Tyler Simko

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Tyler Simko

Quantumaniac is where it’s at - and by ‘it’ I mean awesome.

Hi! My name is Tyler Simko. Over here, I post a ton of astronomy / math / general science in an attempt to make your brain feel good. My aim is to be as informative as possible while posting fascinating things that hopefully enlighten us both to the mysteries of our truly wondrous universe(s?). Plus, how would you know if the blog exists or not unless you observe it?

Boom, just pulled the Schrödinger’s cat card. Now you have to check it out - trust me, it said so in an equation somewhere.

Please check out my web design company, O8 Labs, we build websites and mobile apps - let us build yours!

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Evidence for Plate Tectonics Found on Europa

In a report published September 7 in Nature Geoscience, researchers have provided the first potential evidence of plate tectonics elsewhere in the Universe. “Earth is not unique — we’ve found another body in the solar system with plate tectonics,” says  Simon Kattenhorn of the University of Idaho. “This tells us that this process can happen on more than just rocky planets like Earth.” Researchers had previously found evidence of plate tectonics on Mars, but it looks like those processes ended long ago. 

As io9 reports: 

Researchers Simon Kattenhorn and Louise Prockter observed areas of the icy moon where cracks opened up and where new material came up from underneath the ice, creating new surface areas.

It’s likely that a plate tectonic system is moving old portions of Europa’s surface beneath adjacent plates, similar to subduction zones on Earth. 

Read more: 

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E42 - Potential Young Twin of Our Sun

"Pillars of Creation," the picture shown above, is possibly one of the most popular space photographs ever taken. The Hubble Telescope took the image in 1995 of M16, the Eagle Nebula (shown below). 

E42, a dense ball of interstellar gas, is jutting out the leftmost pillar. E42 is a stellar embryo that could develop into a star very similar to our Sun. E42 is in the “earliest stages of development ever detected for this type of object,” according to Space.com

E42 is a an evaporating gas globule (EGG), an “egg” of gas from which a star eventually emerges. More from Space.com:

this particular EGG has the same mass as the Sun and appears to be maturing in a violent environment matching the one thought to have produced Earth’s life-giving star.

You can read more about E42 here

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Best View Yet of Merging Galaxies in Distant Universe
Check out this awesome article from Astronomy.com:
An international team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), among other telescopes, has obtained the best view yet of a collision between two galaxies when the universe was only half its current age.
Check out the article to learn more about how what one scientist called “natural lenses created by the universe” helped to see this.
Unfortunately, a galactic collision is projected to happen between the Milky Way and Andromeda - but don’t worry, not for another 4 billion years. Check out a simulation video here

Why Is The Night Sky Dark If There Are So Many Stars? 

If you’ve ever found yourself asking this question while staring at the night sky, then you’re in good company. The question can be traced back to Johannes Kepler in 1610 (the planetary motion guy), and was rediscussed by prominent astronomers like Edmond Halley (the comet guy) before being written about by the awesomely named Heinrich Wilhelm Matthias Olbers (somewhat mistakenly, as his thinking on the question wasn’t very valuable). 

As a post by Cornell University reads: 

A more detailed description of Olbers’ paradox allows you to conclude that if the universe (a) were big enough so that every line of sight ended in a star, (b) were infinitely old, (c) were static and not expanding and (d) if several other simple assumptions were satisfied, then the entire night sky would be roughly as bright as the surface of our sun!

While the first satisfactory scientific explanation to the problem was (probably) given by Lord Kelvin is 1901, someone else had a surprisingly accurate crack at it earlier, in 1848.

In his essay Eureka, poet Edgar Allan Poe provided the framework for what would ultimately be the correct answer to the paradox: 

Were the succession of stars endless, then the background of the sky would present us a uniform luminosity, like that displayed by the Galaxy – since there could be absolutely no point, in all that background, at which would not exist a star. The only mode, therefore, in which, under such a state of affairs, we could comprehend the voids which our telescopes find in innumerable directions, would be by supposing the distance of the invisible background so immense that no ray from it has yet been able to reach us at all

Poe’s explanation, summarized, is that because the age of the universe and the speed of light are both finite, only finitely many stars can be observed within a certain volume of space visible from Earth. Basically, there is a horizon of sorts at every point in space, extending as many light-years as the universe has existed. Beyond that horizon, light from that area simply hasn’t had enough time to travel to the other point yet. When considering the incredible vastness of space, light from most of the stars just hasn’t had enough time to reach us yet. 

Sources: Cornell, NYTimes

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Live Video of a Newly Detected Supernova at 4 p.m. PDT (7 p.m. EDT)

Light from the supernova 2013df has traveled more than 60 million light-years to finally be detectable from Earth, and today you have a chance to see it for yourself.

At 4 p.m. PDT (7 p.m. EDT), sky watchers around the world can watch a live video feed of the supernova broadcast from a telescope in the Cayman Islands. The video comes courtesy of the online sky-watching site Slooh.com.

A type II supernova occurs when a star more than 10 times more massive than our sun runs out of nuclear fuel and collapses in on itself. As the star implodes, its core gets hotter and more dense, until eventually the implosion bounces off the core and explodes out into space in a great burst of light and solar material.

The brief burst of light is so bright that it can outshine an entire galaxy. When the implosion is over, what remains is a super-dense object known as a neutron star.

Supernova 2013df lies in the spiral galaxy NGC 4414 in the constellation Coma Berenices and is particularly popular for amateur astronomers because of its unique structure. (It is a dusty galaxy and has dark patches and streaks on its sprial arms).

Amateur astronomers first discovered this supernova in June after noticing that there was suddenly what looked like a bright star in the galaxy that wasn’t visible just a few days before.

If you have a large telescope at home, you might be able to find this supernova, but Patrick Paolucci, the president of Slooh, said you need to have at least an eight-inch telescope to see it.

During the broadcast, Paolucci and his team will describe where the supernova is in the sky, and show images of its home galaxy before and after the light from the supernova was visible.

Supernovas are not visible for long, and this one is already starting to fade, so if you want to check it out, today may be last your chance.

Source: LATimes

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Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield to Retire

Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut who captivated the world with his photos and videos on social media from the International Space Station (ISS) and professional badass - is retiring. 

Cmdr Chris Hadfield, 53, says he is making good on a promise to his wife to move back to Canada after 30 years - effective July 3rd. 

The astronaut was the first Canadian to command the ISS. He returned from his third space mission in May. He has lived in Texas since he became a fighter pilot in the late 1980s and was later assigned to the Nasa Johnson Space Center in Houston by the CSA.

"I’ve had such an interesting career and after 35 years it’s time to step down," Cmdr Hadfield was quoted as saying by the CBC. "I’m the last astronaut of my class that’s still around."

"Chris Hadfield has inspired all Canadians, especially our next-generation of scientists and engineers," Chris Alexander, parliamentary secretary for defence, said in a statement.

"His exceptional career achievements make him a true Canadian hero and icon."

Source: BBC

Three Reasons Why Voyager I Is Badass

  • As of this writing, Voyager I is over 18,000,000,000 km away from Earth - for comparison, that’s about the distance one would travel if one went from California to New York about four million times. 
  • When Voyager I was initially launched, it was only expected to survive for four years - it’s been active for over 35 years.
  • Currently, the craft is travelling in a region of space that may well be beyond our solar system - although this is unclear at the moment. 

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Seeing New-England’s Storm ‘Nemo’ from Space

The gigantic snowstorm headed for New England is predicted to be a mean one that will dump feet of snow on an area from New York to Maine. But the ominous picture the National Weather Service is painting isn’t as frightening as the view from space.

The massive storm can be seen taking shape in this image, taken by NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite today at 9:01 ET, as a western front that stretches from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico prepares to merge with a curling low-pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean off the shore of Virginia.

Sources: Wired Science, NOAA

The Arms of M106 

The spiral arms of bright galaxy M106 sprawl through this remarkable multiframe portrait, composed of data from ground- and space-based telescopes. Also known as NGC 4258, M106 can be found toward the northern constellation Canes Venatici. The well-measured distance to M106 is 23.5 million light-years, making this cosmic scene about 80,000 light-years across. Typical in grand spiral galaxies, dark dust lanes, youthful blue star clusters, and pinkish star forming regions trace spiral arms that converge on the bright nucleus of older yellowish stars. But this detailed composite reveals hints of two anomalous arms that don’t align with the more familiar tracers. Seen here in red hues, sweeping filaments of glowing hydrogen gas seem to rise from the central region of M106, evidence of energetic jets of material blasting into the galaxy’s disk. The jets are likely powered by matter falling into a massive central black hole.

Credit: Image Data - Hubble Legacy Archive, Robert Gendler, Jay GaBany, Processing - Robert Gendler, NASA