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Researchers pinpoint location of extremely energetic particles in a 'Space Manatee' – UM Today

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July 4, 2022 — 

An international team of astrophysicists has identified the location where powerful and highly energetic x-rays are being shot out into space from inside a region in space shaped like a giant aquatic mammal called a “Manatee.” They found the spectrum of the object at this location shows there is a “non-classical acceleration process” where particles are being injected and re-accelerated in immensely powerful jets of energy emitted by a black hole. But don’t worry about it irradiating us, since it’s more than 100,000,000,000,000,000 kilometres away from us.

Samar Safi-Harb

The astronomical object known as SS 433 has long been known to house a black hole that is causing blasts of energy to spew out across the Milky Way through jets of highly energetic particles. Considered the first known microquasar, it’s at the centre of what’s left of an exploded star in the constellation Aquila, high up in the summer night sky.

“This fascinating system looks like a beautiful Manatee in space and represents the only known supernova remnant in our Galaxy (out of some 400 such objects) housing a black hole,” says UM astrophysicist Dr. Samar Safi-Harb, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Extreme Astrophysics and lead author of the paper that includes scientists from Canada, USA, Europe, and South Korea.

Brydyn Mac Intyre

Brydyn Mac Intyre

UM team member and grad student Brydyn Mac Intyre helped create a striking colour image of this remarkable astronomical object. The blasts of energy terminate at two “earlobes” glowing at radio wavelengths, carved by jets ploughing through space at a quarter of the speed of light. “The space along the jets path glows brilliantly in high energy x-ray and gamma-ray light tens of light-years away from the black hole, but not visible to the naked eye,” says Mac Intyre.

SS 433 is so powerful astrophysicists have been searching for high-energy gamma-ray radiation from the area. In the late 1990s, Safi-Harb proposed that this system accelerates particles to energies higher than what can be achieved in the most powerful particle accelerators on Earth. It took nearly 20 years for high-energy gamma-ray radiation to be detected; in 2018 researchers at the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory announced the discovery of high-energy TeV (Tera-electron-volts) gamma-rays from the system. However, the site of particle acceleration could not be pinpointed until now.

Kaya Mori

Kaya Mori

Using the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton satellite and NASA’s NuSTAR satellite, modern orbiting x-ray telescopes, combined with data obtained from NASA’s Chandra x-ray telescope, this team of researchers were able to pinpoint the location of the ‘hardest’ (or highest energy) X-ray emitting region near SS 433, believed to be the onset of the eastern jet emission on large scales.

Dr. Kaya Mori, collaborator and astrophysicist from Columbia University in New York, says this powerful energy source, now believed to accelerate particles to very high energies, is a strong candidate for a cosmic “PeVatron,” a source that is accelerating cosmic rays up to Peta-electron volt energies, or 1,000,000,000,000,000 volts!

“Given the unusual nature of the spectrum and source location, this discovery challenges the theory of particle acceleration and points to injection and re- energization of the SS 433 jets at large distances, nearly 100 light years away from the black hole,” says Safi-Harb.

She adds: “SS 433 teaches us about, and zooms-in on, the rare case of a supernova remnant powered by a black hole, microquasars, ultra-luminous X-ray sources (a growing class of X-ray emitting sources whose nature is being debated) and is a micro-version of an active galaxy!”

Matthew Band

Matthew Band

This work involved several students from the University of Manitoba and Columbia University, such as Matthew Band, an undergraduate summer research awardee from UM’s Price Faculty of Engineering, who is a co-author on the paper.

“I didn’t expect my summer work to be apart of something like this, I am thrilled,” he said. “It’s an honour to learn from such great people and be a member of this international collaboration.”

The researchers announced the discovery in a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, to be shortly presented at the International Symposium on High-Energy Gamma-Ray Astronomy in Barcelona.

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Red Deer-area boy discovers ancient shark's tooth in his yard – Red Deer Advocate

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A dinosaur-loving Red Deer-area boy found a 60 million-year-old fossilized shark tooth — right in his own front yard.

Max Maurizio, 7, was exploring gravel near his house on an acreage southeast of Red Deer on Monday, when he spotted something that didn’t look like other rocks. It was sharp at one end and about an inch and a half long.

“He came running into the house saying, ‘I found a tooth! I found a tooth!” recalled his mom, Carly Maurizio.

At first, Max’s parents assumed it came from one of their cats. But Carly carefully examined it and decided, “‘it looks pretty old…”

Intrigued by Max’s discovery, his dad, Claudio Maurizio, emailed a photo of the tooth to the world-renowned Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller.

On Tuesday, an emailed response arrived from the museum. The photo had been passed on to Dr. Don Brinkman, an expert on fossil fish and turtles.

Brinkman believes the fossilized tooth very likely belonged to the genus Scapanorhynchus — a type of extinct ancient shark with an elongated snout, whose closest living relative is the goblin shark.

“That is an interesting find,” stated Brinkman in the email.

Scapanorhynchus reached a length of about three metres and was a fully marine animal, “so it is a little unusual getting it in the Red Deer area. However, I have seen a tooth of this genus from exposures of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation in the Tolman Bridge area,” east of Trochu, wrote Brinkman.

He noted rocks around Red Deer are from the Paskapoo Formation and are about 60 million years old.

From 100 million to 66 million years ago, the Prairies were covered by a warm inland sea. Scientists believe this Western Interior Seaway extended 3,000 km, from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, was 1,000 km wide and 700 metres deep.

The ancient water body contained a wide array of life, including sharks, bony fish, marine reptiles, birds, snails, ammonites and other mollusks.

The Maurizio family appreciates the information the museum provided on the tooth.

Max is particularly thrilled by his find and wants to become a paleontologist someday, said Carly.

Claudio noted his son is always noticing things that other people don’t. Once, before heading on a nature walk with his grandfather in Ontario, Max predicted he would find a bone — and sure enough, he did discover a small piece of wild animal bone, recalled his father.

Since Max has always been fascinated by dinosaurs, the whole family, including younger brother Meyer, regularly camp at Drumheller and visit the museum at least once a year, said Carly.

“Even when we go on little hikes or regular walks, Max is always looking down at the ground, looking for fossils… It’s quite remarkable that they can be found literally anywhere, even in your own yard,” she added.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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Red Deer County

Here’s a close up of the ancient shark’s tooth Max Maurizio, age seven, found in his Red Deer County yard. (Contributed photo).

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This solar storm strike on Earth triggered a Mysterious phenomenon called ‘STEVE’ – HT Tech

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On August 7 and 8, an unexpected solar storm event on Earth displayed a mysterious and rare sky phenomenon called STEVE or Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. What is it and how can it affect us? Find out.

We have always associated solar storms with aurora displays, damage to man-made satellites, radio blackouts and GPS disruptions, but it turns out that solar storms can trigger more mysterious phenomenons than that. The August 7 and 8 solar storm, which came as a surprise, caused a strange space phenomenon that left even the scientists puzzled. Many reported seeing a bright stream of light across the sky which was not like any aurora even seen. The question that arises now is what was that stunning light and can it affect us somehow?

The event was first reported by SpaceWeather.com which noted on its website, “During yesterday’s surprise geomagnetic storm, hot ribbons of plasma flowed through Earth’s magnetosphere. The name of this phenomenon is ‘STEVE’ — short for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. It was also sighted in Montana and Pennsylvania”.

The mysterious phenomenon to be born out of a solar storm is called STEVE

STEVE was seen in many locations in the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere and reportedly lasted about 40 minutes to an hour. While not much is known about these purple streams of light, we do know some facts about it.

STEVE is a very recent discovery. It was first observed in 2017 by citizen scientists and aurora hunters in northern Canada, according to Live Science. The purple glow is formed due to excessively hot (more than 3000 degrees Celsius) gas ribbons that move through the magnetosphere of the Earth. These gas ribbons typically move much faster than the air surrounding it and when it comes in contact with the radiation of solar storms, it gives out a band of glowing color. These are different from auroras because they are not caused by solar radiations colliding with atoms of oxygen and nitrogen through a process called refraction.

While this is still a superficial understanding of the chemical and physical activities that are taking place to cause this strange phenomenon, it does make for a stunning view across the sky. As for whether it can affect us, so far no evidence shows that these light displays are in any way harmful for us or the planet.

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Meteor Showers Taking Place Thursday and Friday Night – NorfolkToday.ca

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A meteor shower you won’t want to miss.

Gary Boyle, The Backyard Astronomer, tells us we are currently passing through the dusty debris of Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle.


It last appeared in 1992, and will return again in 2125.

He said the shower is lasting all night long, but 2 a.m. would be the time to see the most meteor.

The Backyard Astronomer suggested keeping an eye out for other things in the sky, as well.

Boyle added the next large shower will be in mid-December, but this one might be a little warmer to sit outside and watch.

Written by Ashley Taylor

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