Saturday October 21, 2017

Britain may face the loss of the Magic and Beauty of Northern Lights by 2050: Study

Solar wind is made up of electrically charged particles from the Sun, and travels at around a million miles per hour

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Northern Lights, Wikimedia

London, Feb 2, 2017: Britain may face the loss of the magic and beauty of the Northern Lights by the middle of the century due to major shifts in solar activity, scientists have discovered.

Space scientists at University of Reading in the UK have concluded that plummeting solar activity will shrink the overall size of the Sun’s atmosphere by a third and weaken its protective influence and nurture on the Earth in a recent study.

There is a possibility that this could make the Earth more vulnerable to technology-destroying solar blasts and cancer-causing cosmic radiation. It can also make the aurora less common away from the north and south polar regions for 50 years or more.

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According to Matthew Owen, the leader of the Research program from Reading’s Meteorology department, “The magnetic activity of the sun ebbs and flows in predictable cycles, but there is also evidence that it is due to plummet, possibly by the largest amount for 300 years.”

“If so, the Northern Lights phenomenon would become a natural show exclusive to the polar regions, due to a lack of solar wind forces that often make it visible at lower latitudes,” Owens added.

Owens also mentioned, “As the Sun becomes less active, sunspots and coronal ejections will become less frequent. However, if a mass ejection did hit the Earth, it could be even more damaging to the electronic devices on which society is now so dependent.”

The study has shown how sunspot records can be utilised to reconstruct what happened the last time the Earth went through such a dramatic dip in solar activity nearly three centuries ago.

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With the help of updated models and contemporary reports, the researchers were able to predict what could possibly happen during another similar event which is likely to occur in the next few decades.

According to the scientists associated with the program, the coming grand minimum could be similar to the Maunder Minimum of the 17th century, when sun spot activity almost stopped; another symptom of a less active Sun.

Solar wind is made up of electrically charged particles from the Sun, and travels at around a million miles per hour.

A reduction in solar wind would see the heliosphere, the bubble-like configuration around the solar system maintained by particles emitted by the Sun, shrink significantly. This protective bubble helps in shielding and protecting the Earth from harmful radiation from outer space, but it has weakened since the 1950s.

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The prediction of the scientists mentions a rapid reduction in the size of the bubble by around the middle of the 21st century. The own magnetic field of the earth deflects some of this radiation, but areas close to the north and the pole regions are more vulnerable where the Earth’s magnetic field is weakest.

“If the decline in sunspots continues at this rate, and data from the past suggests that it will, we could see these changes occurring as early as the next few decades,” Professor Mike Lockwood from University of Reading informed.

This study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

-PTI

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

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Researchers Claim The Existence Of Planet Nine

Researchers from an American University have laid evidences to prove the presence of Planet Nine

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Planet Nine
Kuiper Belt indicates the presence of Planet Nine
  • The science communities since a long time have been debating upon the existence of Planet Nine. 
  • Space highlights different shreds of evidence based on which scientists are stating the claim.

What Is Planet Nine?

Planet Nine is a hypothetical planet present in the far outer Solar System, whose mass is estimated to be 10 times more than the mass of Earth. The planet is said to be 20 times farther than the sun than Neptune is.

What Do Researchers Have To Say?

Dr Konstantin Batygin, a planetary astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology, said that there were five different lines of observational evidence which pointed to the existence of Planet Nine. He stated that if this theory does not sound believable, then people would have to come up with the answers of the five pieces of evidence which could lead to further confusion.

Also Read: Five Students from Telangana Selected for the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge

Batygin in 2016 published a study examining the six known objects in the Kuiper Belt, a  circumstellar disc in the Solar System beyond the planets that extends from the orbit of Neptune towards interstellar space.

The study examines all the objects have elliptical orbits pointing in the same direction and are tilted the same way. These serve as evidence to the planet’s existence.

It is being said that the objects are tilted 30 degrees downward compared to the plane where the eight official planets circle the sun. Researchers also made use of computer simulations of the solar system including the Planet Nine and to demonstrate that there should be more objects tilted a whopping 90 degrees to solar plane. It was revealed that five such objects, which fit these parameters were already known.

The study led to the birth of two more ideas. Researchers said that this planet could have tilted the planets of the solar system during the last 4.5 billion years.

Planet Nine’s existence could also tell the reason as to why Kuiper Belt objects orbit in the opposite direction as compared to other things in the solar system.

-Prepared by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.

(the story was originally published in PTI)

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Astronomers Detect Strange ‘Radio Signals’ Coming From Dwarf Star 11 Light Years Away

Dwarf stars have been shown to have planets orbiting the habitable, or ‘goldilocks,’ zone, as is the case with the recently discovered TRAPPIST-1

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Dwarf stars
Dwarf stars sending strange signals to earth. Pixabay
  • The signals came from a red dwarf star, around 2,800 times dimmer than the Sun
  • The possibility that signals came from extraterrestrial life cannot be ruled out yet, said an astrobiologist
  • The signals could have also come from some kind of man-made object in space, such as a satellite

London, July 18, 2017: To the delight of those trying to find life beyond our solar system, a team of astronomers has claimed to have picked up “strange signals” emanating from a star 11 light years away.

The signals were detected by researchers from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico who are studying red dwarf stars.

On May 12 this year, the team observed mysterious radio signals emanating from a star called “Ross 128”.

“We realized that there were some very peculiar signals in the 10-minute dynamic spectrum that we obtained from ‘Ross 128’ (GJ 447), observed May 12,” wrote professor Abel Mendez, planetary astrobiologist, and director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico in a blog post.

“In case you are wondering, the recurrent aliens hypothesis is at the bottom of many other better explanations,” Mendez added.

ALSO READ: NASA Spacecraft circling Jupiter Reveals Beauty of Solar System’s Biggest Planetary Storm

However, the source of the mysterious signals still eludes the team.

“We do not know the origin of these signals but there are three main possible explanations: they could be emissions from ‘Ross 128’ similar to Type II solar flares, emissions from another object in the field of view of ‘Ross 128′, or just burst from a high orbit satellite since low orbit satellites are quick to move out of the field of view,” Mendez added.

The signals are probably too dim for other radio telescopes in the world and are currently under calibration.

“Therefore, we have a mystery here and the three main explanations are as good as any at this moment,” the professor said.

Dwarf stars have been shown to have planets orbiting the habitable, or ‘goldilocks,’ zone, as is the case with the recently discovered TRAPPIST-1, RT reported. (IANS)

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Indian-origin Researcher part of Team that Discovered Mars-sized object Lurking at Edge of Solar System

Something unknown is warping the average orbital plane of the outer solar system

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Solar System
Mars-sized planetary mass object lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system. Pixabay

New York, June 26, 2017: Researchers, including one of the Indian-origin, have found evidence of an unknown, Mars-sized “planetary mass object” lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system. This object would be different from — and much closer than — the so-called Planet Nine, a planet whose existence yet awaits confirmation, according to the study to be published in a forthcoming issue of the Astronomical Journal.

In the paper, Kat Volk and Renu Malhotra of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) present compelling evidence of a yet-to-be-discovered planetary body with a mass somewhere between that of Mars and Earth. The mysterious mass, the authors showed, has given away its presence — for now — only by controlling the orbital planes of a population of space rocks known as Kuiper Belt Objects (KBO), in the icy outskirts of the solar system.

ALSO READ: KELT-9B : Scientists Discover Hottest Giant Planet of the Solar System

While most KBOs — debris left over from the formation of the solar system — orbit the Sun with orbital tilts (inclinations) that average out to what planetary scientists call the invariable plane of the solar system, the most distant of the Kuiper Belt’s objects do not. Their average plane, Volk and Malhotra discovered, is tilted away from the invariable plane by about eight degrees. In other words, something unknown is warping the average orbital plane of the outer solar system. “The most likely explanation for our results is that there is some unseen mass,” says Volk, a postdoctoral fellow at LPL and the lead author of the study.

“According to our calculations, something as massive as Mars would be needed to cause the warp that we measured,” Volk said. For the study, Volk and Malhotra analysed the tilt angles of the orbital planes of more than 600 objects in the Kuiper Belt in order to determine the common direction about which these orbital planes all precess. Precession refers to the slow change or “wobble” in the orientation of a rotating object. (IANS)