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Thu, 06 Oct 2022
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Strange Skies


New supernova remnant detected by astronomers

Supernova Remnant
© Araya et al., 2021
Region surrounding G 17.8 + 16.7 as seen at 1.4 GHz (left) and 2.3 GHz (right).
Astronomers from Costa Rica and Australia have reported the detection of a new supernova remnant (SNR) by inspecting a gamma-ray source known as FHES J1723.5−0501. The researchers found that this source is an SNR and it has been designated G17.8+16.7. The finding is detailed in a paper published December 3 on arXiv.org.

SNRs are diffuse, expanding structures resulting from a supernova explosion. They contain ejected material expanding from the explosion and other interstellar material that has been swept up by the passage of the shockwave from the exploded star.

Studies of supernova remnants are important for astronomers, as they play a key role in the evolution of galaxies, dispersing the heavy elements made in the supernova explosion and providing the energy needed for heating up the interstellar medium. SNRs are also believed to be responsible for the acceleration of galactic cosmic rays.

FHES J1723.5−0501 (also known as 4FGL J 1723.5−0501e) is a gamma-ray source detected outside the galactic plane with NASA's Fermi spacecraft. Previous observations have revealed the presence of an unclassified radio shell along the southwestern edge of this source, suggesting that FHES J1723.5−0501 may be potentially associated to an SNR or a pulsar wind nebula (PWN).


Strange things happening in Earth's atmosphere over the North pole - NASA launches rocket to investigate

Cusp around Earth
© Andøya Space Center/Trond Abrahamsen
North of Norway over the Norwegian and Greenland Seas, a magnetic bubble known as the cusp surrounds Earth and dips inward. Some air in the cusp is unusually dense, and the CREX-2 mission aims to understand why.
Strange things happen in Earth's atmosphere at high latitudes. Around local noon, when the Sun is at its highest point, a funnel-shaped gap in our planet's magnetic field passes overhead. Earth's magnetic field shields us from the solar wind, the stream of charged particles spewing off the Sun. The gap in that field, called the polar cusp, allows the solar wind a direct line of access to Earth's atmosphere.

Radio and GPS signals behave strangely when they travel through this part of the sky. In the last 20 years, scientists and spacecraft operators noticed something else unusual as spacecraft pass through this region: They slow down.

"At around 250 miles above Earth, spacecraft feel more drag, sort of like they've hit a speed bump," said Mark Conde, a physicist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the principal investigator for NASA's Cusp Region Experiment-2, or CREX-2, sounding rocket mission. That's because the air in the cusp is noticeably denser than air elsewhere in the spacecrafts' orbits around Earth. But no one knows why, or how. By understanding the forces at play in the cusp, scientists hope to better anticipate changes in spacecraft trajectories.

The CREX-2 payload was successfully launched at 3:25 a.m. EST on December 1, 2021, from the Andøya Space Center in Norway. The four-stage Oriole IV sounding rocket carried the payload to an apogee of 392 miles. Preliminary reports are that the flight was successful and the ampules carrying the vapors performed as planned. Good data was received including data from the vapor imaging team.


China's lunar rover spots cube-shaped 'mystery hut' on far side of the moon

It's likely a large boulder excavated by an ancient lunar impact.
Cube Shaped Lunar Object
© CNSA/Our Space
An image from China's Yutu 2 showing a cube-shaped object on the horizon on the far side of the moon.
China's Yutu 2 rover has spotted a mystery object on the horizon while working its way across Von Kármán crater on the far side of the moon.

Yutu 2 spotted a cube-shaped object on the horizon to the north and roughly 260 feet (80 meters) away in November during the mission's 36th lunar day, according to a Yutu 2 diary published by Our Space, a Chinese language science outreach channel affiliated with the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Our Space referred to the object as a "mystery hut" (神秘小屋/shenmi xiaowu), but this a placeholder name rather than an accurate description.

Team scientists have expressed a strong interest in the object and Yutu 2 is now expected to spend the next 2-3 lunar days (2-3 Earth months) traversing lunar regolith and avoiding craters to get a closer look, so updates can be expected.

A likely explanation for the shape would be a large boulder which has been excavated by an impact event.

Better Earth

"Really rare" moon double halo with arcs photographed during lunar eclipse in Arizona

moon triple halo
© Eliot Herman/ Flickr
Eliot Herman took this image of a rare moon halo and associated phenomena during the partial lunar eclipse of November 19, 2021. In this photo you can see a circumscribed halo, a paraselenic circle (the lunar equivalent of a parhelic circle) and Parry arc. Eliot Herman wrote on Flickr: "This is another version of this photo resulting from stacking 11 images together to create a more vivid version of the above single image. This is a total of 3 min 40 sec of imaging." Thank you, Eliot!
Eliot Herman in Tucson, Arizona - a veteran sky photographer and EarthSky community member - captured this extraordinary photo during the partial lunar eclipse on November 19, 2021. The photo of the moon shows an all-sky overhead view with one bright ring centered around the moon, a second ring that runs through the moon, and a set of arcs that connect the two. It's incredibly rare to have all three phenomena appear together in one photo in this configuration.

Comment: It's notable that the above is thought to be due to ice crystals forming in the atmosphere, because a variety of other related phenomena are on the rise and seem to further confirm that, as we enter a "grand" solar minimum, conditions on our planet are significantly cooling : And check out SOTT radio's:


Superb show of Northern Lights in Iceland

Northern Lights
© Donatas Arlauskas
The northern lights usually appear without notice, but before last weekend, we knew a show was in the making. Iceland's expert on stars, Sævar Helgi Bragason, told reporters Friday night that due to a powerful solar flare which occurred Thursday, an impressive show of northern lights could be expected Saturday night.

"A solar flare," he explained to mbl.is , "is in fact an explosion in the sun, where energy is released, usually in the form of a flare of light. This particular flare was, however, accompanied by a gush of particles from the sun called solar wind." He explained that once the solar wind hit the earth, northern lights would adorn the sky.

Arrow Up

Over a thousand cosmic explosions in 47 days detected by FAST

An international research team led by Prof. LI Di and Dr. WANG Pei from National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) caught an extreme episode of cosmic explosions from Fast Radio Burst (FRB) 121102, using the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST). A total of 1,652 independent bursts were detected within 47 days starting Aug. 29, 2019 (UT).
Fast Radio Burst
Fig. 1 FAST catches a real pulse from FRB 121102.
It is the largest set of FRB events so far, more than the number reported in all other publications combined. Such a burst set allows for the determination, for the first time, of the characteristic energy and energy distribution of any FRB, thus shedding light on the central engine powering FRBs.

These results were published in Nature on Oct. 13, 2021 (US Eastern Time).

FRBs were first detected in 2007. These cosmic explosions can be as short as one-thousandth of a second while producing one year's worth of the Sun's total energy output. The origin of FRBs is still unknown. Although even aliens have been considered in models for FRBs, natural causes are clearly favored by the observations. The recent focuses include exotic hyper-magnetized neutron stars, black holes, and cosmic strings left over from the Big Bang.

Comet 2

The mega-comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein will get as close as Saturn in 2031

Comet Comparison
© Will Gater. Used by permission.
A graphic comparing the size of Comet 2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein) to other solar system objects.
A mega-comet - potentially the largest ever discovered - is heading from the Oort Cloud towards our direction. Estimated to be 100-200 kilometers across, the unusual celestial wanderer will make its closest approach to the Sun in 2031. However, the closest it will come to Earth is to the orbit of Saturn.

Astronomers say Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein (C/2014 UN271) could be the largest member of the Oort Cloud ever detected, and it is the first comet on an incoming path to be detected so far away.

The graphic above, by astronomer Will Gater compares the size of the comet to other Solar System objects.

The comet was discovered Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein, from the University of Pennsylvania earlier this year. They were scouring through data from the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope in Chile. They found data of this object that was originally collected from 2014-2018, which did not show a typical comet tail, and the object was therefore thought to be a dwarf planet.

But within a day of the announcement of its discovery via the Minor Planet Center, astronomers using the Las Cumbres Observatory network took new images which revealed that it has grown a coma in the past 3 years, and that it was rapidly moving rapidly through the Oort Cloud. The object was then officially classified as a comet.


Surprising stillness ensues when the solar wind hits Earth's magnetosphere

Energy from the solar wind interacting with the magnetospheric 'bubble' around Earth creates waves of energy that appear to stand still.
boundary of Earth's magnetic bubble

This new finding, from research led by Imperial scientists, improves our understanding of the conditions around Earth that contribute to 'space weather', which can impact our technology from communications satellites in orbit to power lines on the ground.

The Sun releases a stream of charged particles called the solar wind. On the Earth's surface, we are protected from this barrage by the magnetosphere - a bubble created by the Earth's magnetic field.

When the solar wind hits the magnetosphere, waves of energy are transferred along the boundary between the two. Scientists thought the waves should ripple in the direction of the solar wind, but the new study, published today in Nature Communications, reveals some waves do just the opposite.


Adapt 2030 Ice Age Report: Changes hidden in plain sight

ice ice
Largest electric jet ever sighted in Puerto Rico resembling canyon wall petroglyphs. Northern Hemisphere melt season comes to an end with Greenland and Arctic sea ice levels well above lows experienced in the early 2000's. Antarctic sea ice above average all S. Hemisphere winter. China's corn imports up 221%, early onset of record cols and snow N. Hemisphere.


Comet 2

New Comet P/2021 Q5 (ATLAS)

CBET 5029 & MPEC 2021-R98 , issued on 2021, September 06, announce the discovery of a new comet (magnitude ~17) on CCD images taken on August 29.6 UT with a 0.5-m f/2 Schmidt reflector at Haleakala, Hawaii, in the course of the "Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System" (ATLAS) search program. The new comet has been designated P/2021 Q5 (ATLAS).

Stacking of 58 unfiltered exposures, 30 seconds each, obtained remotely on 2021, September 03.1 from G18 (ALMO Observatory, Italy) through a 0.30-m f/4 reflector + CCD, shows that this object is a comet with a compact coma about 8" arcsec in diameter and a tail 10" long in PA 270 (Observers A. Valvasori & E. Guido).

Our confirmation image (click on the images for a bigger version; made with TYCHO software by D. Parrott)
Comet P/2021 Q5 (ATLAS)
© Remanzacco Blogspot