Caltech sees supernovae, black holes ‘Ned Stark’ and ‘Jon Snow’ shredding stars

A new astronomical project, the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), is surveying the sky from California Institute of Technology (Caltech)’s  Palomar Observatory near San Diego, California, and has released its first set of results since it began operations in March 2018. The instrument has observed more than one billion of the stars in the Milky Way and has made a wealth of discoveries, from 50 small near-Earth asteroids to more than 1,100 supernovae.

The ZTF also captured an image of the Andromeda galaxy, the nearest galaxy to our Milky Way at 2.5 million light-years away. Through the combination of three bands of light captured by the ZTF, a composite image was created which shows Andromeda in all is glory:

zwicky transient facility first data andromeda ztf
This new composite image of the Andromeda galaxy was made by combining three bands of visible light captured by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). The image covers 2.9 square degrees of sky, which is one-sixteenth of ZTF’s full field of view. ZTF/D. Goldstein and R. Hurt/Caltech

The ZFT camera made use of the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar to observe the Northern skies in great detail. The camera captures a large amount of the sky in one image — more than 240 times the size of the full moon — so it can pick up rare or brief cosmic events like passing asteroids or exploding supernovae.

This means that scientists can study dramatic events like the destruction of stars: “With the ZTF Northern Sky Survey, we are conducting a systematic study of transients in the nuclei of galaxies, allowing us to catch stars in the act of being ripped apart by supermassive black holes and capture active galactic nuclei ‘turning on’ from a previously quiescent state,” Suvi Gezari, an assistant professor of astronomy at UMD, said in a statement. “We expect to yield enough of these events in the three-year survey to transform our understanding of accretion onto supermassive black holes lurking in the centers of galaxies.”

One of the discoveries made by the ZTF is observing two black holes which are shredding nearby stars. If a star passes too close to a black hole it can experience “tidal disruption” in which the enormous gravity of the black hole stretches the star until it is destroyed.

The team working on tidal disruption have been having some fun with their findings too, by ditching the formal technical names for these black holes: “We decided to nickname them Ned Stark and Jon Snow, after ‘Game of Thrones’ characters,” Matthew Graham, ZTF project scientist at Caltech, said. Let’s hope the black holes survive for longer than their namesake characters.

The findings are published in seven papers in the journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and can also be found online.

Computing

If graphics cards don’t need it, what’s the point of PCIExpress 4?

AMD's upcoming Zen 2-based, Ryzen 3000 CPUs are backwards compatible, but they still have a new chipset, the X570, that introduces PCIE 4.0. The new standard has more bandwidth than anything needs, but it's still useful.
Deals

Save up to $50 on Amazon’s Kindle Oasis ebook readers and Kindle Paperwhite

Ebook readers that are optimized for outdoors are more prevalent than ever. In time for summer, Amazon has knocked $50 off the prices of the 8 GB and 32 GB Kindle Oasis ebook readers. Start the next chapter of your ebook reading experience…
Emerging Tech

Hubble captures our galactic twin, the barred spiral galaxy NGC 7773

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a new image of a picture-perfect galaxy called NGC 7773 which is located in the constellation of Pegasus, 357 million light-years away from Earth.
Mobile

Escape reality with the best augmented reality apps for Android and iOS

Augmented reality apps have come a long way in the past few years, and there are more of them available to consumers than ever before. Check out our top picks for the best augmented reality apps for Android and iOS.
Emerging Tech

Uber Eats’ drone delivery service could see Big Macs hit speeds of 70 mph

Uber Eats is testing meal delivery using drones. The company wants to start a commercial delivery service using the drone this summer, but it still needs permission from regulators.
Emerging Tech

A giant new solar farm in Texas will harness the sun’s rays to … brew beer?

Brewing beer is surprisingly energy intensive. With a giant new solar farm in Texas, the world’s largest beer manufacturer promises to brew 100% of its beverages using renewable energy.
Emerging Tech

This lifesaving wearable could diagnose strokes more accurately

A new breakthrough wearable device uses two light measurement techniques to track the body's blood circulation — and accurately predict deadly strokes in the process. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Sloshed drone pilots in Japan can now be punished with jail time

If you're flying a drone in Japan, better not be sloshed when you send your bird skyward. A new law passed this week could see drunk drone pilots sent to jail for up to a year or hit with a hefty fine.
Emerging Tech

Mount Everest is now home to the world’s highest weather station

A team of scientists has created a new record with the installation of the world’s highest weather station atop Everest. Data from the expedition will help researchers better understand the effect of climate change on the region.
Emerging Tech

This drone with hands looks like a nightmare straight out of Black Mirror

This unlikely drone-with-hands creation is the work of Federico Ciccarese, the brains behind YouBionic, a bionic hand project that has evolved far beyond its original brief. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

This crazy-looking robot uses microspines on its legs to climb up walls

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have built a bioinspired robot, which uses microspines on its feet to grip onto rough surfaces. This allows it to climb up very steep gradients. Check it out.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Florida’s autonomous vehicle law, E3 updates, and more

On this episode of DT Live, we take a look at the biggest trending stories in tech, including Florida allowing fully autonomous vehicles on the road, Atari’s new gaming system, E3 updates, high-speed rail, and more.
Emerging Tech

Got $400 million to burn? The world’s largest airplane is up for sale

Stratolaunch, the world's largest airplane, is up for sale. All it'll cost you is $400 million dollars. The brainchild of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the plane was supposed to make space travel more accessible and affordable.
Emerging Tech

Ex astris, scientia: Star Trek logo spotted on the surface of Mars

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been boldly going to Mars and capturing images since 2005, and now it has spotted something where no man has gone before: a structure on the planet's surface which will look familiar to Trekkies.