Two Separate Teams Of Astronomers Find Evidence Of Missing Baryonic Matter

Two teams working independently have found evidence of the existence of Baryonic matter—particles that link galaxies together. One team was made of members from the Institute of Space Astrophysics, the other was based out of the University of Edinburgh. Both teams have uploaded a paper describing their work to the arXiv preprint server and both are claiming their findings solve the mystery of where so much of the normal matter—protons, neutrons and electrons—in the universe has been hiding.

Once scientists came up with the Big Bang Theory, a problem immediately arose—after calculating how much normal matter should exist in the universe at this point in time, they found approximately 50 percent of it is missing. Since then, scientists have worked on theories to explain where all that matter was hiding—the prevailing theory suggests that it exists as strands of Baryonic matter floating in the space between galaxies and cannot be seen with conventional instruments—this was the theory both teams in this new effort tested.

To get around the problem of not being able to see the Baryonic matter directly, the researchers considered a phenomenon called the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect in which light left over from the Big Bang scatters as it passes through hot gas—it should be measurable in the cosmic microwave background. Both teams used data from the Planck satellite launched two years ago to create a map of where Baryonic matter strands might exist. Each selected a pair of galaxies to study, focusing on the space between them. Then, they stacked data from between the two galaxies to magnify data believed to be from Baryonic matter.

Both teams repeated this process for multiple pairs of galaxies to show that their readings were consistent across multiple test sites—one team tested a million pairs, the other 260,000. Both report finding evidence of the theorized filaments between the galaxies. One group found them to be three times as dense as the mean of observable matter, the other group six times—a difference that was expected, the groups explain, due to differences in distances from the galaxies that were studied.

Both groups claim their findings prove the existence of missing Baryonic matter and thus solve the mystery of where all the unmeasurable matter has been hiding.

A Surprise From the Supervolcano Under Yellowstone

Beneath Yellowstone National Park lies a supervolcano, a behemoth far more powerful than your average volcano. It has the ability to expel more than 1,000 cubic kilometers of rock and ash at once — 250,000 times more material than erupted from Mount St. Helens in 1980, which killed 57 people. That could blanket most of the United States in a thick layer of ash and even plunge the Earth into a volcanic winter.

Yellowstone’s last supereruption occurred 631,000 years ago. And it’s not the planet’s only buried supervolcano. Scientists suspect that a supereruption scars the planet every 100,000 years, causing many to ask when we can next expect such an explosive planet-changing event.

To answer that question, scientists are seeking lessons from Yellowstone’s past. And the results have been surprising. They show that the forces that drive these rare and violent events can move much more rapidly than volcanologists previously anticipated.

The early evidence, presented at a recent volcanology conference, shows that Yellowstone’s most recent supereruption was sparked when new magma moved into the system only decades before the eruption. Previous estimates assumed that the geological process that led to the event took millenniums to occur.

To reach that conclusion, Hannah Shamloo, a graduate student at Arizona State University, and her colleagues spent weeks at Yellowstone’s Lava Creek Tuff — a fossilized ash deposit from its last supereruption. There, they hauled rocks under the heat of the sun to gather samples, occasionally suspending their work when a bison or a bear roamed nearby.

Ms. Shamloo later analyzed trace crystals in the volcanic leftovers, allowing her to pin down changes before the supervolcano’s eruption. Each crystal once resided within the vast, seething ocean of magma deep underground. As the crystals grew outward, layer upon layer, they recorded changes in temperature, pressure and water content beneath the volcano, much like a set of tree rings.

“We expected that there might be processes happening over thousands of years preceding the eruption,” said Christy Till, a geologist at Arizona State, and Ms. Shamloo’s dissertation adviser. Instead, the outer rims of the crystals revealed a clear uptick in temperature and a change in composition that occurred on a rapid time scale. That could mean the supereruption transpired only decades after an injection of fresh magma beneath the volcano.

The time scale is the blink of an eye, geologically speaking. It’s even shorter than a previous study that found that another ancient supervolcano beneath California’s Long Valley caldera awoke hundreds of years before its eruption. As such, scientists are just now starting to realize that the conditions that lead to supereruptions might emerge within a human lifetime.

“It’s shocking how little time is required to take a volcanic system from being quiet and sitting there to the edge of an eruption,” said Ms. Shamloo, though she warned that there’s more work to do before scientists can verify a precise time scale.

Dr. Kari Cooper, a geochemist at the University of California, Davis who was not involved in the research, said Ms. Shamloo and Dr. Till’s research offered more insights into the time frames of supereruptions, although she is not yet convinced that scientists can pin down the precise trigger of the last Yellowstone event. Geologists must now figure out what kick-starts the rapid movements leading up to supereruptions.

“It’s one thing to think about this slow gradual buildup — it’s another thing to think about how you mobilize 1,000 cubic kilometers of magma in a decade,” she said.

As the research advances, scientists hope they will be able to spot future supereruptions in the making. The odds of Yellowstone, or any other supervolcano erupting anytime soon are small. But understanding the largest eruptions can only help scientists better understand, and therefore forecast, the entire spectrum of volcanic eruptions — something that Dr. Cooper thinks will be possible in a matter of decades.

Volcano Erupts Following Hundreds Of Earthquakes

Shinmoedake’s volatile eruption is understood to have been sparked after the country’s Meteorological Agency reported there had been 100 volcanic tremors per day had been registered so far this month.

The volcano, located on the southern island of Kyushu, blew its stack on Wednesday for the first time in six years.

Tremors in the Kagoshima and Miyazaki regions have intensified since September prompting the agency to issue a Level 2 warning.

At Level 2 residents are restricted from entering areas near Shinmoedake’s mouth, while a Level 5 urges people to evacuate.

It is believed the earthquakes were caused by the movement of magma and hot water underground that caused periods of shaking that lasted for several minutes.

Earlier this year the agency issued a Level 1 warning following signs of volcanic activity in May.

Japan is located in the famous ring Ring of Fire, where about 75% of the world’s volcanoes are located.

Incredibly, the island nation is home to 10% of active volcanoes and as many as 1,500 earthquakes are recorded every year.

Closer to home, panic erupted over fears a Canary Islands volcano could blow and send a monster tsunami to hit Spain after 40 earthquakes struck in just two days.

Hurricane Nate Dumps Heavy Rains Across East Coast

BILOXI, Miss.- Hurricane Nate slogged its way up the northeastern U.S. on Monday, dumping heavy rains and bringing gusty winds to inland states as a tropical depression less than two days after it roared ashore in Mississippi and Louisiana as a hurricane.

Nate spared the region the kind of catastrophic damage left by a series of hurricanes that hit the southern U.S. and Caribbean in recent weeks. Alabama endured relatively little damage, but authorities said it could still take days to deal with the storm’s worst effects.

On Dauphin Island, Mayor Jeff Collier said workers were using heavy equipment to remove as much as 6 feet (1.8 meters) of sand that washed across a more than 3-mile (4.8-kilometer) stretch of the island’s main road and more than 20 side streets.

Collier says Nate “moved the beachfront on to the roadway,” and neither power company nor city water workers can begin repairing damage until the road is clear.

To the east, at Gulf State Park, waves from the storm washed out removable flooring panels on a fishing pier that was rebuilt after being destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Workers were replacing the panels Monday with a goal of reopening the pier in time for the National Shrimp Festival, which opens Thursday in nearby Gulf Shores.

Nate — the first hurricane to make landfall in Mississippi since Katrina in 2005 — quickly lost strength Sunday, with its winds diminishing to a tropical depression as it pushed northward into Alabama and Georgia with heavy rain. It was a Category 1 hurricane when it came ashore outside Biloxi early Sunday, its second landfall after initially hitting southeastern Louisiana on Saturday evening.

Mississippi was largely spared damage, although a few residents suffered losses. Ruth Adams, a Massachusetts native riding out her first hurricane in her beach house near Ocean Springs, says Nate stripped off her metal roof.

Lee Smithson, director of Mississippi’s emergency management agency, said damage from Nate was held down in part because of work done and lessons learned from Katrina.

“If that same storm would have hit us 15 years ago, the damage would have been extensive and we would have had loss of life,” Smithson said of Nate. “But we have rebuilt the coast in the aftermath of Katrina higher and stronger.”

Nate knocked out power to more than 100,000 residents in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida, but crews worked on repairs and it appeared most of the outages had been fixed by Monday morning.

Sean Stewart, checking on his father’s sailboat at a Biloxi marina after daybreak, found another boat had sunk, its sail still fluttering in Nate’s diminishing winds. Stewart was relieved to find his father’s craft intact.

“I got lucky on this one,” he said.

No storm-related deaths or injuries were immediately reported in the U.S. although a firefighter clearing debris after storms associated with Nate died when he was hit by a car in North Carolina.

Before Nate sped past Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula late Friday and entered the Gulf of Mexico, it drenched Central America with rains that left at least 22 people dead. But Nate didn’t approach the intensity of Harvey, Irma and Maria — powerful storms that left behind massive destruction during 2017’s exceptionally busy hurricane season.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said the four hurricanes that have struck the U.S. and its territories this year have “strained” resources, with roughly 85 percent of the agency’s forces deployed.

“We’re still working massive issues in Harvey, Irma, as well as the issues in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and now this one,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

Nate initially made landfall Saturday evening in Louisiana, but fears that it would overwhelm the fragile pumping system in New Orleans proved to be unfounded. The storm passed to the east of New Orleans, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu lifted a curfew on the city known for its all-night partying.

Nate was expected to bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to the Deep South, eastern Tennessee Valley and southern Appalachians through Monday. The Ohio Valley, central Appalachians and Northeast could also get heavy rain before the storm exits Maine on Tuesday.

Also Monday, the Hurricane Center said a depression in the open Atlantic had strengthened. Tropical Storm Ophelia did not pose a threat to any land, however.

Ophelia Poised To Break A Hurricane Season Record MoreThan A Century Old

The 2017 hurricane season doesn’t seem to be letting up: on Monday, Tropical Storm Ophelia formed in the central Atlantic and is expected to become a hurricane this week.

While the storm poses no threat to land, it could become the 10th consecutive storm to grow to hurricane strength — a streak of intense systems that will tie a record last set in the late 1800s. It comes in a season that has already produced five major hurricanes, including three ferocious Category 5 storms, and 15 named storms.

The amount of accumulated cyclone energy — a measure of the intensity and longevity of storms — is also 254 percent higher than average with seven weeks left in the season, said University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy.

“We had 15 named storms last year, but things got named that weren’t really things people would remember,” he said. “There’s some heavy hitters this season.”

Ophelia, located about 845 miles west-southwest of the Azores at 5 p.m., formed Monday morning from a tropical wave rolling off Africa. National Hurricane Center forecasters said Ophelia will likely become a hurricane in three days as it swirls in the Atlantic far from the U.S. coast. With weak steering currents, the storm could linger in the area until next week, McNoldy said.

Since Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast on Aug. 25 — the first major hurricane to strike the U.S. coast since Wilma in 2005 — the amount of hurricane energy has climbed steadily. The increase coincided with the historical peak in the season, between mid August and mid September, but shot up abruptly with the appearance of Irma, which pumped out 185 mph winds for nearly 40 hours straight. Irma also became the most powerful hurricane on record in the Atlantic, outside the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico.

What’s making this season so busy is a combination of timing and luck, McNoldy said.

Sea temperatures have been warm and hurricane smothering wind shear weak, he said. This year’s storms have also largely avoided mountainous islands in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, that can shred storms.

“It’s just a matter of having one of those waves at the right time at the right place,” he said.

Harvey swung to the south of the islands, and while it crossed the Yucatan, it was moving very slowly, giving it plenty of time to regain strength to a Category 3 hurricane over warm Gulf waters and accumulate copious amounts of rain. When it lingered for five days, it triggered devastating widespread flooding. Irma tracked over the northern Leeward Islands, skirting Hispaniola and Cuba, before making landfall on Cudjoe Key Sept. 10 as a Category 4 hurricane.

“If it had tracked 100 miles further south that entire time, it would have been a non-event for us because it would have passed over the mountains of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba,” McNoldy said. “So yeah, chance does play a role.”

It’s also why the islands, especially vulnerable Hispaniola, are known for being hurricane killers. Maria, which had top winds of 175 mph, hit Puerto Rico with 155 mph winds Sept. 20. When it moved away, winds had slowed to 110 mph and while it regained some strength, cooler waters to the north kept it from returning to its monster status.

With the season more than half over, Florida is far from off the hook. Most hurricanes hit the state in October. According to Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach, the state has been hit by 28 October hurricanes since 1878, four times more than Louisiana, the next in line. The last time storms intensified into 10 consecutive hurricanes was in 1878, 1886, and 1893, although without satellites its possible some storms in between were missed, he said.

“If we make it through October, the odds quickly switch,” McNoldy said. “So hopefully we get a break.”

2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Now Eighth Most Active in History

As measured by the number of storms, hurricanes, major hurricanes and longevity, 2017 is among the top eight most active.

About one-sixth of an average Atlantic hurricane season is left.

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season is now among the top eight all-time most active seasons on record, thanks to a frenetic stretch of long-lived, destructive hurricanes from mid-August through early October.

Through October 9, 15 named storms, nine hurricanes, and five major (Category 3 or stronger) hurricanes had formed in the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.

By one measure of activity called the ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) index, which adds each tropical storm or hurricane’s wind speed through its life cycle, the 2017 season is already a top 10 busiest season.

Through October 9, following the demise of former Hurricane Nate, 2017 was already the eighth most active Atlantic hurricane season of record, according to statistics compiled by Dr. Phil Klotzbach, Colorado State University tropical meteorologist.

Long-lived, intense hurricanes have a high ACE index, while short-lived, weak tropical storms have a low value. The ACE of a season is the sum of the ACE for each storm and takes into account the number, strength and duration of all the tropical storms and hurricanes in the season.

According to a National Hurricane Center report, only 1933 and 2004 had a faster ACE pace through the end of September than 2017. Each of those seasons ended up a top five active season overall, with 1933 occupying the top spot.

Roughly 16 percent of an average Atlantic season’s ACE index occurs after October 9, according to Klotzbach’s climatology.

Just an average amount of ACE the rest of this season would place 2017 close to the top five most active seasons in the satellite era.

How This Compares to 2004 and 2005

This season becomes even more compelling when comparing it to two of the most notorious recent hurricane seasons of the previous decade.

The nine-hurricane pace matches that from 2004, when four of those hurricanes hammered various parts of Florida, among other areas.

While 2017 is unlikely to touch 2005’s record 15 hurricanes through the entire season, it has already chalked up the same number of major (Category 3 or stronger) hurricanes through October 9 as that record-smashing 2005 season generated up to that point in the season.

In 2005, Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Maria (yep, same name) and Rita were at least Category 3 intensity through October 9.

A stretch of nine straight hurricanes from August 9 through October 6, in 2017 was a first in the Atlantic basin in 124 years.

Included in this stretch was catastrophic Category 4 Hurricane Harvey, followed by the long-lived saga of Hurricane Irma, then by long-lived Jose and catastrophic Hurricane Maria and finally by Nate.

The 30-year average number of hurricanes for an entire Atlantic season is six. The entire 2016 season generated a total of seven hurricanes, needing Hurricane Otto over Thanksgiving to get to that season total.

In all, September 2017 was the single most active month for Atlantic tropical cyclones on record, topping the previous record from September 2004.

According to the National Hurricane Center, an average hurricane season typically sees another two named storms, one of which attains hurricane intensity,after October 9.

Given that, 2017 may continue to climb the all-time list of notorious Atlantic hurricane seasons.

Bali Volcano: Earth Set To Become Cooler After Mount Agung Erupts

BALI’s largest volcano, Mount Agung, looks set to erupt any day now and the event will have a shocking impact on the world’s temperature.

Even though the enormous volcano is likely to spew out molten lava and vast amounts of ash and sulphur dioxide, the Earth is actually set to become a little bit cooler.

The gases and dust particles thrown into the atmosphere during the eruption will help cool the planet by shading incoming solar radiation – effectively providing a partial sun block.

Meanwhile, the sulphur dioxide reacts with the water vapour in the air to form droplets of sulphuric acid.

These droplets accumulate in the Earth’s stratosphere and form a haze, which acts as a barrier to UV rays and results in a cooling effect.

The cooling effect can sometimes last for a few years, according to Professor Arculus, an Emeritus Professor in geology at the Australian National University, but eventually the droplets will fall back to Earth.

He said the change in temperature “doesn’t last long enough for us to notice”.

He added: “It’s more likely to be an instrumental effect that scientists notice.”

When Mount Agung last erupted in 1963, global atmospheric temperatures dropped by 0.1-0.4 degrees Celsius.

While this may not sound like a lot, even the smallest change in temperature can have a huge effect on the Earth.

The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, had a huge effect on global temperatures.

Professor Arculus explained: “After its eruption, it was known in Northern Europe and northeast America as ‘The Year Without Summer’.

“It caused a big enough temperature drop that there was frost in the New England region of the United States in August and that’s unheard of. And [there were] widespread crop failures.

“Global temperatures were affected enough for the people who were trying to grow things and feed animals to notice the effect.

“There’s no notion yet that Agung will have an eruption as large as Tambora.”