Jaarlijkse archieven: 2017

Niet ‘zomaar’ een komeet

Aangeleverd door: Spruitje

Science & Technology


‘Oumuamua’ – Definitely not your average asteroid or comet

© SpaceRef

In October astronomers were surprised by a visitor that came racing into our Solar System from interstellar space. Now, researchers using the Gemini Observatory have determined that the first known object to graze our Solar System from beyond is similar to, but definitely not, your average asteroid or comet. “This thing is an oddball,” said Karen Meech of the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy who leads an international team studying this interstellar interloper.

Originally denoted A2017 U1, the body now goes by the Hawaiian name ‘Oumuamua, in part because of its discovery by Meech’s team using the Pan-STARRS1 survey telescope on Haleakala in Hawai’i. When discovered in mid-October ‘Oumuamua was only about 85 times the Earth-Moon distance away and its discovery was announced in early November.

Since its discovery ‘Oumuamua has faded from view. The object’s rapidly increasing distance from the Earth and Sun now makes it too faint to be studied by even the largest telescopes.

“Needless to say, we dropped everything so we could quickly point the Gemini telescopes at this object immediately after its discovery,” said Gemini Director Laura Ferrarese who coordinated the Gemini South observations for Meech’s group.

“What we found was a rapidly rotating object, at least the size of a football field, that changed in brightness quite dramatically,” according to Meech. “This change in brightness hints that ‘Oumuamua could be more than 10 times longer than it is wide – something which has never been seen in our own Solar System,” according to Meech.

‘Oumuamua shares similarities with small objects in the outer Solar System, especially the distant worlds of the Kuiper Belt – a region of rocky, frigid worlds far beyond Neptune. “While study of ‘Oumuamua’s colors shows that this body shares characteristics with both Kuiper Belt objects and organic-rich comets and trojan asteroids,” says Meech, “its orbital path says it comes from far beyond.”

The research led by Meech is published in the November 20th online issue of the journal Nature.

‘Oumuamua was visible from Chile and Hawai’i so both Gemini North and South telescopes were on high alert and ready to track the visitor from outer space. “We observed from both sites for three nights, before it sped away and faded from view,” said Ferrarese. Two additional teams obtained data from Gemini North and their results are currently pending publication.

According to our current understanding of planetary system formation, our Solar System ejected comets and asteroids due to interactions with the larger outer planets. It is presumed that other planetary systems do the same and that these visitors might be more common than previously thought. “We estimate that there is always one of these objects of similar size as ‘Oumuamua between the Earth and the Sun at any given time, so up to about 10 per year,” says Robert Jedicke also on Meech’s team.

“These observations allow us to reach into another planetary system to learn about one of its rocky bodies, and compare this object with the asteroids we know throughout our own Solar System”, says Faith Vilas, the solar and planetary research program director at the National Science Foundation who helped support this research.

Surveys like Pan-STARRS and the future Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST, currently under construction near the Gemini South telescope in Chile) will undoubtedly increase the detections of these interstellar wanderers.

“The discoveries of rare surprises like ‘Oumuamua from outside our Solar System will be greatly accelerated by the power and grasp of the LSST,” said Richard Green of the US National Science Foundation (NSF). “LSST is going to produce a torrent of data and revolutionize this sort of time domain astronomy when it begins operations early in the next decade,” adds Green. LSST is funded by a partnership with the NSF, the Department of Energy, and the LSST Corporation.

‘Oumuamua loosely means “a messenger that reaches out from the distant past,” fitting the nature of the object’s interstellar origin. In Hawaiian ‘ou means “to reach out for,” while mua means “first” and is repeated for emphasis.

Source: Gemini Observatory press release

In Hongarije vindt men nog een beetje gezond verstand

Aangeleverd door: Spruitje

Hungarian security expert says Muslims don’t want to integrate, they want to take power politically and socially

© MikeDotta / Shutterstock.com
Muslims pray in Turin, Italy

In the second half of a discussion on Hungarian national TV, security expert László Földi shared his vision on Europe’s migration crisis and Islam:

“One can be Muslim here, of course, if he would integrate into society and lives here. But the ones who arrive here do not want to integrate, and this is about more than not following laws; practically speaking, they will take power culturally, and in a socio-political sense.”

Full text here

De complete waanzin heeft toegeslagen in het Britse parlement

Aangeleverd door: Spruitje

MPs without empathy: UK Parliament votes that animals have no emotions or feelings, they can’t feel pain

Under EU law, animals are currently recognised as being capable of feeling pain and emotion. But MPs have this week voted to drop the inclusion of animal sentience into the Withdrawal Bill.

This vote comes in contrast to extensive scientific evidence that shows that other animals do have feelings and emotions, some even stronger than ours.

For a little more detail, there’s the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness:

“non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.” 

But politicians clearly think that they know better about animal brains than the majority of scientists on the planet.

RSPCA Head of Public Affairs David Bowles said it is a “truly backward step” for animal welfare. “It’s shocking that MPs have given the thumbs down to incorporating animal sentience into post-Brexit UK law,” Mr Bowles explained.

“Animal sentience is never mentioned in the Animal Welfare Act and, crucially, only domestic animals are really covered by the provisions of the Act anyway and animals in the wild and laboratories are expressly exempt. It is simply wrong for the Government to claim that the Act protects animal sentience.

“In the EU, we know that the recognition of animals as sentient beings has been effective in improving animal welfare across the region. If the UK is to achieve the Environment Secretary’s objective of achieving the highest possible animal welfare post-Brexit, it must do the same.”


Zweden gaat ten onder aan zijn eigen immigratie beleid

In het Zweedse Göteborg vindt eind volgende zomer een muziekfestival dat enkel door vrouwen mag worden bijgewoond. De organisatoren willen op die manier antwoorden op de menige klachten over seksueel overschrijdend gedrag en verkrachtingen op andere festivals.

Zo werd de jaargang 2018 van Zwedens grootste muziekfestival in Bravalla geannuleerd. Dat gebeurde nadat de lokale politie bij de laatste editie begin juli 4 verkrachtingen en 26 aanrandingen had moeten rapporteren. Het jongste slachtoffer was een meisje van 12. De Britse folkrockband Mumford and Sons had al aangegeven het festival te zullen boycotten vanwege het seksueel geweld.