Watch live as asteroid passes Earth in ‘very close’ approach

A newly discovered asteroid will make a “very close” approach to the Earth on Friday—and you can watch the space rock zooming through space live online…

The asteroid is estimated to measure around 56 feet across, NASA figures show, making it comparable in size to a house.

Despite the fact that it will fly past Earth on Friday, 2023 EY was only discovered on March 13—just four days before its encounter with our planet. The asteroid was spotted by a telescope at the Sutherland Observing Station in South Africa…

The Virtual Telescope Project (VTP) will be providing a live stream that will enable viewers to watch the asteroid as it zooms past the Earth. The director of the project, Gianluca Masi, described the approach as “very close” in an email to Newsweek.


Astronomers keeping an eye on that asteroid NASA whacked

Dimorphos asteroid, NASA/ESA/STScI/Hubble

Astronomers are still watching that asteroid that NASA whacked with a spacecraft back in September, in the first-ever test of whether an asteroid could be deliberately pushed off-course

Almost immediately after NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission sent a golf cart-sized spacecraft crashing into an asteroid called Dimorphos, scientists hailed it as a huge success – and a powerful demonstration that an asteroid’s trajectory can be altered…

The collision altered the path of Dimorphos through space, shortening the time it takes to orbit another, larger asteroid by 33 minutes, according a new analysis in the journal Nature. The journal published a study detailing the results this week, alongside four additional scientific reports on this unprecedented asteroid deflection experiment…

Next year, the European Space Agency will send out a mission called Hera that should take close-up images of the asteroid, revealing the size of any crater left behind. It should also be able to determine the asteroid’s mass. All of this should help astronomers understand even more about how to push asteroids around.

The stuff that sci-fi geeks have known all about…as theory…for much longer than our space research has been a reality. Can’t begin to describe how much fun it is to keep up with the real deal when it’s happening.

See a horse wearing pants? It’s not a fashion statement.

“Humans suffer from the exact same type of lymphedema horses do, but the difference is that human medicine has a very effective treatment option—pneumatic compression devices,” Lauren Schnabel says. “So we wanted to create a horse-specific version of those devices and see if it would be similarly effective.”…

Lymphedema is the accumulation of excess lymph fluid which causes swollen limbs. In a pilot study the device, called the EQ Press, successfully moved fluid up the horses’ limbs and into the lymph nodes. This could lead to relief for horses with chronic conditions, as well as with temporary swelling due to injury or inactivity…

The full EQ Press system comprises custom garments designed to accommodate the front and rear limbs of horses. Powered by pumps that tuck into a saddle pad, the device creates cycles of dynamic pressure waves that start at the bottom of the limb and move up, forcing fluid up the limb and eliminating backflow.

I must admit, though…it’s a pretty stylish look, as well.

The first evidence of “cosmological coupling”

Researchers have uncovered the first evidence of “cosmological coupling” — a newly predicted phenomenon in Einstein’s theory of gravity, possible only when black holes are placed inside an evolving universe.

The researchers studied supermassive black holes at the heart of ancient and dormant galaxies to develop a description of them that agrees with observations from the past decade.

Their findings are published in two articles, one in The Astrophysical Journal and the other in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The first study found that these black holes gain mass over billions of years in a way that can’t easily be explained by standard galaxy and black hole processes, such as mergers or accretion of gas.

According to the second paper, the growth in mass of these black holes matches predictions for black holes that not only cosmologically couple, but also enclose vacuum energy—material that results from squeezing matter as much as possible without breaking Einstein’s equations, thus avoiding a singularity.

With singularities removed, the paper then shows that the combined vacuum energy of black holes produced in the deaths of the universe’s first stars agrees with the measured quantity of dark energy in our universe.

Wish I had sufficient lifespan available to start all over again. Studies, acquiring knowledge enough to join the scientific circles key to this sort of research. Fascinating stuff!

“Turn off all the lights” in our solar system. There’s still light leftover!

The night sky may appear like an inky black canvas, but astronomers are still attempting to answer the questions: “how dark can the night sky get?” and “will there be any light leftover after that?”

It’s not exactly possible, or advisable, to go across the cosmos turning out the lights in the form of the sun, other stars, or distant galaxies, so a team of researchers did the next best thing…They went through a whopping 200,000 images collected by the Hubble Space Telescope, systematically making measurements to account for the light from our solar system in order to hunt for any background glow that remains and is thus from an unknown source. The work was carried out as part of an initiative called “SKYSURF.”…

The discovery is similar to turning out all the lights in your room, drawing the curtains, shuttering the windows, and still observing a ghostly glow filling the room…

Not to worry though; there’s definitely a scientific explanation for this eerie leftover glow. The team may have been surprised by this spooky solar system glow, but they have a few ideas about its origins.

For geeks like me, half the fun remaining after finding a question like this one…is learning the answer.

Potential ‘Technosignatures’ Hidden in Radio Signals From Space

Searching the skies for UFOs or homesick aliens is practically an American pastime, and no one does it better than the SETI Institute (SETI meaning Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence).

Established in 1984, SETI has made it their mission to scan the skies for radio signals comprised of non-Earth based “technosignatures” that may belong to alien tech. Such signals—which may indicate communications technology in use, and thus intelligence—are sought after by scientists looking for signs of alien life. So far, this decades-long search has yet to turn up any convincing leads, but a new paper published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy is hoping to change that by using machine learning to tackle the problem…

Peter Ma is first author on the paper and an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto. He told Motherboard in an email that while AI has been applied to SETI’s radio data in the past, this new approach takes the search completely out of human hands.

“Previously people have inserted ML [machine learning] components into various pipelines to help with the search,” Ma said. “This work relies entirely on just the neural network without any traditional algorithms supporting it and produced results that traditional algorithms did not pick up.”

Our knowledge grows. Methods improve. Understanding information gathered is the next task.

Has Earth’s Inner Core Shifted It’s Spin-Cycle…Again?

Thousands of kilometres beneath your feet, Earth’s interior might be doing something very weird. Many scientists think that the inner core spins faster than the rest of the planet — but sometime in the past decade, according to a study, it apparently stopped doing so…

“We were quite surprised,” say Yi Yang and Xiaodong Song, seismologists at Peking University in Beijing who reported the findings today [January 23rd] in Nature Geoscience.

The results could help to shine light on the many mysteries of the deep Earth, including what part the inner core plays in maintaining the planet’s magnetic field and in affecting the speed of the whole planet’s rotation — and thus the length of a day. But they are just the latest instalment in a long-running effort to explain the inner core’s unusual rotation, and might not be the final word on the matter…

Researchers discovered the inner core in 1936, after studying how seismic waves from earthquakes travel through the planet. Changes in the speed of the waves revealed that the planet’s core, which is about 7,000 kilometres wide, consists of a solid centre, made mostly of iron, inside a shell of liquid iron and other elements. As iron from the outer core crystallizes on the surface of the inner core, it changes the density of the outer liquid, driving churning motions that maintain Earth’s magnetic field…

Now, Yang and Song say that the inner core has halted its spin relative to the mantle. They studied earthquakes mostly from between 1995 and 2021, and found that the inner core’s super-rotation had stopped around 2009. They observed the change at various points around the globe, which the researchers say confirms it is a true planet-wide phenomenon related to core rotation, and not just a local change on the inner core’s surface.

Now, we ALL can feel unsteady on our feet.

Understanding How Atmospheric Rivers Control Most of Earth’s Precipitation

The rain currently pummeling coastal California is relieving parched crops. It’s also a nuisance that’s delaying flights, uprooting trees, and causing devastating flooding.

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are to blame. These regions of humid air flow from the tropics into colder climates as strong winds, and condense when they encounter mountains. The warm air rises and cools over elevated land, forming clouds that dump rain and snow onto the earth below. ARs originate in the tropics because warm air holds more moisture.

“Atmospheric rivers are literally rivers in the sky, the rivers of water vapor that transport massive amounts of water in the atmosphere,” Marty Ralph, a hydrometeorologist, tells Popular Mechanics…To predict precipitation over the West Coast, Ralph and a co-researcher began studying atmospheric rivers. “We’re essentially measuring the atmospheric river itself over the ocean,” Ralph says. “We need to know the vertical details of the AR and [analyze] the lowest 10,000 feet.” Very little data exists on this region, because clouds tend to block ARs from a satellite’s view.

So, Air Force planes do the job; they fly into atmospheric rivers, dropping 10–12 little sensors that are about the size of a Coke can and equipped with parachutes. As they descend, the sensors measure temperature, pressure, wind, and moisture, and then communicate that data back to the airplane via radio. Next, the airplane sends the data via satellite to “a big bucket of weather data that weather prediction models around the world draw from to start the next forecast,” Ralph explains.

Meteorology has advanced so much in recent decades. It boggles the mind. Though there remains insufficient connections between informed professionals and a public which might live a safer, more productive life with more information available…in understandable form.