Space Snow Spotted; Frankenstein Galaxy; Fewer Allergies for Thumb Suckers

Posted July 13th, 2016 at 4:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Artist impression of the water snowline around the young star V883 Orionis, as detected with ALMA. Credit: A. Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF)/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

Artist impression of the water snowline around the young star V883 Orionis. ( A. Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF)/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO))

Astronomers Spot Snow Circling New Star

For the first time, astronomers have been able to get a glimpse of a water “snowline” in a protoplanetary disk, which is the material surrounding a new star that may later form into planets.

This water “snowline” marks the point within these left overs of star formation where the temperature and pressure drop to a point to allow water ice to form.

These “snowlines” usually form closer to a star whose light overwhelms any possible observation.

In this case it was formed farther out than normal from the star, identified as V883 Orionis, so astronomers were able to image it with the ALMA radio telescope in Chile.

It’s believed that a sudden and significant increase in the brightness of the star is what pushed the “snowline” out to where it could be seen.

The astronomers say that this phenomenon is about 6 billion kilometers from the star, comparable to the orbit of Pluto in our solar system.

Piston of a 3.5 L (210 cu in) Ford EcoBoost gasoline direct injection engine (Wikimedia Commons)

Piston of a 3.5 L (210 cu in) Ford EcoBoost gasoline direct injection engine (Wikimedia Commons)

New Gas Saving Cars May Add to Climate Change

Many drivers today prefer vehicles that use less petrol and cost less to operate.

But a new Canadian study suggests that although fuel-efficient technologies may provide more miles per gallon, some of these new gas saving internal combustion engines could actually contribute to climate change.

To provide their customers with vehicles that offer high performance, while using less gas, automakers have been turning to a small new type of fuel-efficient engine known as the gasoline direct injection, or GDI engine.

The study found that that while GDI engines emit less carbon dioxide, they also produce higher levels of the climate-warming pollutant black carbon than traditional engines.

The researchers suggest installing more effective filters in GDI engines, at the risk of slightly lower fuel-efficiency, but preserving the technology’s net benefit for the environment.

Say hello to the Frankenstein or UGC 1382 galaxy. Low density hydrogen gas shown in green (NASA/JPL)

Say hello to the Frankenstein or UGC 1382 galaxy. Low density hydrogen gas shown in green (NASA/JPL)

Frankenstein Galaxy Detected

Lying some 250 million light years away, in what is described as a quiet and unexceptional section of the universe, astronomers have discovered a gigantic and quite unusual galaxy.

What makes UGC 1382 such an oddity is that they believe it was formed from the parts of other galaxies.

So they’ve nicknamed it the Frankenstein Galaxy, after the fictional monster made from body parts taken from various corpses.

At first this mammoth galaxy was thought to be just a tiny, old and normal galaxy.

But after sifting through data gathered by a couple of NASA’s space telescopes, along with several ground based telescopes, the astronomers realized that the galaxy was a rotating disk of low-density gas that’s seven times wider than the Milky Way.

Thumb Sucking/Nail Biting Kids Develop Fewer Allergies

A New Zealand based study suggests that children who are exposed to microbial organisms at an early age, through thumb sucking or nail biting, are less likely to develop allergies.

The study finds that children that engage in both of these habits are less likely to develop allergies to common triggers such as house dust mites, grass, cats, dogs, horses or airborne fungi.

Researchers at New Zealand’s University of Otago made their findings from data gathered by the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Study.

The long-term study followed into adulthood about one-thousand participants who were born in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1972 and 1973.

Despite their findings, the researchers say that they are not suggesting that children be encouraged to engage in thumb sucking or nail biting, since it is still uncertain if there are any real health benefits from acquiring these habits.

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.