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Researchers show magnetic fields around black hole in image for first time – Alaska Highway News

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A team of international scientists that includes a Canadian researcher said it has mapped, for the first time, the magnetic fields surrounding a black hole. 

The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration team produced an image that shows electromagnetic fields that look like a “crisp swirl” of light around the black hole as it appears in polarized light.

The discovery will help astrophysicists better understand black holes and their profound effects on galaxies, said Avery Broderick, one of the team’s researchers who works at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ont.

“We’re watching this astrophysical drama, this twisting up of magnetic fields, building that spring at the bottom that’s going to launch this jet out into this large universe and rule the fates of galaxies,” Broderick said in an interview.

The polarized image allows researchers to learn more about the magnetic fields surrounding the black hole in the M87 galaxy, he said.

They believe the research helps its understanding of how magnetic fields allow the black hole to “eat” matter and eject powerful energetic jets.

Two years ago the same team released the first-ever image of a black hole.

The international collaboration is composed of more than 300 researchers who compiled the image from eight Earth-based telescopes positioned around the world.

The new image is part of two related papers published Wednesday in The Astrophysical Journal.

The scientists have been working on the new project the past two years, Broderick said, ensuring what they were seeing was, in fact, real. 

He said he and his team devised a new radioimaging method that helped show the electromagnetic fields.

There were five other teams that were using different methods to show the polarization, some tried and true, others novel.

“All six of these achieved very similar results,” he said.

“Only when we have this kind of replication across this many teams that we feel confident we’re seeing something that’s really in the sky and not an artifact of our analysis.”

What the team produced is comparable, in a sense, to the old high school experiment where students drop iron filings around a magnet bar, he explained.

The filings will line up in a unique fashion around the poles and illustrate the invisible magnetic field. 

“What we have shown is those magnetic fields are not random, not just angled up in random directions, but very much like that bar magnet,” said Broderick, who is also a professor at the University of Waterloo.

He said the teams produced four images between on April 5 and 11 in 2017. 

“In some sense we have a polarized movie,” he said. “But the movie only has four frames.”

There is a difference between the first two images and the last two, he said.

“From the beginning of the week to the end of the week, the high polarization moves a bit,” Broderick said.

“That’s interesting — we don’t have a lot to say about it other than that’s interesting.”

The image researchers captured is not of the black hole closest to Earth, however, but of one at the centre of neighbouring galaxy Messier 87 that was easier to observe by telescope. It is about six billion times the mass of our sun and located about 53 million light years from Earth. One light-year is equal to 9.5 trillion kilometres.

“The newly published polarized images are key to understanding how the magnetic field allows the black hole to ‘eat’ matter and launch powerful jets,” said Andrew Chael, part of the team and a NASA Hubble Fellow at the Princeton Centre for Theoretical Science.

For Broderick, it’s not that different than building a fence.

“It’s a lot of work, a lot of sweat and frustration digging the post holes and screwing the whole thing together and making sure everything is plum, and while you’re doing that you’re focused on the mundane and onerous tasks,” he said. 

“But then you get to step back when you’re finished and you have a nice looking fence that’s not too crooked and you feel an immense measure of pride and that’s where we are today.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2021.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

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Oldest human footprints in North America found in New Mexico – CTV News

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WASHINGTON —
Fossilized footprints discovered in New Mexico indicate that early humans were walking across North America around 23,000 years ago, researchers reported Thursday.

The first footprints were found in a dry lake bed in White Sands National Park in 2009. Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey recently analyzed seeds stuck in the footprints to determine their approximate age, ranging from around 22,800 and 21,130 years ago.

The findings may shed light on a mystery that has long intrigued scientists: When did people first arrive in the Americas, after dispersing from Africa and Asia?

Most scientists believe ancient migration came by way of a now-submerged land bridge that connected Asia to Alaska. Based on various evidence — including stone tools, fossil bones and genetic analysis — other researchers have offered a range of possible dates for human arrival in the Americas, from 13,000 to 26,000 years ago or more.

The current study provides a more solid baseline for when humans definitely were in North America, although they could have arrived even earlier, the authors say. Fossil footprints are more indisputable and direct evidence than “cultural artifacts, modified bones, or other more conventional fossils,” they wrote in the journal Science, which published the study Thursday.

“What we present here is evidence of a firm time and location,” they said.

Based on the size of the footprints, researchers believe that at least some were made by children and teenagers who lived during the last ice age.

David Bustos, the park’s resource program manager, spotted the first footprints in ancient wetlands in 2009. He and others found more in the park over the years.

“We knew they were old, but we had no way to date the prints before we discovered some with (seeds) on top,” he said Thursday.

Made of fine silt and clay, the footprints are fragile, so the researchers had to work quickly to gather samples, Bustos said.

“The only way we can save them is to record them — to take a lot of photos and make 3D models,” he said.

Earlier excavations in White Sands National Park have uncovered fossilized tracks left by a saber-toothed cat, dire wolf, Columbian mammoth and other ice age animals.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Inspiration4 Lift Off: SpaceX Launches World’s First All-Citizen Mission in Earth’s Orbit – Illinoisnewstoday.com

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Tampa, Florida (WFLA) — SpaceX made history on Wednesday night when it launched the world’s first all-civil mission to get going from the Space Coast, Florida.

The Inspiration4 mission took off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center around 8:03 pm on Wednesday. The four crew members on the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft were launched onto a reusable Falcon 9 rocket and later separated from the spacecraft and landed on the drone.

The mission’s five-hour launch window began at 8:02 EST. The window was very large, as the crew was sent to orbit the Earth rather than the International Space Station, and therefore did not have such strict time constraints.

The crew is set to travel 350 miles above the surface of the Earth, about 100 miles higher than the International Space Station.

“This is important and historic, because it’s the best time humans have been in orbit since the Hubble Space Telescope mission,” said Benjireed, SpaceX’s manned spaceflight director.

(Photo provided by SpaceX)

The crew will spend three days in orbit to participate in research experiments on human health and performance. We hope that the results of our research will apply not only to future space flight, but also to human health here on Earth.

Inspiration4’s main goal is to provide and inspire support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. They want to raise $ 200 million for St. Jude in a three-day mission.

According to SpaceX, each of the four members of the crew was chosen to represent the pillars of a mission of prosperity, generosity, hope and leadership. The Inspiration 4 crew and the pillars they represent are:

  • leadership: 38 years old Jared Isaacman – Founder and CEO of Shift4Payments
  • Hope: 29-year-old Haley Arseno – Doctor assistants and childhood cancer survivors treated with St. Jude
  • Generosity: 41 years old Chris Sembroski – Lockheed Martin US Air Force veteran and aerospace employee
  • prosperity: 51 years old Dr. Cyan Proctor – Entrepreneurs, educators, trained pilots, and the active voice of the space exploration community

SpaceX trained all four crew members as commercial astronauts on Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft. The crew was trained in orbital mechanics, microgravity, weightlessness, other stress tests, emergency preparedness, and spacesuit training.

The mission was funded by Isaacman in a private transaction with SpaceX. Isaacman has also invested $ 100 million towards a funding target for the St. Jude mission.

Inspiration4 Lift Off: SpaceX Launches World’s First All-Citizen Mission in Earth’s Orbit

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'Flying' microchips could ride the wind to track air pollution – Yahoo Movies Canada

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Researchers have created a winged microchip around the size of a sand grain that may be the smallest flying device yet made, Vice has reported. They’re designed to be carried around by the wind and could be used in numerous applications including disease and air pollution tracking, according to a paper published by Nature. At the same time, they could be made from biodegradable materials to prevent environmental contamination. 

The design of the flyers was inspired by spinning seeds from cottonwood and other trees. Those fall slowly by spinning like helicopters so they can be picked up by the wind and spread a long distance from the tree, increasing the range of the species. 

The team from Northwest University ran with that idea but made it better, and smaller. “We think we’ve beaten biology… we’ve been able to build structures that fall in a more stable trajectory at slower terminal velocities than equivalent seeds,” said lead Professor John A. Rogers. “The other thing… was that we were able to make these helicopter flyer structures that are much smaller than seeds you would see in the natural world.”  

They’re not so small that the aerodynamics starts to break down, though. “All of the advantages of the helicopter design begin to disappear below a certain length scale, so we pushed it all the way, as far as you can go or as physics would allow,” Rogers told Vice. “Below that size scale, everything looks and falls like a sphere.”

The devices are also large enough to carry electronics, sensors and power sources. The team tested multiple versions that could carry payloads like antenna so that they could wireless communicate with a smartphone or each other. Other sensors could monitor things like air acidity, water quality and solar radiation. 

The flyers are still concepts right now and not ready to deploy into the atmosphere, but the team plans to expand their findings with different designs. Key to that is the use of biodegradable materials so they wouldn’t persist in the environment. 

“We don’t think about these devices… as a permanent monitoring componentry but rather temporary ones that are addressing a particular need that’s of finite time duration,” Rogers said. “That’s the way that we’re envisioning things currently: you monitor for a month and then the devices die out, dissolve, and disappear, and maybe you have to redeploy them.”

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