Astronomers witnessed a supernova in progress, observing jets of material moving at relativistic speeds: up to half the speed of light. Scientist Megan Argo wanted to explain this exciting discovery to the public, so she wrote a Doctor Who story. As the highly technical press release explains, scientists were able to detect "relativistic outflow" in a supernova for the first time, thanks to unprecedented cooperation between radio telescopes using Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). They discovered that one narrow bipolar jet of material was moving at half the speed of light. But Argo, who works at Curtin University, came up with a much cooler way to explain this discovery to the public, the story called "Doctor Who And The Silver Spiral." David Tennant's Doctor, accompanied by Martha, visit this supernova up close and personal, and get caught up in the very same shock wave that astronomers just discovered. Argo does a great job of capturing the Tennant Doctor's verbal tics.
Tag Archives | Universe
A student used the Drake Equation, used to calculate chances of alien life, to prove why he was single. Peter Backus, a native of Seattle and PhD candidate in the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick, near London, took on his own dating woes in "Why I don't have a girlfriend: An application of the Drake Equation to love in the UK." In describing the paper online, he wrote "the results are not encouraging", MyFox reports. "The probability of finding love in the UK is only about 100 times better than the probability of finding intelligent life in our galaxy." Mr Backus, 30, found that of the 30 million women in the UK, only 26 would be suitable girlfriends for him, according to Click Liverpool.
Jesus Diaz writes on Gizmodo:
… Read the rest
For years, astronomers have been puzzled by the fact that our solar system is crossing a cloud of interstellar hell. One that shouldn’t be there at all. Intergalactic plot to keep us isolated or cosmic event? Voyager got the answer:
Using data from Voyager, we have discovered a strong magnetic field just outside the solar system. This magnetic field holds the interstellar cloud together — “The Fluff” — and solves the long-standing puzzle of how it can exist at all.
The Fluff is much more strongly magnetized than anyone had previously suspected. This magnetic field can provide the extra pressure required to resist destruction.
The Voyagers are not actually inside the Local Fluff. But they are getting close and can sense what the cloud is like as they approach it.
At least, that’s what NASA’s Heliophysics Guest Investigator from George Mason University Merav Opher says in the December 24 issue of Nature.
The death throes of one of the biggest stars known to science have been spied by Europe's Herschel space telescope. The observatory, launched in May, has subjected VY Canis Majoris, to a detailed spectroscopic analysis. It has allowed Herschel to identify the different types of molecules and atoms that swirl away from the star which is 20–25 times as massive as our Sun. VY Canis Majoris is some 4,500 light-years from Earth and it could be seen to explode as a supernova at any time. It is colossal. If VY Canis Majoris were sited at the centre of our Solar System, its surface would extend out towards the orbit of Saturn. The star, in the constellation Canis Major, has been recorded by astronomers for at least 200 years...
Are we the lone sentient life in the universe? So far, we have no evidence to the contrary, and yet the odds that not one single other planet has evolved intelligent life would appear, from a statistical standpoint, to be quite small. There are an estimated 250 billion (2.5 x 10¹¹) stars in the Milky Way alone, and over 70 sextillion (7 x 10²²) in the visible universe, and many of them are surrounded by multiple planets. Meanwhile, our 4.5 billion-year old Solar System exists in a universe that is estimated to be between 13.5 and 14 billion years old. Experts believe that there could be advanced civilizations out there that have existed for 1.8 gigayears (one gigayear = one billion years). The odds of there being only one single planet that evolved life among all that unfathomable vastness seems so incredible that it is all but completely irrational to believe. But then "where are they?" asked physicist Enrico Fermi while having lunch with his colleagues in 1950...