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Space exploration in a bytestream

Simulated Birth Of A Black Hole

NASA dixit:

"This supercomputer simulation shows one of the most violent events in the universe: a pair of neutron stars colliding, merging and forming a black hole. A neutron star is the compressed core left behind when a star born with between eight and 30 times the sun's mass explodes as a supernova. Neutron stars pack about 1.5 times the mass of the sun — equivalent to about half a million Earths — into a ball just 12 miles (20 km) across.

As the simulation begins, we view an unequally matched pair of neutron stars weighing 1.4 and 1.7 solar masses. They are separated by only about 11 miles, slightly less distance than their own diameters. Redder colors show regions of progressively lower density.

As the stars spiral toward each other, intense tides begin to deform them, possibly cracking their crusts. Neutron stars possess incredible density, but their surfaces are comparatively thin, with densities about a million times greater than gold. Their interiors crush matter to a much greater degree densities rise by 100 million times in their centers. To begin to imagine such mind-boggling densities, consider that a cubic centimeter of neutron star matter outweighs Mount Everest.

By 7 milliseconds, tidal forces overwhelm and shatter the lesser star. Its superdense contents erupt into the system and curl a spiral arm of incredibly hot material. At 13 milliseconds, the more massive star has accumulated too much mass to support it against gravity and collapses, and a new black hole is born. The black hole's event horizon — its point of no return — is shown by the gray sphere. While most of the matter from both neutron stars will fall into the black hole, some of the less dense, faster moving matter manages to orbit around it, quickly forming a large and rapidly rotating torus. This torus extends for about 124 miles (200 km) and contains the equivalent of 1/5th the mass of our sun. The entire simulation covers only 20 milliseconds.

Scientists think neutron star mergers like this produce short gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). Short GRBs last less than two seconds yet unleash as much energy as all the stars in our galaxy produce over one year.

The rapidly fading afterglow of these explosions presents a challenge to astronomers. A key element in understanding GRBs is getting instruments on large ground-based telescopes to capture afterglows as soon as possible after the burst. The rapid notification and accurate positions provided by NASA's Swift mission creates a vibrant synergy with ground-based observatories that has led to dramatically improved understanding of GRBs, especially for short bursts."

Credit: NASA Goddard

Posted: 2014-08-26

The best of OrbitalHub

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has implemented the UN Space Debris Mitigation guidelines in a number of standards.
Canada is actively involved in space debris mitigation research and development activities. Canada hosted the International Conference on Protection of Materials and Structures from the Space Environment (ICPMSE) in May 2008, and contributed to the 37th Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Scientific Assembly in July 2008.
Let us see how the areas mentioned in the previous Sustainability in LEO post are covered at national level in the United States.
Space debris mitigation measures address issues in two major areas: protection from space debris and reduction of the space debris population growth.
Only a small fraction of the existing space debris population is detectable and tracked by ground systems. A smaller fraction is catalogued by special programs and/or departments of national space agencies. This is where statistics comes into play. Numerous models have been created in order to assess present collision risks associated with certain orbits and to predict future evolution of the debris environment around Earth.
In April 1984, the Space Shuttle Challenger placed into low Earth orbit a NASA spacecraft carrying a number of experiments for the purpose of characterizing the low Earth orbit environment. The spacecraft, the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF), was a twelve-sided cylindrical structure and three-axis stabilized in order to ensure an accurate environmental exposure.
Space debris, also known as orbital debris, consist of artificial objects in orbit around Earth that no longer serve any useful purpose. Most of the space debris population consists of fragments resulted from explosions and collisions, but some are spent rocket stages and satellites that are no longer operational.
The adventure started on October 4, 1957, when the former Soviet Union successfully launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik-1, using a rocket that was a modified Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICMB). Even if the political implications at that time were very important, as the launch ignited the Space Race within the Cold War, we can argue that the scientific accomplishments were more significant.
One thing that I find fascinating about astronomy is the ingenious ways astronomers have come up with to solve the puzzles laid out in the skies. You cannot travel to distant stars and galaxies to study them… so what do you do? Well, you use all of the knowledge that mathematics and physics give you and find out anything you want to know (or pretty much everything) about them.
The Aerial Regional-scale Environment Survey, ARES for short, is an autonomous powered airplane. ARES will bridge the gap between remote sensing and surface exploration on Mars. This new class of science will allow magnetic surveys with an improved resolution, geologic diversity coverage, and in-situ atmospheric science.

The video of the week

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When Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921, he did not receive it for his contributions to the understanding of gravity through his theory of relativity… actually he received it for a paper he wrote in annus mirabilis 1905 on the law of the photoelectric effect. At that time, relativity and the new perspective on gravity offered by Einstein’s theory was so controversial that the Nobel Prize Committee members chose to protect their reputations and felt that it would be appropriate to award Einstein the Nobel Prize for “his services to theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”. One hundred years later, the theory of relativity is part of second-year University curriculum and reputations are safe.
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