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Link to 'What magnetic fields can tell us about life on other planets'

What magnetic fields can tell us about life on other planets

Every school kid knows that Earth has a magnetic field – it’s what makes compasses align north-south and lets us navigate the oceans. It also protects the atmosphere, and thus life, from the sun’s powerful wind.

But what about other Earth-like planets in the galaxy? Do they also have magnetic fields to protect emerging life?

A new analysis looks at one type of exoplanet – super-Earths up to five times the size of our own planet – and concludes that they probably do have a magnetic field, but one generated in a totally novel way: by the planets’ magma oceans.

TAGS: Burkhard Militzer, magnetic fields

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Link to 'Tracking down a star that disappeared 65 million years ago'

Tracking down a star that disappeared 65 million years ago

Astronomers may finally have tracked down the type of star that explodes with a distinctive but unusual signature: They show no evidence of hydrogen and helium, by far the most abundant elements in the universe.

Such explosions have been labeled Type Ic supernovae, and make up some 20 percent of all stars that explode when their cores collapse. Most, however, have been observed at such large distances that astronomers could not pinpoint what was there before the explosion blew it to smithereens.

But a team that included UC Berkeley astronomer Alex Filippenko got lucky.

TAGS: Alex Filippenko

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Link to 'Classes cancelled 11/16'

Classes cancelled 11/16

Dear Campus Community,

I am writing to update you on the latest air quality readings, decisions regarding tomorrow’s class schedule, and the status of Saturday’s Big Game.

As noted in previous messages, we have been closely tracking current air quality data, as well as forecasts for Berkeley. As of 3pm today the reading for the closest monitor, located in Aquatic Park, indicates that the Air Quality Index (AQI) surpassed 200, the level at which our guidelines require consideration of class cancellations. In addition, the forecast for tomorrow from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District now indicates that conditions are expected to deteriorate. In that context, and based on the guidance of experts on campus, we must assume that the 200 AQI threshold will be exceeded tomorrow. As a result, we have decided to cancel all classes for the remainder of the day today, and on Friday.

While the campus is now essentially closed, there are a limited number of campus operations that must continue. They include University Health Services, dining halls and residential facilities, the optometry clinic, UCPD, OLAC, and the Office of Environment, Health & Safety. This is not a comprehensive list. Staff members who are uncertain about whether their duties can be filled from home, or have other questions should consult with their supervisors.

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Link to 'UC Berkeley graduate student awarded Department of Energy fellowship'

UC Berkeley graduate student awarded Department of Energy fellowship

James Sullivan, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, has been awarded a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF) to support his research into Astrophysics. Sullivan, from McLean, VA, has bachelor’s degrees in Astronomy, Mathematics, and Physics from the University of Texas at Austin. Fewer than 6 percent of applicants are chosen for the fellowship each year.

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Link to 'AI helps track down mysterious cosmic radio bursts'

AI helps track down mysterious cosmic radio bursts

Artificial intelligence is invading many fields, most recently astronomy and the search for intelligent life in the universe, or SETI.

Researchers at Breakthrough Listen, a SETI project led by the University of California, Berkeley, have now used machine learning to discover 72 new fast radio bursts from a mysterious source some 3 billion light years from Earth.

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Link to 'Astronomy Congratulates Professor Eliot Quataert on being elected to the AAAS'

Astronomy Congratulates Professor Eliot Quataert on being elected to the AAAS

The 1780 Charter of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences states that purpose of the Academy is "to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people." AAAS Members have included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Maria Mitchell, Alexander Graham Bell, Jonas Salk, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Aaron Copland, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Laurence Olivier, Mary Leakey, Akira Kurosawa, and Nelson Mandela (to name a few).

Nine UC Berkeley faculty have been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a time-honored, prestigious society that convenes leaders in academic, business and government sectors to solve critical national and global challenges. 

 

TAGS: Eliot Quataert

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Link to 'Flash-in-the-pan supernovas explained'

Flash-in-the-pan supernovas explained

Most exploding stars flare brightly and then slowly fade over weeks to months, but an unusual group of supernovas noticed only in the last 10 years flare up and disappear within days.

Thanks to the ability of NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope to precisely measure starlight over long periods of time, astronomers now have a pretty good idea what these flash-in-the-pan supernovas are: exploding stars probably too dim to be detectable until the stellar matter ejected during the explosion collides with a shell of material puffed off years earlier by the star.

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Link to 'Amateur astronomer captures rare first light from massive exploding star'

Amateur astronomer captures rare first light from massive exploding star

Thanks to lucky snapshots taken by an amateur astronomer in Argentina, scientists have obtained their first view of the initial burst of light from the explosion of a massive star.

During tests of a new camera, Víctor Buso captured images of a distant galaxy before and after the supernova’s “shock breakout” – when a supersonic pressure wave from the exploding core of the star hits and heats gas at the star’s surface to a very high temperature, causing it to emit light and rapidly brighten.

TAGS: Alex Filippenko

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Link to 'Puzzling new supernova may be from star producing antimatter'

Puzzling new supernova may be from star producing antimatter

An exploding star that continued to shine for nearly two years — unlike most supernovae, which fade after a few weeks — is puzzling astronomers and leading theorists, including UC Berkeley astrophysicist Daniel Kasen, to suggest that the event may be an example of a star so hot that it produces antimatter in its core.

Stars would have to be very massive to get this hot, Kasen said, which is why most astronomers assumed they existed, if at all, only in the early years of the universe.

TAGS: Supernova, Daniel Kasen

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Link to 'Selections Made for the JWST Director’s Discretionary Early Release Science Program'

Selections Made for the JWST Director’s Discretionary Early Release Science Program

Following the recommendation of the Time Allocation Committee and a thorough technical review, the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) Director Ken Sembach has selected 13 science programs for the JWST Director’s Discretionary Early Release Science Program (DD-ERS).

TAGS: Imke de Pater, daniel weisz

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