When I said we have moles on Saturday, I was not kidding. I walked across our front yard today to water some flowers that were threatening to die, and it felt like I was walking on a crunchy sponge. Our entire front yard is undermined. This creates a bit of a dilemma for my crunchy granola, left-leaning brain. I am honestly worried about how few animals are able to survive in urban and suburban areas, and generally I’m the type of person who will rehome things in hopes that the critter I don’t want in my house/garage/car will live to either reproduce or become some other critters dinner somewhere else. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to catch and release a mole, and the sonic mole repelling things will just send the moles to my neighbors where they will get killed.
Not that any of this has anything to do with astronomy. I write about this because I currently have writers block. The molemen took my creativity. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
So, for a not particularly creative discussion of recent astronomy news, here is a list of a few neat new things waiting to be discussed in detail:
- Orion jumps 100pc closer: A new study by researchers at UCal Berkeley lead by Karin Sandstrom used the VLBA network to measure the distance to and motion across the sky of a star that is active in the radio to determine the Orion Nebulais 389 +24/-21 parsecs away. Prior work had placed it ~480 parsecs away. This new study clarifies several problems with temperatures and luminosities of the most massive stars, but it also creates some problems. This newer distance also means all the stars are 1.5 times brighter than previously thought, and a lot of stuff is going to now need to get recalculated based on the new information.
- Gamma Ray Bursts May Probe First Billion Years: Volker Bromm (U-Texas) and Abraham Loeb (Harvard) look at how gamma ray bursts can be used to probe the early universe. Specifically they ask: “What is the expected signature of GRBs that were triggered by the death of a massive Pop III star?” While it is unclear if stellar evolution in metal-free stars allows massive stars to reach the configuration necessary for a the type of nova (a Type Ib/c supernova) that is associated with a long duration GRB, this still opens a fascinating line of questions. If GRBs do occur in the earliest moments of the universe, they would be visible even at this distance, and we should be eventually observe them.
Words found in titles that I had never seen before, but I know need to find reasons to use:
And finally, the title and abstract that days the most with least (and probably invokes fear in the process:
Baryogenesis from the amplification of vacuum fluctuations during inflation, by Bjorn Garbrecht, Tomislav Prokopec
We propose that the baryon asymmetry of the Universe may originate from the amplification of quantum fluctuations of a light complex scalar field during inflation. CP-violation is sourced by complex mass terms, which are smaller than the Hubble rate, as well as non-standard kinetic terms. We find that, when assuming 60 e-folds of inflation, an asymmetry in accordance with observation can result for models where the energy scale of inflation is of the order of 10^16 GeV. Lower scales may be achieved when assuming substantially larger amounts of e-folds.