A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘brown dwarfs

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes a new image showing the sheer density of events in the core of our galaxy.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the discovery of 2MASS 0249 c, a planet-like object that distantly orbits a pair of low-mass brown dwarfs.
  • D-Brief notes the discovery of many new moons of Jupiter, bringing the total up to 79.
  • Far Outliers looks at the appeasement practiced by the Times of London in the 1930s.
  • The Frailest Thing’s L.M. Sacasas contrasts roots with anchors.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the controversy surrounding surviving honours paid to Franco in Spain.
  • The LRB Blog looks at how the question of Macedonia continues to be a threatening issue in the politics of Greece.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer suggests the new Mexican president is trying to create a new political machine, one that can only echo the more far-reaching and unrestrained one of PRI.
  • Frank Jacobs at Strange Maps looks at the shifting alliances of different Asian countries with China and the United States.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on the Russian reactions to a recent Politico Europe report describing Estonia’s strategies for resisting a Russian invasion in depth.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Charlie Stross at Antipope tells us how bizarre he finds reality, in its content and in its delivery. Certainly, it undermines for him the utility of the storytelling methods he first used.
  • Centauri Dreams notes a new effort to separate superjovian planets from brown dwarfs, suggesting the dividing line between planetary and stellar formation is drawn at 10 Jupiter masses.
  • Dangerous Minds praises St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, as a brilliant musician and live performer who should be seen on her most recent tour.
  • Hornet Stories talks about the way out queer male pop musicians, like Casey Spooner and Frank Ocean, are becoming more out about their sexuality and their forthright self-presentation in ways traditionally limited to use by women.
  • JSTOR Daily suggests that, in Indonesia, post-Suharto trade liberalization has led to a direct surge in men smoking cigarettes.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money links to an article suggesting how the 19th century American perception of China as a trade partner was driven by a romanticism.
  • Washington D.C., Marginal Revolution reports, stands out as a city where economists far outnumber clerics.
  • Roads and Kingdoms considers the difficulty of being a vegetarian or vegan in the Nigerian metropolis of Lagos.
  • Drew Rowsome praises Liminal, the new biography by Toronto playwright and general creator Jordan Tannahill.
  • At Strange Maps, Frank Jacobs shares an infographic illustrating the various investments and projects of Elon Musk.
  • Towleroad links to a trailer for the new version of classic gay play Boys in the Band, starring out stars. This is going to be an interesting show, I think, especially as it is updated (and as it might not need updating).
  • Window on Eurasia notes the deep hostility of some Russians to the permanent settlement of immigrants–Central Asians here, also Chinese–in rural Russia, in the iconic village. I have to saying, knowing what I know about PEI, this sounds a bit familiar.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait considers the real possibility that extrasolar visitor ‘Oumuamua may have been ejected from the system of a dying star.
  • Centauri Dreams notes new efforts to determine brown dwarf demographics.
  • Crooked Timber shares some research on the rise and fall of Keynesianism after the financial crisis.
  • Hornet Stories shares a decidedly NSFW article about gay sex in Berlin.
  • JSTOR Daily notes the surprisingly high frequency of interspecies sex in the wild.
  • Language Hat notes new efforts to promote the status of the Luxembourgish language in the grand duchy.
  • The LRB Blog notes how a chess tournament hosted in Saudi Arabia has failed badly from the PR perspective.
  • What role does the novelist have in a world where the television serial is moving in on the territory of literature? The NYR Daily considers.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reflects on John Lyons’ book Balcony over Jerusalem, the controversy over the book, and the Middle East generally.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes the ominous import of the decent drone attack in Syria against Russian forces.
  • Drew Rowsome praises the 2016 play Mustard, currently playing again at the Tarragon, as a modern-day classic.
  • Spacing features a review of a fantastic-sounding book about the architecture of Las Vegas.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel considers the impact of the very rapid rotation of pulsars about their very shape.

[NEWS] Five science links: Chixculub, Venus probes, HS 2231+2441, iPTF14hls, China and SETI

  • It was the dinosaurs’ bad luck that Chixculub had oil-rich sands, making a bad impact a mass extinction. National Geographic reports.
  • Universe Today takes a look at the challenge of designing electronics capable of surviving the environment of Venus.
  • HS 2231+2441 is a HW Vir-type binary where a brown dwarf sapped the life of its now white dwarf partner. Universe Today reports.
  • CBC reports on puzzling iPTF14hls, a bizarrely recurring supernova. Is it a pulsational pair instability supernova?
  • Will China’s new Tianyan radiotelescope give it an edge in SETI? This is a great article, on China and SETI both. The Atlantic reports.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait investigates a mysterious streak on a photo of Messier 77. Asteroid, satellite, something else?
  • Centauri Dreams reports on the latest attempt at a census estimate of brown dwarfs in the Milky Way Galaxy.
  • Crooked Timber’s John Quiggin considers the diminishing role of the pundit, displaced by the expert.
  • D-Brief is one of many sources to note the deadly, ubiquitous perchlorates of Mars. Mars is dead for good reasons.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money links to a tweetstorm by one Kate Antonova arguing that the ideological labels of the long 19th century no longer speak to our issues.
  • Language Hat notes how early Tsarist mappers were confused by confusing, often shared, placenames.
  • The LRB Blog reports on the recovery of a Bloomsbury Wedgwood service features the images of notable women.
  • Marginal Revolution shares opinions that Macron is overrated, not least in terms of the distinctiveness of some of his policies from those of Trump.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that projected shrinkage of the workforce of Russia means either economic decline or controversial immigration.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Centauri Dreams looks at two brown dwarf pairs, nearby Luhman 16 and eclipsing binary WD1202-024.
  • D-Brief notes a study suggesting panspermia would be easy in the compact TRAPPIST-1 system.
  • Far Outliers notes the shouted and remarkably long-range vocal telegraph of early 20th century Albania.
  • Language Hat links to a fascinating blog post noting the survival of African Latin in late medieval Tunisia.
  • The LRB Blog notes the observations of an Englishman in Northern Ireland that, after the DUP’s rise, locals are glad other Britons are paying attention.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a study suggesting that refugees in the US end up paying more in taxes than they receive in benefits.
  • Spacing reviews a fascinating-sounding new book on the politics and architecture of new libraries.
  • Understanding Society examines the mechanisms through which organizations can learn.
  • Window on Eurasia talks about the progressive detachment of the east of the North Caucasus, at least, from wider Russia.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • blogTO notes the amazing spike upwards in temperatures for this weekend.
  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of some stark war memorials of the former Communist world.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on brown dwarf HIP 67537b.
  • The LRB Blog looks at Donald Trump’s interest in a Middle Eastern peace settlement that looks as if it will badly disadvantage the isolated Palestinians.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen reflects on his reading of Julius Evola and other hitherto-marginal writers.
  • The NYRB Daily notes the potential health catastrophe that could result from Donald Trump’s anti-vax positions.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer suggests that the corruption marking the relationship of France and Gabon over that country’s oil is finding an echo in the Trump organization’s involvement in Filipino real estate.
  • Torontoist calls for regulation of road salt on grounds of its toxicity.
  • Transit Toronto looks at the various scenarios for King Street.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia’s economic growth will lag behind growth elsewhere for the foreseeable future, and looks at protest in St. Petersburg over the return of an old church to the Orthodox Church.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • blogTO notes the Distillery District’s Toronto Light Festival.
  • Border Thinking Laura Agustín looks at migrants and refugees in James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia.
  • Centauri Dreams suggests that Perry’s expedition to Japan could be taken as a metaphor for first contact.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a report about how brown dwarf EPIC 219388192 b.
  • The LRB Blog notes the use of torture as a technique of intimidation.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at China’s very heavy investment in Laos.
  • The NYRB Daily examines violence and the surprising lack thereof in El Salvador.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw touches on the controversies surrounding Australia Day.
  • Transit Toronto reports the sentencing of some people who attacked TTC officers.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that a Putin running out of resources needs to make a deal.

[LINK] “Alien life could thrive in the clouds of failed stars”

Science Magazine‘s Joshua Sokol shares the wonderfully plausibly bizarre idea of alien life floating in the upper atmospheres of brown dwarfs.

There’s an abundant new swath of cosmic real estate that life could call home—and the views would be spectacular. Floating out by themselves in the Milky Way galaxy are perhaps a billion cold brown dwarfs, objects many times as massive as Jupiter but not big enough to ignite as a star. According to a new study, layers of their upper atmospheres sit at temperatures and pressures resembling those on Earth, and could host microbes that surf on thermal updrafts.

The idea expands the concept of a habitable zone to include a vast population of worlds that had previously gone unconsidered. “You don’t necessarily need to have a terrestrial planet with a surface,” says Jack Yates, a planetary scientist at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, who led the study.

Atmospheric life isn’t just for the birds. For decades, biologists have known about microbes that drift in the winds high above Earth’s surface. And in 1976, Carl Sagan envisioned the kind of ecosystem that could evolve in the upper layers of Jupiter, fueled by sunlight. You could have sky plankton: small organisms he called “sinkers.” Other organisms could be balloonlike “floaters,” which would rise and fall in the atmosphere by manipulating their body pressure. In the years since, astronomers have also considered the prospects of microbes in the carbon dioxide atmosphere above Venus’s inhospitable surface.

Yates and his colleagues applied the same thinking to a kind of world Sagan didn’t know about. Discovered in 2011, some cold brown dwarfs have surfaces roughly at room temperature or below; lower layers would be downright comfortable. In March 2013, astronomers discovered WISE 0855-0714, a brown dwarf only 7 light-years away that seems to have water clouds in its atmosphere. Yates and his colleagues set out to update Sagan’s calculations and to identify the sizes, densities, and life strategies of microbes that could manage to stay aloft in the habitable region of an enormous atmosphere of predominantly hydrogen gas. Sink too low and you are cooked or crushed. Rise too high and you might freeze.

On such a world, small sinkers like the microbes in Earth’s atmosphere or even smaller would have a better chance than Sagan’s floaters, the researchers will report in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal. But a lot depends on the weather: If upwelling winds are powerful on free-floating brown dwarfs, as seems to be true in the bands of gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn, heavier creatures can carve out a niche. In the absence of sunlight, they could feed on chemical nutrients. Observations of cold brown dwarf atmospheres reveal most of the ingredients Earth life depends on: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, though perhaps not phosphorous.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 10, 2016 at 8:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • At Apostrophen, ‘Nathan Smith talks about how he made a tradition out of Christmas tree ornamentation over the past twenty years.
  • blogTO notes that Toronto’s waterfront has major E Coli issues.
  • Crooked Timber notes the potential for the recent by-election in London, fought on Brexit and lost by the Tories, to mean something.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on a search for radio flares from brown dwarfs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that China has been installing ecologies on its artificial South China Sea islands.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers what it means to be an ally.
  • The LRB Blog looks at the complex peace negotiations in Colombia.
  • The Map Room Blog shares a map of American infrastructure.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a one-terabyte drive passed from person to person that serves as a sort of Internet in Cuba.
  • Towleroad notes a film project by one Leo Herrera that aims to imagine what prominent AIDS victims would have done and been like had their not been killed by the epidemic.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the complexities surrounding Brexit.
  • Arnold Zwicky has had enough with linguistic prescriptivism.