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Funding Needed

by on Dec.04, 2011, under Personal, Website Related

Astronomy Online has received funding primarily from personal income from my better half. Unfortunately she has become a victim of the so called corporate cutbacks. The good news is now my wife and I can spend much more time together.

Much needed money is needed to keep Astronomy Online online as well as expanding the site for additional content and services for teachers and students. The best way to donate is through PayPal. There is a link on the side bar as well as on the left side bottom of Astronomy Online. Also my PayPal ID is Ricky.murphy at astronomyonline dot org (the ‘at’ and ‘dot’ as well as the spaces in between are to protect the email address from spammers).

Astronomy Online also include this blog as well. I would appreciate any donation. The more the better. I would like to offer telescope access to students for free, which is the ultimate plan for the site.

It’s important to know that anything you donate is HOT tax deductible.

Thank you for your time and may everyone have the happiest of holidays!

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First Stars Were Spinning Tops

by on Aug.01, 2011, under Astronomy, Science, Website Related

The first stars born in the universe are believed to have been massive objects, up to hundreds of times bigger than the sun. They were also spinning tops or “spinstars,” according to a new study, that spent their lives whirling at incredible speeds. If true, astronomers may one day be able to glimpse the final days of these early suns.

Twirling wildly. A simulation of a fast-spinning early star. Credit: Adapted from A. Stacy et al., MNRAS, 413 (2011)

Astronomers have yet to catch a glimpse of the earliest stars, which formed some 300 million years after the Big Bang and burned out by the time the universe was 1 billion years old. Made entirely of hydrogen and helium, these stars produced heavier elements in the process of consuming their fuel and ultimately died in explosions that spewed out the newly forged elements into interstellar space. Those elements were incorporated into later generations of stars. By measuring the relative proportions of heavy elements in second- and third-generation stars, many of which have survived to this day, astronomers can make inferences about their now-extinct ancestors.

That’s exactly what a team led by Cristina Chiappini of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam, Germany, set out to do by analyzing the ratio of different elements in eight stars from NGC 6522, one of the oldest globular clusters in the Milky Way. The cluster is more than 12 billion years old, which means the stars that the researchers looked at formed only a few hundred million years after the death of first-generation stars. Studying the spectra of the stars, the researchers found unexpectedly high abundances of the heavy elements strontium (Sr) and yttrium (Y). Based on the other characteristics of the stars, it was evident that these two elements had not been made within the stars themselves but were likely present in the interstellar clouds from which the stars originated.

The researchers knew from theory that rare elements such as Sr and Y are forged at higher rates in rotating stars as a result of mixing between outer and inner layers of gas within the star. The nuclear reactions that result from this gas mixing produce a large supply of neutrons that are captured by the nuclei of heavy elements such as iron to make Sr and Y. Chiappini and her colleagues found that the best way to explain the pattern of abundances they had observed was to apply a stellar model involving a spinning velocity of 500 kilometers per second at the surface. In other words, the ancestral stars that spawned the eight stars observed in the study were likely to have been spinning at that velocity, the authors report online today in Nature. That’s 250 times as fast as the sun.

If the first stars were indeed rapid spinners, they are likely to have ended their lives with a huge Gamma Ray Burst (GRB), producing an enormous flash of high-energy radiation. That augurs well for astronomers hoping to watch the first stars in the act of dying. “I think we have little hope of detecting individual first stars directly in the distant universe, but GRBs can be seen much further away than individual stars,” says Jason Tumlinson, an astronomer at Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. “A higher frequency of bursts increases the chances of seeing the first generations directly,” he says.

Volker Bromm, a theoretical astrophysicist at the University of Texas, Austin, says rapid rotation “could also lead to a special class of energetic supernova explosions called hypernovae, with unusual chemical abundance patterns.” And, he says, high rates of spinning would induce deep mixing of currents inside the star, causing the star to evolve into a chemically homogeneous object. Future missions such as the Joint Astrophysics Nascent Universe Satellite—a small explorer mission being considered by NASA—could give astronomers their first look at gamma-ray bursts produced by these first-generation stellar objects.

Science Magazine: by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee

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by on Apr.09, 2011, under Website Related

I recently learned just a few moments ago that my Astronomy Online site is down for the moment. The site is hosted by Network Solutions and this is the first time this has happened.

I called them and they assured me they will look into it and get it back online.

I keep a complete copy of the website in it’s entirety on my computer with a backup on my test server as well as an external hard drive stored in a water-proof, fire-proof safe.

Thank you for your patience and hopefully will be up and running soon!

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To All You Credit Reduction Folks

by on Jan.27, 2010, under Humor, Website Related

I have been getting many comments on my Citi Bank Sucks post, and I realize that the comments are clever spam. The comments make me look good so I allow the comments, I just remove the links to your sites!

How do you like that?

Keep on posting comments if you wish, just know that I will not allow this blog to be free advertising for you.

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New Post on Astronomy Online

by on Dec.31, 2007, under Website Related

It seems strange to post on a blog a new entry on another blog. My Astronomy Online blog is not a “true” blog in that its not powered by any blog software – its integrated into the main site. It’s a way to keep things updated without major changes to the site itself.

Astro-Drummer is my only real blog.

I completed a new post on my Astronomy Online blog, major astronomy topics for the year 2007. This was a phenomenal year for astronomers. Give it a read and you will agree.

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Working on a Few Things

by on Dec.26, 2007, under Website Related

It takes me awhile to work on entries for Astronomy Online and this site as well. I am currently working on a blog entry for some of the top astronomy related stories for 2007.

2007 was a great year for astronomy: the Gravity B Probe proves Einstein’s “frame dragging” predicted by his Theory of Relativity; the Cassini Probe has given us views of an alien ocean on Titan; the Large Hadron Collider is complete and will soon hunt for the elusive Higg’s particle; Voyager 2 is still sending back data on our Solar System; we now have our first 3D map of Dark Matter and there was even a naked eye comet – Comet McNaught. You can read more when the article is complete.

On the drum side, I am working on two Neil Peart covers – Test for Echo and Far Cry. These two songs are excellent in both composition and improvisation and are probably my favorite Rush tunes with regard to drum parts. And they are both difficult to learn.

I will end this short post with a photo. This is an image of Mars taken by my good friend Tim Hunter. 

Mars - Tim Hunter 

The oblong shape is due to “poor seeing,” a phenomenon to describe atmospheric turbulence that affects clarity. Regardless of conditions, this is an excellent photo. 

Take care and Happy Holidays.

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