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Thorfinn Hrolfsson
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Thorfinn Hrolfsson

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frame 4 is just the best of this lot as he has his eyes on you
Here is a selection of photos sent in by ABC Open audience members from around Australia.
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Texas Tech University.
Alone on the cosmic road, far from any known celestial object, a young, independent star is going through a tremendous growth spurt.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GxORS44qg8
The unusual object, called CX330, was detected as a source of X-ray light in 2009 by NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory while surveying the bulge in the central region of the Milky Way. Further observations indicated this object was emitting optical light as well. With only these clues, scientists had no idea what this object was.

But when a team led by Texas Tech University Department of Physics associate professor Tom Maccarone and postdoctoral researcher Chris Britt examined infrared images of the same area taken with NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), they realized this object has a lot of warm dust around it, which must have been heated by an outburst.

Comparing WISE data from 2010 with Spitzer Space Telescope data from 2007, researchers determined CX330 likely is a young star that has been outbursting for several years. In fact, in that three-year period, its brightness had increased a few hundred times.
Journal Reference:
C. T. Britt, T. J. Maccarone, J. D. Green, P. G. Jonker, R. I. Hynes, M. A. P. Torres, J. Strader, L. Chomiuk, R. Salinas, P. Lucas, C. Contreras Peña, R. Kurtev, C. Heinke, L. Smith, N. J. Wright, C. Johnson, D. Steeghs, G. Nelemans. Discovery of a long-lived, high-amplitude dusty infrared transient. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2016; 460 (3): 2822
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stw1182
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Thorfinn Hrolfsson

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beautiful, but still a pigeon
 
A breathtakingly beautiful Victoria crowned pigeon, photographed by Joel Sartore. 
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Thorfinn Hrolfsson

Space Exploration  - 
 
Southwest Research Institute
A team of scientists led by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) made a puzzling observation while studying the size and distribution of craters on the dwarf planet Ceres.

Ceres is the largest object in the tumultuous Main Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. Collision models predicted Ceres should have accumulated up to 10 to 15 craters larger than 400 kilometres wide, and at least 40 craters larger than 100 km wide. Instead, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft found only 16 craters larger than 100 km, and none larger than the 280 km across.

Crater size and distribution offer planetary scientists important clues to the age, makeup, and geologic history of planets and asteroids. Ceres is believed to have originated about 4.5 billion years ago at the dawn of our solar system. It grew in size through a history of accretionary collisions of smaller bodies. Some of its largest siblings were subsequently incorporated into larger objects, such as planets. Today, Ceres and Main Belt asteroids remain as the leftovers of the planet-building process.

Although Ceres endured the most violent phase of the solar system’s collision-prone past, images of its surface taken by the Dawn spacecraft showed plenty of small impact craters, but the largest well-defined crater is only about 280-km in diameter. This defied most models of crater size and distribution and is at odds with what is known from previously imaged asteroids. For example, Dawn images of the asteroid Vesta, only about half the size of Ceres, revealed huge craters, including one 500 kilometres (300 miles) in diameter, covering almost an entire side of that asteroid.
Journal Reference:
S. Marchi, A. I. Ermakov, C. A. Raymond, R. R. Fu, D. P. O’Brien, M. T. Bland, E. Ammannito, M. C. De Sanctis, T. Bowling, P. Schenk, J. E. C. Scully, D. L. Buczkowski, D. A. Williams, H. Hiesinger, C. T. Russell. The missing large impact craters on Ceres. Nature Communications, 2016; 7: 12257
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms12257
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+Lawrence Kedz Embarrassing to read. Good luck in life.
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University of Michigan - NASA - Goddard
Astronomers at the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) discovered for the first time that the hot gas in the halo of the Milky Way galaxy is spinning in the same direction and at comparable speed as the galaxy's disk, which contains our stars, planets, gas, and dust. This new knowledge sheds light on how individual atoms have assembled into stars, planets, and galaxies like our own, and what the future holds for these galaxies.
“This flies in the face of expectations,” says Edmund Hodges-Kluck, assistant research scientist. “People just assumed that the disk of the Milky Way spins while this enormous reservoir of hot gas is stationary – but that is wrong. This hot gas reservoir is rotating as well, just not quite as fast as the disk.”
The new NASA-funded research using the archival data obtained by XMM-Newton, a European Space Agency telescope, was recently published in the Astrophysical Journal. The study focuses on our galaxy’s hot gaseous halo, which is several times larger than the Milky Way disk and composed of ionized plasma.
Because motion produces a shift in the wavelength of light, the U-M researchers measured such shifts around the sky using lines of very hot oxygen. What they found was ground breaking: The line shifts measured by the researchers show that the galaxy’s  halo spins in the same direction as the disk of the Milky Way and at a similar speed—about 400,000 mph for the halo versus 540,000 mph for the disk.
Journal Reference:
Edmund J. Hodges-Kluck, Matthew J. Miller, Joel N. Bregman. THE ROTATION OF THE HOT GAS AROUND THE MILKY WAY. The Astrophysical Journal, 2016; 822 (1): 21
http://dx.doi.org/10.3847/0004-637X/822/1/21
Astronomers at the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) discovered for the first time that the hot gas in the halo of the Milky Way galaxy is spinning in the same direction and at comparable speed as the galaxy's disk, which contains our stars, planets, gas, and dust.
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Thorfinn Hrolfsson

Space Exploration  - 
 
University of Bern
Normally computers speed up calculations. But with his new pen-and-paper formula Kevin Heng of the University of Bern gets his results thousands of times faster than using conventional computer codes. The astrophysicist calculates the abundances of molecules (known as atmospheric chemistry) in exoplanetary atmospheres. Ultimately, deciphering the abundances of molecules allows us to interpret if features in a spectrum are due to physics, geology or biology.

With their sophisticated instruments, astronomers today not only detect new exoplanets outside our solar system but are able to characterize the atmospheres of some of these distant worlds. To know what to anticipate and when to be surprised theorists calculate the expected abundances of molecules. Kevin Heng, director of the Centre of Space and Habitability (CSH) at the University of Bern, is an expert in these calculations. “The sun – and other stars – have a very definite proportion of chemical elements like hydrogen, carbon, oxygen or nitrogen”, he explains: “And there is a lot of evidence that planets form from the essence of stars.” But whereas in stars the elements exist as atoms, in the lower temperatures of exoplanetary atmospheres they form different molecules according to temperature and pressure.
Journal Reference:
Kevin Heng, Jared Workman. ANALYTICAL MODELS OF EXOPLANETARY ATMOSPHERES. I. ATMOSPHERIC DYNAMICS VIA THE SHALLOW WATER SYSTEM. The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 2014; 213 (2): 27
http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/0067-0049/213/2/27
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Thorfinn Hrolfsson

Space Exploration  - 
 
National Research Tomsk State University &
St. Petersburg State University
With the help of supercomputer SKIF Cyberia, the scientists simulated the nuclear explosion of an asteroid 200 meters in diameter in such a way that its irradiated fragments do not fall to the Earth.

- The way we propose to eliminate the threat from space is reasonable to use in case of the impossibility of the soft disposal of an object from a collision in orbit and for the elimination of an object that is constantly returning to Earth, - says Tatiana Galushina, an employee of the Department of Celestial Mechanics and Astrometry - Previously, as a preventive measure, it was proposed to abolish the asteroid on its approach to our planet, but this could lead to catastrophic consequences - a fall to Earth of the majority of the highly radioactive fragments.
Journal Reference:
A. G. Aleksandrova, T. Yu. Galushina, A. B. Prishchepenko, K. V. Kholshevnikov, V. M. Chechetkin. The preventive destruction of a hazardous asteroid. Astronomy Reports, 2016; 60 (6): 611
http://dx.doi.org/10.1134/S1063772916040016
Employees of the Department of Celestial Mechanics and Astrometry NII PMM and colleagues from St. Petersburg State University, Keldysh Research Center, and Research Institute Sirius are developing measures to protect the Earth from potentially dangerous celestial bodies.
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NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope:
A new type of exotic binary star: in the system AR Scorpii a rapidly spinning white dwarf star is powering electrons up to almost the speed of light. These high energy particles release blasts of radiation that lash the companion red dwarf star, and cause the entire system to pulse dramatically every 1.97 minutes with radiation ranging from the ultraviolet to radio.

In May 2015, a group of amateur astronomers from Germany, Belgium and the UK came across a star system that was exhibiting behaviour unlike anything they had ever encountered before. Follow-up observations led by the University of Warwick and using a multitude of telescopes on the ground and in space, including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope [1], have now revealed the true nature of this previously misidentified system.

The star system AR Scorpii, or AR Sco for short, lies in the constellation of Scorpius, 380 light-years from Earth. It comprises a rapidly spinning white dwarf [2], the same size as Earth but containing 200 000 times more mass, and a cool red dwarf companion one third the mass of the Sun [3]. They are orbiting one another every 3.6 hours in a cosmic dance as regular as clockwork.

Journal Reference:
T. R. Marsh, B. T. Gänsicke, S. Hümmerich, F.-J. Hambsch, K. Bernhard, C. Lloyd, E. Breedt, E. R. Stanway, D. T. Steeghs, S. G. Parsons, O. Toloza, M. R. Schreiber, P. G. Jonker, J. van Roestel, T. Kupfer, A. F. Pala, V. S. Dhillon, L. K. Hardy, S. P. Littlefair, A. Aungwerojwit, S. Arjyotha, D. Koester, J. J. Bochinski, C. A. Haswell, P. Frank, P. J. Wheatley. A radio-pulsing white dwarf binary star. Nature, 2016

https://www.spacetelescope.org/static/archives/releases/science_papers/heic1616/heic1616a.pdf
Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, along with other telescopes on the ground and in space, have discovered a new type of exotic binary star: in the system AR Scorpii a rapidly spinning white dwarf star is powering electrons up to almost the speed of light. These high energy particles release blasts of radiation that lash the companion red dwarf star, and cause the entire system to pulse dramatically every 1.97 minutes with rad...
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German Belgium UK
A nice read 
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National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
Light from a distant galaxy can be strongly bent by the gravitational influence of a foreground galaxy. That effect is called strong gravitational lensing. Normally a single galaxy is lensed at a time. The same foreground galaxy can - in theory - simultaneously lens multiple background galaxies. Although extremely rare, such a lens system offers a unique opportunity to probe the fundamental physics of galaxies and add to our understanding of cosmology. One such lens system has recently been discovered and the discovery was made not in an astronomer’s office, but in a classroom. It has been dubbed The Eye of Horus, and this ancient eye in the sky will help us understand the history of the universe.
Journal Reference:
Masayuki Tanaka, Kenneth C. Wong, Anupreeta More, Arsha Dezuka, Eiichi Egami, Masamune Oguri, Sherry H. Suyu, Alessandro Sonnenfeld, Ryo Higuchi, Yutaka Komiyama, Satoshi Miyazaki, Masafusa Onoue, Shuri Oyamada, Yousuke Utsumi. A SPECTROSCOPICALLY CONFIRMED DOUBLE SOURCE PLANE LENS SYSTEM IN THE HYPER SUPRIME-CAM SUBARU STRATEGIC PROGRAM. The Astrophysical Journal, 2016; 826 (2): L19
http://dx.doi.org/10.3847/2041-8205/826/2/L19

http://www.nao.ac.jp/en/contents/news/science/2016/20160726-subaru-fig-full.png
A group of astronomers and young students were analyzing some of that Hyper Suprime-Cam data at the school when they found a unique lens system.
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Astonishing
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Thorfinn Hrolfsson

Space Exploration  - 
 
Louisiana State University.
Water is the key to life on Earth. Scientists continue to unravel the mystery of life on Mars by investigating evidence of water in the planet’s soil. Previous observations of soil observed along crater slopes on Mars showed a significant amount of perchlorate salts, which tend to be associated with brines with a moderate pH level. However, researchers have stepped back to look at the bigger picture through data collected from the 2001: Mars Odyssey, named in reference to the science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and found a different chemical on Mars may be key. The researchers found that the bulk soil on Mars, across regional scales the size of the U.S. or larger, likely contains iron sulfates bearing chemically bound water, which typically result in acidic brines. This new observation suggests that iron sulfates may play a major role in hydrating Martian soil.  
This finding was made from data collected by the 2001: Mars Odyssey Gamma Ray Spectrometer, or GRS, which is sensitive enough to detect the composition of Mars soil up to one-half meter deep. This is generally deeper than other missions either on the ground or in orbit, and it informs the nature of bulk soil on Mars. This research was published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.
Journal Reference:
Suniti Karunatillake, James J. Wray, Olivier Gasnault, Scott M. McLennan, A. Deanne Rogers, Steven W. Squyres, William V. Boynton, J. R. Skok, Nicole E. Button, Lujendra Ojha. The association of hydrogen with sulfur on Mars across latitudes, longitudes, and compositional extremes. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 2016
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2016JE005016
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Thorfinn Hrolfsson

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Another week of stunning images of Aus, frame 3 is great, but do look at 1
Here is a selection of photos sent in by ABC Open audience members from around Australia.
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Thorfinn Hrolfsson

Space Exploration  - 
 
Hokkaido University
Scientists at Hokkaido University have revealed temperature-dependent energy-state conversion of molecular hydrogen on ice surfaces, suggesting the need for a reconsideration of molecular evolution theory.

Molecular hydrogen, the most abundant element in space, is created when two hydrogen atoms bond on minute floating ice particles. It has two energy states: ortho and para, depending on the direction of proton spins. Ortho-hydrogen converts to para-hydrogen on extremely low temperature ice particles, though its mechanism remained unclear.

When molecular hydrogen is released from tiny ice particles in space, the particular state of its energy plays a key role in molecular evolution—the process of generating a wide range of molecules over a long period of time in space.
Journal Reference:
Hirokazu Ueta, Naoki Watanabe, Tetsuya Hama, Akira Kouchi. Surface Temperature Dependence of Hydrogen Ortho-Para Conversion on Amorphous Solid Water. Physical Review Letters, 2016; 116 (25)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.253201
Scientists at Hokkaido University have revealed temperature-dependent energy-state conversion of molecular hydrogen on ice surfaces, suggesting the need for a reconsideration of molecular evolution theory. Molecular hydrogen, the most abundant element in space, is created when two hydrogen atoms ...
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Ice is H2O. For molecular hydrogen to bond, the ice our solar system is abundant in would generate much of this without the sun's fusion? How would heat effect this process? Would it draw the molecular hydrogen inward by centripetal force?
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