Is ‘strobe light star’ twins?


This video is called Flashing Star Spied By Hubble | Time-Lapse Video.

By Clara Moskowitz in the USA:

Rare ‘strobe light star’ may actually be twins

Protostellar object LRLL 5436, NASA, ESA, and J. Muzerolle (STScI)

This infrared image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows an image of protostellar object LRLL 54361. The image was released Feb. 7.

Space.com

An odd flashing star may actually be a pair of cosmic twins: two newly formed baby stars that circle each other closely and flash like a strobe light, scientists say.

Astronomers discovered the nascent star system, called LRLL 54361, with the infrared Spitzer observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope, and say the rare cosmic find could offer a chance to study star formation and early evolution. It is only the third such “strobe light” object ever seen, researchers said.

The celestial oddity is located about 950 light-years from Earth and lets out a bright pulse of light every 25.34 days. Hubble telescope scientists said the baby star object (or protostar) is the most powerful such stellar strobe found to date. But understanding what’s causing the flashing light is difficult, because the system is hidden behind opaque dust and a dense disk of material.

“This protostar has such large brightness variations with a precise period that it is very difficult to explain,” astronomer James Muzerolle of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., said in a statement. Muzerolle is the lead author of a paper detailing the finding published recently in the journal Nature.

However, Spitzer’s infrared eyes were able to peer through the dust enough to discern signs of a protostar, or a pair of protostars, no more than a few hundred thousand years old.

Animal photography competition


Gorilla. MONKEY SNAPPER. (c) Lucy Ray (c) ZSL

From Wildlife Extra:

ZSL Animal Photography Prize 2013

£10,000 prizes for ZSL photo competition

February 2013. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has launched the ZSL Animal Photography Prize 2013, a competition and prize fund set up to discover the world’s most amazing animal photography.

Returning after a great debut in 2012 which saw entries from all around the world, the competition is back with a fantastic line up of judges including ZSL Honorary Conservation Fellow and television presenter Kate Humble, environmentalist David Bellamy, and Dr Joseph Zammit-Lucia, one of the world’s leading animal portrait photographers.

£10,000 prize fund

Astounded by the calibre of the entries last year, including the captivating shot of an infant gorilla behind the camera, the judges are expecting another influx of breath-taking images in 2013. With a £10,000 prize fund and the chance for the images to go on display in a stunning exhibition at ZSL London Zoo in September, the competition aims to inspire amateur and professional photographers of all ages to get out and capture the magic of the animal kingdom.

ZSL Director General Ralph Armond said: “We were blown away by the quality of the images submitted for the ZSL Animal Photography Prize 2012 and cannot wait to see this year’s entries. Our lives revolve around animals at ZSL and we know just how captivating they are – every day we see visitors to our Zoos absolutely enthralled by them.

“But animals around the world are facing increasing threats to their existence and as an international conservation charity we know that raising their profile is vital to their survival. This competition gives us the chance to inspire people to help us protect amazing species around the world, and share our passion for wildlife.”

7 categories

The 2013 competition features seven categories in which to submit photographs, including Last Chance to See?, the Weird and Wonderful and The Birds and the Bees.

Visit www.zsl.org/photo-prize for more information or to enter images into the competition.

Tasmanian tiger extinction, new research


This video says about itself:

Here is a combination of all the footage of the Tasmanian Tiger, now believed to be extinct.

From Wildlife Extra:

Humans alone responsible for extinction of Tasmanian Tiger

February 2013. Humans alone were responsible for the demise of Australia’s iconic extinct native predator, the Tasmanian Tiger or thylacine, according to a new study led by the University of Adelaide.

Using a new population modelling approach, the study contradicts the widespread belief that disease must have been a factor in the thylacine’s extinction.

Government sponsored hunting

The thylacine was a unique marsupial carnivore found throughout most of Tasmania before European settlement in 1803. Between 1886 and 1909, the Tasmanian government encouraged people to hunt thylacines and paid bounties on over 2000 thylacine carcasses. Only a handful of animals were located after the bounty was lifted and the last known thylacine was captured from the wild in 1933.

“Many people, however, believe that bounty hunting alone could not have driven the thylacine extinct and therefore claim that an unknown disease epidemic must have been responsible,” says the project leader, Research Associate Dr Thomas Prowse, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Environment Institute.

“We tested this claim by developing a ‘metamodel’ – a network of linked species models – that evaluated whether the combined impacts of Europeans could have exterminated the thylacine, without any disease.”

The mathematical models used by conservation biologists to simulate the fate of threatened species under different management strategies (called population viability analysis or PVA) traditionally neglect important interactions between species. The researchers designed a new approach to PVA that included species interactions.

“The new model simulated the directs effects of bounty hunting and habitat loss and, importantly, also considered the indirect effects of a reduction in the thylacine’s prey (kangaroos and wallabies) due to human harvesting and competition from millions of introduced sheep,” Dr Prowse says.

Disease not a factor

“We found we could simulate the thylacine extinction, including the observed rapid population crash after 1905, without the need to invoke a mystery disease. We showed that the negative impacts of European settlement were powerful enough that, even without any disease epidemic, the species couldn’t escape extinction.”

The study ‘No need for disease: testing extinction hypotheses for the thylacine using multi-species metamodels‘, which also involved Professors Corey Bradshaw and Barry Brook from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute, Professor Chris Johnson from the University of Tasmania, and Dr Bob Lacy, Chicago Zoological Society, has been published online in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

Is the Tasmanian tiger really extinct? Here.

Mice too clever for poison


This video is called House mouse (Mus musculus) in the back yard.

Translated from the forum of Vroege Vogels radio in the Netherlands:

February 7, 2013, 12:00

We had a stash of walnuts in our home, which also proved to be irresistible to mice. After we had unsuccessfully attempted to drive them away in various ways (they ate not only walnuts but also more substantial parts of our house) we, at wit’s end, used bait boxes with poison.

After a few days we went to see how this worked. Much to it our surprise, the mice proved to be able to read: “Keep out of reach of animals”. Completely independently, they had plugged both openings with our insulation material ……. Against that much cleverness, we cannot do anything!

Greetings,

Didi