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SpaceX Starship SN4 Bursts Into Massive Explosion

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Disastrous news about SpaceX‘s Starship SN4 launch vehicle prototype firing test just arrived from NASA Space Flight. Live-streamed less than a day ago at the launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas, the video feed showed a small flame that grew into a massive explosion, followed by an aftershock.

This is the fourth static fire test for SpaceX’s next generation of rockets, and while this set back does come just days before the passenger flight to the International Space Station, it’s worth noting that the rocket is entirely separate from the proven Falcon 9 engine. News about the recent event remains scarce, but a few tweets with photos have been uploaded showing a faint glow coming from the destroyed rocket. Additional information about the explosion is expected to surface soon.

In case you missed it, Uber has unveiled a new by-the-hour feature that lets riders book multistop trips.

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Edited By Harry Miller

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Fastest-growing black hole in the universe eats the equivalent of one sun per day – ZME Science

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This artist’s impression shows how ULAS J1120+0641, a very distant quasar powered by a black hole with a mass two billion times that of the Sun, may have looked. This quasar is the most distant yet found and is seen as it was just 770 million years after the Big Bang. This object is by far the brightest object yet discovered in the early Universe. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Astronomers have come across a monstrously large black hole with a gargantuan appetite. Each passing day, the insatiable void known as J2157 consumes gas and dust equivalent in mass to the sun, making it the fastest-growing black hole in the universe.

The sheer scale of J2157 is almost unfathomable, but we can try pinning some numbers on it nevertheless.

According to Christopher Onken, an astronomer at the Australian National University who was part of the team that originally discovered the object in 2019, J2167 is 8,000 times more massive than the supermassive black hole found at the heart of the Milky Way. That’s equivalent to 34 billion times the mass of the Sun.

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In order for Sagittarius A*, the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole, to reach a similar size, it would have had to gobble two-thirds of all the stars in the galaxy.

For their new study, astronomers turned to ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile to get a more accurate assessment of the black hole‘s mass. The researchers already knew they were dealing with a black hole of epic proportions, but the final results surprised everyone.

“We knew we were onto a very massive black hole when we realized its fast growth rate,” said team member Dr. Fuyan Bian, a staff astronomer at ESO.

“How much black holes can swallow depends on how much mass they already have.  So, for this one to be devouring matter at such a high rate, we thought it could become a new record holder. And now we know.” 

Although black holes can’t be imaged directly because they don’t let light escape, J2157 is actually classed as a quasar, or “quasi-stellar radio source” — extremely bright objects powered by black holes at least a billion times as massive as our sun.

The bright signal of the quasar is formed by particles of dust and gas accreting around the edge of the supermassive black hole that are accelerated away at almost the speed of light. Practically, the black hole acts like an extremely powerful natural particle accelerator.

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Luckily for us, the black hole is located many billions of light-years away. But this also means that astronomers are measuring J2157’s gravitational influence as it appeared in the distant past when the universe was still very young.

“We’re seeing it at a time when the universe was only 1.2 billion years old, less than 10 percent of its current age,” Dr Onken said. 

“It’s the biggest black hole that’s been weighed in this early period of the Universe.” 

Since then, J2157 likely grew even bigger, perhaps merging with several other black holes across the eons.

“With such an enormous black hole, we’re also excited to see what we can learn about the galaxy in which it’s growing,” Dr Onken said. 

“Is this galaxy one of the behemoths of the early Universe, or did the black hole just swallow up an extraordinary amount of its surroundings? We’ll have to keep digging to figure that out.” 

The findings appeared in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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P.E.I. fishermen surrounded by 'thousands' of jellyfish – CBC.ca

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Just outside the Tryon River on Prince Edward Island, Brian Campbell’s boat motor began to stall as it became surrounded by lion’s mane jellyfish. 

“I’ve never seen that many before,” said Campbell. “They would get caught up in that propeller. There’s quite a few of them — I want to say thousands and thousands.”

Lion’s mane jellyfish can grow to two metres in diameter with tentacles as long as 30 metres, roughly the same length as a blue whale. 

What’s more? They sting.

High concentration of lion’s mane

“Wouldn’t want to be swimming there that day, that’s for sure,” said Campbell, who has been a fisherman for 42 years. 

“It’s all right if you got one or two that sting you. But at that point right there, I think you could probably do some harm … if you get 30 or 40 on you.”

Last Tuesday, Campbell posted on Facebook warning people not to swim in the area. He later added a video of the encounter. 

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Oceanographer Nick Record says the species is common throughout Atlantic Canada and the Gulf of Maine, but this is the first he’s heard of such a large group.

“I’m pretty sure that’s the highest concentration of lion’s mane jellyfish that anyone has reported to me,” said Record, a senior research scientist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, a non-profit research institution in Maine. 

‘Just giants’

Record said he has noticed a new phenomenon of gigantic lion’s mane jellyfish washing up onshore.

“They’re usually about the size of a dinner plate or smaller,” he said. “The last 18 months or so there’s been a handful, maybe five to 10 instances, where they were like [one and a half to two metres] across — so just giants.”

Nick Record says he receives between 100 and 1,000 reports of jellyfish sightings each year. (Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences)

Record has been using citizen reports to track the creatures for about a decade. He said it’s hard to know whether or not  jellyfish are increasing based on the reports, because while more reported sightings could mean more jellyfish, it could also just mean more people are out on the water.

That being said, there are several factors that could impact the population including weather, currents and the food chain. 

“Partly it’s the biology. Jellyfish can reproduce really quickly when conditions are good,” said Record. “Partly it’s the ocean physics.”

‘I couldn’t believe how many there was’

“When I first saw it, I thought maybe somebody hit a seal up there just a little ways away,” said Chad Gallant, a lobster fisherman in North Rustico, P.E.I.

“There was a bunch of pink in the water. I thought it might’ve been blood.”

It wasn’t blood, it was jellyfish. 

Unlike other living organisms, jellyfish can survive and thrive in stressed environments with little oxygen and depleted ecosystems. (Chad Gallant)

These were moon jellyfish, a different species from those Campbell saw.

“We just stopped there,” said Gallant. “I couldn’t believe how many there was.”

Gallant also posted a video on Facebook. 

“It’s not too surprising to me to see a really high abundance of them,” said Record. ” But I’ve never seen a photo where they were that dense before.”

Moon jellyfish are seasonal and feed on zooplankton, according to Record. He said they “don’t generally sting,” but some people have sensitivities or allergic reactions to them. 

“I thought it was kinda cool,” laughed Gallant. “It don’t bother me from going swimming again.” 

Competing with fish for food

Record said there are both pros and cons to seeing groups this large. 

“Some people see jellyfish as a total nuisance and large jellyfish aggregations as an unequivocally bad thing,” he said. “Other people see jellyfish as these amazing, beautiful animals and just want to take photos of them all day.”

They can impact the ecosystem in many ways, too. On one hand, they’re prey for sea turtles. On the other, they compete with fish for food. 

There’s a scientific debate about whether jellyfish are increasing globally or not.— Nick Record, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

“People have tried to get fish stocks to rebound, but because the [jellyfish] are eating the same food that the fish would be eating, it makes it more difficult for fish stocks to come back,” said Record. 

But unlike other living organisms, the jellyfish can survive and thrive in stressed environments with little oxygen and depleted ecosystems. 

More data needed

“There’s a scientific debate about whether jellyfish are increasing globally or not,” said Record. “In order to answer the question about whether there’s a long-term trend, you need decades of data.

“We don’t really have that in Atlantic Canada.” 

According to Record, this citizen reporting program is “really the only long-term survey for jellyfish in our part of the world.” 

In order to track the sea animal, Record has to know where they are. And to know where they are, he needs people to report them. Record said people can send information regarding sightings to jellyfish@bigelow.org.

There’s little doubt the videos taken around P.E.I. show a significant number of jellyfish. However, whether this means their population is climbing, the response isn’t so clear. 

“We don’t know yet,” said Record. “It’ll take many years before we can answer that question.” 

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First ever glimpse of the core of a gas giant after one found orbiting distant star – Sky News

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Scientists have discovered the surviving core of a gas giant orbiting a distant star, offering the first ever glimpse of the interior of these mysterious planets.

The core is about the same size as Neptune, or around four times larger than Earth, although it isn’t clear what happened to the planet’s gaseous atmosphere.

According to researchers from the University of Warwick’s department of physics, the atmosphere could have been stripped away or it may have failed to form early on in the planet’s life.

Image:
The planet could have once been similar to Jupiter. Pic: NASA

The planet core was found in a survey of stars by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and offers a unique opportunity to learn about the composition of gas giants.

Planets such as Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune are believed to have a rocky core deep beneath the bulk of their mass which is made up of gases.

Although the new core, named TOI 849 b, is around the same size as Neptune, it is believed to have three times the mass, with the material making it being squashed much more densely.

Dr David Armstrong, lead author on the paper, said: “While this is an unusually massive planet, it’s a long way from the most massive we know.

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“But it is the most massive we know for its size, and extremely dense for something the size of Neptune, which tells us this planet has a very unusual history,” he added.

“TOI 849 b is the most massive terrestrial planet – [a planet] that has an earth-like density – discovered.

“We would expect a planet this massive to have accreted large quantities of hydrogen and helium when it formed, growing into something similar to Jupiter. The fact that we don’t see those gases lets us know this is an exposed planetary core.”

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Pic: NASA
Image:
It was discovered by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Pic: NASA

Dr Armstrong said this was the first time scientists have discovered an intact exposed core of a gas giant orbiting around a star.

There are two theories as to why the planet’s core has been exposed.

The first is that it was once similar to Jupiter but lost its outer gas, potentially through tidal disruption – when it was ripped apart from orbiting too close to its star – or in a collision with another planet.

Alternatively, it might be a failed gas giant, which never formed an atmosphere – for instance if there was a gap in the disc of dust the planet formed from, or if the disc ran out of material.

Dr Armstrong added: “It’s a first, telling us that planets like this exist and can be found. We have the opportunity to look at the core of a planet in a way that we can’t do in our own solar system.

“There are still big open questions about the nature of Jupiter’s core, for example, so strange and unusual exoplanets like this give us a window into planet formation that we have no other way to explore.

“Although we don’t have any information on its chemical composition yet, we can follow it up with other telescopes.

“Because TOI 849 b is so close to the star, any remaining atmosphere around the planet has to be constantly replenished from the core. So if we can measure that atmosphere then we can get an insight into the composition of the core itself.”

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