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Posted on May 1st, 2018

Out of This World – Short Attention Span

ALIENS!!!! Do I have your attention? Now that I got you all excited I’m going to puncture your balloon just enough for it to deflate slightly but still meander around the room with the hope of finding more helium and a band-aid.

A new study of phosphorous in the Crab Nebula has researchers rethinking how abundant the element really is in the Universe. Phosphorous is a necessary element for life to exist. The supernova Cassiopeia A has an abundance of phosphorous, 100 times more then what is observed it the Milky Way, leading researchers to believe that all nebula and supernova have an immense amount of this life giving element.

Recent measurements of the Crab Nebula revealed that assumption might be false. Our crustaceous cousin has the same amount of phosphorous as the Milky Way, a sad comparison to Cassiopeia A. A major difference between the two is that the star that created the Crab Nebula was half the mass of the star that went supernova in Cassiopeia A. This adds another variable to our life equation, not only does a planet need to be in the habitable zone of a star it also needs phosphorous, which may be more scarce then originally assumed. This is new news that has yet to be fully researched. Time will tell if it stands up to scrutiny.

This next one is super cool. Humans spend a significant amount of time looking towards the stars to discover the unknown, often forgetting that our planet still covets secrets of its own. One of these is the magnetic field created by the Earth’s oceans. The European Space Agency (ESA) endeavored to map the ever changing affects tidal cycles have on the Earth’s magnetic field. Using Swarm, a constellation of three magnetic field satellites, ESA mapped the oceans magnetic field in fine detail. The resulting 3D map and animated video is fascinating.

What the what?! This sweet map depicts the ever changing magnetic field of the Earth’s oceans. (Credit: ESA/Planetary Visions)

While the oceans contribute a comparatively miniscule amount of magnetic force then the Earth’s core, mantle and crust, it is still an important contributing factor not just to the overall field but to life on Earth. Understanding how heat is absorbed and distributed in the oceans gives researchers greater insight into the effects of climate change on the water bodies of Earth.

Katie Nelson
Geospatial Ninja
(303) 718-7163

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