Nov. 8, 2021

Discovery of the Origins of 'Empty Sky' Gamma Rays

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The Astronomy, Technology, and Space Science...

To become a SpaceTime supporter and unlock commercial free editions of the show, gain early access and bonus content, please visit . Premium version now available via Spotify.
The Astronomy, Technology, and Space Science News Podcast.
SpaceTime Series 24 Episode 127
*Discovery of the origins of ‘empty sky’ gamma-rays
A new study has confirmed that star-forming galaxies are responsible for generating the majority of empty sky gamma-rays -- the origins of which have been a mystery for half a century.
*Understanding the depths of Jupiter’s great red spot
New data from NASA’s Juno spacecraft shows that Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot extends down some 500 kilometres -- far deeper into the gas giant than previously thought.
*The biggest solar flare of the Sun’s new cycle
The Sun has launched its second X class solar flare of the new solar cycle – leaving no doubt to solar cycle 25 is underway.
*The Science Report
New study shows the value of getting a third booster shot of COVID-19 Vaccine.
Confirmation that Vikings crossed the Atlantic Ocean a millennia ago.
Australia has the world’s second highest rate of methamphetamine use.
Skeptic's guide to having a pet scientist.
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SpaceTime S24E127 AI Transcript

[00:00:00] Stuart: This is space time series 24, episode 127 for broadcast on the 8th of November, 2021. Coming up on space, time discovery of the origins of empty sky gamma rays, understanding the depths of Jupiter's great red spot and the biggest solar flare. So far of the sun's new cycle. All that and more coming up on space time.

[00:00:26] VO Guy: Welcome to SpaceTime with Stuart Gary

[00:00:28] Stuart: a new study is confirm that star forming galaxies are responsible for generating the majority of so-called empty sky gamma rays. The origins of which have been a mystery for half a century. The findings reported in the journal nature have resolved a longstanding question about some of the most highly energetic forms of light in the universe, which appear in patches of seemingly empty sky.

Astronomers have been speculating about the source of empty sky gamma rays ever since their detection in the 1960s. Now, if we leave out matter anti-matter collisions, there are two primary sources which can produce large amounts of gamma rays. One happens when material falls into a supermassive black hole and is ripped apart at the subatomic level.

These active supermassive black holes are known as active galactic nuclei because they're found at the centers of galaxies. The other is associated with star formation and this primarily occurs in the discs of galaxies. So the author's modeled gamma Ray emissions from galaxies and compared their results with predictions for other possible sources.

They were able to pinpoint what created these mysterious gamma rays after first obtaining a better understanding of how cosmic rays particles traveling super luminary, that it's close to the speed of light move through gasbetween stars. Cosmic rays are important because they create large amounts of gamma Ray emissions in star forming galaxies.

When they collide with interstellar gas. Data from the Hubble space telescope and the Fermi gamma Ray space observatory were key to uncovering the unknown origins of these gamma rays. The authors were able to use data from these sources to analyze information about multiple galaxies, including their staff formation rates and total masses, their physical size and their distance from earth.

They found that it was star forming galaxies, which are producing the majority of this diffuse gamma radiation rather than active collecting nuclei. The study's lead author, Matt Roth from the Australian national university says their new model could also be used to make predictions for radio emissions from star forming galaxies, which could help scientists learn more about the internal structure of these galaxies.

He says the new technology will hopefully also allow astronomers to observe many more star forming galaxies in gamma rays compared to what can be detected now with current gamma ray telescopes. In fact Ruffin colleagues are now looking at producing maps to the gamma Ray sky, which could be used for upcoming gamma Ray observations using the next generation of telescopes.

And these would include the sharing of telescope Ray, which Australia is. Roth says that discovery could also offer clues to help astronomers solve other mysteries in the universe, such as the kinds of particles likely to make up dark matter. One of the holy grails of astrophysics,

[00:03:24] Guest: Gamma rays are, essentially the, the, the highest form of light we can observe and turns out and few a gamma Ray telescope up in space, and you look at sort of empty patched at the sky. We do see, we do recall quite a number of. Well, I've got my totems coming from areas of the sky that don't have an obvious source. So these are essentially just gamma rays that seem to be coming from nowhere because we can't actually make out anything that would pretty be producing them directly.

So we've looked at how many gamma rays are produced in forming galaxies of which there are many, many in the universe and basically done the priestess model. And then. The total contribution of all star forming galaxies in the universe and compare that to, uh, the measurement of gum right background, and turns out that we get a really good match

[00:04:12] Stuart: to what's being observed about working out that these gamma rays are coming from, or the galaxies.

[00:04:18] Guest: The key mechanism that produces these gamma rise in staff forming galaxies is these cosmic rays that cosmic rays are just particles. So gamma rays, a light colorize, a particle. So the electrons. Uh, accelerated in supernova explosion. So in the shockwaves at the supernova explosions. So when these cosmic rays about the galaxy, so we can also measure them.

And now I haven't got the zip around and they occasionally bounce into an asset of the gaps that sort of fills the galaxy between the stuff. And when that happens, they produce another pion. So they produce three different kinds. But the one that's of interest to us is the neutral truck has no charge.

And what happens there is that the pipeline is very short-lived and just occasionally to gamma rays. So understanding how these cosmic rays move about the galaxy is the

[00:05:02] Stuart: critical bit in this.

Influenced by

[00:05:11] Guest: the nutrient pine. Won't be, but won't be influenced by anything else. They're charge pions high plus in minus that produce roughly equal number. So there's a third of each, approximately the charge parents decay into electrons and the nutrients into other posts, which are also very interesting. The neutral pion, which is the biggest interest to us because that's produced at these really high energy gamma.

In galaxies. So understanding how these cosmic rays moves. So how many extra bounds into the gas and how many escape the galaxy that's work that was also done at a venue. And this is this sort of fed into the model that we built. So this is the motivation that we, we understood how they move about and what the gamma Ray spectrum of individual galaxy would look like.

And then naturally the question that posed itself then is, well, if we know how many cameras, one guy. If we apply this to, it represents this town, but of all the galaxies in the universe. And what does that tell us about the camera's background? So that was the underlying. When

[00:06:08] Stuart: we look at our own galaxy, we see these huge Fermi bubbles emanating from near the galactic center, where we think they're associated with Sagittarius a star, the Superman.

Well, what we believe is a supermassive black hole at the center of accuracy. How do you know that these gamma Ray saw.

[00:06:29] Guest: Um, they are actually promised our debt. So when we talk about stuff, me galaxies and stuff formation. So the way it works is that you just have some gas that collapses undergraduate team and heats up in internally. And then at some point you have enough temperature to stop using hydrogen into helium and you form a staff.

So. So this is roughly eight times the mass of the sun. They actually lead very short lives. So they live a couple of million years and then they die in a supernova

[00:07:01] Stuart: exposure. This is the James Dean syndrome. We call it.

[00:07:06] Guest: Exactly. Exactly. So the heavy actually the heavy. The more quickly, it burns it's fewer.

So they died very young. So when you have a certain stock information going on at the same time, you see a lot of deaths happening at the same time. So they're very closely related in time. So when we say staff forming LSE, that means that we have a lot of stars dying at the same time as well. So you need the supernova explosion to produce the shock waves, to accelerate the cosmic rides.

So that's the critical bit. So the two mechanisms are very.

[00:07:34] Stuart: Because of the characteristics of gamma rice and how they radiate, I guess, is the word I'm looking for. Does this provide any clues at all into things?

[00:07:43] Guest: Dark matcha is alpha is a particular interest because some of the dark matter theories have pockets.

So like a wind so that we can interacting massive particles. And basically the rundown is that tele heavy particles. So we would assume that they, they have some probability of highlighting either with the particle or with themselves. If we look at areas where we would expect the budget to be higher. So this is for example, at the center of galaxy, or even at the sort of center for galaxy, you can think about a scenario where you have that much annihilation and because its particles are very heavy, you would expect that radiation to be coming out in gamma rays.

So one of the key things for looking for such a signal is that we need to be able to moderate backgrounds. So we need to know what was the other gallery emissions. That might be in that area to subtract that from what we see and then whatever signal you're left with the one that made you some clue as to what that's a maybe.

So these experiments are ongoing and she goes through the literature that there's always a lot of discussion going on. Whether, you know, some things maybe hinting at a Cigna or not. So this is a know a big research

[00:08:55] Stuart: it's it's red hot, essentially. I guess the other important thing here is that. Huge areas of the universe full of gamma Ray.

So I guess that means the whole universe is a, a matter universe, not half matter half Hattie

[00:09:08] Guest: matter. Yeah. So, yeah. Yeah. We've known that for a good while. Um, because otherwise we'd be, we'd be in big trouble. You have

[00:09:16] Stuart: half a university. That's all anti matter. And that the way, that way the equations all work out.

[00:09:23] Guest: Yes, yes, yes. That's right. Yeah. You wouldn't have to explain that problem then. Yeah. That we have. There's still lots of different problems in different areas of physics. So there's still lots more to discover and, you know, you always build on a lot of work that other people have done before. So you know what we've done relied on significant work from other people, you know, to come up with these surveys, to give us sort of the input parameters into our model.

So it's a step-by-step process. So as I say, standing on the shoulders of giants is, is a big theme here,

[00:10:00] Stuart: Matt Ross, from the Australian. And this is space time, still the calm understanding, the depth of Jupiter's great red spot and the sound's new solar cycle off with a bang with a biggest solar flare so far.

All that and more store to come on. Space time.

New data for masses. Juno spacecraft shows that chip is iconic. Great. Red spot extends downward some 500 kilometers below the cloud tops far deeper into the gas jive than previously thought. The great red spot is Jupiter's most iconic feature. The 16,000 kilometer wide anti-cyclone has been churning in the planet's atmosphere for centuries.

The new findings covered in several research papers reported in the journal science geophysical research, planets and geophysical research letters are revealing new insights into the Jovian cloud structure, its meteorology and the planet steeper interior Juno achieved Jupiter orbit insertion in 2016.

During each of the spacecrafts 37 highly elongated orbits around the gas giant suite of instruments paid deep down through the planets turbulent cloud tops as the probe swoops over the clouds at some 209,000 kilometers per hour says to spend as little time as possible in Jupiter's intense radiation belt.

Gigantic storms and bands of rotating winds bound in Jupiter's atmosphere, including of course the great red spot, a storm, so massive. It could easily swallow the earth hole. However, it's unclear whether these storms are confined to just the uppermost parts of the planet's atmosphere or whether they extend deep into the Jovian interior.

So scientists have been using microwave and gravity measurements from Juno to characterize Jupiter's atmospheric four to seas, including the great red spot. Jenna is microwave radiometer studied the vertical structure of the Crimson. During it's lettuce fly by Juno's microwave. Radiometer studied the vertical structure of the Crimson vortex as well as two other giant storms finding they extended far below the planet's cloud.

Cloud-base the altitude, which water and Amani are expected to conduct. This is a special interesting for the great red spot as suggests the presence of small-scale dynamic processes, such as precipitation and downdrafts at much deeper levels than previously expected, which may indicate a connection between Jupiter's interior and deep atmosphere.

Juno also grabbed the gravity signature from the massive Tempest during its letters. Fly by. It showed fluctuations in the planet's gravitational field caused by the store. Although the great red spot stretches more than 500 kilometers down through the Jovian atmosphere. It's fast shallower than the surrounding zonal jets, which power it principal investigator Scott Baldwin from the Southwest research Institute in San Antonio, Texas says earlier, Juno data show that Jupiter is at his feet, reached deeper than thought.

And the new data shows that extends up to 3000 kilometers. Bolden says the new data helps put the earliest pieces together, revealing a beautiful and valid atmosphere. The new results show that the Jovian cyclones are warmer at the top with lower atmospheric densities and cooler below where there are higher densities at the same time, anticyclones like the great red spot, which rotated in the opposite direction, a colder at the top, but warmer at the bottom.

Of course, in addition to Cyclades Natty cyclins Jupiter is also known for its distinctive belts and zones, white reddish and salmon colored bands of clouds that wrap around the planet, strong east-west winds, moving in opposite directions, separate these bands, these winds or jet streams reach depths of around 3,200 kilometers and scientists.

They're still trying to solve the mystery of how their form. Data collected by Juno during moddable passes, reveals one possible clue. It turns out the atmosphere's Emoni gases travel up and down in remarkable alignment with the observed jet streams. By following the ammonia scientists found circulation cells in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, which are very similar in nature to Farell cells, which control much of the earth.

One of the studies lead authors, Karen doer from Israel's vice men Institute of science says while earth has one for El SELPA hemisphere cheaper, that has eight H at least 30 times larger Gina's data also shows that these belts and zones undergo a transition around 65 kilometers beneath Jupiter's water clouds at shallow depth, Judas belts, a brighter in microwave light the neighboring zone.

But a deeper depth below the water clouds. The opposite's true. And that reveals a similarity with Earth's oceans where sea water transitions sharply from being relatively warm to relatively cold at a point known as the Thermo thermocline. This is space-time still the come the biggest solar flare in the son's new solar site.

And later in the science report, forget Christopher Columbus. We now have confirmation that Viking has crossed the Atlantic ocean and millennia ago, all that and more store to come on. Space time.

The centers launched its second. X-Class solar flare of the new solar cycle. Leaving. No doubt that solar cycle 25 is underway. Solar flares are explosions of energy caused by the sudden snapping of tangled and twisted magnetic field lions called flux ropes, which emanate from sun spots on the solar surface.

Sun spots or cooler regions on the sun surface that it paid docathon surrounding areas because the magnetic field lines reaching out into space from deep inside the sun prevents some of the heat from within the sun, from reaching the surface. Different latitudes of the sun rotated different rates causing these field lines to become tangled and twisted, eventually snapping and realigning through magnetic reconnection in the process, producing an eruption of electromagnetic energy called a solar flare, which you're facing the earth.

We're reached the planet less than 8.3 minutes. The speed of light X-Class solar flares. Like this one are the most intense. The new flare was classified as an X one, the number providing information on the strength of the flare. So an X two is twice as intense as the next one. And an X three is three times as intense flares that are classified X, 10 or stronger.

I can set it unusually intense, the new flare, which erupted in time for Halloween followed a series of smaller flares, which all erupted from the same active region on the lift limit. This. These included a coronal mass ejection, and an invisible swarm of solar energetic particles in a far more active region in the sun's lower center released a big X one class Flay from sunspot AI 28 87.

The blast created a massive tsunami of plasma in the sun's atmosphere, which rippled right across the entire solid disk. It was followed by a halo coronal mass ejection, which hit the earth on November the fourth. Solar cycle 25 began in December, 2019 and new solar cycle comes roughly every 11 years over the course of each cycle.

The sun transitions from relatively calm to active and store me. And then it goes quiet again at its peak known as solar maximum or solar max, the sun's magnetic poles flip the Sans positive pole becomes negative and it's negative pole becomes positive. If solar flares are powerful enough that also eject billions of tons of coronal plasma and embedded magnetic field frozen in flux from the sun's Corona exploding out from the sun at speeds of 3000 kilometers per second, which you facing the earth will reach our planet.

And just 50 to 80 now. When these geomagnetic storms reach the earth, the flux of iron particles slam it about planets magnetosphere and the thing guided by the planet's magnetic field lines through the ionosphere region already filled with charged particles towards the earth north and south magnetic pole.

Ashley, these charts, streams of plasma travel through the Earth's upper atmosphere. They collide with oxygen and nitrogen, atoms and molecules causing them to excite enemy photons, giving off a glow and producing colorful curtain. Like the splays known as that Northern and Southern lights, the Aurora Borealis and Aurora strollers.

The colors being emitted depend on the panelist being . Reddish brown glows are caused by the collision of particles with single oxygen atoms and the upper atmosphere. Usually about 300 kilometers lower down a green Huish created by single oxygen. Atoms Dan altitudes of about a hundred kilometers. The kaleidoscope turns a wider shallow bay when nitrogen is mixed in with the oxygen.

Aurora can also exhibit blue, red, or even purple glow in the lower atmosphere to always by the excitation of molecular nitrogen blow a hundred kilometers. However, as well as the spectacular auroral light shows, these highly charged particles can also damage riven, destroy spacecraft by shutting out their electronics and the strength circuit.

They also cause the atmosphere to physically expand and contract increasing atmospheric dragon orbiting spacecraft resulting in premature orbital decay and the need to use up more fuel in order to maintain an operational orbit. We're still space where they increase the level of radiation exposure, astronauts experience that will affect their health on the ground.

The solar storms can overload power lines causing widespread blackout. In fact in 19 89, 1 of these geomagnetic storms blew out transformers causing massive blackouts across most of Eastern north America. Space weather also affects communication and navigation systems and it forces polar airline flights to be rerouted using up more.

Fish spacetime

and Tom had to take a brief look at some of the other stories making use in science this week with a science. Australians and Americans, and now following in the steps of Israel and getting a third booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Uh, report in the Lancet medical journal supported the third dose option saying results from one of the world's largest integrated health record databases show that compared to individuals who received only two doses of the vaccine five months prior individuals who received three doses, the vaccine had a 93% lower risk of COVID-19 related hospitalization.

At 92% lower risk of severe COVID-19 disease and an 81% lower risk of COVID-19 related death vaccine effectiveness was found to be similar for different ages, sexes, and the number of co-morbidities the findings come as many cadres begin experiencing a resurgence of SARS cov two infections despite successful vaccination campaign.

More than 5 million people have now being killed by the COVID-19 Corona virus ever since the deadly pandemic first spread at a warhead China. However, the world health organization believes the real death toll is likely to be twice that level with, well over a quarter of a billion people. Now, in fact, Well, they can visit Christopher Columbus.

Archeologists have found evidence that Vikings were present in Canada a thousand years ago, confirming them as the first Europeans to cross the Atlantic ocean. The findings reported in the journal nature, uh, based on a tree ring analysis of free wooden items found in an ancient north settlement in new found land, the location of peace of being a base camp east by Vikings to explore other parts of north America.

The three pieces of wood came from three different trees, all were from context. Archeologically attributable to the Vikings and each displayed clear evidence of cutting and slicing by metal blades, a material not produced by the indigenous population of the period. The exact year was determined because of a massive solar storm, which occurred in the year 9 92.

This produced distinct radiocarbon signals in tree rings and there were 29 yearly growth rings after the signature, meaning the trees were cut down in the 10 21. That's exactly a thousand years ago. And you study shows that Australia has the world's second highest rate of methamphetamine. The findings by the Australian criminal intelligence commission looked at 24 countries on four continents.

Finding only Slovakia had a worse record than Australia. Methamphetamine exists in two forms, a pattern and a speed and crystal methamphetamine, commonly known as crystal meth or ice. The study found that alcohol and nicotine remained the top. Drugs of choice for Australians or methamphetamine was the most popular illicit drug with high use in both rural and urban areas.

The report found the clients in the use of MDMs, cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and oxycodine, although that could be due to COVID 19 pandemic related declines in festivals and open entertainment venues along with decreased inputs of Alyssa drugs. Health problems linked to amphetamine use include suicide psychosis and anxiety and increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases through uninhibited sexual behavior and arrange of cardiovascular disorders, including heart conditions and sometimes stroke at a very young age.

Have you ever noticed how many evil villains have PhD? This Dr. Doom, Dr. Octopus professor Moriarty, Dr. Death, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. And of course Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, and it's not just in the world fiction, every disreputable cause seems to have a pet scientist willing to roll over and have their tummy rub for the right price.

Now a new study reported in the journal of experimental social psychology shows that this tactic works. And it's a good way to juke people who trust science into believing in pseudo science as well. Tim Mendham from restraint. Skeptic says that's because things that sound science-y usually give the impression of actually being science with, well, some of the time the tasting you'll see

[00:25:26] Tim Mendham: that science was pretty blatantly weird and people promoting all sorts of strange things, didn't really go in a very sort of scientific sample.

It was, it was a lot of mumbo jumbo. I, over the years, they've improved what they wrap their theory to sound more sciency. They use more terms, et cetera, that make them sound more impressive. Now the. If science is being taught, don't worry about not understanding. Trust me, it's science. That means people are less able to discern between pseudoscience and.

And then like, in many of the things we're talking about here in the pandemic of the mind, and he's just like, trust the experts, trust the experts. And that is the key thing that people promoting pseudosciences and the anti-vaxxers and that sort of people hitting on two fronts. They're saying you can't trust the experts except your trust, Mike.

The irony of that is that they put for what a scientist or a scientist or whatever to promote their particular claims. And then you say everyone else, you don't trust because they're scientists and they feel compromised. So people who are told to trust science without going into great understanding of what the scientists are doing, um, I'm prone to actually believe in all sorts of strange things because they don't discern.

Trusting of scientists and trusting us, see that scientist, and then I'll throw it to

[00:26:34] Stuart: the best example of that is the well-known geologist who is constantly being touted as an expert on climate change.

[00:26:41] Tim Mendham: Yes. I mean, he's a scientist, but he might not be in the best area. But the interesting thing is people who deny climate change keep putting forward a particular survey that was done, which they pointed out 30,000 people who are climate science experts.

And you look at this list and saying, They're not, you know, they account from every different area you can think of. I mean, you know, doctors, I don't know how many doctors are the experts on climate change. I don't know how many spice girls drinks. Ginger spice was actually one of the people on the, on the loose, uh, I think Mickey mouse as well.

Um, but it have to be on faith, not that many out of the 30,000, but the vast majority of the 30,000 we're not experts in climate change. So be careful of the list quoting 30,000. It's not 30,000 relevant people. And you're getting people in certain areas, geologists who work in super millennia after the eons of timeframes, trying to be quite what they see as the change of climate on a geological level to what's happening now with climate change on an environmental level, which is a lot shorter and a lot more concerning, but yeah, just trusting a scientist is a problem area, but we aren't quantified about.

[00:27:44] Stuart: And if they talk enough scientific jargon, people automatically believe it. I was listening to a guy. What he was saying was total gobbledygook. It made no scientific sense at all, but unless you actually understand the science, what he said sounded perfectly logical, but it wasn't science. It was garbage.



[00:28:03] Tim Mendham: you have to say a sort of a naturopath wearing a white coat and carrying stethoscope my best play with it talking about, but they're not just putting on a. Yeah, it annoys me all the time. When you say pictures of doctors, always wearing white coats and carrying stethoscopes around us and say, say, say I'm an authority and other people can pick up the same thing and use it and misuse it and convince people where they went wrong to do so.

But the people themselves, out of the problems of the believers, the proud of the problem. If he does tell to believe science, which sometimes you have to do because the science is pretty complicated and leaves you

[00:28:36] Stuart: vulnerable. That's where the education comes in. You've got to be able to discern that difference, which is really tough.

Sometimes if you're not an expert with years of experience in that field. Anyway,

[00:28:46] Tim Mendham: if you have to, you can look for the song. Um, see that science, you know, the way that it's presented and the manner of the people presenting it, that's the secret. You might not understand all the science and the real science and be able to differentiate that from the students.

If you understand the why a story is bankers names, that you might then get a different opinion. Simple one. If someone says this is a hundred percent true, it's, you know, science, Krista, no scientists will say this is a hundred.

[00:29:11] Stuart: And that's the problem is because there is no absolutes in science. So

[00:29:16] Tim Mendham: 99.99, nine 9% show that the sun will rise tomorrow, but you never know.

Right. I popped the fact that doesn't Bryce, we turn on that. Yeah, that's come up over the horizon tomorrow. It's pretty well certain. And so anyone who says a hundred percent correct, I can do this a hundred percent of the time. I can cure cases a hundred percent of the time instantly. It's a, that scientist.

So that's the one test you can use. If you're trying to discern between a real scientist, kind of see

[00:29:42] Stuart: that scientist. From Australian skeptics.

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VO Guy:  You've been listening to SpaceTime with Stuart Gary. This has been another quality podcast production and from

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Tim Mendham


Editor with Australian Skeptics