Tag Archives: sun

Astronomers Find Sun’s ‘Long-Lost Brother,’ Pave Way for Family Reunion

AUSTIN, Texas — A team of researchers led by astronomer Ivan Ramirez of The University of Texas at Austin has identified the first “sibling” of the sun — a star almost certainly born from the same cloud of gas and dust as our star. Ramirez’s methods will help astronomers find other solar siblings, which could lead to an understanding of how and where our sun formed, and how our solar system became hospitable for life. The work appears in the June 1 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

“We want to know where we were born,” Ramirez said. “If we can figure out in what part of the galaxy the sun formed, we can constrain conditions on the early solar system. That could help us understand why we are here.” (more…)

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‘Standing on a comet’: Rosetta mission will contribute to space weather research

ANN ARBOR — A comet-bound spacecraft that’s been in sleep mode for more than two years is scheduled to wake up on the morning of Jan. 20—beginning the home stretch of its decade-long journey to a mile-wide ball of rock, dust and ice.

If all goes as planned, Rosetta—a European Space Agency-led mission that involves University of Michigan engineers and scientists—will be the first craft to actually land on a comet as well as track it for an extended period of time. (more…)

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IBM Sets U.S. Patent Record

Achieves 21st Straight Year of Patent Leadership
IBM inventors received more than 6,800 U.S. patents in 2013

ARMONK, N.Y. – 14 Jan 2014: IBM today announced that its inventors received a record-setting 6,809 patents in 2013 – the 21st consecutive year the company topped the annual list of U.S. patent leaders. (more…)

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Spacecraft measures changes in direction of solar system’s interstellar winds

Data from NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer spacecraft reveal that neutral interstellar atoms are flowing into the solar system from a different direction than previously observed.

Interstellar atoms flow past the Earth as the solar system passes through the surrounding interstellar cloud at 23 kilometers per second (50,000 miles per hour). The latest IBEX measurements of the interstellar wind direction were found to differ from those made by the Ulysses spacecraft in the 1990s. That difference led the IBEX team to compare the IBEX measurements to data gathered by 11 spacecraft between 1972 and 2011. Statistical testing of the Earth-orbiting and interplanetary spacecraft data showed that, over the past 40 years, the longitude of the interstellar helium wind has changed by four to nine degrees. (more…)

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Self-Healing Solar Cells ‘Channel’ Natural Processes

To understand how solar cells heal themselves, look no further than the nearest tree leaf or the back of your hand.

The “branching” vascular channels that circulate life-sustaining nutrients throughout leaves and hands serve as the inspiration for solar cells that can restore themselves efficiently and inexpensively.

In a new paper, North Carolina State University researchers Orlin Velev and Hyung-Jun Koo show that creating solar cell devices with channels that mimic organic vascular systems can effectively reinvigorate solar cells whose performance deteriorates due to degradation by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Solar cells that are based on organic systems hold the potential to be less expensive and more environmentally friendly than silicon-based solar cells, the current industry standard. (more…)

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Solar tsunami used to measure Sun’s magnetic field

A solar tsunami observed by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and the Japanese Hinode spacecraft has been used to provide the first accurate estimates of the Sun’s magnetic field.

Solar tsunamis are produced by enormous explosions in the Sun’s atmosphere called coronal mass ejections (CMEs). As the CME travels out into space, the tsunami travels across the Sun at speeds of up to 1000 kilometres per second.

Similar to tsunamis on Earth, the shape of solar tsunamis is changed by the environment through which they move. Just as sound travels faster in water than in air, solar tsunamis have a higher speed in regions of stronger magnetic field. This unique feature allowed the team, led by researchers from UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory, to measure the Sun’s magnetic field. The results are outlined in a paper soon to be published in the journal Solar Physics. (more…)

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Cosmochemist discovers potential solution to meteorite mystery

Chondrules may have formed from high-pressure collisions in early solar system

At issue is how numerous small, glassy spherules had become embedded within specimens of the largest class of meteorites—the chondrites. British mineralogist Henry Sorby first described these spherules, called chondrules, in 1877. Sorby suggested that they might be “droplets of fiery rain” which somehow condensed out of the cloud of gas and dust that formed the solar system 4.5 billion years ago. (more…)

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