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China, France launch satellite to better understand universe

Xichang, China — A French-Chinese satellite blasted off Saturday on a hunt for the mightiest explosions in the universe, in a notable example of cooperation between a Western power and the Asian giant.

Developed by engineers from both countries, the Space Variable Objects Monitor, or SVOM, will seek out gamma-ray bursts, the light from which has traveled billions of light years to reach Earth.

The 930-kilogram (2,050-pound) satellite carrying four instruments — two French, two Chinese — took off around 3 p.m. aboard a Chinese Long March 2-C rocket from a space base in Xichang, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, AFP journalists witnessed.

Gamma-ray bursts generally occur after the explosion of huge stars — those more than 20 times as big as the sun — or the fusion of compact stars.

The extremely bright cosmic beams can give off a blast of energy equivalent to over a billion billion suns.

Observing them is like “looking back in time, as the light from these objects takes a long time to reach us,” Ore Gottlieb, an astrophysicist at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Astrophysics in New York, told AFP.

“Several mysteries”

The rays carry traces of the gas clouds and galaxies they pass through on their journey through space — valuable data for better understanding the history and evolution of the universe.

“SVOM has the potential to unravel several mysteries in the field of [gamma-ray bursts], including detecting the most distant GRBs in the universe, which correspond to the earliest GRBs,” Gottlieb said.

The most distant bursts identified to date were produced just 630 million years after the Big Bang — when the universe was in its infancy.

“We are … interested in gamma-ray bursts for their own sake, because they are very extreme cosmic explosions which allow us to better understand the death of certain stars,” said Frederic Daigne, an astrophysicist at the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris.

“All of this data makes it possible to test the laws of physics with phenomena that are impossible to reproduce in the laboratory on Earth,” he said.

Once analyzed, the data could help to better understand the composition of space, the dynamics of gas clouds or other galaxies.

The project stems from a partnership between the French and Chinese space agencies, as well as other scientific and technical groups from both nations.

Space cooperation at this level between the West and China is uncommon, especially since the United States banned all collaboration between NASA and Beijing in 2011.

Race against time

“U.S. concerns on technology transfer have inhibited U.S. allies from collaborating with the Chinese very much, but it does happen occasionally,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the United States.

In 2018, China and France jointly launched CFOSAT, an oceanographic satellite mainly used in marine meteorology.

And several European countries have taken part in China’s Chang’e lunar exploration program.

So, while SVOM is “by no means unique,” it remains “significant” in the context of space collaboration between China and the West, said McDowell.

Once in orbit 625 kilometers (388 miles) above the Earth, the satellite will send its data back to observatories.

The main challenge is that gamma-ray bursts are extremely brief, leaving scientists in a race against time to gather information.

Once it detects a burst, SVOM will send an alert to a team on duty around the clock.

Within five minutes, they will have to rev up a network of telescopes on the ground that will align precisely with the axis of the burst’s source to make more detailed observations.

Столиця Шляхта

ЗСУ проводять «стабілізаційні дії» на Покровському напрямку, він залишається найгарячішим – Генштаб

«Агресор активізував свої зусилля на витісненні підрозділів Сил оборони з лівобережної частини Дніпра на Придніпровському напрямку»

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Half a million Ukrainians in frontline city of Mykolaiv suffer through 3rd year without clean water

Going into a third year of war, life without clean water has become routine for nearly half a million residents of Ukraine’s frontline city of Mykolaiv. At the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Russian forces destroyed the water distribution system. As Lesia Bakalets reports, the city has been looking for ways to restore it since then. Video: Vladyslav Smilianets

Політика Столиця Шляхта

Генпрокурор Костін не відсторонив Вербицького, але перерозподілив його обов’язки на інших заступників

«Наказом генерального прокурора «Про тимчасове покладення обовʼязків заступника генерального прокурора» від 21.06.2024 обов’язки Дмитра Вербицького покладено на інших заступників»

Столиця Шляхта

НБУ заборонив використання кредитних коштів для участі в азартних іграх

20 квітня президент України Володимир Зеленський своїм указом увів в дію рішення Ради національної безпеки й оборони «Щодо протидії негативним наслідкам функціонування азартних ігор в мережі Інтернет»

Політика Столиця Шляхта

Депутат Ради Федієнко просить уряд урегулювати постанову, яка дозволяє мобілізувати чоловіків віком до 25 років

За словами Федієнка, наразі мобілізація цих чоловіків заборонена законом. Але проблемою є те, що постанова Кабінету міністрів йде всупереч закону

Політика Столиця Шляхта

Україна може завдавати ударів по РФ американською зброєю вздовж усього кордону – високопосадовці США

Раніше кілька країн Європи також дозволили Україні використовувати поставлену ними зброю для завдавання ударів по цілях на території Росії

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Gas company finds 3,300-year-old ship off Israel’s coast

TEL AVIV, Israel — A company drilling for natural gas off the coast of northern Israel discovered a 3,300-year-old ship and its cargo, one of the oldest known examples of a ship sailing far from land, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Thursday.

The discovery of the late Bronze Age ship so far out at sea indicates that the navigation abilities of ancient seafarers were more advanced than previously thought because they could travel without a line of sight to land, the IAA said.

The great depth at which the ship was found means it has been left undisturbed by waves, currents or fishermen over the millennia, offering greater potential for research, it said.

“The discovery of this boat now changes our entire understanding of ancient mariner abilities. It is the very first to be found at such a great distance with no line of sight to any landmass,” said Jacob Sharvit, head of the IAA marine unit, adding that two similar ships from the same era had been discovered previously, but only close to shore.

Sharvit said the assumption by researchers until now has been that trade during that era was conducted by boats sailing close to the shore, keeping an eye on land while moving from port to port. He said the newly discovered boat’s sailors probably used the sun and the stars to find their way.

The wooden ship sank about 90 kilometers off Israel’s Mediterranean coast and was discovered at a depth of 1,800 meters by Energean, a natural gas company which operates a number of deep-sea natural gas fields in Israel’s territorial waters.

In its work, Energean said it uses a submersible robot to scour the sea floor. About a year ago, it came across the 12- to 14-meter-long ship buried under the muddy bottom, nestled under hundreds of jugs that were thousands of years old.

The boat and its cargo were fully intact, the IAA said, adding that the vessel appeared to have sunk either in a storm or after coming under attack by pirates.

The ship for now is not being retrieved.

Energean worked with the IAA to retrieve two of the jugs, which were likely used for carrying oil, wine or fruit, and bring them to the surface for research.

The IAA identified the jugs as Canaanite, a people who resided in the lands abutting the eastern Mediterranean.

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Очільник МВС вважає, що у розслідуванні про бізнес родини Вигівського «все не так однозначно»

Клименко повідомив, що жодних внутрішніх розслідувань щодо глави Нацполу Івана Вигівського та походження статків його родини у міністерстві не проводять