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  • What's New In Robotics This Week - 18.05.2018
    • Manufacturing & cobot roundup
    • News from Universal Robots, AUBO, Techman, and Omron
    • From human intelligence to automation design, "less is more"
    • The wireless flying insect bot and octopus bot
    • "Mindless" robots?
    • And much more!


    Manufacturing & cobot roundup

    Japan's Omron Corp. and Taiwanese cobot firm Techman Robot Inc. announced the formation of a "strategic alliance on collaborative robots." 

    Continental is using cobots from Universal Robots and safety solutions from SICK to replace "inflexible testing and assembly lines"...



    Writing in Forbes ("Robots: The Automation Juggernaut That Manufacturers Need"), Rethink Robotics' COO Jim Lawton shared some important questions to ask when deciding on a cobot solution: 

    • Who trains the cobot?
    • How quickly can cobots be put to work?
    • How many tasks can one cobot do?
    • What kinds of tasks can cobots do?
    • How much does innovation cost me?
    • How smart is the cobot? 


    Fanuc's cobot was spotted helping with some fenceless 3D metrology inspection... 




    Meanwhile, according to Seeking Alpha, cobots "are the PCs of the Robot Era." An article in Harvard Business Review argued that "tomorrow's factories will need better processes, not just better robots," and Bloomberg profiled Japanese startup Preferred Networks Inc., which aims to apply deep learning techniques to manufacturing. 

     One of AUBO's cobots was spotted helping humans out with a progressive metal forming process... 



    Yaskawa plans to build a new factory in Slovenia (as reported by Japan Times).

    Researchers at Université Laval are developing a "low impedance human-robot interaction" system for manufacturing applications... 



    Demand for automated guided vehicles and autonomous mobile robots used in manufacturing is "exploding," with global sales set to reach nearly $1.5 billion this year, and revenues from AMRs expected to grow by almost 75% during 2018, according to a new report (H/T Drives & Controls). 

    ABB's YuMi cobot was spotted on TV... 



    Engineers at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre are "leading the way in collaborative robotics research in a drive to help SMEs integrate the technology onto factory floors" (H/T PES Media).

    When cobots whisper "Relax. It's Friday"...





     On the surface, the next story isn't directly related to robotics or AI, but check out the parallels between efficient biological design and efficient automation design.  You have to wonder "How widely can this principle be applied?" 

    Researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum published imaging findings in Nature Communications this week that show "the more intelligent a person, the fewer connections there are between the neurons in [their] cerebral cortex."

    Bear in mind that previous research has shown that intelligent people have larger brains and also that they display less neuronal activity than others when performing an IQ test.

    So, putting all these findings together, the Ruhr-Universität Bochum team concluded that "intelligent brains possess lean, yet efficient neuronal connections. Thus, they boast high mental performance at low neuronal activity."

    The chain reaction of Lean Robotics. 

    The parallels between these findings and the principles of Lean Robotics are intriguing. Less is more – at least in smart, effective automation projects.

    In fact, throwing lots of effort into automation in the absence of lean design can lead to overkill and rapid project failure (the automation equivalent of how overthinking leads to cognitive inefficiencies).  Lean robotics aims to cut out that waste. 

    Based on the principles of lean manufacturing, Lean Robotics shows you how to quickly design, integrate, and operate robotic cells that boast high performance for a minimal initial investment of time and money. It's smart manufacturing design that mirrors the best in biological design.


    Biology sometimes sets efficiency standards that roboticists can only dream of replicating with current materials and power sources. 

    (Image: Wikipedia.)

    The natural world displays this "less is more" principle in abundance. Through millions of years, nature has produced some incredibly efficient designs for locomotion, flight, vision, physical endurance, location mapping, energy consumption and intelligence.

    And so roboticists constantly look to the natural world for inspiration, hoping to capture the incredible efficiency of biological systems.

    For example, this week in the world of bio-inspired robotics, researchers from the University of Washington revealed RoboFly, which they say is the "world's first wireless insect-sized flying robot."   The main engineering challenge?  Powering the flapping system in an energy-efficient way. 

    Here things take a turn away from biology, as the team eventually decided to power the bot using a "narrow, invisible laser beam" to excite a photovoltaic cell that then converts the laser light into electricity... 



    Over at ICRA, researchers revealed a "bio-inspired octopus robot based on [a] novel soft fluidic actuator"...




    And researchers at Cornell revealed a cute, partly bio-inspired prototype bot that can express its emotions through touch, "sending out little spikes when it’s scared or even getting goosebumps to express delight or excitement." The team compared the system to “human goosebumps, cats’ neck fur raising, dogs’ back hair, the needles of a porcupine, spiking of a blowfish, or a bird’s ruffled feathers.”  



    And a team from the University of Graz, Austria shared their research into the development of "robot spies" that can be used to study biological swarms, such as colonies of bees... 




    Despite all this talk of "intelligence" – and yet still in tune with the insight that "less is more" – tiny, self-powered, "mindless" vibrating robots are able to work together to move a corral, as demonstrated by researchers at the University of Bordeaux in France.  

    Intriguing stuff, even if you have to wonder to what extent a "mindless" robot can be called a "robot" at all.   


    Collections of small, simple bots may someday perform useful tasks like exploration, so researchers want to learn about their basic principles of operation. Credit: A. Deblais et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. (2018) (Via PhysOrg).

    I'll be back next week with more robotics news.  Until then... 


    Five vids for Friday

    1.  NASA announced plans to launch the first-ever helicopter on Mars in July 2020.  The miniature, unmanned drone-like chopper, dubbed "The Mars Helicopter," weighs less than 1.8 kilos (4 lbs) and is about the size of a softball. 



    2.  A team at MIT’s Little Devices Lab revealed a set of modular blocks that can be put together in different ways to produce diagnostic devices for testing blood glucose levels, detecting viral infections, and performing other functions. 




    3.  Italian researchers unveiled a "lighter, cheaper robotic hand."



    4.  CNBC spent some time with Sharp’s humanoid bot, RoBoHoN, an automated travel companion for humans.





    5.  Boston Dynamics
    announced that it will start selling its SpotMini robot in 2019. 






    Read more »
  • Use the Same Robot for More Than One Job

    What's happening on DoF this week?

    • Read about how others deploy their robots for more than one job!
    • See how Scott Fetzer Electrical Group deploys robots for different tasks every day.

    Learn more from automation Pros here!

    Use the Same Robot for More Than One Job


    Deploying a robot in the leanest possible manner sometimes means being able to move your robot to different robotic cells.

    This past month, EmileDerache posted about the possibility of moving a robot from one setup station to another. Roehlkk suggested keeping the robot’s moves relative to a feature, or using fixtures to keep the robot in place, in order to have better repeatability.

    Have you ever deployed your robot and then repurposed it at another station? Whether you’ve done so successfully, you’re thinking about it, or you need some help doing so, we invite you to share your thoughts and experiences!


    See how Scott Fetzer Electrical Group integrates robots throughout the production line

    Having the ability to deploy your robot at multiple stations throughout the production line could be key to helping you create more value for your customers. At SFEG, workers move collaborative robots to the workstations where production is needed most. Check out how they do it!



     Did we miss anything? Ask the Pros on DoF!

    Read more »
  • Ella Habla Robótica: Introducing Robotiq’s Laurence Belhumeur Roberge, a Spanish-Speaking Bridge-Builder

    Laurence Belhumeur Roberge has taken her love of language and given Robotiq a voice in Latin America.

    Robotiq was founded when lab-mates Samuel Bouchard, Vincent Duchaîne, and Jean-Philippe Jobin decided to commercialize some of the mechatronic work they and their professor Clément Gosselin had created at Laval University in Quebec City. That was in 2008.

    Today, Robotiq employs 90 full-time staff, and its grippers, sensors, and cameras operate in 52 different countries. For nearly two years now, we’ve been telling the stories of our team members.

    A small Latin quarter has popped up in a corner of Robotiq’s head office. If you happen to hear Laurence Belhumeur Roberge on the phone or read her WhatsApp messages, you'll soon discover some of the links that now exist between Robotiq and Latin America. Laurence speaks Spanish throughout most of her working day, as she helps clients in Mexico and other Latin countries automate their operations.

    Hiking cordillères des andes1

    Laurence hiking the Santa Cruz Trek in Cordillera Blanca, Peru.

    As Channel Sales Manager for Latin America, Laurence’s combination of charm and know-how has helped her build relationships with numerous Spanish-speaking clients. Laurence is especially fond of how people from this part of the world conduct business by making sure to first connect on a social level. "They want to know how you're doing, how your family's doing, how your brother’s doing," she says of the approach her many partners take to connecting with her. "We always start with our news. Then we start discussing how we can grow the business together." She also meets her clients in person in their countries, and occasionally in Canada.

    Laurence works with application engineers and integration coaches – who might be called on to figure out how a robot can, say, connect an axel to a wheel – while they help clients sort out a myriad of automation conundrums.

    On a macro level, she's also figuring out what it takes to open up more markets in Latin America, as she wades through tariffs and trade agreements and speaks with federal and provincial civil servants.

    And to think that less than a decade ago, this 27-year-old was looking at how she could forge a career out of her love of languages, growing interest in business development, travel bug, and curiosity about different cultures. They seem to all be playing a role in this corporate telanovela.


    Meet Robotiq’s Laurence Belhumeur Roberge: Channel Sales Manager for Latin America

    Laurence grew up in Victoriaville, an hour and a half outside Quebec City. Her parents, both educators, wanted her and her younger brother to learn English and tried to find opportunities for them to learn the language. The family would often go camping and, if there were English-speaking families, her parents would insist the two siblings introduce themselves to the other children. For Laurence, languages would eventually become a favourite subject in school.

    She spent much of her childhood playing in the woods behind her home. She and a group of friends would run to their favourite giant tree, hang out, and build things. Victoriaville has remained an important touchstone for her; it's a place she and her brother, who now lives in Montreal, visit regularly to see family and be in nature.

    Her accomplishments seem to be born from a place outside of competition. Take swimming, for example. As a teenager, she swam at a competitive level, but it wasn't all about the medals: "I really liked the adrenaline rush of competing, but it wasn't a priority for me to win this or that specific race. I was doing it because I wanted to be in shape and I liked to swim."


    When Laurence was a teen, she took a pretty non-competitive approach to competitive swimming. 

    That love for the water and her skill as a swimmer led her to become a lifeguard at a city pool, where she worked for seven summers. "These summers were unforgettable. They were the best time of the year," she says. In her last two years there, she was managing five Victoriaville pools and overseeing 25 lifeguards, and she was even asked to design pool safety programs. 


    Laurence on the lifeguard deck.

    During her post-secondary studies, she immersed herself in other languages, including English, German, and Spanish. She also traveled to Cuba, Peru, and Mexico, and spent a semester living with a family in Scotland. Laurence says "Learning a new language is a way for me to get to know another person from another culture – to connect with them and build real relationships."

    Although languages were the main focus of her university years, after graduation she began to learn more about business. Thanks to her fluency in French, English, and Spanish, she landed an internship with a provincial ministry, where she organized trade missions for Quebec companies that wanted to explore new markets.


    Spending a semester in Scotland doesn't seem too bad!

    She was becoming more and more inspired by the entrepreneurialism around her. She was closely involved with the launch of her boyfriend Mathieu’s life sciences company, Bliq Photonics, which, like Robotiq, grew out of technology from Laval University. 

    Trade missions were also organized through a club she joined at Laval. It was there that she made contact with a Victoriaville company called MegaSecur, which was interested in the Mexican market. She would go on to be hired for a six-month contract after graduation, regularly travelling to Mexico. "We had a great relationship." She explains that her goal was to be on site, meet people, and see where would be best to sell. That would be an important six months, as she made key contacts in Mexico and tracked down leads for the company to pursue.

    Her international sales skills became increasingly sought-after. Following the MegaSecur contract, she was hired by another company, Creaform, which makes 3-D scanners. At the time, Robotiq CEO Samuel Bouchard was looking at growing the sales staff. Laurence’s international work fit well with plans to have clients receive more one-on-one attention. Laurence explains: "The demand was growing a lot and we wanted to have a more personalized service to offer our clients. That’s why Robotiq decided to hire inside sales specialists who would speak to those clients directly and accompany them throughout their automation projects."

    matchu pitchu

    Laurence with a friend at Machu Picchu, Peru.

    Since being hired in Feb. 2017, Laurence has focused on helping Latin American companies in the automotive, electronics, and aerospace sectors automate their plants. She seeks to understand their needs and build bridges between the clients and their integration coaches: "There's a coach who’s available to start working on the project with the client. And I follow the conversation between coach and client. We work as a team."

    Mexico has been the lead player so far, but Brazil is becoming another important market. Robotiq currently has two distributors in the country – Laurence would like to see that number increase, and is tackling the challenges of Brazil's language and trade barriers head-on. From contacting trade officials to learning Portuguese, Laurence is doing what she can to develop this sizeable market. 

    Harry Potter railway

    Laurence at the famous "Harry Potter" railway in Scotland.


    In her off-hours, she enjoys snowboarding in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. But she still has a soft spot for swimming. She finds peace underwater, where it's just her and her thoughts – whether those thoughts are in French, English, Spanish, German or Portuguese!

     Meet the Robotiq team here!

    Read more »

NASA Breaking News

Space News

Universe Today

  • The Pressure Inside Every Proton is 10x That Inside Neutron Stars

    Neutron stars are famous for combining a very high-density with a very small radius. As the remnants of massive stars that have undergone gravitational collapse, the interior of a neutron star is compressed to the point where they have similar pressure conditions to atomic nuclei. Basically, they become so dense that they experience the same amount of internal pressure as the equivalent of 2.6 to 4.1 quadrillion Suns!

    In spite of that, neutron stars have nothing on protons, according to a recent study by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility. After conducting the first measurement of the mechanical properties of subatomic particles, the scientific team determined that near the center of a proton, the pressure is about 10 times greater than the pressure in the heart of a neutron star.

    The study which describes the team’s findings, titled “The pressure distribution inside the proton“, recently appeared in the scientific journal Nature. The study was led by Volker Burkert, a nuclear physicist at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (TJNAF), and co-authored by Latifa Elouadrhiri and Francois-Xavier Girod – also from the TJNAF.

    Cross-section of a neutron star. Credit: Wikipedia Commons/Robert Schulze

    Basically , they found that the pressure conditions at the center of a proton were 100 decillion pascals – about 10 times the pressure at the heart of a neutron star. However, they also found that pressure inside the particle is not uniform, and drops off as the distance from the center increases. As Volker Burkert, the Jefferson Lab Hall B Leader, explained:

    “We found an extremely high outward-directed pressure from the center of the proton, and a much lower and more extended inward-directed pressure near the proton’s periphery… Our results also shed light on the distribution of the strong force inside the proton. We are providing a way of visualizing the magnitude and distribution of the strong force inside the proton. This opens up an entirely new direction in nuclear and particle physics that can be explored in the future.”

    Protons are composed of three quarks that are bound together by the strong nuclear force, one of the four fundamental forces that government the Universe – the other being electromagnetism, gravity and weak nuclear forces. Whereas electromagnetism and gravity produce the effects that govern matter on the larger scales, weak and strong nuclear forces govern matter at the subatomic level.

    Previously, scientists thought that it was impossible to obtain detailed information about subatomic particles. However, the researchers were able to obtain results by pairing two theoretical frameworks with existing data, which consisted of modelling systems that rely on electromagnetism and gravity. The first model concerns generalized parton distributions (GDP) while the second involve gravitational form factors.

    Quarks inside a proton experience a force an order of magnitude greater than matter inside a neutron star. Credit: DOE’s Jefferson Lab

    Patron modelling refers to modeling subatomic entities (like quarks) inside protons and neutrons, which allows scientist to create 3D images of a proton’s or neutron’s structure (as probed by the electromagnetic force). The second model describes the scattering of subatomic particles by classical gravitational fields, which describes the mechanical structure of protons when probed via the gravitational force.

    As noted, scientists previously thought that this was impossible due to the extreme weakness of the gravitational interaction. However, recent theoretical work has indicated that it could be possible to determine the mechanical structure of a proton using electromagnetic probes as a substitute for gravitational probes. According to Latifa Elouadrhiri – a Jefferson Lab staff scientist and co-author on the paper – that is what their team set out to prove.

    “This is the beauty of it. You have this map that you think you will never get,” she said. “But here we are, filling it in with this electromagnetic probe.”

    For the sake of their study, the team used the DOE’s Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility at the TJNAF to create a beam of electrons. These were then directed into the nuclei of atoms where they interacted electromagnetically with the quarks inside protons via a process called deeply virtual Compton scattering (DVCS). In this process, an electron exchanges a virtual photon with a quark, transferring energy to the quark and proton.

    The bare masses of all 6 flavors of quarks, proton and electron, shown in proportional volume. Credit: Wikipedia/Incnis Mrsi

    Shortly thereafter, the proton releases this energy by emitting another photon while remaining intact. Through this process, the team was able to produced detailed information of the mechanics going on in inside the protons they probed. As Francois-Xavier Girod, a Jefferson Lab staff scientist and co-author on the paper, explained the process:

    “There’s a photon coming in and a photon coming out. And the pair of photons both are spin-1. That gives us the same information as exchanging one graviton particle with spin-2. So now, one can basically do the same thing that we have done in electromagnetic processes — but relative to the gravitational form factors, which represent the mechanical structure of the proton.”

    The next step, according to the research team, will be to apply the technique to even more precise data that will soon be released. This will reduce uncertainties in the current analysis and allow the team to reveal other mechanical properties inside protons – like the internal shear forces and the proton’s mechanical radius. These results, and those the team hope to reveal in the future, are sure to be of interest to other physicists.

    “We are providing a way of visualizing the magnitude and distribution of the strong force inside the proton,” said Burkert. “This opens up an entirely new direction in nuclear and particle physics that can be explored in the future.”

    Perhaps, just perhaps, it will bring us closer to understanding how the four fundamental forces of the Universe interact. While scientists understand how electromagnetism and weak and strong nuclear forces interact with each other (as described by Quantum Mechanics), they are still unsure how these interact with gravity (as described by General Relativity).

    If and when the four forces can be unified in a Theory of Everything (ToE), one of the last and greatest hurdles to a complete understanding of the Universe will finally be removed.

    Further Reading: Jefferson Lab, Cosmos Magazine, Nature

    The post The Pressure Inside Every Proton is 10x That Inside Neutron Stars appeared first on Universe Today.

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  • NASA Cubesat Takes a Picture of the Earth and Moon

    In 1990, the Voyager 1 spaceprobe took a picture of Earth when it was about 6.4 billion km (4 billion mi) away. In this image, known as the “pale blue dot“, Earth and the Moon appeared as mere points of light because of the sheer distance involved. Nevertheless, it remains an iconic photo that not only showed our world from space, but also set  long-distance record.

    As it turns out, NASA set another long-distance record for CubeSats last week (on May. 8th, 2018) when a pair of small satellites called Mars Cube One (MarCO) reached a distance of 1 million km (621,371 mi) from Earth. On the following day, one of the CubeSats (MarCO-B, aka. “Wall-E”) used its fisheye camera to take its own “pale blue dot” photo of the Earth-Moon system.

    The two CubeSats were launched on May 5th along with the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander, which is currently on its way to Mars to explore the planet’s interior structure. As the first CubeSats to fly to deep pace, the purpose of the MarCO mission is to demonstrate if CubeSats are capable of acting as a relay with long-distance spacecraft.

    An artist’s rendering of the twin Mars Cube One (MarCO) spacecraft as they fly through deep space. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    To this end, the probes will be responsible for monitoring InSight as it makes its landing on Mars in late November, 2018. The photo of Earth and the Moon was taken as part of the process used by the engineering team to confirm that the spacecraft’s high-gain antenna unfolded properly. As Andy Klesh, MarCO’s chief engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, indicated in a recent NASA press release:

    “Consider it our homage to Voyager. CubeSats have never gone this far into space before, so it’s a big milestone. Both our CubeSats are healthy and functioning properly. We’re looking forward to seeing them travel even farther.”

    This technology demonstration, and the long-distance record recently set by MarCO satellites, provides a good indication of just how far CubeSats have come in the past few years. Originally, CubeSats were developed to teach university students about satellites, but have since become a major commercial technology. In addition to providing vast amounts of data, they have proven to be a cost-effective alternative to larger, multi-million dollar satellites.

    The MarCO CubeSats will be there when the InSight lander accomplishes the most difficult part of its mission, which is entering Mars’ extremely thin atmosphere (which makes landings extremely challenging). As the lander travels to Mars, MarCO-A and B will travel along behind it and (should they make it all the way to Mars) radio back data about InSight as it enters the atmosphere and descends to the planet’s surface.

    Artist’s interpretation of the InSight mission on the ground on Mars. Credit: NASA

    The job of acting as a data relay will fall to NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which has been in orbit of Mars since 2006. However, the MarCOs will also be monitoring InSight to see if future missions will be capable of bringing their own relay to Mars, rather than having to rely on an orbiter that is already there. They may also demonstrate a number of experimental technologies, which includes their radio and propulsion systems.

    The main attraction though, are the high-gain antennas which will be providing information on InSights’ progress. At the moment, the team has received early confirmation that the antennas have successfully deployed, but they will continue to test them in the weeks ahead. If all goes according to plan, the MarCOs could demonstrate the ability of CubeSats to act not only as relays, but also their ability to gather information on other planets.

    In other words, if the MarCOs are able to make it to Mars and track InSight’s progress, NASA and other agencies may contemplate mounting full-scale missions using CubeSats – sending them to the Moon, Mars, or even beyond. Later this month, the MarCOs will attempt their first trajectory correction maneuvers, which will be the first such maneuver are performed by CubeSats.

    In the meantime, be sure to check out this video of the MarCO mission, courtesy of NASA 360:

    Further Reading: NASA

    The post NASA Cubesat Takes a Picture of the Earth and Moon appeared first on Universe Today.

    Read more »
  • Are Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts Coming From the Collapse of Strange Star Crusts?

    Fast Radio Bursts (FBRs) have fascinated astronomers ever since the first one was detected in 2007. This event was named the “Lorimer Burst” after it discoverer, Duncan Lorimer from West Virginia University. In radio astronomy, this phenomenon refers to transient radio pulses coming from distant cosmological sources, which typically last a few milliseconds on average.

    Over two dozen events have been discovered since 2007 and scientists are still not sure what causes them – though theories range from exploding stars and black holes to pulsars and magnetars. However, according to a new study by a team of Chinese astronomers, FRBs may be linked to crusts forming around “strange stars”. According to a model they created, it is the collapse of these crusts that lead to high-energy bursts that can be seen light-years away.

    The study, titled “Fast Radio Bursts from the collapse of Strange Star Crusts“, recently appeared in The Astrophysical Journal. The team was led by Yue Zhang of the  School of Astronomy and Space Science (SASC) at Nanjing University and included Jin-Jun Geng and Yong-Feng Huang – a postdoc and professor from the SASC and the Key Laboratory of Modern Astronomy and Astrophysics (also at Nanjing University), respectively.

    As they state in their study, all previous attempts to explain FRBs have been unable to resolve where these strange phenomena come from. What’s more, no counterparts in other wavebands have been detected for non-repeating FRBs so far and research into their origins has been confounded by the study of repeating FRBs. This is due to the fact that the former are often attributed to catastrophic events, which are incapable of repeating.

    In the case of the FRBs, these catastrophic events include “magnetar giant flares, the collapses of magnetized supramassive rotating neutron stars, binary neutron star mergers, binary white dwarf mergers, collisions between neutron stars and asteroids/comets, collisions between neutron stars and white dwarfs, and evaporation of primordial black holes.”

    Alternately, in the case of the repeating FRBs, various models suggest that these could be caused by  “highly magnetized pulsars traveling through asteroid belts, neutron star-white dwarf binary mass transfer, and star quakes of pulsars.” For the sake of their study, the team proposed a new model whereby the build up and collapse of matter on certain types of neutron stars (aka. “strange stars”) could explain the behavior of FRBs. As they explain:

    “It has been conjectured that strange quark matter (SQM), a kind of dense material composed of approximately equal numbers of up, down, and strange quarks, may have a lower energy per baryon than ordinary nuclear matter (such as 56 Fe) so that it may be the true ground state of hadronic matter. If this hypothesis is correct, then neutron stars (NSs) may actually be ‘strange stars'”.

    This artist’s impression of the cosmic web, the filamentary structure that fills the entire Universe, showing radio sources associated with FRBs. Credit: M. Weiss/CfA

    According to this model, strange stars build up a layer of hadronic (aka. “normal”) matter on their surface over time. As these SQM stars accrete matter from their environment, their crusts becomes heavier and heavier. Eventually, this leads the crust to collapse, leaving a hot and bare strange star that becomes a powerful source of electrons and positron pairs.

    These pairs would then be released along with large amounts of magnetic energy over a very short timescale. The team further hypothesized that during a collapse, a fraction of magnetic energy would be transferred to the polar cap region of the SQM stars, where the magnetic field energy is released. This would cause the electrons and positrons to be accelerated to ultra-relativistic speeds, which would then expand along magnetic field lines to form a shell.

    Beyond a certain distance from the star, coherent emission in radio bands will be produced, giving birth to an FRB event. They also theorize that this same phenomenon could give to rise to repeating FRBs. One possibility is that the crust of an SQM star could be reconstructed over time, thus allowing for repeated events. A second is that only small sections of crust collapse at any given time, thus resulting in repeated events.

    As they conclude, further studies will be needed before this can be said either way:

    Owing to this long reconstruction timescale, multiple FRB events from the same source seem not likely to happen in our scenario. Our model thus is more suitable for explaining the non- repeating FRBs… However, we should also note that during the collapse process, if only a small portion (in the polar cap region) of the crust falls onto the SQM core while the other portion of the crust remains stable, then the rebuilt timescale for the crust can be markedly reduced and repeating FRBs would still be possible.

    The CHIME telescope, a massive radio telescope located in Penticton, British Columbia. Credit: CHIME/DRAO

    Another thing that they claim will require further investigation is whether or not the collapse of a strange star’s crust could result in electromagnetic radiation other than radio waves. At present, any emissions in the X-ray and Gamma-ray bands would be too faint for current detectors to observe. For these reasons, further investigations of FRB sources with more sensitive instruments are needed.

    These include the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) telescope – located in Penticton, British Columbia – and the Square Kilometer Array (SQA) currently under construction in South Africa and Australia. These facilities, which are optimized for radio astronomy, are expected to reveal a great deal more about FRBs and other mysterious cosmic phenomena.

    Further Reading: arXiv

    The post Are Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts Coming From the Collapse of Strange Star Crusts? appeared first on Universe Today.

    Read more »

European Space Agency Articles

  • Mont Saint Michel

    Die Mission Copernicus Sentinel-2 führt uns diiesmal zur Bucht von Mont Saint-Michel in Nordfrankreich, die mittlerweile zum UNESCO-Weltkulturerbe erklärt wurde. Read more »
  • Der Weltraum landet im Klassenzimmer - ESERO Deutschland hebt ab!

    Das neue ESERO Deutschland Büro wurde am 17.Mai im Planetarium Bochum eingeweiht. ESERO Deutschland ist ein Kooperationsprojekt von ESA und DLR, das das Thema Raumfahrt zur Förderung der Schulbildung im Bereich Wissenschaft und Technik nutzt und das bestehende Bildungsangebot des DLR in Deutschland ergänzt. Auf Einladung der Geomatik-Forschungsgruppe der Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) schließt sich ESERO Deutschland dem ESERO-Netzwerk (European Space Education Resource Office) der ESA an, das derzeit 14 weitere ESA-Mitgliedstaaten umfasst. 

    Read more »
  • Ameisen-Nebel

    Diese Aufnahme vom NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope zeigt den "Ameisen-Nebel", der so genannt wird, weil die Form einer Ameise ähnelt. Read more »

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