Sunday, June 20, 2010

The star Eta Carinae, once one of the brightest in the southern sky, has long been shrouded in mystery. After a huge outburst of gas that occurred more than 150 years ago, it has largely been hidden by a dense cloud of dust - a strong indicator of sporadic eruptions. Now, Eta Car, which sits in our part of the Milky Way some 2,300 parsecs (7,500 light years) from the Sun, is puzzling researchers and theorists all over again. A US-based team has recorded a steep, inexplicable drop in its stellar wind - the outflow of gas from the star. "The collapse in the emission lines seemed ALMOST TOO RAPID AND DRASTIC TO BELIEVE. Eta Car is more than a variable star, IT'S JUST NUTS.”
The root of Eta Car's oddness lies in the supernova-like eruption event that began in the late 1830s and lasted for some 20 years. Lines in the emission spectrum of Eta Carinae have collapsed to only a third of their original strength in a decade. Huge stars like Eta Car can erupt for reasons that are about 95% "mysterious". One theory is that once these massive stars near the end of their short lives - after some 2 million to 3 million years - perturbations in their cores may set off sporadic 'supernova impostor' eruptions. Supernova impostors are only one-hundredth the brightness of normal supernovae, but the eruptions can last for decades. And unlike normal supernovae, these impostors survive their eruptions. Eta Car, which is five million times more luminous than the Sun, was the first such impostor detected, although about a dozen are known to astronomers today.
During its mid-nineteenth-century eruption, Eta Car lost about ten times the mass of the Sun. Although this loss was equivalent to only 10% of its mass, the star's outer 50% was ejected. As a result, the star has still not returned to thermal and rotational equilibrium. Since 1858, it has been observed only as a massive gaseous outflow, losing the equivalent of one Jupiter-mass in gas per year. "We still can't see the star itself, but only an opaque dense wind outflow surrounded by muck - really bright ejecta." If Eta Car's current trend of decreasing winds continues, in a decade it will have very nearly emerged from its cocoon of dense gaseous outflow. That would return it to the state observed by Halley some 300 years ago, when it was seen as a hot, blue star. This would finally enable contemporary observations of the radius and surface temperature of Eta Car, which is estimated to have the mass of well over 100 Suns.

**What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.**

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
6/19/10 -
6/18/10 -


KOREA - Volcanic Eruption Possible on Mount Baekdu - Baekdu Mountain is the highest mountain on the Korean peninsula famous for its spectacular caldera filled with a heavenly lake. But as tranquil as it may seem the volcano is not dormant but active, having a high possibility of erupting within the next couple of years.Tracing back, Mount Baekdu has erupted about ten times on a regular basis since the early 1100s spewing roughly once every one hundred years. With the last eruption having occurred in 1903 geologists warn that the time for the next eruption is drawing near. In 1990 China created a volcanic observatory on Mount Baekdu as seismic activities around the mountain became more frequent. And this year's 6.9 magnitude earthquake near Mount Baekdu has increased fears among Chinese and Korean experts as it could have hit magma below the central part of the mountain, which could trigger an eruption. Experts also point to the rising level of the mountain's topography and recent emission of volcanic gas from the caldera as other critical evidence. If Mount Baekdu erupts the damage will be much more severe than that caused by the Icelandic eruptions in April, as Mount Baekdu encompasses 20 tonnes of water in its volcanic crater. Geologists are currently holding numerous meetings and seminars calling on the Korean government to come up with comprehensive measures to deal with the possible natural disaster.

Tropical storm BLAS was 364 nmi SW of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Tropical storm CELIA was 246 nmi SSW of Salina Cruz, Mexico.

Tropical Storm Celia gained strength Saturday night over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern Mexico. Forecasters said it was headed farther out to sea. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami warned that large ocean swells from the storm would produce dangerous surf conditions along portions of Mexico's Pacific coast for days to come. Celia was centered about 340 miles (550 kilometers) south-southeast of Acapulco. Maximum sustained winds were 65 mph (100 kilometers per hour), putting the storm on the cusp of becoming a hurricane.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Blas was weakening as it swirled about 420 miles (670 kilometers) south-southwest of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula. Its winds were at about 60 mph (95 kilometers per hour).


CHINA - 1.4 million evacuated as floods kill 90. More than a million people living along rivers in China's south have been evacuated with water rising to dangerous levels as torrential rains left at least 90 dead and more rain is forecast..


Vast amounts of methane in Gulf spill pose threat - Vast amounts of natural gas contained in crude escaping from the blown Gulf of Mexico oil well could pose a serious threat to marine life by creating "dead zones" where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives. The danger presented by the methane has been largely overlooked, with early efforts to monitor the oil spill focusing on the more toxic components of oil. But scientists are increasingly worried about the gas that can suffocate sea creatures in high concentrations. At least 4.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas - and possibly almost twice that amount - have leaked since April 20. "This is THE MOST VIGOROUS METHANE ERUPTION IN MODERN HUMAN HISTORY." Scientists estimate that methane makes up between 40 percent and 70 percent of what is spilling into the Gulf.
The high-pressure seafloor leak is spewing like a fire hose, causing oil and gas to dissolve into tiny droplets that are less likely to rise to the surface. Adding to the effect, more than a million gallons of chemical dispersants have been pumped into the gusher by BP — a bid to stop oil from reaching the coast that comes at the expense of the Gulf's deeper waters. "This has the potential to harm the ecosystem in ways that we don't know. It's a complex problem."
In early June, a research team found methane concentrations up to 10,000 times higher than normal, and oxygen levels depleted by 40 percent or more. The scientists found that some parts of the plume had oxygen concentrations just shy of the level that tips ocean waters into the category of "dead zone" — a region uninhabitable to fish, crabs, shrimp and other marine creatures. Shallow waters are normally more susceptible to oxygen depletion. Because it is being found in such deep waters, researchers do not know what is causing the depletion and what the impact could be in the long- or short-term. One called her findings "THE MOST BIZARRE LOOKING OXYGEN PROFILES I HAVE EVER SEEN ANYWHERE."


Global activity remains stable - Global H1N1 activity remains mostly unchanged. Pandemic flu transmission remains low worldwide, with limited circulation in parts of Central America (Costa Rica), the Caribbean (Cuba), and South and Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, and, to a much lesser extent, India, Bangladesh, and Bhutan). Recently re-emerged seasonal H3N2 continues to circulate in East Africa, with type B in parts of Asia, Africa, and South America.

Average age at H1N1-related death in US was 40 - The average age of those in the United States who died of pandemic flu last spring and fall was 40, with the median age, or midpoint, at 43. In the fall, the average age of those who died was 41, and the median age was 45.