Tag: earth

Earth Will Be Rocked By A Year Of Devastating Earthquakes

earthquake roation

DEVASTATING earthquakes could be on the rise next year as the rotation of Earth slows down, scientists have warned.

The speed of Earth’s rotation fluctuates extremely mildly – extending or decreasing the length of a day by a millisecond – but this tiny deceleration could have devastating consequences.

Scientists have warned if the rotation slows it could lead to more major earthquakes.

Research from Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado in Boulder and Rebecca Bendick of the University of Montana in Missoula looked at earthquakes with a magnitude higher than seven since 1900.




The duo found five years since the turn of the 20th century where there were significantly more 7.0 earthquakes – all of which were years that earth’s rotation speed had slowed down slightly.

Prof Bilham told the observer: “In these periods, there were between 25 to 30 intense earthquakes a year.“The rest of the time the average figure was around 15 major earthquakes a year.”

And in 2018, the Earth’s rotation speed is set to slow down leading to a jump on the six magnitude seven or higher quakes we have had this year.

Prof Bilham said: “The correlation between Earth’s rotation and earthquake activity is strong and suggests there is going to be an increase in numbers of intense earthquakes next year.”

earthquake

The inference is clear. Next year we should see a significant increase in numbers of severe earthquakes.”

We have had it easy this year. So far we have only had about six severe earthquakes. We could easily have 20 a year starting in 2018.

Exactly why a decrease in rotation speed can lead to more major earthquakes is unclear, but experts believe it could be down to changes in the Earth’s core which ultimately has an effect on the surface.

The team also could not say exactly where the earthquakes will occur, but Bilham suggests that a slower rotation speed will lead to more tremors on and around the equator – such as South America, New Zealand and other places that sit on top of the Ring of Fire.

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Scientists Send Secret Message To Aliens In New Search For Intelligent Life

If the “truth is out there,” scientists are determined to find it – so much so that they’ve spent a message into space trying to contact aliens.

But a response could take 25 years – if it comes at all.

Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) International sent an encoded message into space using radio waves known as “Sonar Calling GJ273b,” which the organization’s president and founder Doug Vakoch, believes could be received by intelligent life.

[The message is] distinctive because it’s designed with extraterrestrial SETI scientists in mind. We sent the sort of signal we’d want to receive here on Earth,” he said in an interview with CNET.




METI’s purpose, along with the well-known Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), has a number of missions, including understanding and communicating “the societal implications and relevance of searching for life beyond Earth, even before detection of extraterrestrial life.

It also conducts programs to “foster increased awareness of the challenges facing our civilization’s longevity” among other directives.

The San Francisco-based METI sent its message toward the red dwarf star GJ 273 (also known as Luyten’s Star), 12 light-years away from Earth.

The message was sent in October from the Eiscat transmitter in Tromsø, Norway and included details such as basic math and science, as well as information on mankind’s understanding of time.

In a statement obtained by CNET, METI said it wanted to know if intelligent life understood the message and then go from there.

While some luminaries, such as Stephen Hawking, have warned against trying to contact extraterrestrials, Vakoch said contact is already being endorsed by many people.

Vakoch added that once news of the initial contact has appeared, it would become almost impossible to stop anyone from trying to contact them on their own.

Once the news gets out that we’ve detected extraterrestrials, anyone with a transmitter can say whatever they want.

Any response probably would be forthcoming in at least 25 years due to the distance the message has to travel between Earth and GJ273b.

The exoplanet was chosen because of its visibility from Earth’s northern hemisphere, even if it is not the closest potentially inhabited exoplanet to Earth. That distinction belongs to Proxima b, which is just 4 light-years away.

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What Is Solar Wind?

The solar wind streams plasma and particles from the sun out into space. Though the wind is constant, its properties aren’t. What causes this stream, and how does it affect the Earth?

Windy star

The corona, the sun’s outer layer, reaches temperatures of up to 2 million degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 million Celsius). At this level, the sun’s gravity can’t hold on to the rapidly moving particles, and it streams away from the star.

The sun’s activity shifts over the course of its 11-year cycle, with sun spot numbers, radiation levels, and ejected material changing over time.

These alterations affect the properties of the solar wind, including its magnetic field properties, velocity, temperature and density.

The wind also differs based on where on the sun it comes from and how quickly that portion is rotating. The velocity of the solar wind is higher over coronal holes, reaching speeds of up to 500 miles (800 kilometers) per second.




The temperature and density over coronal holes are low, and the magnetic field is weak, so the field lines are open to space.  These holes occur at the poles and low latitudes, and reach their largest when activity on the sun is at its minimum.

Temperatures in the fast wind can reach up to 1 million degrees F (800,000 C). At the coronal streamer belt around the equator, the solar wind travels more slowly, at around 200 miles (300 km) per second.

Temperatures in the slow wind reach up to 2.9 million F (1.6 million C).

Affecting Earth

As the wind travels off the sun, it carries charged particles and magnetic clouds. Emitted in all directions, some of the solar wind is constantly buffeting our planet, with interesting effects.

If the material carried by the solar wind reached a planet’s surface, its radiation would do severe damage to any life that might exist. Earth’s magnetic field serves as a shield, redirecting the material around the planet so that it streams beyond it.

The force of the wind stretches out the magnetic field so that it is smooshed inward on the sun-side and stretched out on the night side.

Sometimes the sun spits out large bursts of plasma known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), or solar storms. More common during the active period of the cycle known as the solar maximum, CMEs have a stronger effect than the standard solar wind.

When the solar wind carries CMEs and other powerful bursts of radiation into a planet’s magnetic field, it can cause the magnetic field on the back side to press together, a process known as magnetic reconnection.

Charged particles then stream back toward the planet’s magnetic poles, causing beautiful displays known as the aurora borealis in the upper atmosphere.

Though some bodies are shielded by a magnetic field, others lack their protection. Earth’s moon has nothing to protect it, so takes the full brunt.

Mercury, the closest planet, has a magnetic field that shields it from the regular standard wind, but it takes the full force of more powerful outbursts such as CMEs.

When the high- and low-speed streams interact with one another, they create dense regions known as co-rotating interaction regions (CIRs) that trigger geomagnetic storms when they interact with Earth’s atmosphere.

Studying the solar wind

NASA’s Ulysses mission launched on Oct. 6, 1990, and studied the sun at various latitudes. It measured the various properties of the solar wind over the course of more than a dozen years.

The Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite orbits at one of the special points between Earth and the sun known as the Lagrange point.

In this area, gravity from the sun and the planet pull equally, keeping the satellite in a stable orbit. Launched in 1997, ACE measures the solar wind and provides real-time measurements of the constant flow of particles.

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An Out-Of-Control Chinese Space Lab Is Hurtling Towards Earth

Chinese officials appear to have admitted they lost control of the Tiangong-1, the country’s first space station.

A Chinese space lab, called Tiangong-1, is currently hurtling towards Earth and is expected to re-enter into our atmosphere sometime between now and early next year.

Tiangong-1 or “heavenly palace” was originally launched by China’s National Space Administration back in 2011.

The 12-metre lab, which weighs about 8.5 tonnes, was a major step towards the country’s goal of building a space station by 2020.




It was also where China’s first female astronaut, Liu Yang, flew on a mission in 2012.

But things went wrong when China lost control of the lab last year, and now they are playing a waiting game, trying to anticipate when and where it will fall to Earth.

Space archaeology expert Alice Gorman, from Flinders University, said while China will be able to monitor its descent, it won’t be able to control its landing.

In September 2016, China’s Xinhua news agency reported that Tiangong-1 was “intact and orbiting at an average height of 370 kilometres”.

Since then it has dropped about 60 kilometres, Dr Gorman said.

Dr Gorman said Tiangong-1 is travelling at high speed estimated at about 27,000 kilometres per hour and will burn up when it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere.

When it hits the atmosphere it will start to slow down and heat up, due to friction and atmospheric compression. As it heats, it will break up into burning fragments,” she said.

Dr Gorman said its likely that some bits of Tiangong-1 will survive re-entry.

Usually these are materials with the highest melting temperature and the most insulation,” she said.

Generally titanium pressure vessels and stainless steel fuel tanks are the most common spacecraft component to survive re-entry.

Dr Gorman said Tiangong-1 had steel alloy tanks, but an analysis of the materials suggested they would burn up long before they reached the ground.

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SpaceX Wants To Build One Rocket To Rule Them All

Elon Musk gave a keynote address yesterday to the International Aeronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia.

During the 43 minute talk, which is embedded above, Musk laid out SpaceX’s future including colonizing Mars and building one rocket to rule them all.




The talk is fantastic. Elon was Elon and revealed countless details about future SpaceX plans. This is why he’s celebrated in certain circles.

He doesn’t hold back whether on Twitter or during interviews. Unlike other Silicon Valley companies, he seemingly keeps fewer details secret and is more willing to talk about things his companies are building.

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How Cosmic Crashes Could Have Kick-started Plate Tectonics

A rock the size of a small city hurtles towards Earth, smashing a crater bigger than the span between Washington, D.C. and New York City.

The heat and shockwave raises the temperature of the atmosphere above boiling as huge seismic waves ripple through the Earth’s crust.

New research indicates that such an impact may have happened to our planet, although (thankfully) it was long before civilization arose.

About 3.26 billion years ago, an object between 23 and 26 miles wide (37 and 58 kilometers) crashed into the Earth somewhere and left geological evidence behind in South Africa.

Surprisingly, the impact may have made the Earth a friendlier place for life because it corresponds with this planet’s establishment of plate tectonics.




Finding the crater, though, is likely an impossible task. There are few rocks of this age on the entire Earth, the notable exception being the nearly 4-billion-old Canadian Shield that stretches across much of eastern Canada.

Little remains of that era of history, making it necessary for researchers to do detective work to learn more about the impactor.

It’s like the aftermath of a tornado where the insurance company won’t pay because your car was sucked off of your driveway and you can’t find the car, so they can’t pay it,” said Norm Sleep, a geophysicist at Stanford University who led the research.

You don’t know if it was stolen or damaged or wrecked or whatever because you can’t find it. We have the same difficulty.

Sleep and departmental co-author Donald Lowe published their research in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics and Geosystems in April.

The paper is called “Physics of crustal fracturing and chert dike formation triggered by asteroid impact, ∼3.26 Ga, Barberton greenstone belt, South Africa.

The only life in that era was microbial, although Lowe pointed out they would have struggled with their new circumstances. “To say the least, it would have adversely affected life near the surface,” he said.

While whole microbe communities could have been wiped out, on the species level many would have survived.

Life was all over the Earth and not just in the area of the impact, and microbes are better able to withstand sudden temperature changes than more advanced lifeforms.

Perhaps microbes would have suffered after the impact, but in its wake, the impactor could have helped change our planet into one that better supports complex life.

Lowe pointed out that plate tectonics seems to have appeared around 3 billion to 3.2 billion years ago, around the same time the impactor smashed into the Earth.

If enough big objects hit the Earth frequently enough, it could have broken up the primitive plate structure on our planet into the plate tectonics we have today, they said.

This has important implications for life, as other researchers have said that plate tectonics might be necessary for complex life to exist.

Another clue came from the isotopes (types) of chromium. The surface rocks on Earth have a uniform ratio of chromium isotopes, but Lowe and a colleague in San Diego found that the isotopes in this layer had a different ratio.

The unusual proportions, along with the iridium, the platinum and the widespread distribution of the layer, all suggested this was produced by an impact.

The crash happened somewhere far away, though.

In the area around a crater, the rocks of this age would have been destroyed,” Lowe said. “We’ve never found evidence that we were at or close to an actual crater.

Perhaps further examination of the greenstone will turn up more information on this impactor, but similar sites will be hard to come by.There are few regions like the Barberton around

There are few regions like the Barberton around today, so that scientists will have trouble finding other impactors that could have affected plate tectonics.

Life on Earth is also adapted to plate tectonics, he pointed out, and as we have not found life elsewhere it is hard to say if tectonics are necessary for life to exist.

Even when looking outside of the Solar System, it will be a challenge to detect plate tectonics on extrasolar planets because they are so far away.

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End Of The World Is Still Coming Soon, Christian Numerologists Said It Was Just Postponed

The so-called ‘Christian numerologist‘ who alleged that the world would end on September 23 has clarified that the apocalypse has in fact been delayed.

The conspiracy theorist David Meade – who claimed that a mysterious planet would collide with Earth – is now saying that Saturday only marks the beginning of the end of the end of times.

Indeed, Saturday will see the beginning of a number of cataclysmic events that will occur over a number of weeks, that will lead to our demise.

The world is not ending, but the world as we know it is ending.”




Meade added: “A major part of the world will not be the same the beginning of October.

Meade used the ‘biblically significant’ number 33 and his interpretation of the Bible’s Book of Revelation to suggest that the legendary – and widely debunked – planet Nibiru would strike Earth on September 23.

The impact would set in motion cataclysmic events, according to Meade.

Nibiru would strike 33 days after the total solar eclipse. In his analysis, Meade cited how Jesus allegedly lived for 33 years.

I’m talking astronomy. I’m talking the Bible,” Meade said.

Another Christian fringe group, called Unsealed, claims that a Biblical image will appear on the sky on September 23.

In late August, Meade said that ‘Nibiru’ would hit Earth between September 20 and 23.

He said the clues are written on the Pyramids of Ancient Egypt and in the Bible.

The conspirator said: ‘It is very strange indeed that both the Great Sign of Revelation 12 and the Great Pyramid of Giza both point us to one precise moment in time – September 20 to 23, 2017.

Is this the end of the Church Age and the transition to the Day of the Lord? There couldn’t be two greater witnesses.

Earlier this year Mr Meade made a September prediction using verses from the Bible, but he now claims this date is backed up by marking on the pyramids.

Of the pyramid, he said: ‘It faces true north with only 3/60th of a degree of error and is located at the centre of the land mass of the Earth.

The east/west parallel that crosses the most land and the north/south meridian that crosses the most land intersect in two places on the Earth – one in the ocean and the other at the Great Pyramid.

Despite a lack of evidence for the hidden world, which Nasa has previously stated is an ‘internet hoax’, many people believe it is real. The scientific community does not agree Nibiru exists.

Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an internet hoax,” NASA has said previously. “Obviously, it does not exist.

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A NASA Spacecraft Is About To Slingshot Around Earth To Meet Up With An Asteroid

On Friday, a spacecraft the size of an SUV will slingshot around Earth’s South Pole, altering its trajectory through space.

The probe is NASA’s OSIRIS-REx, and its upcoming maneuver around our planet is known as a gravity assist — a way to harness Earth’s gravity to alter its orbit.

The move is critical, since it will put OSIRIS-REx on course to meet up with an asteroid in the fall of 2018.

OSIRIS-REx launched last year with a relatively straightforward purpose: grab a sample of rocks from an asteroid and bring them back to Earth.

If all goes well, the vehicle should retrieve the largest sample ever collected from an asteroid, and give scientists the chance to study the space rock components in more detail than ever before.

But first, the probe has to reach its target — a nearby asteroid named Bennu.




NASA picked Bennu partly because the asteroid’s orbit is similar to Earth’s orbit, and that makes it an easier target to reach.

But their paths aren’t the exact same: Bennu’s orbit is tilted by about six degrees compared to Earth’s. In the past year, OSIRIS-REx has been orbiting in the same plane as Earth, traveling slightly ahead of our planet.

And now it’s time for OSIRIS-REx to match Bennu’s orbit in space.

There are two main options to change a spacecraft’s trajectory: one is to use the vehicle’s onboard engines to propel the spacecraft in a certain direction.

The problem with this option is that it uses up the spacecraft’s finite amount of fuel. And OSIRIS-REx would have needed a lot of fuel to alter its course to reach Bennu in time — more than the vehicle is carrying.

So instead, the probe’s navigators opted to use the second option — a gravity assist. “This was the only option to reach Bennu, launching in 2016,” Michael Moreau, a flight engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center said.

This maneuver has been used on many previous space missions, to increase or decrease a spacecraft’s speed and course. It’s essentially an exchange of energy, similar to when a roller coaster speeds up while going down a hill.

When OSIRIS-REx swings by Earth, it will steal a little bit of our planet’s momentum in order to change its orbit. Earth is so massive that the maneuver won’t really affect our planet.

But OSIRIS-REx will change its speed and course by more than 8,400 miles per hour. That’s nearly twice the amount the spacecraft would get if it used up all its fuel.

OSIRIS-REx will approach the Earth at a speed of 19,000 miles per hour, flying over Australia first. It will then make its closest approach to Earth at 12:52PM ET, coming within 11,000 miles of Antarctica.

Around that time, the vehicle will lose contact with NASA since it will be out of range with the space agency’s closest tracking stations.

The blackout should last just 50 minutes, though, and NASA expects to regain communications around 1:40PM ET.

The vehicle is also supposed to come into areas dominated by satellites, but NASA says it has taken steps to make sure no collisions happen during the assist.

After Friday’s maneuver, OSIRIS-REx will cruise through space for another year, reaching Bennu in October.

At that point, the vehicle is supposed to fly around the asteroid for two years, surveying the rock’s surface, before actually grabbing the coveted sample and returning to Earth.

The gravity assist is the first step to getting there, and it’ll allow the mission team to meet up with Bennu exactly when they needed to, while saving on fuel.

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Why It Is So Hard To Predict Where And When Earthquakes Will Strike?

Can earthquakes ever be predicted? This question is timely after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal recently. If authorities had more warning that the earthquake was coming, they may have been able to save more lives.

While Nepal is a documented area of previous seismic activity, at the moment there is no technique that provides predictions of sufficient clarity to allow for evacuations at short notice.

So if we cannot predict these events now, are there avenues of research to provide useful predictions in the future?

The key word here is “useful”. It is possible to make long-term forecasts about future earthquake activity, partly by using the past record of earthquakes as a guide.

There is no reason to believe that a region of the Earth is going to behave differently in the next few thousands of years from its pattern over the same range back in time.




In the short term, seismologists can draw on data from recording stations, with records going back roughly 40 years on a global scale.

Within hours of a major earthquake there are estimates of its epicentre, magnitude (the amount of energy released), the depth at which it originated, the orientation of the geological fault that caused it and the direction in which it moved.

The event in Nepal was a thrust fault, meaning that the upper part of the Earth was shortened by a few metres, with the rock lying above the fault plane moving southwards over the rock lying beneath it.

Gathering the data

Information about past earthquakes comes from a number of sources, not least historical records. But such records are incomplete, even in earthquake-prone countries with long traditions of documenting natural disasters, such as China and Iran.

Other lines of evidence are available, including measuring and dating the offsets of man-made or natural features that can be accurately dated, such as the walls of a castle or a city. Faults cutting the Great Wall of China have been documented in this way.

Seismologists also dig trenches across faults known or suspected to be active, and can recover rocks and sediments affected by earthquakes.

These events can dated, for example by radiocarbon analysis of plant remains disturbed by the faulting.

By combining the earthquake ages with the size of the damaged areas, it is possible to understand earthquake patterns over hundreds or even thousands of years.

Scientists use this information as a guideline for future behaviour, but it is clear that the faults do not slip after the same period of time between earthquakes.

Nor does a fault necessarily rupture in the same place in successive earthquakes.

An earthquake releasing stress along one fault segment may place more stress on an adjacent region, thereby increasing the earthquake likelihood in that area.

This may occur soon after the original event, which explains the phenomenon of aftershocks. Nepal has already seen aftershocks of a magnitude greater than six, and is likely to see more.

Global hotspots

Instrumental and historical records combine to make a global picture of earthquake activity. There are, unfortunately, many danger areas.

Eurasia bears the brunt, because of the collision of the Indian and Arabian plates with the rest of Eurasia. Therefore China, Iran, Pakistan and India all share Nepal’s susceptibility to large earthquakes.

Other danger areas lie along the margins of the Pacific and Indian oceans, where one plate slides under another in a process called subduction. Earthquakes at such plate boundaries can cause devastating tsunamis, like in Japan in 2011.

Newer lines of research include precise measurements of the movement of a fault during earthquakes and the motion of the Earth’s surface between earthquakes.

Across the Himalayas there is around 20mm of convergence (shortening) every year, roughly half of the overall convergence between the Indian and Eurasian plates.

The remainder is accommodated further north, in ranges such as the Tian Shan and the Tibetan Plateau.

In other words, every year a person in Siberia becomes roughly 40 mm closer to a person in central India, as the Earth’s crust deforms across the broad region between them.

This strain builds up over time and is released in an earthquake like the snapping of an elastic band.

Faster strain, longer faults and greater strength in the upper part of the Earth in a particular region can all lead to larger earthquakes.

The Himalayas feature a deadly combination of these factors, leading to very large events of the kind experienced on April 25.

It is not sensible to be naively optimistic about improvements in earthquake prediction, but all research on the past and present behaviour of active faults is to be welcomed.

It is timely that the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council has just announced funding for research into earthquakes and resilience to earthquakes.

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Detecting Magnetic Fields On Brown Dwarfs And Exoplanets

Mysterious objects called brown dwarfs are sometimes called “failed stars.

They are too small to fuse hydrogen in their cores, the way most stars do, but also too large to be classified as planets.

But a new study in the journal Nature suggests they succeed in creating powerful auroral displays, similar to the kind seen around the magnetic poles on Earth.

This is a whole new manifestation of magnetic activity for that kind of object,” said Leon Harding, a technologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and co-author on the study.

On Earth, auroras are created when charged particles from the solar wind enter our planet’s magnetosphere, a region where Earth’s magnetic field accelerates and sends them toward the poles.

There, they collide with atoms of gas in the atmosphere, resulting in a brilliant display of colors in the sky.




As the electrons spiral down toward the atmosphere, they produce radio emissions, and then when they hit the atmosphere, they excite hydrogen in a process that occurs at Earth and other planets,” said Gregg Hallinan, assistant professor of astronomy at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who led the team.

We now know that this kind of auroral behavior is extending all the way from planets up to brown dwarfs.

Brown dwarfs are generally cool, dim objects, but their auroras are about a million times more powerful than auroras on Earth, and if we could somehow see them, they’d be about a million times brighter, Hallinan said.

Additionally, while green is the dominant color of earthly auroras, a vivid red color would stand out in a brown dwarf’s aurora because of the higher hydrogen content of the object’s atmosphere.

The foundation for this discovery began in the early 2000s, when astronomers began finding radio emissions from brown dwarfs.

This was surprising because brown dwarfs do not generate large flares and charged-particle emissions the way the sun and other kinds of stars do. The cause of these radio emissions was a big question.

Harding, working as part of Hallinan’s group while pursuing his doctoral studies, found that there was also periodic variability in the optical wavelength of light coming from brown dwarfs that pulse at radio frequencies.

He published these findings in the Astrophysical Journal.

Harding built an instrument called an optical high-speed photometer, which looks for changes in the light intensity of celestial objects, to examine this phenomenon.

In this new study, researchers examined brown dwarf LSRJ1835+3259, located about 20 light-years from Earth.

Scientists studied it using some of the world’s most powerful telescopes the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array, Socorro, New Mexico, and the W.M. Keck Observatory’s telescopes in Hawaii in addition to the Hale Telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California.

Given that there’s no stellar wind to create an aurora on a brown dwarf, researchers are unsure what is generating it on LSRJ1835+3259.

An orbiting planet moving through the magnetosphere of the brown dwarf could be generating a current, but scientists will have to map the aurora to figure out its source.

The discovery reported in the July 30, 2015 issue of Nature could help scientists better understand how brown dwarfs generate magnetic fields.

Additionally, brown dwarfs will help scientists study exoplanets, planets outside our solar system, as the atmosphere of cool brown dwarfs is similar to what astronomers expect to find at many exoplanets.

It’s challenging to study the atmosphere of an exoplanet because there’s often a much brighter star nearby, whose light muddles observations. But we can look at the atmosphere of a brown dwarf without this difficulty,” Hallinan said.

Hallinan also hopes to measure the magnetic field of exoplanets using the newly built Owens Valley Long Wavelength Array, funded by Caltech, JPL, NASA and the National Science Foundation.

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