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If the instantaneous, sublimed gaseous metallicity of a single comet is enough to dim its progenitor star, then couldn't the reverse be true as well: metallicity 'snowed out' (sequestered) into the solid state of icy chondrules might cloak molecular clouds, rendering them dark (matter)?
From Ron Baalke to Minor Planet Mailing List.

Strange Star Likely Swarmed by Comets
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
November 24, 2015
New clues emerge in the mystery of a star with odd light patterns.
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Red Flag theories requiring secondary ad hoc mechanisms

The simplest theory (with no fortuitous ad hoc secondary mechanisms) is often right, and this article requires more than one fortuitous ad hoc secondary mechanism.  Why are ad hoc secondary mechanisms red flags for failing theories?, "because one can always burden failing explanations with ad hoc hypothesis to prevent them from being falsified" (Occam's razor, Wikipedia).

I propose we have things exactly backwards, that Earth formed by gravitational instability from a gravitationally-bound mass that fragmented twice (due to excess angular momentum), forming triple-planet Earth, the larger binary pair of which spiraled in to merge about 60 million years later, squirting out core material in polar jets that condensed into enstatite chondrites, explaining both the isotopic similarity and the elevated magnesium from the mantle, as well as the depleted lithophile crustal elements.

In this alternative primary predictive mechanism, binary spiral-in merger core material doesn't require secondary ad hoc impacts to disappear the silicaceous crust to explain away the chemical differences of enstatite chondrites and it explains their young age, some 60+ million years younger than most other chondrites, and double fragmentation during gravitational instability doesn't require an ad hoc Mars sized impact at a fortuitous speed and angle to form the Moon, only the correct specific angular momentum in the collapsing cloud.
................................... 87Rb-87Sr chronology of enstatite meteorites

"A87Rb-87Sr analysis of some enstatite meteorites has been made. Whole rocks plot on an isochron of age 4.508 ± 0.037b.y."
Earth's chemical composition is drastically different from that of the rocks that helped to form the planet. Now, scientists think they may know why: The constant pummeling that formed Earth may have altered its composition.
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I hope this skewers the meat industry the way they skewer innocent animals.  The meat industry is where the cigarette industry was in the 1960s: obstinate.  Next we need lawsuits.
Processed meats - such as bacon, sausages and ham - do cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)
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I suppose I am being Darwinian .  The torture of animals sickens me ,   but so does a lack of meat .
Some people seem to be able to function as vegans and flourish doing so. Others cannot do this , it seems.
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The clearest description I've seen of the early universe.
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When you exponentiate the imaginary number it goes around in a circle.
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The shape gives it away:

What if macroscopic euhedral, almandine garnet crystals in schist and quartzite (in the absence of other pegmatites) are due to their spherical symmetry, whereby almandine garnets grow by crystallization in aqueous suspension over hot hydrothermal vents (trapped by the Bernoulli effect on their nearly-spherical shapes) in the microgravity of Kuiper belt object (KBO) internal oceans over authigenic gneiss-dome cores, mantled by concentric layers of authigenic hydrothermal quartzite, carbonate rock and schist?

Also isometric spessartine in schist:

Also isometric andradite in schist:

Also isometric uvarovite in schist:
Almandine Locality: Biotite Crystal Prospect, Topsham, Sagadahoc County, Maine, USA Size: small cabinet, 8 x 6 x 4 cm Almandine Garnet These garnets, rare from the locale, are razor sharp and stereotypic exmaples of the species. This piece features several...
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Bok globules are more efficient at condensing stars than astrophysicists:

Problem: Why are low-mass stars expelled from star clusters containing younger larger Herbig–Haro–object protostars?

Gee, that fits exactly with my alternative ideology that small stars are the progenitors of the largest stars in any star cluster (formed from the same Bok globule).  (Proviso: higher mass stars evolve faster than small stars, so the larger younger progeny may still overtake their smaller, older progenitors in the race to the main sequence.)

In a collapsing cloud, the greatest hang up is angular momentum, which astrophysicists attempt to dissipate with their favorite go-to mechanism of 'gradualism', which I suggest is the primary stumbling block of cosmology (galaxy formation, star formation and dark matter), planetary science (planet, comet and minor planet formation) and geology (particularly gneiss domes and granite plutons).  NATURE CHOOSES CATASTROPHISM OVER GRADUALISM.

'Flip-flop–fragmentation' (TRADING PLACES):
The fastest and most efficient means of getting rid of angular momentum is to fragment a vastly-larger circumferential accretion disk (supported by angular momentum), surrounding a smaller progenitor 'second core', by 'flip-flopping' or TRADING PLACES  with it.  So rather than gradually transferring the angular momentum outward by viscous friction by the inefficient astrophysicist method, resulting in a slow, steady infall of gas, the massive toroidal-shaped disk suddenly 'fragments', catastrophically coalescing into a single mass which centrifugally displaces the smaller progenitor core into a satellite status to become the next-generation stellar core.  (Effectively, flip-flop fragmentation creates successive stellar generations composed of bigger and bigger Baby Hueys).

So the older, smaller progenitor stars are given an angular momentum boost by their larger younger progeny in the stellar formation mechanism I designate, 'flip-flop–fragmentation'.
The dynamic (and messy) process of star birth

A new Gemini Observatory image reveals the remarkable “fireworks” that accompany the birth of stars. The image captures in unprecedented clarity the fascinating structures of a gas jet complex emanating from a stellar nursery at supersonic speeds. The striking new image hints at the dynamic (and messy) process of star birth. Researchers believe they have also found a collection of runaway (orphan) stars that result from all this activity.

Full story here:

More on Herbig–Haro (HH) objects

More on stellar kinematics:

Image credit: The HH 24 jet complex emanates from a dense cloud core that hosts a small multiple protostellar system known as SSV63. The nebulous star to the south is the visible T Tauri star SSV59. Gemini Observatory/AURA/B. Reipurth, C. Aspin, T. Rector

#science #astronomy #astrophysics  #herbigharoobject #starbirth  #starformation #hh24   #space  
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A Critique and Alternative to Dinosaur Dark Matter:

At best, supersymmetry (SUSY) DM requires reworking the standard model of particle physics and at worst, it introduces a new self-interacting long-range fifth force.  On the other hand, this would be tremendously exciting if it provides a hint to the way forward beyond the standard model.

Yet, despite the failure of CERN and Xenon detectors to create or detect WIMPs, the tide has apparently turned against alternative ideology, creating near consensus for a model that requires fine tuning or secondary mechanisms to explain the absence of a theoretical cusp in galactic bulges, and as in dinosaur DM, requiring one or more new (self-interacting) forces of nature.

Additionally, ΛCDM is fraying a little in the early epochs, with the discovery of supermassive black hole powered quasars prior to z = 6, which has engendered a recent flurry of papers on direct collapse, intermediate-mass, black  hole formation as seeds for supermassive black holes, in order to prevent the falsification of galaxy formation by gravitational coalescence.  Additionally, how does gravitational coalescence of dwarf spheroidal galaxies, with zero average angular momentum result in the typical specific angular momentum of spiral galaxies?

A better ideology would predict and even require 
1) early spiral galaxies, 
2) cusp-free DM, and 
3) no extension to the standard model of particle physics, 
and I think there's an ideology that does just that: Condensation Sequestration.

2) Oort cloud comets are effectively dark because their luminous stellar metallicity is sequestered by solid condensation, whereas if the Oort cloud content were gaseous, we'd be lucky to see the closest stars in visible light.  But since most of the universe is hydrogen and helium, baryonic DM would have to take the form of gravitationally-bound giant molecular clouds (GMCs) with their luminous stellar metallicity 'snowed out' frozen into icy chondrules, rendering the gaseous molecular hydrogen and helium at circa 10 K virtually invisible.  Then DM GMCs on steeply-inclined orbits to the galactic plane would be the 'normal state' of GMCs, with familiar, opaque GMCs in low-inclination orbits as an atypical 'excited state', due to sublimation of icy chondrules by stellar radiation.  So if DM GMCs convert to stars in regions of high stellar radiation (i.e. globular clusters, galactic bulges) then baryonic DM predicts the absence of cuspy DM.

1), 3) Then to accommodate the observed deuterium to protium ratio established during the epoch of Big Bang nucleosynthesis, helium-fission (photodissociation) mediated isothermal collapse in early baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO) during the epoch would have sequestered some 4/5 of the baryons into gravitationally-bound proto-spiral-galaxies, complete with supermassive black holes to achieve the effective (intergalactic) baryon density observed in the universe.  Then 'BBN rebound' within warmer proto-galaxies merely extended the epoch at the EXACT same conditions regulated by the nucleosynthesis reaction, yielding the EXACT same deuterium to protium ratios within proto-galaxies.  And the asymmetry of fractional condensation of early BAO compressions during the epoch of BBN would have granted asymmetry to condensed spiral galaxies which is suggested to have taken the form of specific angular momentum of their spiral structure.

So a baryonic DM ideology would suggest an relative absence of dinosaur DM in the galactic plane.
- Stars above 250 solar masses today are calculated to create direct-collapse black holes with no supernovae due to photodissociation-mediated exothermal collapse, in the similar way as endothermic assisted condensation of proto-spiral-galaxies with SMBHs is suggested to have occurred in the epoch of BBN
- Deuterium burning nucleosynthesis regulates the core temperature of brown dwarfs to supergiant protostars to 1 million Kelvins, regardless of the overlying mass in a similar way as 'BBN rebound' in proto-spiral-galaxies is suggested to have occurred at the exact same conditions as (intergalactic) 'primary BBN'.
- Intergalactic baryons do indeed accrete to form dwarf (spheroidal) galaxies by gravitational coalescence as envisioned by ΛCDM cosmology, but spiral galaxies (and merged spiral ellipticals) formed by condensation.
The invisible stuff that comprises a quarter of the universe could be more complex that previously thought.
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Axis of Evil—the suggested signal from baryonic dark matter at low CMB multipoles, sequestered into proto-spiral-galaxies in the epoch of Big Bang nucleosynthesis (BBN):

While unassisted gravitational collapse can only occur after the universe becomes matter (vs. radiation) dominated around z = 2740 (and then only at the horizon size), this ideology suggests assisted (nearly-isothermal) collapse, mediated by endothermic helium fission in the epoch of Big Bang nucleosynthesis, with supermassive black hole formation as a latching mechanism, preventing thermal rebound, forming gravitationally-bound 'proto-spiral-galaxies' which were sequestered from participation in the early, intergalactic 'Primary BBN Subperiod' which set the /hydrogen (D/H) ratio.  Warmer proto-spiral-galaxies merely extended the epoch with a delayed, late, secondary, Proto-spiral-galaxy 'BBN Rebound Subperiod', which unfolded at EXACTLY the same temperature, pressure, local baryon density and local photon-to-baryon ratio, creating EXACTLY the same D/H ratio.

And assisted gravitational collapse BBN would have been in the form of early baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO) at low multipoles in today's universe.

And baryons sequestered into warmer proto-spiral-galaxies did not participate in the early, 'Primary Recombination Subperiod', at the effective intergalactic baryon density of the universe.  Preexisting sequestration into proto-spiral-galaxies effectively extended the epoch of recombination, creating a late, secondary 'Proto-spiral-galaxy recombination Subperiod', which is superimposed over the Primary Recombination Subperiod CMB.  And since the CMB photon density today has nothing to do with the BBN photon-to-baryon ratio, we could be overlooking 4/5 of the dark matter baryons of the universe.

Dark matter:
- Epoch of recombination:
So in a baryonic dark matter scenario, recombination promoted a second period of gravitational collapse, condensing the universe into circa 105 – 106 M⊙ gravitationally-bound nebulae, which progressed from first condensing the cooler intergalactic continuum to condensing the warmer proto-spiral-galactic continuum, forming Population III stars in their cores which thermally rebounded (predominantly) in pair-instability supernovae, creating no stellar remnants, only Population III nucleosynthesis contamination.
- Epoch of reionization:
By about 150 million years after the Big Bang, sufficient atomic hydrogen had reacted to form molecular hydrogen (H2) to allow for H2 radiative cooling down to about 200 K, promoting a new round of gravitational collapse of circa 105 – 106 M⊙ nebulae into 100+ M⊙ gravitationally-bound (Bok) globules, with nebulae composed of (Bok) globules designated, 'globule clusters'.
- Bok globules are opaque, but they are suggested to come in a dark version, with their luminous stellar metallicity 'snowed out' into icy chondrules, leaving the remaining gaseous H2 & He as nearly invisible above Lyman-Werner frequencies (11.2 to 13.6 eV) which dissociate H2.
- So the vast majority of globule clusters in the Milky Way are in their invisible dark matter 'normal state' on steeply-inclined halo orbits, with an infinitesimally small fraction on shallow halo orbits exposed to higher doses of stellar radiation, which are in the process of 'decloaking', as their icy chondrules are sublimed, creating opaque, gaseous stellar metallicity.  And gaseous stellar metallicity lowers the speed of sound through dark cores in opaque Bok globules, promoting Jeans instability, condensing opaque globule clusters  in their luminous 'excited state' (known as giant molecular clouds) into star clusters.
- Intergalactic nebulae (which condensed into globule clusters) form the cosmic intergalactic web of dark matter, which formed into dwarf galaxies at densified nodes by gradual ΛCDM-like coalescence, so 4/5 of the universe condensed by punctuated equilibrium into spiral galaxies, while 1/5 coalesced into dwarf galaxies (and an invisible intergalactic cosmic web) by gradualism.

At first glance, the
Early-proto-galaxy-sequestration-ratio = Late-dark-matter-sequestration-ratio = 4/5
appears to be a BIG COINCIDENCE (nature hates coincidence), until we recall the 'missing baryon problem', wherein almost half of the supposed baryon density of the universe can't be located, suggesting that the actual dark matter to luminous matter ratio may be closer to 10:1 in today's universe.
The CMB Axis of Evil and the Nature of Randomness

This Halloween, +Nature News & Comment  released an article titled Zombie Physics: 6 Baffling Results that Just Won’t Die. It’s a fun article describing several mysteries in physics whose solution sits in a sort of limbo.

For fun, I figured, I’d explain some of these mysteries, and give my opinion about possible solutions. I'll tag them under #ZombiePhysics .  First, I’m going to discuss the CMB Axis of Evil, a strange pattern in the leftover radiation from the Big Bang.

(Those of you who wish to read my post in blog form can do so here:

A Much-Too-Short Summary of Cosmic Inflation and the CMB

About 13.8 billion years ago, the universe was extremely hot, so hot that matter couldn’t form at all… it was just a chaotic soup of charged particles. Hot things (and accelerating charges) glow. And this hot soup was glowing incredibly brightly. As time passed, the universe expanded and cooled, but this glow remained, bathing all of time and space in light.

(The reason for why the universe was so hot in the first place depends on whether cosmic inflation is true. Either it’s because the Big Bang just happened or it’s because, after cosmic inflation, a particle called the inflaton dumped all of its energy into creating hot matter.)

Even today, the glow remains, filling the universe. As the universe expanded, the glow dimmed and its light changed colors (due to gravitational redshift, see:, until it became microwaves instead of visible or ultraviolet light. This ubiquitous glow is called the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB [1] for short, and if you turn an old analogue TV to an unused channel, some of the static you hear is CMB radiation picked up by your TV antenna [2].

Since its discovery, the CMB has been one of our most powerful probes of cosmology. It lets us accurately measure how fast the universe is expanding [3], the relative amounts of normal stuff vs dark energy and dark matter [4], how the density of matter fluctuated in the early universe [5], how the Earth is moving relative to the expansion of the universe [6], and much more.

Some parts of the early universe were more dense and some were less, and this translates to slight, random variation in the color of light in the CMB. And in turn, we can translate this into a temperature. The temperature of the CMB is incredibly consistent across the sky. It’s an almost perfect 2.725 Kelvin. However, there are tiny fluctuations relative to this mean, and these reflect the dynamics of the early universe. Figure 2 shows a map of these fluctuations and I describe how this map is attained in my post on BICEP2:

The CMB Axis of Evil

It’s very hard to see in figure 2, but with a little massaging, we can see that many of the fluctuations in the CMB align along a single axis, called the axis of evil, as shown in figure 1. (Formally, the quadrupole and octopole moments of the fluctuations align.) At first glance, is quite strange, because we believe that the fluctuations in the density of the early universe should be randomly distributed in a particular way… and this is exactly the way they are distributed on smaller scales. The mottled look of figure 2 is exactly due to this particular random behaviour of the fluctuations in the CMB.

So what’s going on? There are a couple of possibilities. I’ll go over them and add my opinion (and the scientific consensus or lack thereof).

Errors in Foreground and Modelling

Perhaps the most boring explanation is that we made a mistake when creating the CMB maps like figure 1 and figure 2. As the story of BICEP2 [7] shows, making those maps is very hard. To create them, we have to account for all the other sources of microwave radiation in the universe and carefully remove them from our measurements.

Over time, we’ve gotten incredibly good at this…so good that we can extract all sorts of information about the early universe from the CMB. But that doesn’t mean we’re always right. There could be extra dust in the solar system [8]. Or a confluence of the gravitational pull of distant galaxies on the light of the CMB (called the integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect) could magnify a normal random fluctuation so that it appears significant [9].

(I am really oversimplifying the integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect here. But that’s a story for another time.)

I think errors in foreground modelling could easily account for the axis of evil.

The Universe is a Doughnut or a Sphere

Imagine an ant living on the surface of a doughnut. The ant is so small that the doughnut appears flat to it. As the ant travels forward, it will eventually return to where it started, no matter what direction it travelled. From our perspective, of course, this is because a doughnut wraps around. But to the ant, this would be quite mysterious! Figure 3 shows the doughnut from both our perspective and the ant’s perspective. This is very similar to how if you travel East on the Earth, you eventually return to your starting place.

What if our universe was like the doughnut, but in three dimensions? So if you start going in a direction, say towards Andromeda, and keep going for as long as possible, billions of light years, you would eventually get back to where you started (ignoring of course that the universe is expanding and thus the distance you would have to travel would increase faster than you could travel it).

What if, perhaps we see the same things on both sides of the axis of evil because they are literally the same things and the universe has wrapped around on itself? In the original paper discussing the axis of evil [10], the authors discuss this very possibility. It’s a nice idea, but it can actually be tested by trying to match images of stars and galaxies (and fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background) on opposite sides of the sky to see if they look the same. The results, however, are not favourable. So no one takes this idea very seriously… even though it’s very clever.

Cosmic Variance

This one takes a bit of explanation. So bear with me. First, let’s talk about something called a posteriori statistics.

A Posterioiri Statistics

Imagine a teacher breaks her students into two groups. She tells one group to flip a coin ten times and record the result as a sequence of heads or tails. The group might record, for example,


which would correspond to a string of four tails, then a string of four heads, then one head, and one tail. She tells the other group of students to make up ten coin flips, but try to do so in a way that looks random. The two collections the students return are:




And, masterfully, the teacher immediately picks out the truly random sequence.  Which one is it? How does she do it? The second sequence, TTHHHHTHTH, which looks very structured, is the random one.

The human mind is very good at picking out patterns, and attributes a cause to every pattern it sees. But random numbers, very naturally, randomly in fact, appear to make patterns, even though the pattern doesn’t mean anything. It’s just random noise. The teacher takes advantage of this. She knows her students will avoid creating a sequence that looks too structured, because they don’t think random numbers look like that. But random numbers can easily look like that.

Of course, the probability that precisely the second sequence would emerge is less than one percent. But the emergence of some sequence that looks vaguely like the second sequence is vastly more likely.  You can think of this like finding a cool looking cloud, or Jesus in your morning toast. You see the cool looking cloud and you think “Wow! A cloud that looks like an airplane! What are the odds?” But you should be thinking “Wow! A cloud that looks like an airplane! The odds of me finding a cloud that looks like something interesting are quite high because there are a lot of clouds and a lot of things I think are interesting.”

This sort of thinking is called a posteriori statistics. And in general, it causes mistaken analysis.

The CMB Axis of Evil

So what does this have to do with the CMB? Well, people who study the CMB are well aware of the danger of a posteriori statistics, so they try to avoid thinking in this way. One way to avoid this sort of thinking is to make many many measurements. If you have a huge number of sequences of coin flips, on average, the randomness (or lack thereof) will become manifest.

And this is indeed what we do for most of the cosmic microwave background. The fluctuations on small scales, which give figures 1 and 2 their mottled texture, are numerous and we can do many statistics on them by looking at different areas of the sky.

But the axis of evil is different. It covers almost the whole sky. And we only have one sky to make measurements of! So it’s not possible to do good statistics. The fact that we have only one universe to measure, which we believe emerged from random processes, and that we can’t do statistics on a whole ensemble of universes is called cosmic variance.

And cosmic variance interferes with our ability to avoid a posteriori statistics. It lets us fool ourselves into believing that the way our universe turned out is special, when there may in fact be a multitude of equally probable ways our universe could have been. And it is entirely possible that the axis of evil is one such “fluke.”

It is possible, in principle, to reduce the effects of cosmic variance. If we could move to another position in the universe, we would be able to see a different portion of the CMB (because the light that could have reached us since the CMB was created would come from a different place in the universe). In 1997, Kamionkowski and Loeb [11] suggested using the emissions of distant dust to extrapolate what the CMB looks like to that dust. In principle, it would be possible, but very very hard, to use this trick to test whether or not the axis of evil comes from cosmic variance.

As you may have guessed from the amount of time I devoted to the explanation, I find cosmic variance to be a very compelling cause of the axis of evil.

The Most Likely Story, In My Opinion

So… what do I think is the cause of the axis of evil? The following is my opinion and not rigorous science. But it went something like this. Due to random fluctuations in the way the universe could have been, something that looks like the axis of evil formed in the CMB, but much less significant. This would be the cosmic variance explanation. To this day, the “axis of evil” remains statistically insignificant. But, because our models of cosmic microwave sources and filters look like in the universe and in our solar system are flawed, and because we don’t take the integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect into account, the axis of evil appears much bigger to us than it actually is.

So in my mind the axis is caused both by imperfect experiments and analysis and by the human need to find patterns in everything.


I owe a huge thanks to my friend and colleague, Ryan Westernacher-Schneider, who told me this story last spring and compiled a summary and list of references. Ryan basically wrote this blog post. I just paraphrased and summarized his words.

Further Reading

I’m not the first science writer to cover this material. Both +Ethan Siegel  and +Brian Koberlein  have great articles on it. Check them out:

1. This is Brian Koberlein’s article:

2. This is Ethan Siegal’s:

For those of you interested in reading about the axis of evil in more depth. Here are a few resources.

1. This is the first paper to discuss the axis of evil. It also discusses the possibility that the universe is a doughnut:

2. This paper coined the term “axis of evil.”

3. This paper discusses the possibility of solar-system dust producing the axis of evil:

4. This paper discusses the integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect and how it enhances the axis of evil:

5. This paper proposes a way of reducing cosmic variance:

6. This is the collected published results by the Planck collaboration, which analyses all aspects of the CMB in great depth:


1. You can read the nature article on zombie physics here:

2. I also wrote a post about the Nature article here:

Related Reading

If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy my other posts on cosmology. I wrote a two-part series on the BICEP2 experiment:

1. In the first article, I describe what BICEP2 was claiming to observe:

2. In the second article, I describe how measurements of the CMB are made and what went wrong with BICEP2:

I have three-part series on the early universe:

1. In the first article, I describe the evidence for the Big Bang:

2. In the second article, I describe problems with the Big Bang theory:

3. And in the third article, I describe cosmic inflation and how it fixes the problems we had with the Big Bang:

I have a fun article that describes the cosmic microwave background as the surface of an inside-out star:


#Science #ScienceSunday #ZombiePhysics   #physics #cosmology #CMB #axisofevil +ScienceSunday 
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- Spiral galaxies condensed from (asymmetrical) positive BAO compressions during BBN were gifted with the specific angular momentum, which is not evident in dwarf galaxies formed by ΛCDM-like coalescence, so ΛCDM has difficulty explaining the structure of spiral galaxies.
- There is no 'cuspy halo problem' if globule clusters tend to convert to star clusters in high density regions, like galactic bulges and globular clusters (and in spiral-galaxy-merger giant elliptical galaxies, with their low dark matter content).
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Alternative Kepler-11g (gas-giant) formation mechanism:

Here's a alternative punctuated-equilibrium ideology to the gradualism of pebble accretion followed by planet migration with the slow infall of matter accompanied by outward disbursal of angular momentum.  Since the conditions for gravitational collapse are fairly-well understood, the formation of gas-giant planets by disk instability in the inner solar system doesn't appear indicated—that is, unless we're looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

By the time a Jupiter-sized second core forms at around 2000 K, the surrounding (first-hydrostatic-state) toroidal-shaped accretion disk—supported by angular momentum—may be in the 1 solar mass range (for a 1 solar mass final product).  That's a lot of angular momentum to gradually disburse away, but what would happen if the symmetrical 1-solar-mass accretion disk were to catastrophically fragment and gravitationally collect into a solitary object?  Then the two objects would effectively flip-flop, with the Jupiter-sized second core centrifugally slung into orbit around the vastly-larger fragmented object.  So in this manor, perhaps rapid chain reaction of hierarchical flip-flop fragmentations could form multiple-star systems, complete with gas giant planets, older than their supposed progenitors.

(Flip-flop fragmentation also appears to also require 'binary fragmentation' to form similar-sized binary pairs during disk instability in the presence of excess angular momentum.  So two gas-giant planets—Jupiter & Saturn—suggests a pair of flip-flop fragmentations, one at the A star and one at the B star, followed by a binary spiral-in merger at 4,568 Ma to recombine the binary pair into our solitary Sun.)

Alternative Kepler-11b-f formation mechanism:

I really, really like Thane Currie's (2005) 'hybrid accretion' mechanism for forming cascades of super-Earths from planetesimals formed by gravitational instability against the pressure dam of the star's magnetic corotation radius.  (I coopt the term 'super-Earth' to designate any planets formed by hybrid accretion, regardless of their size.)  And I suggest that planetesimal (minor planet) formation against resonant or magnetic corotation pressure dams is a means of inducing gravitational instability in smaller objects, down to perhaps 1 km diameter.
A smaller system

Kepler-11 is a star 2000 light-years away that's very similar to our sun.  It has at least 6 planets.  But this solar system is small.   All the planets would fit inside the orbit of Venus - and all but one fit inside the orbit of Mercury!

We used to think gas giants like Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune could only exist far from their host star.  But that's when we just knew one solar system - our own.  Now we know that there's a huge variety.  Many  have hot Jupiters or hot Neptunes - gas giants close to the star.  We think they formed farther away and migrated in toward their stars when they got tired of the cold winters.

But beware: the easiest planets to detect are big ones close to the star!  We're seeing the planets that are easy to see, not necessarily the 'typical' ones.  There are probably lots of smaller planets we haven't seen yet.

Kepler-11 got its name because it's the 11th star where the Kepler spacecraft saw planets.  Even better, they were found in 2011.  Its planets have boring names: they're called b, c, d, e,  f and g in order of increasing distance from their star.  But they're pretty interesting.   They have masses between those of Earth and Neptune. Their densities are all lower than Earth, so they're probably not rocky worlds.     Planets d, e and f probably have a hydrogen atmosphere.  Planets b and c seem to contain lots of ice.

Puzzle 1: how can you have a planet with lots of ice closer to a sun-like star than Venus is to the Sun?

Puzzle 2: why is there no planet a?

The second puzzle was posed by Thomas Lawler in the comments.

#astronomy #exoplanets  
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Predictive alternative ideology vs. hand-waving standard model--you pick:

Alternatively, ptygmatic folds are authigenic felsic sediments which crystallize at the cold ice-water junction ceiling in binary spiral-in merger Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) undergoing aqueous differentiation, forming gneiss-dome cores (with hydrothermal rock mantles composed of quartzite, carbonate rock and schist).  When the mechanically-competent felsic membrane becomes waterlogged, in the microgravity KBO ocean, it crumples onto the more mafic authigenic sediments of the core, folding like a rubber weather balloon with the air let out in characteristic hairpin-turn ptygmatic folds.  This suggests that the felsic folds are contemporaneous with the more mafic matrix, not younger as suggested by the hand-waving standard model of molten granitic intrusion followed by a wacky folding mechanism.
Geology Field Photo: Folds from the Llano Uplift

It's Friday afternoon so it's time to enjoy some squishy rocks!  This folded layer is made of granite rock that's present as a thin layer inside another metamorphic rock (a gneiss of some kind or another).  The granite layer has been folded you might say!  Quite a bit!  These are very tightly folded to the point where the two limbs of the folds have the same planar orientation - we call folds like that isoclinal, meaning same angle, and it indicates a significant amount of compression took place.  These layers are actually folded more than once, however - if you look really closely you'll see some layers that wrap around like a donut, which indicates that the folding is happening in more than one direction and that there were probably multiple generations of folding that occurred.  These are from the Llano Uplift in Texas, which I was privileged to visit back in the fall of 2009 on a +Geological Society of America field trip.  The Llano uplift is a section of rock that was formed and deformed during the global Grenville Orogeny, a global-scale mountain building event about a billion years ago that involved the formation of a supercontinent at the time.  I had worked on Grenville-age rocks in N. Carolina for my M.S. thesis at Vanderbilt, so getting to visit these related rocks in Texas was excellent.  

I'm also experimenting here with a new watermark - what do you think?  

#GeoPhotography     #geologicstructure     #FridayFold   
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David Carlson

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Astrophysicists sneaking up on the truth while still courting ΛCDM propose direct collapse intermediate mass black holes at around z=20:

"Observations of the first of z > 6 quasars (Fan et al. 2003;
Mortlock et al. 2011; Venemans et al. 2013; Wu et al. 2015) pose a
conundrum for the existence of supermassive black holes (SMBH)
with M• ∼ 109 M⊙. There is growing consensus that an alternate
seeding mechanism, beyond their origin as stellar mass
remnants from the first stars, may best explain these high redshift
SMBHs. Whether these are seeded by the M• ∼ 102 −
103 M⊙ remnants of the first (Population III) stars forming from
metal free gas (e.g. Volonteri & Rees 2006; Alvarez et al. 2009)
, intermediate mass black holes M• ∼ 103 − 104 M⊙ resulting
from the runaway collapse of dense primordial star clusters
(Begelman & Rees 1978; Portegies Zwart et al. 2004), or massive
seeds that resulted from the direct collapse of metal free gas into
M• ∼ 104 − 105 M⊙ black holes"  
(from the Introduction of paper below)

Alternatively, without kowtowing to ΛCDM:

Direct collapse supermassive black holes (DC-SMBHs):
If the characteristic size for fragmentation in the epoch of big bang nucleosynthesis (BBN) (when hydrogen fusion was in thermal equilibrium with helium fission) were the mass of spiral galaxies, then early baryon acoustic oscillation (BAO) compressions might have initiated isothermal collapse mediated by endothermic helium fission, with fragmentation into gravitationally-bound proto-spiral-galaxies complete with DC-SMBHs.  And the Tully–Fisher relation (specific angular momentum of spiral galaxies) might derive from fractional fragmentation of spherically symmetrical BAO compressions.

Spiral galaxy formation by condensation in the epoch of BBN suggests baryonic dark matter, where over-dense proto-spiral-galaxies sequestered perhaps 5/6 of the big-bang baryons from participating in intergalactic BBN.  But proto-galaxy sequestration merely extended the epoch of BBN from intergalactic primary BBN into warmer proto-galaxies during 'BBN rebound', at exactly the same temperature, pressure and baryon density, yielding exactly the same lithium and deuterium to hydrogen ratio.  Later at the epoch of recombination, when hydrogen ionization was in thermal equilibrium with recombination, early baryon acoustic oscillation (BAO) compressions may have promoted a second round of (intergalactic) condensation, with fragmentation into gravitationally-bound globules of dwarf galaxy size, mediated by endothermic ionization of hydrogen and helium.  And once again, proto-galaxy sequestration merely extended the epoch of recombination into warmer proto-galaxies, condensing the giant globules which would evolve into globular clusters.  Residual primordial globules, the giant molecular clouds (GMCs) of today, have mostly condensed (snowed out) their acquired stellar metallicity in the form of icy chondrules, leaving  gravitationally-bound molecular hydrogen and helium at circa 10 K as nearly-invisible dark matter.  This suggests that GMCs come in two states, their nearly-invisible 'normal state', and their luminous (opaque) 'excited state', where stellar radiation has sublimed icy chondrules in the GMCs with the lowest inclination halo orbits which are exposed to the highest dosage of stellar radiation.  And sublimed gaseous stellar radiation raises the average gaseous molecular weight in excited GMCs, lowering the speed of sound through dark clouds which promotes Jeans instability, condensing stars which convert primordial GMC globules into star clusters.
Mike2020able's profile photoDavid Carlson's profile photo
While unassisted gravitational collapse can only occur after the universe becomes matter (vs. radiation) dominated around z = 2740 (and then only at the horizon size), this ideology suggests assisted (nearly-isothermal) collapse, mediated by endothermic helium fission in the epoch of Big Bang nucleosynthesis, with supermassive black hole formation as a latching mechanism, preventing thermal rebound.
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David Carlson

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Gas-giant planet formation by flip-flop fragmentation, or
Gradualism vs. Punctuated Equilibrium:

Imagine that 'gradualism' is THE great stumbling block to scientific progress in cosmology and planetary science today.

In this hypothetical scenario, planetary science requires the rooting out of gradualism in the form of pebble accretion in favor of punctuated gravitational instability (GI).  To give pebble accretion its due, we'll concede that it works great all the way up to the size of chondrules; however, it must resort to secondary ad hoc mechanisms to explain the prevalence of binary minor planets and apparent contact-binary asteroids and comets.

Applying the same ideology in cosmology requires the rooting out of gradualism in the form of the bottom-up (accretionary) approach to galaxy formation in favor of direct-collapse supermassive black holes as catastrophic events in the spontaneously condensation of the early hydrogen and helium continuum into gravitationally-bound proto(spiral)galaxies.  Imagine that early baryon acoustic oscillation (BAO) compressions condensed the continuum during the epoch of big bang nucleosynthesis (BBN), promoted by nearly isothermal collapse which was mediated by endothermic helium fission in the BBN temperature range.  Then fractional condensations of spherically-symmetrical BAO compressions imparted the typical specific angular momentum to proto(spiral)galaxies, explaining their spirality in a primary predictive fashion.

For the sake of clarity, let's dispense with super-Earth cascades which we'll suggest form (inside out) by hybrid accretion (Thayne Currie 2005) from km-scale GI condensates in the pressure dam at the inner edge of accretion disks against the magnetic corotation radius of solitary stars or at the resonant-sculpted inner edge of circumbinary disks around binary stars.

Now we arrive at the still-greater mystery of gas-giant planets.

"When the collapsing gas reaches a sufficiently high density (∼10^21 cm−3), the collapse stops and a protostar having almost a Jovian mass is born (Larson 1969)." (Machida et al. 2011)

Flip-flop fragmentation:
Imagine that gas-giant planets originate as protostar cores in Bok globules with excess angular momentum undergoing gravitational collapse.  Jovian sized second cores may be surrounded by a much-larger (circa 1 solar mass) hydrostatic accretion disk, supported by angular momentum (and perhaps a magnetic field).  If the accretion disk becomes asymmetrical and fragments, its radial symmetry is broken, allowing gravity to collect the former disk gas into a solitary mass which centrifugally displaces the older smaller core to form a much-larger core at or near the local center of mass, slinging its smaller progenitor into orbit around it.  So instead of the original core gradually shedding angular momentum to grow by slow infall, the larger fragmented mass is suggested to flip-flop with the smaller core, essentially trading places.  In this fashion, gas-giant planets, brown dwarfs and companion stars may form in a sequential punctuated fashion from smallest to largest, by trading places with smaller progenitors, converting gaseous angular momentum to condensed object angular momentum in a punctuated fashion, forming progressively larger, younger objects by flip-flop fragmentation.

To explain away our unusual solar system with 2 gas giant planets requires scooting even further out on the limb to suggest the formation of Uranus and Neptune as a circumbinary two-planet super-Earth cascade formed around a former binary-Sun, with Jupiter and Saturn as the progenitor gas-giant planets of the binary stellar components.  This was followed by the spiral-in merger of binary-Sun at 4,568 Ma from which asteroids, chondrites and hot classical Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) condensed by GI from the stellar-merger debris disk (rocky-iron asteroids against the expanded magnetic corotation radius of the newly-merged Sun, chondrites in situ against Jupiter's strongest inner resonances and KBOs against Neptune's strongest outer resonances), as well as contaminating the Sun and debris disk with stellar-merger-nucleosynthesis r-process radionuclides (principally 26Al and 60Fe), and enriching the Sun and debris disk in helium-burning stable nuclides (principally 12C and 16O).
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Orthodoxy means not thinking.