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A team of investigators reports the discovery of the fastest-moving winds ever found to be released by a stellar-mass black hole. Unlike their supermassive companions, these dark behemoths are relatively small, tipping the scales at only a few times the mass of the Sun.
However, they do release radiations and winds just like their larger brethren, which makes them equally interesting to astrophysicists. In addition, they represent an interesting transition in the history of black hole evolution. The next step is represented by intermediate-size black holes, which are very rare.
In fact, the new investigation is bound to give astronomers a deeper insight into how smaller black holes behave. The fact that their disks can produce winds traveling at such high speeds was not suspected before. The data that led to this discovery were collected by the NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory. The telescope showed the winds to be moving at speeds of up to 3 percent of that of light, or roughly 20 million miles (32.1 million kilometers) per hour.
This speed is not just slightly larger than the previous record holder, but 10 times as fast. This is a remarkable finding, showing that black hole-induced winds in fact can reach speed ranges that were thought inaccessible to them until now.
For the new study, Chandra was turned on the black hole IGR J17091-3624, which astronomers affectionately refer to as IGR J17091 for short. Usually, a stellar-mass black hole weighs between 5 and 10 solar masses.
The newly-discovered winds are “like the cosmic equivalent of winds from a category five hurricane,” explains University of Michigan investigator and lead study author, Ashley King. A paper detailing the findings was published in the February 20 issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
“We weren't expecting to see such powerful winds from a black hole like this,” the researcher explains. In fact, data show that IGR J17091 is capable of producing winds that travel just as fast as those produced by its supermassive counterparts.
“It's a surprise this small black hole is able to muster the wind speeds we typically only see in the giant black holes. In other words, this black hole is performing well above its weight class,” U-M expert and study co-author Jon M. Miller concludes.
The team which found that neutrinos may travel faster than light has carried out an improved version of their experiment - and confirmed the result.
If confirmed by other experiments, the find could undermine one of the basic principles of modern physics.
Critics of the first report in September had said that the long bunches of neutrinos (tiny particles) used could introduce an error into the test.
The new work used much shorter bunches.
It has been posted to the Arxiv repository and submitted to the Journal of High Energy Physics, but has not yet been reviewed by the scientific community.
The experiments have been carried out by the Opera collaboration - short for Oscillation Project with Emulsion (T)racking Apparatus.
It hinges on sending bunches of neutrinos created at the Cern facility (actually produced as decays within a long bunch of protons produced at Cern) through 730km (454 miles) of rock to a giant detector at the INFN-Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy.
The initial series of experiments, comprising 15,000 separate measurements spread out over three years, found that the neutrinos arrived 60 billionths of a second faster than light would have, travelling unimpeded over the same distance.
The idea that nothing can exceed the speed of light in a vacuum forms a cornerstone in physics - first laid out by James Clerk Maxwell and later incorporated into Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity.
Timing is everything Initial analysis of the work by the wider scientific community argued that the relatively long-lasting bunches of neutrinos could introduce a significant error into the measurement.
Those bunches lasted 10 millionths of a second - 160 times longer than the discrepancy the team initially reported in the neutrinos' travel time.
To address that, scientists at Cern adjusted the way in which the proton beams were produced, resulting in bunches just three billionths of a second long.
When the Opera team ran the improved experiment 20 times, they found almost exactly the same result.
Continue reading the main story Listen to Radio 4's In Our Time: The Neutrino
"This is reinforcing the previous finding and ruling out some possible systematic errors which could have in principle been affecting it," said Antonio Ereditato of the Opera collaboration.
"We didn't think they were, and now we have the proof," he told BBC News. "This is reassuring that it's not the end of the story."
The first announcement of evidently faster-than-light neutrinos caused a stir worldwide; the Opera collaboration is very aware of its implications if eventually proved correct.
The error in the length of the bunches, however, is just the largest among several potential sources of uncertainty in the measurement, which must all now be addressed in turn; these mostly centre on the precise departure and arrival times of the bunches.
"So far no arguments have been put forward that rule out our effect," Dr Ereditato said.
"This additional test we made is confirming our original finding, but still we have to be very prudent, still we have to look forward to independent confirmation. But this is a positive result."
That confirmation may be much longer in coming, as only a few facilities worldwide have the detectors needed to catch the notoriously flighty neutrinos - which interact with matter so rarely as to have earned the nickname "ghost particles".
Next year, teams working on two other experiments at Gran Sasso experiments - Borexino and Icarus - will begin independent cross-checks of Opera's results.
The US Minos experiment and Japan's T2K experiment will also test the observations. It is likely to be several months before they report back.
NASA is ready to move forward with the development of the Space Launch System - an advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle that will provide an entirely new national capability for human exploration beyond Earth's orbit. The Space Launch System will give the nation a safe, affordable and sustainable means of reaching beyond our current limits and opening up new discoveries from the unique vantage point of space.
The Space Launch System, or SLS, will be designed to carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as important cargo, equipment and science experiments to Earth's orbit and destinations beyond. Additionally, the SLS will serve as a back up for commercial and international partner transportation services to the International Space Station.
If you're located in the Northern Hemisphere, you might have the opportunity to spot a special full moon in the sky this weekend: the Harvest Moon. This month's special full moon gets its name because its appearance low in the southeastern sky for several nights historically afforded farmers extra time for harvesting crops. Before the invention of electricity, farmers relied on bright moonlight in the late summer to gather their ripening crops after sunset. The moon typically rises about 50 minutes later each night, but during several nights around the Harvest Full Moon, it can rise between 25 to 30 minutes later across the United States. In other Northern Hemisphere locations, like Canada and Europe, the moon can rise just 10 to 20 minutes later around a Harvest Moon, according to SPACE.com's skywatching columnist Joe Rao.
GRAIL Launch Rescheduled for Friday Thu, 08 Sep 2011 08:10:39 AM PDT
Upper level winds in the unacceptable range Thursday morning delayed the GRAIL launch by 24 hours. The forecast for Friday shows a 40 percent chance of favorable weather conditions at launch time.
There are once again two one-second launch windows. Friday's launch times are 8:33:25 a.m. and 9:12:31 a.m. EDT. The launch period extends through Oct. 19, with liftoff occurring approximately 4 minutes earlier each day.
Live launch coverage will begin tomorrow morning at 5:45 a.m. on NASA TV and on the web at www.nasa.gov/ntv and www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/grail/launch/grail_blog.html.
The twin GRAIL spacecraft are scheduled to begin their mission to the moon lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 17B aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II heavy rocket. GRAIL's primary science objectives are to determine the structure of the lunar interior, from crust to core, and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon.
Robonaut 2, a dexterous, humanoid astronaut helper, will fly to the International Space Station aboard space shuttle Discovery on the STS-133 mission. Although it will initially only participate in operational tests, upgrades could eventually allow the robot to realize its true purpose — helping spacewalking astronauts with tasks outside the space station.
Freddie For A Day - Donate Now www.paypal.com Donate to the Mercury Phoenix Trust as part of the Freddie For A Day fun to help Fight AIDS Worldwide. Look into my eyes and you'll see I'm the only one You've captured my love, stolen my heart changed my life. Every time you make a move you destroy my mind And the way you touch I lose control and shiver deep inside You take my breath away You can reduce me to tears with a single sigh (please don't cry) every breath that you take, every sound that you make is a whisper to my ear I could give up all my life for just one kiss i would surly die, if you dismissed me from your love [ From : http://www.elyrics.net/read/q/queen-lyrics/you-take-my-breath-away-lyrics.html ] You take my breath away So please don't go don't leave me here all by myself I get ever so lonely from time to time I'll find you anywhere you go I'll be right behind you right until the ends of the earth I'll get no sleep till I find you to tell you that you just take my breath away
I'll find you anywhere you go...ohhh right until the ends of the earth I'll get no sleep till I find you to tell you when i found you I love you.
The Kepler science team announced on Aug. 12 the next release of data to the public archive. Quarter three science data collected during the months of September to December 2009 will be available for download on Sept. 23, 2011 from the Multimission Archive at STScI (MAST) at:
Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the "habitable zone," the region in a planetary system where liquid water can exist on the surface of the orbiting planet. Although additional observations will be needed over time to reach that milestone, Kepler is detecting planets and planet candidates with a wide range of sizes and orbital distances to help us better understand our place in the galaxy.
“The team recognizes a strong demand from the scientific community for more public data,” said Nick Gautier, Kepler Mission project scientist. “This is evident by the volume of papers on exoplanet science as well as stellar astrophysics that have been published using Kepler data.”
In particular, independent researchers have used publicly available data to both confirm the existence of Kepler candidate planets and provide new details on planetary systems far beyond our own. For example, one team used the 1,235 planet candidate catalogue to confirm the planet KOI-428b, a hot Jupiter, and further characterize its planetary system.
For a perspective on the body of referred journal articles from the science community, as well as those led by the Kepler science team, see the following publication tables on exoplanet science and astrophysics:
Enthusiasm from the public about the search for alien planets has also generated profound results powered by the Kepler data. The popularity of sites like the Planet Hunters (http://www.planethunters.org), which enlists the help of citizen scientists to identify planet candidates in the Kepler data, demonstrates the groundswell of broad public interest in exoplanet research. Since its launch in December 2010 this website has been used by 40,000 "planet hunters" worldwide to analyze more than 3.5 million observations, netting 69 potential candidates, all from their web browsers.
For more information about Kepler, visit:
On the 20th November 1969, the crew of Apollo 12 jettisoned the lunar module ascent stage causing it to crash onto the moon some 40 miles from the Apollo 12 landing site. This created an artificial moonquake with startling characteristics. The moon reverberated like a bell for more than an hour. This phenomenon was intentionally repeated with Apollo 13, when they allowed the third stage to impact the moon. The results were even more startling. Seismic instruments recorded that the reverberations lasted for three hours and twenty minutes and travelled to a depth of twenty-five miles. This lead to the conclusion that the moon has an unusually light, or even no core.