Snippets - UNUSUAL POLE ACTIVITY

Snippets - UNUSUAL POLE ACTIVITY

Jupiter's X-ray auroras pulse independently

Jupiter's intense northern and southern lights pulse independently of each other according to new UCL-led research using European Space Agency's XMM-Newton and NASA's Chandra X-ray observatories. The study, published in Nature Astronomy, found that very high-energy X-ray emissions at Jupiter's south pole consistently pulse every 11 minutes. Meanwhile, those at the north pole are erratic: increasing and decreasing in brightness, independent of the south pole. This behaviour is distinct from Earth's north and south auroras which broadly mirror each other in activity.

Other similarly large planets, such as Saturn, do not produce any detectable X-ray aurora, which makes the findings at Jupiter particularly puzzling. The team hopes to keep tracking the activity of Jupiter's poles over the next two years using X-ray observing campaigns in conjunction with Juno to see if this previously unreported behaviour is commonplace.

FILM-BASED STUDY

Reacting to moral issues

Are we more prone to help the person who resembles us the most? Social neuroscientists have studied the effects of similarity by showing a re-edited version of the film My Sister's Keeper to a group of subjects and by giving them a moral dilemma to consider while measuring their brain function by fMRI. The subjects were asked to observe the film in the light of different questions. The study focused particularly on how the subjects felt about one sister refusing to donate an organ to another sister diagnosed with cancer. The study discloses a major conflict between what the subjects told they felt about the moral issue presented to them and what actually happened inside their brains.

UNNOTICED STRUCTURES

Mysterious stone 'gates'

Archaeologists have uncovered nearly 400 previously undocumented stone structures they call 'gates' in the Arabian desert. They
believe that these may have been built by nomadic tribes thousands of years ago.

David Kennedy, an archaeologist at the University of Western Australia and author of a paper set to appear in the journal Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, said when he first saw the Google Earth satellite images, he was confronted with structures quite different from anything he had ever seen before. He called them gates because when looked at horizontally, they resemble a simple fence with two thick upright posts on the sides connected by one or more long bars.

Stephan Kempe, a retired professor of physical geology at Technische Universitat Darmstadt in Germany, who was not involved in the paper, said that the new study was one of a series of papers describing previously unnoticed structures in the Saudi Arabian lava fields. "There are many other features that have only recently been understood
as forming classes of prehistoric 'geoglyphs' that were widespread in an area thought to be very barren and devoid of human impact," he said.

NO WAY OUT

Impossible to beat ageing

Ageing is a natural part of life, but that hasn't stopped people from embarking on efforts to stop the process. Unfortunately, perhaps, those attempts are futile, according to University of Arizona researchers who have proved that it's mathematically impossible to halt ageing in multicellular organisms like humans."Ageing is mathematically inevitable - like, seriously inevitable. There's logically, theoretically, mathematically no way out," said Joanna Masel, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and at University of Arizona. Joanna and University of Arizona postdoctoral researcher Paul Nelson outline their findings on math and ageing in a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

DOCUMENTARY

Day of the Asteroid

Hollywood movies have long thrilled in showing us the catastrophic aftermath of an asteroid making direct impact with our planet. As explored in the compelling documentary Day of the Asteroid, this possibility is far from manufactured fantasy. Our planet has played host to asteroid collisions throughout its history, and it seems inevitable that it will happen again. Is there anything we can do to protect ourselves?

The galaxy is a vast battlefield populated and shaped by a countless series of violent impacts and explosions. When these events involve our planet, the results are profound. Day of the Asteroid looks into the impacts they leave behind and shows the real work being done to thwart another 'planetary doomsday' scenario. To watch the documentary, visit www.bit.ly/2A9cVXB.

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