Detecting Cosmic Rays From A Galaxy Far, Far Away

In an article published today in the journal Science, the Pierre Auger Collaboration has definitively answered the question of whether cosmic particles from outside the Milky Way Galaxy. The article notes that studying the distribution of the cosmic ray arrival directions is the first step in determining where extragalactic particles originate.

The collaborating scientists were able to make their recordings using the largest cosmic-ray observatory ever built, the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina. Included in this collaboration are David Nitz and Brian Fick, professors of physics at Michigan Technological University.

“We are now considerably closer to solving the mystery of where and how these extraordinary particles are created, a question of great interest to astrophysicists,” says Karl-Heinz Kampert, a professor at the University of Wuppertal in Germany and spokesperson for the Auger Collaboration, which involves more than 400 scientists from 18 countries.

Cosmic rays are the nuclei of elements from hydrogen to iron. Studying them gives scientists a way to study matter from outside our solar system — and now, outside our galaxy. Cosmic rays help us understand the composition of galaxies and the processes that occur to accelerate the nuclei to nearly the speed of light. By studying cosmic rays, scientists may come to understand what mechanisms create the nuclei.

Astronomer Carl Sagan once said, “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”

To put it simply, understanding cosmic rays and where they originate can help us answer fundamental questions about the origins of the universe, our galaxy and ourselves.

Incredibly Energetic and Far-Traveling

It’s extremely rare for cosmic rays with energy greater than two joules to reach Earth; the rate of their arrival at the top of the atmosphere is only about one per square kilometer per year, the equivalent to one cosmic ray hitting an area the size of a soccer field about once per century.

A joule is a measurement of energy; one joule is equivalent to one 3,600th of a watt-hour. When a single cosmic ray particle hits the Earth’s atmosphere, that energy is deposited within a few millionths of a second.

Such rare particles are detectable because they create showers of electrons, photons and muons through successive interactions with the nuclei in the atmosphere. These showers spread out, sweeping through the atmosphere at the speed of light in a disc-like structure, like a giant dinner-plate, several kilometers in diameter. They contain more than 10 billion particles.

At the Pierre Auger Observatory, cosmic rays are detected by measuring the Cherenkov light — electromagnetic radiation emitted by charged particles passing through a medium, such as water, at greater than the phase velocity of light in that medium. The team measures the Cherenkov light produced in a detector, which is a large plastic structure that contains 12 tons of water. They pick up a signal in a few detectors within an array of 1,600 detectors.

The detectors are spread over 3,000 square kilometers near the town of Malargüe in western Argentina, an area comparable in size to Rhode Island. The times of arrival of the particles at the detectors, measured with GPS receivers, are used to determine the direction from which the particles came within approximately one degree.

By studying the distribution of the arrival directions of more than 30,000 cosmic particles, the Auger Collaboration has discovered an anisotropy, which is the difference in the rate of cosmic ray arrivals depending in which direction you look. This means the cosmic rays do not come uniformly from all directions; there is a direction from which the rate is higher.

The anisotropy is significant at 5.2 standard deviations (a chance of about two in ten million) in a direction where the distribution of galaxies is relatively high. Although this discovery clearly indicates an extragalactic origin for the particles, the specific sources of the cosmic rays are still unknown.

The direction points to a broad area of sky rather than to specific sources because even such energetic particles are deflected by a few tens of degrees in the magnetic field of our galaxy.

There have been cosmic rays observed with even higher energy those used in the Pierre Auger Collaboration study, some even with the kinetic energy of well-struck tennis ball. As the deflections of such particles are expected to be smaller because of their higher energy, the arrival directions should point closer to their birthplaces. Such cosmic rays are even rarer and further studies are underway to pin down which extragalactic objects are the sources.

Knowledge of the nature of the particles will aid this identification, and continuing work on this problem is targeted in the upgrade of the Auger Observatory to be completed in 2018.

Naples’ Supervolcano Is Reaching ‘Dangerous’ Levels

Scientists have discovered a “hot zone” feeding a supervolcano near Naples in southern Italy, prompting fears it is nearing eruption.

Campi Flegrei, a volcanic caldera to the west of Naples, last erupted centuries ago and has been quiet since the 1980s, when the movement of magma into the volcano’s shallow chamber caused a series of small earthquakes.

Seismographic data from those tremors have now allowed scientists to pinpoint the source of the magma that entered Campi Flegrei’s chamber and caldera, the hot zone.

Analysis of this zone suggests the supervolcano is becoming more dangerous.

“One question that has puzzled scientists is where magma is located beneath the caldera, and our study provides the first evidence of a hot zone under the city of Pozzuoli that extends into the sea at a depth of 4 km,” said Dr Luca De Siena, who led the study at the University of Aberdeen.

“While this is the most probable location of a small batch of magma, it could also be the heated fluid-filled top of a wider magma chamber, located even deeper.”

His research suggests magma was blocked from rising to the surface in the 1980s by a 1-2km-deep rock formation, which forced it to release stress along a lateral route.

It is not yet clear what this means for the volcano’s future, but the relatively low amount of seismic activity in the area in the last three decades suggests pressure is building within the caldera.

“What this means in terms of the scale of any future eruption we cannot say, but there is no doubt that the volcano is becoming more dangerous,” Dr De Siena said.

An eruption will occur when the pressure of molten rock causes the ground to stretch to breaking point, which would be catastrophic for the 1.5 million people living in the Naples region.

“During the last 30 years the behaviour of the volcano has changed, with everything becoming hotter due to fluids permeating the entire caldera,” Dr De Siena explained.

“Whatever produced the activity under Pozzuoli in the 1980s has migrated somewhere else, so the danger doesn’t just lie in the same spot, it could now be much nearer to Naples which is more densely populated.”

Dr De Siena described Campi Flegrei, which translates as “burning fields”, as being like “a boiling pot of soup beneath the surface”.

The volcano’s most famous eruption, the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption, occurred around 39,000 years ago and spewed molten rock around 70km into the stratosphere.

This eruption was the largest Europe has seen in the last 200,000 years, and may have played a part in the extinction of the neanderthals.

UPDATE :How Tropical Storm Jose Will Play a Role in Steering Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria will begin to turn northward during the next few days, partially due to the influence of Tropical Storm Jose on the large-scale weather pattern in the western Atlantic.

The forecast for a more north than northwest motion into this weekend is due to a weakness in the steering flow over the western Atlantic that a stalled Jose well off the East Coast has a hand in creating.

Jose will temporarily block an area of high pressure over the eastern U.S. from moving farther east. If that high had been able to build east faster, it would have sent Maria on a more west-northwest path toward the U.S.

Instead, Maria will gain latitude in between that eastern U.S. high-pressure system and another area of high pressure located to Maria’s east in the Atlantic Ocean.

As a result, Maria’s circulation center should remain well east of the Southeast U.S. coast during the next five days as it moves northward.

High surf and dangerous rip currents generated by Maria will begin arriving on the Southeast coast this weekend.

Jose’s low-pressure center will weaken by late this weekend or early next week, which will allow an area of high pressure to rebuild to the north and east of Maria. At the same time, a southward dip in the jet stream over the Lower 48 will slowly approach from the west.

Maria will likely take the alleyway in between those two large-scale weather systems. Where that so-called alleyway sets up will determine how close the center of Maria will be in relation to the East Coast as it accelerates north and then northeast next week.

At the moment, the latest forecast guidance suggests the center of Maria will stay off the East Coast of the U.S., but it’s too early to be 100 percent certain.

Puerto Rico Cleans Up As Turks And Caicos Brace For Hurricane Maria

San Juan, Puerto Rico – The large eye of Hurricane Maria lumbered toward the popular vacation islands of Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas on Thursday, leaving Puerto Rico and its Caribbean neighbors battered, drenched and largely without power.

The core of Maria, a major hurricane, is forecast to pass just east of the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas early Friday.

The Category 3 storm has sustained winds of 125 mph, the US National Hurricane Center said.

In just 24 hours, Maria dumped almost 40 inches of rain on parts of Puerto Rico, where millions of residents won’t have power for months. Most of the island saw more than a foot of precipitation as Maria turned streets into raging rivers.

The storm brought down trees and poured up to 6 inches of rain on the Dominican Republic as the eyewall passed to the east.

Many Puerto Ricans spent Thursday cleaning up. A man in the La Perla area of San Juan told CNN he still had his faith. “It’s incredible … but I believe in God, and we can do anything with the help of God,” Roberto Caballero said.

CNN teams in San Juan saw that some shops were open. All had long lines.

Maria has brought misery to many Caribbean Islands and death to Dominica, where at least 15 people were killed when the storm passed earlier this week, according to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.
Here’s the latest on Maria’s destruction, and what’s next.

Dominican Republic gets thrashed

Although Maria is drifting away from the Dominican Republic, parts of the country are still seeing hurricane conditions, the National Hurricane Center said.

“A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 4 to 6 feet” in parts of the Dominican Republic — where rivers were still swollen from Hurricane Irma, forecasters said. Haiti, on the western part of the island, could see a storm surge of up to 3 feet.

Maria will likely strengthen as it moves across warm water, endangering low-lying islands with enormous storm surges. And the Turks and Caicos could see as much as 20 inches of rainfall, the hurricane center said.

Maria could affect the US East Coast by early next week with high surf, dangerous rip currents and windy conditions. Depending on its path, the system could also bring rain from the mid-Atlantic to Massachusetts, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.

Puerto Rico: Power system ‘basically … destroyed’

Puerto Ricans might not get power back for four to six months, said Ricardo Ramos, the CEO of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

“The system has been basically destroyed,” Ramos told CNN. He said hospitals and water systems will get priority power restoration.

The island’s largest airport, the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, will be open to commercial traffic Friday, according to Aerostar Puerto Rico, which manages the airport near San Juan.

Emergency generators will power the limited operations, and there will be no air conditioning, the operator said.

President Donald Trump told reporters that he will visit Puerto Rico, a US commonwealth, but did not detail when.

“Puerto Rico was absolutely obliterated,” Trump said. “We’ll work with the governor and the people of Puerto Rico.”

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Maria is the “most devastating storm to hit the island this century, if not in modern history.”

Puerto Rico has been through a long recession and is deeply in debt. Before the storm hit, the state-owned power grid was “a little bit old, mishandled and weak,” the governor said.

Retired Army veteran Manuel Torres called Maria’s devastation the worst he’d ever seen. His mother’s house in La Perla, an oceanfront community in old San Juan, was destroyed.

Emerging after the storm had passed, Torres found the three-story home reduced to two stories.

Angela Magaña, a UFC fighter who lives in the area, said neighbors were helping each other.

“We need cleanup, water, food, and generators,” she told CNN. “There are a lot of old people here who are going without necessities. We need to rebuild and restructure, and we need prayers. Any kind of help we can get because it’s a mess right now.”

Dozens of families were rescued from flooding Thursday in Levittown, near the capital city of San Juan, a spokeswoman for the Puerto Rican governor tweeted. The Puerto Rican National Guard was still searching for others in need of rescue, she said.

Cassidy Spooner, a tourist from Jacksonville, Florida, came upon animals as she was checking out the damage in Luquillo on Thursday.

“The dog was looking for food. I saw her find raw bacon in the street and eat it,” she said. Spooner told CNN she saw kittens and cats near a house nearby that appeared to have cat food, but the felines looked skinny and scared.

Neighbors were trying to take care of the animals, she said.

Army Reserve Brig. Gen Dustin Shultz told “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon” there are 4,500 reserve soldiers on Puerto Rico to assist the National Guard.

Dominica: ‘The need is great’

Prime Minister Skerrit said Dominica was almost completely devastated.

“First of all, every village in Dominica, every street in Dominica … is affected by the hurricane,” he told ABS TV/Radio, based in Antigua and Barbuda. “We have no running water, no electricity, no power, we have very limited communication services.” Skerrit’s own home was demolished in the storm.

There is desperate need for food, water and medical supplies on the island of 73,000 residents, officials said.

“The need is great,” said Philmore Mullin, head of Antigua and Barbuda’s National Office of Disaster Services. “We know of casualties, but not in detail. We’ve heard of many missing, but we just don’t know much at the moment.”

Skerrit is “homeless” and “bunking up in an area called St. Aroment,” government spokesman Charles Jong said.

A flight Wednesday over Dominica showed thousands of trees had been snapped and were strewn across the landscape, leaving the island stripped of vegetation.

US Virgin Islands: 24-hour curfew in place

Maria also annihilated homes on the US Virgin Islands. On Thursday, Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp announced a 24-hour curfew, effective immediately, on the four main US Virgin Islands — St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island.

“Your presence on the roads during the curfew hours will only hamper clean-up efforts and could delay the distribution of critically needed supplies,” Mapp said.

One of the hardest hit islands was St. Croix. Maria didn’t just obliterate homes, it knocked out vital communication lines, resident Murillo Melo said.

“Here on the island and on the mainland, people are trying to get in contact with friends and relatives,” he said. “People are desperate to get some news from their friends and relatives.”

Trump declared the US Virgin Islands a major disaster area and ordered federal aid to supplement recovery efforts.

UPDATE: Mexico Quake Fallout Has Been Personally Disturbing

As mentioned in yesterday’s article, an elementary school had collapsed as a result of the mag. 7.1 quake just south of Mexico City. It is hard for me to report on casualties related to any disaster, but when it comes to children, my emotions become a bit overwhelming. As many of you know, I have two young children, Alexa age 9 and Sophia age 5. Among my activities, I volunteer as a WatchDog at their elementary school (which I encourage every father to participate), giving me a great opportunity to enter-act with these bright beautiful children.

You might have guessed where I have been over the last several days last week… Yes, I got the call to venture off to Georgia dealing with that nasty Irma. Just got a call to head to Mexico, but this time my answer was ‘no’. We all have our limits and or, Achilles heel, mine is children. Perhaps I’m reacting to my own PTSD, or perhaps I’m just getting a bit older, or I just love my kids so much I would rather stay home with them and my wife being damn grateful we are all safe…for this time around.

As an aside, the Mexico City Emergency Management Team is well qualified, and it just so happened they were just completing ‘active scenario training’ at the time of this 7.1 quake.

More than 300 children were studying in their classrooms at Enrique Rébsamen primary school, in Mexico City’s southern Coapa district when the earth started violently shaking.

In an instant, concrete walls and ceilings in parts of the school came crashing down, crushing students as young as first-graders. Neighbors, relatives of the children and even a passing taxi driver rushed toward the giant plume of dust, prying away debris with their bare hands, desperately searching for any sign of life Tuesday afternoon. They worked through the night.

By Wednesday morning, rescuers had carried out at least 25 bodies, twenty-one of them were students with names like Daniela, Diana and Oscar. They were all believed to be 7 or 8 years old and were still dressed in their white and black school uniforms.

Those killed at the school were among at least 230 people who perished across five states in Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 earthquake. Dozens of buildings collapsed across central Mexico, including large office buildings and apartment towers in Mexico City.

Details of the girl located on Wednesday have not been given. Rescuers detected her after she moved her hand and a hose was lowered to supply her with water.

Civil Protection volunteer Enrique Gardia told the assembled crowd that a thermal scanner had detected several survivors trapped between slabs of concrete.

“They are alive! Alive!” he shouted. “Someone hit a wall several times in one place, and in another there was a response to light signals with a lamp,” he added.

One mother, standing nearby waiting for news of her seven-year-old daughter, told reporters: “No-one can possibly imagine the pain I’m in right now.”

At least 209 schools were affected by the quake, 15 of which have suffered severe damage.

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NOTE:I am sending money and supplies to some connections I have made in Mexico. If you can help in making those who have been directly affected, go to the bottom of this article and click on the donation banner.

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Popocatépetl Volcano Activity

The National Center for Disaster Prevention reported that, so far, there has not been an increase in the activity of the Popocatépetl volcano and remains at Alert Level ‘Advisory’ and Aviation code ‘Orange’.  The most recent report indicated the monitoring systems identified 256 low intensity exhalations, one explosion, as well as 15 volcano-tectonic earthquakes with magnitudes between 1.5 and 2.5.

During the night, no incandescence was noticed on the crater and since the morning of this Wednesday the volcano has been observed with a weak emission of water vapor and gas.

From dawn and up to the time of this report the volcano has been seen with a weak emission of steam and gas. NCDP emphasizes that people ‘Should Not’ go near the volcano, especially near the crater, due to the hazard caused by ballistic fragments.

The scenarios foreseen for this phase are:

Explosive activity of low to intermediate level – Ash fall in nearby towns – Possibility of short range pyroclastic flows and mudflows.

Special emphasis is placed on the following recommendations:

Continue the safety radius of 12 km, so staying in that area is not allowed – Keep the controlled traffic between Santiago Xalitzintla and San Pedro Nexapa through Paso de Cortés – Civil Protection authorities, keep your preventive procedures, in accordance with their operational plans – People, be alert to the official information disseminated.

In case of ashfall, address the following recommendations:

Cover nose and mouth with a wet handkerchief or face mask – Clean eyes and throat with pure water – Avoid contact lenses to reduce eye irritation – Close windows or cover them up, and stay indoors as much as possible.

Popocatepetl Volcano monitoring is performed continuously 24 hours a day. Any change in activity will be reported in due course.

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Bali’s Mt. Agung Volcano Threatens to Erupt

A marked increase in the number of earthquakes happening below Mount Agung volcano in eastern Bali, Indonesia, over the past few weeks has authorities keeping a close watch on the situation. Stopping just short of calling for evacuations, the latest alert issued by the national and local government agencies now forbids climbing of the mountain and orders evacuations within 7.5 km of the summit.

Although infrequent, eruptions of Mt Agung have been among the largest of the past 100 years of global volcanic activity. More than 1,000 people died during the last eruption in 1963.

Our ability to predict eruptions has improved dramatically since this last event, so we can hope such a death toll will not occur again.

Mt. Agung is one of many similar volcanoes in Indonesia and the Ring of Fire surrounding the Pacific and eastern Indian oceans. But during its sporadic eruptions, Agung has been one of the most prominent injectors of volcanic ash and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.

This type of activity can have effects that are more widely felt than by just the population of Bali.

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Earthquakes on the Rise Near Yellowstone Supervolcano

Recent data from the University of Utah shows the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park has seen a spike in earthquakes. Miles underneath the park sits one of the world’s largest volcanoes, known as the Yellowstone super volcano.

According to FOX31’s sister station, there have been 1,200 earthquakes in the park since the beginning of June. Jamie Farrell, Research Professor of Seismology at the University of Utah, says this is a large swarm, but adds the activity is otherwise pretty normal for the volcanic area.

“We get a lot of calls as to whether people should cancel plans to go to Yellowstone and the answer is decisively no,” he said. “This is how volcanoes act, and it’s pretty normal.”

Researchers say that there are typically between 1,500 and 2,000 earthquakes a year in Yellowstone.

 

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Science Of Cycles Multi-Disaster Relief Initiative

Be a part of Science Of Cycles Multi-Disaster Relief Initiative. Lets come together and help those who need a helping hand. Notice I did not specify a hurricane name, why? Because there is more than Harvey and Irma heading our way. The banner is set up for you to be able to place any amount you wish.   Cheers, Mitch

 

 

Japan Earthquake: Large 6.1 Quake Strikes Off Coast Near Fukushima

The Japan earthquake has registered 6.1 magnitude on the Richter scale.The US Geological Society (USGS) said it struck at a depth of six miles.

It occurred 174 miles east of Kamaishi. The quake struck at 5.37pm UTC.

No tsunami warnings are currently in place.

The earthquake occurred a day after more than 200 people died in Mexico City during a 7.1 quake.

In 2011 Japan was hit by a huge earthquake and equally devastating tsunami.

A nuclear meltdown occurred at Fukushima’s power plant after the waves knocked out the centre’s cooling system.

Japan is located in the ring of fire, a geographical area of high geological activity.

Due to tectonic plate tension, the region, which stretches from South America to Oceania, experiences regular volcanic and earthquake activity.

Around 90 per cent of the world’s biggest earthquakes and more than 80 per cent of the biggest volcanoes take place on the Pacific ring.

José Brings Dangerous Rip Currents To East Coast

José retained its hurricane status Tuesday as it stirred up dangerous surf and rip currents off the East Coast.

The storm’s center was about 365 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, moving north at 9 mph with sustained winds of 75 mph.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for the coast of Long Island, New York, from Fire Island Inlet to Port Jefferson, and also from New Haven to Watch Hill in Rhode Island.

New York state officials have deployed members of the National Guard and emergency response units to Long Island to prepare for potentially severe weather caused by the Category 1 storm.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 100 members of the National Guard, 13 members of an urban search-and-rescue team, and 20 high-axle vehicles will set up a command post at a welcome center on the Long Island Expressway in Dix Hills in Suffolk County.

He said the facility will be open to members of the public seeking shelter during severe weather.

Cuomo planned to hold a storm briefing at the welcome center Tuesday morning.

The surf remains rough along the Jersey Shore and there’s a chance for some coastal flooding, but the strong winds associated with the storm are well off the coast.

A high-surf advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m. Tuesday and a coastal flood warning is posted until 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Wave heights off the coast could build to 15 feet, while breaking waves along the coast are expected to reach 8 to 10 feet.

Forecasters expect José to weaken to a tropical storm by Wednesday, when it will pass by New Jersey before moving south of Massachusetts the next day.