Jupiter’s Northern Lights; Watching Stars Explode & Too Much Sitting Kills

Posted March 23rd, 2016 at 4:00 pm (UTC-4)
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Jupiter's auroras, in purple, as seen by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/UCL/W.Dunn et al, Optical: NASA/STSc)

Jupiter’s auroras, in purple, as seen by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/UCL/W.Dunn et al, Optical: NASA/STSc)

Astronomers Study Jupiter’s ‘Northern Lights’

Earth’s Auroras – Borealis in the northern polar region and Australis in the south – are among the most beautiful and haunting light displays in nature.

Now, for the first time, scientists have been able to study Jupiter’s auroras, in x-ray wavelengths thanks to NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

Auroras both on Earth and on Jupiter are triggered by high charged energy particles blasting their way through the solar system on the solar wind.

But scientists have found that Jupiter’s aurora, generated by a giant interplanetary coronal mass ejection in October 2011, happened to be eight times brighter and have hundreds times the energy than Earth’s.

The study of Jupiter’s aurora comes just months before NASA’s Juno spacecraft is set to arrive at the planet.

During its scheduled 37 orbits of the giant planet, the Juno mission will study Jupiter’s make-up, gravity field, magnetic field (or magnetosphere) and its relationship with the solar wind. 

Vienna Musikverein is a classic shoebox-type concert hall. (Jukka Pätynen)

Vienna Musikverein is a classic shoebox-type concert hall. (Jukka Pätynen)

Where You Hear Music Affects Emotional Impact

Music has the power to transcend barriers of language and culture and the ability to stir deep human emotion.

A group of Finnish researchers has found that it’s not only music itself but also where you listen to it that can influence its emotional impact.

Previous scientific research suggests that emotional reaction to music can be gauged by physical responses, such as changes in the electrical properties of the skin.

With this in mind the researchers played a selection of a Beethoven symphony as it would be heard in different concert halls to a group of test subjects.

The scientists from Aalto University attached sensors, to the subject’s fingers, which measured these electrical changes, as they listened to the music under the varied acoustic conditions.

The researchers found that music played in the acoustical environment of shoebox-type or rectangular concert halls produced the strongest emotional reaction in the listeners than other hall designs.

The study was published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Artist Animation of Star Explosion (NASA/JPL/Australian National University)

Astronomers Watch Two Stars Explode

Back in 2011, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope captured two red supergiant stars as they exploded into supernovae.

Astrophysicists studying the Kepler data, were able to not only watch both stars as they exploded, but for the first time, spot the tremendous shockwave produced deep inside the smaller of the two as its core collapsed.

Called KSN 2011a, the smaller supernova is only 700 million light years away from us, and is nearly 300 times the size of our sun.

The other, called KSN 2011d, is located 1.2 billion light years away, and had 500 times the solar mass.

The supernova shockwave is described as resembling a nuclear explosion on a massive scale.

The astrophysicists say that their observations of the supernovae will help scientists better understand how the earliest moments of a star’s explosive death is affected by its makeup and size.

More Proof That Too Much Sitting Can Kill

We have published several stories about the health dangers of sitting too much and its link to the onset of some chronic diseases and early death.

Now a new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine finds sitting for more than three hours a day is to blame for 3.8% of all worldwide deaths.

The study authors also found that moderate or even vigorous physical exercise might not be able to offset the negative effects of sitting for too long.

They suggest that reducing daily sitting time to less than three hours a day would add an average of .2 years to a person’s life expectancy.

The researchers say the link between sitting and death was highest in Western Pacific nations, followed by European, Eastern Mediterranean, American, and then Southeast Asian countries.

Lately, more office workers are using work stations that allow them to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.

Rick Pantaleo
Rick Pantaleo maintains the Science World blog and writes stories for VOA’s web and radio on a variety of science, technology and health topics. He also occasionally appears on various VOA programs to talk about the latest scientific news. Rick joined VOA in 1992 after a 20 year career in commercial broadcasting.

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