X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/K. Poppenhaeger et al; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss
X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/K. Poppenhaeger et al; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss

Scientists Discover 5400-MPH Winds on an Exoplanet

X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/K. Poppenhaeger et al; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss
X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/K. Poppenhaeger et al; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss
Artist’s impression showing the HD 189733 system, containing a Sun-like star orbited by HD 189733b, an exoplanet about the size of Jupiter.

Hold onto your hat: Scientists have discovered winds on an exoplanet that are 20 times faster than any gust ever detected on Earth. These megafast winds race across HD 189733b at 5400 mph—seven times the speed of sound. 

As they published this week in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, astronomers from the University of Warwick discovered the winds on HD 189733b—a "hot Jupiter" 63 light-years away that is more than 30 times closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun and orbits its star once every 2.2 days—has winds that flow around its surface at a speedy pace of more than 2 km per second. This is the first time a weather system on a planet outside of Earth’s solar system has been directly measured and mapped, the researchers say.

They used high-resolution spectroscopy to detect the sodium absorption in its atmosphere. As parts of the planet's atmosphere move towards or away from Earth, the Doppler effect changes its wavelength, allowing the velocity to be measured.

This technique could be used in the hunt for Earth-like planets. "We are tremendously excited to have found a way to map weather systems on distant planets," study co-author Peter Wheatley, of the University of Warwick’s Astrophysics Group, explained in a press statement. "As we develop the technique further we will be able to study wind flows in increasing detail and make weather maps of smaller planets. Ultimately this technique will allow us to image the weather systems on Earth-like planets."

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MARS Bioimaging
The World's First Full-Color 3D X-Rays Have Arrived
MARS Bioimaging
MARS Bioimaging

The days of drab black-and-white, 2D X-rays may finally be over. Now, if you want to see what your broken ankle looks like in all its full-color, 3D glory, you can do so thanks to new body-scanning technology. The machine, spotted by BGR, comes courtesy of New Zealand-based manufacturer MARS Bioimaging.

It’s called the MARS large bore spectral scanner, and it uses spectral molecular imaging (SMI) to produce images that are fully colorized and in 3D. While visually appealing, the technology isn’t just about aesthetics—it could help doctors identify issues more accurately and provide better care.

Its pixel detectors, called “Medipix” chips, allow the machine to identify colors and distinguish between materials that look the same on regular CT scans, like calcium, iodine, and gold, Buzzfeed reports. Bone, fat, and water are also differentiated by color, and it can detect details as small as a strand of hair.

“It gives you a lot more information, and that’s very useful for medical imaging. It enables you to do a lot of diagnosis you can’t do otherwise,” Phil Butler, the founder/CEO of MARS Bioimaging and a physicist at the University of Canterbury, says in a video. “When you [have] a black-and-white camera photographing a tree with its leaves, you can’t tell whether the leaves are healthy or not. But if you’ve got a color camera, you can see whether they’re healthy leaves or diseased.”

The images are even more impressive in motion. This rotating image of an ankle shows "lipid-like" materials (like cartilage and skin) in beige, and soft tissue and muscle in red.

The technology took roughly a decade to develop. However, MARS is still working on scaling up production, so it may be some time before the machine is available commercially.

[h/t BGR]

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ESA/Herschel/SPIRE; M. W. L. Smith et al 2017
Look Closely—Every Point of Light in This Image Is a Galaxy
ESA/Herschel/SPIRE; M. W. L. Smith et al 2017
ESA/Herschel/SPIRE; M. W. L. Smith et al 2017

Even if you stare closely at this seemingly grainy image, you might not be able to tell there’s anything to it besides visual noise. But it's not static—it's a sliver of the distant universe, and every little pinprick of light is a galaxy.

As Gizmodo reports, the image was produced by the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory, a space-based infrared telescope that was launched into orbit in 2009 and was decommissioned in 2013. Created by Herschel’s Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE) and Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS), it looks out from our galaxy toward the North Galactic Pole, a point that lies perpendicular to the Milky Way's spiral near the constellation Coma Berenices.

A close-up of a view of distant galaxies taken by the Herschel Space Observatory
ESA/Herschel/SPIRE; M. W. L. Smith et al 2017

Each point of light comes from the heat of dust grains between different stars in a galaxy. These areas of dust gave off this radiation billions of years before reaching Herschel. Around 1000 of those pins of light belong to galaxies in the Coma Cluster (named for Coma Berenices), one of the densest clusters of galaxies in the known universe.

The longer you look at it, the smaller you’ll feel.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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