[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
73°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
January 23
1882 - Author Helen Hunt Jackson arrives at Rancho Camulos; inspiration for "Ramona" novel [story]


| Thursday, Jan 11, 2018
CSUN Disk StudyA team of NASA scientists that includes CSUN astronomy professor Wladimir Lyra, has discovered evidence that disk patterns, often indicators of the formation of new planets, can form on their own. Image courtesy of NASA.

Peering far out into the universe, astronomers and astrophysicists look for markers — indicators such as patterns in disks of dust — that might indicate the formation of new planets. Recently, however, a team of NASA scientists that includes California State University, Northridge astronomy professor Wladimir Lyra, has discovered evidence that these disk patterns can form on their own, fed by gas and dust, without the presence of planets.

“In 2013, we discovered that there are features we can explain that do not require planets,” said Lyra, who is also an astrophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena. “The hypothesis before that was that if you saw anything out of the ordinary, you attributed that to planets. We showed that the interaction between gas and dust by itself can create rings and arcs. Our hypothesis is now one of the leading contenders.”

Wladimir Lyra

Wladimir Lyra

Alexander Richert, a doctoral student at Penn State University, is the lead author on the new study, which builds on previous simulations created by Lyra and Marc Kuchner, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Kuchner presented the findings of the new study on Jan. 11 at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, D.C. The study includes a new factor in disk pattern formation: radiation pressure created by starlight.

“We’re exploring what we think is the leading alternative contender to the planet hypothesis, which is that there’s an instability in the gas and the dust that makes a disk naturally form the patterns,” Kuchner said.

The instability occurs when high-energy ultraviolet starlight strips electrons from clumps of dust grains. Those electrons collide with and heat nearby gas. As the gas warms, pressure increases and traps more dust, which in turn heats more gas. Lyra and his collaborators called the resulting cycle photoelectric instability (PeI). Simulations created by Richert, Lyra and Kuchner show it can eventually create some of the patterns associated with planets.

Exoplanet hunters watch stars for a few key signs that there might be planets in orbit, such as changes in the color and brightness of the starlight. For young stars, which are often surrounded by disks of dust and gas, scientists look for patterns in the debris that might be caused by an orbiting world, such as rings, arcs and spirals.

“Carl Sagan used to say, ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,’” Lyra said. “I feel we are sometimes too quick to jump to the idea that the structures we see are caused by planets. That is what I consider an extraordinary claim. We need to rule out everything else before we claim that.

“For a long time, people were assuming there were planets even though they didn’t see planets,” he continued. “We also observed huge spiral patterns, like you see in galaxies – those beautiful arms. Alex [Richert] showed that those spirals can be reproduced.”

Lyra and Richert began their collaboration in 2013 while Lyra was a postdoctoral scholar at JPL. Later that year, Lyra and Kuchner found that PeI could explain the rings seen in disks. The researchers modeled how radiation pressure and PeI can affect the movement of dust and gas when working in tandem. They found that the way PeI manifests in different patterns also depends on the physical properties of the dust and gas.

The 2013 simulations of PeI explained how dust and gas can interact to create rings and arcs, such as those observed around the star HD 1414569A. By including radiation pressure, the team’s 2017 models show how these two factors can create spirals like the ones observed around the same star.

“We are advancing the goal of turning these observations into probes [for] planets,” Lyra said. “We are also helping to find planets, because we are improving on our theoretical understanding — to finding planets and isolating planet signatures from the noise.

“As with many theories, the way we built it has been incremental. With this paper, we’ve added another layer.”

Lyra, Kuchner and Richert said that next, they hope to factor in other variables in their simulations, such as turbulence and different types of dust and gas, as well as how those factors might contribute to pattern formation around different types of stars.

Lyra noted that one of his graduate students at CSUN is working on these models, exploring what happens when a gas planet interacts with dust.

“This has been very rewarding, because we are [building] a theory from scratch,” Lyra said of the work with his student researchers and NASA colleagues. “Sometimes we find something entirely new. With the rings, it was exactly that.

“In a way, it is a bit like sailing as an explorer,” he said. “Columbus sailed west to reach India, and he found the Americas. It is a bit like that — you set sail and you think you know where you’re going, and you end up at a completely new place.”

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


HIGHER EDUCATION LINKS
LOCAL COLLEGE HEADLINES
Tuesday, Jan 23, 2018
Disney/Pixar's "Coco" earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature Film, a film which CalArts alumnus Adrian Molina co-wrote and co-directed along with Lee Unkrich.
Monday, Jan 22, 2018
College of the Canyons Canyon Country Campus officials will break ground on the Science Center on Wednesday, Jan. 24 at 1:30 p.m.
Monday, Jan 22, 2018
It’s not too late to register for the College of the Canyons spring 2018 semester, which will run from Monday, Feb. 5 to Thursday, June 1.
Thursday, Jan 18, 2018
Following in the footsteps of her grandfather, dad, mom and several other family members, Erin Oxhorn-Gilpin always wanted to be a teacher.
Thursday, Jan 18, 2018
Kevin Young has been selected as the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) 2018 Katie Jacobson Writer-in-Residence. Young will conduct workshops with CalArts students in the MFA Creative Writing Program and present public readings, which will be held at CalArts on Feb. 15 at 7:00 p.m. and at REDCAT in Downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 16 at 8:30 p.m.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra will swing into the Santa Clarita Valley for a special one-night-only event to be held at West Ranch High School on Monday, Mar. 19 at 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 19: Glenn Miller Orchestra at West Ranch High School
Back by popular demand, Princess Cruises is offering up to 35 percent off select sailings during the redux of the line’s “Exclusively Caribbean Sale,” on select Spring 2018 Caribbean cruises departing March through May 2018.
Princess Cruises “Exclusively Caribbean Sale” Underway
From the Facebook Page of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriffs Station:
Upgrades at SCV Sheriffs Dispatch; Non-Emergency Calls May Be Delayed
Disney/Pixar's "Coco" earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature Film, a film which CalArts alumnus Adrian Molina co-wrote and co-directed along with Lee Unkrich.
CalArts Alum’s Film “Coco” Earns Oscar Nomination
Friends of the Santa Clarita Public Library will hold Antique Appraisal Day on Feb. 10, from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at the Old Town Newhall Library Community Room.
Feb. 10: Antique Appraisal Day at Old Town Newhall Library
1882 - Author Helen Hunt Jackson arrives at Rancho Camulos; inspiration for "Ramona" novel [story]
A Castaic man was charged with attempted murder and assault for allegedly trying to set his ex-girlfriend on fire in one of three domestic violence incidents in the SCV Friday and Saturday.
Man Allegedly Tries to Kill Ex-Girlfriend by Setting Her on Fire
College of the Canyons Canyon Country Campus officials will break ground on the Science Center on Wednesday, Jan. 24 at 1:30 p.m.
Jan. 24: Science Center Groundbreaking at COC Canyon Country Campus
The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley has named Canyon High School sophomore Lluvia Partida the 2018 Youth of the Year.
Lluvia Partida Named SCV Boys and Girls Club 2018 Youth of the Year
The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce will host five grand openings for local businesses in February 2018 - Fantastic Sams, Bodhi Leaf Coffee, Kaiser Permanente, Farmers Insurance and Open Trails E-Bikes.
February: SCV Chamber Hosts 5 Grand Openings
California State Parks is taking reservations for the spring tour season at Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park in Tehachapi, site of a Kawaiisu Native American village.
Reservations Open for Tours at Tehachapi Native American Village Site
The Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve will be open March 1 through May 13 (Mother’s Day) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends.
March 1: California Poppy Reserve Center Opens in Antelope Valley
The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve’s two-day volunteer training for the 2018 spring wildflower season will be held on February 3 and February 10, both Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Feb. 3, Feb. 10: Poppy Reserve Volunteer Training for 2018 Wildflower Season
The 2017 Kosmont-Rose Institute Cost of Doing Business Survey again ranked Santa Clarita among the best cities for doing business in Southern California.
Survey: Santa Clarita Among County’s Best in Cost of Doing Business
Traffic on McBean Parkway between Magic Mountain Parkway and Valencia Boulevard in Valencia is being delayed intermittently between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. today due to filming involving a Cessna airplane that will land at the Valencia Country Club.
Small Plane Landings for Movie Shoot in Valencia Until 4 p.m. Today
Adam Rubio's game-winning RBI single in the eighth inning resulted in TMU's 5-4 win over Marymount California University Saturday.
Mustangs Rally to Beat MCU in the Eighth
With Robert Winslow on the mound, TMU won 13-0 over visiting Marymount California University at Master's in the second game of Saturday's double-header.
Master’s Baseball Team Wraps Opening Series in Dominating Fashion
The No. 4 Mustangs men's basketball team scored a 74-71 win over Westmont before a capacity crowd Saturday in the team's 18th straight victory, and fifth straight to open Golden State Athletic Conference play.
Master’s Holds off Westmont for 18th Straight Win
Hannah Forrar scored 16 points Saturday night but The Master's University women's basketball team still lost to Westmont 62-55.
Westmont Rises Over Mustangs 62-56
It’s not too late to register for the College of the Canyons spring 2018 semester, which will run from Monday, Feb. 5 to Thursday, June 1.
Not Too Late for COC Spring Registration
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies caught and arrested two men and two women from Bakersfield allegedly using credit cards stolen in Santa Clarita to purchase items at a Centre Pointe business.
4 Alleged Credit Card Thieves Arrested on Multiple Charges
Caltrans has reopened U.S. Highway 101 in between Carpinteria and Santa Barbara after nearly a nearly two-week closure due to mudslides.
Caltrans Reopens Highway 101 from Carpinteria to Santa Barbara
A 38-year-old man was arrested on charges including theft and forgery in Stevenson Ranch early Thursday morning.
Man Booked for Alleged Theft, Forgery in Stevenson Ranch
L.A. County health officials have extended a Cold Weather Alert for the Santa Clarita Valley through Monday night due to the National Weather Service’s forecast for low temperatures.
SCV Cold Weather Alert Extended Through Tonight
In the ninth inning Friday, with Master's well on its way to a 15-7 season-opening win over Marymount California University, Coach Monte Brooks sent Josh Robison to the plate if for no other reason than to see what would happen.
TMU’s Robison Hits 3 Homers in Season-Opening Win
Here is the Castaic/Val Verde public safety and crime information report from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station for the week of January 1, 2018
Crime Blotter: Theft, Grand Theft Auto in Castaic-Val Verde
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck abruptly announced his retirement on Friday, capping off an eight-year stint leading one of the largest metropolitan police forces in America.
L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck Abruptly Announces Retirement
1839 - Gov. Juan B. Alvarado gives most of SCV to Mexican Army Lt. Antonio del Valle. [story]
1914 - Signal newspaper owner-editor Scott Newhall born in San Francisco [story]
1993 - Hart High grad Dee Dee Myers (1979) becomes first female White House press secretary [story]
Traffic on McBean Parkway between Magic Mountain Parkway and Valencia Boulevard will be delayed intermittently between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday, January 22 due to filming involving a Cessna airplane that will land at the Valencia Country Club.
Jan. 22: Filming in Valencia to Prompt Street Closures
Attorneys Brian Koegle and David Poole of Santa Clarita Valley law firm Poole & Shaffery, LLP will provide insight on legal matters affecting California businesses at the Valley Industry Association's February luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on February 20 starting at 11:45 a.m.
Feb. 20: VIA Luncheon, 2018 Employment Law Update
Oak Hills Educational Foundation and Oak Hills PTA will be hosting their annual science fair at Oak Hills School in Valencia in the form of an exciting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Expo event on Jan. 23rd-26th.
Jan. 26: Oaks Hills STEM Expo
2017 was an exceptional year for the Santa Clarita Valley economy, and 2018 promises even more positive growth.
Live, Work, Play in SCV: All to Improve in 2018
Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation Mythbusters tackle a tough and persistent question: Is growing a community a good thing?
SCV EDC Mythbusters: Why Growth is Good
The nonprofit SCV Mayor’s Committee For Employment of Individuals with Disabilities will host its second annual Educate-Empower-Employ Recognition Luncheon at COC on Thursday, February 22.
Feb. 22: SCV Mayor’s Committee Annual Luncheon, Fundraiser