Friday, 17 March 2017

Astronomers observe a dying red giant star's final act

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An international team of astronomers has observed a striking spiral pattern in the gas surrounding a red giant star called LL Pegasi and its companion star 3,400 light-years from Earth.
via Science Daily
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Eruptions on the sun trigger surprising phenomenon near Earth

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Eruptions on the Sun's surface not only send bursts of energetic particles into the Earth's atmosphere causing disturbances in our planet's magnetic field, they can also strangely decrease the number of free electrons over large areas in the polar region of the ionosphere, new research concludes.
via Science Daily
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New Hubble mosaic of the Orion Nebula

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In the search for rogue planets and failed stars astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have created a new mosaic image of the Orion Nebula. During their survey of the famous star formation region, they found what may be the missing piece of a cosmic puzzle; the third, long-lost member of a star system that had broken apart.
via Science Daily
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Scientists make the case to restore Pluto's planet status

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Kirby Runyon wants to make one thing clear: regardless of what one prestigious scientific organization says to the contrary, Pluto is a planet. So, he says, is Europa, commonly known as a moon of Jupiter, and so is the Earth's moon, and so are more than 100 other celestial bodies in our solar system that are denied this status under the prevailing definition of 'planet.'
via Science Daily
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Hubble Discovery of Runaway Star Yields Clues to Breakup of Multiple-Star System

Star Is Missing Link to a System that Flew Apart Over 500 Years Ago
In the 1400s, two power struggles were taking place quadrillions of miles apart. In England, two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet were battling each other for control of the country's throne. And, in a nebula far, far away, a cluster of stars was waging a real-life star wars, with the stellar members battling each other for supremacy in the Orion Nebula. The gravitational tussle ended with the system breaking apart and at least three stars being ejected in different directions.

Astronomers spotted two of the speedy, wayward stars over the past few decades. They traced both stars back 540 years to the same location and suggested they were part of a now-defunct multiple-star system. But the duo's combined energy, which is propelling them outward, didn't add up. The researchers reasoned there must be at least one other culprit that robbed energy from the stellar toss-up. Now NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has helped astronomers find the final piece of the puzzle by nabbing a third runaway star, which was a member of the same system as the two previously known stars. The stars reside in a small region of young stars called the Kleinmann-Low Nebula, near the center of the vast Orion Nebula complex, located 1,300 light-years from Earth.

via Hubble - News feed

Nanotube film may resolve longevity problem of challenger solar cells

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Researchers have lengthened the lifetime of perovskite solar cells by using nanotube film to replace the gold used as the back contact and the organic material in the hole conductor.
via Science Daily

Raising the (G)bar for antimatter exploration

Installation of the GBAR linac in its shielding bunker. The electrons accelerated to 10 MeV toward a target will produce the positrons that are necessary to form antihydrogen with the antiprotons coming from the ELENA decelerator. (Image: Max Brice/CERN)

The absence of antimatter in the universe is a long-standing jigsaw puzzle in physics. Many experiments have been exploring this question by finding asymmetries between particles and their antimatter counterparts.

GBAR (Gravitational Behaviour of Antihydrogen at Rest), a new experiment at CERN, is preparing to explore one aspect of this puzzle – what is the effect of gravity on antimatter? While theories exist as to whether antimatter will behave like matter or not, a definitive experimental result is still missing.

GBAR will measure the effect of gravity on antihydrogen atoms. Located in the Antiproton Decelerator (AD) hall, GBAR is the first of five experiments that will be connected to the new ELENA deceleration ring. On 1 March, the first component of the experiment was installed – a linear accelerator (linac). In sharp contrast to the LHC’s chain of big accelerators and fast particles, the AD world of antimatter is small and its particles are as slow as they come. The GBAR linac is only 1.2 metres long and it will be used to create positrons, the antimatter equivalent of electrons.

The experiment will use antiprotons supplied by ELENA and positrons created by the linac to produce antihydrogen ions. They consist of one antiproton and two positrons, and their positive charge makes them significantly easier to manipulate. With the help of lasers, their velocity will be reduced to half a metre per second. This will allow them to be directed to a fixed point. Then, trapped by an electric field, one of their positrons will be removed with a laser, which will make them neutral again. The only force acting on them at this point will be gravity and they will be free to make a 20-centimetre fall, during which researchers will observe their behaviour.

The results might turn out to be very exciting. As the spokesperson of GBAR, Patrice PĂ©rez, explains: “Einstein’s Equivalence Principle states that the trajectory of a particle is independent of its composition and internal structure when it is only submitted to gravitational forces. If we find out that gravity has a different effect on antimatter, this would mean that we still have a lot to learn about the universe.”

Five other experiments are based at the Antiproton Decelerator, two of which – AEGIS and ALPHA – are also studying the effect of gravity on antimatter.

via CERN: Updates for the general public

Phases of Venus

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Just as the Moon goes through phases, Venus' visible sunlit hemisphere waxes and wanes. This composite of telescopic images illustrates the steady changes for the inner planet, seen in the west as the evening star, as Venus grows larger but narrows to a thin crescent from December 20, 2016 through March 10. Gliding along its interior orbit between Earth and Sun, Venus grows larger during that period because it is approaching planet Earth. Its crescent narrows, though, as Venus swings closer to our line-of-sight to the Sun. Closest to the Earth-Sun line but passing about 8 degrees north of the Sun on March 25, Venus will reach a (non-judgmental) inferior conjunction. Soon after, Venus will shine clearly above the eastern horizon in predawn skies as planet Earth's morning star.

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CERN: ideal for entrepreneurship, for those who take a leap

Entrepreneurship students brainstorming potential applications for CERN technologies during the NTNU Screening Week in 2016. (Image: Sophia Elizabeth Bennet/CERN)

It is well-known that CERN is a hub for top-notch scientists, engineers and professionals from all corners of the world, committed to advance their fields, to explore the unknown and to learn. But this combination is also stimulating for the entrepreneurial spirit and therefore makes CERN an ideal place to explore and get started new business ideas, to discover exciting technologies and to build a skilled, diverse start-up team.

Creating platforms where people can meet is an important part of facilitating entrepreneurship at CERN, and through initiatives such as THE Port, Challenge Based Innovation (CBI), the Entrepreneurship Meet-ups and the Knowledge Transfer seminars, future change-makers meet and opportunities are created.

Creativity, commitment & diversity

Creativity, commitment and diversity are cornerstones of both science and entrepreneurship and core values of the Organization. Being at the forefront of multiple fields requires continuous innovation, and much like entrepreneurial companies, CERN tackles the inherent fuzziness of the unknown.

Tapping into the knowledge of the heterogeneous crowd at CERN can create magic. One example is the Better Body Bags. What started as a weekend hack at THE Port hackathon, turned into an R&D contract with the International Committee of the Red Cross and being selected among the TOP25 start-ups in Switzerland in 2014. Also from THE Port 2014, the topic of building a low cost, inflatable fridge for field operations led to a brand-new start-up, Ideabatic, which was recently awarded a €25 000 prize by ViiV Healthcare.

Cutting-edge technology, skills & knowledge

The people working at CERN possess unique knowledge and skills, and cutting-edge technologies are continuously developed at the laboratory. These may have applications across markets, and innovations developed might have potential to disrupt whole industries.

Originating from the NTNU Screening Week in 2012, the CERN spin-off TIND is providing solutions for library management and data preservation based on the open source software Invenio. 2017 marks their third year in business, and they have now permanently expanded their operations to the United States. Terabee is another example, originally providing aerial inspections and imaging services by deploying drones. After a fruitful collaboration with CERN, where sensors were made to ensure the safety of operations in the complex environments of the LHC, its business was expanded to include sensor development.

A jump in the dark

Sometimes, it is not easy leaving a safe environment such as that of CERN. Indeed, while CERN can keep you safely hooked for life, the decision of branching out implies taking on new risks in a whole new environment. Piero Zucchelli, founder and CEO of Andrew Alliance, went through this journey – what he describes as a “jump in the dark” – from the CERN Experimental Physics department to the start-up business. Now, a decade after initially deciding to leave CERN to be an entrepreneur, Piero Zucchelli is returning to share his honest story. “We know exactly what we leave behind, but we don’t know what we don’t know”, Zucchelli says.

Find out more at the next Knowledge Transfer seminar: “From CERN to Entrepreneurship: we don’t know what we don’t know”, 24 March 2017, by Piero Zucchelli, CEO of Andrew Alliance, here.

via CERN: Updates for the general public