Scientists capture shot of star being ripped apart by a black hole - Calgary Herald - Canadanewsmedia
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Scientists capture shot of star being ripped apart by a black hole – Calgary Herald

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The star, roughly the same size as our sun, was eventually sucked into oblivion in a rare cosmic occurrence that astronomers call a tidal disruption event


After passing too close to a supermassive black hole, a star is torn apart into a thin stream of gas, which is then pulled back around the black hole and slams into itself, creating a bright shock and ejecting more hot material, in this artist’s conception released on September 26, 2019.


Illustration by Robin Dienel/Courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON — Scientists have captured a view of a colossal black hole violently ripping apart a doomed star, illustrating a extraordinary and chaotic cosmic event from beginning to end for the first time using NASA’s planet-hunting telescope.

The U.S. space agency’s orbiting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, better known as TESS, revealed the detailed timeline of a star 375 million light-years away warping and spiralling into the unrelenting gravitational pull of a supermassive black hole, researchers said on Thursday.

The star, roughly the same size as our sun, was eventually sucked into oblivion in a rare cosmic occurrence that astronomers call a tidal disruption event, they added.

Astronomers used an international network of telescopes to detect the phenomenon before turning to TESS, whose permanent viewing zones designed to hunt distant planets caught the beginning of the violent event, proving effective its unique method of surveilling the cosmos.

This was really a combination of both being good and being lucky

“This was really a combination of both being good and being lucky, and sometimes that’s what you need to push the science forward,” said astronomer Thomas Holoien of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who led the research published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Such phenomena happen when a star ventures too close to a supermassive black hole, objects that reside at the centre of most large galaxies including our Milky Way. The black hole’s tremendous gravitational forces tear the star to shreds, with some of its material tossed into space and the rest plunging into the black hole, forming a disk of hot, bright gas as it is swallowed.

“Specifically, we are able to measure the rate at which it gets brighter after it starts brightening, and we also observed a drop in its temperature and brightness that is unique,” Holoien said.

Observing the oscillation of light as the black hole gobbles the star and spews stellar material in an outward spiral could help astronomers understand the black hole’s behaviour, a scientific mystery since physicist Albert Einstein’s work more than a century ago examined gravity’s influence on light in motion.

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China tests Mars lander in international co-operation push – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Samuel McNeil, The Associated Press


Published Thursday, November 14, 2019 11:42AM EST

HUAILAI, China – China showed off its Mars spacecraft during a landing test Thursday as the country pushes for inclusion in more global space projects.

The demonstration of hovering, obstacle avoidance and deceleration capabilities was conducted at a site outside Beijing simulating conditions on the red planet, where the pull of gravity is about one-third that of Earth.

China plans to launch a lander and rover to Mars next year to explore parts of the planet, one of four scheduled missions. The U.S. and Europe are also sending rovers to Mars next year, and the United Arab Emirates plans to launch an orbiter.

China’s burgeoning space program achieved a lunar milestone earlier this year by landing a spacecraft on the mysterious far side of the moon.

It has developed rapidly, especially since it conducted its first crewed mission in 2003, and has sought co-operation with space agencies from Europe and elsewhere.

The U.S., however, has banned most space co-operation with China out of national security concerns, keeping China from participating in the International Space Station.

Despite that, China’s ambitions continue to grow as it seeks to rival the U.S., Russia and Europe in space and cement its position as a regional and global power. It is gradually constructing its own larger, more permanent space station in which it has invited foreign participation.

The lander on Thursday successfully avoided ground obstacles during a simulated low-gravity descent, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the Chinese space program’s main contractor.

The refrigerator-sized craft was lowered gently on 36 cables through the air for about a minute and used onboard jets spraying rust-colored fumes to alter its downward course.

“After the probe is launched, it will take about seven months to reach Mars, and the final procedure of landing will only last about seven minutes, which is the most difficult and the most risky part of the whole mission,” said the Mars mission’s chief designer, Zhang Rongqiao, standing before the 140-meter (460-foot) -tall testing facility.

Many Mars-bound spacecraft launched by the U.S., Russia and other countries have been lost or destroyed over the years. Only the U.S. has pulled it off and has made eight successful landings.

The remote test site lies an hour north of the Great Wall from Beijing.

Guests at Thursday’s event came from 19 countries and included the ambassadors of Brazil, France and Italy.

“This event is the first public appearance of China’s Mars exploration mission, also an important measure for China to pragmatically carry out space international exchanges and co-operation,” the China National Space Administration said in a statement.

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Genes borrowed from bacteria allowed plants to move from sea to land – Folio – University of Alberta

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Natural genetic engineering allowed plants to move from water to land, according to a new study by an international group of scientists from Canada, China, France, Germany and Russia.

“This is one of the most important events in the evolution of life on this planet—without which we as a species would not exist,” said University of Alberta genomicist and study co-investigator Gane Ka-Shu Wong

“The movement of life from water to land—called terrestrialization—began with plants and was followed by animals and then, of course, humans. This study establishes how that first step took place.”

The movement of plants from water to land was made possible when genes from soil bacteria were transferred to algae through a process called horizontal gene transfer. Unlike vertical gene transfer, such as the transfer of DNA from parent to child, horizontal gene transfer occurs between different species.

New algae species discovered

“For hundreds of millions of years, green algae lived in freshwater environments that periodically fell dry, such as small puddles, riverbeds and trickling rocks,” explained Michael Melkonian of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. “These algae mingled with and received key genes from soil bacteria that helped them and their descendants to cope with the harsh terrestrial environment and eventually evolve into the land plant flora that we see today.”

The study is part of an international project focused on sequencing the genomes of more than 10,000 plant species. The discovery was made in the process of sequencing two particular algae—including a newly identified species called Spirogloea muscicola.

“The approach that we used, phylogenomics, is a powerful method to pinpoint the underlying molecular mechanism of evolutionary novelty,” said Shifeng Cheng, first author and principal investigator from the Agricultural Genome Institute at Shenzhen at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

The study, “Genomes of Subaerial Zygnematophyceae Provide Insights Into Land Plant Evolution,” was published in Cell.

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China tests Mars lander in push for inclusion in more international space projects – The Globe and Mail

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A lander sits before being lifted for a test at a facility in Huailai, China, on Nov. 14, 2019.

The Associated Press

China invited observers to a successful test Thursday of its Mars lander as the country pushes for inclusion in more global space projects.

The demonstration of hovering, obstacle avoidance and deceleration capabilities was conducted at a site outside Beijing simulating conditions on the Red Planet, where the pull of gravity is about one-third that of Earth.

China plans to launch a lander and rover to Mars next year to explore parts of the planet in detail.

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China’s burgeoning space program achieved a lunar milestone earlier this year by landing a probe on the mysterious far side of the moon.

It has developed rapidly, especially since it conducted its first crewed mission in 2003 and has sought co-operation with space agencies from Europe and elsewhere.

The U.S., however, has banned most space co-operation with China out of national security concerns, keeping China from participating in the International Space Station.

Despite that, China’s ambitions continue to grow as it seeks to rival the U.S., Russia and Europe in space and cement its position as a regional and global power. It is gradually constructing its own larger, more permanent space station in which it has invited foreign participation.

The lander on Thursday successfully avoided ground obstacles during a simulated low-gravity descent, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the Chinese space program’s main contractor.

The refrigerator-sized craft was lowered gently on 36 cables through the air for about a minute and used onboard jets spraying rust-coloured fumes to alter its downward course.

“After the probe is launched, it will take about seven months to reach Mars, and the final procedure of landing will only last about seven minutes, which is the most difficult and the most risky part of the whole mission,” said the Mars mission’s chief designer, Zhang Rongqiao, standing before the 140-meter-(460-foot-) tall testing facility.

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Recent rover crashes on the moon by Israel and India highlight the difficulties of safe landings from space.

The remote Comprehensive Testing Ground for Landing on Extraterrestrial Bodies run by CASC lies an hour north of the Great Wall from Beijing.

Guests at Thursday’s event came from 19 countries and included the ambassadors of Brazil, France and Italy.

“This event is the first public appearance of China’s Mars exploration mission, also an important measure for China to pragmatically carry out space international exchanges and co-operation,” the China National Space Administration said in a news release.

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