We here at Astroguyz have been working for some time on an interesting technique for capturing photographs of satellites, and by popular demand, we wanted to give a brief rundown at how we were ultimately successful. Go out star-gazing on any clear night, and it’s only a matter of minutes before you’ll notice a star or two that slide silently by. [Read more...]
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is starting to show its stuff. Earlier this year, scientists at the CERN institute on the Swiss-French border powered LHC into uncharted territory, conducting proton collisions in the 7 trillion electron volt (TeV) range. This is a first for particle physics. One again, the world didn’t end in a dark matter strangelet, a super-massive black hole did not emerge and burrow to the center of our planet, and time travelers from the future did not emerge to sabotage the collider.
The plan now is to run the LHC at the 7 TeV range for a period of 18 months to 2 years to gain data over known particles and check their agreement with standard particle physics, so that the search for the unknown can begin. Top of the most-wanted list is the Higgs-Boson, an undiscovered particle predicted by super-symmetry. There is a chance that the LHC will nab the Higgs-Boson in its first run if it inhabits the mass range of 160 giga-electron volts (GeV). This is doubtful, but not out of the realm of possibility, since current capabilities go down to 400 GeV. When at full power, the LHC will push those sensitivities down to 800 GeV. The sensitivity of the data measured is expected to be of the level of one inverse femtobarn. This is equal to 1 x 10-43 of a meter, or one trillionth of the diameter of a uranium nucleus. Eventual LHC runs envision detection of exotic particles all the way up into the 2 TeV range.
After the current 7TeV run is completed, a one year shut down will occur for maintenance and upgrades. The subsequent run will see the LHC operating in the 14TeV range for 8 month periods, with 4 month maintenance cycle. The LHC promises to solve the mysteries of super symmetry as well as the questions of dark matter and baryonic matter formation in the early universe. And let’s not forget the concept of string theory that is currently badly in need of observational proof. Along with the LHC, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to be placed on the International Space Station later this year on the final shuttle flight promises to answer some key questions in particle physics. Could we have a Grand Unified “Theory of Everything” that you could fit onto a t-shirt in the next few years? Stay tuned!
Never Drink & (Solar) Observe! (All photos by Author).
Solar observing is just plain cool. While some celestial objects such as the Andromeda Galaxy will look exactly the same on the day you die as when you were born, the face of the Sun can change day to day, or even minute to minute. As we are currently in the depths of a solar minimum, now is the time to construct a white-light filter and prepare for those sunspots and faculae that will start to creep across the face of our nearest star in the next few years. [Read more...]
(Newsflash- NASA announced recently that STS-125, the final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, will be delayed indefinitely due to a failure of the telescopes’ main control unit. Engineers are looking at options to restart a backup unit. That also scrubs Astroguyz’s mission to cover the launch live! click here for more info!)
First Exoplanet Pic? (Credit: Gemini North Telescope).
First Image of an Exo-Planet: Astronomers utilizing the Gemini North telescope have produced what may be the first image ever of an exo-planet. The three person team from the University of Toronto used the adaptive optics of the enormous telescope to image the object in the glare of 1RXS J160929.1-210524, about 500 light years distant. [Read more...]
Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Astroguyz… each Monday, our goal will be to present some new and interesting celestial event that you can see from your own backyard. If the event is happening anytime from Monday evening, US East Coast time, up through early next Monday, you’ll read about it here. We’ll also tie in a vocabulary “astro-word of the week.” So, as Fat Albert says, “If you’re not careful, you just might learn something before it’s done!” [Read more...]
Endeavor posed for Launch (Credit: NASA).
Folks in the northern hemisphere, mark your calendars: spring in the form of the vernal equinox begins at 01:48am EST March 24th. That signals the end of what’s been a long, snowy season for North America, although I bet we’ll see at least one more snow storm here in northern Maine past this date! [Read more...]