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Mastodon migrations north offer clues about today's animal movements: study – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The Canadian Press


Published Tuesday, September 1, 2020 10:35PM EDT


Last Updated Tuesday, September 1, 2020 10:36PM EDT

WHITEHORSE – The migration of extinct mastodon herds to Yukon and Alaska during warm periods between ice ages could hold clues and warning signs for today’s animals moving north during a warming climate, says a new research paper.

The paper from Hamilton’s McMaster University, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, says mastodon herds that migrated north during the warm periods were less genetically diverse, which made them more vulnerable to extinction.

Mastodons, similar to today’s elephants and extinct mammoths, roamed much of North America, including parts of Mexico. Mastodons went extinct about 11,000 years ago along with mammoths, large-toothed cats, giant beavers and western camels.

Emil Karpinski, a paleontologist at McMaster’s Ancient DNA Centre, said the report is the result of six years of research that examined the fossil bones and teeth of more than 30 different mastodons.

He said the research showed mastodons migrated north several times during periods between ice ages when the Earth warmed, but didn’t survive when ice ages returned.

“Mastodons were much more at home in these warmer, wooded wetland habitats with an abundance of shrubs and trees like spruce and pine for them to eat,” Karpinski told a panel discussion involving about a dozen mastodon experts.

“We wanted to see, which is kind of the end hope of all this research, if what we learn about these animals could be applied to present-day species,” he said.

“We’re observing very similar travels in species like moose, snowshoe hare, beavers, not just ones in the Arctic, but also various birds, fish and other species that are rapidly moving northward in response to climate warming.”

Karpinski said the research indicates the mastodon herds that migrated north were less genetically diverse and were more susceptible to extinction.

Grant Zazula, a Yukon government paleontologist and one of the report’s authors, said the research shows mastodon herds migrated north more than once with the same disastrous results.

He said the northern mastodons were decimated with the arrival of an ice age 250,000 years ago and were also wiped out by a second ice age about 100,000 years ago.

“Their populations would have peaked about 100,000 years ago and that’s when climates were essentially as warm as they are today and the environment looked very similar to today’s environment,” he said.

Zazula said mastodons were not equipped to survive the colder climates of the ice ages.

“What this is showing us is those populations kind of at the frontier of migrations and range extensions really lack genetic diversity,” he said. “It doesn’t take very much to wipe them out. It could be a change in climate. It could be hunting. It could be disease.”

– By Dirk Meissner in Victoria.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2020.

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Harvest moon to rise over Canada's skies this week | Curated – Daily Hive

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As the calendar flips to the spookiest month of the year, Canadians are set to see a gorgeous moon to mark the occasion.

The first full moon of the month will happen on October 1, and it’s called a Harvest Moon.

The month of October has two full moons this year (because, of course it does in 2020): the full Harvest Moon on October 1 and the full Hunter’s Moon on Halloween.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, it relates to the astronomical event of the autumnal equinox— the astronomical start of the fall season in the Northern Hemisphere and of the spring season in the Southern Hemisphere (also called the September or fall equinox).

The Harvest Moon moon rises on Thursday, October 1 and will reach its peak illumination at 5:06 pm (ET).

For several days around the time of the full Harvest Moon, the moon will rise 30 minutes later each night resulting in “extra light early in the evening which makes this time of year special.”

As the moon rises from the horizon around sunset, it may appear larger and more orange — perfect for the beginning of the fall season.

Here’s how October’s moons will line up in terms of dates and times, all presented in Eastern Time.

There’s a second full moon due on Halloween, known as the Hunter’s Moon.

Almanac.com

For moon gazers who want to know the exact time of moonrise in their location, they should check out the Almanacs Moonrise and Moonset calculator.

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Full Moon rises tonight for this year's Harvest Moon – iNFOnews

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Full moon fever begins tonight with the first of two full moons in October, this one being the Harvest Moon, which is officially full on Oct.1. It will appear full tonight through Saturday.
Image Credit: Peter Mgr

September 30, 2020 – 7:00 PM

The next few nights promise to be clear and warmer than normal – good weather for some celestial viewing.

The next Full Moon is the Harvest Moon, which reaches its official status tomorrow.

The Harvest Moon is the first of two full moons in October, the next one being a Blue Moon on Halloween.

A Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox.

According to NASA Science, the Harvest Moon normally falls in September. The moon should appear full to the naked eye tonight but isn’t technically a full moon until tomorrow and will remain full until Saturday, Oct. 3.

This year’s Harvest Moon should be easily viewable in Kamloops and the Okanagan as Environment Canada is forecasting clear night skies today, Sept. 30 through Saturday, Oct. 3.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to tips@infonews.ca and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won’t censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.

News from © iNFOnews, 2020

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‘Extreme planet’ orbits star in three Earth days, has temperatures of 3120 degrees Celsius

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TORONTO —
Research on data from a new satellite is revealing strange new details about one of the “most extreme planets” in our known universe, and the blue, oddly-shaped star it orbits.

WASP-189b is 322 light years away from Earth in the constellation of Libra, has a permanent dayside and night side, and takes less than three Earth days to fully orbit its star — far faster than our 365 days.

“It is 20 times closer to [its star] than Earth is to the Sun,” Monika Lendl, lead author of the study from the University of Geneva, said in a press release.

WASP-189b is a gas giant, but it’s not any old gas giant. It is around one and a half times as large as Jupiter, and is part of a group called “ultra-hot Jupiters,” which are gas giants that are much larger and hotter than any planet we see in our solar system.

And this planet is even hotter than most other ultra-hot exoplanets scientists have identified. A paper published in the Astronomy & Astrophysics journal last week which detailed the new research described WASP-189b as “one of the most highly irradiated planets known thus far.”

It not only orbits incredibly close to its star, but the star itself, known as HD 133112, is one of the hottest stars we know of that has its own planetary system, at around 2,200 degrees Celsuis hotter than our Sun.

“Because it is so hot, the star appears blue and not yellow-white like the sun,” Willy Benz, professor of astrophysics at the University of Bern and head of the CHEOPS consortium, said in the release.

The dayside of the WASP-189b — the side that faces the star — is roughly 3,400 Kelvin, which is more than 3,120 degrees Celsius. It’s so hot that if there were iron present in the planet’s makeup, it would be gaseous.

In our solar system, the way that our planets spin while they rocket around the sun in their orbit gives them a night and day and allows multiples sides of the planet to get some face time with the sun. This isn’t the case for planetary objects like WASP-189b.

“They have a permanent day side, which is always exposed to the light of the star, and, accordingly, a permanent night side,” Lendl explained.

These details were discovered using data from the CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite (CHEOPS), the first European Space Agency (ESA) mission dedicated solely to extra-solar planets. The mission was launched in partnership with Switzerland, and benefitted from contributions from numerous European countries.

The satellite, with its mounted telescope, was launched in December of 2019, and has been orbiting 700 km above Earth ever since. Unlike many previous exoplanet-focused missions, CHEOPS is not interested in identifying new exoplanets, but was designed to peer closely at systems where we already knew an exoplanet is present.

Exoplanets — or extrasolar planets — are planets orbiting stars outside of our solar system, and because they’re so far away, we identify them not by finding a coloured speck in the sky, but by measuring dips in the light from stars.

When a star dims, it means something has passed in front of it, blocking some of the light from reaching the Earth. Using this “transit method,” researchers can figure out how large exoplanets are, how big or long their orbit is, and even what materials they are likely composed of.

There is also a change in light when a particularly bright planet goes behind its star, something called an “occultation.”

“Only a handful of planets are known to exist around stars this hot, and this system is by far the brightest,” Lendl said in an ESA release. “WASP-189b is also the brightest hot Jupiter that we can observe as it passes in front of or behind its star, making the whole system really intriguing.

“As the planet is so bright, there is actually a noticeable dip in the light we see coming from the system as it briefly slips out of view.”

While CHEOPS was pointed at WASP-189b, cataloguing all of its strange properties, researchers discovered that the star was unusual for more than just its bright blue colour.

It is spinning so rapidly that it is actually thicker at the equator, distorting the shape itself.

“The star itself is interesting — it’s not perfectly round, but larger and cooler at its equator than at the poles, making the poles of the star appear brighter,” said Lendl. “It’s spinning around so fast that it’s being pulled outwards at its equator! Adding to this asymmetry is the fact that WASP-189 b’s orbit is inclined; it doesn’t travel around the equator, but passes close to the star’s poles.”

This misaligned orbit implies that the planet had been formed further away from the star, and then been somehow pushed closer to it. Lendl suggested that this could mean the planet had interacted with other planets, or even other stars that had changed its orbital path.

According to the research, the planetary and star system is fairly young, which means researchers will be able to use this system to track the “atmospheric evolution of close-in gas giants.”

The new research is exciting to scientists not only for what it reveals about this planet and star, but for what it reveals about the telescope that provided such clear information.

“This first result from Cheops is hugely exciting: it is early definitive evidence that the mission is living up to its promise in terms of precision and performance,” Kate Isaak, CHEOPS project scientist at ESA, said in the ESA release.

Researchers point out in the paper that CHEOPS allowed them to refine and correct the size of the planet, which had been estimated incorrectly years earlier when the exoplanet’s existence was discovered by telescopes on the ground on Earth.

The paper concludes that the levels of the precision in the data shows that CHEOPS will be an invaluable tool in studying more exoplanets.

“We are expecting further spectacular findings on exoplanets thanks to observations with CHEOPS,” Benz said. “The next papers are already in preparation.”

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