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The Search for Life in our Solar System leads seekers to strange places. From our Earthbound viewpoint, an ice-covered moon orbiting a gas giant far from the Sun can seem like a strange place to search for life. But underneath all that ice sits a vast ocean. Despite the huge distance between the moon and the Sun and despite the thick ice cap, the water is warm.

Of course, we’re talking about Enceladus, and its warm, salty ocean—so similar to Earth’s in some respects—takes some of the strangeness away.

Enceladus is Saturn’s sixth-largest moon, and the Cassini spacecraft observed it during its mission to the Saturn system. Scientists discovered that plumes of water originating from Enceladus’ southern region are responsible for one of Saturn’s rings. They also discovered that the water is salty. Any place we find warm, salty water attracts our immediate attention, even when it’s covered by kilometres of ice and is 1.5 billion kilometres away from the life-giving Sun.

There’s lots of talk about a future mission to Enceladus to explore the moon and its potentially life-supporting ocean in more detail. But until then, scientists are working with their current data, and using models and simulations to understand the moon better.

Enceladus’ most defining surface features are its Tiger Stripes. They’re four parallel, linear depressions on the moon’s surface about 130 km long, 2 km wide, and 500 meters deep. They have higher temperatures than their surroundings, indicating that cryovolcanism is active. The stripes are the source of Enceladus’ plumes.

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Geysers erupt from Enceladus’ Tiger Stripes in this image from the Cassini spacecraft. Image Credit: By NASA/JPL/SSI – http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/multimedia/pia11688.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15592605

New research suggests that strike-slip faults at the moon’s prominent Tiger Stripe features allow plumes of water from Enceladus to escape into space. It’s published in Nature Geoscience and titled “Jet activity on Enceladus linked to tidally driven strike-slip motion along tiger stripes.” The lead author is Alexander Berne, a doctoral candidate in Geophysics at the California Institute of Technology.

The plumes above the Tiger Stripes aren’t stable and continuous. They wax and wane as the moon follows its 33-hour orbit around Saturn. Tidal heating keeps the moon’s water in liquid form, and according to the researchers, the same tidal forces are responsible for the intermittent plumes. Theory shows that tidal forces open and close faults at the Tiger Stripes like an elevator door, and that turns the plumes on and off.

However, those theories can’t accurately predict the timing of the plumes’ peak brightness. They also show that tidal forcing alone doesn’t provide enough energy to open and close the faults.

This research digs deeper into the question and provides an answer. The authors say that rather than acting like an elevator door, strike-slip faults at the Tiger Stripes open and close to regulate plume activity. This is similar to what happens on Earth in places like the San Andreas Fault. It’s a strike-slip fault where one side shears past the other, causing Earthquakes. The critical part of this is that strike-slip faults require less energy than the elevator opening and closing scenario.

Models are more effective as they’re fed more detailed and accurate data. Berne and his co-researchers built a numerical model that simulates the strike-skip faults on Enceladus. They included friction, compressional forces and shear forces. The numerical model showed the faults acting in concert with the changing plumes. This strongly suggests that Enceladus’ orbit and the tidal forces acting on the moon cause the strike-slip faults to open and close.

Enceladus Strike Slip FaultDid you miss our previous article…
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10 Great, Big Dayhikes in the Tetons

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By Michael Lanza

The Tetons stand out for many reasons, most of all that iconic skyline of jagged peaks and spires that invites comparisons to cathedrals—although these cathedrals reach over 12,000 and 13,000 feet high. But while backpackers flock to the Teton Range for multi-day hikes and these peaks offer numerous five-star dayhikes of “normal” length, they also harbor some of the best long dayhikes in the country.

Thanks to a unique combination of the trail network and trailhead access, hikers capable of knocking off 15 to 20 or more miles and 3,000 to over 4,000 vertical feet in a day can explore virtually the entire range on one-day outings—holding enormous appeal for hikers and trail runners seeking that level of challenge or fit backpackers who fail to obtain a highly coveted Grand Teton National Park backcountry permit for a multi-day hike.

This list of the 10 best big dayhikes in the Teton Range includes popular spots like Garnet Canyon, Lake Solitude, and the Paintbrush Canyon-Cascade Canyon loop, as well as some trails and peaks you may not have heard of—some of which see little traffic.

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Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-books to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A backpacker on the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park.
” data-image-caption=”Jeff Wilhelm backpacking the Teton Crest Trail n Grand Teton National Park. Click photo for my e-book “The Complete Guide to Backpacking the Teton Crest Trail.”
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/06231551/Tet19-110-Tet19-107-Jeff-Wilhelm-backpacking-the-Teton-Crest-Trail-through-North-Fork-Cascade-Canyon-Grand-Teton-N.P..jpg?fit=300%2C203&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/06231551/Tet19-110-Tet19-107-Jeff-Wilhelm-backpacking-the-Teton-Crest-Trail-through-North-Fork-Cascade-Canyon-Grand-Teton-N.P..jpg?fit=900%2C608&ssl=1″ tabindex=”0″ role=”button” src=”https://i0.wp.com/tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/06231551/Tet19-110-Tet19-107-Jeff-Wilhelm-backpacking-the-Teton-Crest-Trail-through-North-Fork-Cascade-Canyon-Grand-Teton-N.P.-1024×692.jpg?resize=900%2C608&ssl=1″ alt=”A backpacker on the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park.” class=”wp-image-36371″ srcset=”https://tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/06231551/Tet19-110-Tet19-107-Jeff-Wilhelm-backpacking-the-Teton-Crest-Trail-through-North-Fork-Cascade-Canyon-Grand-Teton-N.P..jpg 1024w, https://tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/06231551/Tet19-110-Tet19-107-Jeff-Wilhelm-backpacking-the-Teton-Crest-Trail-through-North-Fork-Cascade-Canyon-Grand-Teton-N.P..jpg 300w, https://tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/06231551/Tet19-110-Tet19-107-Jeff-Wilhelm-backpacking-the-Teton-Crest-Trail-through-North-Fork-Cascade-Canyon-Grand-Teton-N.P..jpg 768w, https://tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/06231551/Tet19-110-Tet19-107-Jeff-Wilhelm-backpacking-the-Teton-Crest-Trail-through-North-Fork-Cascade-Canyon-Grand-Teton-N.P..jpg 1080w, https://tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/06231551/Tet19-110-Tet19-107-Jeff-Wilhelm-backpacking-the-Teton-Crest-Trail-through-North-Fork-Cascade-Canyon-Grand-Teton-N.P..jpg 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />Jeff Wilhelm backpacking the Teton Crest Trail n Grand Teton National Park. Click photo for my e-book “The Complete
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Galaxies Regulate their Own Growth so they Don’t Run Out of Star Forming Gas

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Look at most spiral or barred spiral galaxies and you will see multiple regions where stars are forming. These star forming regions are comprised of mostly hydrogen gas with a few other elements for good measure. The first galaxies in the Universe had huge supplies of this star forming gas. Left unchecked they could have burned through the gas quickly, generating enormous amounts of star formation. Life fast though and die young for such an energetic burst of star formation would soon fizzle out leaving behind dead and dying stars. In some way it seems, galaxies seem to regulate their star formation thanks to supermassive black holes at their centre. 

The first galaxies formed about 400 to 700 million years after the Big Bang, during the Epoch known as Reionization. These early galaxies were small and faint, mostly composed of hydrogen and helium, and contained dense clusters of massive, short-lived Population III stars (the first generation of stars.) The intense radiation from these stars ionised the surrounding gas, clearing the fog that permeated space making the universe transparent for the first time. These primordial galaxies began merging and interacting, laying the foundation for the galaxy types seen today.

A new study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society explores why galaxies are not as large as astronomers would expect. The research suggests that galaxies, even those that formed first, avoid an early death because they have mechanisms similar to “heart and lungs,” which regulate their “breathing”. Without these regulatory processes our bodies, and galaxies would have aged much faster, resulting in massive galaxies filled with dead and dying stars and devoid of new star formation.

Observations show that galaxies are not so big and full of dying stars having outgrown themselves. It seems something limits their ability to allow gas to form into stars. Astrophysicists at the University of Kent believe they may have the answer: galaxies could be controlling their growth rate through a process not too dissimilar to “breathing.” They compare the supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy to a heart and the supersonic jets emerging from the poles with the radiation and gas they emit to airways feeding a pair of lungs.

The supermassive black holes seem to pulse just like a heart. These pulses cause a shock front to oscillate along the jets like a diaphragm inflating and deflating the lungs. This process transmits energy along the jet slowly counteracting the pull of gravity and slowing gas accretion and star formation. The idea was developed by PhD student Carl Richards and his simulations showed a black hole pulsing like a heart. 

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Assisted by magnetic fields, a spiraling wind helps the supermassive black hole in galaxy ESO320-G030 grow. In this illustration, the core of the galaxy is dominated by a rotating wind of dense gas leading outwards from the (hidden) supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s center. The motions of the gas, traced by light from molecules of hydrogen cyanide, have been measured with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. Image credit: M. D. Gorski/Aaron M. Geller, Northwestern University, CIERA, the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics.

Richards explains “We realised that there would have to be some means for the jets to support the body – the galaxy’s surrounding ambient gas – and that is what we discovered in our computer simulations,” He continued “The unexpected behaviour was revealed when we analysed the computer simulations of high pressure and allowed the heart to pulse.”

Evidence of ripples just like those in Richards’ simulations, in extra-galactic media have been found in galaxy clusters like the Perseus cluster. These ripples are thought to sustain a galaxy’s environment, though their generation mechanism was unclear. Conventional simulations fail to explain gas flows into galaxies, but the work of the team from the University of Kent may well have answered the question.

Source : How the ‘heart and lungs’ of a galaxy extend its life.

The post Galaxies Regulate their Own Growth so they Don’t Run Out of Star Forming Gas appeared first on Universe Today.

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Bear Essentials: How to Store Food When Backcountry Camping

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By Michael Lanza

On our first night in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park on one of my earliest backpacking trips, two friends and I—all complete novices—hung our food from a tree branch near our camp. Unfortunately, the conifer trees around us all had short branches: Our food stuff sacks hung close to the trunk.

During the night, the predictable happened: We awoke to the sound of a black bear clawing up the tree after our food.

Despite our nervousness and incompetence, we somehow managed to shoo that black bear off, though not before he (or she) departed with a respectable haul from our food supply. But by virtue of having started out with way more food than we needed—another rookie mistake that, ironically, compensated for this more-serious rookie mistake (read my tips on not overpacking)—we made it through that hike without going hungry and ultimately had a wonderful adventure.

And we went home with a valuable lesson learned.

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Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-books to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A black bear along the Sol Duc River Trail in Olympic National Park.
” data-image-caption=”A black bear along the Sol Duc River Trail in Olympic National Park.
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/06232206/Olym6-070-Black-bear-Sol-Duc-River-Trail-Olympic-NP-WA-2.jpg?fit=300%2C201&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/06232206/Olym6-070-Black-bear-Sol-Duc-River-Trail-Olympic-NP-WA-2.jpg?fit=900%2C602&ssl=1″ tabindex=”0″ role=”button” src=”https://i0.wp.com/tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/06232206/Olym6-070-Black-bear-Sol-Duc-River-Trail-Olympic-NP-WA-2-1024×685.jpg?resize=900%2C602&ssl=1″ alt=”A black bear along the Sol Duc River Trail in Olympic National Park.” class=”wp-image-34782″ srcset=”https://tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/06232206/Olym6-070-Black-bear-Sol-Duc-River-Trail-Olympic-NP-WA-2.jpg 1024w, https://tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/06232206/Olym6-070-Black-bear-Sol-Duc-River-Trail-Olympic-NP-WA-2.jpg 300w, https://tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/06232206/Olym6-070-Black-bear-Sol-Duc-River-Trail-Olympic-NP-WA-2.jpg 768w, https://tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/06232206/Olym6-070-Black-bear-Sol-Duc-River-Trail-Olympic-NP-WA-2.jpg 1080w, https://tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/06232206/Olym6-070-Black-bear-Sol-Duc-River-Trail-Olympic-NP-WA-2.jpg 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />A black bear along the Sol Duc River Trail in Olympic National Park.

I’ve learned much more about storing food properly in the backcountry over the more than three decades since that early trip, including the 10 years I spent as the Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog. This article shares what I’ve learned about protecting food from critters like bears and, more commonly, mice and other small animals and some birds like ravens.

Follow the tips below and you’ll not only save yourself and your party or family from going hungry, you might save a bear from developing a habit of seeing humans as sources of food, which too often leads to a bad outcome for that animal.

If you have any questions or tips of your own to share, please do so in the comments section at the bottom of this
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