Hubble Detects Helium In The Atmosphere Of An Exoplanet For The First Time

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have detected helium in the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-107b. This is the first time this element has been detected in the atmosphere of a planet outside the Solar System. The discovery demonstrates the ability to use infrared spectra to study exoplanet extended atmospheres.

The international team of astronomers, led by Jessica Spake, a PhD student at the University of Exeter in the UK, used Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 to discover helium in the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-107b This is the first detection of its kind.

Spake explains the importance of the discovery: “Helium is the second-most common element in the Universe after hydrogen. It is also one of the main constituents of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in our Solar System. However, up until now helium had not been detected on exoplanets — despite searches for it.”

The team made the detection by analysing the infrared spectrum of the atmosphere of WASP-107b. Previous detections of extended exoplanet atmospheres have been made by studying the spectrum at ultraviolet and optical wavelengths; this detection therefore demonstrates that exoplanet atmospheres can also be studied at longer wavelengths.

“The strong signal from helium we measured demonstrates a new technique to study upper layers of exoplanet atmospheres in a wider range of planets,” says Spake “Current methods, which use ultraviolet light, are limited to the closest exoplanets. We know there is helium in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and this new technique may help us to detect atmospheres around Earth-sized exoplanets — which is very difficult with current technology.”

WASP-107b is one of the lowest density planets known: While the planet is about the same size as Jupiter, it has only 12% of Jupiter’s mass. The exoplanet is about 200 light-years from Earth and takes less than six days to orbit its host star.

The amount of helium detected in the atmosphere of WASP-107b is so large that its upper atmosphere must extend tens of thousands of kilometres out into space. This also makes it the first time that an extended atmosphere has been discovered at infrared wavelengths.

Since its atmosphere is so extended, the planet is losing a significant amount of its atmospheric gases into space — between ~0.1-4% of its atmosphere’s total mass every billion years [2].

As far back as the year 2000, it was predicted that helium would be one of the most readily-detectable gases on giant exoplanets, but until now, searches were unsuccessful.

David Sing, co-author of the study also from the University of Exeter, concludes: “Our new method, along with future telescopes such as the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope/, will allow us to analyse atmospheres of exoplanets in far greater detail than ever before.”

Taming The Multiverse: Stephen Hawking’s Final Theory About The Big Bang

Professor Stephen Hawking’s final theory on the origin of the universe, which he worked on in collaboration with Professor Thomas Hertog from KU Leuven, has been published today in the Journal of High Energy Physics.

The theory, which was submitted for publication before Hawking’s death earlier this year, is based on string theory and predicts the universe is finite and far simpler than many current theories about the big bang say.

Professor Hertog, whose work has been supported by the European Research Council, first announced the new theory at a conference at the University of Cambridge in July of last year, organised on the occasion of Professor Hawking’s 75th birthday.

Modern theories of the big bang predict that our local universe came into existence with a brief burst of inflation — in other words, a tiny fraction of a second after the big bang itself, the universe expanded at an exponential rate. It is widely believed, however, that once inflation starts, there are regions where it never stops. It is thought that quantum effects can keep inflation going forever in some regions of the universe so that globally, inflation is eternal. The observable part of our universe would then be just a hospitable pocket universe, a region in which inflation has ended and stars and galaxies formed.

“The usual theory of eternal inflation predicts that globally our universe is like an infinite fractal, with a mosaic of different pocket universes, separated by an inflating ocean,” said Hawking in an interview last autumn. “The local laws of physics and chemistry can differ from one pocket universe to another, which together would form a multiverse. But I have never been a fan of the multiverse. If the scale of different universes in the multiverse is large or infinite the theory can’t be tested. ”

In their new paper, Hawking and Hertog say this account of eternal inflation as a theory of the big bang is wrong. “The problem with the usual account of eternal inflation is that it assumes an existing background universe that evolves according to Einstein’s theory of general relativity and treats the quantum effects as small fluctuations around this,” said Hertog. “However, the dynamics of eternal inflation wipes out the separation between classical and quantum physics. As a consequence, Einstein’s theory breaks down in eternal inflation.”

“We predict that our universe, on the largest scales, is reasonably smooth and globally finite. So it is not a fractal structure,” said Hawking.

The theory of eternal inflation that Hawking and Hertog put forward is based on string theory: a branch of theoretical physics that attempts to reconcile gravity and general relativity with quantum physics, in part by describing the fundamental constituents of the universe as tiny vibrating strings. Their approach uses the string theory concept of holography, which postulates that the universe is a large and complex hologram: physical reality in certain 3D spaces can be mathematically reduced to 2D projections on a surface.

Hawking and Hertog developed a variation of this concept of holography to project out the time dimension in eternal inflation. This enabled them to describe eternal inflation without having to rely on Einstein’ theory. In the new theory, eternal inflation is reduced to a timeless state defined on a spatial surface at the beginning of time.

“When we trace the evolution of our universe backwards in time, at some point we arrive at the threshold of eternal inflation, where our familiar notion of time ceases to have any meaning,” said Hertog.

Hawking’s earlier ‘no boundary theory’ predicted that if you go back in time to the beginning of the universe, the universe shrinks and closes off like a sphere, but this new theory represents a step away from the earlier work. “Now we’re saying that there is a boundary in our past,” said Hertog.

Hertog and Hawking used their new theory to derive more reliable predictions about the global structure of the universe. They predicted the universe that emerges from eternal inflation on the past boundary is finite and far simpler than the infinite fractal structure predicted by the old theory of eternal inflation.

Their results, if confirmed by further work, would have far-reaching implications for the multiverse paradigm. “We are not down to a single, unique universe, but our findings imply a significant reduction of the multiverse, to a much smaller range of possible universes,” said Hawking.

This makes the theory more predictive and testable.

Hertog now plans to study the implications of the new theory on smaller scales that are within reach of our space telescopes. He believes that primordial gravitational waves — ripples in spacetime — generated at the exit from eternal inflation constitute the most promising “smoking gun” to test the model. The expansion of our universe since the beginning means such gravitational waves would have very long wavelengths, outside the range of the current LIGO detectors. But they might be heard by the planned European space-based gravitational wave observatory, LISA, or seen in future experiments measuring the cosmic microwave background.

(Cont’d) My View on Global Warming vs Warming Globe

The term global warming has changed from a noun to an adjective. This is to say it no longer is used to describe a globe that is warming, but instead the term now defines a manipulated preconceived notion that anthropogenic pollution IS global warming. What has happened here is not new, it is a very effective method usually used in military conflicts. In its dressed down form it is a mechanism contrived to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the general public, and in this case several scientists as well.

Research needs money – and as it is with most agencies and universities, it comes in the way of grants. The exception are those as myself, we struggle to maintain our ability to continue research, but we are also able to maintain our integrity without being directed by the money handlers (usually cloaked – wouldn’t want any bad press). Yes, I am saying – as it pertains to this discipline – science has been seized by politics. We have been ushered into a false choice, for example: “The debate is over. You are either a supporter of global warming, or you are a polluter.” (Al Gore)  Sound familiar? We heard this in 2003 when a similar statement was made. “You’re either with me, or you’re with the terrorist.” (George W Bush)

Does pollution contribute to a warming climate? Research does suggest yes, however, there is absolutely no consensus as to what percentage. Is it 1%, 10% or more…I have no reservation in telling you it certainly is not anthropogenic meaning 100%. My research along with others, indicate the vast majority is natural, furthermore, it is cyclical. Does this mean it is okay to pollute? Absolutely not; and it also means if by some magical scenario all pollution were to stop or disappear tomorrow – Earth would continue to have warming and cooling trends, some of which would be extreme  and most would fall into a range of medium.

To no surprise, it comes down to money. Do we chase a red herring spending billions on prevention? Or do the billions go for preparedness? If the politics over global warming were to mysteriously evaporate, then perhaps there could be some method of using resources in both directions. But the way it is now there will continue to be the issuing of ‘false choice’. Some examples of coexisting preparedness and measured prevention would be Innovation Biodegradable Engineering and Permaculture.

It looks like this article needs to have a third part.   More Coming…..


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BREAKING NEWS: Study Released by Institute of Physics Journal Confirms Battros 1998 and 2012 Equation

This new research may be the most hard-hitting conformation of my 15 years of research – initially providing evidence of the Sun-Earth connection and Earth’s weather, then later in my studies adding evidence of a Galaxy-Sun-Earth connection. This research has been well documented in my books “Solar Rain” 2005 and “Global Warming Disguise” 2007. Further research is currently documented in my third book (in progress) providing evidence of long-term cyclical events highlighting the reduction of Earth’s magnetic field and the pathway to a full magnetic reversal.


New Equation: (2012)
Increase Charged Particles Decreased Magnetic Field → Increase Outer Core Convection → Increase of Mantle Plumes → Increase in Earthquake and Volcanoes → Cools Mantle and Outer Core → Return of Outer Core Convection (Mitch Battros – July 2012)

I wish to present a brief thank you to all those who have supported my work over the years; and perhaps more importantly, the support of my cause. Forward looking research comes with a challenging task to stay focused – provide substantial evidence which can survive peer review –  and the support of people like you who continuously encouraged me to “stay with it”. Without you, I would have been just another person with great ideas.

Equation: (1998)
Sunspots → Solar Flares (charged particles) → Magnetic Field Shift → Shifting Ocean and Jet Stream Currents → Extreme Weather and Human Disruption (mitch battros 1998).

Scientists have discovered new evidence showing high-speed solar wind streams can increase extreme weather down on Earth. Researchers from Reading University Department of Meteorology – have discovered evidence that extreme weather events are triggered by charged particles from the Sun in addition to galactic cosmic rays from our galaxy “Milky Way”.

“Cosmic rays, tiny particles from across the Universe accelerated close to the speed of light, have been thought to play a role in weather down on Earth” says Lead author of the study, Dr Chris Scott.  This new finding goes beyond the well acknowledged interplay of GCR’s (galactic cosmic rays) influence on Earth’s atmosphere. “We have provided new evidence that charged particles emitted from our Sun also has a major role in Earth’s weather.”

The results of these new findings, which were published in the scientific journal Institute of Physics Environmental Research, could prove crucial for weather forecasters since solar wind streams rotate with the Sun at regular intervals which accelerate charged particles into Earth’s atmosphere. These streams can be tracked by spacecraft offering the potential for predicting the severity of hazardous weather events on Earth many weeks in advance.

Professor Giles Harrison, head of Reading’s Department of Meteorology and co-author of the ERL article, said: “In increasing our understanding of weather on Earth we are learning more about its important links with space weather. Bringing the topics of Earth Weather and Space Weather ever closer requires more collaborations between atmospheric and space scientists, in which the University of Reading is already leading the way.”

“As the Sun rotates every 27 days these high-speed streams of particles wash past our planet with predictable regularity. Such information could prove useful when producing long-range weather forecasts.”


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Tornadoes, Strong Winds Injure Four In Southern Alabama

Four people were injured Sunday when a Southern storm system sent a tornado ripping through an RV park in coastal Alabama, authorities said.

The National Weather Service said two tornadoes were tracked through Baldwin County on Sunday. One of them, in Foley, about 20 miles southeast of Mobile, caused widespread damage, Fire Chief Joseph Darby told NBC affiliate WPMI of Mobile.

Darby said that five RVs were overturned and that four people were injured at Anchors Aweigh RV Resort. The extent of their injuries couldn’t immediately be determined.

“I could see the rain suddenly turning horizontal and the wind really picked up and our camper started to shake and then I told my husband — I grabbed my dog and told my husband — let’s get down because something is going on,” Peggy Stanton of Michigan, who was visiting Foley with her husband, told WPMI.

The tornado was part of a severe weather system that threatens to douse the Southeast with heavy rain through the early part of the week, the National Weather Service said. Rainfall totals of 3 to 6 inches are expected in the southern Appalachians, where flood watches have been issued through Tuesday morning.

Locally heavy rainfall could cause flash flooding to a larger section the Southeast and the mid-Atlantic through Tuesday night, it said.

Severe winds, including at least one possible tornado, were also reported in northern Florida late Saturday and Sunday. The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s said numerous trees were down, especially in Fort Walton Beach, where city officials said City Hall was damaged by a fallen tree.

Scientists Decipher The Magma Bodies Under Yellowstone

Using supercomputer modeling, University of Oregon scientists have unveiled a new explanation for the geology underlying recent seismic imaging of magma bodies below Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone, a supervolcano famous for explosive eruptions, large calderas and extensive lava flows, has for years attracted the attention of scientists trying to understand the location and size of magma chambers below it. The last caldera forming eruption occurred 630,000 years ago; the last large volume of lava surfaced 70,000 years ago.

Crust below the park is heated and softened by continuous infusions of magma that rise from an anomaly called a mantle plume, similar to the source of the magma at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano. Huge amounts of water that fuel the dramatic geysers and hot springs at Yellowstone cool the crust and prevent it from becoming too hot.

With computer modeling, a team led by UO doctoral student Dylan P. Colón has shed light on what’s going on below. At depths of 5-10 kilometers (3-6 miles) opposing forces counter each other, forming a transition zone where cold and rigid rocks of the upper crust give way to hot, ductile and even partially molten rock below, the team reports in a paper in Geophysical Research Letters.

This transition traps rising magmas and causes them to accumulate and solidify in a large horizontal body called a sill, which can be up to 15 kilometers (9 miles) thick, according to the team’s computer modeling.

“The results of the modeling matches observations done by sending seismic waves through the area,” said co-author Ilya Bindeman, a professor in the UO’s Department of Earth Sciences. “This work appears to validate initial assumptions and gives us more information about Yellowstone’s magma locations.”

This mid-crustal sill is comprised of mostly solidified gabbro, a rock formed from cooled magma. Above and below lay separate magma bodies. The upper one contains the sticky and gas-rich rhyolitic magma that occasionally erupts in explosions that dwarf the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state.

Similar structures may exist under super volcanoes around the world, Colón said. The geometry of the sill also may explain differing chemical signatures in eruptive materials, he said.

Colón’s project to model what’s below the nation’s first national park, which was sculpted 2 million years ago by volcanic activity, began soon after a 2014 paper in Geophysical Research Letters by a University of Utah-led team revealed evidence from seismic waves of a large magma body in the upper crust.

Scientists had suspected, however, that huge amounts of carbon dioxide and helium escaping from the ground indicated that more magma is located farther down. That mystery was solved in May 2015, when a second University of Utah-led study, published in the journal Science, identified by way of seismic waves a second, larger body of magma at depths of 20 to 45 kilometers (12-27 miles).

However, Colón said, the seismic-imaging studies could not identify the composition, state and amount of magma in these magma bodies, or how and why they formed there.

To understand the two structures, UO researchers wrote new codes for supercomputer modeling to understand where magma is likely to accumulate in the crust. The work was done in collaboration with researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, also known as ETH Zurich.

The researchers repeatedly got results indicating a large layer of cooled magma with a high melting point forms at the mid-crustal sill, separating two magma bodies with magma at a lower melting point, much of which is derived from melting of the crust.

“We think that this structure is what causes the rhyolite-basalt volcanism throughout the Yellowstone hotspot, including supervolcanic eruptions,” Bindeman said. “This is the nursery, a geological and petrological match with eruptive products. Our modeling helps to identify the geologic structure of where the rhyolitic material is located.”

The new research, for now, does not help to predict the timing of future eruptions. Instead, it provides a never-before-seen look that helps explain the structure of the magmatic plumbing system that fuels these eruptions, Colón said. It shows where the eruptible magma originates and accumulates, which could help with prediction efforts further down the line.

“This research also helps to explain some of the chemical signatures that are seen in eruptive materials,” Colón said. “We can also use it to explore how hot the mantle plume is by comparing models of different plumes to the actual situation at Yellowstone that we understand from the geologic record.”

Colón is now exploring what influences the chemical composition of magmas that erupt at volcanoes like Yellowstone.

Studying the interaction of rising magmas with the crustal transition zone, and how this influences the properties of the magma bodies that form both above and below it, the scientists wrote, should boost scientific understanding of how mantle plumes influence the evolution and structure of continental crust.

Warning As Japan Volcano Erupts For First Time In 250 Years

A volcano in southern Japan has erupted for the first time in 250 years, spewing steam and ash hundreds of metres into the air, as authorities warned locals not to approach the mountain.

“There is a possibility that (Mount Io) will become more active,” an official from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said, confirming the eruption.

In a televised press conference, the official warned residents in the area to stay away from the mountain, part of the Mount Kirishima group of volcanoes, as major ash deposits spread from the crater.

It was the first eruption of the mountain since 1768, the JMA said.

The agency warned that large flying rocks could fall over a 3km radius.

The eruption threw smoke and ash 400m into the air.

Footage captured by the JMA and local media showed thick white and grey smoke rising from several areas of the mountain.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, adding that the Japanese government was “taking all possible measures” to prevent damage and casualties.

The eruption occurred a few kilometres away from Shinmoedake, which featured in the 1967 James Bond film “You Only Live Twice” and erupted in March.

Japan, with scores of active volcanoes, sits on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire” where a large proportion of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded.

In January, a Japanese soldier was killed and several other people injured after an eruption near a popular ski resort in northwest of Tokyo.

On 27 September 2014, Japan suffered its deadliest eruption in almost 90 years when Mount Ontake, in central Nagano prefecture, burst unexpectedly to life.

An estimated 63 people were killed in the shock eruption which occurred as the peak was packed with hikers out to see the region’s spectacular autumn colours.