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Pictures of the Day

The Cat’s Paw Nebula

The Cat’s Paw Nebula (NGC 6334) is an emission nebula of about 50 light-years across, located some 5,500 light-years away in the constellation of Scorpius, while crawling toward us at approximately 1.6 kilometer per second. The nebula resembles a huge paw print in the sky, hence it’s nickname.

This vast region of star formation is one of the most active nurseries of massive stars in our galaxy, where numerous bright blue stars, nearly ten times the mass of our Sun, have been born in the past few million years. The complex region of gas and dust is also home to many baby stars that are buried deep in the dust. In total, the Cat’s Paw Nebula could contain several tens of thousands of stars.

Particularly striking is the red, intricate bubble in the lower right part of the image. This is most likely either a star expelling large amount of matter at high speed as it nears the end of its life or the remnant of a star that already has exploded.

The Cat’s Paw Nebula is very close to the equator of our Milky Way galaxy, and is seen through thick dusty clouds. The dust both scatters and absorbs blue light along our line of sight, giving this nebula a deep red hue. This color originates predominantly from an abundance of hydrogen gas, glowing under the intense glare of hot young stars.

LINK WITH PICTURE: [link to annesastronomynews.com]

Dead Sea Sinkholes

Sinkholes are depressions or holes in the land surface caused by karst processes that generally takes place slowly but can open suddenly, drawing in everything above. These craters, abundant on the western side of the Dead Sea (near Ein Gedi, Israel), stem from a severe water shortage, magnified in recent years by the reduction in the amount of water flowing in the Sea's main tributary, the Jordan River. The Dead Sea's water level has declined over 80 ft (25 m) from 1939 to 1999 -- it's now shrunk by about one third of its mid-1960s volume.

These swallow holes or sinkholes form when a subterranean salt layer, buried about 65-230 ft (20–70 m) beneath the surface that once bordered the sea, is dissolved by underground fresh water. As the sea level drops, groundwater from adjacent aquifers flows in to replace the retreating seawater. This fresh water meets a layer of rocky salts and dissolves it, creating an underground void. The surface usually stays intact until there's no longer sufficient support, when a sudden collapse can happen.

LINK WITH PICTURE: [link to epod.usra.edu]

Herschel's Andromeda

This infrared view from the Herschel Space Observatory explores the Andromeda Galaxy, the closest large spiral galaxy to our own Milky Way.

LINK WITH PICTURE: [link to apod.nasa.gov]

Lack Of Dwarf Galaxies Around Milky Way Perplexes Physicists

Studying the physics of the universe can be a controversial and often contradictory proposition, with theories and calculations often not matching with observations.

However, new research from Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam in Germany, has shed some light on one situation involving differences between theory and observation.

Scientists at the institute have found that a phenomenon known as “cosmic web stripping” is responsible for the lack of dwarf galaxies near the Milky Way that should be there according to the theory of cold dark matter and dark energy.

Based on the last two decades of observational data, astrophysicists have determined that the universe is composed of 75 percent dark energy, 20 percent dark matter and 5 percent ordinary matter.

Contrary to what you might see on paranormal investigation reality shows, dark energy is the term used to describe a theoretical form of energy that permeates the entire universe and causes the expansion of the universe to accelerate.

Dark matter cannot be seen directly, but its effects can be observed through its manipulation of visible matter and radiation. Its unseen mass can warp light and radiation from nearby stars and this effect can be observed using modern technology. Astrophysicists came to acknowledge the existence of dark matter when they determined that there is more mass in the universe than what is visible.

Throughout the universe, galaxies and matter bunch together into an intricate network of filaments and voids that scientists refer to as the cosmic web. Supercomputer simulations designed to model the cosmic web have shown that there should be a large number of dwarf galaxies, about one thousandth the mass of the Milky Way, within relatively close proximity to Earth–about 10,000,000 light years. However, only a few of these galaxies have been seen orbiting the Milky Way.

LINK: [link to www.redorbit.com]

Alien Moons May Be Easier to Photograph Than Planets

Scientists looking for habitable worlds to photograph could have better luck searching for moons than for alien planets, scientists say. A moon heated by the pull of its parent planet could be visible even when the planet is hidden from view.

Powered by gravitational tugging from a planet, these exomoons would remain bright throughout their lifetimes, not just in their youth. This means stars of various ages could be hosting planets with photogenic moons.

LINK: [link to www.space.com]

Night Sky: Visible Planets, Moon Phases & Events, February 2013

The night sky tonight and on any clear night offers an ever-changing display of fascinating objects you can see, from stars and constellations to bright planets, often the moon, and sometimes special events like meteor showers. Observing the night sky can be done with no special equipment, although a sky map can be very useful, and a good beginner telescope or binoculars will enhance some experiences and bring some otherwise invisible objects into view.

Complete list of what's in View this Month: [link to www.space.com]

Sun News 02/02/2013

Issued: 2013 Feb 02 1230 UTC
Prepared by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, Space Weather Prediction Center

Solar Activity

.24 hr Summary...
Solar activity reached low levels due to a C1 flare at 02/0511 UTC from
Region 1665 (N11E17). Slight growth was observed in Region 1667
(N22E56). Slight decay was observed in Region 1663 (S09W43). A
filament eruption was observed in SDO/AIA 304 imagery beginning at
01/2100 UTC. A subsequent CME was seen off the southeast in SOHO/LASCO
C2 imagery beginning at 01/2212 UTC. The majority of the ejecta was
directed off the southeast limb and is not expected to be geoeffective.

Solar activity is expected to be very low with a chance for C-class
flares for the forecast period (02-04 Feb).

Energetic Particle

.24 hr Summary...
The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit was at
normal levels. The greater than 10 MeV proton flux at geosynchronous
orbit was at background levels.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit is expected
to be at normal to moderate levels. The greater than 10 MeV proton flux
at geosynchronous orbit is expected to continue at background levels.

Solar Wind

.24 hr Summary...
Solar wind speed, measured at the ACE spacecraft, was relatively
constant near 340-350 km/s until just after 01/2030 UTC when an increase
in wind speed and temperature was observed. Wind speed rose to a
maximum near 480 km/s while total field increased from 4 nT to 11 nT.
The Bz component of the IMF fluctuated between +/- 9 nT. Phi angle was
predominantly negative (towards). The parameters were indicative of the
onset of a negative polarity coronal hole high speed stream.

Solar wind speeds are expected to continue to be enhanced into days 1-2
(02-03 Feb) as coronal hole high speed stream effects continue combined
with a glancing blow from the 31 January CME by mid to late on day 2 (03
Feb). Solar wind conditions are expected to slowly return to nominal
levels by late on day 3 (04 Feb).


.24 hr Summary...
The geomagnetic field was at quiet to unsettled levels due to effects
from a geoeffective coronal hole high speed stream.

The geomagnetic field is expected to continue at quiet to unsettled
levels on day 1 (02 Feb) due to continued effects from a geoeffective
coronal hole high speed stream. By day 2 (03 Feb), continued coronal
hole effects combined with a glancing blow from the 31 January CME are
expected to cause unsettled to active conditions with a slight chance
for periods of minor storming. Mostly unsettled conditions are expected
on day 3 (04 Feb) as coronal hole and CME effects begin to diminish.

LINK: [link to www.solarham.net]
Streamer: [link to iswa.gsfc.nasa.gov]
[link to iswa.gsfc.nasa.gov]
[link to www.gdgps.net]

ACE Magfield: [link to www.swpc.noaa.gov]
Magnetometer: [link to www.swpc.noaa.gov]
Neutron Monitor : [link to helios.izmiran.rssi.ru]
GOES Disk: [link to www.weatheroffice.gc.ca]
Surface Heat Index (USA): [link to weather.unisys.com]
Sea Surface Temps(02/01/2013: [link to www.ssec.wisc.edu]

Great Sites to check out

[link to www.numbersleuth.org]
[link to www.planethunters.org]
[link to www.solarsystemscope.com]
[link to www.helioviewer.org]

3MIN News February 2, 2013: Leaked UN Report Supports NASA/Alternative Climate

2013 Recap to Now - February 2nd
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