tpods of 2015 archive

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X-clamation

X-clamation

Dec 31, 2015 An X-2 class solar flare recently missed a direct impact with Earth. Heliophysicists classify solar flares according to their brightness in X-ray wavelengths. C-class flares are the smallest on the scale, with X-ray measurements in the 10^-6 watts per square meter range (W/m^2), while X-class flares can exceed ...
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Multi-Colored Centaurs

Multi-Colored Centaurs

Dec 30, 2015 Different classes of celestial bodies orbit the Sun. In the deepest regions of the solar system, billions of kilometers from the Sun, are several asteroid-sized icy rocks that are difficult for astronomers to classify. In a previous Picture of the Day article about Kuiper Belt Objects, it ...
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Unloading Excess Baggage

Unloading Excess Baggage

Dec 29, 2015 Why some stars shed their atmospheres is a mystery. For many years, astrophysical models of stellar evolution have relied on mechanical action. The forces that shape the stars are attributed to the collapse of cold gas under gravitational influence. Common viewpoints see stars as whirling vortices of compressed ...
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Wag the Dog

Wag the Dog

Dec 28, 2015 Interpreting observations should include an electrical perspective. According to a recent press release, astronomers discovered a galactic filament extending outward from galaxy CGCG254-021 on a scale never before observed. As the announcement states: "This ribbon, or X-ray tail, is likely due to gas stripped from the galaxy ...
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Electric Baubles in the Night

Electric Baubles in the Night

Dec 25, 2015 Editor's Note: The Picture of the Day will be enjoying a brief hiatus over the holidays, returning December 28. Lights on a Christmas tree depend on electric power. So do the lights in space. The Christmas Tree cluster contains about 40 stars and lies in the constellation ...
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309187

Gravity vs. Plasma

Dec 24, 2015 Kuhn's 1962 essay (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) exploring the nature of changes in scientific theories, and a plethora of commentaries since, have made it out to be a Big Deal and to be also somewhat mysterious: "revolution", "incommensurability of paradigms", "new world", etc. It seems to me ...
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Ouranos

Ouranos

Dec 23, 2015 Uranus is like the other gas giants. Uranus is 50,724 kilometers in diameter at the equator, although its equator is tilted almost 90 degrees past horizontal when compared to other planets in the Solar System. Most of them are tilted no more than 24 degrees past vertical, ...
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Steady On

Steady On

Dec 22, 2015 Something near M82 started sending out powerful radio waves more than five years ago and has been holding steady ever since. Energy emissions in radio wavelengths are shining from somewhere near galaxy M82, otherwise known as the Cigar Galaxy. The fact that nothing like them had ever been ...
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Country Cousin

Country Cousin

Dec 21, 2015 New images reveal a celestial body similar to the Solar System's other rocky denizens. The Kuiper Belt theory was developed by Kenneth Edgeworth, an astronomer from Ireland, and also (separately) by American astronomer Gerard Kuiper in 1951. The first Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) was discovered in 1992, ...
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Star Jets

Star Jets

Dec 18, 2015 How can superheated gas create a jet almost 1500 light-years long? According to a recent press release, collimated jets are normally considered to result from matter falling into the putative gravity field of a black hole. As stellar matter orbits closer to the black hole, it is ...
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Dark Light

Dark Light

Dec 17, 2015 A new supernova illustrates the same old problems. In January 2014 astronomers discovered the first type 1A supernova seen in a decade. Type 1A class stellar explosions (or, implosions) are important to how astronomers view the Universe for two reasons: their light-curves, or graphs of their intensity over ...
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That Old Black Magic

That Old Black Magic

Dec 16, 2015 Near-infinite density is not logical in three-dimensional space. A special press conference was called on November 15, 2010 in order to announce the discovery of "the youngest black hole ever detected." The object (SN1979C) was identified by bright X-ray emissions that have not varied in output for ...
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Fusion Fail

Fusion Fail

Dec 15, 2015 The thermonuclear Sun theory is falsified. Hypothetically, how does the Sun produce heat and light enough to sustain life on our planet at a mean distance of 149,476,000 kilometers? It is apparently not a hot rock, so what is it? According to spectrographic analysis, the Sun is composed ...
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On the Dunes

On the Dunes

Dec 14, 2015 Curiosity is analyzing "dark dunes" on Mars. Recently, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) known as "Curiosity" arrived at a vast dune field in Gale Crater. Curiosity was launched on November 26, 2011 on a two-year mission. However, in December 2012 its sojourn on Mars was extended indefinitely ...
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Transmission from Beyond

Transmission from Beyond

Dec 11, 2015 Radio signals from deep space? Redshift is the method astronomers use to measure the distance to remote objects in space. Parallax measurements enable them to determine the distances for nearby stars, but past a few light-years the angles are too small and cannot be resolved. Using the ...
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Fear and Panic

Fear and Panic

Dec 10, 2015 The two moons of Mars will soon receive a visitor. According to a recent press release, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) plans to launch a probe to the enigmatic Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos. It is hoped that the newly minted mission will return samples of ...
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Galactic Milieu

Galactic Milieu

Dec 9, 2015 Galaxy addition or subtraction? According to a recent press release, NGC 5291 in the constellation Centaurus, was involved in a "collision" with another galaxy billions of years ago, causing a ring to form. The ring then evolved into star-forming regions, as well as dwarf galaxies like NGC ...
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Blindness, Stupidity and Speculation

Blindness, Stupidity and Speculation

Dec 8, 2015 Ignorance is not bliss. In discussing the question of progress in scientific revolutions, Kuhn noted: "There are losses as well as gains [in a paradigm shift]..., and scientists tend to be peculiarly blind to the former." In a footnote, he elaborates: "Because science students 'know the right answers,' ...
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Black Satellites

Black Satellites

Dec 7, 2015 Dark matter galaxies? Solving a particular puzzle can be clouded by a layer of presumptions. Such is the case, according to a recent press release announcing the creation of a computer model to predict the existence of satellite galaxies. Researchers with the Dark Energy Survey at the ...
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Foggy Mars

Foggy Mars

Dec 4, 2015 Did volcanically induced acid fog partially erode Mars? A recent conference about the possibility of water on Mars shifted the focus, somewhat. Rather than concentrating on open water or deposits of ice in the remote past, researchers now think that water vapor might have eroded some of ...
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Playing the Jokers

Playing the Jokers

Dec 3, 2015 The house of cards which is modern astronomy contains two jokers. Both lie in the foundation; both are being played; and the house is doomed to collapse. The first joker is the assumption that redshift is entirely a doppler effect. Upon this card is founded the idea of ...
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That Dark Ribbon of Skyway

That Dark Ribbon of Skyway

Dec 2, 2015 Galactic dust is often filamentary. Plasma is electrically ionized. By definition, electrons are stripped from atomic nuclei in plasma, since electron orbital dynamics can be overcome by thermal and other energy sources. When regions in plasma develop excess charge, due to gravity or other influences, electric discharges ...
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The Cold Cosmos

The Cold Cosmos

Dec 1, 2015 Birkeland current interaction is probably the best large-scale structure model for the Universe. A recent article in the astronomical journals and popular press identifies an area of space as a “huge hole” completely empty of matter and energy; "colder" than any other region previously observed. According to the ...
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X-ray image of Saturn

Xaturn

Nov 30, 2015 Both Saturn's body and its rings are so electrically active that they shine in X-ray light. "Saturn is more like the Sun than the Earth." --- Wal Thornhill Almost everyone knows that one should not look directly into the flame of an arc welder, since the plasma ...
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Volcano and lightning

Earthquakes and Volcanoes

  Nov 27, 2015 Lightning discharges in the atmosphere are familiar, but what about the ones underground? The electrical phenomenon we call lightning is not well understood. The most common interpretation involves the circulation of water vapor up and down through clouds in a process called convection. Water is heated ...
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