Posts Tagged With: earth

Alien Nuclear Wars Might Be Visible From Earth…..


Image NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center / Flickr
NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center / Flickr

In a recent New Yorker article, the nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein collected testimony from several people who saw, firsthand, the flash from the first successful detonation of the atomic bomb, at the infamous Trinity Test, on July 16, 1945.

Wellerstein has a writer’s feel for quotes and anecdotes. According to one general, the flash was a “golden, purple, violet, gray, and blue light” that illuminated “every peak, crevasse, and ridge” of a nearby mountain range, “with a clarity and beauty that cannot be described.” Wellerstein notes that several eyewitnesses described Trinity’s light as “cosmic.” This was apropos, he says, for nowhere else, “except in the interiors of stars do temperatures reach into the tens of millions of degrees,” as they do during a nuclear explosion.

A team of astronomers recently tried to determine whether Trinity’s light might be cosmic in a different sense. The Trinity test involved only one explosion. But if there were many more explosions, involving many more nuclear weapons, it might generate enough heat and light to be seen from nearby stars, or from the deeper reaches of our galaxy—so long as someone out there was looking.

And so, the thinking goes, maybe we should be looking. If every intelligent species eventually stumbles on nuclear technology, and not all of them manage it well, then it might be possible to spot an apocalypse in the heavens. Or several.

There are tens of billions of galaxies in the observable universe, each one a sea of stars. When astronomers watch these stars closely, they see them wobbling, the way our sun wobbles when its planets spin around it, tugging on its center of gravity. Astronomers also see these stars dimming ever so slightly, as though objects were passing in front of them, and this dimming occurs at predictable intervals, as though these objects were moving around the stars in regular orbits. For these reasons and others, astronomers now believe that nearly all stars play host to planets, and they are making plans to image these planets directly, by catching the faint light they give off with huge, ultra-sensitive telescopes.

What will this light tell us? A remarkable amount, it turns out. Light encounters all kinds of molecules as it makes its way through the universe, and it keeps a close record of these encounters, in its spectra. If sunlight were to beam through Earth’s atmosphere, and then out into the stars, it would travel with this detailed chemical record in tow. If, after some millennia, this earth-kissed light fell into a distant astronomer’s telescope, that astronomer would be able to determine what sorts of chemicals were present in our planet’s atmosphere. They would know that water vapor was present, and life too, because Earth’s atmosphere contains methane gas, breathed out by the trillions of organisms that live on its surface. Indeed, it’s precisely these sorts of “biosignatures” that Earth’s astronomers hope to find in the atmospheres of extrasolar planets.

Light from extrasolar planets might also tell us whether our universe is home to other tool-making beings. After all, some of our pollutants leave behind chemical traces that would never occur naturally. If we glimpsed these pollutants in a distant planet’s atmosphere, we could be reasonably certain that technological life lived on its surface at one time or another. And according to Adam Stevens, Duncan Forgan, and Jack O’Malley James from Cornell’s Carl Sagan Institute, we might be able to know whether they used their technology to destroy themselves.

In July, Stevens, Forgan, and James published a paper that asked what a distant, “self-destructive civilization” might look like through the business end of a telescope. To do so, they gamed out several dystopian science fiction scenarios in great detail. They calculated the brightness of the gamma rays that would flash out from a massive exchange of nuclear weapons. They asked themselves what would happen if an engineered pathogen ripped through a large population of human-sized animals. What gases would fill a planet’s atmosphere, if its surface were strewn with rotting corpses? And would those gases be detectable across interstellar distances?

I asked Jill Tarter what she thought of the paper. Tarter is the former director of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute and the inspiration for Ellie Arroway, the heroine of Carl Sagan’s Contact, played by Jodie Foster in the film adaptation. Tarter told me the paper was “getting a bit of buzz” in the SETI community. But she also urged caution. “The problem is the signatures are detectable for cosmically insignificant amounts of time,” she said. Distant stars burn for billions of years, sending a constant stream of light toward Earth, but the flash from a nuclear war may last only a few days. To catch its light, you have to have impeccable timing.

Stevens, Forgan, and James acknowledge the ephemerality of their extinction signatures. According to their paper, some will last only 30 years, and others less than that. And even if a signal were to stick around for a hundred millennia, it would still be a tough needle to find in the vast spatiotemporal haystack that is our night sky. The universe has been manufacturing planets for billions of years. The odds that you’d train your telescope on a planet just as its resident civilization winks out are, in Tarter’s words, “a lot worse than Vegas.”

To beat odds like that, you’d need to take a detailed census of the galaxy. You’d need to eavesdrop on billions of planets, and for long stretches of time, and the tech for that kind of survey just doesn’t exist yet, and won’t for a while.

But it’s conceivable, in principle, and that itself is a miracle of human ingenuity. It’s wild to think that we may one day know something about the various fates that await beings like us. And it’s a useful prod toward deeper thoughts, about the sorts of flashes we are starting to send into the cosmos, especially this year, as we mark the 70th anniversary of the Trinity test.

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‘Earth-sized’ UFO orbiting Sun reported: New photos captured by NASA shows image…….


A UFO the size of the Earth was observed entering or exiting the sun this weekend, which is seen in a series of pictures taken by NASA/SOHO states the latest report from UFO watchers. According to UFO Sights Daily on Oct. 25, the pictures of the sun are checked daily by the website’s monitor and what they saw in a picture on Friday is quite large.

Read more……http://www.examiner.com/article/earth-sized-ufo-orbiting-sun-reported-new-photos-captured-by-nasa-shows-image11fbed2144762245462243534cf123e3

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Asteroid to Give Earth Record-Setting Close Shave on Feb. 15….


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An asteroid half the size of a football field will give Earth the ultimate close shave this month, passing closer than many satellites when it whizzes by, but it won’t hit the planet, NASA scientists say.
The asteroid 2012 DA14 will fly by Earth on Feb. 15 and zip within 17,200 miles (27, 680 kilometers) of the planet during the cosmic close encounter. The asteroid will approach much closer to Earth than the moon, and well inside the paths of navigation and communications satellites.
“This is a record-setting close approach,” Don Yeomans, the head of NASA’s asteroid-tracking program, said in a statement. “Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, we’ve never seen an object this big get so close to Earth.”
Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered last year by an amateur team of stargazers at the La Sagra Sky Survey observatory in Spain. Yeomans stressed that, while the asteroid’s approach bring it closer than the geosynchronous satellites orbiting 22,245 miles (35,800 km) above Earth, 2012 DA14 poses no threat of a deadly collision with the planet.
“2012 DA14 will definitely not hit Earth. The orbit of the asteroid is known well enough to rule out an impact,” Yeomans, who heads the Near-Earth Object Program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. He added that the odds it will slam into a satellite are “extremely remote.”
A fairly typical asteroid like 2012 DA14 — which measures 150 feet (45 meters) across — zips by Earth about every 40 years, but only strikes every 1,200 years, Yeomans estimated, and the impact of such an object would not be catastrophic over a wide area.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about the same size of the object that exploded in the atmosphere above Siberia in 1908, leveling hundreds of square miles in what scientists now call the “Tunguska Event,” NASA officials explained.

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Do you feel something crawling on you?….


For every person there are roughly 170 million insects.

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Leaks Found in Earth’s Protective Shield……………


Our planet’s protective magnetic bubble may not be as protective as scientists had thought. Small breaks in Earth’s magnetic field almost continuously let in the solar wind — the stream of magnetic, energized plasma launched by the sun toward the planets — new research has found.
“The solar wind can enter the magnetosphere at different locations and under different magnetic field conditions that we hadn’t known about before,” Melvyn Goldstein, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement.
Charged particles in the solar wind can interrupt GPS signals and power systems, as well as create dazzling auroras.
The magnetosphere is the planet’s first line of defense against the solar wind. Scientists knew that this plasma stream occasionally breached the magnetosphere near the equator, where the Earth’s magnetic field is roughly parallel to the magnetic field in the solar wind. The new study, published Aug. 29 in the Journal of Geophysical Research, found that these breaks can happen under a wider range of conditions.
“That suggests there is a ‘sieve-like’ property of the magnetopause [the outer edge of the magnetosphere] in allowing the solar wind to continuously flow into the magnetosphere,” Goldstein said.
Plasma swirls break magnetic field
The European Space Agency’s Cluster mission, a set of four satellites that fly in close formation through the Earth’s magnetic field, gathered the data that show how the solar wind can get through. Equipped with state-of-the-art instruments for measuring electric and magnetic fields, the Cluster satellites fly in and out of the magnetosphere and document the microscopic magnetic interactions between the Earth and the sun.
From 2006 Cluster observations, scientists found that huge swirls of plasma along the magnetopause could help the solar wind penetrate the magnetosphere when the terrestrial and solar wind magnetic fields were aligned. Those swirls of plasma are known as Kelvin-Helmholtz waves, and they can be 24,850 miles (40,000 kilometers) in diameter.
As Kelvin-Helmholtz waves slide past the magnetopause, they can create giant vortices, similar to how wind blowing across the ocean causes waves. The huge waves can spontaneously break and reconnect magnetic field lines, creating openings that let the solar wind slip through.
‘Not a perfect magnetic bubble’
The new findings suggest that these magnetic field line breaks can also occur where the terrestrial and solar wind magnetic fields are perpendicular, at high latitudes near the poles.
The alignments of the solar wind magnetic field and Earth’s magnetic field are key factors. A perpendicular alignment makes the boundary between the two fields less stable and likely generates more Kelvin-Helmholtz waves — and more magnetic field breaches.
“We found that when the [solar wind] magnetic field is westward or eastward, magnetopause boundary layers at higher latitude become most subject to Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities, regions quite distant from previous observations of these waves,” Kyoung-Joo Hwang, a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center who led the study, said in a statement.
“In fact, it’s very hard to imagine a situation where solar wind plasma could not leak into the magnetosphere, since it is not a perfect magnetic bubble,” Hwang said.

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‘Man in Moon’ created by asteroid impact the size of Austria



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The famous flattened image across the surface of the moon, long dubbed the “Man in the Moon,” appears to have been created by a giant asteroid the size of Austria.
A new study published in the British journal Nature Geoscience says the flattened, 1,800-mile-wide section of the moon’s Procellarum basin was caused after the large asteroid crashed into the moon’s surface.
“The nearside and farside of the Moon are compositionally distinct,” reads the introduction to the study. “The detection of low-calcium pyroxene around large impact basins suggests that the huge Procellarum basin on the nearside may be an ancient impact structure and a relic scar of the violent collision that produced the lunar dichotomy.”
Scientists at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology studied the distribution of minerals on the moon’s surface using data collected by Japanese moon exploration orbiters, the Asahi Shimbun reported.
The size of the asteroid is estimated to have been 180 miles in diameter, hitting the moon’s surface 3.9 billion years ago.
“The latest study explains why the moon’s two sides are so different,” said Junichi Watanabe, a professor of astronomy at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. “It helps unravel the mystery of the moon’s history.”

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House-Size Asteroid Comes Closer to Earth Than the Moon Friday: Watch Live


A new found asteroid the size of a house will fly closer to Earth than the moon on Friday (Oct. 12), but poses no danger of impacting our planet, NASA says.
The space rock, called asteroid 2012 TC4, is about 56 feet wide (17 meters) and will come within 59,000 miles (95,000 kilometers) of Earth at its closest point when it zips harmlessly by on Friday. That’s about one-fourth the distance to the moon.
But you don’t have to wait to see live views of the interloping space rock: There are two live webcasts of the asteroid today (Oct. 11). The Virtual Telescope Project and Slooh Space Camera, two groups that offer live telescope views of space via the Internet, will be providing the asteroid imagery.
The Virtual Telescope Project in Italy run by astrophysicist Gianluca Masi will provide a live telescope view of asteroid 2014 TC4 starting at 3:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT) via the project’s WebTV. You can access the webcast here: http://www.astrowebtv.org.
Masi has already recorded several videos of asteroid 2012 TC4, and will provide live commentary during the webcast. He said the public is often attracted to asteroid flybys because of their connection with asteroid impacts on Earth. But there is scientific value behind them as well.
“Asteroids are very intriguing bodies, strongly connected with the origin of our solar system,” Masi told SPACE.com in an email. “When an asteroid approaches our planet, we have good chances to study them better, especially small ones.”
The Slooh Space Camera views of asteroid 2012 TC4 will be webcast later today at 5:30 p.m. EDT (2130 GMT) and will be available here: http://www.slooh.com.
“One of our missions at Slooh is to provide the public with free, live coverage of amazing celestial events,” said Slooh President Patrick Paolucci in a statement. “We will be tracking asteroid 2012 TC4 live from our observatory located on the Canary Islands – off the coast of West Africa.”
Paolucci will provide commentary during the webcast and will be joined with Slooh’s outreach coordinator Paul Cox and astronomer Bob Berman, a columnist for Astronomy Magazine. The webcast can be watched via computer or mobile device, Slooh officials said.
It may even be possible for seasoned amateur astronomers to see asteroid 2012 TC4 using a small telescope.
According to the website Spaceweather.com, which monitors night sky events, the asteroid “will be close enough to photograph through backyard telescopes as it brightens to approximately 14th magnitude.” Magnitude is a scale used by astronomers to measure the brightness of objects in the night sky. The lower the magnitude number, the brighter the object.
NASA has reportedly been observing the asteroid 2012 TC4 with radar to better determine its orbit since its discovery on Oct. 4.
Asteroid 2012 TC4 is one of two asteroids to pass Earth inside the moon’s orbit this week. On Sunday (Oct. 7), an even larger space rock — the 100-foot-wide (32-meter) asteroid 2012 TV —passed Earth at a range of 158,000 miles (255,000 km), or about 0.7 times the distance from Earth to the moon. The moon is on average about 238,000 miles (383,000 km) from Earth.
NASA and astronomers regularly monitor the skies for near-Earth asteroids because of the potential threat a large asteroid strike could pose to our planet. NASA’s Asteroid Watch program is based at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
“We get passes between Earth-moon fairly frequently actually, although usually smaller space rocks,” Asteroid Watch scientists wrote this week on Twitter while discussing asteroid 2012 TV.
If you snap a photo of asteroid 2012 TC4 crossing the night sky on Friday, Oct. 12, and would like to share it with SPACE.com, send images, comments and location info to managing editor Tariq Malik at: tmalik@space.com.

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Comet due in 2013 could be brighter than the full moon…..



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Late next year, there will be a new object in the night sky nearly 10 times brighter than the full moon. This temporary attraction, called C/2012 S1, is a comet that has likely never passed through our inner solar system before, so it’s larger and more reflective than those our sun has already blasted.
C/2012 S1 won’t just be bright; it’ll be large enough to see without the need for binoculars or a telescope. Its brightness magnitude is expected to be -16, with the Sun by comparison being -26. Comet Hale-Bopp, seen above, was magnitude -1 when it passed through our solar system in 1997. Astronomers are predicting that C/2012 S1 will appear in the sky near the sun and horizon, so it should be fairly easy to pinpoint without a sky map. Should it contain a large amount of gas beneath its icy exterior, the comet could sprout a massive glowing tail as it nears the sun and the ice is melted away, making it even easier to see — not to mention much cooler looking.
Scientists tracking C/2012 S1 have pointed out that the comet’s brightness isn’t entirely guaranteed, but even if their estimates are off it should still be visible to the naked eye. That wasn’t the case with Kohoutek, a comet that entered our solar system in 1973 and was expected to be brilliant in the night sky, only to disappoint because it turned out to be mostly rock and not highly reflective ice.

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