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When light strikes the atmosphere all sorts of interesting things can happen. Water vapor can split sunlight into a rainbow arc of colors, corpuscular rays can stream through gaps in clouds like the light from heaven, and halos and sundogs can appear due to sunlight reflecting off ice crystals. And then there is the glory effect, which can create a colorful almost saint-like halo around objects.

Like rainbows, glories are seen when facing away from the light source. They are often confused with circular rainbows because of their similarity, but glories are a unique effect. Rainbows are caused by the refraction of light through water droplets, while glories are caused by the wave interference of light. Because of this, a glory is most apparent when the water droplets of a cloud or fog are small and uniform in size. The appearance of a glory gives us information about the atmosphere. We have assumed that some distant exoplanets would experience glories similar to Earth, but now astronomers have found the first evidence of them.

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A solar glory seen from an airplane. Credit: Brocken Inaglory

The observations come from the Characterising ExOplanet Satellite (Cheops) as well as observations from other observatories of an exoplanet known as WASP-76b. It’s not the kind of exoplanet where you’d expect a glory to appear. WASP-76b is not a temperate Earth-like world with a humid atmosphere, but a hellish hot Jupiter with a surface temperature of about 2,500 Kelvin. Because of this, the team wasn’t looking for extraterrestrial glories but rather studying the odd asymmetry of the planet’s atmosphere.

WASP-76b orbits its star at a tenth of the distance of Mercury from the Sun. At such a close distance the world is likely tidally locked, with one side forever boiling under its sun’s heat and the other side always in shadow. No such planet exists in our solar system, so astronomers are eager to study how this would affect the atmosphere of such a world. Previous studies have shown that the atmosphere is not symmetrical. The star-facing side is puffed up by the immense heat, while the atmosphere of the dark side is more dense.

For three years the team observed WASP-76b as it passed in front of and behind its star, capturing data on the intersection between the light and dark side. They found that on the planet’s eastern terminator (the boundary between light and dark sides) there was a surprising increase in light. This extra glow could be caused by a glory effect. It will take more observations to confirm this effect but if verified it will be the first glory observed beyond our solar system. Currently, glories have only been observed on Earth and Venus.

The presence of a glory on WASP-76b would mean that spherical droplets must have been present in the atmosphere for at least three years. This means either they are stable within the atmosphere, or they are constantly replenished. One possibility is that the glory is caused by iron droplets that rain from the sky on the cooler side of the planet. Even if this particular effect is not confirmed, the ability of modern telescopes to capture this data suggests that we will soon be able to study many subtle effects of exoplanet atmospheres.

Reference: Demangeon, O. D. S., et al. “Asymmetry in the atmosphere of the ultra-hot Jupiter WASP-76 b.” Astronomy & Astrophysics 684 (2024): A27.

The post The First Atmospheric Rainbow on an Exoplanet? appeared first on Universe Today.

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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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