1917 Astronomical Plate Has First-Ever Evidence Of Exoplanetary System

Researchers didn’t know it a year ago, but it turns out that a 1917 image on an astronomical glass plate from the Carnegie Observatories’ collection shows the first-ever evidence of a planetary system beyond our own Sun. This unexpected find was recognized in the process of researching an article about planetary systems surrounding white dwarf stars in New Astronomy Reviews.

plate

Here’s what happened: about a year ago, the review’s author, Jay Farihi of University College London, contacted Observatories’ Director, John Mulchaey. He was looking for a plate in the Carnegie archive that contained a spectrum of van Maanen’s star, a white dwarf discovered by Dutch-American astronomer Adriaan van Maanen in the very year the plate was made.

Stellar spectra are recordings of the light emitted by distant stars. Spectra spread out all of the component colors of light, like a rainbow from a prism, and they can teach astronomers about a star’s chemical composition. They can also tell them how the light emitted by a star is affected by the chemistry of the things it passes through before reaching us on Earth.

Stellar spectra images allowed 19th century astronomers to develop a system for classifying stars that is still used today. Modern astronomers use digital tools to image stars, but for decades, they would use glass photographic plates both to take images of the sky, and to record stellar spectra.

As requested, the Observatories located the 1917 plate, made by former Observatories Director Walter Adams at Mount Wilson Observatory, which was then part of Carnegie. Other than a notation on the plate’s sleeve indicating that the star looked a bit warmer than our own Sun, everything seemed very ordinary.

However, when Farihi examined the spectrum, he found something quite extraordinary.

The clue was in what’s called an “absorption line” on the spectrum. Absorption lines indicate “missing pieces,” areas where the light coming from a star passed through something and had a particular color of light absorbed by that substance. These lines indicate the chemical makeup of the interfering object.

Carnegie’s 1917 spectrum of van Maanen’s star revealed the presence of heavier elements, such as calcium, magnesium, and iron, which should have long since disappeared into the star’s interior due to their weight.

Only within the last 12 years has it become clear to astronomers that van Maanen’s star and other white dwarfs with heavy elements in their spectra represent a type of planetary system featuring vast rings of rocky planetary remnants that deposit debris into the stellar atmosphere. These recently discovered systems are called “polluted white dwarfs.” They were a surprise to astronomers, because white dwarfs are stars like our own Sun at the end of their lifetimes, so it was not at all expected that they would have leftover planetary material around them at that stage.

“The unexpected realization that this 1917 plate from our archive contains the earliest recorded evidence of a polluted white dwarf system is just incredible,” Mulchaey said. “And the fact that it was made by such a prominent astronomer in our history as Walter Adams enhances the excitement.”

Planets themselves have not yet been detected orbiting van Maanen’s star, nor around similar systems, but Farihi is confident it is only a matter of time.

“The mechanism that creates the rings of planetary debris, and the deposition onto the stellar atmosphere, requires the gravitational influence of full-fledged planets,” he explained. “The process couldn’t occur unless there were planets there.”

“Carnegie has one of the world’s largest collections of astronomical plates with an archive that includes about 250,000 plates from three different observatories–Mount Wilson, Palomar, and Las Campanas,” concluded Mulchaey. “We have a ton of history sitting in our basement and who knows what other finds we might unearth in the future?”

Meteor Activity Outlook for April 9-15, 2016

During this period the moon reaches its first quarter phase on Thursday April 14th. On that date the moon will be located 90 degrees east of the Sun and will set during the mid-morning hours.
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This weekend the waxing crescent moon will set during the late evening hours and will not pose any problems for viewing meteor activity as long as you keep the lunar glare out of your field of view. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near 3 for observers located in the northern hemisphere and 4 for observers located south of the equator.

For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near 8 as seen from mid-northern latitudes (45N) and 11 as seen from tropical southern locations (25S). The actual rates will also depend on factors such as personal light and motion perception, local weather conditions, alertness and experience in watching meteor activity. Note that the hourly rates listed below are estimates as viewed from dark sky

sites away from urban light sources. Observers viewing from urban areas will see less activity as only the brightest meteors will be visible from such locations.

The radiant (the area of the sky where meteors appear to shoot from) positions and rates listed below are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning April 9/10. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period. Most star atlases (available at science stores and planetariums) will provide maps with grid lines of the celestial coordinates so that you may find out exactly where these positions are located in the sky. A planisphere or computer planetarium program is also useful in showing the sky at any time of night on any date of the year.

Activity from each radiant is best seen when it is positioned highest in the sky, either due north or south along the meridian, depending on your latitude. It must be remembered that meteor activity is rarely seen at the radiant position. Rather they shoot outwards from the radiant so it is best to center your field of view so that the radiant lies at the edge and not the center. Viewing there will allow you to easily trace the path of each meteor back to the radiant (if it is a shower member) or in another direction if it is a sporadic.

Meteor activity is not seen from radiants that are located far below the horizon. The positions below are listed in a west to east manner in order of right ascension (celestial longitude). The positions listed first are located further west therefore are accessible earlier in the night while those listed further down the list rise later in the night.

These sources of meteoric activity are expected to be active this week.

The sigma Leonids (SLE) were first documented by Cuno Hoffmeister back in the 1940’s. Recent analysis show these meteors are active from April 8-25 with maximum activity occurring on the 15th. The radiant is currently located at 13:12 (198) +03. This area of the sky is actually located in central Virgo, 3 degrees east of the 3rd magnitude star known as Auva (delta Virginis).

I’m not certain why this source is called the Sigma Leonids as even Hoffmeister placed the radiant in central Virgo, far from the star known as sigma Leonis. Perhaps back then there was a source of activity thought to be in southeastern Leo active at the same time? This radiant is best placed near 0001 local Daylight Saving time when it lies highest above the horizon. Rates are currently less than 1 per hour and may approach 1 per hour at maximum. With an entry velocity of 19 km/sec., the average meteor from this source would be of slow velocity.

The center of the large Anthelion (ANT) radiant is currently located at 14:12 (213) -13. This position lies in southeastern Virgo, 3 degrees south of the faint star known as kappa Virginis. Due to the large size of this radiant, Anthelion activity may also appear from the nearby constellations of Libra, eastern Hydra, and Serpens Caput as well as Virgo. This radiant is best placed near 0200 local Daylight Saving time, when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Rates at this time should be near 3 per hour no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Anthelion meteor would be of slow velocity.

The April rho Cygnids (AEC) were discovered by Dr. Peter Brown during his meteoroid stream survey using the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar. These meteors are active from April 11-May 4 with maximum activity occurring on the 22nd. The radiant is currently located at 20:18 (304) +41. This area of the sky is located in central Cygnus, just 1 degree northwest of the 2nd magnitude star known as Sadr (gamma Cygni). This radiant is best placed during the last hour before dawn when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Current rates are expected to be less than 1 per hour. With an entry velocity of 42 km/sec., the average meteor from this source would be of medium velocity. Note that these meteors are synonymous with the Nu Cygnids (Molau and Rendtel, 2009).

The delta Aquiliids (DAL) were discovered by Dr. Peter Jenniskens and mentioned in his book “Meteor Showers and their Parent Comets”. Recent analysis show these meteors are active from April 7-13 with maximum activity occurring on the 9th. At maximum the radiant is located at 20:32 (308) +12. This area of the sky is actually located in central Delphinus just north of the 4th magnitude star known as Deneb Dulfim (epsilon Delphini). This radiant is best placed during the last hour before dawn when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates at maximum are expected to remain less than 1 per hour. With an entry velocity of 63 km/sec., the average meteor from this source would be of fast velocity.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately 5 sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near 2 per hour. As seen from the tropical southern latitudes (25S), morning rates would be near 8 per hour as seen from rural observing sites and 3 per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures.

 

Mitch Battros and Science of Cycles Continues High Achievement

This year we are shifting to a new practice of conveyance which is best suited to reach a greater number of people who seek our specialized service. I believe it to be the right direction and perhaps reflect our current challenges.

Now in existence for over 20 years beginning in August 1995, first as ‘Earth Changes TV’ presenting a “live” broadcast in Seattle, then shipped to six States and three Countries. In 2003 changed to ‘Earth Changes Media’ which covers a broader area of correspondence such as radio, podcast and newsletter and now to Science of Cycles. Along the way, I have received endorsements for my studies from some of the highest ranking officials in the fields of astronomy, geophysical, and ancient text historians. See Endorsements Here

1998 Equation:equation_1998

It has always been my mission to convey to as many as possible what I have serendipitously been granted access to the most brilliant minds in the world. By sheer luck (or perhaps something more divine) I was in the right place, at the right time, and with the right questions sending me on a journey of discovery which often goes beyond the pale.

Those following my work over the years may have noticed the evolution of my research. I have gone beyond the Sun-Earth connection – and now focused on our galaxy (Milky Way) and its interactive connection with our Sun. In most ways, it closely resembles the connection between our Sun and Earth. In a word…it always comes back to “Cycles”.

2012 Equation: new_equation 2012_m

I am now seeking sponsorship to assist in maintaining my research and making this information available free to all. Whether it is someone who is interested to learn about astronomy or for those wondering about our environment – or for those who just stumbled upon these new exciting discoveries. And of course for those who may see a deeper understanding of our connection to Earth, Sun, Galaxy and Universe.

With your assistance this venture will become a reality. Whether it is just you, or 50 more just like you, the goal is the same. That is to cover just one year expenses with our goal of $60,000. As a sponsor, you will have unlimited advertisement in any way we can. Banners on our website, shout-outs when doing radio shows, announcements on our newsletters. Also, if you wish to be more of behind-the-scenes, we can certainly acknowledge your wishes as well.

I will be updating the amount of donations every day and will update the donations page over the weekend. Perhaps there is one or two of you who received an unexpected (or expected) windfall and we can accomplish this goal expeditiously in short order.   More Click Here

Cheers, Mitch Battros     Email: ectv@earthlink.net

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BREAKING NEWS: Supernova Showered Earth with Radioactive Debris

An international team of scientists has found evidence of a series of massive supernova explosions near our solar system, which showered the Earth with radioactive debris. The scientists found radioactive iron-60 in sediment and crust samples taken from the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

supernova mingus

Some theories suggest cosmic rays from the supernova could have increased cloud cover. The scientists believe the supernova in this case were less than 300 light years away; close enough to be visible during the day and comparable to the brightness of the Moon.

The supernova explosions create many heavy elements and radioactive isotopes which are strewn into the cosmic neighborhood. Although Earth would have been exposed to an increased cosmic ray bombardment, the radiation would have been too weak to cause direct biological damage or trigger mass extinctions.

supernova3

Any iron-60 dating from the Earth’s formation more than four billion years ago has long since disappeared. The iron-60 atoms reached Earth in minuscule quantities and so the team needed extremely sensitive techniques to identify the interstellar iron atoms.

The team from Australia, the University of Vienna in Austria, Hebrew University in Israel, Shimizu Corporation and University of Tokyo, Nihon University and University of Tsukuba in Japan, Senckenberg Collections of Natural History Dresden and Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) in Germany, also found evidence of iron-60 from an older supernova around eight million years ago, coinciding with global faunal changes in the late Miocene.

supernova_nedir

The iron-60 was concentrated in a period between 3.2 and 1.7 million years ago, which is relatively recent in astronomical terms, said research leader Dr Anton Wallner from The Australian National University (ANU).

“We were very surprised that there was debris clearly spread across 1.5 million years,” said Dr Wallner, a nuclear physicist in the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering. “It suggests there were a series of supernova, one after another. “It’s an interesting coincidence that they correspond with when the Earth cooled and moved from the Pliocene into the Pleistocene period.”

stellar-wind

The dating showed the fallout had only occurred in two time periods, 3.2 to 1.7 million years ago and eight million years ago. Current results from TU Munich are in line with these findings.

A possible source of the supernova is an ageing star cluster, which has since moved away from Earth, independent work led by TU Berlin has proposed in a parallel publication. The cluster has no large stars left, suggesting they have already exploded as supernova, throwing out waves of debris.

Planet 9 Takes Shape: Newfound Planet In Our Outer Solar System Simulated

Astrophysicists at the University of Bern have modelled the evolution of the putative planet in the outer solar system. They estimate that the object has a present-day radius equal to 3.7 Earth radii and a temperature of minus 226 degrees Celsius.

planet

How big and how bright is Planet 9 if it really exists? What is its temperature and which telescope could find it? These were the questions that Christoph Mordasini, professor at the University of Bern, and his PhD student Esther Linder wanted to answer when they heard about the possible additional planet in the solar system suggested by Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

The Swiss scientists are experts in modelling the evolution of planets. They usually study the formation of young exoplanets in disks around other stars light years away and the possible direct imaging of these objects with future instruments such as the James Webb Space Telescope.

Therefore, Esther Linder says: “For me candidate Planet 9 is a close object, although it is about 700 times further away as the distance between the Earth and the Sun.” The astrophysicists assume that Planet 9 is a smaller version of Uranus and Neptune — a small ice giant with an envelope of hydrogen and helium. With their planet evolution model they calculated how parameters like the planetary radius or the brightness evolved over time since the solar system has formed 4.6 billion of years ago.

Heated from the inside

In their paper accepted by the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics the scientists conclude that a planet with the projected mass equal to 10 Earth masses has a present-day radius of 3.7 Earth radii. Its temperature is minus 226 degrees Celsius or 47 Kelvin. “This means that the planet’s emission is dominated by the cooling of its core, otherwise the temperature would only be 10 Kelvin,” explains Esther Linder: “Its intrinsic power is about 1000 times bigger than its absorbed power.” Therefore, the reflected sunlight contributes only a minor part to the total radiation that could be detected. This also means that the planet is much brighter in the infrared than in the visual. “With our study candidate Planet 9 is now more than a simple point mass, it takes shape having physical properties,” says Christoph Mordasini.

The researchers also checked if their results explain why planet 9 hasn’t been detected by telescopes so far. They calculated the brightness of smaller and bigger planets on various orbits. They conclude that the sky surveys performed in the past had only a small chance to detect an object with a mass of 20 Earth masses or less, especially if it is near the farthest point of its orbit around the Sun. But NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer may have spotted a planet with a mass equal to 50 Earth masses or more. “This puts an interesting upper mass limit for the planet,” Esther Linder explains. According to the scientists, future telescopes like the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope under construction near Cerro Tololo in Chile or dedicated surveys should be able to find or rule out candidate Planet 9. “That is an exciting perspective,” says Christoph Mordasini.

The study was financed by the research project of the Swiss National Science Foundation PlanetsInTime and the National Center for Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS.

Bullet Indicates Lawrence of Arabia Accurate Recall

A bullet fired by Lawrence of Arabia during one of his most famous acts of guerrilla warfare has been discovered in the Arabian Desert by a team of archaeologists, led by the University of Bristol, confirming the accuracy of Lawrence’s own account of the attack in his war memoir Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

lawrence of arabia2

The spent bullet was found at the site of the 1917 Hallat Ammar train ambush – immortalized in a scene in David Lean’s Oscar-winning biopic Lawrence of Arabia – during fieldwork by Bristol’s Professor Nicholas Saunders and Dr Neil Faulkner, and colleagues, as part of the Great Arab Revolt Project (GARP).

The project has excavated dozens of sites across the Arabian Desert associated with the 1916-1918 revolt by Arab forces against the Ottoman Turks, then allied to Germany.  T.E. Lawrence – later known as Lawrence of Arabia – served as a liaison officer with the rebel forces, an experience he described in Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

lawrence-bullet

Professor Nicholas Saunders said: “The bullet we found came from a Colt automatic pistol, the type of gun known to be carried by Lawrence and almost certainly not used by any of the ambush’s other participants.”

While several of Lawrence’s biographers have accused him of embellishing his stories, nothing the archaeologists found at any of the sites they excavated supports this view.

Lawrence and the Bedouin

Dr Neil Faulkner said: “Lawrence has something of a reputation as a teller of tall tales, but this bullet – and the other archaeological evidence we unearthed during ten years of fieldwork – indicates how reliable his account of the Arab Revolt in Seven Pillars of Wisdom is.”

In an unlikely coincidence, just two months ago, another Hallat Ammar connection appeared when a Hejaz Railway engine nameplate came to light after being ‘lost’ for almost 80 years.  Lawrence had given it to the family of his friend, Vyvyan Richards, for safekeeping in 1933 but never retrieved it before his death in 1935.  The inscription is in Ottoman Turkish written in Arabic script and translates as ‘iron road’, that is ‘Hejaz Railway’.

The family tradition records that it was ‘souvenired’ by Lawrence from one of the trains he attacked.  Many of these raids were on bridges and tracks rather than on locomotives, and, when they were, there was little time to safely hang around and take souvenirs.

The best documented example of such an opportunity is the ambush at Hallat Ammar, where the Turkish train had two locomotives not one, and there was ample time to lever off a nameplate.  The ambush was so spectacularly successful that it probably meant more to Lawrence than his other railway attacks, and so could have merited this souvenir.

“It is extraordinary,” Professor Saunders added, “that after 100 years new discoveries like this are still being made, casting new light on a guerrilla war which helped reshape the Middle East after 1918 – the consequences of which we are still living with today.”

BREAKING NEWS: New Study Finds Mantle Plumes, Not Global Warming, Cause of Ice Melt

To understand Greenland’s ice of today – researchers have to go far back into Earth’s history. The island’s lithosphere has hot depths which originate in its distant geological past and cause Greenland’s ice to rapidly flow and melt from below.

greenland-iceland-mantle-plume3

An anomaly zone crosses Greenland from west to east where present-day accelerated ‘mantle plumes’ are shown to be the cause of ice sheets melting in Greenland and Iceland along the Mid-Atlantic-Ridge. With this anomaly, an international team of geoscientists led by Irina Rogozhina and Alexey Petrunin from the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences could explain observations from radar and ice core drilling data that indicate a widespread melting beneath the ice sheet and increased sliding at the base of the ice that drives the rapid ice flow over a distance of 750 kilometers from the summit area of the Greenland ice sheet to the North Atlantic Ocean.

Iceland - Greenland Mid-Atlantic Ridge3

The North Atlantic Ocean is an area of active plate tectonics. Between 80 and 35 million years ago tectonic processes moved Greenland over an area of abnormally hot mantle material that still today is responsible for the volcanic activity of Iceland. The mantle material heated and thinned Greenland at depth producing a strong geothermal anomaly that spans a quarter of the land area of Greenland.

greenland-iceland-mid-atlantic-ridge

This ancient and long-lived source of heat has created a region where subglacial meltwater is abundant, lubricating the base of the ice and making it flow rapidly. The study indicates that about a half of the ice in north-central Greenland is resting on a thawed bed and that the meltwater is routed to the ocean through a dense hydrological network beneath the ice.

iceland mantle plume

The team of geoscientists has now, for the first time, been able to prove strong coupling between processes deep in the Earth’s interior with the flow dynamics and subglacial hydrology of large ice sheets: “The geothermal anomaly which resulted from the Icelandic mantle-plume tens of millions of years ago is an important motor for today’s hydrology under the ice sheet and for the high flow-rate of the ice” explains Irina Rogozhina. “This, in turn, broadly influences the dynamic behavior of ice masses and must be included in studies of the future response to climate change.”

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