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WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientists have found a cosmic supermom. It's a galaxy that gives births to more stars in a day than ours does in a year.

Astronomers used NASA's Chandra X-Ray telescope to spot this distant gigantic galaxy creating about 740 new stars a year. By comparison, our Milky Way galaxy spawns just about one new star each year.

The galaxy is about 5.7 billion light years away in the center of a recently discovered cluster of galaxies that give off the brightest X-ray glow astronomers have seen. It is by far the biggest creation of stars that astronomers have seen for this kind of galaxy. Other types, such as colliding galaxies, can produce even more stars, astronomers said.

But this is the size, type and age of galaxy that shouldn't be producing stars at such a rapid pace, said the authors of a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

"It's very extreme," said Harvard University astronomer Ryan Foley, co-author of the study. "It pushes the boundaries of what we understand."

The unnamed galaxy — officially known by a string of letters and numbers — is about 3 trillion times the size of our sun, said study lead author Michael McDonald of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

There's another strange thing about this galaxy. It's fairly mature, maybe 6 billion years old. Usually, this kind "don't do anything new... what we call red and dead," McDonald said in an interview. "It seems to have come back to life for some reason."

Because of that back-to-life situation, the team of 85 astronomers has nicknamed the galaxy cluster Phoenix, after the bird that rises from the ashes. The galaxy that is producing the stars at a rate of two per day is the biggest and most prominent of many galaxies there.

It's "helping us answer this basic question of how do galaxies form their stars," said Michigan State University astronomer Megan Donahue, who wasn't part of the study but praised it.

There's lots of very hot hydrogen gas between galaxies. When that gas cools to below zero, the gas can form stars, McDonald said. But only 10 percent of the gas in the universe becomes stars, Donahue said.

That's because the energy from black holes in the center of galaxies counteract the cooling. There's a constant "tussle between black holes and star formation," said Sir Martin Rees, a prominent astrophysicist at the University of Cambridge in England. He was not part of the study, but commented on it during a NASA teleconference Wednesday.

In this case, the black hole in the central galaxy seems to be unusually quiet compared to other supermassive black holes, Rees said. "So it's losing the tussle," he said.

But this massive burst of star birth is probably only temporary because there's only so much fuel and limits to how big a galaxy can get, Foley said.

"It could be just a very short-lived phase that every galaxy cluster has and we just got lucky here" to see it, Foley said.


Borenstein, Seth. "Star births seen on cosmic scale in distant galaxy" AP. 16 August 2012. Web.

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Anthropologists working in southern France have determined that a 1.5 metric ton block of engraved limestone constitutes the earliest evidence of wall art. Their research, reported in the most recent edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows the piece to be approximately 37,000 years old and offers rich evidence of the role art played in the daily lives of Early Aurignacian humans.

The research team, comprised of more than a dozen scientists from American and European universities and research institutions, has been excavating at the site of the discovery—Abri Castanet—for the past 15 years. Abri Castanet and its sister site Abri Blanchard have long been recognized as being among the oldest sites in Eurasia bearing artifacts of human symbolism. Hundreds of personal ornaments have been discovered, including pierced animal teeth, pierced shells, ivory and soapstone beads, engravings, and paintings on limestone slabs.

"Early Aurignacian humans functioned, more or less, like humans today," explained New York University anthropology professor Randall White, one of the study's co-authors. "They had relatively complex social identities communicated through personal ornamentation, and they practiced sculpture and graphic arts."

Aurignacian culture existed until approximately 28,000 years ago.

In 2007, the team discovered an engraved block of limestone in what had been a rock shelter occupied by a group of Aurignacian reindeer hunters. Subsequent geological analysis revealed the ceiling had been about two meters above the floor on which the Aurignacians lived—within arms' reach.

Using carbon dating, the researchers determined that both the engraved ceiling, which includes depictions of animals and geometric forms, and the other artifacts found on the living surface below were approximately 37,000 years old.

"This art appears to be slightly older than the famous paintings from the Grotte Chauvet in southeastern France," explained White, referring to the cave paintings discovered in 1994.

"But unlike the Chauvet paintings and engravings, which are deep underground and away from living areas, the engravings and paintings at Castanet are directly associated with everyday life, given their proximity to tools, fireplaces, bone and antler tool production, and ornament workshops."

He added that this discovery, combined with others of approximately the same time period in southern Germany, northern Italy, and southeastern France, raises new questions about the evolutionary and adaptive significance of art and other forms of graphic representation in the lives of modern human populations.


"37,000 years old: Earliest form of wall art discovered". 14 May 2012. Web. 

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OK outdoorsmen and women, are you ready for the Supermoon?

NASA scientists say this full moon Saturday night will appear 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than any full moon this year. The scientific term is “perigee moon,” but all we need to know is that it’s going to be one giant, bad moon rising.

Night fishing should be excellent for the El Cajon Ford Night Series’ second tournament at El Captain (details below).

The grunion run is set to commence Saturday from 9:15 p.m. to 11:15 p.m. in conjunction with the full moon, but remember, grunion catching season is closed in April and May. It’s observation only of the spawning silversides. But it’s a good time to fish the surf. You just can’t use them for bait.

It being the last weekend of the general turkey hunting season, hunters should enjoy a lighted woods Sunday morning, the last day of the season. The moon will be full at 8:35 p.m. Saturday night, but doesn’t set until 6:14 a.m. Sunday morning.

So get out and do some grunion watching, some surf fishing, lake fishing or strolling into the woods by the light of the silvery moon.

Notes: Lake Barrett opened to some exceptional fishing Wednesday, with 100 anglers reporting 3,609 bass, 104 bluegill and 57 crappie, all released. Reservations required. June reservations go on sale May 8 at 7 p.m. through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or on-line at El Capitan has switched to its summer schedule. The lake is open Thursday through Sunday for fishing, general boating and water contact (water-skiing, wake-boarding, Jet-skiing, etc.). It’s open Monday for fishing and general boating only, no water contact. The concession is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday only.

Night Fishing: The second El Cajon Ford Night Series Tournament is Saturday at El Capitan Lake. Signups are at 4:30 p.m. in the top parking lot. There will be a barbecue during the registration. Call tournament director Jim Sleight at (619) 813-3324.

Fly Fishing: Peter Piconi’s So Cal Fly Fishing Outfitters shop will have a Simms Demo Day Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guest speakers include Brad Mcfall, who will speak at 10 a.m. about Trinity River steelhead fishing and at 2 p.m. about Eastern Sierra fishing; Jeff Solis at noon on fly-fishing East Cape, Baja.

Whopper Contest: Each month, Lake Wohlford has a Whopper of the Month Contest for the best bass, catfish, crappie and trout (when they’re stocked). Last month’s competition for top crappie was very competitive. Rich Hatch, Wendell Jackson and Isaac Wright all weighed in big crappie, but Kyle Harrington took the prize with his 2.15-pounder that he caught at Crappie Rock on a mini-jig. Whopper Contest winners get a free fishing and boating permit. For the latest fishing conditions at Wohlford, call the ranger station at (760) 839-4346. Wohlford also offers all-day boat rentals for seniors and active military every first and third Saturday of the month.

One that got away: Lake Cuyamaca has had some exceptional fishing, and there was a great story about some pontoon boat anglers who fought a 7- to 8-foot white sturgeon for over an hour. They ran out of gas, got spooled and finally, after reaching the surface and showing its bad self, the sturgeon broke their line and hearts. Wayne Raffesberger sent a photo of a fine five-trout limit he caught from his kayak on Saturday, the opening day of trout in the Sierra. He fished for 3½ hours and used a spinner.

Frank Alessio’s next hunter safety class is May 12. He also offers a bowhunting safety class on June 10. Call Alessio at (760) 743-8718 or reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The 4th annual Yellowtail Derby start is May 5. Check

Fletcher Diehl, a veteran hunter safety instructor and expert predator caller, showed he can call in a trophy turkey, too. Diehl shot a tom recently that weighed 22 pounds and sported a 10-inch beard and 1-inch spurs. He shot it in the San Luis Obispo area. Don Kinley, hunting with David Wilder, shot a turkey estimated to be in the 18- to 20-pound class with a 9-inch beard and 1-inch spurs.

Sierra update: Silver Lake doesn’t get the notoriety of June Lake or Gull Lake in the June Lakes Loop, but it should. The lake had exceptional fishing on opening weekend. The fish aren’t as big as the average one caught at June or Gull, but Silver Lake is loaded with 1- and 2-pound rainbows and an occasional Alpers lunker or brown trout. The mouth of Rush Creek also is a very good area to try, as is the weir area toward Grant Lake. Parker and Walker lakes also had good openers. Dameon Gomez, 7, of Burbank had one of the nicer Silver Lake trout, a 2-pound, 13-ounce rainbow he caught from shore on orange Power Bait.

Dock reporter Bill Roecker said a recent long-range trip to “southern waters” was the best of the long-range season that ends soon. The anglers wedged 39 yellowfin tuna over 200 pounds into the vessel’s fish hold and also stacked near-limits of wahoo and smaller tuna in the 80- to 180-pound range.



Zieralski, Ed. "Supermoon Good Time to Get Outside". U-T San Diego. 3 May 2012. Web.  

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