03/30/2016: The extremely hot heart of quasar 3C273

RadioAstron_Quasar_xrayScientists combined telescopes on Earth and in space to learn that this famous quasar has a core temperature hotter than 10 trillion degrees! That’s much hotter than formerly thought possible.

By combining signals recorded from radio antennas on Earth and in space – effectively creating a telescope of almost 8-Earth-diameters in size – scientists have, for the first time, gotten a look at fine structure in the radio-emitting regions of quasar 3C273, which was the first quasar known and is still one of the brightest quasars known. The result has been startling, violating a theoretical upper temperature limit. Yuri Kovalev of the Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow, Russia, commented:

We measure the effective temperature of the quasar core to be hotter than 10 trillion degrees!

This result is very challenging to explain with our current understanding of how relativistic jets of quasars radiate.

Aired on Earth & Sky.  See more at: http://earthsky.org/space/the-extremely-hot-heart-of-quasar-3c273

3/29/16: Earth-space telescope system produces hot surprise

RadioAstron - v2The astronomers’ achievement produced a pair of scientific surprises that promise to advance the understanding of quasars, supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies.

Astronomers using an orbiting radio telescope in conjunction with four ground-based radio telescopes have achieved the highest resolution, or ability to discern fine detail, of any astronomical observation ever made. Their achievement produced a pair of scientific surprises that promise to advance the understanding of quasars, supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies.

The scientists combined the Russian RadioAstron satellite with the ground-based telescopes to produce a virtual radio telescope more than 100,000 miles across. They pointed this system at a quasar called 3C 273, more than 2 billion light-years from Earth. Quasars like 3C 273 propel huge jets of material outward at speeds nearly that of light. These powerful jets emit radio waves.

Published by Astronomy Magazine.  See more at: http://www.astronomy.com/news/2016/03/earth-space-telescope-system-produces-hot-surprise

03/26/2016: Reflections: Looking for peace and quiet? Go to West Virginia


I was sitting at my favorite corner table, enjoying a cup of coffee and a plate of bacon and eggs. While scanning the front page of the Record-Eagle, I noticed a man sitting alone at a table facing me. He was looking my way and talking but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. I wondered why he would be talking to me, since I had never seen him before.

As it turned out, he had a hands-free cellphone and was carrying on a conversation with someone else. The dialog continued throughout his meal. After paying the bill he took his conversation into the parking lot and probably on down the highway. I wonder if he remembered what he had eaten for breakfast. Have we become obsessed with always being electronically in touch?

Published by The Traverse City Record Eagle.  See more at: http://www.record-eagle.com/news/local_news/reflections-looking-for-peace-and-quiet-go-to-west-virginia/article_59d04495-e71f-5d8c-b2d5-2337a1aa6454.html

03/25/2016: For Some, Einstein’s Space-Time Ripples Have Yet To Break Their Silence

inside_science_2016When leaders of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, announced in February the first-ever direct detection of a gravitational wave, astrophysicists Scott Ransom from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and Andrea Lommen at Franklin and Marshall University in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had mixed feelings.

On the one hand, it meant that the team they and others lead, which searches for gravitational waves using radio telescopes aimed at special stars called pulsars, would not score the first detection. “We loved the idea of being kind of a dark horse,” Ransom admitted.

On the other hand, they were thrilled for their colleagues at LIGO—and for gravitational wave astronomy. “I was really excited, for a whole day I think, before I got jealous,” said Lommen. “We’ve all been working in this field that’s had no detections for 20, 30 years—and now we have a detection. People can no longer make fun of us.”

Above all, Ransom, Lommen and their colleagues hope that, like a rising tide, the excitement around the finding will boost all gravitational wave research—including their own.

Published by Inside Science.  See more at: https://www.insidescience.org/content/some-einsteins-space-time-ripples-have-yet-break-their-silence/3811

03/23/2016: AT&T uses low-power antennas to prevent cellular interference with telescope


AT&T engineered an unusual low-power antenna system inside a radio quiet zone at a snow resort in rural West Virginia, giving thousands of daily smartphone users network access for the first time.

Work on the multimillion-dollar solution started in 2013 and took months of testing with engineers at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and staff at Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort.

The custom-designed Distributed Antenna System (DAS) network went operational in 2015 and worked well for skiers over the past winter, according to Steven Little, senior radio access network engineer at AT&T.

Little compared AT&T’s deployment of 200 different indoor and outdoor antennas working at very low power to the technology equivalent of whispering in a library to avoid disturbing others. “Nobody has anything like it other than AT&T,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.

Published by Computer World.  See more at: http://www.computerworld.com/article/3047231/mobile-wireless/att-uses-low-power-antennas-to-prevent-cellular-interference-with-telescope.html