Month: February 2017

North pole of Saturn

The north pole of Saturn sits at the center of its own domain. Around it swirl the clouds, driven by the fast winds of Saturn. Beyond that orbits Saturn’s retinue of moons and the countless small particles that form the ring.

Although the poles of Saturn are at the center of all of this motion, not everything travels around them in circles. Some of the jet-stream patterns, such as the hexagon-shaped pattern seen here, have wavy, uneven shapes. The moons as well have orbits that are elliptical, some quite far from circular.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 26 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Dec. 2, 2016 using a spectral filter which preferentially admits wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 890 nanometers.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 619,000 miles (996,000 kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 37 miles (60 kilometers) per pixel.

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.nasa.gov/cassini. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Editor: Tony Greicius

 

Photo Credit: NASA

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This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Universities replacing creativity and free-thought with social justice

By Linda Hafer

Several years ago, I applied to a Masters program in the “helping professions” at one of the area Catholic universities. I made it through the application and acceptance process with relative ease.

During the interview process, I asked about the Bias Reporting policy, as this had lit up my radar like “Wash Out’s” sneeze in the movie Hot Shots. As I have some Norwegian roots, I asked whether or not it would be a problem if I told a Norwegian joke (there are some good ones!). It was strongly discouraged. What?!! No jokes?? The Bias Reporting Policy was very repressive—virtually Leninesque. It was strongly encouraged that anyone who simply WITNESSED “bias” occurring (by “one’s own subjective” definition!) should report it as soon as possible.

I was uncomfortable already with the bias reporting, but after being accepted, I registered for two classes, subsequently reading through all of the course descriptions and some of the syllabi of my degree program. I was very surprised to see that 9 out of the 14 classes listed had specific references to a multicultural or a social justice emphasis. I expected this to be addressed in a couple of classes, but definitely not in most of them.

Then there was the syllabus for childhood development, which had virtually nothing in it relating to the generally accepted, scientifically derived developmental processes that we humans experience. It was, rather, a subjective “project,” that required us to create a hypothetical life for an individual, and then collect significant objects (placed in a special box!) that would be (hypothetically) meaningful to this person. We would then present the life story, with the special objects, to the class. Perhaps it is a testament of my bias towards higher education, but when I read this, I was floored—at first. Then I laughed, in the true spirit of individual expression. In my warped sense of humor, I saw this as a studied lesson in psychosis! Having witnessed this in real people—in their REAL lives—I can guarantee that it benefits no one!

The Multicultural emphasis (indoctrination?) of the degree (rather than the science of mental health) was troubling enough for me, but the bias reporting was the nail in the coffin lid. I felt like I was standing on the precipice of a huge whack-a-mole game! Worst of all, an entire investigation could come down on a student based only on a PERCEPTION of bias. How in the name of rational thought does that make sense! On a hot day, I may be walking with a friend, feeling constipated and frowning in discomfort, while lamenting my own skin color because I sunburn easily; but someone walking past me might hear only a negative comment about “skin color,” take note of my frown… and report me for bias!

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Because I knew of the Marxist roots of Multiculturalism, and its monstrous wart called Political Correctness—with what I now label its university corollary: “Bias Reporting!”—there was no way in Purgatory I was going to subject myself to this. The United States was built upon freedom of the individual—including thought and expression!—and because there used to be a generally accepted morality based upon presupposed universal truths, and it worked. People were still capable of being idiots, criminals and politicians (often the required trifecta for political life!); but when honor, integrity, respect, charity, honesty and hard work—among other virtues—permeated every element of society and were considered the basis for acceptable societal deportment, people simply respected each other because it was the right thing to do.

Of course, now that Universal Truth has been ousted from the playing field, the entire world has embraced and legitimized the group/culture-based morality/experience. Without any assumed Universals, all cultures are deemed equal (a blatant falsehood for anyone with functioning eyeballs); and with an evolutionary overlay rooted in “survival of the fittest,” we are walking the downward path to anarchy. Multiculturalism is the wolf in sheep’s clothing expediting the process, and much of the world is ignorantly enjoying the ride in its proverbial handbasket—wondering where we’re going!

In Multiculturalism and Marxism: An Englishman Looks at the Soviet Origins of Political Correctness, Frank Ellis has it right,

Today of course, we are made to believe that diversity is strength, perversity is virtue, success is oppression, and that relentlessly repeating these ideas over and over is ‘tolerance and diversity.’ Indeed, the multicultural revolution works subversion everywhere, just as Communist revolutions did: judicial activism undermines the rule of law; ‘tolerance’ weakens the conditions that make real tolerance possible; universities, which should be havens of free inquiry, practice censorship that rivals that of the Soviets.

Political Correctness has run amok everywhere, though—not just on our university campuses. Even all of the Facebook memes decrying political expression are but another way to shame into silence those of us with a passion for the Truth. Perhaps worst of all, those who oppose Multiculturalism and its Siamese twin Progressivism are actually viewed as mentally unstable. Yup. Really.

I would like to strongly encourage free thinkers everywhere to studiously investigate the real roots of Multiculturalism, and repudiate its inherent repression before our country’s brain-washing is complete. Don’t accept the wart—or the bulbous monstrosity of Multiculturalism on which it sits. It’s just ugly . . . in every conceivable way; and a blight on the landscape of America.

 

Linda Hafer is a guest writer for The Systems Scientist. She is a grateful child of God, a wife, a musician, an avid student of Scripture; and both a pursuer of and crusader for Truth in all its contexts. Soli Deo Gloria

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First Solar Images from NOAA’s GOES-16 Satellite

The first images from the Solar Ultraviolet Imager or SUVI instrument aboard NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite have been successful, capturing a large coronal hole on Jan. 29, 2017.

The sun’s 11-year activity cycle is currently approaching solar minimum, and during this time powerful solar flares become scarce and coronal holes become the primary space weather phenomena – this one in particular initiated aurora throughout the polar regions. Coronal holes are areas where the sun’s corona appears darker because the plasma has high-speed streams open to interplanetary space, resulting in a cooler and lower-density area as compared to its surroundings.

This animation from January 29, 2017, shows a large coronal hole in the sun’s southern hemisphere from the Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) on board NOAA’s new GOES-16 satellite. SUVI observations of solar flares and solar eruptions will provide an early warning of possible impacts to Earth’s space environment and enable better forecasting of potentially disruptive events on the ground. This animation captures the sun in the 304 Å wavelength, which observes plasma in the sun’s atmosphere up to a temperature of about 50,000 degrees. When combined with the five other wavelengths from SUVI, observations such as these give solar physicists and space weather forecasters a complete picture of the conditions on the sun that drive space weather.
Credits: NOAA/NASA

SUVI is a telescope that monitors the sun in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength range. SUVI will capture full-disk solar images around-the-clock and will be able to see more of the environment around the sun than earlier NOAA geostationary satellites.

The sun’s upper atmosphere, or solar corona, consists of extremely hot plasma, an ionized gas. This plasma interacts with the sun’s powerful magnetic field, generating bright loops of material that can be heated to millions of degrees. Outside hot coronal loops, there are cool, dark regions called filaments, which can erupt and become a key source of space weather when the sun is active. Other dark regions are called coronal holes, which occur where the sun’s magnetic field allows plasma to stream away from the sun at high speed. The effects linked to coronal holes are generally milder than those of coronal mass ejections, but when the outflow of solar particles is intense – can pose risks to satellites in Earth orbit.

The solar corona is so hot that it is best observed with X-ray and extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) cameras. Various elements emit light at specific EUV and X-ray wavelengths depending on their temperature, so by observing in several different wavelengths, a picture of the complete temperature structure of the corona can be made. The GOES-16 SUVI observes the sun in six EUV channels.

Data from SUVI will provide an estimation of coronal plasma temperatures and emission measurements which are important to space weather forecasting. SUVI is essential to understanding active areas on the sun, solar flares, and eruptions that may lead to coronal mass ejections which may impact Earth. Depending on the magnitude of a particular eruption, a geomagnetic storm can result that is powerful enough to disturb Earth’s magnetic field. Such an event may impact power grids by tripping circuit breakers, disrupt communication and satellite data collection by causing short-wave radio interference and damage orbiting satellites and their electronics. SUVI will allow the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center to provide early space weather warnings to electric power companies, telecommunication providers, and satellite operators.

panel of six colored images of the sun
These images of the sun were captured at the same time on January 29, 2017 by the six channels on the SUVI instrument on board GOES-16 and show a large coronal hole in the sun’s southern hemisphere. Each channel observes the sun at a different wavelength, allowing scientists to detect a wide range of solar phenomena important for space weather forecasting.
Credits: NOAA

SUVI replaces the GOES Solar X-ray Imager (SXI) instrument in previous GOES satellites and represents a change in both spectral coverage and spatial resolution over SXI.

NASA successfully launched GOES-R at 6:42 p.m. EST on Nov. 19, 2016, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and it was renamed GOES-16 when it achieved orbit. GOES-16 is now observing the planet from an equatorial view approximately 22,300 miles above the surface of Earth.

NOAA’s satellites are the backbone of its life-saving weather forecasts. GOES-16 will build upon and extend the more than 40-year legacy of satellite observations from NOAA that the American public has come to rely upon.

For more information about GOES-16, visit: www.goes-r.gov/ or www.nasa.gov/goes

To learn more about the GOES-16 SUVI instrument, visit:

http://www.goes-r.gov/spacesegment/suvi.html

Michelle Smith
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, Md.
michelle.smith@nasa.gov

Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Robert.j.gutro@nasa.gov

Editor: Karl Hille

Photo Credit: NASA

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Hidden figures: How black women preachers spoke truth to power

Each semester I greet the students who file into my preaching class at Howard University with a standard talk. The talk is not an overview of the basics – techniques of sermon preparation or sermon delivery, as one might expect. Outlining the basics is not particularly difficult.

The greatest challenge, in fact, is helping learners to stretch their theology: namely, how they perceive who God is and convey what God is like in their sermons. This becomes particularly important for African-American preachers, especially African-American women preachers, because most come from church contexts that overuse exclusively masculine language for God and humanity.

African-American women comprise more than 70 percent of the active membership of generally any African-American congregation one might attend today. According to one Pew study, African-American women are among the most religiously committed of the Protestant demographic – eight in 10 say that religion is important to them.

Yet, America’s Christian pulpits, especially African-American pulpits, remain male-dominated spaces. Still today, eyebrows raise, churches split, pews empty and recommendation letters get lost at a woman’s mention that God has called her to preach.

The deciding factor for women desiring to pastor and be accorded respect equal to their male counterparts generally whittles down to one question: Can she preach?

The fact is that African-American women have preached, formed congregations and confronted many racial injustices since the slavery era.

Here’s the history

The earliest black female preacher was a Methodist woman simply known as Elizabeth. She held her first prayer meeting in Baltimore in 1808 and preached for about 50 years before retiring to Philadelphia to live among the Quakers.

An unbroken legacy of African-American women preachers persisted even long after Elizabeth. Reverend Jarena Lee became the first African-American woman to preach at the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. She had started even before the church was officially formed in the city of Philadelphia in 1816. But, she faced considerable opposition.

AME Bishop Richard Allen, who founded the AME Church, had initially refused Lee’s request to preach. It was only upon hearing her speak, presumably, from the floor, during a worship service, that he permitted her to give a sermon.

Lee reported that Bishop Allen,

“rose up in the assembly, and related that [she] had called upon him eight years before, asking to be permitted to preach, and that he had put [her] off; but that he now as much believed that [she] was called to that work, as any of the preachers present.

Lee was much like her Colonial-era contemporary, the famed women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth. Truth had escaped John Dumont’s slave plantation in 1828 and landed in New York City, where she became an itinerant preacher active in the abolition and woman’s suffrage movements.

Fighting the gender narratives

For centuries now, the Holy Bible has been used to suppress women’s voices. These early female black preachers reinterpreted the Bible to liberate women.

Truth, for example, is most remembered for her captivating topical sermon “Ar’nt I A Woman?,” delivered at the Woman’s Rights National Convention on May 29, 1851 in Akron, Ohio.

In a skillful historical interpretation of the scriptures, in her convention address, Truth used the Bible to liberate and set the record straight about women’s rights. She professed:

“Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, because Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.”

Like Truth, Jarena Lee spoke truth to power and paved the way for other mid- to late 19th-century black female preachers to achieve validation as pulpit leaders, although neither she nor Truth received official clerical appointments.

The first woman to achieve this validation was Julia A. J. Foote. In 1884, she became the first woman ordained a deacon in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion AMEZ Church. Shortly after followed the ordinations of AME evangelist Harriet A. Baker, who in 1889 was perhaps the first black woman to receive a pastoral appointment. Mary J. Small became the first woman to achieve “elder ordination” status, which permitted her to preach, teach and administer the sacraments and Holy Communion.

Historian Bettye Collier-Thomas maintains that the goal for most black women seeking ordination in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was simply a matter of gender inclusion, not necessarily pursuing the need to transform the patriarchal church.

Preaching justice

An important voice was that of Rev. Florence Spearing Randolph. In her role as reformer, suffragist, evangelist and pastor, she daringly advanced the cause of freedom and justice within the churches she served and even beyond during the period of the Great Migration of 20th century.

In my recent book, “A Pursued Justice: Black Preaching from the Great Migration to Civil Rights,” I trace the clerical legacy of Rev. Randolph and describe how her prophetic sermons spoke to the spiritual, social and industrial conditions of her African-American listeners before and during the largest internal migration in the United States.

In her sermons she brought criticism to the broken promises of American democracy, the deceptive ideology of black inferiority and other chronic injustices.

Randolph’s sermon “If I Were White,” preached on Race Relations Sunday, Feb. 1, 1941, reminded her listeners of their self-worth. It emphasized that America’s whites who claim to be defending democracy in wartime have an obligation to all American citizens.

Randolph spoke in concrete language. She argued that the refusal of whites to act justly toward blacks, domestically and abroad, embraced sin rather than Christ. That, she said, revealed a realistic picture of America’s race problem.

She also spoke about gender discrimination. Randolph’s carefully crafted sermon in 1909 “Antipathy to Women Preachers,” for example, highlights several heroic women in the Bible. From her interpretation of their scriptural legacy, she argued that gender discrimination in Christian pulpits illustrated a misreading of scripture.

Randolph used her position as preacher to effect social change. She was a member and organizer for the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), which led in the work to pass the 18th Amendment, which made prohibition of the production, sale and transport of alcoholic beverages illegal in the United States. Her affiliation with the WCTU earned her the title “militant herald of temperance and righteousness.”

Today, several respected African-American women preachers and teachers of preachers proudly stand on Lee’s, Small’s and Randolph’s shoulders raising their prophetic voices.

The Conversation

Kenyatta R. Gilbert, Associate Professor of Homiletics, Howard University

Photo Credit: Lynne Graves

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Can Trump resist the power of behavioral science’s dark side like other politicians?

More than two dozen governments, including the U.S., now have a team of behavioral scientists tasked with trying to improve bureaucratic efficiency to “nudge” their citizens toward what they deem to be higher levels of well-being.

A few recent examples include a push by the socialist French government to increase the numbers of organ donors, a conservative UK government plan to prevent (costly) missed doctor appointments, and efforts by the Obama White House to boost voter turnout on Election Day.

While the government’s use of our psychological quirks to affect behavior rubs some people the wrong way, most of us can agree that the above examples achieve positive ends. More organ donors mean more lives saved, fewer missed doctor appointments mean the government or health industry is more efficient, and increased voting means stronger citizen engagement in democracy.

But “nudges” themselves are value neutral. That is, they can be used to both achieve altruistic ends or more malicious ones. Just as behavioral science can be used to increase voter turnout, it can also be used to suppress the votes of specific individuals likely to favor the opposing side, as reportedly happened in the recent U.S. presidential election.

The nudge, in other words, has a dark side.

My research explores how behavioral science can help people follow through on their intentions where they make better or longer-term choices that increase their well-being. Because choices are influenced by the environment in which they are made, changing the environment can change decision outcomes.

This can be positive to the extent that those designing interventions have good intentions. But what happens when someone uses these insights to systematically influence others’ behavior to favor his or her own interests – even at the expense of everyone else’s?

That’s my concern with President Donald Trump, whose campaign appears to have exploited behavioral science to suppress the vote of Hillary Clinton supporters.

What’s in a nudge?

Behavioral science is a relatively young field, and governments have only recently begun using its insights to inform public policy.

The UK was the first in 2010 when it created its Behavioral Insights Team. In subsequent years, dozens of governments around the world followed, including Canada with its Behavioral Insights Unit and the U.S., which in 2015 officially launched the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team.

The teams’ missions are all relatively similar: to leverage insights from behavioral science to make public services more cost-effective and easier to use, to help people make better choices for themselves, and to improve well-being.

In the UK, for example, the Behavioral Insights Team was able to persuade about 100,000 more people a year to donate their organs by tweaking a message people received when renewing their car tax. Here in the U.S., the Social and Behavioral Science Team helped the Department of Defense increase the amount of retirement savings accounts for service members by 8.3 percent.

These kinds of interventions have been criticized for unjustly interfering with an individual’s autonomy. Some even compare it with mind-control.

However, as I have pointed out elsewhere, our environment (and the government) is always exerting some influence on our behavior, so we’re always being nudged. The question is therefore not whether we will be nudged, but how and in what direction.

For example, when you sit down to dinner, the size of your plate can make a big difference in how much you eat. Studies show you’re more likely to consume less food if you use a smaller plate. So if the government is handing out the dinnerware, and if most us wanted to avoid overeating, why not set the default plate to a small one?

But now let’s consider the dark side: a restaurant might hand out a small plate if it means it can charge more for less food and thus make more money. The owner likely doesn’t care about your waist size.

Any intervention based on behavioral science is therefore neither good nor bad. What matters is the intention behind it, the aim which the nudge is ultimately supposed to help achieve.

Potential for abuse

Take the case of what Cambridge Analytica – a company founded in 2013 and reportedly funded by the family of billionaire conservative donor Robert Mercer – did during the election. This team of data scientists and behavioral researchers claims to have collected thousands of data points on 220 million Americans in order to “model target audience groups and predict the behavior of like-minded people.”

Essentially, all that data can be used to deduce individual’s personality traits and then send them messages that match their personality, which are more likely to be persuasive. For example, highly neurotic Jane will be more receptive to a political message that promises safety, as opposed to financial gains, which may be more compelling to conscientious Joe.

So what’s the problem? In and of itself, this analysis can be a neutral tool. A government might want to use this approach to provide helpful information to at-risk populations, for example by providing suicide prevention hotlines to severely depressed individuals, as Facebook is currently doing. One might even argue that Cambridge Analytica, first hired by the Cruz campaign and later by Trump, was not acting unethically when it sent such personalized messaging to convince undecided voters to support the eventual Republican nominee. After all, this is what all marketing campaigns set out to do.

But there is a fine ethical line here that behavioral science can make easier to cross. In the same way that people can be influenced to engage in a behavior, they may also be discouraged from doing so. Bloomberg reported that Cambridge Analytica identified likely Clinton voters such as African-Americans and tried to dissuade them from going to the ballot box. The company denies discouraging any Americans from casting their vote.

Beyond hiring the company, the Trump administration has a direct tie to Cambridge Analytica through chief strategist Steve Bannon, who sits on its board.

Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica, talks about what his company does.

How might Trump nudge?

So far, it’s unclear whether or how the Trump administration might use behavioral science in the White House.

Trump, like most Republicans, has emphasized his desire to make government more efficient. Since behavioral science is generally a low-cost intervention strategy that provides tangible, measurable gains that should appeal to a business-minded president, Trump may very well turn to its insights to accomplish this goal. After all, the UK’s Behavioral Insights Team was kicked off under conservative leadership.

The White House Social and Behavioral Science Team’s impressive interventions have led to hundreds of millions of dollars in savings across a variety of departments and at the same time increased the well-being of millions of citizens. The future of the team is now unclear. Some members are worried that Trump will use their skills in less benevolent ways.

Trump’s apparent use of Cambridge Analytica to suppress Clinton turnout, however, is not a good sign. More broadly, the president does not seem to value ethics. Despite repeated warnings from government ethics watchdogs, he refuses to seriously deal with his innumerable conflicts of interest. Without the release of his tax returns, the true extent of his conflicts remain unknown.

And as we know from behavioral science, people frequently underestimate the influence conflicts of interests have on their own behavior.

In addition, studies show that people can easily set aside moral concerns in the pursuit of efficiency or other specific goals. People are also creative in rationalizing unethical behavior. It doesn’t seem to be a stretch to imagine that Trump, given his poor track record where ethics is concerned, could cross the fine ethical line and abuse behavioral science for self-serving ends.

A virus and a cure

Behavioral science has been heralded as part of the solution to many societal ills.

Behavioral economists Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, co-authors of the book “Nudge” coining the term, have been strong advocates of using the field’s tools to improve government policy – when the intentions are transparent and in the public interest.

But might the current administration use them in ways that go against our own interests? The problem is that we may not even be aware when it happens. People are often unable to tell whether they are being nudged and, even if they are, may be unable to tell how it’s influencing their behavior.

Governments around the world have found success using the burgeoning field of behavioral science to improve the efficiency of their policies and increase citizens’ well-being. While we should continue to find new ways to do this, we also need clear guidelines from Congress on when and how to use behavioral science in policy. That would help ensure the current or a future occupant of the White House doesn’t cross the line into the dark side of nudges.

The Conversation

Jon M Jachimowicz, PhD Student in Management, Columbia University

Photo Credit: Keyword Suggest

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The Dawn of a New Era for Supernova 1987a

Three decades ago, astronomers spotted one of the brightest exploding stars in more than 400 years. The titanic supernova, called Supernova 1987A (SN 1987A), blazed with the power of 100 million suns for several months following its discovery on Feb. 23, 1987.

Since that first sighting, SN 1987A has continued to fascinate astronomers with its spectacular light show. Located in the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud, it is the nearest supernova explosion observed in hundreds of years and the best opportunity yet for astronomers to study the phases before, during, and after the death of a star.

The video begins with a nighttime view of the Small and Large Magellanic clouds, satellite galaxies of our Milky Way. It then zooms into a rich star-birth region in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Nestled between mountains of red-colored gas is the odd-looking structure of Supernova 1987A, the remnant of an exploded star that was first observed in February 1987. The site of the supernova is surrounded by a ring of material that is illuminated by a wave of energy from the outburst. Two faint outer rings are also visible. All three rings existed before the explosion as fossil relics of the doomed star’s activity in its final days.
Credits: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of SN 1987A, new images, time-lapse movies, a data-based animation based on work led by Salvatore Orlando at INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo, Italy, and a three-dimensional model are being released. By combining data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory, as well as the international Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers — and the public — can explore SN 1987A like never before.

red nebula and stars
This Hubble Space Telescope image shows Supernova 1987A within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighboring galaxy to our Milky Way.
Credits: NASA, ESA, R. Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation), and M. Mutchler and R. Avila (STScI)
This time-lapse video sequence of Hubble Space Telescope images reveals dramatic changes in a ring of material around the exploded star Supernova 1987A. The images, taken from 1994 to 2016, show the effects of a shock wave from the supernova blast smashing into the ring. The ring begins to brighten as the shock wave hits it. The ring is about one light-year across.
Credits: NASA, ESA, and R. Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation), and P. Challis (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Hubble has repeatedly observed SN 1987A since 1990, accumulating hundreds of images, and Chandra began observing SN 1987A shortly after its deployment in 1999. ALMA, a powerful array of 66 antennas, has been gathering high-resolution millimeter and submillimeter data on SN 1987A since its inception.

“The 30 years’ worth of observations of SN 1987A are important because they provide insight into the last stages of stellar evolution,” said Robert Kirshner of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in Palo Alto, California.

The latest data from these powerful telescopes indicate that SN 1987A has passed an important threshold. The supernova shock wave is moving beyond the dense ring of gas produced late in the life of the pre-supernova star when a fast outflow or wind from the star collided with a slower wind generated in an earlier red giant phase of the star’s evolution. What lies beyond the ring is poorly known at present, and depends on the details of the evolution of the star when it was a red giant.

“The details of this transition will give astronomers a better understanding of the life of the doomed star, and how it ended,” said Kari Frank of Penn State University who led the latest Chandra study of SN 1987A.

Supernovas such as SN 1987A can stir up the surrounding gas and trigger the formation of new stars and planets. The gas from which these stars and planets form will be enriched with elements such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and iron, which are the basic components of all known life. These elements are forged inside the pre-supernova star and during the supernova explosion itself, and then dispersed into their host galaxy by expanding supernova remnants. Continued studies of SN 1987A should give a unique insight into the early stages of this dispersal.

Some highlights from studies involving these telescopes include:

Hubble studies have revealed that the dense ring of gas around the supernova is glowing in an optical light, and has a diameter of about a light-year. The ring was there at least 20,000 years before the star exploded. A flash of ultraviolet light from the explosion energized the gas in the ring, making it glow for decades.

The central structure visible inside the ring in the Hubble image has now grown to roughly half a light-year across. Most noticeable are two blobs of debris in the center of the supernova remnant racing away from each other at roughly 20 million miles an hour.

From 1999 until 2013, Chandra data showed an expanding ring of X-ray emission that had been steadily getting brighter. The blast wave from the original explosion has been bursting through and heating the ring of gas surrounding the supernova, producing X-ray emission.

In the past few years, the ring has stopped getting brighter in X-rays. From about February 2013 until the last Chandra observation analyzed in September 2015 the total amount of low-energy X-rays has remained constant. Also, the bottom left part of the ring has started to fade. These changes provide evidence that the explosion’s blast wave has moved beyond the ring into a region with less dense gas. This represents the end of an era for SN 1987A.

Beginning in 2012, astronomers used ALMA to observe the glowing remains of the supernova, studying how the remnant is actually forging vast amounts of new dust from the new elements created in the progenitor star. A portion of this dust will make its way into interstellar space and may become the building blocks of future stars and planets in another system.

These observations also suggest that dust in the early universe likely formed from similar supernova explosions.

Astronomers also are still looking for evidence of a black hole or a neutron star left behind by the blast. They observed a flash of neutrinos from the star just as it erupted. This detection makes astronomers quite certain a compact object formed as the center of the star collapsed — either a neutron star or a black hole — but no telescope has uncovered any evidence for one yet.

These latest visuals were made possible by combining several sources of information including simulations by Salvatore Orlando and collaborators that appear in this paper: https://arxiv.org/abs/1508.02275. The Chandra study by Frank et al. can be found online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1608.02160. Recent ALMA results on SN 87A are available at https://arxiv.org/abs/1312.4086.

The Chandra program is managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra’s science and flight operations.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington.

ALMA is a partnership of ESO (representing its member states), NSF (USA) and NINS (Japan), together with NRC (Canada), NSC and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of South Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO and NAOJ.

For visuals and more information about SN 1987A, visit:

http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-08

http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

http://www.nasa.gov/chandra

Donna Weaver / Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
dweaver@stsci.edu / villard@stsci.edu
410-338-4493 / 410-338-4514

Megan Watzke
Chandra X-ray Center, Cambridge, Mass.
mwatzke@cfa.harvard.edu
617-496-7998

Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
robert.j.gutro@nasa.gov
301-286-4044

Editor: Karl Hille

Photo Credit: NASA

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Nekima Levy-Pounds doesn’t have a plan

By Jamar Nelson

Nekima is not only strong but arrogant and sometimes confuses her strength for brute. Nekima can definitely call people together, sometimes speak to their hearts, and on occasion say what many people won’t or are afraid to say. Great!

Gathering people is cool, but it needs to be done for the right cause, i.e., jobs, housing, business, and crime. One example of a cause that needs to be addressed is, how black on black crime is concentrated and rising at an astronomical rate on the north side of Minneapolis. It is not only destroying lives, but it is driving down the value of homes and taking innocent lives. Not to mention, it is adding to the already increasing rates of non-white males in the prison system. However, instead of addressing the issues, she will blame it all on the white man. Talking about black on black crime is not “doing the white man’s work” as she often says.

I’m not okay with the fact that she never wants to talk about black on black crime. Why I do I believe it is important for her to talk about black on black crime? It’s important because crime affects jobs, housing, businesses and the community.

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This issue is becoming not only redundant but more incredibly serious when you’ve had over 200 shootings in 2016; for which, the majority of these have been black on black or non-white on non-white. We know this because Minneapolis is still fairly segregated and the shootings are taking place in predominantly non-white neighborhoods. A candidate has to talk about it, have a plan for it, and be willing to discuss it with concerned constituents. With this said, one can only guess that 2017 will be the OK Corral.

So what would 2018 look like with Nekima Levy-Pounds at the helm? My guess it will be as cataclysmic as tornadoes.

Speaking of tornadoes, remember the tornado that hit North Minneapolis? Since then minority homeownership has gone down and she has never addressed this reality. Why is this important? It is important because if a man owns his own home he is less likely to break into another man’s home. This is because he has worked hard to earn and maintain what he has.

Here’s something else to consider regarding renting versus owning. Renting is at an all-time high! What’s her solution to increase minority home ownership? Once again she hasn’t addressed this reality and come out with a plan to change this reality.

As for entrepreneurship, why isn’t she talking about more minority-owned businesses in North Minneapolis and other parts of Minneapolis? What kind of policies could she put forth to rectify and increase minority business? This is important because businesses create jobs in the community. It’s also important because if a person has a job and learns there is dignity in work, he is less likely to rob another for what he has because he himself has worked hard to earn his coin. Yet again what’s her plan?

How about crime? The crime rate drastically brings down the value of someone’s home and as a homeowner why should he or she have to deal with the devaluing of their home due to nothing of their doing but only because of the crime in the neighborhood? Where is she on crime? What’s her plan?

Similarly, what is her plan about policing the communities? She would tell you she has had a positive affect on operations within the Minneapolis Police Department. I would so beg to differ. I don’t know one thing she can point to that she has changed for the better in the operations in the Minneapolis Police Department. The only thing she has done is added fuel to an already divisive fire. Once again what’s her plan?

Minneapolis is a multicultural city and it shows in the neighborhoods around the city. A Mayor must represent and reflect that as well. I have no doubt she will not because she doesn’t have a plan!

 

Jamar Nelson is a guest writer for The Systems Scientist. He is also a co-host of The Black Republican/Black Democrat Show on Twin Cities News Talk in Minneapolis, MN. He is a loyal Democrat and Dallas Cowboys fan.

 You can connect with him directly in the comments section, and follow him on Twitter or on Facebook

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Photo credit: Lorie Shaull

 

 

 

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