Multiplanet System Has Orientation Very Similar to Our Own |
Our solar system exhibits a remarkably orderly configuration: The eight planets orbit the sun much like runners on a track, circling in their respective lanes and always keeping within the same sprawling plane. In contrast, most exoplanets discovered in recent years — particularly the giants known as “hot Jupiters” — inhabit far more eccentric orbits.
Now researchers at MIT, the University of California at Santa Cruz and other institutions have detected the first exoplanetary system, 10,000 light years away, with regularly aligned orbits similar to those in our solar system. At the center of this faraway system is Kepler-30, a star as bright and massive as the sun. After analyzing data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, the MIT scientists and their colleagues discovered that the star — much like the sun — rotates around a vertical axis and its three planets have orbits that are all in the same plane.
“In our solar system, the trajectory of the planets is parallel to the rotation of the sun, which shows they probably formed from a spinning disc,” says Roberto Sanchis-Ojeda, a physics graduate student at MIT who led the research effort. “In this system, we show that the same thing happens.”
Their findings, published July 25 in the journal Nature, may help explain the origins of certain far-flung systems while shedding light on our own planetary neighborhood.
“It’s telling me that the solar system isn’t some fluke,” says Josh Winn, an associate professor of physics at MIT and a co-author on the paper. “The fact that the sun’s rotation is lined up with the planets’ orbits, that’s probably not some freak coincidence.” continue reading
Teleportation in Time
One of the spookiest phenomenon of the quantum world is entanglement, where two particles can become so deeply linked that they share the same fate—the behaviour of one immediately influences the other, even if they’re separated in space. Quantum entanglement has helped create uncrackable codes, build ultrafast computers and transmit huge amounts of information using only a few atoms—and now, Jay Olson and Timothy Ralph at the University of Queensland, Australia, have mathematically described how entanglement could bind particles not only through space, but also through time. It isn’t yes clear how it can be tested, but it’s a strangely intuitive conclusion. The idea originated from a simplified view of the universe, consisting of one dimension of space (x-axis) and one dimension of time (t-axis), where there are points of symmetry in the past and future, and for a quantum “message” to be sent, the particle must be symmetric in time. For this reason, the process is called “teleportation in time.” Olson says that “it’s not time travel as you would ordinarily think of it, where it’s like, poof! you’re in the future—but you get to skip the intervening time.”
Does the Universe have a North?
Humans evolved in an environment with gravity and a magnetic field, so we’re so used to concepts such as up and down, north and south. There is actually no “right way up” in the universe, no universally common axis—because direction relies on the observer. Earth only has a north and south due to its magnetic field created by the rotation of its molten core, and these concepts only apply in a coordinate system. Compass directions or longitudinal lines don’t actually “exist”—they’re purely reference points created by humans for navigation. Australia, for example, is only known as “down under” because our navigational system decided that the southern hemisphere is downwards. Similarly, up and down are concepts that we’ve created to refer to gravity’s pull—‘up’ is away from the centre of gravity and ‘down’ is towards it. In the context of the universe, however, there’s no north or south or up or down. There is no universe-spanning magnetic field, so the universe has no up and down, no centre, no edge (you’re welcome nerdfighters), and no point of reference relative to everything else. So, there’s no intrinsic north in space—it’s difficult to imagine, but north is a purely human concept.
The sun unleashed a huge flare Thursday (July 12), the second major solar storm to erupt from our star in less than a week.
The solar flare peaked at 12:52 p.m. EDT (1652 GMT) as an X-class sun storm, the most powerful type of flare the sun can have.
“It erupted from Active Region 1520, which rotated into view on July 6,” NASA officials said in an alert. Active Region 1520, or AR1520, is a giant sunspot currently facing Earth.
now this is some cool geology
Here’s some more yummy geology photos for you guys!
- Anticline in England by Earthwatcher on Flickr
- Geology in Utah from 1993 by Gord McKenna in Flickr
- Folds on beach by Museum of the University of St Andrews on Flickr
- Geology in Spain by Son Of Groucho on Flickr
- Syncline roadcut in Maryland by *nettie* on Flickr
- Anticline in the Bude Formation, England by Earthwatcher on Flickr
- Road cut by eventualbuddha on Flickr
This is Pilot Mountain in North Carolina. This is a perfect example of how different minerals weather at different rates. The section sticking out at the very top is made up of quartzite, which is much more durable - and thus weathers slowly - than the other minerals that make up the surrounding rock below.
The photo above is by DMattPhotography on Flickr.
Svartifoss, Iceland by Dr. Jaus on Flickr
Iceland is such a beautiful place! This should be on everyone’s list of locations to visit. Iceland is incredibly rich with earth sciences, as many already know. Besides, who doesn’t love columnar basalt?! The process to get the hexagonal columns requires the lava flow in which they are formed in to cool very slowly.