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Posts Tagged ‘cloud’

Gallery: The Splendor of the Orion Nebula

Posted by Admin on December 24, 2011

SPACE.com Staff
Date: 22 December 2011 Time: 09:27 PM ET

The Splendor of Orion: A Star Factory UnveiledCredit: NASA, ESA, M. Robberto (Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project TeamThis new Hubble image of the Orion Nebula shows dense pillars of gas and dust that may be the homes of fledgling stars, and hot, young, massive stars that have emerged from their cocoons and are shaping the nebula with powerful ultraviolet light.

The Splendor of Orion: A Star Factory Unveiled

Cosmic Bullets Pierce Space CloudCredit: Gemini ObservatoryThis composite image at infrared wavelengths shows the Orion nebula “bullets” as blue features and represents the light emitted by hot iron gas. The light from the wakes, shown in orange, is from excited hydrogen gas.

Each bullet is about ten times the size of Pluto’s orbit around the Sun and travels through the clouds at up to 250 miles (400 kilometers) per second-or about a thousand times faster than the speed of sound.

Cosmic Bullets Pierce Space Cloud

Famous Orion Nebula Closer Than Thought Credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSFTrigonometric Parallax method determines distance to star by measuring its slight shift in apparent position as seen from opposite ends of Earth’s orbit.

Famous Orion Nebula Closer Than Thought

Twin Stars Born 500,000 Years ApartCredit: NASA-JPL-STScI/David James.The two identical twin stars (inset) called Par 1802 appear as a single point of light, because they are so close to each other in the Orion Nebula (background).

Twin Stars Born 500,000 Years Apart

New Close-up Shows Binary Stars in Orion’s HeartCredit: nullLeft: Zooming into the center of the Orion star-forming region with the four bright Trapezium stars (Theta1 Orionis A-D). The dominant star is Theta1 Orionis C, which was imaged with unprecedented resolution with the VLT interferometer (lower right). Right: The orbit of the binary system (grey line). The size of the orbit of Jupiter around our sun is shown for comparison. Collage: MPIfR (Stefan Kraus), ESO, NASA,HST.

New Close-up Shows Binary Stars in Orion’s Heart

 ‘Space Jellyfish’ and Cosmic Blobs Seen by Hubble TelescopeCredit: NASA/ESA and L. Ricci (ESO)This new atlas features 30 proplyds, or protoplanetary discs, that were recently discovered in the majestic Orion Nebula using the Hubble Space Telescope.

'Space Jellyfish' and Cosmic Blobs Seen by Hubble Telescope

New Image Penetrates Heart of Orion NebulaCredit: ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey UnitThis wide-field view of the Orion Nebula (Messier 42), lying about 1350 light-years from Earth, was taken with the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. The new telescope’s huge field of view allows the whole nebula and its surroundings to be imaged in a single picture and its infrared vision also means that it can peer deep into the normally hidden dusty regions and reveal the curious antics of the very active young stars buried there.

New Image Penetrates Heart of Orion Nebula

Hot New Stars Take Center Stage in Cosmic PhotoCredit: NASA/JPL-CaltechA colony of hot, young stars is stirring up the cosmic scene in this new picture from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope released on April 1, 2010. Full story.

 Hot New Stars Take Center Stage in Cosmic Photo

Star-Formation Details Seen in New ImagesCredit: ESA/LFI & HFI ConsortiaAn active star-formation region in the Orion nebula, as seen by Planck. This image covers a region of 13×13 degrees. It is a three-color combination constructed from three of Planck’s nine frequency channels: 30, 353 and 857 GHz.

Star-Formation Details Seen in New Images

Young Stars Blamed for Space Cloud RipplesCredit: NASA-JPL & Caltech, ESO-VISTA [Full Story]Top: near-infrared image of the Orion nebula. The massive stars are in the bright region. Bottom: Zoom on the region of the waves shown at mid-infrared (green), and radio wavelengths (red). The mid-infrared component shows the emission of warm small dust particles, while the radio emission comes from the cold gas. Each inset corresponds to a different velocity of the gas, observed with the IRAM 30m radio-telescope.

Young Stars Blamed for Space Cloud Ripples

Orion NebulaCredit: ESO and Igor ChekalinThis new image of the Orion Nebula was captured using the Wide Field Imager camera on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Orion Nebula

Orion Knows How to Turn on the FIreworks!Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASAThis NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of the Orion Nebula shows the spectacular region around an object known as Herbig-Haro 502, a very small part of the vast stellar nursery. The glow of the nebula fills the image and, just left of center, a star embedded in a pinkish glow can be also seen. This object, Herbig-Haro 502, is an example of a very young star surrounded by the cloud of gas from which it formed.

Orion Knows How to Turn on the FIreworks!

Orion, Brightest Winter ConstellationCredit: Starry Night SoftwareOrion is the brightest and most beautiful of the winter constellations, full of fascinating objects for the curious skygazer.

Orion, Brightest Winter Constellation

SOFIA Image of Orion NebulaCredit: SOFIA image: James De Buizer/NASA/DLR/USRA/DSI/FORCAST; Spitzer image: NASA/JPLThis image compares two infrared pictures of the heart of the Orion nebula captured by the FORCAST camera on the SOFIA airborne observatory’s telescope with a wider image of the same area from NASA’s Spitzer space telescope.

SOFIA Image of Orion Nebula

Orion from Viking ViewCredit: P-M Hedén/TWANSkywatcher Per-Magnus Heden wondered if the Vikings gazed at the same starry sky when he took this photo in Feb. 2011.

Orion from Viking View

Orion Unveiled: Spitzer Telescope Spies Nebula’s Infrared SecretsCredit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/S.T. Megeaty (Univ. of Toledo,OH).This infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Orion nebula, the closest massive star-making factory to Earth.

Orion Unveiled: Spitzer Telescope Spies Nebula’s Infrared Secrets

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This Volcano Is About More Than Flights

Posted by Admin on April 20, 2010

While it is early in the morning in Europe the following picture shows the impact of the volcano in Iceland on European air traffic (as of Thursday), if you compare Northern (none) and Southern (60) European flights. The blue crosses are airports. The volcano has already had a stunning impact on Europe, although articles about it are already dropping below the lead headlines.

There is a thought that the plume may last another five days, and even though the cloud is largely invisible to those who are being impacted by it, the damage by neglecting these precautions could be severe. And given that the British election is on May 6th, the impact of a sustained eruption on the debates in the UK, and the result may go beyond just limiting the travel of those who would campaign, to become more dominant with the length of the flight curtailments and the responses to help resolve what are likely to be growing transportation problems.

Flight Map

The presence of sulphur dioxide is already obvious to local residents, though there don’t appear to be any concerns over its toxicity. This is the toxicity information given by gasdetection.com:

WITH ACUTE EXPOSURE, 5 PPM CAUSES DRYNESS OF NOSE & THROAT AND A MEASUREABLE INCR IN RESISTANCE TO BRONCHIAL AIR FLOW; 6 TO 8 PPM CAUSES A DECR IN TIDAL RESP VOLUME. SNEEZING, COUGH & EYE IRRITATION OCCUR AT 10 PPM; 20 PPM CAUSED BRONCHOSPASM; 50 PPM CAUSES EXTREME DISCOMFORT BUT NO INJURY IN LESS THAN A 30-MIN EXPOSURE … 1000 PPM CAUSES DEATH IN FROM 10 MIN TO SEVERAL HR BY RESP DEPRESSION.

The larger eruptions of Katla, have ejected up to 1.5 x 10^9 cu m of material with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of up to 5. For comparison Mt Pinatubo in 1991 ejected 1.1 x 10^10 cu m with a VEI of 6.

The Times has an interesting graphic that shows some of the concerns and I am going to use a bit of it to show that the problem may be a little bigger than even the article suggests.

To begin with recognize that Iceland is at the intersection of different plates that together form the shell of the planet. Whereas in some parts of the world these plates are pushing together and riding over each other, in this part of the world they are tending more to separate, so that the magma, on which the plates ride, can make its way up along the joint planes and erupt at the surface.

Volcano Map

Map of Iceland showing major volcanoes (The Times of London)

Now what the picture is concerned about is that generally when Eyjaflallajokull erupts so does Kalta, which is right next door. But Katla is a larger system and the eruption is generally much more severe.

Unfortunately what has also to be considered is that there are a whole line of craters, not shown on this map, between Katla and Vatnajokull, which are also a worry. Laki, an even greater threat than Katla, lies along this line.

Iceland’s Laki volcano erupted in 1783, freeing gases that turned into smog. The smog floated across the Jet Stream, changing weather patterns. Many died from gas poisoning in the British Isles. Crop production fell in western Europe. Famine spread. . . . . . .

The winter of 1784 was also one of the longest and coldest on record in North America. New England reported a record stretch of below-zero temperatures and New Jersey reported record snow accumulation. The Mississippi River also reportedly froze in New Orleans.

It is at the orange flag in this picture.

Volcano Map

(Google Earth)

There is a line of eruption calderas from Katla up to Laki, which is up around Skaftareldar.
The 3.5 earthquake I wrote about on Bit Tooth Energy lies beyond Laki on the line from Eyjaflallajokull, and was centered further north in the Vatnajokull. Some have blamed the weather created by the eight-month eruption of Laki as a possible contributory cause to the French Revolution.

An eruption of that length, ejecting as much material as it may into the atmosphere, would have consequences that go beyond just the ability to survive the noxious gaseous clouds.

The impact of the dust is shown in this picture from the British Met Office, which shows that plume reaching down past Scotland:

Volcano Map

Dust cloud passing Scotland (Met Office)

And the consequent distribution at different levels of the atmosphere.

Volcano Map

High and low level ash distribution (Met Office via the Guardian)

The agriculture of Europe would be damaged by a prolonged eruption with this distribution, and with it the possible production of biodiesel. Consider that the growth of rapeseed (canola) around the world has been steadily rising over the past few years.

Rapeseed Production

With European countries sitting just behind the leaders.

Rapeseed Production

Somewhere over 4 million metric tons of the crop currently goes to producing biodiesel, mainly in Europe. (Heading up towards 100,000 bd). Losing a year of that crop (and large scale volcanic activity can have an impact for over four years on the climate and the ground chemistry), particularly given the current possible approach of the peaking of conventional oil production, could have an unanticipated impact on overall liquid fuel availability and price.

Unfortunately rapeseed is only one of the crops that will be affected, and the significant drop in crop yields does not appear to be getting much attention yet.

Beyond that, there should be a little concern for the wind turbines that are now dotted over the horizon. The concern is with the speed at which the tips travel through the air. The air, that looks clean, will contain small particles of very sharp glass and other volcanic ejecta, that are the primary cause for the grounding of aircraft across Europe. While the aircraft can see very sudden loss in engine power, because of the high speeds with which they encounter the clouds, and the volumes of debris sucked into engines that then fail. (There are also video explanations.)

Wind wing tip speeds have been projected to be in the range from 264 ft/sec to 326 ft/sec. At impact speeds over 120 ft/sec the particles from the eruption will start to erode the blades of the turbine. If the eruption continues for weeks, and the turbines rotate in that atmosphere (which looks clear to normal vision) then they will lose surface quality, and perhaps the particles will enter into the generators (as they do on aircraft) doing significant damage.

Thus, beyond the initial inconvenience of the loss of a way to fly (bearing in mind I am supposed to fly to Europe myself soon), there are the longer concerns over both the crops this summer and for the next four, and for the longer term health of the turbines. All in all it is a reminder that there is never a time that Nature, with a little nudge, cannot remind us of the risks of complacency.

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