sherry Hansen Steiger, authors of over 30 best-selling books

 

“I would say the Sun-Earth connection does indeed follow your “Equation”. When charged particles hit the magnetic field, the field is disturbed and I would think it will affect the jet stream. The earth weather can be chaotic; any small change in one area (ionosphere) can have an effect on other atmospheric conditions of the earth.”
Dr. Stefaan Poedts: Lead Scientist University of Leuven Center for Plasma Astrophysics

 

“Frequently it takes an “outsider” to think “out-of-the-box” and move culture closer to the truth. Mitch is a futurist thinker, driven by his curiosity. Happily, the book has emerged from Mitch and it is bound to spark discussion and further discoveries that will benefit all humans.”
Dr. William Costello, Emeritus Prof. of Psycholinguistics, SFSU

 

“There is clearly a connection between solar activity and a disturbance in the magnetic field which surrounds the earth. As a scientist, it is always best to keep an open mind as new information can come forward and challenge our current understandings. Regarding meteorologist forecasting space weather, we hope this will occur more often”
Dr. Ronald van der Linden, Director of Solar Physics Department of the Royal Observatory

 

“The untiring work of Mitch Battros has led to his unique ability to link the best of current astronomical research with archaeological discovery so as to bring about a universal consciousness of the power of the Sun for the sake of our descendants that they may adapt to inevitable change and relearn how to live in harmony with Nature. I wholeheartedly recommend his work without reservation.”
Crichton E M Miller, author of The Golden Thread of Time and The Celtic Cross

 

“Modern telescopes have shown us that the Sun is an active, even violent place, with predictable and unpredictable cycles, and massive explosions that occasionally shower Earth’s magnetosphere. It is the source of the solar wind, responsible for what is now called “space weather.” In this book, Mitch Battros has drawn inferences about how this solar activity affects Earth weather and climate, both short-term and long-term. These are dialogues the scientific community needs to have because the stakes are high for all of us.”
Dr. Tom Van Flandern, former US Naval Observatory Chief of Celestial Mechanics

 

“Mitch Battros draws attention to the intimate connection between energetic events on the Sun and weather on Earth. Humanity has a simple faith in a constant Sun that is not borne out by recent observations. If we are to have a more realistic perspective on climate change we should consider arguments like those assembled by Mitch in Solar Rain.”
Wallace Thornhill, Physicist – author of The Electric Universe

 

“Mitch Battros has played an important role in educating the public about Earth Changes and the Sun. I would expect the increasing recognition of the role the Sun plays in our lives and fortunes will be recognized by both the science community and the public in general. I ordered his new book, and I hope many others will do the same.
Former USGS Geologist, Jim Berkland

 

“Your book takes the reader through a curios journey that explores many of the unexplained mysteries with which we will have to deal in the near future. I found it fascinating reading and thought provoking.”
Arnie Rosner, Amateur Astronomer – owner rent-a-scope inc.

 

“I love books that make you think, even those deemed controversial. In Solar Rain, Mitch Battros blends science and esoteric philosophy to demonstrate the ancient truth of as above, so below. What’s happening on the Sun is affecting the earth in a most dramatic way, and influencing our weather patterns as never before. The how and why makes it a fascinating read.”
John Randolph Price, Bestselling Author

Mitch Battros
Author – ‘Solar Rain: The Earth Changes Have Begun
Global Warming: A Convenient Disguise
Producer – Earth Changes Media
Website: https://scienceofcycles.com
Email: earthchangesmedia@earthlink.net