Stranger things have happened, for sure. But this could be a first for many.
According to scientists, an active underwater volcano in the Pacific has started to erupt, spewing smoke and ash — plus, quite possibly, fragments of the highly adaptable sharks that live inside it — sky-high into the atmosphere.
NASA recently released satellite images showing the Kavachi Volcano, located near the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, east of New Guinea, spouting huge plumes of water from the crater that has been dubbed the “Sharkcano.”
No, not Sharknado, the goofy Syfy franchise starting Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and a host of celeb guest stars — including Gary Busey, Olivia Newton-John, Bret Michaels, Jackie Collins and Real Housewives mainstay Cynthia Bailey — battling great white sharks flying through the air.
No, this is “Sharkcano.”
The volcano earned this memorable moniker in 2015, when scientists were shocked to find two species of sharks, including hammerheads, living — and thriving — in the hot, acidic, sulfur-laden water in the crater, located deep in the ocean, according to NASA Earth Observatory.
Using a baited drop camera nearly 150 feet inside the crater, the scientists also saw bluefin trevally, snapper, sixgill stingrays, jellyfish and silky sharks living in this extreme environment, the researchers wrote in a 2016 Oceanography article, “Exploring the ‘Sharkcano’: Biogeochemical observations of the Kavachi submarine volcano (Solomon Islands).”
“Populations of gelatinous animals, small fish, and sharks were observed inside the active crater, raising new questions about the ecology of active submarine volcanoes and the extreme environments in which large marine animals can exist,” the scientists wrote in 2016 in the article.
The January 2015 expedition to the Kavachi Volcano, which is about 15 miles south of Vangunu Island in the Solomon Sea, “was serendipitously timed with a rare lull in volcanic activity that permitted access to the inside of Kavachi’s active crater and its flanks,” the scientists wrote.
The race to resume supersonic passenger flights decades after the retirement of Concorde was offered a glimmer of excitement on Monday when plane manufacturer Bombardier revealed high speed achievements while confirming the launch of its new business jet.
The Canadian company said the in-development Global 8000 will be “the world’s fastest and longest-range purpose-built business jet.”
With a capacity for up to 19 passengers, a range of 8,000 nautical miles (14,800 kilometers) and a top speed of Mach 0.94, the upcoming plane is expected to enter service in 2025, according to a statement from Bombardier.
The news comes after a Global 7500 test vehicle broke the sound barrier during a demonstration flight last May, achieving speeds of more than Mach 1.015.
The aircraft, accompanied by a NASA F/A-18 chase plane, also became the first Transport Category airplane to fly supersonic with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as a result of the flight, says Bombardier.
“The Global 8000 aircraft leverages the outstanding attributes of the Global 7500 aircraft, providing our customers with a flagship aircraft of a new era,” Éric Martel, president and CEO for Bombardier, said in a statement released on Monday.
Flight testing for the Global 8000 has already begun on Global 7500 flight-test vehicles. Bombardier says the upcoming aircraft will also have a cabin altitude equivalent to 2,900 feet.
Waking up in a chic hotel room with a view of the solar system could be the future of travel, at least if space company Orbital Assembly has anything to say about it.
The US-based company has revealed new information and concepts for its space hotel idea, designs for which have been orbiting since 2019.
Originally premiered by Californian company the Gateway Foundation — and then called the Von Braun Station — this futuristic concept consists of several modules connected by elevator shafts that make up a rotating wheel orbiting the Earth.
The project is now being overseen by Orbital Assembly Corporation, a space construction company that cut links with Gateway.
Orbital Assembly is now aiming to launch not one but two space stations with tourist accommodation: Voyager Station, the renamed original design, is now scheduled to accommodate 400 people and to open in 2027, while new concept Pioneer Station, housing 28 people, could be operational in just three years.
The goal, says Orbital Assembly, is to run a space “business park” home to offices as well as tourists.
Space tourism seems closer than ever before — over the past year, billionaire Virgin founder Richard Branson blasted into suborbital space with his company Virgin Galactic, while Star Trek actor William Shatner became the oldest person in space thanks to a jaunt with Blue Origin.
But there’s still a pretty unbelievable price point attached to any space trip, which makes it hard for many of us to actually envisage spending our annual leave out of this world.
Tim Alatorre, Orbital Assembly’s chief operating officer, thinks this barrier will lift as space tourism takes off.
“The goal has always been to make it possible for large amounts of people to live, work and thrive in space,” Alatorre told CNN Travel in a new interview.
Alatorre says the appeal of new concept Pioneer Station is that its smaller scale makes it achievable sooner.
“It’s going to get us the opportunity to have people start to experience space on a larger scale, faster,” he said.
Office spaces and research facilities will also be up for rent on both Pioneer Station and Voyager Station.
This, said Alatorre, is a “win-win” for Orbital Assembly, as a lot of its near-term goals are funding-dependent.
Orbital Assembly envisages both stations resembling a rotating wheel orbiting the earth.
In a 2019 interview with CNN Travel, Alatorre explained the physics of Voyager Station as working like a spinning bucket of water.
“The station rotates, pushing the contents of the station out to the perimeter of the station, much in the way that you can spin a bucket of water — the water pushes out into the bucket and stays in place,” he said.
Near the center of the station there would be no artificial gravity, but as you move down the outside of the station, the feeling of gravity increases.
The physics haven’t changed, said Alatorre more recently. But, he explained, as Pioneer Station will be smaller, its gravity level would be different. There will still be what he calls the “comforts” of artificial gravity, like showers, the ability to eat and drink sitting down — but the spaces with less gravity will allow for even more fun, space quirks.
Benjamin Choi, a seventeen-year-old student from Virginia in the U.S., used the spare time offered by the pandemic to build a mind-controlled, artificial intelligence (A.I.) powered yet low-cost prosthetic arm, Smithsonian Magazine reported.
Back in 2020, Choi was a tenth-grader, looking to research aluminum fuels at a research lab in the summer. But when the pandemic struck, the lab was shut down, leaving Choi with plenty of time to spare. Inspired by a documentary he had seen almost a decade ago, Choi made a ping-pong table in his basement, a makeshift laboratory. And then he got to work building a low-cost prosthetic arm using his sister’s $75 3D printer and some fishing line.
How does the prosthetic arm work?
The 3D printer at Choi’s disposal could print pieces no bigger than 4.7 inches (~12 cm). So Choi had to print the arm in smaller pieces and put it all together with rubber bands. With previous experience building robots and programming, Choi also wrote the code for the device to work.
To avoid the need for complex brain surgeries, Choi’s system uses electroencephalography (EEG), a method that records the brain’s electrical activity with two sensors. One is a baseline sensor that clips to the earlobe while the other sits on the forehead and collects the EEG data. This information is sent to the prosthetic arm via Bluetooth and is then converted into meaningful action by the A.I. model that is embedded in a chip on the arm.
A.I. embedded on a chip
The A.I. model was built with the help of six volunteers who Choi worked with for over two hours each, collecting their brain data as they focused on clenching and unclenching their hands. Choi trained the A.I. to distinguish between the brain waves and learn from the user’s brain waves. Since A.I. models can get rather large, Choi toyed with the idea of storing them in the cloud. However, this method delayed the response time of the arm and also required the user to remain connected to the internet at all times.
So Choi compressed his algorithm, which has over 23,000 lines of code, 978 pages of math, and seven new sub-algorithms, onto a chip embedded in the arm. Six months into his project, Choi posted a video about his invention on YouTube, which caught the attention of an upper-limb amputee from Pennsylvania, Joseph Dunn, who has provided his input on the prosthetic design, while funding and technical supervision has also come in from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
How well does it work?
Two years into the project, Choi’s prosthetic arm has undergone over 75 iterations and is now made up of engineering-grade materials that could withstand a load of up to four tons. Choi claims his A.I-powered device has an accuracy of 95 percent, while commercial designs have achieved a maximum accuracy of 73.8 percent, Smithsonian said in its report.
Click here to read the full article on Interesting Engineering.
WE’VE BEEN PROMISED the end of password-based logins on the internet for a very long time, but now it seems that promise may finally be fulfilled.
The FIDO Alliance, an industry group aimed at standardizing authentication methods online, announced that its passwordless sign-on method has received support from the big browser builders: Apple, Microsoft, and Google. That means that later this year you will be able to sign in to your various web accounts across the internet without using a password in all the major browsers.
If you use a modern smartphone, you’ll recognize how this works. Instead of asking you to enter a password, websites will push a notification to your phone that prompts you to verify your identity. You just authenticate using the same method you normally use to unlock your phone. That could be entering a PIN, using your phone’s fingerprint sensor, or using its face unlock system. FIDO’s passkey system alternatively lets you use one of your other existing devices to authenticate by sending the unlock request to that device using Bluetooth. So as long as you have your phone, laptop, or iPad nearby, you can log in with this method anywhere.
Some apps and websites offer a biometric authentication option already, but in most cases, you must have an existing account (that you created with a password) in order to activate the biometric alternative. FIDO’s system would allow you to use the biometric option from the start, meaning you’ll never need to even come up with a password to create an account. It’s also important to note that this passkey system doesn’t replace two-factor authentication; it just replaces the password in a standard authentication flow.
The FIDO Alliance published a white paper in March outlining this concept, but the announcement that the big browser makers had pledged support came this week in celebration of World Password Day.
Actually killing the password entirely is a tricky, complicated prospect, given that they’ve been the de facto way of verifying your identity on the internet for decades, and many people will be loath to give up the comfortable and familiar method of logging in. Still, having the big browsers on board with this new method is a huge step. May we never have to type out nAsC4rr0xx420! ever again.
Twitter is nearing a deal to sell itself to Elon Musk, two people with knowledge of the situation said, a move that would unite the world’s richest man with the influential social networking service. An agreement could be announced as soon as Monday, the people said.
Twitter’s board was negotiating with Mr. Musk into the early hours of Monday over his unsolicited bid to buy the company, after he began lining up $46.5 billion in financing for the offer last week, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss confidential information. The two sides were discussing details including a timeline to close any potential deal and any fees that would be paid if an agreement were signed and then fell apart, they said.
The discussions followed a Twitter board meeting on Sunday morning to discuss Mr. Musk’s offer, the people said. Obtaining commitments for the financing was a turning point for how the board viewed Mr. Musk’s bid of $54.20 a share, enabling the company’s 11 board members to seriously consider his offer, the people said.
Twitter’s stock opened 4 percent higher on Monday, at about $51 a share.
An agreement is not yet final and may still fall apart, but what had initially seemed to be a highly improbable deal appeared to be nearing an endgame. The situation involving Twitter and Mr. Musk remains fluid and fast-moving, the people with knowledge of the situation said.
Mr. Musk, who has more than 83 million followers on Twitter and began amassing shares in the company earlier this year, declared his intent to buy the company on April 14 and take it private. But his proposal was quickly dismissed by Wall Street because it was unclear if he could come up with the money to do the deal. Twitter also adopted a “poison pill,” a defensive maneuver that would prevent Mr. Musk from accumulating more of the company’s stock.
Mr. Musk updated his proposal last week, putting pressure on Twitter to more seriously consider his bid. In a securities filing that was made public on Thursday, Mr. Musk detailed how he had put together financing from the investment bank Morgan Stanley and a group of other lenders, which were offering $13 billion in debt financing, plus another $12.5 billion in loans against his stock in Tesla, the electric carmaker that he runs. He said he would use another $21 billion in cash to buy the rest of Twitter’s equity.
A Twitter spokesman declined to comment. In previous public statements, the company had said its board was “continuing to conduct a careful, comprehensive and deliberate review to determine the course of action in the best interest of the company and all Twitter stockholders.”
Mr. Musk did not respond to a request for comment. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported Twitter’s increased receptivity to Mr. Musk’s bid.
Wall Street was likely to view the openness of Twitter’s board to Mr. Musk’s bid as “the beginning of the end for Twitter as a public company with Musk likely now on a path to acquire the company unless a second bidder comes into the mix,” Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, wrote in a note on Sunday.
Mr. Musk’s offer for Twitter is a 54 percent premium over the share price the day before he began investing in the company in late January. But Twitter’s shares traded higher than Mr. Musk’s bid for much of last year.
Several analysts have said they expected Twitter’s board to only accept a bid that valued it at a minimum of $60 a share. Twitter’s stock rose above $70 a share last year when the company announced goals to double its revenue, but has since fallen to around $48 as investors have questioned its ability to meet those targets.
Mr. Musk, 50, has made clear that he sees many deficiencies in Twitter as a social media service. He has said that he wants to “transform” the company as a “platform for free speech around the globe” and that it requires vast improvements in its product and policies.
Click here to read the full article in the New York Times.
Apple today released new details on the increased use of recycled content across its products. For the first time, the company introduced certified recycled gold, and more than doubled the use of recycled tungsten, rare earth elements, and cobalt. Nearly 20 percent of all material used in Apple products in 2021 was recycled, the highest-ever use of recycled content.
Apple released new details on this progress, its recycling innovation efforts, and clean energy in its 2022 Environmental Progress Report.
The company also shared new ways customers can celebrate Earth Day, including supporting World Wildlife Fund by using Apple Pay. With educational resources, curated content, and engaging activities across platforms, Apple customers can take opportunities to appreciate the beauty of nature from wherever they are, learn about key issues like climate change, and support causes and communities working to protect the planet.
“As people around the world join in celebrating Earth Day, we are making real progress in our work to address the climate crisis and to one day make our products without taking anything from the earth,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives. “Our rapid pace of innovation is already helping our teams use today’s products to build tomorrow’s, and as our global supply chain transitions to clean power, we are charting a path for other companies to follow.”
More Recycled and Responsibly Sourced Materials Across Apple Products
Apple has pioneered innovations in the recycling and sourcing of materials to spur industrywide change. To help its recycling partners build on this momentum worldwide, Apple today announced its newest recycling innovation, Taz, a machine that uses a groundbreaking approach to improve material recovery from traditional electronics recycling.
In 2021, 59 percent of all the aluminum Apple shipped in its products came from recycled sources, with many products featuring 100 percent recycled aluminum in the enclosure. Apple has also made significant progress toward the company’s goal to eliminate plastics from its packaging by 2025, with plastics accounting for just 4 percent of packaging in 2021. Since 2015, Apple has reduced plastic in its packaging by 75 percent.
Additionally, Apple products in 2021 included:
45 percent certified recycled rare earth elements, a significant increase since Apple introduced recycled rare earth elements in its devices.
30 percent certified recycled tin, with all new iPhone, iPad, AirPods, and Mac devices featuring 100 percent recycled tin in the solder of their main logic boards.
13 percent certified recycled cobalt, used in iPhone batteries that can be disassembled by Apple’s recycling robot Daisy and returned to market.
Certified recycled gold, featured — for the first time in any Apple product — in the plating of the main logic board and wire in the front camera and the rear cameras of iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro. To achieve this milestone, Apple pioneered industry-leading levels of traceability to build a gold supply chain of exclusively recycled content.
Hispanic Heritage Month (which runs from September 15 to October 15) seeks to highlight the contributions of people of Hispanic origin in the United States, and in that spirit, this list puts the spotlight on some of the most influential in the technology sector.
Special emphasis is placed on those who hold important positions and do their best to ensure that the Hispanic community is best represented in the world of technology. Members of the Latino and Hispanic communities have long held prominent positions in the world’s largest technology companies, and it’s no surprise: We are a young, hard-working, and highly creative community.
María Teresa Arnal (Stripe)
Arnal has held important positions in companies such as Google and Microsoft, and her current position involves heading the Latin American division of Stripe, an online payment-processing firm for companies that operate online. The executive emphasizes the importance of motivating girls to be curious about science and problem-solving. “One of the challenges we have in the male-dominated world is that there is no role model for us,” she said earlier this year to Forbes México.
Guillermo Diaz Jr. (Kloudspot)
Diaz, who is of Mexican descent, worked 20 years for the technology firm Cisco, where he strongly championed the concept of the Internet of Everything: The smart connection of people, processes, data, and things. In an interview, he said that when he was asked if he was ready to become the firm’s chief information officer, it he became flooded with emotions, with honor being the strongest among them. Today, he is CEO at Kloudspot, which helps businesses in their digital transformation.
María Ferreras (Netflix)
After being vice president of business development for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, Ferreras now serves as global head of partnerships. She holds a master’s degree in telecommunications engineering and a postgraduate degree in marketing. Before joining the Los Gatos, California-based firm, where she oversees all its alliances and partnerships, she worked at Google for 10 years.
Luis von Ahn (Duolingo)
Making language learning easy and accessible for everyone was the mission from day one at Duolingo, according to its founder, Guatemalan von Ahn. He indicates that, as a Latino, “it is fundamental that Duolingo becomes an important part of the learning process and the desire of other Spanish speakers to improve themselves.” Before the language app, Von Ahn sold reCAPTCHA, the security service that protects websites from fraud and abuse, to Gogle.
Álvaro Celis (Microsoft)
Family, integrity, and passion are the values that Celis uses to define himself. At the age of 15, his passion for technology led him to study Computer Science in Caracas, Venezuela. Upon graduation, he got a job at Microsoft. Since then, 29 years have passed and he continues at the Redmond, Washington-based company, where he has held important management positions. “I am an industry leader who is passionate about transforming companies and taking them to the next level by defining and aligning strategies, people, processes, and capabilities in unique and highly differentiated ways.”
Paula Bellizia (Google)
Bellizia, who has also worked at Microsoft, currently holds the position of vice president of marketing for Latin America at Google. One of her objectives is to support the digital transformation of the region. When asked how to create more inclusive workplaces, the executive says that, in the specific case of gender, “we can encourage more women to pursue careers in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” Other strategies include increasing the percentage of woman hired and providing them with opportunities for professional development and growth.
Víctor Delgado (Samsung)
Delgado leads Samsung’s Strategic Alliances area from South Korea, where he aims to develop new business opportunities and drive strategic partnerships to deliver the most innovative mobility solutions. He also played a leading role in the presentation of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 foldable phone in 2020. The Latino says that one of his greatest points of pride was starting at the South Korean company as a phone salesman in the United States, and he is grateful for all the support the firm has given him. Before joining Samsung, he worked for companies such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint.
Nina Vaca (Pinnacle Group)
Vaca is one of the most influential Hispanics in the business world. The Ecuadorian-born entrepreneur arrived in Los Angeles at a very young age with her parents. In 1996, she founded Pinnacle Group, “a workforce solutions powerhouse,” and has dedicated much of her professional career to expanding opportunities for minorities and women in business. She received the Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship appointment from the White House in 2014.
Lilian Rincón (Google)
Rincón, a Venezuelan, has been influential in one of the most disruptive services in recent years: Google Assistance. Rincón leads the group that creates new features and functions for the platform. She was nine years old when she arrived in Canada. Although she didn’t speak English at the time, she found a universal language in mathematics. She previously worked at Skype, has always focused on the tech industry, and is well-versed in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Daniel Undurraga (Cornershop)
Undurraga, who hails from Chile, co-founded Cornershop, which allows the purchase of groceries online via cell phone. All of its shares were acquired by Uber in 2021. “Startups can have a significantand transformative impact on society: Creating jobs, positioning Chile in other countries, attracting foreign investment, and, above all, creating prosperity for many people who then become angel investors and can support and finance the new generation of entrepreneurs,” he recently told La Tercera.
Click here to read the full article on Digital Trends.
Cybersecurity involves preventing, detecting and responding to cyberattacks that can have wide-ranging effects on individuals, organizations, the community and at the national level.
Cyberattacks are malicious attempts to access or damage a computer or network system. Cyberattacks can lead to loss of money, theft of personal, financial and medical information that can damage your reputation and safety.
Cyberattacks can occur in many ways, including:
Accessing your personal computers, mobile phones, gaming systems and other internet and Bluetooth connected devices.
Damaging your financial security, including identity theft.
Blocking your access or deleting your personal information and accounts.
Targeting children and adults.
Complicating your employment, business services, transportation and power grid.
Protect Yourself Against Cyberattacks
You can avoid cyber risks by setting up the proper controls. The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property before a cyberattack occurs:
Limit the personal information you share online. Change privacy settings and do not use location features.
Keep software applications and operating systems up-to-date.
Using a password manager, use upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters, as well as, two-factor authentication (two methods of verification).
Watch for suspicious activity that asks you to do something right away, offers something that sounds too good to be true or needs your personal information. Think before you click, and when in doubt, do NOT click. Do not provide personal information.
Use encrypted (secure) Internet communications.
Protect your home and/or business using a secure Internet connection and Wi-Fi network.
Use a stronger authentication such as a personal identification number (PIN) or password that only you would know. Consider using a separate device that can receive a code or uses a biometric scan (e.g. fingerprint scanner or facial recognition).
Check your account statements and credit reports regularly.
Only share personal information on secure sites (e.g. “https://”). Do not use sites with invalid certificates. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that creates a more secure connection.
Use antivirus solutions, malware and firewalls to block threats.
Regularly back up your files in an encrypted file or encrypted file storage device.
Protect your home network by changing the administrative and Wi-Fi passwords regularly. When configuring your router, use either the instruction manual or speak to your internet-cable provider, to setup the Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) setting, which is the strongest encryption option.
Be cautious about sharing personal financial information, such as your bank account number, social security number or credit card number.
Do not click on links in texts or emails from people you don’t know. Scammers can create fake links to websites. Visit government websites, like cdc.gov/coronavirus, directly in your internet browser.
Know that the government will not text or call you about “mandatory online COVID-19 tests,” outbreaks “in your area,” mandatory vaccinations or to sell you COVID-19 cures.
Remember that the government will not call or text you about owing money or receiving economic impact payments.
Be aware that scammers may try to contact you via social media. The government will not contact you through social media about owing money or receiving payments.
If you have been exposed to COVID-19, a contact tracer from your local health department might call you to let you know and ask you to self-quarantine at home away from others. Discussions with health department staff are confidential. They will not ask for financial information.
Keep in mind that scammers may try to take advantages of financial fears by calling with work-from-opportunities, debt consolidation offers and student loan repayment plans.
During a Cyberattack
Check your credit statement for unrecognizable charges.
Check your credit reports to be aware of open accounts and/or loans you did not open.
Be alert for soliciting emails and social media users asking for private information.
If you notice strange activity, (e.g. inappropriate pop-up windows), limit the damage by immediately changing all of your internet account passwords.
Consider turning off the device. Take it to a professional to scan for potential viruses and fix. If you take your device to a store or local business, contact them in advance. Many companies have new guidelines to protect employees and individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let work, school or other system owners know.
Contact banks, credit card companies and other financial services companies where you hold accounts. You may need to place holds on accounts that have been attacked. Close any unauthorized credit or charge accounts. Report that someone may be using your identity.
Check to make sure the software on all of your systems is up-to-date.
Run a security scan on your computer/device to make sure your system is not infected or acting more slowly or inefficiently.
If you find a problem, disconnect your device from the Internet and perform a full system restore.
After a Cyberattack
If you believe you have been a victim of a cyberattack, let the proper federal, state and local authorities know:
File a report with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) if you think someone is illegally using your Social Security number.
File a complaint with the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). They will review the complaint and refer it to the appropriate agency.
File a report with the local police so there is an official record of the incident.
Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ftc.gov/complaint if you receive messages from anyone claiming to be a government agent.
Contact additional agencies depending on what information was stolen. Examples include contacting:
the Social Security Administration (800-269- 0271) if your social security number was compromised, or
the Department of Motor Vehicles if your driver’s license or car registration has been stolen.
Report online crime or fraud to your local United States Secret Service (USSS) Electronic Crimes Task Force or the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Engage virtually with your community through video and phone calls. Know that it’s normal to feel anxious or stressed. Take care of your body and talk to someone if you are feeling upset. Many people may already feel fear and anxiety about the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The threat of a cyber-attack can add additional stress. Follow CDC guidance for managing stress during a traumatic event and managing stress during COVID-19.
For more information on Cyber Security visit cisa.gov/cybersecurity.
BySPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE, Sci Tech Daily
Hubble Finds a Planet Forming in an Unconventional Way
In general, the formation of planets in our universe can be likened to cooking a meal. Just like the “ingredients” for forming a planet can change, so can the “cooking method.”
Researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope have caught a planet in the act of what could be likened to a “flash fry” — a violent and intense process called disk instability. In this method, instead of having a planet that grows and builds up from a small core accumulating matter and gas, the protoplanetary disk around a star cools, and gravity causes it to break up into one or more planet-mass fragments.
Astronomers have long searched for clear evidence of this process as a viable candidate in forming large, Jupiter-like planets, and Hubble’s resolution and longevity proved to be a key missing puzzle piece.
Evidence shows violent collapse responsible for formation of Jupiter-like protoplanet.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has directly photographed evidence of a Jupiter-like protoplanet forming through what researchers describe as an “intense and violent process.” This discovery supports a long-debated theory for how planets like Jupiter form, called “disk instability.”
The new world under construction is embedded in a protoplanetary disk of dust and gas with distinct spiral structure swirling around, surrounding a young star that’s estimated to be around 2 million years old. That’s about the age of our solar system when planet formation was underway. (The solar system’s age is currently 4.6 billion years.)
“Nature is clever; it can produce planets in a range of different ways,” said Thayne Currie of the Subaru Telescope and Eureka Scientific, lead researcher on the study.
All planets are made from material that originated in a circumstellar disk. The dominant theory for jovian planet formation is called “core accretion,” a bottom-up approach where planets embedded in the disk grow from small objects — with sizes ranging from dust grains to boulders — colliding and sticking together as they orbit a star. This core then slowly accumulates gas from the disk. In contrast, the disk instability approach is a top-down model where as a massive disk around a star cools, gravity causes the disk to rapidly break up into one or more planet-mass fragments.
The newly forming planet, called AB Aurigae b, is probably about nine times more massive than Jupiter and orbits its host star at a whopping distance of 8.6 billion miles – over two times farther than Pluto is from our Sun. At that distance it would take a very long time, if ever, for a Jupiter-sized planet to form by core accretion. This leads researchers to conclude that the disk instability has enabled this planet to form at such a great distance. And, it is in a striking contrast to expectations of planet formation by the widely accepted core accretion model.
The new analysis combines data from two Hubble instruments: the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrograph. These data were compared to those from a state-of-the-art planet imaging instrument called SCExAO on Japan’s 8.2-meter Subaru Telescope located at the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The wealth of data from space and ground-based telescopes proved critical, because distinguishing between infant planets and complex disk features unrelated to planets is very difficult.
“Interpreting this system is extremely challenging,” Currie said. “This is one of the reasons why we needed Hubble for this project—a clean image to better separate the light from the disk and any planet.”
Nature itself also provided a helping hand: the vast disk of dust and gas swirling around the star AB Aurigae is tilted nearly face-on to our view from Earth.
Currie emphasized that Hubble’s longevity played a particular role in helping researchers measure the protoplanet’s orbit. He was originally very skeptical that AB Aurigae b was a planet. The archival data from Hubble, combined with imaging from Subaru, proved to be a turning point in changing his mind.
“We could not detect this motion on the order of a year or two years,” Currie said. “Hubble provided a time baseline, combined with Subaru data, of 13 years, which was sufficient to be able to detect orbital motion.”
“This result leverages ground and space observations and we get to go back in time with Hubble archival observations,” Olivier Guyon of the University of Arizona, Tucson, and Subaru Telescope, Hawaii added. “AB Aurigae b has now been looked at in multiple wavelengths, and a consistent picture has emerged—one that’s very solid.”
The team’s results are published in the April 4, 2022, issue of Nature Astronomy.
“This new discovery is strong evidence that some gas giant planets can form by the disk instability mechanism,” Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Science in Washington, D.C. emphasized. “In the end, gravity is all that counts, as the leftovers of the star-formation process will end up being pulled together by gravity to form planets, one way or the other.”
Click here to read the full article on Sci-Tech Daily.