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Impacting Stars Will Illuminate the Sight Sky in 2022

A team of astronomers is making a bold prediction: In 2022, give or take a year, a pair of stars will merge and explode, becoming one of the brightest objects in the sky for a short period.

It’s notoriously hard to predict when such stellar catastrophes will occur, but this binary pair is engaged in a well-documented dance of death that will inevitably come to a head in the next few years, they say. The researchers began studying the pair, known as KIC 9832227, in 2013 before they were certain whether it was actually a binary or a pulsating star.

They found that the speed of the orbit was gradually getting faster and faster, implying the stars are getting closer together. The pair is so close, in fact, they share an atmosphere (as in this artist’s conception of an unrelated stellar merger). KIC 9832227’s behavior reminded the researchers of another binary pair, V1309 Scorpii, which also had a merged atmosphere, was spinning up faster and faster, and exploded unexpectedly in 2008.

Now, after 2 years of careful study to confirm the accelerating spin and eliminate alternative explanations, the team reported here today at the American Astronomical Society’s annual meeting that the pair will explode as a “red nova”—an explosion caused by a binary merging—in about 5 years’ time.

 

The scientists will continue to monitor KIC 9832227 over the coming years to both firm up their prediction and learn more about how such a death spiral ends in a red nova. Amateur astronomers can study it, too, measuring how it fluctuates in brightness at an ever-increasing rate. And when it blows, we’ll all be able to enjoy the show.

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9 Exciting Space Movies to Watch in 2017

Exciting space action will take center stage on the big screen this year, with the return of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” superheroes, a glimpse of what it might be like to live on Mars, and the next installment of the beloved “Star Wars” franchise.

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Here is our list of the most fascinating space movies to look out for in 2017, including those that delve into the history of America’s space program and those that are out-of-this-world.

Start the year off with “Hidden Figures,” which features the untold true story of African American women whose work was crucial to the early space program at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson), Mary Jackson (played by Janelle Monáe) and Dorothy Vaughan (played by Octavia Spencer) worked as some of the first “computers” at NASA in the 1960s. Their work was monumental in calculating trajectories for America’s early spaceflight.

Start the year off with “Hidden Figures,” which features the untold true story of African American women whose work was crucial to the early space program at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson), Mary Jackson (played by Janelle Monáe) and Dorothy Vaughan (played by Octavia Spencer) worked as some of the first “computers” at NASA in the 1960s. Their work was monumental in calculating trajectories for America’s early spaceflight.

Astronauts finally travel to Mars to live for an extended period of time, but unknowingly carried an extra passenger with them for their journey to the Red Planet.

After being raised by scientists and growing up in solidarity, a 16-year-old boy (played by Asa Butterfield) returns to Earth from Mars to find his father and a girl he has regularly been chatting with online — and whom he may just be falling in love with. Although he’s eager to explore the new planet with his crush, his body is not accustomed to Earth’s gravity.

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“War for the Planet of the Apes” (July 14): The next installment of the “Planet of the Apes” saga, following 2014’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” In this year’s installment, the nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar engages in a battle with an army of humans.
“Geostorm” (Oct. 20): Two brothers must save Earth from a worldwide net of climate-controlling satellites that surround the planet and are designed to defend against natural disasters.

“Avatar 2” (Dec. 21): The long-awaited sequel to 2009’s “Avatar,” which follows the story of a hybrid human-alien species (Avatar) created to communicate with the indigenous Na’vis from the planet Pandora. Plot details for “Avatar 2” have yet to be announced.
“The Black Hole” (TBA): A remake of the 1979 movie of the same name, in which a missing ship was found on the edge of a black hole.

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Earth Is Going To End In 2017: Conspiracy Theory Suggests Planet X Will Cause The End Of The World

Conspiracy theorists believe that though humans skipped 2012, it is certain that the Earth is going to end this year. One among these is David Meade, author of the controversial Planet X – The 2017 Arrival book. Meade believes that the Planet X is moving fast toward Earth and will collide with it in October of this year.

The supposedly incoming planet is said to be much larger in size than Earth. It will deflect Earth from its orbit around the Sun, which will cause the death of all the forms of life present on it.
David Meade’s book also states that a star that is “a binary twin of our Sun” is moving in planet Earth’s direction. The star is supposed to be accompanied with seven orbiting celestial bodies or planets.

According to the conspiracy theory, one among these orbiting bodies is Nibiru, which is a much bigger planet known to have destroyed other planets of the Solar System. Some other conspiracy theories prevail, which state that Nibiru often referred to as the illustrious Planet X that can be easily pointed out in the peripheral region of the Solar System. The planet is infamous for disrupting other planets from their orbits in the distant past, according to Joe.

Apparently, the official authorities or NASA has no record of such events, neither do they have spotted any such celestial activity in the recent past, The Herald revealed.Though there is no scientific explanation for this theory, that does not stop conspiracy theorists from believing that the Earth is going to end very soon.

David Meade explained this in a post on Planet X News web site, which read, “This system is, of course, not aligned with our solar system’s ecliptic, but it is coming to us from an oblique angle and toward our South Pole. David Meade also said that, “This makes observations difficult, unless you’re flying at a high altitude over South America with an excellent camera.”

 

Anyway, people themselves will find out the truth about the theory in a few months whether or not the Earth is going to end.

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A Supernova May Light Up the Sky in Six Years

A dim binary star is behaving exactly as expected if it is about to explode as a “red nova“. If that happens, in 2022 or so it could shine as brightly as the North Star. Dozens of ordinary novae – the temporary flare-ups of white dwarf stars stealing gas from their companion star – explode in our galaxy every year. These novae turn blue.

In recent years, however, astronomers have discovered a rare type of nova that turns red instead. At peak brightness, many red novae rival the most luminous stars in the galaxy. A red nova in 2008 gave us a clue as to why these explosions happen: observations made before the blast revealed that the nova was the result of two stars orbiting each other merging into one.

The two stars were in a so-called contact binary, orbiting so closely that they touched. If Earth circled a contact binary, our suns would look like a fiery peanut. Despite their exotic appearance, contact binaries are common, with nearly 40,000 known in our galaxy. Now, new observations show that one, named KIC 9832227, could be about to explode as a red nova.

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“My colleagues like to call it the ‘Boom Star’,” says Larry Molnar of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The binary is roughly 1700 light years from Earth, in the constellation Cygnus. The two stars whirl around each other every 11 hours. In 2013 and 2014, Molnar’s team discovered two things about KIC 9832227 that suggest an imminent explosion: the orbital period is decreasing, and it’s doing so at an ever-faster rate.

This is exactly what the contact binary that sparked the 2008 red nova did. The orbital period shrank because the two stars circled each other faster as they spiralled closer together. Unfortunately, other effects can mimic this decrease in orbital period. For example, a third star can pull the binary toward us so that its light takes less time to reach Earth, creating the illusion that the two stars are circling each other faster. So additional observations were needed to figure out what KIC 9832227 was likely to do.

In late 2015, astronomers in Bulgaria observed the star with a 30-centimetre telescope, and found that its period is still shrinking at an ever-faster clip. “A stellar merger is a real possibility,” says Alexander Kurtenkov of the University of Sofia. Molnar’s team finds this trend persisting into 2016. “At this point, I think we have a serious candidate,” he says.

His latest observations, made with 40-centimetre telescopes in Michigan and New Mexico, put the date of the potential explosion between 2021 and 2023. But he cautions that another three years of observations are required before he can rule out alternatives. By then, if the orbital period keeps shrinking faster and faster, an impending explosion will be very likely. If it calms down, there might be a different outcome.

KIC 9832227 is currently 12th magnitude – visible only through a telescope. But if it brightens by 10 magnitudes, as the 2008 red nova did, it will be as bright as the North Star and the brightest stars of the Big Dipper, and easily visible to the naked eye.

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Consciousness Could Be a Side Effect Of ‘Entropy’, Say Researchers

It’s impressive enough that our human brains are made up of the same ‘star stuff’ that forms the Universe, but new research suggests that this might not be the only thing the two have in common.

Just like the Universe, our brains might be programmed to maximise disorder – similar to the principle of entropy – and our consciousness could simply be a side effect.

The quest to understand human consciousness – our ability to be aware of ourselves and our surroundings – has been going on for centuries. Although consciousness is a crucial part of being human, researchers still don’t truly understand where it comes from, and why we have it.

But a new study, led by researchers from France and Canada, puts forward a new possibility: what if consciousness arises naturally as a result of our brains maximising their information content? In other words, what if consciousness is a side effect of our brain moving towards a state of entropy?

Entropy is basically the term used to describe the progression of a system from order to disorder. Picture an egg: when it’s all perfectly separated into yolk and white, it has low entropy, but when you scramble it, it has high entropy – it’s the most disordered it can be. This is what many physicists believe is happening to our Universe. After the Big Bang, the Universe has gradually been moving from a state of low entropy to high entropy, and because the second law of thermodynamics states that entropy can only increase in a system, it could explain why the arrow of time only ever moves forwards.

So researchers decided to apply the same thinking to the connections in our brains, and investigate whether they show any patterns in the way they choose to order themselves while we’re conscious. To figure this out, a team from the University of Toronto and Paris Descartes University used a type of probability theory called statistical mechanics to model the networks of neurons in nine people’s brains – including seven who had epilepsy.

Specifically, they were looking at synchronisation of neurons – whether neurons were oscillating in phase with each other – to figure out whether brain cells were linked or not.  They looked at two datasets: first they compared the connectivity patterns when participants were asleep and awake; and then they looked at the difference when five of the epileptic patients were having seizures, and when their brains were in a normal, ‘alert’ state.

In both situations, they saw the same trend – the participants’ brains displayed higher entropy when in a fully conscious state.

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“We find a surprisingly simple result: normal wakeful states are characterised by the greatest number of possible configurations of interactions between brain networks, representing highest entropy values,” the team writes. 

This lead the researchers to argue that consciousness could simply be an “emergent property” of a system that’s trying to maximise information exchange.  Before we get too carried away, there are some big limitations to this work – primarily the small sample size. It’s hard to spot any conclusive trends from only nine people, particularly as everyone’s brains responded slightly differently to the various states.

Physicist Peter McClintock from Lancaster University in the UK, who wasn’t involved in the research, told Edwin Cartlidge over at Physics World that the results were “intriguing”, but need to be replicated in a larger number of subjects, including experiments during other brain states, such as while patients are under anaesthesia.  But the study is a good starting point for further research, and hints at a possible new hypothesis for why our brains tend to be conscious.

The team now plans to investigate the results further, by measuring the thermodynamic state of different regions to understand if what’s happening is really the true definition entropy, or some other type of organisation.  They also want to extend their experiments to general cognitive behaviour – for example, seeing how neural organisation changes when people are concentrating on a task and when they’re absent minded.

We’re only just beginning to understand how the brain’s organisation might affect our consciousness, but it’s a pretty fascinating rabbit hole to fall down. And a nice reminder that we’re all connected by the laws that govern the Universe.

The paper has been accepted for publication in Physical Review E, but is available online now at arXiv.org.

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NASA Observes Something Coming Out Of A Blackhole For the First Time Ever

Commonly held belief and scientific proof holds true that black holes suck matter in rather than spewing them out. But NASA has just found some curious evidence around a supermassive black hole named Markarian 335.

Two of NASA’s telescopes, including the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), observed what is believed to be a black hole’s corona launching away from the supermassive black hole. That event was then followed by a large pulse of X-Ray energy.

This is the first time we have been able to link the launching of the corona to a flare,” Dan Wilkins, of Saint Mary’s University, said. “This will help us understand how supermassive black holes power some of the brightest objects in the universe.

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Fiona Harrison, the chief investigator at NuSTAR, admits that the energy source is “mysterious”. According to Fiona, the ability to record the event would in theory be able to provide clues about the black hole’s (Markarian 335) size and structure as well as information as to the nature of black holes.Markarian 335 is 324 million light-years away from the planet earth.

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Want to be Happy in 2017? Get Off Facebook.

Facebook may be making you miserable. If you are aiming to feel more satisfied in 2017, it may be time to log off of the world’s most popular social network.

“[I]t was demonstrated that taking a break from Facebook has positive effects on the two dimensions of well-being: our life satisfaction increases and our emotions become more positive. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that these effects were significantly greater for heavy Facebook users, passive Facebook users, and users who tend to envy others on Facebook.”p1

This is according to The Facebook Experiment: Quitting Facebook Leads to Higher Levels of Well-Being, an article recently published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. The article builds on a late 2015 study in Denmark conducted by The Happiness Research Institute where half of the participants quit Facebook for a week. The study found causal evidence that Facebook use can negatively affect our wellbeing.

Are you feeling envious?

The big issue with Facebook use is that it offers endless opportunities for social comparison. It turns out that seeing countless exotic vacation photos and reading about the career accomplishments of your friends and acquaintances may make you feel worse about your current status.

Social comparison theory states that “we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others. As a result, we are constantly making self and other evaluations across a variety of domains (for example, attractiveness, wealth, intelligence, and success).”

The Danish study found that the week off from Facebook provided the greatest benefit for three types of users:

  1. Heavy Facebook users
  2. People who passively use Facebook (mindlessly scrolling, instead of more intentional use)
  3. Users prone to envy

“If one is a heavy Facebook user, one should use Facebook less to increase one’s well-being. And if one tends to feel envy when on Facebook, one should avoid browsing the sections (or specific friends) on Facebook causing this envy. And if one uses Facebook passively, one should reduce this kind of behavior.”

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In 2011, two Boston psychologists wanted to explore what motivates us to use Facebook. They found that:

Facebook use is motivated by two primary needs: (1) the need to belong and (2) the need for self-presentation. Demographic and cultural factors contribute to the need to belong, whereas neuroticism, narcissism, shyness, self-esteem and self-worth contribute to the need for self-presentation.

While there are clear underlying desires (belonging, affirmation) to motivate us towards using Facebook, it seems illogical that users who feel worse after being on Facebook would continue to log in. What is happening?

Forecasting error

How we set out to use Facebook may not always be how we actually act when logged in. Affective Forecasting is the term for predicting how we will feel in the future, which is highly relevant to our Facebook use. It feels good to connect with friends, and Facebook provides this ultimate gateway. The problem is that once we go through the gate, we do less connecting and more social comparison.

Facebook is the ultimate hack: it taps into intense human desires and continues to grow even when many its users report reduced wellbeing after being on the social network. Facebook benefits from our inability to properly forecast how we will use it.

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New Year’s Resolutions are all about starting the year off right, feeling better, and being more productive. If you are the type of person who gets sucked into social comparison, 2017 may be the year you logged off. As a bonus, you will gain over 300 hours of time.

This article was originally published by Bigthink, Read Original Article

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Astronomers Have Discovered an Invisible dark Matter Galaxy

 

The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) has captured an image with subtle distortions. That, in and of itself, is not too terribly interesting; however, these distortions hint at a hidden galaxy—a dark, dwarf galaxy made up mostly of dark matter…dark matter than happens to be one of the two missing pieces of our universe.

The image captured by ALMA showed faint red arcs surrounding a galaxy (shown in blue light below) nearly 4 billion light-years away. The distortions of light are believed to have been caused by the gravitational force from the dwarf dark galaxy behind it.

As NASA says, “we are much more certain what dark matter is not than we are what it is.” We know that dark matter does not emit or absorb light, making it invisible to us as of now. And while we have no known methods of seeing dark matter, all matter has gravitational force, which has an effect on surrounding matter (including light). As predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the gravitational forces of objects alter light and cause a lensing effect, called gravitational lensing.

This gives clues about surrounding galaxies, even when they are far away or, in this case, invisible.

“Discrepancies” No more

“We can find these invisible objects in the same way that you can see rain droplets on a window. You know they are there because they distort the image of the background objects,” Stanford University astronomer Yashar Hezaveh explained.

The research implies that we may have not been seeing majority of dwarf galaxies because they are made up mostly of dark matter.

For nearly two decades, researchers have been seeing similar distortions but brushed them off as “discrepancies.” This discovery could explain those discrepancies and open up possibilities for ALMA to find similar objects for comparison as well as help astronomers find out more about dark matter.

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Fully Transparent Solar Cell could Make Every Window in your House a Power Source

A Michigan State University research team has at last made a truly transparent solar panel — a innovation that could soon usher in a world where windows, panes of glass, and even complete buildings could be used to produce solar energy. Until now, solar cells of this kind have been only partly transparent and generally a bit tinted, but these new ones are so transparent that they are almost indistinguishable from a usual pane of glass.

Previous claims toward transparent solar panels have been deceptive, since the very nature of transparent materials means that light must pass through them. Transparent photovoltaic cells are almost impossible, in fact, as solar panels produce energy by changing absorbed photons into electrons. For a material to be completely transparent, light would have to travel uninhibited to the eye which means those photons would have to pass through the material wholly (without being absorbed to produce solar power).

So, to attain a truly transparent solar cell, the Michigan State team made this thing called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC), which employs organic salts to absorb wavelengths of, light those are at present unseen to the human eye. Steering clear of the fundamental difficulties of making a transparent photovoltaic cell permitted the scientists to harness the power of infrared and ultraviolet light.

The TLSC projects a luminescent glow that has a converted wavelength of infrared light which is also invisible to the human eye. More traditional (non-transparent) photovoltaic solar cells frame the panel of the main material, and it is these solar cells that transform the concentrated infrared light into electricity.

Versions of previous semi-transparent solar cells that cast light in colored shadows can generally achieve proficiency of about 7%, but Michigan State’s TLSC is projected to attain a top efficiency of 5% with additional testing (presently, the prototype’s efficiency reaches a mere one percent). While numbers like seven and five percent efficiency appear low, houses featuring fully solar windows or buildings made from the organic material could compound that electricity and bring it to a more useful level.

Scientists on the Michigan State team believe their TLSC technology could span from industrial applications to more manageable uses like consumer devices and handheld gadgets. Their main priorities in continuing to develop the technology seem to be power efficiency and maintaining a scalable level of affordability, so that solar power can continue to grow as a major player in the field of renewable energy.

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Have you ever seen an atom? Now you have

Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles have figured out a way to generate strikingly detailed 3D reconstructing of platinum nanoparticles at the very atomic scale. These are being used to study minute structural anomalies called dislocations. You can read theresearch paper here. Watch the video below for more.