Saturday, January 14, 2006

Astronomers Find A Space Slinky and A Stellar Tornado

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Two interstellar spirals in the news today: one is a magnetic slinky coiled around increasingly tightly massed gasses and a star which is pouring out tremendous energy from one pole which is exciting the surrounding gasses in a tremendous, rainbow colored tornado.

Astronomers have discovered a giant magnetic field that is coiled like a snake around a rod-shaped gas cloud in the constellation Orion.

Timothy Robishaw, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, involved in the discovery, described the structure as a "giant, magnetic Slinky wrapped around a long, finger-like interstellar cloud."

Astronomers call that wound-up shape "helical."

The discovery, presented here this week at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society, was made in the Orion Molecular Cloud, a known stellar nursery in the constellation Orion. It supports a previous theory about how magnetic fields interact with interstellar gas clouds.
This is an interesting development. Gravity has intrigued scientists ever since Newton and magnetism, since it was discovered probably by the Norse, being close by the North Pole, most likely, and unlike sailors elsewhere, sailing often in fog, magnetism has tickled minds for generations, every child is fascinated by it. Just take them down to a stream with a magnet and watch their amazement as the magnet pulls iron out of the loose gravel.

Magnetism is everywhere just like gravity and to see it so forcefully coiled around a large formation rather than being simply bipolar within a spinning sphere, means there is going to be a lot of rethinking how magnetism works and what the rules are concerning it.

This also reminds me of slinkies. This is one toy that would have never been bought if it weren't for TV. When I was a child, the lilting slinky song stuck to the mind and even though we had not so much as a stairstep in the house in Arizona, we wanted one. Well, we could take it to some rock formations but it wouldn't work, dropping it off of a cliff was verboten though possible fun.

We did take it inside the 86" Observatory and it made a wonderful racket clanking down the metal stairs and so it found a fond place in our hearts as a noisemaker.

Also in the news:
High-energy particles spewing out of a young star in a nearby stellar nursery are plowing through interstellar clouds and creating a giant spiral structure in space that looks like a glowing, rainbow-colored tornado, scientists said today.

The star spewing the particle jet lies 480 light-years away in a star-forming region known as Chamaeleon I.

In a photograph taken with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, that star is actually not visible because it is located off the upper edge of the image.

The luminous tornado-shaped structure is known as a Herbig-Haro object and estimated to be about 0.3 light years, or nearly 2 trillion miles, long and shows up in the infrared.

Herbig-Haro objects are formed when highly energized particles—usually electrons and protons—are ejected from a young star and collide with nearby clouds of interstellar dust and gas. The jet particles stream out of the stars at speeds of more than 100 miles per second and heat the surrounding clouds to an infrared glow that can be detected.
A number of galactic objects have this same thing, one pole ejecting very violently a stream of energy that can go trillions and trillions of miles into space.

Streaming out from the center of the galaxy M87 like a cosmic searchlight is one of nature's most amazing phenomena, a black-hole-powered jet of electrons and other sub-atomic particles traveling at nearly the speed of light. In this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, the blue of the jet contrasts with the yellow glow from the combined light of billions of unseen stars and the yellow, point-like globular clusters that make up this galaxy.
The really big globular galaxies are space's monsters which have gigantic black holes in the center and it seems this one has some tremendous turbulence to cause such a gigantic energy jet.

From, pictures of Rome.
Nature not only abhors a vacuum, She loves spirals. Using newly regained understanding of mathematics and geometry, during the 1600s and on, artists, scientists and builders used various spirals and double helixes to create hypnotizing designs and interesting constructs.

Gravity, exponential growth and magnetism all work together to create a host of spiralistic situations.

From Joshua Barnes, University of Hawaii:

That rotating disk galaxies should exhibit spiral structure is scarcely surprising, but the nature of the spiral patterns is not completely understood -- probably because there is no unique cause of spiral structure.

18.1 Material Arms & Density Waves

Because disk galaxies rotate differentially, the orbital period is an increasing function of radius R. Thus if spiral arms were material features then differential rotation would would soon wind them up into very tightly-coiled spirals. The expected pitch angle of material arms in a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way is only about 0.25 degrees (BT87, Ch. 6.1.2). In fact, pitch angles measured from photographs range from about 5 degrees for Sa galaxies to 20 degrees for Sc galaxies (Kennicutt 1981). The most likely implication is that spiral arms are not material features.

The other possibility is that spiral arms are density waves; in this case the stars which make up a given spiral arm are constantly changing. Observational and numerical evidence lends strong support to the idea of spiral density waves.
He has some interesting computer models showing how galaxies tend to form spiral arms when there is gravitational interference from some other galaxy.

Which takes me to my favorite topic: if we are all exploding away from each other at a faster and faster pace, why are all these galaxies sliding into each other, messing around with each other, inside each other's gravitational pools? This wouldn't be possible, would it?

This condundrum lurks in the background of Einsteinian physics, like a black hole, barely seen but utterly in control.
Previous articles:
Our Galaxy Is Spiralling Down Into The Great Attractor's Black Hole
Einstein And Schroedinger And the Big Box Universe Paradox
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Developing Major Eruption In Alaska Could Bring More Snow, Lower Temperatures

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

The frantic polar bears must be celebrating today, St. Augustine Volcano in the Alaskan volcanic chain is pumping lots of dust into the northern stratosphere. This means dropping temperatures and lots of snow if it keeps up.

From Yahoo:
Augustine Volcano erupted Friday for the third time in a week, sending an ash plume toward communities on the southwest Kenai Peninsula.

Tom Murray, scientist in charge at the Alaska Volcano Observatory, said the mountain on an isolated and uninhabited island about 180 miles south of Anchorage erupted for 45 minutes, starting shortly before 4 a.m.

The eruption was stronger than a pair of eruptions Wednesday and lasted longer. Murray said additional eruptions are likely.
45 minutes is not much but it is an indication that the volcanic activity triggered by the Great Boxing Day Quake is beginning in ernest. Volcanic action always has a time delay after terrific earthquakes. Already, Mt. St. Helens is acting up as well as another volcano in Antarctica. None of these are very large eruptions so far. By the way, I noticed last evening at sunset, the fine white dust reflected the light to make a golden, melted butter sunset. Here in the Northeast in winter, we have few sunsets to see so if anyone in the drought areas get to see beautiful sunsets, just thank St. Augustine!

Looking at history, the big eruptions usually fallow by five years, they seldom are instantaneous, but then, we have only 200 years of earthquake/volcanic information to go by. Geology doesn't deal very well with very small time frames going back in time. Nonetheless, the earth's history has been punctuated with very great volcanic eruptions that alter the environment and has a very great effect on living creatures within this environment. For example:
The first evidence of large volcanic eruptions that shook Antarctica around 25 million years ago has unexpectedly been discovered in rock cores retrieved from the seabed as part of an international ocean-floor drilling project in which the National Science Foundation (NSF) is a partner.

Scott Borg, who heads the geology and geophysics program for NSF's Antarctic Science Section, said the rock cores, drilled from the sea floor off the Victoria Land coast near Cape Roberts, show surprising evidence of enormous volcanic eruptions. These eruptions are believed to have significantly altered global temperatures at the time.

"The discovery of the volcanic material is really quite exciting,'' Borg said. "It is clearly evidence of a major eruption, several times larger than Mount St. Helens (in Washington State) and possibly comparable with the eruption that destroyed Pompeii."
Um, the Pompeiian blow up wasn't all that much, not compared to the Santorini blow up which brought down more than one Bronze Age civilization and drove hordes of Dorian and other Steppe people towards the Mediterranean. Antarctica is geologially active and now is on the move again, as well. I expect to see much more activity there. A new undersea volcano has been discovered there this year, for example.

Also from SpaceDaily archives:
These records (ice cores drilled by scientists) show ice sheet advances and retreats that match Milankovitch cycles - variations in the Earth's orbit around the sun, in the tilt of the Earth's axis and in the direction the planet's axis is pointing. The finding, reported in the British journal Nature, suggests a link between these orbital oscillations and the timing of Antarctic ice ages.

The core was drilled in 1998-99 as part of the Cape Roberts Project, an effort by scientists from seven nations to retrieve climate histories trapped in millions of years of sediment beneath the floor of the Ross Sea. Drill sites located just offshore from the Transantarctic Mountains and near McMurdo Station, the main U.S. base in the Antarctic, have retrieved cores from three drill holes. The report in Nature discusses sediments found in the second of these cores. While the Antarctic ice sheets formed approximately 34 million years ago, the parts of the core described in this paper were deposited during a period lasting about 400,000 years, approximately 24.1 to 23.7 million years ago.
These new findings, however, show that Antarctic ice sheets advanced and retreated at regular intervals during a 400,000-year period between 24.1 and 23.7 million years ago. The records in the core showed the cycles lasted approximately 100,000 years and 40,000 years -- the same time spans characteristic of some Milankovitch cycles.

"It appears that the Antarctic ice sheet has responded in a very major and rhythmic way during this period," explained Peter Webb, professor of geological sciences at Ohio State University and co-chief scientist on the project. "The growth and reduction of the Antarctic ice sheet at its margins is similar to that of the Quaternary Ice Sheets in the Northern Hemisphere."
The earth's planetary lithosphere and atmosphere are very complex and tremendously dynamic. Many forces work with each other making it difficult to isolate elements and declare them to be causal by themselves.

The sun's position relative to the earth, the earth's tilt relative to the sun, whether we are all traveling through dust free space or through dirty cosmic matter, the proximity of other star systems who move at different rates than we do through all this, the sun itself has cycles, 20 year cycles where the polar opposites switch, when there is strong or weak solar storm activity as well as mega-cycles when the sun generates less heat than other times, the oceans have cycles, too, everything sways in various rhythms that go up and down, ocsillations just like a steam engine, hot and cold, fast and slow, the pendulums are many and sometimes they suddenly fall in unison just like planets sometimes line up with each other rather than being at disparate points relative to each other.

The Ice Ages have a rhythm, this is obvious. We are actually at the opening stages of a new Ice Age, if the rhythm model is any guide. The movement of continents is continuous and they contribute a great deal to the climate here because if any of the land masses end up polar, huge ice build ups begin, these cycle with the sun and the earth's movements.

People who want to pollute with impunity don't want to accept the idea that pollution is bad so they like to point out how this or that means whatever it means to them, namely, everything is very simple and isolated examples negate the entire ecosystem.

The reason why we should not pollute is pretty simple: we don't know how this will interface with the world and finding out the hard way means extinction. It isn't just the carbonic pollution, it is all the pollution. Or take the famous neon pigs in Taiwan! Or human/mouse gene splicing! All in the name of extending human lives, we create monsters in our labs as well as destroying the environment in our ever widening quest for impenetrable bubbles.
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