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Over 1000 cosmic explosions traced to mysterious repeating fast radio burst – CTV News

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Talk about a cosmic temper tantrum. An outburst of explosions has been traced back to a mysterious repeating fast radio burst in space called FRB 121102.

Using China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope, or FAST, researchers detected 1,652 bursts over the course of 47 days, between Aug. 29 and Oct. 29, 2019. This is the largest set of fast radio burst events so far.

A study detailing these findings published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are millisecond-long emissions of radio waves in space, and astronomers have been able to trace some radio bursts back to their home galaxies. Scientists have yet to determine the actual cause of the flashes. But the short bursts can produce a year’s worth of our sun’s total energy output.

Individual radio bursts emit once and don’t repeat. But repeating fast radio bursts are known to send out short, energetic radio waves multiple times. FRB 121102 has been known as a repeating fast radio burst since 2016.

During testing of the FAST telescope as it was being commissioned, researchers noticed FRB 121102 was frequently flaring and sending out radio signals, with a varying cadence. A total of 122 bursts were recorded during the peak hour, making it the highest rate ever for any fast radio burst. The 1,652 individual bursts occurred over a total of 59.5 hours spread across 47 days.

“This was the first time that one FRB source was studied in such great detail,” said study coauthor Bing Zhang, an astrophysicist and distinguished professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in a statement. “The large burst set helped our team hone in like never before on the characteristic energy and energy distribution of FRBs, which sheds new light on the engine that powers these mysterious phenomena.”

The energy of the signals “severely constrains the possibility that FRB 121102 comes from an isolated compact object,” said study coauthor Wang Pei, an assistant professor from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in a statement.

While some people favour the idea that aliens could be the source of these bursts, scientists are leaning toward black holes or hyper-magnetized neutron stars called magnetars.

Magnetars are dense stars, about the size of a city like Chicago or Atlanta, with the strongest magnetic fields found in the universe. Scientists think the bursts could originate from the magnetic field of magnetars.

FRB 121102 was the first repeating fast radio burst to be traced back to its source, linked back to a small dwarf galaxy more than 3 billion light-years away in 2017. Researchers also detected a pattern within the burst in 2020. During this cyclical pattern, radio bursts are emitted during a 90-day window, followed by a silent period of 67 days. This pattern repeats every 157 days.

Previous observations showed that usually when they repeat, it’s sporadic or in a cluster.

With this new impressive set of activity from FRB 121102, researchers can better understand the energy associated with these flashes. This could help scientists learn more about the potential source of fast radio bursts.

Fast radio bursts were only discovered in 2007, followed by the discovery that some of them can repeat in 2016. Now, researchers know they can have patterns as well.

The Commensal Radio Astronomy FAST Survey has helped find six new fast radio bursts, including a repeating one like FRB 121102.

“As the world’s largest antenna, FAST’s sensitivity proves to be conducive to revealing intricacies of cosmic transients, including FRBs,” said lead study author Li Di, a professor at the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in a statement.

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Green activist hid in Louvre loos before gatecrashing Louis Vuitton’s show

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Marie Cohuet hid in a lavatory inside the Louvre art museum for over two hours, plotting her gatecrashing of Louis Vuitton fashion show in protest at the environmental damage that activists say is caused by the fashion industry.

After edging closer to the show’s entrance as the event neared, Cohuet saw her chance when staff were distracted by the glitzy arrival of actress Catherine Deneuve.

Talking animatedly into her phone, Cohuet pretended to be from the organising team and walked in.

She bided her time until the catwalk parade began to a soundtrack of thunderous organ music and church bells, at which point she unfurled her banner and joined the procession of models under a chandelier-lit runway.

“It was a little bit like taking back power,” the 26-year-old environmental campaigner, a member of the Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth) group, told Reuters of the seconds before she was bundled to the floor by Louis Vuitton’s security agents.

Her banner was scrawled with the slogan “overconsumption = extinction”.

Cohuet said she had taken a stand on Oct. 5 against a fashion industry that fell short on its promises to act against climate change and pushed brands to renew collections faster, and produce more for less cost.

She accused LVMH of having pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions but excluding its sub-contractors from its calculations.

Asked by Reuters to comment, LVMH said its 2030 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than half, announced in April, included those of subcontractors.

Critics say that fast fashion, which replicates catwalk trends and high-fashion designs at breakneck speed, is wasteful, exploits low-paid workers and pollutes the environment, including through intensive use of pesticides to grow cotton.

On the runway, Cohuet’s heart was in her stomach as she stared ahead and passed the gazes of cinema stars, LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault and members of his clan.

“Sometimes an act of civil disobedience is needed, sometimes we need to challenge head-on those who are screwing the planet today, those who are trampling on human rights and social rights,” Cohuet said.

As a teenager at home, she expressed her indignation at the failure of global leaders to act on climate change. It had only been in the past few years that she joined protests, organised petitions and lobbied lawmakers.

Cohuet said she avoided frivolous clothing purchases and air travel but that there was only so much impact an individual could make. Real change must come from governments and leaders of big business, she continued.

Even so, Cohuet holds little hope for meaningful progress at this month’s United Nations COP26  climate change conference summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

“Nice promises get made on paper but then things tend to falter and states fail to turn them into concrete actions,” she said.

 

(Additional reporting by Mimosa Spencer; writing by Richard Lough; editing by Mark Heinricjh)

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Chinese institutions to receive 2nd batch of lunar samples for research – ecns

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China has announced a list of research institutions that are to receive the second batch of lunar samples brought back by its Chang’e-5 mission.

The newly distributed samples, weighing about 17.9 grams, will be divided into 51 lots and handed over to scientists from 17 research institutions, according to a notice issued by the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

Sixteen institutions that are eligible to study the second batch of lunar samples are from the mainland, including Peking University, Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Macau University of Science and Technology is also qualified for using the lunar sample.

According to the notice, the China National Space Administration established a selection commission for the distribution of the samples earlier this month.

The Chang’e-5 probe returned to Earth on Dec. 17, 2020, having retrieved a total of 1,731 grams of lunar samples, mainly rocks and soil from the moon’s surface.

China delivered the first batch of the lunar samples, weighing about 17 grams, to 13 institutions in July.


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SpaceX's SN20 Starship prototype completes its first static fire test – Yahoo Movies Canada

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SpaceX has taken a major step towards sending the Starship to orbit. On Thursday night, the private space corporation has conducted the SN20 Starship prototype’s first static fire test as part of its preparation for the spacecraft’s launch. According to Space, the SN20 is currently outfitted with two Raptor engines: A standard “sea-level” Raptor and a vacuum version designed to operate in space. At 8:16PM Eastern time on Thursday, the company fired the latter. SpaceX then revealed on Twitter that it was the first ever firing of a Raptor vacuum engine integrated onto a Starship.

Around an hour after that, the SN20 lit up yet again in a second static fire test that may have involved both Raptor engines. The SN20 will eventually have six Raptors — three standard and three vacuum — and will be the first prototype to attempt an orbital launch. A Starship launch system is comprised of the Starship spacecraft itself and a massive first-stage booster called the Super Heavy. Both are designed to be reusable and to carry large payloads for trips to low and higher Earth orbits. It can also eventually be used for longer trips to the Moon and to Mars. 

SpaceX doesn’t have a date for the SN20 test flight yet, but the plan is to launch the vehicle with the Super Heavy known as Booster 4 from the company’s Boca Chica site. The booster will splash down in the Gulf of Mexico, while the SN20 will continue its journey towards orbit. 

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