Archive for November, 2008

Testing Magnetars

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008 by Bellatrix

Magnetars are a bizarre form of star, with mysteries that have eluded astronomers for a long time. Recently with the help of the European Space Agency’s XMM Newton and Integral Satellite astronomers have been able to test and explain one of the unknown aspects of what magnetars are really doing.

Magnetars are a special kind of neutron star. Neutron stars, for a quick reminder, are what is left after a massive star dies in a supernova. They are very small, maybe 20 km in diameter, but very dense, a teaspoon worth of neutron star would weigh about one hundred million tons. Magnetars form a special class of neutron stars that have incredibly strong magnetic fields, about a thousand times stronger than that of a normal neutron star, and they have incredibly fast rotation. Magnetars are also known to shine bright in X-rays, but scientists have been unable to test any theories because they are unable to reproduce the strong magnetic properties in a lab.

We have found about 15 magnetars. One type known as SGR, or soft gamma repeaters, sporadically release bursts of short gamma rays and hard x-rays. The other type is known as AXPs, or anomalous X-ray pulsars, pulse periodically with x-rays. While once thought to be two different objects we now know they share many of the same properties. Magnetars strong magnetic fields are thought to be so strong that they can twist the crust of the star. This twist would produce currents in the form of a cloud of electrons flowing around the star. Its thought that these currents interact with radiation coming from the stellar surface to produce x-rays.

Using data from XMM Newton and Integral astronomers have looked at all known magnetars and actually found evidence of these electron clouds. They found that the electron density around these magnetars is about a thousand times stronger than for a normal pulsar. They were also able to measure the velocity of the electron clouds going around the magnetars.

This data has provided scientists the chance to find a link between an observed phenomenon and the physical process behind it. The team is now working to try and develop more detailed models of what exactly is happening on the surface of the magnetar. These objects are very bizarre and are an example of a celestial object with extreme conditions. It is something that challenges current theories and provides us with examples of new and interesting phenomenon that we could never observe on earth. Studying the is an exciting and interesting challenge for astronomers and physicists.

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Monday, November 17th, 2008 by Evan Finnes

Since the dawn of intelligent man, we as a race have asked several questions pertaining to the heavens, and to the meaning of life. A NASA mission, scheduled to launch in March 2009, hopes to take us a step closer to answering one of these timeless questions: “are we alone?” The Kepler Mission is not only named after the great mathematician and astronomer, Johannes Kepler, it also celebrates the 400th anniversary of the publication of his first two laws on planetary motion.

Some of the goals of the Kepler Mission include: determine the percentage of terrestrial planets in the habitable zone of nearby stars; determine the period and geometries of any such discoveries; discover any additional members of the planetary system to which the habitable planet belongs; and to determine the properties of the planetary systems host star.

To help celebrate this mission, and the 400th anniversary of the publication of Kepler’s work, NASA is taking names from the public to put on a DVD which will orbit the Sun onboard the Kepler spacecraft. Anybody who wishes to submit their name must write a short essay, under 500 words, explaining why they personally believe the Kepler mission is important. So why is this mission important? There are at least three reasons why this mission is important: #1) Are we alone in the universe? Mankind has been pondering this question for centuries, and by discovering habitable planets outside of our solar system, we will be much closer to answering this question. The discovery of such a planet will dramatically affect our scientific and religious communities; the discovery of one such planet will create a montage of new questions; #2) Eternal life. If the human race wishes to outlive the life of our host star, we will eventually have to colonize a planet outside of our own solar system. The first step, in this thankfully very distant journey, is to map out the habitable planets in our galactic neighborhood. #3) Planetary evolution. By discovering Earth-like planets existing around several types of stars, in several stages of their lives, we will be able to better understand the processes which shape planetary evolution, and the development of life.

The Kepler spacecraft will not orbit the Earth, but will orbit the sun while slightly trailing the Earth with an orbital period of about 372.5 days. With this orbit the spacecraft should be able to avoid having its view blocked by the Earth, Moon, or Sun. The reason this is important is because of the methods with which the spacecraft will search for these potentially habitable planets.

The Kepler spacecraft will search for Earth-like planets using a technique known as the Transit Method of Detecting Extrasolar Planets. A transit occurs when a planet crosses in front of its host star as viewed by an observer. These transits dim the brightness of a star which allow for the detection of extrasolar planets. This change in brightness is very difficult to detect by terrestrial planets, such as Earth, because they only dim their host star by 100 parts per million, lasting only 2 to 16 hours. In order for an extrasolar transit to be observed from our solar system, the orbit must be viewed edge on. The probability of observing such a planet is less than 1%. To increase the chances of observing a transiting terrestrial planet, the Kepler spacecraft will observe 100,000 of our neighboring stars. Because any planet in the habitable zone will require an orbit close to that of one Earth year, Kepler will need to observe any transits discovered amongst these 100,000 stars for at least 3.5 years to determine if the transit is periodic enough to be a planet.

The Kepler Mission may not be able to directly determine whether or not we are alone in the universe, but it will be able to tell us if we have neighboring planetary systems, containing planets, capable of sustaining life. When compared to all the stars in the universe, even one discovery amongst the relatively small sample space of 100,000 stars will be significant enough for us to rethink our meaning and place in the universe.

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Wednesday, November 12th, 2008 by Aridian PR

The controversial author continues his discussion about the new universe theory: Null Physics.

Terence Witt’s theory offers concise, rational explanations for some of the deepest mysteries of our universe. In his fourth installment of the Our Undiscovered Universe podcast series, Witt introduces Unit Hypervolume .

In the hour-long podcast, Witt discusses Null Physics’ treatment of elementary particles and contrasts it with the standard model of physics. In doing so, Witt notes conceptual and logical failures that have taken the standard model down a dubious path. In particular, Witt critically examines the reality of the existence of quarks which, in his book Our Undiscovered Universe, Introducing Null Physics , he states do not exist. Witt elaborates on this highly provocative statement within the course of the podcast.

On Unit Hypervolume , Witt gives listeners a broad perspective from which to understand the idea that there is but a single crucial constant that governs the subatomic nature of matter and energy.

“The lecture series continues to be an event I look forward to,” said Witt. “Unit Hypervolume is a key concept in my book and this podcast gives me an opportunity to help readers grasp what is a very powerful and sweeping principle.”

To listen to the Our Undiscovered Universe podcasts, go to and click on the podcast link.

About Terence Witt
Terence Witt is the founder and former CEO of Witt Biomedical Corporation. He holds a BSEE from Oregon State University and lives in Florida. Our Undiscovered Universe: Introducing Null Physics is his first book. To read more about Terence Witt and his latest breakthroughs go to .

Victoria Lansdon
Public Relations Director
Aridian Publishing
(321) 773-3426

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OUU Podcast #4: Unit Hypervolume

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008 by Aridian PR
Our Undiscovered Universe Podcasts


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OUU Podcast #4: Unit Hypervolume

Welcome to the fourth in a series of podcasts that explore Null Physics as presented in the book, Our Undiscovered Universe, written by Scientist and Engineer, Terence Witt.

The topic of discussion today is Unit Hypervolume, including atoms and particles with a discussion of Null Physics particle treatment as it relates to the standard model.

Also in Episode 4:

  • What is “energy” and how does it differ from “space”?
  • What are the four stable elementary particles in atoms according to Null Physics?
  • What universal constant is applied to atoms?
  • How are electron orbits limited?
  • Also available on iTunes! Search “Null Physics” and Subscribe Now!

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