Kazakh Meteorite Reveals Signs of Ancient Solar ‘Superflare’

Scientists have found evidence of an ancient solar “superflare” hidden in a meteorite that was first found in Kazakhstan in 1962, according to a new paper.

Meteorites here on Earth can be useful for telling the story of the Solar System’s history, specifically through the elements they contain. By analyzing the Efremovka meteorite, a pair of researchers determined that a superflare that occurred around 500,000 years after the Sun’s birth could have emitted as many x-rays as the largest solar flare each second, but for perhaps an entire year. A solar flare, which usually lasts just minutes, is an outburst of energy and accelerated particles from the Sun; today, solar flares are a concern due to their potentially harmful effects on our technology. Read more.

Roadkill Is Sad and Gross—And Can Be Useful for Scientists

It can help researchers track diet, reconstruct food webs, and identify threats to wildlife.

When a coyote dies after being struck by a car on a Southern California road, Rachel Larson wants to get her hands on it. Sometimes, she gets a heads up from an official via email. Other times, she’ll come upon a dead coyote when an intern loads an animal up and drives it to a lab. Larson has worked on coyote carcass dissections in the bed of a pick-up truck and in gleaming, stainless steel facilities that look like a veterinarian’s office. Wherever Larson comes across these unfortunate creatures, she goes for the whiskers. Read more.

Protecting wetlands from underground mining impacts

What happens to a swamp (wetland) when you dig a longwall coal mine beneath it? The evidence suggests that on many occasions the water disappears and the wetland can dry up, but until now there has been a hole in the research about the processes that contribute to this. Read more.

Calculations finally match ß-decay rates

Effective field theory combines with measurements of light- to medium-mass nuclei to resolve a 50-year-old puzzle.

When measuring ß decay in medium and heavy nuclei, physicists have had to adjust, or quench, the calculated rate to match the observed rate by a factor of 0.75. Peter Gysbers (TRIUMF, Canada’s particle accelerator center), Gaute Hagen (Oak Ridge National Laboratory), and their colleagues have now developed an explanation for the mismatch between theory and observation that has puzzled nuclear physicists for the past half century. The researchers combined effective field theory and quantum many-body methods to calculate ß-decay rates in different-sized nuclei. Comparing those calculations with measured rates led the researchers to conclude that the discrepancy arises from powerful particle interactions in the nucleus. Read more.

Scientists Dropped Dead Gators to the Seafloor to See What Bites

It takes a lot to go from the bayou to the deep sea.

Craig McClain knows all about falls. He’s seen whale falls, shark falls, manta ray falls, even, on one occasion, a sea lion fall. In the nutritional wasteland of the deep sea, a fall—any big hunk of organic material that manages to sink—creates a temporary feast for nearby scavengers. In his work as executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, McClain regularly creates wood falls, by deliberately dropping deciduous chunks to the bottom of the seafloor, just to see what bites and learn more about deep sea ecosystems. So it was almost surprising that it took McClain years of working in a Louisiana lab to consider one, rather obvious, question: What about a gator fall? Read more.