Galactic Winds Push Researchers To Probe Galaxies At Unprecedented Scale

When astronomers peer into the universe, what they see often exceeds the limits of human understanding. Such is the case with low-mass galaxies — galaxies a fraction of the size of our own Milky Way.

These small, faint systems made up of millions or billions of stars, dust, and gas constitute the most common type of galaxy observed in the universe. But according to astrophysicists’ most advanced models, low-mass galaxies should contain many more stars than they appear to contain.

A leading theory for this discrepancy hinges on the fountain-like outflows of gas observed exiting some galaxies. These outflows are driven by the life and death of stars, specifically stellar winds and supernova explosions, which collectively give rise to a phenomenon known as “galactic wind.” As star activity expels gas into intergalactic space, galaxies lose precious raw material to make new stars. The physics and forces at play during this process, however, remain something of a mystery.

To better understand how galactic wind affects star formation in galaxies, a two-person team led by the University of California, Santa Cruz, turned to high-performance computing at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), a US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Specifically, UC Santa Cruz astrophysicist Brant Robertson and University of Arizona graduate student Evan Schneider (now a Hubble Fellow at Princeton University), scaled up their Cholla hydrodynamics code on the OLCF’s Cray XK7 Titan supercomputer to create highly detailed simulations of galactic wind.

“The process of generating galactic winds is something that requires exquisite resolution over a large volume to understand — much better resolution than other cosmological simulations that model populations of galaxies,” Robertson said. “This is something you really need a machine like Titan to do.”

After earning an allocation on Titan through DOE’s INCITE program, Robertson and Schneider started small, simulating a hot, supernova-driven wind colliding with a cool cloud of gas across 300 light years of space. (A light year equals the distance light travels in 1 year.) The results allowed the team to rule out a potential mechanism for galactic wind.

Now the team is setting its sights higher, aiming to generate nearly a trillion-cell simulation of an entire galaxy, which would be the largest simulation of a galaxy ever. Beyond breaking records, Robertson and Schneider are striving to uncover new details about galactic wind and the forces that regulate galaxies, insights that could improve our understanding of low-mass galaxies, dark matter, and the evolution of the universe.

Simulating cold clouds

About 12 million light years from Earth resides one of the Milky Way’s closest neighbors, a disk galaxy called Messier 82 (M82). Smaller than the Milky Way, M82’s cigar shape underscores a volatile personality. The galaxy produces new stars about five times faster than our own galaxy’s rate of star production. This star-making frenzy gives rise to galactic wind that pushes out more gas than the system keeps in, leading astronomers to estimate that M82 will run out of fuel in just 8 million years.

Analyzing images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, scientists can observe this slow-developing exodus of gas and dust. Data gathered from such observations can help Robertson and Schneider gauge if they are on the right track when simulating galactic wind.

“With galaxies like M82, you see a lot of cold material at large radius that’s flowing out very fast. We wanted to see, if you took a realistic cloud of cold gas and hit it with a hot, fast-flowing, supernova-driven outflow, if you could accelerate that cold material to velocities like what are observed,” Robertson said.

Answering this question in high resolution required an efficient code that could solve the problem based on well-known physics, such as the motion of liquids. Robertson and Schneider developed Cholla to carry out hydrodynamics calculations entirely on GPUs, highly parallelized accelerators that excel at simple number crunching, thus achieving high-resolution results.

In Titan, a 27-petaflop system containing more than 18,000 GPUs, Cholla found its match. After testing the code on a GPU cluster at the University of Arizona, Robertson and Schneider benchmarked Cholla under two small OLCF Director’s Discretionary awards before letting the code loose under INCITE. In test runs, the code has maintained scaling across more than 16,000 GPUs.

“We can use all of Titan,” Robertson said, “which is kind of amazing because the vast majority of the power of that system is in GPUs.”

The pairing of code and computer gave Robertson and Schneider the tools needed to produce high-fidelity simulations of gas clouds measuring more than 15 light years in diameter. Furthermore, the team can zoom in on parts of the simulation to study phases and properties of galactic wind in isolation. This capability helped the team to rule out a theory that posited cold clouds close to the galaxy’s center could be pushed out by fast-moving, hot wind from supernovas.

“The answer is it isn’t possible,” Robertson said. “The hot wind actually shreds the clouds and the clouds become sheared and very narrow. They’re like little ribbons that are very difficult to push on.”

Galactic goals

Having proven Cholla’s computing chops, Robertson and Schneider are now planning a full-galaxy simulation about 10 to 20 times larger than their previous effort. Expanding the size of the simulation will allow the team to test an alternate theory for the emergence of galactic wind in disk galaxies like M82. The theory suggests that clouds of cold gas condense out of the hot outflow as they expand and cool.

“That’s something that’s been posited in analytical models but not tested in simulation,” Robertson said. “You have to model the whole galaxy to capture this process because the dynamics of the outflows are such that you need a global simulation of the disk.”

The full-galaxy simulation will likely be composed of hundreds of billions of cells representing more than 30,000 light years of space. To cover this expanse, the team must sacrifice resolution. It can rely on its detailed gas cloud simulations, however, to bridge scales and inform unresolved physics within the larger simulation.

“That’s what’s interesting about doing these simulations at widely different scales,” Robertson said. “We can calibrate after the fact to inform ourselves in how we might be getting the story wrong with the coarser, larger simulation.”

1,000 Year Old Petroglyph of Solar Eclipse Found at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

Researchers believe they have discovered a rock carving in New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon that represents a total eclipse that occurred more than 900 years ago. The engraving, known as a petroglyph, shows a circle with curved, intricate swirling emissions issuing from it. Around the circle, believed to depict the Sun, human figures can be seen in different positions and engaged in different activities.

University of Colorado Boulder Professor J. McKim Malville has said the circle shown in the rock art represents the Sun’s outer atmosphere, known as its corona, with the tangled, looped protrusions on its edges dating it to a total eclipse that occurred in the region on July 11, 1097.

Malville made the observation Wednesday to mark the upcoming total solar eclipse on August 21 that will be visible across a large swathe of the U.S.

“To me it looks like a circular feature with curved tangles and structures,” Malville said. “If one looks at a drawing by a German astronomer of the 1860 total solar eclipse during high solar activity, rays and loops similar to those depicted in the Chaco petroglyph are visible.”

Malville, who is attached to Boulder’s astrophysical and planetary sciences department, and José Vaquero of the University of Extremadura in Cáceres, Spain were able to date the carving on the basis of the loops that they believed to be a coronal mass ejections (CME). These CMEs are eruptions that can blow billions of tons of plasma from the Sun at several million miles per hour during active solar periods.

“It turns out the Sun was in a period of very high solar activity at that time, consistent with an active corona and CMEs,” the pair said in their 2014 paper on the rock art in the Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry.

The two used several sources to assess the activity of the Sun around the time of the 1097 eclipse. The data they gathered included information ancient tree rings from which they could detect the activity of cosmic rays. They also used records of naked-eye observations of sunspots, which go back several thousand years in China. A third method involved looking at historical data compiled by northern Europeans on the annual number of so-called “auroral nights,” when the northern lights were visible, an indication of intense solar activity.

The free-standing rock hosting the possible eclipse petroglyph, known as Piedra del Sol, also has a large spiral petroglyph on its east side that marks Sunrise 15 to 17 days before the June solstice. A triangular shadow cast by a large rock on the horizon crosses the center of the spiral at that time. It may have been used to start a countdown to the summer solstice and related festivities.

The rock carving was first discovered in 1992 by Malville and then-Fort Lewis Professor James Judge and was carved by early Pueblo people. Chaco Canyon, a centre of Pueblo culture in the Southwest a thousand years ago, is believed by archeologists to have been populated by several thousand people and held political sway over an area twice the size of Ohio.

BREAKING NEWS: Today Earth Changing Events Begins; Here Is What to Look For

Today my 14 day window prior to the Full Solar Eclipse Aug. 21, then it continues 14 days after the event and the following is what to monitor over this period.

I expect large earthquakes measuring 7.0 or larger world-wide. I also believe we will witness moderate to large earthquakes measuring 5.9 – 7.0 + in North America along the west coast, but also less-usual locations such the central states and the southeast coast. There are other earth changing events expected during this 28 day window, which I will further address in a coming article, but first I wish to address a bit more related to the ’cause’.

As mentioned in prior articles, the most influential impetus as to the cause of escalating events is rapid temperature shifts. However, there is a significant second element to the full solar eclipse causation concerning geo-physical and bio-psycho-social disturbance. It is a phenomenon known as ‘gravitational waves’.

During a solar eclipse, the Moon shields a limited region of the Earth’s atmosphere from the heating effect of the solar radiation. This shadow travels through the Earth’s lower atmosphere at supersonic velocity, causing a propagation of charged particles emitting internal gravity waves that form a bow wave about the shadow region. Tentative estimates of the amplitude of this wave indicate that it will be detectable well outside the area where the eclipse can be observed directly.

The process of a gravity wave bow shock, appears to have a destabilizing effect on expected space weather, but cause perturbations in atmospheric winds and fluid displacement i.e. oceans, rivers, oil, sand-type soil and perhaps natural gas. Of course this in-turn would be produce the environmental setting for such things as earthquakes, volcanoes, fissures, tornadoes, and hurricanes.

Thank you for your continued support.

Coming Next: More on types and areas of civil disturbance and earth changing events.

 

The Causal Effect Between Cosmic Rays – Geo-Physical and Bio-Psycho-Social Outcome

Here in Part-II, I will enhance the understanding of the causal effect between (charged particles) cosmic rays associated with a) geo-physical i.e. earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes etc. and  b) bio-psycho-social i.e. depression, disorientation, anxiety, and depression turned inward ‘rage’.

My research suggests during the period eclipse transition, which I surmise to have a process of expansion and contraction prior to and after its apex. In this case that would be Aug. 21 2017. As associated with transitional sequence, I suggest there are periods of significant cosmic ray fluctuation. This process would be in addition and co-occurring with periods of rapid temperature flux closest to the apex event.

In a coming article, I will explain the causal effects mostly related to geo-physical occurrences, which I expect to begin next week. Watch for my reports as they occur. In this article my focus remains on charged particles effect on humans and how this could be the basis for a presumed connection to civil unrest and war.

To best convey the connection between cosmic rays and humans is to present how medical procedures are being used today to treat an assortment of mental health diagnosis such as depression, ADD, bi-polar, anxiety, and ptsd. It has also been effective for dementia and other memory problems like concussions and (TBI) traumatic brain injury often associated with combat veterans from explosives.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) involves the use of a magnetic coil which produces a magnetic field and placing it against the scalp. Capacitors from the TMS machine pass electrical currents through the coils that create brief, pulsating magnetic fields that pass through the skull and create electric currents in the neurons or nerve cells of the brain. Charged particles created by the electromagnetic field releases natural brain chemistry in neurons and synaptic receptors.

The choice of stimulation parameters determines whether the effects of stimulation are excitatory or inhibitory. For example, two single pulses separated by less than 5 milliseconds can produce intracortical inhibition, while two single pulses separated by a gap greater than 10 and less than 30 milliseconds can produce intracortical facilitation.

This accounts for the reason some people may experience feelings of increased energy, hyperactive, or anxious during the duration of a powerful CME (coronal mass ejection) or large X-class solar flare – while others express feelings of depression, lethargy, or disoriented.

I hope this best explains how the fluctuation of charged particles in the way of cosmic rays (and solar rays) can have a direct causal effect on humans. Furthermore, how the expansion and contraction of charged particles influenced by a full solar eclipse can set a template of for civil unrest and war motivated by fear and disorientation.

Thank you for your continued support.

Coming Next: How the same fluctuation of charged particles that can elicit human emotional discord, can produce a discord of its own with Earth in the way of tectonic shift and mantle plume instability giving way to dramatic earth changing events.

 

Our Solar System’s ‘Shocking’ Origin Story

According to one longstanding theory, our Solar System’s formation was triggered by a shock wave from an exploding supernova. The shock wave injected material from the exploding star into a neighboring cloud of dust and gas, causing it to collapse in on itself and form the Sun and its surrounding planets.

New work from Carnegie’s Alan Boss offers fresh evidence supporting this theory, modeling the Solar System’s formation beyond the initial cloud collapse and into the intermediate stages of star formation. It is published by the Astrophysical Journal.

One very important constraint for testing theories of Solar System formation is meteorite chemistry. Meteorites retain a record of the elements, isotopes, and compounds that existed in the system’s earliest days. One type, called carbonaceous chondrites, includes some of the most-primitive known samples.

An interesting component of chondrites’ makeup is something called short-lived radioactive isotopes. Isotopes are versions of elements with the same number of protons, but a different number of neutrons. Sometimes, as is the case with radioactive isotopes, the number of neutrons present in the nucleus can make the isotope unstable. To gain stability, the isotope releases energetic particles, which alters its number of protons and neutrons, transmuting it into another element.

Some isotopes that existed when the Solar System formed are radioactive and have decay rates that caused them to become extinct within tens to hundreds of million years. The fact that these isotopes still existed when chondrites formed is shown by the abundances of their stable decay products — also called daughter isotopes — found in some primitive chondrites. Measuring the amount of these daughter isotopes can tell scientists when, and possibly how, the chondrites formed.

A recent analysis of chondrites by Carnegie’s Myriam Telus was concerned with iron-60, a short-lived radioactive isotope that decays into nickel-60. It is only created in significant amounts by nuclear reactions inside certain kinds of stars, including supernovae or what are called asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars.

Because all the iron-60 from the Solar System’s formation has long since decayed, Telus’ research, published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, focused on its daughter product, nickel-60. The amount of nickel-60 found in meteorite samples — particularly in comparison to the amount of stable, “ordinary” iron-56 — can indicate how much iron-60 was present when the larger parent body from which the meteorite broke off was formed. There are not many options for how an excess of iron-60 — which later decayed into nickel-60 — could have gotten into a primitive Solar System object in the first place — one of them being a supernova.

While her research did not find a “smoking gun,” definitively proving that the radioactive isotopes were injected by a shock wave, Telus did show that the amount of Fe-60 present in the early Solar System is consistent with a supernova origin.

Taking this latest meteorite research into account, Boss revisited his earlier models of shock wave-triggered cloud collapse, extending his computational models beyond the initial collapse and into the intermediate stages of star formation, when the Sun was first being created, an important next step in tying together Solar System origin modeling and meteorite sample analysis.

“My findings indicate that a supernova shock wave is still the most-plausible origin story for explaining the short lived radioactive isotopes in our Solar System,” Boss said.

Boss dedicated his paper to the late Sandra Keiser, a long-term collaborator, who provided computational and programming support at Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism for more than two decades. Keiser died in March.

UPDATE: NSO Predicts Shape of Solar Corona for August 2017 Eclipse

The 2017 eclipse will offer a unique opportunity to observe the corona for more than 90 minutes, many times longer than a typical eclipse. However, NSO (National Solar Observatory) is preparing to change how we look at the solar corona forever. Using this observatory, which will house the most powerful solar telescope in the world, scientists will be able to consistently measure the magnetic fields in the solar corona directly for the very first time. “The solar corona is largely an enigma,” according to Dr. Valentin Pillet, Director of NSO.

“For now, the best we can do is compare high resolution images of the solar corona, such as those we’ll obtain during the eclipse, to our theoretical models. But DKIST will allow us to actually measure the magnetic fields in the corona. This will be revolutionary in the field of solar physics.”

Solar Corona Eclipse National Solar Observatory

But there is more to the corona than one might initially realize. Dr. Gordon Petrie from the National Solar Observatory (NSO) explains: “The corona might look like it’s a fuzzy halo around the Sun, but it actually has quite a lot of structure to it. The Sun has a magnetic field that, at first glance, might remind us of the middle-school experiment where you sprinkle iron filings over a bar magnet to get a butterfly shape. However, on closer inspection, it is far more complicated than that.”

The Sun’s magnetic field is rooted inside of the Sun, and protrudes through the surface leaving marks we recognize as Sunspots. Since we cannot directly observe magnetic fields, we use the super-heated gases present in the Sun’s atmosphere to trace out the magnetic field lines, similar to the role of iron filings in the aforementioned bar magnet experiment. Under normal circumstances, the solar corona – the outermost layer of the Sun’s atmosphere – is hidden from view by the bright solar surface. During an eclipse, the surface is blocked, allowing the corona to shine through.

“The corona changes its shape over time, and looks drastically different during solar maximum compared to solar minimum,” explains Dr. David Boboltz, the National Science Foundation’s program officer for the NSO. “During solar maximum, such as the 2012 eclipse, the corona looks like a spiky ring around the entire Sun. In contrast, a solar minimum eclipse such as the one this month, will have lots of complexity near the equator but will be drastically different near the north and south poles of the Sun.”

Thank you for your continued support. We’re now about half way there.

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Watch for ongoing reports as information comes in. I also plan to present greater outlines to the science behind by research, especially for those who may be new to my work.

Eclipse Balloons To Study Effect Of Mars-Like Environment On Life

Steps forward in the search for life beyond Earth can be as simple as sending a balloon into the sky. In one of the most unique and extensive eclipse observation campaigns ever attempted, NASA is collaborating with student teams across the U.S. to do just that.

A larger initiative, NASA’s Eclipse Balloon Project, led by Angela Des Jardins of Montana State University, is sending more than 50 high-altitude balloons launched by student teams across the U.S. to livestream aerial footage of the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse from the edge of space to NASA’s website.

“Total solar eclipses are rare and awe-inspiring events. Nobody has ever live-streamed aerial video footage of a total solar eclipse before,” said Angela Des Jardins. “By live-streaming it on the Internet, we are providing people across the world an opportunity to experience the eclipse in a unique way, even if they are not able to see the eclipse directly.”

A research group at NASA’s Ames Research Center, in California’s Silicon Valley, is seizing the opportunity to conduct a low-cost experiment on 34 of the balloons. This experiment, called MicroStrat, will simulate life’s ability to survive beyond Earth—and maybe even on Mars.

“The August solar eclipse gives us a rare opportunity to study the stratosphere when it’s even more Mars-like than usual,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “With student teams flying balloon payloads from dozens of points along the path of totality, we’ll study effects on microorganisms that are coming along for the ride.”

NASA will provide each team with two small metal cards, each the size of a dog tag. The cards have harmless, yet environmentally resilient bacteria dried onto their surface. One card will fly up with the balloon while the other remains on the ground. A comparison of the two will show the consequences of the exposure to Mars-like conditions, such as bacterial survival and any genetic changes.

The results of the experiment will improve NASA’s understanding of environmental limits for terrestrial life, in order to inform our search for life on other worlds.

Mars’ atmosphere at the surface is about 100 times thinner than Earth’s, with cooler temperatures and more radiation. Under normal conditions, the upper portion of our stratosphere is similar to these Martian conditions, with its cold, thin atmosphere and exposure to radiation, due to its location above most of Earth’s protective ozone layer. Temperatures where the balloons fly can reach minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit (about minus 37 Celsius) or colder, with pressures about a hundredth of that at sea level.

During the eclipse, the similarities to Mars only increase. The Moon will buffer the full blast of radiation and heat from the Sun, blocking certain ultraviolet rays that are less abundant in the Martian atmosphere and bringing the temperature down even further.

“Performing a coordinated balloon microbiology experiment across the entire continental United States seems impossible under normal circumstances,” said David J. Smith of Ames, principal investigator for the experiment and mentor for the Space Life Science Training Program, the intern group developing flight hardware and logistics for this study. “The solar eclipse on August 21st is enabling unprecedented exploration through citizen scientists and students. After this experiment flies, we will have about 10 times more samples to analyze than all previously flown stratosphere microbiology missions combined.”

Student Teams Observing the Eclipse

Beyond the opportunity for NASA to conduct science, this joint project provides the opportunity for students as young as 10 years old to be exposed to the scientific method and astrobiology—research about life beyond Earth. Since ballooning is such an accessible and low-cost technique, the project has attracted student teams from Puerto Rico to Alaska.

The data collected by the teams will be analyzed by NASA scientists at Ames and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California; collaborators at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; scientists funded by the National Science Foundation and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration; faculty members and students at the teams’ institutions, as well as the public.

“This project will not only provide insight into how bacterial life responds to Mars-like conditions, we are engaging and inspiring the next generation of scientists,” said Green. “Through this exciting ‘piggyback’ mission, NASA is collaborating with scientists of the future to take a small step in the search for life beyond our planet.”