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annarita ruberto
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Spectacular Ribbons of Gas and Dust around the Pearly Centre of NGC 1398

The barred spiral galaxy NGC 1398 is located in the constellation of Fornax (The Furnace), approximately 65 million light-years away. This means the light we see today left this galaxy when dinosaurs were disappearing from the Earth.

Rather than beginning at the very middle of the galaxy and swirling outwards, NGC 1398’s graceful spiral arms stem from a straight bar, formed of stars, that cuts through the galaxy’s central region. Most spiral galaxies — around two thirds — are observed to have this feature, but it’s not yet clear whether or how these bars affect a galaxy’s behaviour and development.
In summary, this spiral galaxy not only has a ring of pearly stars, gas and dust around its center, but a bar of stars and gas across its center, and spiral arms that appear like ribbons farther out.

The ring near the center is likely an expanding density wave of star formation, caused either by a gravitational encounter with another galaxy, or by the galaxy's own gravitational asymmetries.

NGC 1398, with a diameter of 135,000 light years, is slightly larger than the Milky Way. Over 100 billion stars are in the galaxy. It was first discovered by Friedrich Winnecke of Karlsruhe, Germany, on 17 December 1868, while he was searching for comets.

Image Credit: European Southern Observatory

Further reading and references

► Ribbons and Pearls of Spiral Galaxy NGC 1398 >>

► Ribbons and pearls>>

► The Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1398 and Its Pattern Speed>>

► Density wave theory>>

► NGC 1398>>

#Universe #NGC1398 #Astronomy #SpiralGalaxies
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Astrophysicists Discover Planets beyond the Milky Way Galaxy

A University of Oklahoma astrophysics team has discovered for the first time a population of planets beyond the Milky Way galaxy. Using microlensing—an astronomical phenomenon and the only known method capable of discovering planets at truly great distances from the Earth among other detection techniques—OU researchers were able to detect objects in extragalactic galaxies that range from the mass of the Moon to the mass of Jupiter.

In effect, over the past two decades, it has been established that planets are ubiquitous in the Milky Way galaxy. Extrapolating to the extragalactic regime, researchers hypothesize that planets are common in external galaxies as well. However, they affirm we lack the observational techniques to test this hypothesis, because, compared to their Galactic brethren, extragalactic planets are much farther away and much more difficult to separate from the host stars/galaxies.
Just as gravitational microlensing provides a unique tool to detect planets in the Galaxy, it can also provide the capability to detect planets in extragalactic galaxies, by combining microlensing and a galaxy scale gravitational lens.

In this study, researchers are interested in quasar-galaxy strong lensing systems, where a background quasar is gravitationally lensed by a foreground galaxy and multiple images of the quasar form.
Light from these quasar images crosses different locations of the foreground galaxy, and is further lensed by nearby stars in the region in the lens galaxy. This effect is called quasar microlensing, and has been used extensively to measure the structure of the quasar accretion disk around the supermassive black hole (SMBH) at the center and the properties of mass distributions in the lens galaxy.
As we probe smaller and smaller emission regions of the accretion disk close to the event horizon of the SMBH, the gravitational fields of planets in the lensing galaxy start to contribute to the overall gravitational lensing effect, providing us with an opportunity to probe planets in extragalactic galaxies.

In summary, in this study researchers have shown that quasar microlensing can probe planets, especially the unbound ones, in extragalactic galaxies, by studying the microlensing behavior of emission very close to the inner most stable circular orbit of the super-massive black hole of the source quasar.

Here is the paper's abstract:
"Previously, planets have been detected only in the Milky Way galaxy. Here, we show that quasar microlensing provides a means to probe extragalactic planets in the lens galaxy, by studying the microlensing properties of emission close to the event horizon of the supermassive black hole of the background quasar, using the current generation telescopes. We show that a population of unbound planets between stars with masses ranging from Moon to Jupiter masses is needed to explain the frequent Fe Kα line energy shifts observed in the gravitationally lensed quasar RXJ 1131–1231 at a lens redshift of z = 0.295 or 3.8 billion lt-yr away. We constrain the planet mass-fraction to be larger than 0.0001 of the halo mass, which is equivalent to 2000 objects ranging from Moon to Jupiter mass per main-sequence star."

► The preprint version of the study "Probing Planets in Extragalactic Galaxies Using Quasar Microlensing" at arXiv>>

Image of the gravitational lens RX J1131-1231 galaxy with the lens galaxy at the center and four lensed background quasars. It is estimated that there are trillions of planets in the center elliptical galaxy in this image.
Credit: University of Oklahoma

► Read the article "OU Astrophysicists Discover Planets in Extragalactic Galaxies" at OU Public Affairs >>

#Astrophysics #QuasarMicrolensing #ExtragalacticPlanets #Research
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Geometric Animations / 171031

This is an interesting creation from Daily Art, a visual designer and artist living in London.
She started the master in Computational Arts at Goldsmiths September 2016.

She has a Tumblr blog, where shows her experiments with Generative Design and Animations. She loves exploring more coding and playing around with it to create visual art.

She makes something everyday since January 1, 2015.
At this link, you can read some information how she does things. >>

#Gif, #Processing, #CreativeCoding, #Animation, #Everyday, #Geometry
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A Rapid Eye Movement Test That Could Help Diagnose Autism Disorders

Neuroscientists at the University of Rochester have masterminded a rapid eye movement test that can detect abnormalities in the cerebellum (Latin for "little brain") that also appear to be a marker for certain autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Their paper, "Eye Movements, Sensorimotor Adaptation and Cerebellar-Dependent Learning in Autism: Toward Potential Biomarkers and Subphenotypes," was published online July 12, 2017 in the European Journal of Neuroscience. >>

In a series of experiments, the authors of this study had individuals with and without ASD track a visual target as it zoomed around to different locations on a screen. As participants' eyes darted across the screen chasing a target, the researchers were tracking their rapid eye movements (also known as "saccades"). Saccades are the synchronized rapid movements both eyes make as your gaze and attention quickly shifts from one point of focus to another.

“These finding suggest that assessing the ability of people to adapt saccade amplitudes is one way to determine whether this function of the cerebellum is altered in ASD,” said Edward Freedman, Ph.D. an associate professor in the URMC Department of Neuroscience and co-author of the study.
“If these deficits do turn out to be a consistent finding in a sub-group of children with ASD, this raises the possibility that saccade adaptation measures may have utility as a method that will allow early detection of this disorder.”

► Learn more>>

► Image credit: 8thstar/CC 3.0>>

#Neuroscience; #Adaptation; #Autism; #Cerebellum; #Saccades
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Galaxy Wars: M81 versus M82

This picture was shared by APoD on February 3, 2016 along with the following text:

"In the lower left corner, surrounded by blue spiral arms, is spiral galaxy M81. In the upper right corner, marked by red gas and dust clouds, is irregular galaxy M82. This stunning vista shows these two mammoth galaxies locked in gravitational combat, as they have been for the past billion years. The gravity from each galaxy dramatically affects the other during each hundred million-year pass. Last go-round, M82's gravity likely raised density waves rippling around M81, resulting in the richness of M81's spiral arms. But M81 left M82 with violent star forming regions and colliding gas clouds so energetic the galaxy glows in X-rays. This big battle is seen from Earth through the faint glow of an Integrated Flux Nebula, a little studied complex of diffuse gas and dust clouds in our Milky Way Galaxy. In a few billion years only one galaxy will remain."

► Source>>
Image Credit & Copyright: André van der Hoeven, Neil Fleming & Michael Van Doorn

M81 or Messier 81 (also known as NGC 3031 or Bode's Galaxy) in Ursa Major is one of the most conspicuous galaxies in the sky, and one of the nearest beyond the Local Group.
It's one of the easiest and most rewarding galaxies to observe for the amateur astronomer on the northern hemisphere, because with its total visual brightness of about 6.8 magnitudes it can be found with small instruments. Anyway, M81 is pretty hard to find because it is located far from any handy reference stars.
It is an example of a starburst galaxy undergoing a period of rapid star formation. Even in a small telescope it looks disturbed, and in larger instruments it is highly mottled with several bright knots visible.

Messier 81 is the largest galaxy in the M81 Group, a group of 34 galaxies located in the constellation Ursa Major. At approximately 11.7 Mly (3.6 Mpc) from the Earth, it makes this group and the Local Group, containing the Milky Way, relative neighbors in the Virgo Supercluster.

A few tens of million years ago, which is semi-recently on the cosmic time scale, a close encounter occurred between the galaxies M81 and M82 (also known as NGC 3034, Cigar Galaxy or M82) . During this event, larger and more massive M81 has dramatically deformed M82 by gravitational interaction. The encounter has also left traces in the spiral pattern of the brighter and larger galaxy M81, first making it overall more pronounced, and second in the form of the dark linear feature in the lower left of the nuclear region. The galaxies are still close together, their centers separated by a linear distance of only about 150,000 light years.

As the closest starburst galaxy to Earth, M82 is the prototypical example of this galaxy type. SN 2014J, a type Ia supernova, was discovered in the galaxy on 21 January 2014.
In 2014, in studying M82, scientists discovered the brightest pulsar yet known, designated M82 X-2.

Furthermore, on Sunday, March 28, 1993, a type II supernova (1993J) occured in M81, which was discovered by the Spanish amateur astronomer Francisco Garcia Diaz from Lugo (Spain), and reached a brightness of about mag 10.5 in its maximum. The remnant of this supernova was imaged in the radio light at 3.6 cm wavelength from roughly six to 18 months after the explosion, with a global Very Long Baseline Interferometer (VLBI) array of radio telescopes in Europe and North America.

Further reading and references

► M81 and M82 – Galaxies in Ursa Major>>

► Messier 81>>

► Messier 81>>

► Messier 82>>

► M82: Galaxy with a Supergalactic Wind >>

► M81 and M82 bathed in Integrated Flux Nebula>>

► M82:
Chandra Images Seething Cauldron of Starburst Galaxy>>

► Spiral Galaxies in Collision >>

► Supernova 1993J in M81>>

► The Remnant of Supernova 1993J in M81>>

#Universe, #M81, #M82, #CollidingGalaxies, #Astronomy, #Astrophysics
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Borromean Rings

This is the last creation from Matthen>>

He writes: "These three loops cannot be taken apart, but if you remove any one of them the other two will be disconnected. When any two loops are pulled apart, it’s clear that the other loop is the only thing keeping them together. These are called Borromean rings."

In Mathematics, the Borromean rings are three mutually interlocked rings. In them, no two rings are linked, so if any one of the rings is cut, all three rings fall apart.

In other words, the Borromean rings consist of three topological circles which are linked and form a Brunnian link, i.e., removing any ring results in two unlinked rings.

The name Borromean comes from the aristocratic Borromeo family of Renaissance Italy, who used them as their family "crest".
Near Arona in northern Italy, the Borromeo family own three islands in Lake Maggiore: Isola Bella, Isola Madre, and Isola Superiore. Isola Bella contains an impressive Baroque palazzo built in the seventeenth century by Vitaliano Borromeo (1620-1690). There are many examples of the famous emblem in the house and the garden.

B.Lindström and H.O.Zetterström proved that "Borromean circles are impossible": three flat circles cannot construct them, but by triangles they can. The Australian sculptor J.Robinson assembled three flat hollow triangles to form a structure (called Intuition), topologically equivalent to Borromean rings. Their cardboard model collapses under its own weight, to form a planar pattern (Read>>

The IMU (International Mathematical Union) logo design is based on the Borromean rings too>>

The International Mathematical Union (IMU) has adopted the new logo, as announced on 22 August 2006 at the opening ceremony of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM 2006) in Madrid.

The IMU logo- rather than three round circles giving a mathematically impossible construction- uses the tight shape of the Borromean rings, as would be obtained by tying them in rope pulled as tight as possible. Mathematically, this is the length-minimizing configuration of the link subject to the constraint that unit-diameter tubes around the three components stay disjoint.
This problem and its solution are described in the paper Criticality for the Gehring Link Problem by J.Cantarella, J.Fu, R.Kusner, J.Sullivan, N.Wrinkle, Geometry and Topology 10 (2006), pp. 2055–2115, also available at arXiv.>>

A curiosity: Borromean Rings appear in the logo of Ballantine beer.>>

Further reading and references

► A Few of My Favorite Spaces: Borromean Rings>>

► Borromean Rings>>

► Borromean Rings>>

► The Borromean Rings>>

► Brunnian Link>>

► House oof Borromeno>>

#Gifs, #Mathematics, #Mathematica, #BorromeanRings
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Polygon Laps

► Creation from Dave Whyte (Bees&Bombs)>>

David Whyte studied theoretical physics as an undergraduate at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. He went on to get his PhD in physics, studying foams and soap bubbles.

He creates formidable GIFs using an open-source sketchbook software called Processing ( The software uses Processing (the language), which is inspired by BASIC and Logo.

Here is his interesting thesis>>

#Gif, #Processing, #Design, #Polygons, #Geometry
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Study Identifies Brain Circuit Controlling Social Behavior

A new study in Biological Psychiatry identifies specific brain circuit that may lead to social impairments in autism spectrum disorder

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) has been implicated in the pathophysiology of social dysfunction, but the specific circuit partners mediating PFC function in health and disease are unclear.
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is the cerebral cortex which covers the front part of the frontal lobe that is located at the front of the brain.

A new study by researchers at Roche in Basel, Switzerland has identified a key brain region of the neural circuit that controls social behavior. Increasing the activity of this region, called the habenula, led to social problems in rodents, whereas decreasing activity of the region prevented social problems.

More information about habenula

Precisely, the habenula is a pair of small nuclei located above the thalamus at its posterior end close to the midline. It is regarded as part of the epithalamus, which includes the pineal body and the habenula. In many vertebrates, the habenula is divided into the medial habenula (MHb) and the lateral habenula (LHb). The habenula is a phylogenetically well preserved structure that was thought to have evolved in close relation to the pineal body. However, recent studies using behaving animals and human subjects have instead suggested that the habenula is involved in motivational control of behavior. There have been extensive reviews on the neural connections and the functions of the habenula.

The new study

The study, which appears in Biological Psychiatry, suggests that social impairments characteristic of autism spectrum disorder may stem from alteration of activity in this circuit, and that tuning this circuit may help treat the social deficits in the disorder.

“We are excited about this study as it identifies a brain circuit that may play a critical role in social reward, which is affected in autism,” said senior author Dr. Anirvan Ghosh, who was the Head of Neuroscience Research at Roche and now serves as Head of Research and Early Development at Biogen. The findings provide clues as to what may be altered in the brain to lead to neurodevelopmental conditions like autism spectrum disorder.

The findings also have implications for diseases other than autism spectrum disorder, including schizophrenia and depression.

“It is interesting that the circuit implicated in social behavior in this study is also a circuit implicated in the biology of depression,” said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.
“Perhaps this circuit represents a pathway through which disruptions in social relationships contribute to negative mood states and depression.”

► Source>>

► The study "Identification of a Corticohabenular Circuit Regulating Socially Directed Behavior", published in Biological Psychiatry>>

► Image source>>

Further reading and references

► Habenula: Crossroad between the Basal Ganglia and the Limbic System>>

► Prefrontal cortex (PFC)>>

► Cerebral cortex>>

► Habenula>>

► Epithalamus>>

#Neuroscience, #Habenula, #AutismSpectrumDisorder, #SocialBehavior, #Brain, #Research
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Epilepsy and Mood Disorders May Share a Common Genetic Cause, Study Suggests

A relationship between epilepsy and mood disorders, including depression, has been suspected for millennia. Now, for the first time, scientists at Rutgers University–New Brunswick and Columbia University have found evidence that there may be a shared genetic susceptibility to these conditions, expressed only in people with focal epilepsy, in which seizures start in one part of the brain.

In the study, which included 60 families containing multiple individuals with epilepsy, the lifetime prevalence of mood disorders was, in fact, significantly increased in people with focal epilepsy but not in people with generalized epilepsy, in which seizures start in both sides of the brain.
Prevalence of mood disorders was also increased in people with epilepsy who had relatives with focal epilepsy. Among family members who did not have epilepsy, the lifetime prevalence of mood disorders appeared to be higher than in the general population, but this result did not reach statistical significance.

“A number of genes have been found for epilepsy and understanding if these genes also might be causing depression is important,” Gary A. Heiman said. "In particular, more studies should be done to understand the relationship between focal epilepsy and mood disorders."
Gary A. Heiman is an associate professor in the Department of Genetics at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.

Results of the study have been published in the journal Epilepsia.>>

Image: National Institutes of Health

Further reading and references

► Epileptic Seizures and Depression May Share a Common Genetic Cause, Study Suggests>>

► Study Examines Genetic Link Between Epilepsy and Mood Disorders>>

#Neuroscience, #Genetics, #MentalHealth, #Epilepsy, #MoodDisorders, #Brain
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Pascal’s Theorem

Interesting creation from Gábor Damásdi, a Hungarian math student, currently doing his master degree at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. In his free time he likes to draw mathematical stuff like fractals, tillings, tessellations, polyhedrons and so on.
► Learn more about the author>>

This animation refers to Pascal's theorem, also known as the hexagrammum mysticum theorem.

In projective geometry, this theorem states that if six arbitrary points are chosen on a conic (i.e., ellipse, parabola or hyperbola) and joined by line segments in any order to form a hexagon, then the three pairs of opposite sides of the hexagon (extended if necessary) meet in three points which lie on a straight line, called the Pascal line of the hexagon (the red line in the animation below).

This theorem is a generalization of Pappus's (hexagon) theorem that is the special case of a degenerate conic of two lines.

Pascal's theorem- the dual of Brianchon's theorem- was formulated by Blaise Pascal in a note written in 1639 when he was 16 years old and published the following year as a broadside (printing) titled "Essay povr les coniqves. Par B. P."

► Animation source>>

Further reading and references

► Projective Geometry>>

► Pascal’s Theorem>>

► Pappus's hexagon theorem>>

► Degenerate conic>>

► Broadside (printing)>>

► Pascal's Theorem from Wolfram MathWorld>>

► Brianchon's Theorem>>

► Duality (projective geometry)>>

#mathematics, #art, #PascalTheorem, #processing, #symmetry, #geometry, #circle
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