Chemistry of Star and Planet Formation

In the last two decades, humanity has discovered thousands of extrasolar planetary systems. Recent studies of star- and planet-formation have shown that chemistry plays a pivotal role in both shaping these systems and delivering water and organic species to the surfaces of nascent terrestrial planets. Professor Geoffrey A. Blake in Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology talked to Duke faculty and students over late-afternoon pizza in the Physics building on the role of chemistry in star and planet formation and finding other Earth-like planets.

chemistry of stars

In the late 18th century, French scholar Pierre-Simon Laplace analyzed what our solar system could tell us about the formation & evolution of planetary systems. Since then, scientists have used the combination our knowledge for small bodies – asteroids – and large bodies – planets – to figure out how solar systems and planets are formed.

In 2015, Professor Blake and other researchers investigated more into ingredients in planets necessary for the development of life.
Using the Earth and our solar system as the basis for their data, they explored the relative disposition of carbon and nitrogen in each stage of star and planet formation to learn more about core formation and atmospheric escape. Analyzing the carbon-silicon atomic ratio in planets and comets, Professor Blake discovered that rocky bodies in the solar system are generally carbon-poor. Since carbon is essential for our survival, however, Blake needed to determine the range of carbon content that terrestrial planets can have and still have active biosystem.

With the Kepler mission, scientists have detected a variety of planetary objects in the universe. How many of these star-planet systems – based on measured distributions – have ‘solar system’ like outcomes? A “solar system” like planetary system has at least one Earth-like planet at approximately 1 astronomical unit (AU) from the star – where more ideal conditions for life can develop – and at least one ice giant like Jupiter at 3-5 AU in order to keep away comets from the Earth-like planet. In our galaxy alone, there are around 10 billion stars and at least 10 million planets. For those stars similar to our sun, there exist over 4 million planetary systems similar to our solar system, with the closest Earth-like planet at 20 light years away. With the rapid improvement of scientific knowledge and technology, Professor Blake estimates that we would be able to collect evidence within next 5-6 years of planets within 40-50 light years to determine if they have a habitable atmosphere.

How does an Earth and a Jupiter form at their ideal distances from a star? Let’s take a closer look at how stars and planets are created – via the astrochemical cycle. Essentially, dense clouds of gas and dust become so opaque and cold that they collapse into a disk. The disk, rotating around a to-be star, begins to transport mass in toward the center and angular momentum outward. Then, approximately 1% of the star mass is left over from the process, which is enough to form planets. This is also why planets around stars are ubiquitous.

How are the planets formed? The dust grains unused by the star collide and grow, forming larger particles at specific distances from the star – called snowlines – where water vapor turns into ice and solidifies. These “dust bunnies” grow into planetesimals (~10-50 km diameter), such as asteroids and comets. If the force of gravity is large enough, the planetesimals increase further in size to form oligarchs (~0.1-10 times the mass of the Earth), that then become the large planets of the solar system.

In our solar system, a process called dynamic reorganization occurred that restructured the order of our planets, putting Uranus before Neptune. This means that if other solar systems did not undergo such dynamic reorganization at an early point in formation of solar system, then other Earths may have lower organic and water content than our Earth. In that case, what constraints do we need to apply to determine if a water/organic delivery mechanism exists for exo-Earths? Although we do not currently have the scientific knowledge to answer this, with ALMA and the next generation of optical/IR telescopes, we will be able image the birth of solar systems directly and better understand how our universe came to be.

To the chemistry students at Duke, Professor Blake relayed an important message: learn chemistry fundamentals very carefully while in college. Over the next 40-50 years, your interests will change gears many times. Strong fundamentals, however, will serve you well, since you are now equipped to learn in many different areas and careers.

INTEGRAL Sets Limits on Gamma Rays from Merging Black Holes

The terrestrial Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves – fluctuations in the fabric of space-time – produced by a pair of black holes as they spiraled towards each other before merging. The signal lasted less than half a second.

gravitational waves

The discovery was the first direct observation of gravitational waves, predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago.

Two days after the detection, the LIGO team alerted a number of ground- and space-based astronomical facilities to look for a possible counterpart to the source of gravitational waves. The nature of the source was unclear at the time, and it was hoped that follow-up observations across the electromagnetic spectrum might provide valuable information about the culprit.

Gravitational waves are released when massive bodies are accelerated, and strong emission should occur when dense stellar remnants such as neutron stars or black holes spiral towards each other before coalescing.

Models predict that the merging of two stellar-mass black holes would not produce light at any wavelength, but if one or two neutron stars were involved in the process, then a characteristic signature should be observable across the electromagnetic spectrum.

Another possible source of gravitational waves would be an asymmetric supernova explosion, also known to emit light over a range of wavelengths.
It was not possible to pinpoint the LIGO source – its position could only be narrowed down to a very long strip across the sky.

Observatories searched their archives in case data had been serendipitously collected anywhere along this strip around the time of the gravitational wave detection. They were also asked to point their telescopes to the same region in search for any possible ‘afterglow’ emission.

INTEGRAL is sensitive to transient sources of high-energy emission over the whole sky, and thus a team of scientists searched through its data, seeking signs of a sudden burst of hard X-rays or gamma rays that might have been recorded at the same time as the gravitational waves were detected.

“We searched through all the available INTEGRAL data, but did not find any indication of high-energy emission associated with the LIGO detection,” says Volodymyr Savchenko of the François Arago Centre in Paris, France. Volodymyr is the lead author of a paper reporting the results, published today in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The team analysed data from the Anti-Coincidence Shield on INTEGRAL’s SPI instrument. The shield helps to screen out radiation and particles coming from directions other than that where the instrument is pointing, as well as to detect transient high-energy sources across the whole sky.

The team also looked at data from INTEGRAL’s IBIS instrument, although at the time it was not pointing at the strip where the source of gravitational waves was thought to be located.

“The source detected by LIGO released a huge amount of energy in gravitational waves, and the limits set by the INTEGRAL data on a possible simultaneous emission of gamma rays are one million times lower than that,” says co-author Carlo Ferrigno from the INTEGRAL Science Data Center at the University of Geneva, Switzerland.

Subsequent analysis of the LIGO data has shown that the gravitational waves were produced by a pair of coalescing black holes, each with a mass roughly 30 times that of our Sun, located about 1.3 billion light years away. Scientists do not expect to see any significant emission of light at any wavelength from such events, and thus INTEGRAL’s null detection is consistent with this scenario.

Similarly, nothing was seen by the great majority of the other astronomical facilities making observations from radio and infrared to optical and X-ray wavelengths.

The only exception was the Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor on NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope, which observed what appears to be a sudden burst of gamma rays about 0.4 seconds after the gravitational waves were detected. The burst lasted about one second and came from a region of the sky that overlaps with the strip identified by LIGO.

This detection sparked a bounty of theoretical investigations, proposing possible scenarios in which two merging black holes of stellar mass could indeed have released gamma rays along with the gravitational waves.

However, if this gamma-ray flare had had a cosmic origin, either linked to the LIGO gravitational wave source or to any other astrophysical phenomenon in the Universe, it should have been detected by INTEGRAL as well. The absence of any such detection by both instruments on INTEGRAL suggests that the measurement from Fermi could be unrelated to the gravitational wave detection.

“This result highlights the importance of synergies between scientists and observing facilities worldwide in the quest for as many cosmic messengers as possible, from the recently-detected gravitational waves to particles and light across the spectrum,” says Erik Kuulkers, INTEGRAL Project Scientist at ESA.

This will become even more important when it becomes possible to observe gravitational waves from space. This has been identified as the goal for the L3 mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision program, and the technology for building it is currently being tested in space by ESA’s LISA Pathfinder mission.

Such an observatory will be capable of detecting gravitational waves from the merging of supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies for months prior to the final coalescence, making it possible to locate the source much more accurately and thus provide astronomical observatories with a place and a time to look out for associated electromagnetic emission.

“We are looking forward to further collaborations and discoveries in the newly-inaugurated era of gravitational astronomy,” concludes Erik.

Journey to the Center of Our Galaxy

Peering deep into the heart of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals a rich tapestry of more than half a million stars. Apart from a few, blue, foreground stars, almost all of the stars pictured in the image are members of the Milky Way nuclear star cluster, the densest and most massive star cluster in the galaxy. Hidden in the center of this cluster is the Milky Way’s resident supermassive black hole.

Milky Way nuclear star cluster

The center of the Milky Way, 27 000 light-years away in the constellation of Sagittarius, is a crowded place. This region is so tightly packed that it is equivalent to having one million stars crammed into the volume of space between us and Alpha Centauri, located 4.3 light-years away. At the very hub of our galaxy, this dense nuclear star cluster surrounds the Milky Way’s central supermassive black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, which alone is about four million times the mass of the Sun.

Sagittarius A* is not the only mystery lurking in this part of the galaxy. The crowded center contains numerous objects that are hidden at visible wavelengths by thick clouds of dust in the galaxy’s disc. In order to truly understand the central part of our galaxy astronomers used the infrared vision of Hubble to peer through this obscuring dust. To reveal the image in all its glory the scientists then assigned visible colors to the different wavelengths of infrared light, which is invisible to human eyes.

The blue stars in the image are foreground stars, which are closer to Earth than the nuclear star cluster, whilst the red stars are either behind much more intervening dust, or are embedded in dust themselves. Some extremely dense clouds of gas and dust are seen in silhouette, appearing dark against the bright background stars. These clouds are so thick that even Hubble’s infrared capability cannot penetrate them. In addition to the stars hidden by the dust astronomers estimate that there are about 10 million stars in the cluster which are too faint to see, even for Hubble.

Using Hubble’s vantage point above the atmosphere and its high resolution, astronomers were able not only to reveal the stars in this cluster but also to measure their movements over a period of four years.

Using this information, they inferred important properties of the nuclear star cluster, such as its mass and structure. The motion of the stars may also offer astronomers a glimpse into how the nuclear star cluster was formed—whether it was built up over time from globular star clusters that happened to fall into the center of the galaxy, or from gas spiraling in from the Milky Way’s disc to form stars at the core.

Wellspring of New Brown Dwarf Stellar Companions

A new paper published this month in The Astronomical Journal by astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) reports a wellspring of new brown dwarf stellar companions, throwing cold water on the entire idea of the “brown dwarf desert,” the previously mystifying lack of these sub-stellar objects around stars.

brown-dwarf-plasmaspher

Most stars in our Galaxy have a traveling companion. Often, these companions are stars of similar mass, as is the case for our nearest stellar neighbors, the triple star system Alpha Centauri.

brown_dwarf_size

Our Sun, of course, has companions of its own – the planets of our Solar System. Planetary companions are vastly different from stellar companions: they are much smaller, and they do not shine with their own light created through nuclear fusion. Even the largest planet in our Solar System, Jupiter, would need to be 80 times more massive to even begin to shine this way.

Stuck in the middle are “brown dwarfs,” much bigger than Jupiter but still too small to be shining stars. These brown dwarfs give off merely a dim glow as they slowly cool. The Universe is full of stars, and now we know that it is full of planets too. Astronomers expected that the Universe would also be teeming with brown dwarfs.

But strangely, that’s not what they had been finding. Although astronomers have found plenty of brown dwarfs floating through space on their own, they found very few as stellar companions. Even in recent years, as new and sensitive detection techniques have allowed them to discover thousands of extrasolar planets, brown dwarfs have remained elusive – in spite of the fact that they should be easier to find than planets.

In fact, until recently, so few brown dwarfs have been found orbiting close to other stars that astronomers refer to the phenomenon as the “brown dwarf desert.” This in turn created a problem for theorists, who have been scrambling to explain why astronomers have found so few. Therefore when SDSS astronomers started sifting through their data looking for brown dwarf companions to stars, they were hoping not to come up completely dry.

“We were shocked to find that so many of the stars in our sample have close-orbiting brown dwarf companions,” says Nick Troup of the University of Virginia, lead author of the paper. “We never expected to triple the total number of known brown dwarf companions with only a few years’ worth of observations.”

The team’s success is due to an unlikely tool in the race to find low-mass stellar companions. The Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) was designed as a substantial survey of stars in our Milky Way to make a large-scale map of their motions and chemical compositions. But the instrument built for the APOGEE project is so sensitive to small stellar motions that companions orbiting these stars can be detected with APOGEE data.

When an object orbits a star, it tugs at it, causing the star to move on a little orbit of its own. For example, Jupiter tugs on the Sun enough to make it wobble around in space by more than its own diameter. To a distant observer, this wobble can be detected—and the mass of the tugging object can be determined—through changes in the motion of the star. This motion is seen through the Doppler effect, the same phenomenon that is the basis of the patrol officer’s speed gun and the meteorologist’s Doppler radar rain map. While APOGEE was designed to measure the grand motions of stars speeding around the Galaxy, it was never intended to do so at the subtle precisions needed to detect the much tinier wobbles induced by small sub-stellar companions.

“This level of precision was a serendipitous bonus of the design of the APOGEE spectrograph”, says John Wilson, University of Virginia astronomer and leader of the APOGEE instrument team. “The entire instrument has to be contained in a giant steel vessel in a vacuum at –320 degrees F, otherwise the instrument’s own heat would swamp the infrared signals from the stars.” It turns out that this tightly controlled environment makes it possible to use the APOGEE instrument to measure Doppler shifts reliably over the course of months or years, a feat not achievable by many other spectrographs.

“Even with the first data obtained a few years ago, it was clear that we could use APOGEE to detect the motions of planet-sized objects around our target stars,” says David Nidever of the University of Arizona and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, who was responsible for writing much of the software that measures the Doppler motions in APOGEE spectra. “It definitely opened our eyes to the possibilities of doing a more systematic search for planets and brown dwarfs.”

To undertake such a search, the team started with the 150,000 stars that APOGEE had observed. The astronomers winnowed that collection of stars down to a “prime sample” of about four hundred representing the best examples of stars with companions in the APOGEE data. Among these, they identified about 60 stars with evidence for planetary-mass candidates, which was already exciting.
But the real surprise came with the researchers’ extraordinary haul of 112 brown dwarf candidates – twice as many than had been found in the previous 15 years.

Why has the APOGEE team been so lucky in finding this oasis of brown dwarfs? Troup thinks it may have to do with the types of host stars that they are looking at. “Most people doing planet searches have been interested in finding the next Earth, so they’ve focused their efforts on stars similar to the Sun,” Troup says. “But we had to work with the stars that APOGEE surveyed, which are mostly giant stars.”

The reasons why brown dwarf companions are more common around giant stars is just one of many new questions raised by this new study that the Sloan team is investigating. And the team will continue to test their results with the ever-growing flow of APOGEE data.

“It’s completely unprecedented that this many brown dwarf companions have been found at once, so we are anxious to see if the trend persists as the APOGEE sample grows to several times larger,” Troup said.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-03-oasis-brown-dwarf-desertastronomers-relieved.html#jCp

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.

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: http://www.scienceofcycles.com
Email: earthchangesmedia@earthlink.net

 

Tales of a Tilting Moon Hidden in Its Polar Ice

A new study published Wednesday in Nature reports that the moon may not have always had the same face pointed toward the Earth. Instead, the “Man in the Moon” nodded up and down, because of heating and volcanic eruptions on the Earth-facing side of the moon.

erupting volcanoes on moon

An international team including University of Arizona planetary scientists James Keane and Isamu Matsuyama made this discovery while trying to explain maps of lunar polar hydrogen. This hydrogen, which was discovered by NASA’s Lunar Prospector mission in the 1990s, is believed to represent water ice, protected from the Sun’s rays in cold, permanently shadowed craters near the moon’s north and south poles. If ice were exposed to direct sunlight on the moon, it would boil off into space, so it is a very sensitive tracer of the moon’s orientation with time.

“Weirdly, the moon’s ice isn’t exactly at the coldest spots on the north or south poles of the moon,” said Matt Siegler, a scientist with the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson and the paper’s first author.

Instead, the polar ice is shifted off the poles by about six degrees, and in exact opposite directions at either pole. (On the Earth, six degrees is about equal to the distance from Tucson to Los Angeles.) This precisely opposite (“antipodal”) relationship indicates that the moon’s spin axis – the imaginary line that runs from the north pole, through the center of the moon, to the south pole, and around which the moon rotates – shifted over the last few billion years. As the moon reoriented, it left behind a trail of water ice, effectively “painting out” the path that the poles took with time.

When the research team realized that the moon’s ice might be telling a story of reorientation, it turned to UA experts in planetary dynamics, Keane and Matsuyama.
“Usually we think of planets as ‘spinning on’ in the same unchanging way with time, but that’s not true,” said Keane, a graduate student at the UA’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. “We know that the Earth and a handful of other planetary bodies have changed their spin axes with time.”

On the Earth, this reorientation can be measured with GPS and techniques that we don’t have on other planets. This forces scientists to look for clues in other, more unusual datasets. For example, Matsuyama, a professor of planetary science at LPL and Keane’s doctoral advisor, recently used gravity measurements and observations of ancient valley networks on Mars to infer reorientation on that planet. This study is the first to use lunar ice to infer the change in the spin of the moon.

The spins of planetary bodies are set by how mass is distributed within the planet: A planet’s denser spots try to drag the planet toward its equator, less dense spots toward the pole. On the moon, tidal forces from the Earth also can drag dense spots toward – or away from – the Earth-facing side of the moon. Scientists refer to this reorientation phenomenon as “true polar wander.”

Using this idea that the moon’s ice traces an earlier spin pole, Keane used a combination of theoretical models and measurements of the moon’s mass distribution from NASA missions to identify what could physically cause this polar wander.

“I was shocked when the models outlined Oceanus Procellarum as the only possible geologic feature that could have done this,” Keane said.

Oceanus Procellarum is a vast, volcanic province on the Earth-facing side of the moon. It contains all of the dark splotches we see forming the “face” of the moon, which is actually a giant field of ancient lava flows. When the moon formed, many of the body’s radioactive elements ended up in the Procellarum.
“This radioactive crust acted liked an oven broiler heating and melting the mantle below,” Siegler said.

The giant Procellarum hot spot was less dense than the rest of the moon and caused the whole moon to move. As the moon slowly moved over billions of years, it etched a path into the polar ice.

The paper shows that the moon may have once had much more ice near its poles and the ice we see today is the tiny portion, which has survived this polar migration. Large amounts of ice could have been brought to the moon by comets and icy asteroids early in the moon’s history or potentially outgassed from the lunar mare themselves. Figuring out the origin of this ancient lunar water might also help scientists understand how water was delivered to the early Earth.

“This gives us a way to model exactly where the ice should be, which tells us about its origin and where astronauts might find a drink on future missions to the moon,” Siegler said.

“Up until this work, most researchers thought that the moon’s water was just recently deposited, as a late veneer,” Keane said. “Since we’ve shown that the moon’s water is linked to volcanic activity on the moon several billion years ago, this means it might be a time capsule of primordial water. Directly sampling this ancient ice will allow us to investigate many still unanswered questions around the origin of the Earth’s water.”

This project was supported in part by NASA’s SSERVI VORTICES node, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the NASA Lunar Advanced Science and Exploration Research, or LASER, program.