The varying wavelengths of different colors
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Tooth?
Every time you squirt toothpaste on your toothbrush, you could be brushing your teeth with the stars. And by “stars”, I don’t mean celebrities, but our sun’s ancestors.
Fluorine is a chemical element that appears in our toothpaste and chewing gum. You’ll often hear it called “fluoride,” which simply means that the fluorine is in the form of an ion (the fluoride ion, F-). Fluorine is often used to prevent cavities, but up until now, we didn’t really have any idea of where it originally came from.
Researchers from the U.S., Ireland, and Sweden have found evidence to support the theory that fluorine was formed in red giants, which are heavy stars at the end of their lifespan. The material from these dead stars became the sun and the planets in our solar system. Using a powerful telescope in Hawaii, researchers detected fluorine in stars of different ages by measuring the light emitted, which is possible because each element gives off different wavelengths of light. Next, researchers will explore the possibility of fluorine formation in the early universe, before any red giants existed, to determine if fluorine might be produced in different environments (like black holes, perhaps) and to discover if the process is different.
Surprisingly, most elements are actually formed in stars, and understanding the processes of their formation can give us insight into our early universe. For now, I’ll just think about where the ingredients of my toothpaste came from and hope that brushing with them will make my teeth twinkle like the night sky.
Submitted by: Allison T., Discoverer
Edited by Margaret G.
“So you’re made of detritus [from exploded stars]. Get over it. Or better yet, celebrate it. After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?”
―Neil deGrasse Tyson
These photos are on the shortlist for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014, a competition and exhibition run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich. The winning images will be posted here on September 18.
Strong Solar Flares This Weekend A Big Double Wammy
by Laura Geggel
Two powerful solar storms arriving at Earth today have captured the public’s attention for their potential to spark amazing auroras, but scientists say there’s another reason to watch. The solar double whammy is actually somewhat rare.
The particles from the two flares could interact as they head toward Earth, and researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center said they are monitoring the situation.
The sun unleashed a medium-sized flare on Monday (Sept. 8) followed by a second, larger flare, called an Earth-directed X-class flare, on Wednesday (Sept. 10). Both are from the same active sunspot region (Active Region 2158) and are directed at Earth, said Thomas Berger, director of the Space Weather Prediction Center, during a news conference yesterday (Sept. 11, 2014)…
(read more: Live Science)
images: Solar Dynamics Observatory - NASA and Accuweather
Important information for those of you in the northern U.S.!
Atoms As Big As Mountains – Neutron Stars Explained
Neutron Stars are some of the most strange things in the Universe. Not quite massive enough to become black holes they are basically atoms as big as mountains with properties so extreme that it is mind-blowing. And if you get too close to a neutron star you are in big trouble…
Neutron stars are dense. Really dense. So dense that a cubic centimeter of neutron star has the same mass as a skyscraper-sized cube of iron. Learn about these miniature massives in this great new video from Kurzgesagt
Solar energy that doesn’t block the view
A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface. And, according to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering, the key word is “transparent.”
Our Sun constantly emits plasma which moves out in all directions at very high speeds and fills the entire solar system. The complex interaction between the Sun’s plasma atmosphere and its magnetic field gives rise to a wide range of fascinating and spectacular phenomena. The fluctuation of the sun’s magnetic fields can cause a large portion of the outer atmosphere to expand rapidly, spewing a tremendous amount of particles into space. These large eruptions of magnetized plasma are called coronal mass ejections. CMEs are the most spectacular and potentially harmful manifestations of solar activity. Some of these eruptive events accelerate particles to very high energies, high enough to penetrate a space suit or the hull of a spacecraft and can cause severe disturbances in the geospace environment when they encounter Earth’s magnetic field. However, only about 1% of the CMEs produce strong SEP (solar energetic particles) events.
- Watch the video on the NASAexplorer YouTube channel