wavelength lights

Largest Batch of Earth-size, Habitable Zone Planets

Our Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in an area called the habitable zone, where liquid water is most likely to exist on a rocky planet.

This exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1, named for The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile. In May 2016, researchers using TRAPPIST announced they had discovered three planets in the system.

Assisted by several ground-based telescopes, Spitzer confirmed the existence of two of these planets and discovered five additional ones, increasing the number of known planets in the system to seven.

This is the FIRST time three terrestrial planets have been found in the habitable zone of a star, and this is the FIRST time we have been able to measure both the masses and the radius for habitable zone Earth-sized planets.

All of these seven planets could have liquid water, key to life as we know it, under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

At about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from Earth, the system of planets is relatively close to us, in the constellation Aquarius. Because they are located outside of our solar system, these planets are scientifically known as exoplanets. To clarify, exoplanets are planets outside our solar system that orbit a sun-like star.

In this animation, you can see the planets orbiting the star, with the green area representing the famous habitable zone, defined as the range of distance to the star for which an Earth-like planet is the most likely to harbor abundant liquid water on its surface. Planets e, f and g fall in the habitable zone of the star.

Using Spitzer data, the team precisely measured the sizes of the seven planets and developed first estimates of the masses of six of them. The mass of the seventh and farthest exoplanet has not yet been estimated.

For comparison…if our sun was the size of a basketball, the TRAPPIST-1 star would be the size of a golf ball.

Based on their densities, all of the TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky. Further observations will not only help determine whether they are rich in water, but also possibly reveal whether any could have liquid water on their surfaces.

The sun at the center of this system is classified as an ultra-cool dwarf and is so cool that liquid water could survive on planets orbiting very close to it, closer than is possible on planets in our solar system. All seven of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits are closer to their host star than Mercury is to our sun.

 The planets also are very close to each other. How close? Well, if a person was standing on one of the planet’s surface, they could gaze up and potentially see geological features or clouds of neighboring worlds, which would sometimes appear larger than the moon in Earth’s sky.

The planets may also be tidally-locked to their star, which means the same side of the planet is always facing the star, therefore each side is either perpetual day or night. This could mean they have weather patterns totally unlike those on Earth, such as strong wind blowing from the day side to the night side, and extreme temperature changes.

Because most TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky, and they are very close to one another, scientists view the Galilean moons of Jupiter – lo, Europa, Callisto, Ganymede – as good comparisons in our solar system. All of these moons are also tidally locked to Jupiter. The TRAPPIST-1 star is only slightly wider than Jupiter, yet much warmer. 

How Did the Spitzer Space Telescope Detect this System?

Spitzer, an infrared telescope that trails Earth as it orbits the sun, was well-suited for studying TRAPPIST-1 because the star glows brightest in infrared light, whose wavelengths are longer than the eye can see. Spitzer is uniquely positioned in its orbit to observe enough crossing (aka transits) of the planets in front of the host star to reveal the complex architecture of the system. 

Every time a planet passes by, or transits, a star, it blocks out some light. Spitzer measured the dips in light and based on how big the dip, you can determine the size of the planet. The timing of the transits tells you how long it takes for the planet to orbit the star.

The TRAPPIST-1 system provides one of the best opportunities in the next decade to study the atmospheres around Earth-size planets. Spitzer, Hubble and Kepler will help astronomers plan for follow-up studies using our upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2018. With much greater sensitivity, Webb will be able to detect the chemical fingerprints of water, methane, oxygen, ozone and other components of a planet’s atmosphere.

At 40 light-years away, humans won’t be visiting this system in person anytime soon…that said…this poster can help us imagine what it would be like: 

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1/13/17 @coldsunnyday The ducks aren’t actually green. They’re untrustworthy creatures, and they’re lying about what color they are. Don’t listen to them.

It’s an optical illusion called “structural color.” Their feathers are black. The fluffy side bits of the feathers (barbs) are also black. The little hooks that keep the barbs all lined up (barbules) are also black. There are microscopic little ridges (tubules) on the barbules that are also black. But the tubules are exactly the same size as a wavelength of green light, so instead of absorbing green light the way a black object should, they reflect it and the ducks look green. 

If you put one of the ducks under a good enough microscope, you’d see that no individual part of it was actually green in any way.

Avian biology generally can’t produce blue or green pigments. Birds that look blue or green are lying about it. Don’t trust them.

Except for turacos. They’re actually green, and very pleased with themselves about it. Look at this guy, here’s a bird you can trust:

Crab Nebula in technicolor! This new composite view combines data from five different telescopes, showing the celestial object in multiple kinds of light.

The video starts with a composite image of the Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant that was assembled by combining data from five telescopes spanning nearly the entire breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum: the Very Large Array, the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope, the XMM-Newton Observatory, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. 

It then dissolves to the red-colored radio-light view that shows how a neutron star’s fierce “wind” of charged particles from the central neutron star energized the nebula, causing it to emit the radio waves. 

The yellow-colored infrared image includes the glow of dust particles absorbing ultraviolet and visible light. 

The green-colored Hubble visible-light image offers a very sharp view of hot filamentary structures that permeate this nebula. 

The blue-colored ultraviolet image and the purple-colored X-ray image shows the effect of an energetic cloud of electrons driven by a rapidly rotating neutron star at the center of the nebula.

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I like to imagine aliens that have no concept of creative expression. Aliens that design technology only for efficiency and ease of life. Them having books and movies only to convey information. Imagine how baffled they be by humans. They’d be like “what are art museums? You just go to a building and look at pictures?” “Yeah they’re pretty!” “What do they mean?” “Art means different things to different people. It depends on the person!” And they’re just so confused. Or “why are there… why does this cellular phone, as you call it, come in multiple colors?” “Because people like different colors” “but…. why? Does the rose gold phone have a different purpose?” “No they’re all the same, just different colors” “but??????” Or my personal favorite: humans trying to explain the concept of a person having a favorite color. “Why do humans have favorite colors? Do different wavelengths of light mean different things to different people?” “No they just look pretty. I like green. Green is a pretty color.” “But why??????” “Just because.” And they’re just so perplexed and frustrated

Pink Diamond was an Off Color

This is more of a hunch than a theory with evidence, but I’ll list the reasons why I think this could be true.

The first thing that tipped me off is where the Diamonds fall on the color wheel.

White Diamond is the head honcho and has the most power because she encompasses all colors. While white is not technically a color, it contains all wavelengths of visible light (and light is made of colors), signifying her power over all other gems. Yellow and Blue are two primary colors. So logically, the fourth Diamond should be Red, a third primary color … but she’s not.

She’s Pink. Which isn’t a primary color, or even a secondary color, but an off color of red or purple.

If that wasn’t enough to make you wonder, there’s the obvious differences between Pink and the other Diamonds in their murals aside from their number of planets.

The other Diamonds have a nice, straight posture. They look very put-together and organized, with nice clean edges. Their feet are touching. Their arms don’t raise above their shoulders.

Pink is leaping instead of standing, almost as if she’s taking a step forward (or a step higher), and her arm is raised the highest. Her hair is wild and jagged. Her pose exhibits the most humanity out of all four. She’s different.

And what we know about Off Colors is they’re “Wrong.” “Not right.” “Flawed.”, and that gems like them are “not needed”. The Off Colors on Homeworld can’t walk on the surface, or they’ll be shattered. The Off Colors among the Famethyst are lucky to even have their jobs, as Holly Blue said, and I quote,

“Even you hideous off-color Betas! Get out of your cubbies and into your places! It’s the least you can do for the Diamond that kept you worthless, sorry Gems in service!”

(I also find it funny that Lars, someone who’s now pink, naturally became the leader of the Off Colors. A bit of foreshadowing maybe?)

I don’t think Off Colors have always been hated by other, “better” gems. But I think after Pink Diamond did all the supposedly awful things she did, anyone who was Off Color like her was expected to follow in her footsteps, and that’s why Homeworld tries to snuff them out or keep them in check.

Whatever Pink did, the other Diamonds don’t want it to be repeated.

Five Famous Pulsars from the Past 50 Years

Early astronomers faced an obstacle: their technology. These great minds only had access to telescopes that revealed celestial bodies shining in visible light. Later, with the development of new detectors, scientists opened their eyes to other types of light like radio waves and X-rays. They realized cosmic objects look very different when viewed in these additional wavelengths. Pulsars — rapidly spinning stellar corpses that appear to pulse at us — are a perfect example.

The first pulsar was observed 50 years ago on August 6, 1967, using radio waves, but since then we have studied them in nearly all wavelengths of light, including X-rays and gamma rays.

Typical Pulsar

Most pulsars form when a star — between 8 and 20 times the mass of our sun — runs out of fuel and its core collapses into a super dense and compact object: a neutron star

These neutron stars are about the size of a city and can rotate slowly or quite quickly, spinning anywhere from once every few hours to hundreds of times per second. As they whirl, they emit beams of light that appear to blink at us from space.

First Pulsar

One day five decades ago, a graduate student at the University of Cambridge, England, named Jocelyn Bell was poring over the data from her radio telescope - 120 meters of paper recordings.

Image Credit: Sumit Sijher

She noticed some unusual markings, which she called “scruff,” indicating a mysterious object (simulated above) that flashed without fail every 1.33730 seconds. This was the very first pulsar discovered, known today as PSR B1919+21.

Best Known Pulsar

Before long, we realized pulsars were far more complicated than first meets the eye — they produce many kinds of light, not only radio waves. Take our galaxy’s Crab Nebula, just 6,500 light years away and somewhat of a local celebrity. It formed after a supernova explosion, which crushed the parent star’s core into a neutron star. 

The resulting pulsar, nestled inside the nebula that resulted from the supernova explosion, is among the most well-studied objects in our cosmos. It’s pictured above in X-ray light, but it shines across almost the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to gamma rays.

Brightest Gamma-ray Pulsar

Speaking of gamma rays, in 2015 our Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope discovered the first pulsar beyond our own galaxy capable of producing such high-energy emissions. 

Located in the Tarantula Nebula 163,000 light-years away, PSR J0540-6919 gleams nearly 20 times brighter in gamma-rays than the pulsar embedded in the Crab Nebula.

Dual Personality Pulsar

No two pulsars are exactly alike, and in 2013 an especially fast-spinning one had an identity crisis. A fleet of orbiting X-ray telescopes, including our Swift and Chandra observatories, caught IGR J18245-2452 as it alternated between generating X-rays and radio waves. 

Scientists suspect these radical changes could be due to the rise and fall of gas streaming onto the pulsar from its companion star.

Transformer Pulsar

This just goes to show that pulsars are easily influenced by their surroundings. That same year, our Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope uncovered another pulsar, PSR J1023+0038, in the act of a major transformation — also under the influence of its nearby companion star. 

The radio beacon disappeared and the pulsar brightened fivefold in gamma rays, as if someone had flipped a switch to increase the energy of the system. 

NICER Mission

Our Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) mission, launched this past June, will study pulsars like those above using X-ray measurements.

With NICER’s help, scientists will be able to gaze even deeper into the cores of these dense and mysterious entities.

For more information about NICER, visit https://www.nasa.gov/nicer

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

Solar System: 10 Things to Know This Week

Need some space? 

Here are 10 perspective-building images for your computer desktop and mobile device wallpaper. 

These are all real images, sent very recently by our planetary missions throughout the solar system. 

1. Our Sun

Warm up with this view from our Solar Dynamics Observatory showing active regions on the Sun in October 2017. They were observed in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light that reveals plasma heated to over a million degrees. 

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2. Jupiter Up-Close

This series of enhanced-color images shows Jupiter up close and personal, as our Juno spacecraft performed its eighth flyby of the gas giant planet on Sept. 1, 2017. 

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3. Saturn’s and Its Rings

With this mosaic from Oct. 28, 2016, our Cassini spacecraft captured one of its last looks at Saturn and its main rings from a distance. 

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4. Gale Crater on Mars

This look from our Curiosity Mars rover includes several geological layers in Gale crater to be examined by the mission, as well as the higher reaches of Mount Sharp beyond. The redder rocks of the foreground are part of the Murray formation. Pale gray rocks in the middle distance of the right half of the image are in the Clay Unit. A band between those terrains is “Vera Rubin Ridge,” where the rover is working currently. The view combines six images taken with the rover’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) on Jan. 24, 2017. 

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5. Sliver of Saturn

Cassini peers toward a sliver of Saturn’s sunlit atmosphere while the icy rings stretch across the foreground as a dark band on March 31, 2017. This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 7 degrees below the ring plane. 

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6. Dwarf Planet Ceres 

This image of the limb of dwarf planet Ceres shows a section of the northern hemisphere, as seen by our Dawn mission. Prominently featured is Occator Crater, home of Ceres’ intriguing “bright spots.” The latest research suggests that the bright material in this crater is comprised of salts left behind after a briny liquid emerged from below. 

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7. Martian Crater

This image from our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) shows a crater in the region with the most impressive known gully activity in Mars’ northern hemisphere. Gullies are active in the winter due to carbon dioxide frost, but northern winters are shorter and warmer than southern winters, so there is less frost and less gully activity. 

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8. Dynamic Storm on Jupiter

A dynamic storm at the southern edge of Jupiter’s northern polar region dominates this Jovian cloudscape, courtesy of Juno. This storm is a long-lived anticyclonic oval named North North Temperate Little Red Spot 1. Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran processed this image using data from the JunoCam imager. 

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9. Rings Beyond Saturn’s Sunlit Horizon 

This false-color view from the Cassini spacecraft gazes toward the rings beyond Saturn’s sunlit horizon. Along the limb (the planet’s edge) at left can be seen a thin, detached haze. 

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10. Saturn’s Ocean-Bearing Moon Enceladus

Saturn’s active, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus sinks behind the giant planet in a farewell portrait from Cassini. This view of Enceladus was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 13, 2017. It is among the last images Cassini sent back before its mission came to an end on Sept. 15, after nearly 20 years in space. 

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Applying Wallpaper:
1. Click on the screen resolution you would like to use.
2. Right-click on the image (control-click on a Mac) and select the option ‘Set the Background’ or 'Set as Wallpaper’ (or similar).

Places to look for more of our pictures include solarsystem.nasa.gov/galleries, images.nasa.gov and www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com


The upper atmosphere of the Sun is dominated by plasma filled magnetic loops (coronal loops) whose temperature and pressure vary over a wide range. The appearance of coronal loops follows the emergence of magnetic flux, which is generated by dynamo processes inside the Sun. Emerging flux regions (EFRs) appear when magnetic flux bundles emerge from the solar interior through the photosphere and into the upper atmosphere (chromosphere and the corona). The characteristic feature of EFR is the -shaped loops (created by the magnetic buoyancy/Parker instability), they appear as developing bipolar sunspots in magnetograms, and as arch filament systems in . EFRs interact with pre-existing magnetic fields in the corona and produce small flares (plasma heating) and collimated plasma jets. The GIFs above show multiple energetic jets in three different wavelengths. The light has been colorized in red, green and blue, corresponding to three coronal temperature regimes ranging from ~0.8Mk to 2MK. 

Image Credit: SDO/U. Aberystwyth

Tips For Improving Sleep Hygiene!

We all know that nutrition and fitness are tall, tall pillars of wellness, but both of those are exponentially more difficult without the linchpin–sleep. It goes like this. First, you sleep like absolute donkey turds. Next, If you’ve managed to get to the gym you’re more likely to underperform or you may just succumb to skipping it entirely! Then, you’re more prone to food cravings and your hunger-satiety cues aren’t coming across as clearly. Your irritableness and fatigue make comfort eating seem that more appealing that day. You wonder, “Can you replace sleep with food?” Only very temporarily, and then you’ll be stuck in that loop until you get some shut eye.

We’re all sleeping fewer hours it seems, and there’s reason to believe it plays a crucial role in maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle. Many mental and physical aspects of the body take a hit when we’re running on empty. That’s why sleep is so important! So–here’s a list of some lifestyle adjustments that can make falling asleep a little easier.

Limit What You Do in Your Room: This can be difficult depending on your living arrangements, but the more you can limit your room to just sleeping and being intimate, the more you’ll be able to relax and wind down. Your brain gets the message! If you’re living in a dorm, try to spend wakeful hours in the common areas or at the library. If you’re in a less than ideal home situation and your room is your only haven, try to find activities to keep you out of the house more often. I used to go to the public library and just chill!

Ditch the Phone: Look. I get it. You tell yourself “what if there’s an emergency?” and I totally understand you’d want to be there. Problem is, how many times do you whip out your phone and play a level of that game? How many times do you shoot a quick text or check social? Shoot, how many times do you just glance at your clock and moan about not being asleep yet? I have a solution. Leave it outside the room but within earshot. If you get your 3 AM emergency you can be there but you’ll be significantly less tempted to check it every 5 minutes. If you can go all the way, shut it off. OFF.

Limit Blue Light at Night: About TV. About computers. About phones (again). They emit blue wavelengths of light and these are very stimulating for the brain. Sort of like daylight!  Not only are these entertaining, they wake up the brain. There are various apps and extensions on the market (f.lux) that will change the wavelengths of light to redder hues and I highly recommend them. I’d still advocate against bringing these devices into the bedroom, but if you’re finishing up some homework or responding to an email before bed it may be helpful to use those warmer colors. If for nothing else, it will reduce eyestrain.

Use White Noise: It helps us sleep because the changes in other environmental noise will be less noticeable. Also, anyone who suffers a ringing ear will be driven less to insanity. I’m a light sleeper, a very light sleeper. Events like a toilet flushing upstairs or even just the A/C switching on will wake me up. After buying a white noise machine I have significantly fewer issues with this. I recommend this machine. There are apps as well but I found the noise to be really tinny and unnatural. We’re also trying to use the phone less in the room! Remember? Of course, many people are pretty content with the noise from a fan as well. I personally find that the crappier the fan, the better the white noise. The ol’ faithful $20 Lasko fan is the best white noise IMO.

Avoid Eating Late at Night: Or, whenever “late” is for you. I haven’t forgotten about third shifters! Again, there are circumstances that make this difficult for some to commit to, but if you’re prone to any sort of gastrointestinal turbulence eating close to bedtime can be awfully distracting and uncomfortable. Likewise, eating your last meal a little too early and winding up hungry at bedtime can be as issue for some, so find your Goldilocks!

Make Your Room Cool at Night: I avoid running the A/C during the day, but I’m sure a lot of us find sleeping in a hot room miserable. If I had it my way I’d make it Hoth in my room at night, but that’s a little on the expensive side so I use a little bit of A/C, a fan, and sleep with fewer blankets; at least in the summer. In the winter I just turn the heat down a couple clicks and get to bury myself (yaaaaas). Keep it dark in there, too!

Make Your Bed in the Morning: Keeping your room tidy and the bed made will make for a welcoming and less chaotic environment. There isn’t much to this! We experience the world with all our senses, after all.

Limit Caffeine Use to the Earlier Portion of the Day: OK, so I know there are people who can drink a cup of coffee before bed and pass right out, but I am not one of these people. In fact, if I drink it anytime after about noontime I’m going to be wired and howling with the coyotes. Many recommendations suggest 3-4 PM as an absolute cutoff time, but if you’re more sensitive like I am you may want to consider leaving it to the morning only.

Sleep and Wake at Roughly the Same Time: Routine is everything. There will be times we need to deviate from routine, and that’s fine! Just try not to flip-flop too severely and all the time. Your rhythm will start to associate these times of day with rest and wakefulness.

Stop Drinking Water Roughly Two Hours Before Bed: It’s undeniable that water is the most healthful thing we can put into our bodies; however, if you slam it right before bed you’re setting yourself to need a mighty wee in the early hours of the morning. Limit water intake close to bedtime and take a good wiz before hitting the hay.

A Few Things Worth the Try

  • aromatherapy (especially lavender based blends) 
  • shower before bed (wet hair will lower cranial temperature)
  • melatonin and valerian root
  • chamomile tea (just like water, limit this a few hours before bed to prevent midnight bathroom breaks)

Alright, I had a post on Instagram displaying my treasure trove of Japanese language learning books. I wanted to show off a few of them and talk about all of them. The first photo displays them all (tumblr limited me to 10 photos only, so I’ll discuss some of them without photos, sorry!). Starting from the bottom of the pile:

1. Kanji Power by Tuttle. It’s what you think it is, a kanji workbook. It has a kanji, a mnemonic, some space to practice writing, on'yomi, kun'yomi, stroke order, and some vocabulary/phrases. It has some kanji not covered in my other kanji books.

2. If You Teach Me Japanese, I’ll Teach You English. It’s a strange little book and it’s taking me a while to get the hang of it, but this book was written specifically for language exchanges. Each lesson is done first in Japanese, then again in English. You and your partner serve as the “teacher” in your native language, while you practice that language. So I would read through as the instructor in the English lesson and guide my partner with the scripted dialogues, helping them along the way so that they learn English. They would do vice versa for me with the Japanese. I got this one specifically to aid me in exchanging my language with my partners. They do great with the Japanese and I needed guidance on how to help them with English. So this one isn’t really to learn Japanese, it’s to help me exchange with my Japanese friends.

3. Japanese Step by Step. This is one of the few books that focuses on teaching you SPEAKING Japanese. Most of my books help in reading, writing and I’m having to supplement with Memrise and YouTube for listening and speaking. This book has very easy to understand lessons, starting with syllables not syllabaries. Shows you in English what they’re trying to teach you in Japanese. So it’s almost like learning in parallel, I’m not explaining it well. It’s a really good book, you should just check it out.

4. Beginning Japanese by Yale University Press. This was originally my Dad’s book that he used to teach himself Japanese since he was being stationed there (way back in ye olden days). He very kindly gave it to me. This book also focuses on SPEAKING Japanese, not reading or writing in it. As such, it’s entirely in romaji! Not ideal, but if you just want to focus on speaking the language, this is a good place to start. Very thorough.

5. Reading Japanese by Yale University Press. Same authors as book #4, but not originally my Dad’s. Since this one is focused on READING (hence the title of the book), it is not in entirely in romaji. Whew! What a relief. I just got it today, so I have no feedback other than, I wanted both of these books together. It’s kind of like an entire course at your fingertips.

6. Japanese Kanji for Beginners by Tuttle. Covers JLPT N5 & N4. This is my primary Kanji workbook. I LOVE it. It’s set up pretty much the same as Kanji Power, it has exercises after each lesson so you can practice what you learned. The Kanji Power has the same things, but after a certain number of kanji have been introduced, instead of after each individual lesson. So they differ that way and in that they have different kanji. This book is specifically for JLPT N5/4 whereas Kanji Power is about expanding your kanji.

7. A Japanese Reader by Tuttle (notice the theme?). Pictures 2-4 are about this book. I cannot say enough nice things about this book! The book is split in two; open it like we open all books in the Western Hemisphere and it’s lessons starting with hiragana, open the book the other way and it’s all the reading lessons: from top to bottom and right to left! It’s so cool! The first few elementary readings aren’t actual sentences. They’re just to get you accustomed to the style of reading and the syllabaries (this is where I’m at). The readings get way more advanced though and are excerpts from Japanese literature, some fictional and some non-fictional.

8. A History of Japan. This is another one of Dad’s book that he is lending to me (sadly I don’t get to keep it). I haven’t read it yet but I’m looking forward to it. Granted, it has nothing to do with the language itself, but who here has learned a language without learning anything about the culture, history, and society of the country that speaks the language? Half the point of learning a language is to learn the history and culture of the target language’s country. So I have a book on Japan’s history to supplement the language learning.

9. A Dictionary of Japanese Food by Tuttle. Pictures 5 & 6 are of this book. Just as I stated in the above book, it’s important to know the culture and history of the place whose language you are learning. The “Japanese Kanji for Beginners” book had an exercise in the first lesson involving food. One of the dishes stood out to me because I had no clue what it was “shabu-shabu.” I still don’t know what it is, but now I have a dictionary so I can look it up! If ever I learn how to cook Japanese food, shabu-shabu will be very near the top of the list of things to make and try. The back of the book has some appendices on chopsticks, some ingredients of Japanese food, and food etiquette.

10. The Handbook of Japanese Verbs (picture 7). Verbs seem to be the guts of a sentence in Japanese so I figured it’d be important to learn them a little more in depth than my grammar book goes into. Besides explaining verbs, it has exercises to practice!

11. All About Particles (picture 8). Much like the verb book above, this is all about particles (another very important part of the Japanese language) and also has exercises to help you grasp the concepts. Goes in depth about the particles and actually has sentences in Japanese, literal translations, and English translations. It’s very thorough.

12. Japanese Coursebook by Living Language. Akin to the Yale University Press books that I covered earlier, this book is a complete course for learning how to SPEAK Japanese. As such, it is entirely in romaji but is set up different than the Yale books and has different vocabulary. I use them in conjunction with each other, so that I get the most vocabulary overall.

13. Japanese Grammar by Barron. Pictures 9 & 10 are of this book. This is my absolute favorite book out of them all. Besides being pocket-sized so I can take it just about anywhere with me, it’s a grammar book. I’m not a Grammar Nazi, I’m a Grammarian (one who studies grammar [on purpose]). I read grammar books for my native English and I greatly enjoy grammar for Ancient Greek too (my first foreign language and first true love). All the other books focus on a particular portion of grammar, or the writing system, or speaking. I wanted a book that focused entirely on grammar since I’ve heard it’s so vastly different from English (it’s not THAT different guys). As you can see in the very last picture, the book is printed in two colors. I cannot begin to express how wonderful this is for me. I have Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome (SSS or 3S) and basically what that means is, my eyes don’t work right (duh). They don’t pick up all the wavelengths of light that they’re supposed to. So some colors (and light sources) are harder for me to see and make me very sick trying to look at them. It seems like I have dyslexia but it’s not my brain, it’s just my eyes suck. The added color is much easier on my eyes than all black print on white pages (college was nightmare, in case you wondered).

Last book,

14. Kanji Starter 1. Not a lesson book at all! It has 200 kanji and is essentially a book of mnemonics for them. I use it as a catalog and mark the kanji I’ve mastered from other sources in this book. I also use it as a quick reference when I get suddenly forget a kanji I’ve already learned. That way I don’t have to find the right lesson book and track it down. I got this kanji book before any of the others and it served as the introduction to what i was getting myself into. It made the kanji seem so not scary that by the time I picked up a workbook, kanji was beautiful, logical, and fun. No fear!

Sorry this was so long. I’m on a mobile device so I can’t do the nice “keep reading” breaks or formatting. So it’s just a really long, darn post. But now you know of 14 books you can use for Japanese learning! Also, quick note, all of the books with bar code stickers on them were all purchased form the same site.

ThriftBooks.com has so many books, including rare ones, old, ones, and textbooks, for a fraction of the price. I looked up some of my Tuttle books, one of them was like $19.95 normally (without shipping and tax). On ThriftBooks I got it for $3.50! If your total purchase is over $10 shipping is entirely free too. So if you’re looking for language resources, a new novel, or you’re in college and need textbooks, check the site out because it might save you a boat-load of money.

September 2017 Was 🔥 on the Sun

The Sun started September 2017 with flair, emitting 31 sizable solar flares and releasing several powerful coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, between Sept. 6-10.

Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. 

CMEs are massive clouds of solar material and magnetic fields that erupt from the Sun at incredible speeds. Depending on the direction they’re traveling in, CMEs can spark powerful geomagnetic storms in Earth’s magnetic field.

As always, we and our partners had many missions observing the Sun from both Earth and space, enabling scientists to study these events from multiple perspectives. With this integrated picture of solar activity, scientists can better track the evolution of solar eruptions and work toward improving our understanding of space weather.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-16, or GOES-16, watches the Sun’s upper atmosphere — called the corona — at six different wavelengths, allowing it to observe a wide range of solar phenomena. GOES-16 caught this footage of an X9.3 flare on Sept. 6, 2017. 

This was the most intense flare recorded during the current 11-year solar cycle. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, and so on. GOES also detected solar energetic particles associated with this activity.

Our Solar Dynamics Observatory captured these images of X2.2 and X9.3 flares on Sept. 6, 2017, in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light that shows solar material heated to over one million degrees Fahrenheit.

JAXA/NASA’s Hinode caught this video of an X8.2 flare on Sept. 10, 2017, the second largest flare of this solar cycle, with its X-ray Telescope. The instrument captures X-ray images of the corona to help scientists link changes in the Sun’s magnetic field to explosive solar events like this flare.

Key instruments aboard our Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, include a pair of coronagraphs — instruments that use a metal disk called an occulting disk to study the corona. The occulting disk blocks the Sun’s bright light, making it possible to discern the detailed features of the Sun’s outer atmosphere and track coronal mass ejections as they erupt from the Sun.

On Sept. 9, 2017, STEREO watched a CME erupt from the Sun. The next day, STEREO observed an even bigger CME. The Sept. 10 CME traveled away from the Sun at calculated speeds as high as 7 million mph, and was one of the fastest CMEs ever recorded. The CME was not Earth-directed: It side-swiped Earth’s magnetic field, and therefore did not cause significant geomagnetic activity. Mercury is in view as the bright white dot moving leftwards in the frame.

Like STEREO, ESA/NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, uses a coronagraph to track solar storms. SOHO also observed the CMEs that occurred during Sept. 9-10, 2017; multiple views provide more information for space weather models. As the CME expands beyond SOHO’s field of view, a flurry of what looks like snow floods the frame. These are high-energy particles flung out ahead of the CME at near-light speeds that struck SOHO’s imager.

Our Interface Region Imaging Spectrometer, or IRIS, captured this video on Sept. 10, 2017, showing jets of solar material swimming down toward the Sun’s surface. These structures are sometimes observed in the corona during solar flares, and this particular set was associated with the X8.2 flare of the same day.  

Our Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment, or SORCE, collected the above data on total solar irradiance, the total amount of the Sun’s radiant energy, throughout Sept. 2017. While the Sun produced high levels of extreme ultraviolet light, SORCE actually detected a dip in total irradiance during the month’s intense solar activity. 

A possible explanation for this observation is that over the active regions — where solar flares originate — the darkening effect of sunspots is greater than the brightening effect of the flare’s extreme ultraviolet emissions. As a result, the total solar irradiance suddenly dropped during the flare events. 

Scientists gather long-term solar irradiance data in order to understand not only our dynamic star, but also its relationship to Earth’s environment and climate. We are ready to launch the Total Spectral solar Irradiance Sensor-1, or TSIS-1, this December to continue making total solar irradiance measurements.

The intense solar activity also sparked global aurora on Mars more than 25 times brighter than any previously seen by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, mission. MAVEN studies the Martian atmosphere’s interaction with the solar wind, the constant flow of charged particles from the Sun. These images from MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph show the appearance of bright aurora on Mars during the September solar storm. The purple-white colors show the intensity of ultraviolet light on Mars’ night side before (left) and during (right) the event.

For all the latest on solar and space weather research, follow us on Twitter @NASASun or Facebook.

GOES images are courtesy of NOAA. Hinode images are courtesy of JAXA and NASA. SOHO images are courtesy of ESA and NASA. 

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mcknighty9  asked:

Why’s space black instead of pink?

●﹏● OK, let’s go. First, in relation to pink color, this depends on where the starlight would reflect, for example: “Why is the sky blue here on Earth?”. The daytime sky is blue because the sunlight nearby, beats Earth’s atmosphere molecules and disperses in all directions. The blue color of the sky is the result of this dispersal process. At night, when the part of the Earth is far from the Sun, the space looks black, because there is no source of bright light near, like the Sun, to be spread. If you were on the moon, which has no atmosphere, the sky would be black both at night and day.

So the black color usually signals the absence of light, and most of the universe is empty, the outer space looks black. However if the universe is full of stars, why does not the light from all of them add up to make the whole sky bright all the time? It turns out that if the universe was infinitely large and infinitely old, then we would expect the night sky to be bright from the light of all those stars. Every time you look in space you would be looking at a star. Yet we know from experience that space is black! This paradox is known as the Olbers’ Paradox. It is a paradox because of the apparent contradiction between our expectation that the night sky is bright and our experience that it is black.

Many different explanations have been put forward to resolve Olbers’ Paradox. The best solution at present is that the universe is not infinitely old; it is somewhere around 13,8 billion years old. That means we can only see objects as far as the light can travel in 13,8 billion years. The light from stars farther than that has not yet had time to reach us and can not contribute to making the sky bright.

This is an artist’s concept of the metric expansion of space, where space (including hypothetical non-observable portions of the universe) is represented at each time by the circular sections. Note on the left the dramatic expansion (not to scale) occurring in the inflationary epoch, and at the center the expansion acceleration. The scheme is decorated with WMAP images on the left and with the representation of stars at the appropriate level of development. Credit: NASA 

Another reason that the sky may not be bright with the visible light of all the stars is because the light source is moving away from you, the wavelength of that light is longer the light from stars that are moving away from us will become shifted towards red, and may shift so far that it is no longer visible at all. (Note: You hear the same effect when an ambulance passes you, and the pitch of the siren gets lower as the ambulance travels away from you; this effect is called the Doppler Effect).

Requested by @catsupy

Here at the Scientific Pokedex, we like dealing with scientifically-proven facts. Here is one such fact for you: Cutiefly is flippin’ adorable.

This is one of those rare pokémon that’s straight-up ripped off from our world. Cutiefly is the “Bee Fly” pokémon, and Bee Flies are the Bombyliidae family in our world:

Bee Flies are in fact flies, not bees. They are also fuzzy and adorable. Like bees, they feed on nectar and pollen. Looking like a bee works to their advantage: bee flies will infiltrate bee nests, eating the bee’s hard-earned storage of nectar and honey. They also eat the bee’s eggs, replacing them with their own bee fly eggs for the bee mom to raise unsuspectingly. 

The pokédex states that Cutiefly can “sense auras” of flowers, and because of that can they tell which flowers are about to bloom. Usually when a pokédex entry mentions the word “aura”, things start to slip scientifically. In Cutiefly’s instance, this is not the case at all: real bees (and bee flies) have special eyes that show them a lot more about flowers than we can see.

Human eyes, as you might know, can only detect a small wavelength range of light. All other kinds of light–infrared, radio, microwave, x-ray etc. – are invisible to us. This is not the case for bees (and bee flies): A bee’s eye can see a different wavelength range than us, and therefore they can see more “colors”. Specifically, they can see farther into the ultraviolet:

Flowers are colorful enough as they are to us, but it turns out flowers are even more colorful in the ultraviolet. Specifically, flowers “light up” close to the center: basically a big neon sign saying “the nectar is right here!” for creatures that can see it. Here’s a few examples of what flowers might look like to Cutiefly:

Beyond this, bees can also sense electric fields. Pollen has a slight negative charge to it which creates an electric field, so when a flower has a lot of pollen it will light up even more on a bee’s radar. A flower has a lot of pollen when it is in full bloom and hasn’t been visited by a bee yet. With this, bees can “sense” when a flower is in its prime, just as Cutiefly’s pokédex entry suggests.

Cutiefly is a Bee Fly, with special eyes that can see ultraviolet light. Because of this, Cutiefly can sense when a flower is rich in nectar and pollen.

The magnetic field lines between a pair of active regions formed a beautiful set of swaying arches, seen in this footage captured by our Solar Dynamics Observatory on April 24-26, 2017. 

These arches, which form a connection between regions of opposite magnetic polarity, are visible in exquisite detail in this wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light. Extreme ultraviolet light is typically invisible to our eyes, but is colorized here in gold. 

Take a closer look: https://go.nasa.gov/2pGgYZt

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