Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Channel Catalog


Channel Description:

SKYE on AOL

older | 1 | .... | 175 | 176 | (Page 177) | 178 | 179 | .... | 204 | newer

    0 0

    Saturday, March 15, 2014

    A dead red-breasted merganser duck sits on an examine table at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's wildlife health unit on Thursday, March 6, 2014, in Delmar, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    DELMAR, New York (AP) - The Niagara River corridor from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario is renowned as a spectacular winter haven for hundreds of thousands of water birds. But this year's bitterly cold season has made it notable for something else: dead ducks.

    Biologists say carcasses began piling up by the hundreds in early January after the plunging temperatures started icing over nearly the entire Great Lakes, preventing the ducks from getting to the minnows that are their main source of food. Necropsies on dozens of birds have confirmed the cause: starvation.

    "All have empty stomachs. They're half the weight they should be," said Connie Adams, a biologist in the state Department of Environmental Conservation's Buffalo office who has personally seen 950 dead birds.

    "This is unprecedented. Biologists who've worked here for 35 years have never seen anything like this," she said. "We've seen a decline in tens of thousands in our weekly waterfowl counts."

    It's a phenomenon that has been seen elsewhere along the Great Lakes, with news reports of diving ducks and other waterfowl turning up dead by the hundreds along the southern part of Lake Michigan. They've also been found in Lake St. Clair between Lakes Erie and Huron.

    "It's a hard winter for ducks, like everything else," said Russ Mason, wildlife director with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

    Most of the dead ducks seen in the upstate New York are red-breasted mergansers, which breed in northern Canada and Alaska and come south for the winter to the Great Lakes region. In most years, there are periods of freezing and thawing, providing enough breaks in the ice for them to dive for minnows.

    But this winter, it's been so bitterly cold for so long that the ice had pushed across 92.2 percent of the Great Lakes' surface area earlier this month, according to federal monitors, just short of the record 94.7 percent set in 1979.

    Biologists say the Niagara River also has ice extending up to 100 yards (meters) off shore, creating a shelf where minnows and shiners can hide.

    There is evidence some waterfowl gave up and tried to fly farther south but were too weak to do so. Dead birds have been seen along shorelines, on docks and on the ice, their carcasses feasted upon by gulls and bald eagles.

    Two weeks ago, Adams said, there were 240,000 water birds in her area's weekly count. Last week, there were 43,000. It's unknown how many birds - which also included such species as scaup, canvasbacks and grebes - migrated elsewhere and how many died.

    At the DEC's Wildlife Health Unit near Albany, biologist Joe Okoniewski has refrigerators stuffed with bags of red-breasted mergansers sent by wildlife biologists on Lakes Erie and Ontario. The diving ducks are black and white with a rusty speckled breast, orange bill and an iridescent green head with a shaggy crest on the back.

    "The skin is stuck tight to the body wall because there's no layer of fat underneath," Okoniewski said, running a scalpel along the breastbone of a dead merganser. The gizzard and intestine were empty, except for a few normal parasites.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 15 Truly Bizarre Creatures of the Deep
    Mola Mola

     

    Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

    In this file photo, a plow at the Capitol clears snow in Washington. The region is due to be hit by another storm on Monday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Spring officially starts on Thursday, but Mother Nature will bring another blast of winter weather from Missouri to Delaware before the seasons change.

    A winter full of nasty snow and ice will not end quietly as a gathering storm across the southern Plains on Saturday slides east and collides with a fresh cold air mass on Sunday into Monday.

    While the focus initially will be on severe weather, a wintry mess will quickly unfold into Monday.

    As yet another push of cold air drives southward across the Midwest and Great Lakes, moisture will surge northward. A swath of snow and sleet is expected to develop from Missouri eastward along the Ohio River on Sunday.

    While the precipitation may start as a brief period of rain, the arrival of cold air should allow the majority of the precipitation to fall as snow or sleet in cities such as Springfield and St. Louis, Mo., Louisville, Ky., and Cincinnati, Ohio.

    East of the Appalachians, the most treacherous conditions are expected on Sunday night through the morning commute on Monday as temperatures fall below freezing.

    Snow and ice should extend along the Ohio River and then across the Mason-Dixon Line by Monday morning and even reach places as far south as the North Carolina/Virginia border.

    Most places in this band can expect enough snow to shovel with some spots in the mountains of West Virginia and Virginia picking up around a half foot of fresh snow.

    Since much of the snow is forecast to fall at night in locations such as Philadelphia, Pa., Baltimore, Md., Washington, D.C., and Charleston, W.Va., roads can quickly become slick and snow covered. Conditions for Monday morning's commute will be poor.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center
    Severe Storms Threaten Texas to Georgia
    AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Center

    Fortunately, a combination of a higher sun angle in March and temperatures climbing above freezing on Monday afternoon will allow for improving conditions.

    Farther north, snow may graze New York City for the St. Patrick's Day parade on Monday morning. The cold, dry air centered over the Northeast is expected to keep the heaviest snow south of the region.

    This latest storm comes just days after a taste of spring arrived in the mid-Atlantic and Ohio River Valley. Temperatures reached into the 70s from North Carolina to Maryland last week.

    "It's the typical roller-coaster ride of March," AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek said. "March is notorious for huge temperature swings."

    In the wake of the winter weather, milder weather will return by Wednesday.

    AccuWeather.com video detailing weather across the Northeast.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 15 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

    Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

    The Chicago River being dyed green ahead of the St. Patrick's Day parade in Chicago, Saturday, March 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

    CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago River is glowing a bright emerald green Saturday as the city kicks off its St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

    Thousands of cheering onlookers clustered along downtown bridges as members of Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union Local 130 began dumping containers of dye into the river from motorboats Saturday morning. The annual tradition began at 9:30 a.m. and immediately precedes the St. Patrick's Day parade.

    The union has done the dyeing since 1962. Organizers had feared that large chunks of ice would impede the process, but recent warm temperatures kept the river clear. The hue typically lasts about six to 12 hours.

    The parade began at noon. The route winds through downtown and ends at the landmark Buckingham Fountain.

    A second parade on the city's South Side takes place Sunday.


    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Global St. Patrick's Day Celebrations, 2014

     

    Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0

    Sunday, March 17, 2014

    The band of our Milky Way galaxy can be seen along with planet Venus over light-polluted skies above Singapore in this image taken by astrophotographer Justin Ng on Feb. 28, 2014. (Justin Ng | www.justinngphoto.com)

    An avid night sky photographer proves the naysayers wrong with this "impossible" single-exposure image and video of the Milky Way and bright planet Venus rising over the light-polluted skies of Singapore.

    "My dream to capture the beautiful Milky Way galaxy in Singapore has finally come true this morning after the monsoon season is over," night sky photographer Justin Ng told Space.com in an email. He captured this single-exposure shot on Feb. 28, 2014 at 6:11 a.m. local time. "Singapore is known for its heavy light pollution and many people believe that it's impossible to shoot stars and Milky Way in Singapore."

    Ng made a video of the Milky Way and Venus over Singapore as proof of the feat.

    Dense light pollution is apparent in the photo near the horizon, just below the Milky Way. Glowing planet Venus is visible toward the center of the shot, above the lone tree. [See more of Justin Ng's amazing night sky photography here]

    "This image aims to prove the popular belief wrong and I hope to inspire more astrophotographers residing in heavily light polluted cities to try to capture these 'impossible' images," Ng said.

    You can also see Ng's video of the Milky Way from Singapore on Vimeo here: http://vimeo.com/87933500

    The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy appearing as a dazzling band of light in the night sky. It comprises approximately 400 billion stars and stretches between 100,000 and 120,000 light-years in diameter. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).A massive black hole billions of times the size of the sun lies at the center of the galaxy.

    To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by Space.com readers, visit our astrophotography archive.

    Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

    Follow Space.com on Twitter @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook & Google+. Original story on Space.com.

    Copyright 2014 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mind-Blowing New Photos from Space

     

    Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0

    Sunday, March 16, 2014
    Rush hour traffic drives through minor street flooding in Montgomery, Ala., Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. Heavy rains have forced officials to close roads and school systems in south Alabama, and more storms are on the way. Downpours left roads covered with water in the southeastern corner of the state, and schools were closed in Geneva and Wilcox counties on Tuesday because of flooding. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
    In this file photo, a drenching rain is shown flooding the streets of Montgomery, Alabama. The region will get powerful thunderstorms today. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    It's shaping up to be a wet and stormy end to the weekend across the Southeast as a low pressure system tracks over the region.

    While rain from this system will bring the risk of flash flooding, some stronger thunderstorms that develop can produce gusty winds up to 65 mph and possibly spin up a few brief tornadoes.

    Some travel disruptions are expected due to the rain and thunderstorms, including those around the cities of Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Montgomery and Mobile, Ala.; and Tallahassee, Fla.

    If you plan on being in this area on Sunday, you should keep an eye to the sky for quick changes in the weather and have a backup plan in the case that you encounter a severe thunderstorm.

    While areas farther north will likely not receive any thunderstorms, a soaking rain is expected throughout much of Sunday and into Sunday night.

    This includes Bristol, Tenn., where thousands of NASCAR fans have gathered for this week's race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

    Widespread flooding does not appear to be a concern with this system. However, localized flash flooding is still possible, especially in low lying and poor drainage areas.

    RELATED:
    2014 Forecast: Severe Storm and Tornado Threat to Spike Later Than Usual
    Rain Set to Start for NASCAR Race Sunday
    Southeast Interactive Radar

    Much of the moisture associated with this system will move off the East Coast by Monday, but enough will remain in place to deliver some rain and drizzle from southern Alabama to North Carolina.

    By the end of Monday, it is possible for some areas to have received over 2 inches of rain from the storm. The areas most likely to receive this substantial amount of rain include southern Georgia and the Florida Panhandle.

    Drier weather will make a return across the region heading into midweek with only a few showers around the Carolinas.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos from 2013
    Lightning Hits the Grand Canyon

     

    Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0
    0 0

    Monday, March 17, 2014

    Skiers at Bretton Woods behind the Mount Washington Hotel, Saturday, March 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    With the official start to spring just a few days away, ski resorts around the United States are preparing for the end of their seasons.

    For areas from the Adirondacks to northern New England, AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Dave Dombek said that many recent rounds of fresh snows could keep some resorts open well into April.

    "They've had a lot of fresh snow recently on top of a good base from earlier in the season," Dombek said.

    Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire is reporting 108 inches this season, with 9 inches of recent snow. As a result, 64 of their 66 trails are currently open. Nearby Loon Mountain in Lincoln, N.H., is reporting 19 inches of new snow since March 11.

    Farther south in the mid-Atlantic states, however, Dombek said they are not receiving the same high volumes of fresh snow. Canaan Valley Mountain Resort in West Virginia has closed their snowshoeing and cross country trails, stating that "Trails [are] unavailable due to lack of natural snow."

    The recent storm that swept from the Midwest to the Northeast fell as mostly rain across the Appalachians with some snow at higher elevations, while piling on the powder for New England and New York.

    With a new system being monitored, however, more snow could make an appearance for the Northeast soon.

    Conditions Improve for West Coast, Ample Snow for Rockies

    In the interior West, conditions have been more favorable. Jackson Hole, Wyo., is reporting more than 430 inches of snow this season. Parts of Utah and Colorado are getting amounts of 200 to 300 inches of snow on the season after the recent rounds of snow they have received.

    Meanwhile, in the West, a dry winter season has been exacerbating devastating droughts. Rain and mountain snow fell at the end of February, which added feet of fresh snow to give a boost to mountain conditions.

    "We received 3 to 4 feet of beautiful fresh snow," said a representative for Mammoth Mountain, nestled in the Sierra Nevada. "Conditions are the best they've been all season."

    RELATED
    AccuWeather.com Ski Forecast Center
    Top Eight Secret Ski Spots in North America
    Winter Weather Center

    AccuWeather.com Western expert meteorologist Ken Clark said "If any place [in California] is having decent conditions it is [the Sierras], since they are so high up."

    He adds, however, that they are still behind what would be considered normal.

    "They may be seeing the best conditions of the season, but still not what they are used to," Clark said.

    Last season, still gripped by drought, had 308 inches for the mountain. This season has brought only 158 inches, with no new snow reported in the past week.

    Resorts will typically rely on natural snow more at this time of the season. Dombek explained that snow manufacturing becomes more difficult in March. Though temperatures are often still cold enough, the angle of the sun makes it melt too quickly to be worth the process for some areas.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The Arctic Fox and More Amazing Cold Weather Creatures

     

    Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0

    Monday, March 17, 2014
    APTOPIX Winter Weather Michigan
    (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

    A storm system will continue to deliver snow and ice to parts of the mid-Atlantic through Monday with rain persisting across the South.

    Travel conditions deteriorated on Sunday night from West Virginia to southern New Jersey as snow covered roadways occurred, leading to hazardous travel conditions for motorists.

    Those headed out for the Monday morning commute should allow for some extra time as traffic will run slower as well as increasing amounts of delays and cancellations at the airport.

    This will only add to the thousands of flights that were delayed on Sunday across the country due to the same storm system.



    Sleet was the primary precipitation around Richmond most the night which helped to cause over 1,500 power outages around the metro area, according to Dominion Electric.

    "Roads will be icy for the morning commute, particularly in areas such as Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Raleigh, N.C., and Lynchburg, Va." said AccuWeather.com meteorologist Dan DePodwin.

    RELATED:
    2014 Forecast: Severe Storm and Tornado Threat to Spike in May, June
    Interactive Radar
    AccuWeather Winter Weather Center


    Snow and sleet is expected to continue its eastward track throughout Monday while rain and thunderstorms persist over the Southeast. Some thunderstorms over Florida can even produce locally damaging winds as well as flash floods.

    Behind the storm, it will be very chilly, raw and damp from the Mason-Dixon Line through the Carolinas. Temperatures are forecast to run about 10 to 20 degrees below normal through Tuesday.

    "There may be ice from another storm that will affect many of the same areas, and it may also be toward Washington, D.C.," DePodwin said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 22 People More Sick of Winter Than You Are

     

    Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0

    Monday, March 17, 2014
    Maple Season Mass
    In this March 13, 2014, photo, Kathy Gallagher arranges bottles of maple syrup at the Turtle Lane Maple sugar house in North Andover, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

    NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. (AP) - In chilly Massachusetts, maple season is off to a slow start.

    Maple season starts at the end of February in a typical year. But despite being well into March, temperatures have been too low for the sap to drip out.

    This winter has had more snowfall and lower temperatures than normal, and temperatures are not forecast to rise much over the next two weeks, said Bill Simpson, a spokesman for the National Weather Service.

    Many farms have yet to start tapping their trees, said Winton Pitcoff, coordinator for the Massachusetts Maple Production Association. But it's too soon to say whether the late start will affect the overall maple season, which ends in April, Pitcoff said.

    "We could still have a very good season," Pitcoff said. "There have been many seasons where it didn't start until late into March."

    But drastically fluctuating weather would be bad news, he said. A gradual warm-up is best for maple sugar production, he said.

    Last year, Massachusetts produced about 63,000 gallons of syrup, ranking ninth in maple production nationwide. Vermont produced the most with 1.3 million gallons.

    Other states are struggling, too. The cold weather has pushed back the start of the season in neighboring Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York and elsewhere.

    North of Boston, Turtle Lane Maple Farm in North Andover began its 10th season last weekend after nearly deciding to take the year off.

    "Mother Nature has been quite cruel to us this year," said Paul Boulanger, who owns and runs the farm.

    Last year, his small farm produced 110 gallons of syrup, but he said he'll be happy with 65 gallons this year. Although he expects the season to be a disappointing one, Boulanger says, he cares more about participating in a New England tradition than in producing a lot of syrup. More than 3,600 visitors took a tour of his farm last year.

     

    Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0

    Monday, March 17, 2014
    California Drought Saving Water
    In this Feb. 28, 2014, photo, Santa Monica, Calif., resident Josephine Miller stands next to her 200-gallon water storage tank that collects rain from her home's roof to water her garden. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

    SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) - Drops of rain fell on Josephine Miller's 1920s bungalow - a watery relief in the midst of a punishing drought. Instead of flowing into storm drains and washing out to sea, an oversized tank harvested the precious resource to keep her thirsty citrus trees and vegetables from shriveling up on dry days.

    Across Santa Monica, backyard rain barrels and cisterns are becoming fashionable. Since 2010, the beach city has doled out 385 rebates to homeowners who direct rainwater back into their gardens as part of a broader effort to become water independent that also includes cleaning up contaminated groundwater and recycling water.

    "This is kind of a no-brainer, low-hanging fruit solution for anyone," said Miller, who three years ago installed a 205-gallon water storage container, which resembles an upright accordion.

    California is gripped by historic parched conditions that have desiccated farmland, dried up reservoirs and forced rural communities to ration water. A welcome dousing late last month did little to break the arid spell.

    Even before this latest drought emergency, some agencies that historically draw their water from the overtapped Colorado River and Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have taken steps to slash their dependence on water from outside sources and boost their own supplies. Past drought woes, particularly in the late 1980s and early 1990s, have forced some communities to rethink where their water comes from, and they're increasingly realizing local sources are insurance against future dry weather.

    Santa Monica, population 92,000, has perhaps the loftiest goal: to completely wean itself off outside water by 2020. The city long depended on its groundwater wells, but supplies became polluted in the mid-1990s from underground gasoline storage tank leaks and the addition of a fuel additive.

    The contamination forced Santa Monica to buy most of its water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, a giant wholesaler that provides drinking water to nearly 19 million people in six counties. Meanwhile, the city used proceeds from settlements with oil companies responsible for the pollution to purge the wells. The cleanup, completed three years ago, allows the city to tap groundwater for up to 70 percent of its water needs.

    About 50 miles to the northwest, the semi-agricultural community of Camarillo receives about 60 percent of its water from the State Water Project - a maze of dams, pipes and canals that carries snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada and transports it to points south - that it blends with salty groundwater sources.

    The city wants to cut down its imported supplies to 25 percent before 2020 and has invested in a $50 million regional treatment plant that would pump and treat brackish groundwater into drinking water.

    "We want local reliability and the ability to control our own destiny," said Lucia McGovern, deputy director of the city's Public Works Department.

    The Southern California port city of Long Beach, which relies on outside water for 40 percent of its drinking water, studied the possibility of building a desalination plant, which separates salt from ocean water. But it was too expensive, and the city is now focused on increasing groundwater supplies.

    A recent amendment to a court order deciding groundwater rights would allow Long Beach to pump more water. It's in the very early stages of drawing up a multimillion-dollar plan to build miles of pipelines to move the water.

    While maximizing groundwater is key to cutting down on distant imports, which can be fickle depending on the weather, it's not an option for every community.

    Groundwater is "not available everywhere and it also depends on the quality," said Jennifer Persike, a spokeswoman for the Association of California Water Agencies. "You have to be careful not to overpump it."

    While Santa Monica bets on groundwater, it's also investing in other water conservation tactics, including recycling and rain harvesting. Near the touristy Santa Monica Pier, a water recycling plant treats excess irrigation and other urban runoff that is then used to water parks, school grounds and a cemetery.

    The city also collects rain. The main library has a 200,000-gallon underground cistern that captures raindrops to water the gardens. Last year, officials installed a smaller cistern that will fill toilets at a newly built library scheduled to open next month.

    Since 1997, the city code requires that new construction and remodeled homes must catch the first quarter inch of rain.

    During a recent downpour in late February, Miller checked on her cistern, which she bought from a hardware store and installed by rerouting the downspout. She paid $571 for the tank, which is bolted to the side of her house for earthquake safety, and the city reimbursed her $250. As rain funneled from the roof into the beige cistern, water from neighboring houses coursed down the street like a river.

    Though Miller's yard consists mostly of cactus and succulents - she's in the process of ripping up the last patch of grass - there are orange, lemon and kumquat trees, and a small vegetable bed of green beans, sweet peas and snap peas that need water. A full tank typically can last for months, allowing Miller to tend to her water-needy trees and vegetables on rainless days.

    While rainwater capture does little to affect the water table, it does reduce potable water demand.

    "I don't think it's as dramatic as buying an electric car, but if everyone in LA did it, imagine the water savings there would be," she said.

    Santa Monica officials estimate that rain harvesting, low-flow toilets and other conservation measures save the city about $326,000 per year. If the city becomes self-sufficient by 2020 as planned mainly by tapping groundwater, it is expected to save $3 million per year.

    "Every drop counts," water resources manager Gil Borboa said.

    California's drought has caught the attention of foreign leaders. During a recent three-day swing through California, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Gov. Jerry Brown that the semi-arid country has no water troubles because it emphasizes desalination, wastewater recycling, irrigation that uses less water than traditional sprinklers and other measures.

    Kevin Wattier, Long Beach Water Department general manager, said incentives are important, but there's no substitute for educating people to stop watering sidewalks.

    "People need to quit wasting water. It's that simple," he said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 7 Surprising Health Effects of Drought

     

    Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0

    Monday, March 17, 2014

    Artist's concept of a "rogue" black hole wandering through space. (Credit: David A. Aguilar, CfA)

    Hundreds of wandering "rogue" black holes may dwell in the Milky Way - and now researchers say they know how to detect them. Discovering these strange objects could shed light on the formation of the Milky Way and other galaxies.

    No one knows exactly how the Milky Way came to exist. But according to one popular model of galaxy formation, the building blocks of the Milky Way were dwarf galaxies that collided and merged shortly after the Big Bang.

    This idea assumes that floating black holes, each containing 1,000 to 100,000 more mass than the sun, could be left over from those early cosmic times - fossil evidence for the growth and mergers of black holes in the infant universe. [The Strangest Black Holes in the Universe]

    Each of the Milky Way's building-block galaxies had its own central black hole. During mergers between dwarf galaxies, these black holes also came together. In the process, the new single black hole received a rocket-like kick from the emission of excess gravitational waves in the opposite direction, said astrophysicist Avi Loeb of Harvard University, who wrote the paper together with his graduate student Xiawei Wang.

    In most cases, this kick would make the black hole speed up enough to move it away from its newly enlarged dwarf galaxy - but not far enough to leave the region that eventually would become the Milky Way. (A new central black hole could then form in the dwarf galaxy via gas accretion.)

    Once the host galaxy became massive enough, the black holes near it would have been unable to escape. One of them grew and became the supermassive black hole that is believed to exist at the center of the Milky Way, weighing four million suns. But there should be hundreds of rogue black holes floating in the distant "halo" of the Milky Way, left over from the pre-Milky Way time when only dwarf galaxies existed, Loeb said.

    "The Milky Way halo serves as a kind of a 'reservoir' of wandering black holes that originally lived in the cores of the small galaxies that merged to make it," he said.

    Bow shock detection

    But how does one detect them, if it is impossible to observe black holes directly, and they are "rogues" floating somewhere in space? Loeb and Wang say they have found a way.

    "When such black holes pass through the gas disk of the Milky Way galaxy, they produce a bow shock - similar to the sonic boom produced in the air by supersonic jets," said Loeb. "The shock accelerates electrons to high energies and these emit radio waves that we can detect."

    "And the radio emission from these bow shocks should be detectable with existing radio observatories," he added. "Of course, if such a bow shock is discovered, one would be able to also observe the cluster of stars attached to the floating black hole and possibly the X-ray emission from the black hole itself as it accretes gas."

    This method would be"a nice new way to identify the theoretically predicted [wandering black holes]," said astrophysicist Jeremy Darling of the University of Colorado, who did not take part in the study. "The Wang and Loeb paper shows how these black holes can create a bow shock as they pass through the disk of our galaxy, effectively lighting up and making themselves available for observation."

    And he agrees that in principle, these bow shocks should be "easily detectable with current facilities," using radio and infrared waves.

    But it won't be easy, cautions Darling, as the difficulty is the "needle-in-a-haystack" problem common in astronomy: There are many objects emitting in the radio and infrared range in the disk of our galaxy, and Wang and Loeb predict that only a few black holes (in some scenarios maybe not even a single one) should be in the disk at any given time.

    "Moreover, we view our galaxy edge-on, so there is tremendous confusion as objects overlap one another and pile up along the line of sight. Extant radio surveys of the galaxy lack the angular resolution to distinguish the black hole bow shock from other phenomena, which is a pity." [Stunning Photos of Our Milky Way Galaxy (Gallery)]

    Star clusters

    During earlier research, Loeb and his former student Ryan O'Leary proposed another way to detect these floating black holes. They suggested that such black holes are likely surrounded by a cluster of stars that were originally tightly bound to them.

    These clusters would be very different from globular star clusters, as they would be held together by the gravity of the black hole. As a result, they would be very compact, just a few light-years in size.

    Loeb and O'Leary have identified candidate star clusters and are currently collecting spectroscopic data on some,to test if any of them has a central black hole.

    "There may be a treasure trove in the backyard of the Milky Way that could inform us about the first generation of black holes in the universe," Loeb said.

    Follow Space.com on Twitter @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com. Follow Katia Moskvitch on Twitter @SciTech_Cat

    Copyright 2014 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mind-Blowing New Photos from Space

     

    Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0

    Monday, March 17, 2014

    Erwin Matys and Karoline Mrazek of Project Nightflight captured this image of the Milky Way on June 6, 2013 from the southern part of La Palma Island, Canary Islands. The image was sent to Space.com on Feb. 9, 2014. (Credit: project nightflight)

    Green airglow shimmers atop translucent clouds as the Milky Way rises over a remote island off the northwest coast of Africa in a majestic photo recently sent to Space.com.

    Erwin Matys and Karoline Mrazek captured this spectacular image on June 6, 2013 from the southern part of La Palma Island, Canary Islands. They took the image as part of Project Nightflight, an astrophotography project aimed at "capturing the beauty of the night sky."

    "Just after we finished our shots the whole sky was suddenly covered with thick clouds and all the magic was gone," Matys told Space.com via email. [Spectacular Night Sky Photos for March 2014 (Stargazing Gallery )]

    The foreground features the characteristic volcanic landscape of the Canary Islands. The faint lights are from neighboring islands, La Gomera toward the left and El Hierro. Tiny top-lights from a small wind park on the shore give off the fait red glow visible in the foreground.

    The photographers digitally combined two exposures of four minutes, one for the Milky Way (tracked), the second for the landscape (untracked). They used a 16mm fisheye lens at f/5.6 on an EOS 350D body with an ISO setting of 1600.

    "During our exposures a small animal, we suspect it was a seagull, whistled incessantly," Matys said. "It probably tried to shoo us away from its nearby sleeping place."

    "The place was so remote, the bird was obviously used to absolute quiet, because it sounded definitely annoyed by our nocturnal activities," Matys added.

    On their Project Nightflight website, Matys and Mrazek write: "It is not our aim to produce images of scientific value. Much more we intend to present the hypnotic power and magic of the universe."

    To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by Space.com readers, visit our astrophotography archive.

    Follow Space.com on Twitter @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

    Copyright 2014 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mind-Blowing New Photos from Space

     

    Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0

    Monday, March 17, 2014
    Hollywood Sign
    (Getty Images)

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - A pre-dawn earthquake rolled across the Los Angeles basin on Monday, rattling residents from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach.

    The quake's magnitude was 4.4 and it was centered 15 miles west-northwest of the downtown civic center, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

    Los Angeles police and fire officials said there were no immediate reports of damage.

    "It felt like a bomb going off underneath our house," said George McQuade, a West Hills resident. "Nothing was damaged, but it sure woke everyone up. It was an eye-opener."

    The 6:25 a.m. quake occurred at a depth of about 5 miles.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Incredible Photos of Forces of Nature
    Volcano Eruption

     

    Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0

    Monday, March 17, 2014
    Winter Weather Washington
    Lighter then normal traffic travels along 16th street in downtown Washington, Monday, March 17, 2014, after an overnight snow hit the metro area, prompting area schools the federal and local governments to close. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

    Another round of late-winter snow walloped the mid-Atlantic Sunday night into Monday.

    Washington, D.C., received 7.2 inches of snow from the storm, making it the third-largest snowfall to hit the city so late in the season. The only storms that produced more snow in the second half of the month of March occurred in 1942 when 11.2 inches fell March 28 to 29 and when a foot fell March 27 to 28 in 1891.

    This storm is also the largest March snowstorm in the city since 8.4 inches fell March 9, 1999. As the 10th-largest March storm in Washington, D.C., it knocked the historic blizzard of 1993 off the list of 10 most prolific March snowfalls.

    Philadelphia now has 67.4 inches of snow for the season after this storm, making it the second-snowiest winter on record for the city.

    Travel delays were significant, as flight delays and cancellations were in the thousands, with some airports even closing runways for a time.

    Power outages were reported across Virginia as freezing rain coated power lines and downed tree branches.

    Snow amounts from West Virginia to Maryland ranged from a few inches to more than a foot, with the heaviest amounts spanning West Virginia and northwestern Virginia.

    A foot of snow was reported by NWS-trained spotters near Bentonville, Md. Spotters reported 9 inches in Singers Glen, Va. In Middleburg, Va., 10 inches of snow was recorded by trained spotters.

    RELATED
    US Interactive Radar
    MAP: Latest Watches and Warnings
    AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center


    Inches of snow pile up on cars in Philadelphia. (Instagram/djramm)

    Lauren Evette snapped this picture at the Baltimore train station. (Instagram/laurenevette)

    A wintry scene in Washington, D.C., just days ahead of spring. (Instagram/sobravery)

    Snow frames the setting in front of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. (Instagram/robgasior)

    Slushy sidewalks wrap around homes in Washington, D.C. (Instagram/heartofahippie_tiu)

    People work to clear walkways in Philadelphia. (Instagram/feliperoyo)

    Speed restrictions were inacted on the Walt Whitman Bridge as a result of the weather. (Instagram/steampunkworks)

    St. Patrick's Day decoration get a snowy coating at the Cherry Street Tavern in Philadelphia. (Instagram/sckardon)

    Snow coats Camden Yards in Baltimore. (Instagram/mprest13)

    A snowy 5 a.m. run at Patterson Park, Baltimore. (Instagram/idtrainz)

    Poe the Malamute enjoys the fresh powder in Baltimore. (Instagram/rob_welliver)

     

    Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0
    0 0

    Monday, March 17, 2014
    Winter Storm Minnesota
    A woman braves blowing and heavy wet snow near Peavey Plaza in late February in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

    A storm pushing inland from the Northwest will produce a swath of heavy snow from portions of Montana to the Dakotas, Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and parts of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan through midweek.

    Enough snow can fall to cause travel delays and disruptions to daily activities.

    The storm has the potential to unload a half a foot of snow on the cities of Great Falls, Mont., Fargo, N.D., and Minneapolis.

    The bulk of the snow will fall along the I-94 corridor from the northern Rockies to the Mississippi River.

    The storm will pack some wind as well. Local whiteouts are possible.

    In portions of Wyoming and Montana, gusts can reach between 50 and 60 mph into Monday night. Farther east, winds between 15 and 30 mph are forecast to cause blowing and drifting snow during and in the wake of the storm on Tuesday into Tuesday night.

    RELATED:
    Persistent Cold to Delay 2014 Severe Weather Season
    Interactive Radar
    AccuWeather Winter Weather Center

    South of the snowstorm, winds will howl across the central and southern High Plains with the worst conditions on Tuesday.

    Strong crosswinds can make for difficult travel along the I-25 corridor.

    Winds gusting between 30 and 50 mph will kick up dust and raise the risk for wildfires in portions of Nebraska, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, northern Arizona, northern New Mexico and the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma. Much of this area was experiencing moderate to extreme drought conditions.

    Even though spring officially arrives on Thursday, the winter weather will not abide by the change of seasons.

    While a push of chilly air follows the midweek storm, a stronger push of cold air is forecast to follow yet another storm with snow at the end of the week.

     

    Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0

    Tuesday, March 18, 2014

    Bob Landon blows snow from a sidewalk in the South End neighborhood on Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    March features huge temperature swings as winter and spring battle it out across the United States.

    It is also a time when people say they get sick due to the drastic temperature changes.

    Doctors, however, say there is no correlation between the weather changes and illnesses.

    "This is a myth that is very commonly heard, however," Dr. Wanda Filer, a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians' board of directors, said. "It is known that seasonal flu viruses circulate faster in cold weather, when the air is cold and dry."

    The most dramatic temperature drops occur in March, AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek said.

    "This is the time for 'March Madness' in college basketball. It's also March madness in weather; March is notorious for huge swings," Dombek said.

    Between March 10 and 12, the daytime high in Abilene, Texas, went from 76 F to 92 F then down to 59 F.

    The wild swing also occurred in Washington, D.C., from March 12 to 14. The high went from 69 F to 36 F and back to 60 F.

    In the winter, people spend more time indoors and in close contact with others, Dr. Charles Cutler, chair of the American College of Physicians' Board of Regents and a practicing internist, said.

    "Being in close proximity to another person makes it more likely that the germ will spread from person to person," Cutler said.

    People may be more aware of colds this time of year because they have plans to get out and enjoy nice weather, which are delayed when they are not feeling well, said Filer, Pennsylvania's first physician general.

    "Cold and flu season usually lasts until at least mid-March almost every year," Filer said. "Most adults will get two to three colds in an average year and symptoms can easily last 10 or more days."

    Pollen counts start to rise this time of year, but allergies are not a factor with the illnesses, Cutler said.

    "Most colds are viral. They spread from one person to another through the air (by coughing into the air) or on one's hands/fingers," he said.

    RELATED:
    Persistent Cold to Delay 2014 Severe Weather Season
    Interactive Radar
    AccuWeather Winter Weather Center

    "Many people, however, can suffer sinus symptoms with changes in barometric pressure and may interpret this as a cold or allergies, since congestion and headaches may result. When the temperature changes, they may associate it incorrectly with their symptoms," Filer said.

    With colds being a year-round reality, hand washing is the most important thing a person can do to protect others and themselves.

    "If soap and water is not used, then the antiseptic hand gels are needed. Also, never share food utensils, glassware, etc.," Cutler said. "Eating or drinking from someone else's plate is high risk for spreading cold germs."

    Avoiding exposure to illnesses is key.

    "Avoid others who are ill, especially in the first few days of their illness when they are communicable, and stay home if you are sick and could put others at risk (especially if you have any fever)," Filer said.


    RELATED ON SKYE: 22 People More Sick of Winter Than You Are

     

    Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0

    Tuesday, March 18, 2014

    Cherry blossom trees adorn the walkway along the Potomac River, providing a scenic spring view for visitors. (Photo/Buddy Secor).

    As the winter of '13-'14 comes to an end, the recent snow and cold may postpone the peak bloom for the nation's famous cherry trees in Washington, D.C.

    Japan gifted more than 3,000 Yoshino cherry trees to the United States in 1912 to celebrate the relationship between the U.S. and Japan. This gift sparked the creation one of the nation's biggest festivals, the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., which began in 1927.

    "On average, the peak bloom is about April 4, but that, of course, depends on the weather," the Communications Manager for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Danielle Davis, said.

    The peak bloom date is the day in which at least 70 percent of the blossoms on the trees are open, while the blooming period is when 20 percent of the blossoms are open until the pedals appear then fall off, according to the National Park Service. The bloom period starts a few days before the peak and can last up to two weeks.

    This year, the peak bloom of the cherry trees is expected to be similar to last year's timeline but later than the normal bloom due to the colder winter air gripping the city this year, according to Davis. This year's peak bloom period is anticipated to be April 8 to 12, 2014.

    With more than 1.5 million people expected to attend the festival, the 2014 National Cherry Blossom festival will begin Thursday, March 20, 2014.

    RELATED:
    Detailed Washington, D.C., Weather
    AccuWeather Severe Weather Center
    WATCH: Clouds, Not Waves Crash Near Lake Tahoe Shores

    The festival will kick off with its annual opening ceremony on Saturday, March 22, 2014, which will highlight both Japanese and American musical artists.

    Mild weather will grace the ceremony, as spectators gather this weekend to celebrate. However, those attending should bring a rain jacket or umbrella due to the possibility of a few showers during the afternoon.


    Dancers pose during the National Cherry Blossom Parade on April 13, 2013. (Photo/Ron Engle)

    Following the opening ceremony, the festival will host a slew of events over its 25-day celebration, including a pink tie party fundraiser, family museum days at the National Building Museum, a kite festival, fireworks, a Japanese street festival and the famous National Cherry Blossom Parade.

    Airing nationally this year, the parade will take place on Saturday, April 12, 2014, along Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th streets northwest. The parade will feature multiple celebrities, award-winners and marching bands from across the nation.

    Luckily, it looks like the weather will cooperate for this year's parade with highs in the mid-60s.

    "It looks like a fairly typical April pattern," AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Anderson said.

    While the weather looks to be optimal for the long-anticipated festival, visitors and residents will have to wait a bit longer this year for the actual bloom of the historic cherry blossom trees.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Inspiring Photos of America's National Parks

     

    Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0

    Tuesday, March 18, 2014


    Low pressure tracking across the Plains will not only spread snow from Montana to Wisconsinon Tuesday, but also bring an elevated risk of fire danger across the region.

    Strong winds will develop on the back side of this system as it tracks towards the Great Lakes with sustained winds above 25 mph and gusts between 50 and 60 mph possible.

    Areas in the Plains from western Kansas to western Texas are currently in a drought, helping to set the stage for this elevated risk of wildfires.

    The combination of these strong winds and a dry forecast on Tuesday will only contribute to the heightened risk of fires before winds diminish overnight.

    Such high wind gusts can also make for difficult travel, especially for high profile vehicles that are more susceptible to the stronger winds.

    This can make driving a vehicle such as a tractor trailer very challenging as strong winds can blow the vehicle onto its side.

    Regardless of the type of vehicle, driving will be more difficult as the winds can still create enough force on your car to set you off course if you do not react quick enough.

    Blowing dust may also lead to reduced visibilities, slowing traffic further.

    RELATED:
    End of Winter Snowstorm to Impact Montana to Minnesota
    March Temperature Extremes Not a Factor in Spread of Common Cold
    2014 Forecast: Severe Storm and Tornado Threat to Spike Later Than Usual


    White-out conditions are also possible in Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska where snow is forecast to fall in addition to the gusty winds.

    The Wyoming department of transportation has already closed multiple roads due to this winter weather.

    This includes I-90 between the towns of Sheridan and Buffalo, as well as Route 20 west of Casper.

    Wednesday looks to bring better travel conditions and a lower risk of fires as the system responsible for the snow and high winds tracks over the Great Lakes.

     

    Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


    0 0

    Tuesday, March 18, 2014
    Winter Storm Minnesota
    (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

    A storm pushing inland from the Northwest will produce a swath of heavy snow from portions of Montana to the Dakotas, Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and parts of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan through midweek.

    Enough snow can fall to cause travel delays and disruptions to daily activities.

    The storm has the potential to unload a half a foot of snow on the cities of Great Falls, Mont., Casper, Wyo., and Rapid City, S.D.



    The bulk of the snow will fall along the I-94 corridor from the northern Rockies to the Mississippi River.

    The storm will pack some wind as well. Local whiteouts are possible.

    In portions of Wyoming and Montana, gusts can reach between 50 and 60 mph into Monday night. Farther east, winds between 15 and 30 mph are forecast to cause blowing and drifting snow during and in the wake of the storm on Tuesday into Tuesday night.

    RELATED:
    Persistent Cold to Delay 2014 Severe Weather Season

    March Temperature Extremes Not a Factor in Spread of Common Cold
    2014 Forecast: Severe Storm and Tornado Threat to Spike Later Than Usual


    South of the snowstorm, winds will howl across the central and southern High Plains with the worst conditions on Tuesday.

    Strong crosswinds can make for difficult travel along the I-25 corridor.

    Winds gusting between 30 and 50 mph will kick up dust and raise the risk for wildfires in portions of Nebraska, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, northern Arizona, northern New Mexico and the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma. Much of this area was experiencing moderate to extreme drought conditions.

    Even though spring officially arrives on Thursday, the winter weather will not abide by the change of seasons.

    While a push of chilly air follows the midweek storm, a stronger push of cold air is forecast to follow yet another storm with snow at the end of the week.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 22 People More Sick of Winter Than You Are

     

    Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments


older | 1 | .... | 175 | 176 | (Page 177) | 178 | 179 | .... | 204 | newer