Tag Archives: south pole

NASA Technology Views Birth of the Universe

Astronomers are announcing today that they have acquired the first direct evidence that gravitational waves rippled through our infant universe during an explosive period of growth called inflation. This is the strongest confirmation yet of cosmic inflation theories, which say the universe expanded by 100 trillion trillion times, in less than the blink of an eye.

The findings were made with the help of NASA-developed detector technology on the BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation. (more…)

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Searching for Cosmic Accelerators via IceCube

Berkeley Lab Researchers Part of an International Hunt

In our universe there are particle accelerators 40 million times more powerful than the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. Scientists don’t know what these cosmic accelerators are or where they are located, but new results being reported from “IceCube,” the neutrino observatory buried at the South Pole, may show the way. These new results should also erase any doubts as to IceCube’s ability to deliver on its promise.

“The IceCube Collaboration has announced the observation of 28 extremely high energy events that constitute the first solid evidence for astrophysical neutrinos from outside our solar system,” says Spencer Klein, a senior scientist with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and a long-time member of the IceCube Collaboration. “These 28 events include two of the highest energy neutrinos ever reported, which have been named Bert and Ernie.” (more…)

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Ancient crater may be clue to Moon’s mantle

A massive impact on the Moon about 4 billion years ago left a 2,500-mile crater, among the largest known craters in the solar system. Smaller subsequent impacts left craters within that crater. Comparing the spectra of light reflected from the peaks of those craters may yield clues to the composition of the Moon’s lower crust and mantle — and would have implications for models of how the Moon formed.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Researchers from Brown University and the University of Hawaii have found some mineralogical surprises in the Moon’s largest impact crater. (more…)

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The Era of Neutrino Astronomy has Begun

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Astrophysicists using a telescope embedded in Antarctic ice have succeeded in a quest to detect and record the mysterious phenomena known as cosmic neutrinos – nearly massless particles that stream to Earth at the speed of light from outside our solar system, striking the surface in a burst of energy that can be as powerful as a baseball pitcher’s fastball. Next, they hope to build on the early success of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory to detect the source of these high-energy particles, said Physics Professor Gregory Sullivan, who led the University of Maryland’s 12-person team of contributors to the IceCube Collaboration.

“The era of neutrino astronomy has begun,” Sullivan said as the IceCube Collaboration announced the observation of 28 very high-energy particle events that constitute the first solid evidence for astrophysical neutrinos from cosmic sources.  (more…)

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Stronger winds explain puzzling growth of sea ice in Antarctica

Much attention is paid to melting sea ice in the Arctic. But less clear is the situation on the other side of the planet. Despite warmer air and oceans, there’s more sea ice in Antarctica now than in the 1970s – a fact often pounced on by global warming skeptics. The latest numbers suggest the Antarctic sea ice may be heading toward a record high this year.

While changes in weather may play a big role in short-term changes in sea ice seen in the past couple of months, changes in winds have apparently led to the more general upward sea ice trend during the past few decades, according to University of Washington research. A new modeling study to be published in the Journal of Climate shows that stronger polar winds lead to an increase in Antarctic sea ice, even in a warming climate. (more…)

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A Telescope at the Bottom of the World

Alone in a wilderness of snow and ice, 600 miles from the Earth’s South Pole, a solitary telescope watches the stars, searching for the origins of the colorful nebulae in which stars are born.

The brilliantly colored, sweeping nebulae featured on magazine covers and posters lining museum exhibits are the birthplaces and cradles of the stars in our galaxy.

Out of the blackness of space and swirling gasses and debris, these nebulae take form, coalescing into columns and structures that remind us of Earthly shapes: here a horsehead, there a dragon. (more…)

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First Stars, Galaxies Formed more Rapidly than Expected

Analysis of data from the National Science Foundation’s South Pole Telescope, for the first time, more precisely defines the period of cosmological evolution when the first stars and galaxies formed and gradually illuminated the universe. The data indicate that this period, called the epoch of reionization, was shorter than theorists speculated — and that it ended early.

“We find that the epoch of reionization lasted less than 500 million years and began when the universe was at least 250 million years old,” said Oliver Zahn, a postdoctoral fellow at the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the study. “Before this measurement, scientists believed that reionization lasted 750 million years or longer, and had no evidence as to when reionization began.” (more…)

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Solar Storm Protection

Warning system to protect astronauts from solar storms

Massive explosions on the sun unleash radiation that could kill astronauts in space.

Now, researchers from the U.S. and South Korea have developed a warning system capable of forecasting the radiation from these violent solar storms nearly three hours (166 minutes) in advance, giving astronauts, as well as air crews flying over Earth’s polar regions, time to take protective action.

Physicists from the University of Delaware and from Chungnam National University and Hanyang University developed the system and report on it in Space Weather: The International Journal of Research and Applications, published by the American Geophysical Union. The research article also is selected as an “Editor’s Highlight.” (more…)

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