NASA NICER Mission Finds Binary Star System With Record-Fast Orbit

NASA NICER Mission Finds Binary Star System With Record-Fast Orbit

Many stars are found in binary systems where two-star orbit one another. Recently, astronomers have discovered two unique stars that revolve around each other at a neck-break speed, meaning they complete an orbit in every 38 minutes. This is about the time it takes to stream a TV drama.

The binary star is named IGR J17062–6143 or J17062 for short and it consists of a rapidly spinning, a super-dense star called a pulsar and a white dwarf with a mass around 1.5 percent of our Sun. Data from NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) mission show that these stars are only 186,000 miles apart, which is less than the distance between Earth and the moon. The stellar pair now holds the record for the shortest-known orbital period for a certain class of pulsar binary system.

The binary star system was first observed in 2008 by the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE). But that 20-minute observation could not determine the exact orbital speed of the binary star. With NICER installed aboard the International Space Station, researchers were able to observe the system for much longer periods of time and confirmed the record-setting orbital period for a binary system with an accreting millisecond X-ray pulsar (AMXP). X-ray pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star that displays variations in X-ray intensity. These variations or pulses mark the locations of hot spots around the pulsar’s magnetic poles, which allow astronomers to determine how fast it is spinning. Observations reveal that J17062’s pulsar is rotating at about 9,800 revolutions per minute.

“Neutron stars turn out to be truly unique nuclear physics laboratories, from a terrestrial standpoint,” said lead researcher Zaven Arzoumanian, a Goddard astrophysicist for NICER. “We can’t recreate the conditions on neutron stars anywhere within our solar system. One of NICER’s key objectives is to study subatomic physics that isn’t accessible anywhere else.”

Hot spots are caused by long-lasting mass transfer from a low-mass companion star (in J17062, from the white dwarf) through an accretion disc onto a slow-rotating neutron star. As a neutron star continues to pull the material away from a stellar companion through its intense gravitational field, it spins more rapidly and makes hot spots visible for X-ray instruments like NICER, which record the fluctuations. NICER’s high-precision measurements could be used to further study the behavior of neutron stars.

“The distance between us and the pulsar is not constant,” said Tod Strohmayer an astrophysicist at Goddard. “It’s varying by this orbital motion. When the pulsar is closer, the X-ray emission takes a little less time to reach us than when it’s further away. This time delay is small, only about 8 milliseconds for J17062’s orbit, but it’s well within the capabilities of a sensitive pulsar machine like NICER.”

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Here’s how the sun will bring fiery death to all life on Earth

Here’s how the sun will bring fiery death to all life on Earth

On Earth, human beings battle against threats such as climate change – but in five billion years’ time, none of it will matter.

remains on the surface will die.’ data-reactid=”25″>Anything, or anyone, that remains on the surface will die.

The only thing that might (possibly) survive the inferno is the rocky core of our planet, which might end up orbiting the cold, dead remains of the sun.

Scientists have had a sneak preview of our inevitable doom, by looking at L2 Puppis – a star which, five billion years ago, was very like our Sun is now.

Our solar system is 4.6 billion years old, while L2 Puppis is ten billion years old, offering a glimpse of what will happen to Earth in the far distant future.

International astronomers used the ALMA radio telescope to study the star L2 Puppis, which is now dying in the final stages of its evolution

‘Five billion years from now, the Sun will have grown into a red giant star, more than a hundred times larger than its current size,’ Professor Leen Decin from the KU Leuven Institute of Astronomy said in a statement.

After another two billion years, the sun will have lost a huge amount of mass through stellar wind – turning into a tiny white dwarf.


It will be about the size of the Earth, but so heavy that one teaspoon of white dwarf material weighs about five tons.

Decin says, ‘The fate of the Earth is still uncertain. We already know that our Sun will be bigger and brighter, so that it will probably destroy any form of life on our planet. But will the Earth’s rocky core survive the red giant phase and continue orbiting the white dwarf?’

When the sun goes cold

Beautiful end predicted for the Earth’s parent star in 10 billion years.

In about ten billion years from now, our sun will finally die, ejecting a mass of gas and dust into space – before its core finally burns out as its remaining fuel goes cold.

For thousands of years, it will glow as a twinkling planetary nebula, scientists say – a glowing cloud of dust in space.

University of Manchester scientists used computer modelling to work out whether our sun will turn into a glowing ‘planetary nebula’ after death.

A planetary nebula marks the end of 90% of all stars active lives and traces the star’s transition from a red giant to a degenerate white dwarf.

But, for years, scientists weren’t sure if the sun in our galaxy would follow the same fate: it was thought to have too low mass to create a visible planetary nebula.

Professor Albert Ziljsta says, ‘When a star dies it ejects a mass of gas and dust – known as its envelope – into space.

‘The envelope can be as much as half the star’s mass. This reveals the star’s core, which by this point in the star’s life is running out of fuel, eventually turning off and before finally dying.

‘It is only then the hot core makes the ejected envelope shine brightly for around 10,000 years – a brief period in astronomy. This is what makes the planetary nebula visible. Some are so bright that they can be seen from extremely large distances measuring tens of millions of light years, where the star itself would have been much too faint to see.’

Will there be any people left?

Long, long before the sun expands, all life on the surface will probably have been cooked into extinction, according to a 2013 study by University of East Anglia scientists.

Andrew Rushby of the University of East Anglia said in a statement, ‘ We estimate that Earth will cease to be habitable somewhere between 1.75 and 3.25 billion years from now.

‘After this point, Earth will be in the ‘hot zone’ of the sun, with temperatures so high that the seas would evaporate. We would see a catastrophic and terminal extinction event fo

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NASA Discovers Strange Magnetic Explosion in Earth’s Turbulent Outer Atmosphere

NASA Discovers Strange Magnetic Explosion in Earth’s Turbulent Outer Atmosphere

Scientists have discovered an entirely new magnetic phenomenon in the outer reaches of Earth’s magnetic field with the help of four NASA spacecraft, according to a new study published in the journal Nature.

The spacecraft form part of the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, which is designed to study so-called magnetic reconnection—a physical process that occurs commonly throughout the universe in magnetic fields.

“An explosion of TNT is a release of chemical energy. An atomic bomb is a release of nuclear energy. Magnetic reconnection is a ‘magnetic explosion’—that is, a sudden release of magnetic energy,” Michael Shay from the University of Delaware, an author of the study, told Newsweek. “Magnetic reconnection causes these explosions in many regions in space. Solar flares on the sun, for example, are caused by magnetic reconnection. Large aurorae on the Earth are due to energetic particles created by magnetic reconnection.”

Jonathan Eastwood, a physicist from Imperial College London and another author of the study, added, “Although we think of space as empty, it’s not! It’s filled with particles and fields, so called ‘space plasmas.’ When energy is released by reconnection, it creates hot jets of plasma.” Plasma a super-hot form of gas that is one of the four fundamental states of matter.

Now, for the first time, the process of magnetic reconnection has been observed in a turbulent region of the Earth’s outer atmosphere known as the magnetosheath—which acts as the first line of defense against the barrage of hot, charged particles produced by the sun, known as the solar wind.

The latest findings could provide insights into how these magnetic phenomena affect Earth’s atmosphere, as well as astronauts in space, satellites, electrical power industries, radio communications and GPS systems.

The new type of magnetic reconnection, known as electron magnetic reconnection, works differently from the type that commonly occurs in the lower, less turbulent regions of the Earth’s magnetosphere—the magnetic fields that surround our planet.

Most think of turbulence as the air currents which can cause a plane ride to be uncomfortably bumpy. However, turbulence also occurs elsewhere in the universe.

“Turbulence is characterized by seemingly random flows of a gas, liquid or plasma,” Shay said. “We all have seen it or experienced it: the stream of smoke from a cigarette breaks up; the creamer we pour in our coffee makes beautiful patterns before it completely mixes; a plane ride gets bumpy when it travels through turbulence in our atmosphere.”

He continued, “Many regions in space have turbulent plasma. The outer layers of the sun are turbulent. The solar wind blasted off by the sun is turbulent. This solar wind smashes up against the Earth’s magnetic field, creating a turbulent sheath of plasma around near-Earth space.” 

The turbulence in this magnetosheath contains a lot of magnetic energy, which is a result of it being bombarded by particles from the sun’s corona that travel at around 1 million miles per hour. This region is where the scientists made their discovery.

“We found reconnection happening on very small scales, smaller than ever seen before,” Eastwood said. “It is important because ultimately the turbulent energy must be dissipated as heat. For a long time, we have debated how this happens, and there are lots of theories. This result shows that reconnection could play that role.”


The Earth is surrounded by a protective magnetic environment—the magnetosphere—shown here in blue, which deflects a supersonic stream of charged particles from the sun, known as the solar wind. As the particles flow around the Earth’s magnetosphere, it forms a highly turbulent boundary layer called the magnetosheath, shown in yellow. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

By better understanding the processes of turbulence and reconnection, we’ll be able to know more about how similar processes work in a variety of fields. This could have a number of implications.

“The ultimate goal of our research is to understand the physics well enough to create predictive space weather models,” Shay said. “As an analogy, for regular weather, atmospheric models are used extensively to guide NOAA weather predictions. With better models, we can predict space weather hazards several days before they occur, allowing mitigation activities: one, satellite operators can put their multimillion-dollar satellites in ‘safe’ mode, or two, military planners can expect possible communication disruptions.”

He continued, “In addition, NASA is pushing to return man to the moon and eventually send a manned mission to Mars. In these missions, our spacecraft have to leave the protective bubble of the Earth’s magnetic field, or magnetosphere. If we can’t predict space weather events, we could be putting astronauts in harm’s way.

“For example, reconnection in turbulence may be important for creating these high-energy particles, which can hurt astronauts. We have to understand if it is and what implications it has for space weather,” Shay said.

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This Utah park’s alarming problem: Visitors are throwing dinosaur tracks into the water

This Utah park’s alarming problem: Visitors are throwing dinosaur tracks into the water

Visitors examine dinosaur tracks at Red Fleet State Park east of Salt Lake City. (Utah Division of Parks and Recreation via AP)

Josh Hansen, a state park manager in Utah, heard two distant thunks hit the water as he docked his patrol boat.

He quickly found the source: About 500 yards away, someone was throwing pieces of stone over a cliff and into the reservoir. Hansen sped his boat to the opposite shoreline, just in time to find a boy holding two toe imprints from a partial dinosaur track.

“I saved that one,” Hansen told The Salt Lake Tribune last week. “He had already thrown multiple [tracks in the water].”

Opened to the public as a state park in 1988, the nearly 2,000-acre Red Fleet State Park is known for the dinosaur footprints, traces of the towering carnivorous dinosaurs that roamed what is now northeastern Utah about 200 million years ago. But over the past six months, visitors at the park have been dislodging tracks imprinted in the dusty red sandstone and hurling them into the nearby reservoir, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Devan Chavez, spokesman for the Utah Division of State Parks, told The Washington Post in an email that his conservative estimate is that at least 10 of the larger, more visible footprints, which range from 3 to 17 inches, vanished in the past six months.

Before it transformed into a desert, the park was once a bog, with wet, muddy grounds that dinosaurs trudged through. Paleontologists think that the dilophosaurus, part of the raptor family, attacked other dinosaurs who were resting or drinking from the swamp, according to the Tribune.

In a post on the Utah State Parks Blog, Hansen said he found the problem alarming, and believes the people throwing the tracks into the reservoir don’t realize that they could be destroying the millions of years of history that attracts visitors to the park from around the world.

“Some of the tracks are very distinct to the layperson,” Hansen said,”but just as many are not. That is why it is important to not disturb any rocks at the dinosaur trackway.”

He also said he believes that people aren’t aware that dislodging the tracks is considered a crime.

“Disturbing them like this is an act of vandalism,” he said.

Under Utah Code, three-toed dinosaur footprints are treated as fossils, and those who try to destroy are subject to a felony charge. Charges haven’t been filed recently, though. In 2001, three Boy Scouts were charged in juvenile court for engaging in the same problem Red Fleet State Park faces today: Tossing dinosaur footprints into its reservoir, the New York Times reported at the time.

Volunteer divers were able to recover about 90 percent of the dinosaur footprints they thought would be lost forever. Now, the park is discussing the possibility of sending a team of divers into the reservoir to do the same thing, Chavez said.

The park is also putting up signs asking visitors not to touch the stones.

“This has been an ongoing problem that we really would like to stop,” Chavez told The Post. “These tracks are an important part of what makes Red Fleet State Park such a beautiful and special place. Being able to walk, hike, and even swim or boat next to where dinosaurs once stood is an amazing feeling.”

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Scientists develop a 3-D view of an interstellar cloud, where stars are born

Scientists develop a 3-D view of an interstellar cloud, where stars are born

“Understanding how you make new stars is really a critical challenge for modern astrophysics,” Goldsmith, who was not involved in the new paper, said in an interview. “These molecular clouds are where new stars are formed, and so understanding the structure of these clouds, and how deep they are, what their three-dimensional structure is, is obviously critical for understanding the whole picture.”

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2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid will be Subaru’s first plug-in hybrid

2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid will be Subaru’s first plug-in hybrid

It was already expected, but now Subaru has made it official – the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid plug-in hybrid will arrive later this year. The 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid will be Subaru’s first ever plug-in hybrid vehicle.

Subaru, Subaru Crosstrek

Subaru hasn’t revealed the 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid, but it will clearly be based on the standard Crosstrek. Underneath the skin, it will be powered by a Toyota plug-in hybrid system, which will be closely related to the Prius Prime. Subaru hasn’t revealed any specs for the new plug-in hybrid powertrain, but it will be able to drive in fully electric mode, which will likely be less than the the Prius Prime’s 25 mile EV range.

It’s also not known if Subaru will use the Evoltis name to brand the plug-in hybrid powertrain, since Subaru recently trademarked the name. The Crosstrek Hybrid will still feature an all-wheel drive system and a new transmission.

Subaru hasn’t announced when the 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid will debut, but it will feature unique styling to help it stand out from the standard Crosstrek.

Source: Subaru

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Apple Loop: New iPhone Details Leak, Serious iOS Problems Discovered, iPhone 8 Plus Defeated

Apple Loop: New iPhone Details Leak, Serious iOS Problems Discovered, iPhone 8 Plus Defeated

This week’s Apple Loop includes the new screen technology for 2018’s iPhone, FaceTime bugs in iOS, why the new iPhone X Plus trumps the 8 Plus, twenty years after the iMac was launched, and Apple’s army of drones.
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Malicious Apps Back On Google Play With Google Icons

Malicious Apps Back On Google Play With Google Icons

Security firm Symantec has reportedly found a number of malicious apps that were previously kicked out of the Google Play Store, now back with new developer names, new app names, and new icons that ape Google’s own app selection. The apps in question are duplicates of malicious apps that previously slipped past Google’s protections, right down to the last line of malicious code. These new apps are the return of a malware class known as Android.Reputation.1, which first appeared all the way back in 2014.

For those who never read about the previous infestation, this particular malware appears in apps that don’t actually do what they’re advertised to do. Instead, after a few hours, they hide themselves and begin their malicious behaviors. It all starts with the apps asking for device administrator privileges, as many malware tend to do. If those permissions are granted, the app can not only hide, but perform a number of actions on the device and keep the user from uninstalling it. From there, the app will redirect users to scam web pages at random, and will pull ads from Google to make the malware creators some profit. The apps all connect to a command server, which means that they can use their administrative privileges to do just about anything, though it’s worth noting that none of the variants Symantec has found have actually received further instruction from the server as of this writing.

While identity theft and selling user data can be extremely lucrative, it seems like all this malware is set to do is serve ads and other unwanted content to make the malware’s creators a quick buck. This behavior is annoying, to be sure, but not entirely dangerous in and of itself. Users are still cautioned to be very careful of what they download, and to stick to the Play Store when possible, even if its protections aren’t infallible. Just about any mobile antivirus program that gets administrative privileges on your device, such as Lookout or Symantec’s own solutions should be able to remove any malware in the Android.Reputation.1 family, seeing as the codebase has not changed since 2014.

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BlackBerry KEY2 launch is coming on June 7, for all you hardware keyboard lovers

BlackBerry KEY2 launch is coming on June 7, for all you hardware keyboard lovers

Developing a new smartphone is a huge investment, which is part of why we see so many phones that are so much alike — if something’s working well for one manufacturer and shoppers are responding positively, everybody else is going to want to do the same thing (this is why you’re seeing notches everywhere). But occasionally we get a phone that’s not afraid to play by its own rules, and that’s very much what we saw last year with the BlackBerry KEYone. Not everyone loved it — we certainly had a few issues with how it turned out — but there was no denying it was a phone with its own style. Now we’re anxiously looking forward to its successor, as invites go out for the BlackBerry KEY2 launch.

Earlier today BlackBerry Mobile tweeted the invite below, confirming that the “rebirth” of the KEYone is less than a month away, with the KEY2 launch event scheduled for June 7 in New York.

That branding is interesting, as we might have assumed this phone would land as the KEYtwo. While it remains to be seen if KEY2 is going to be the formal name or just something used in promotions, doing things this way would certainly make it easier to remember whether it’s the “key” part that gets capitalized or the number bit (or does no one else have that problem?).

Rumors have suggested that this year’s model could be a solid improvement over the KEYone, keeping things like the same unusual screen size and resolution, while upgrading to a Snapdragon 660 chip, boosting RAM to 6GB, and switching to a dual-camera configuration. If it manages to do all that while maintaining its exceptional battery life and (fingers crossed) fixing some of its audio and performance issues, so much the better.

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Xiaomi Smart Home Products Gain Google Assistant Support

Xiaomi Smart Home Products Gain Google Assistant Support

Xiaomi smart home products gain Google Assistant support and the company is bringing the products to the U.S. This won’t be a full range of products at first and it won’t include smartphones or other mobile devices, rather it will be the products that are specifically designed for the smart home including the Mi Bedside Lamp, the Mi Smart LED Bulb, and the Mi Smart Plug, all three of which are fairly commonly used products in the home with similar products already being available to U.S. consumers from other brands.

For Xiaomi the announcement is a big one, as it not only expands the functionality of the three items, making them smarter and more cohesive with other smart products, it’s also allowing Xiaomi to tap into a big market where the smart home is not just a novel idea but also being adopted widely throughout homes. For consumers, the benefits come in the form of more possible options when choosing things like smart bulbs and lamps. What’s more is Xiaomi’s Smart Bedside Lamp, Smart LED Bulb, and Smart Plug are all likely to be competitively priced compared to other products of the same type, which means consumers would have to spend less to get a hold of lights and plugs that allow them to turn things off by voice thanks to the Google Assistant technology.

That said, Xiaomi doesn’t actually mention a U.S.-based price for any of the three products that it plans to bring over. It does however mention time frames for a release, at least for the Bedside Lamp which will be available sometime in May. In regards to the other two products Xiaomi simply mentions that they’ll be available soon, which could sometime next month or later in the Summer, but they’re unlikely to launch this month with the lamp. These also won’t be the only products that Xiaomi is launching in the U.S. from its smart home line and will just be the “initial selection.”

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