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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


Dutch Report Warns About Negative Impact Of Climate Change On Health Of Citizens Worldwide

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) just published a report on climate change’s impact on health, warning of dire consequences should the world not act to curb global warming. What KNAW calls a “climate crisis” is leading…

Comet C/2021 T4 Lemmon is sweeping through southern skies

Comet C/2021 T4 Lemmon: Oblique view of Earth orbit and parabolic path of comet sweeping around it.
This space view is from 20° north of the ecliptic plane and from longitude 235°. Grid lines on the plane are 1 astronomical unit (AU), the distance between the sun and the Earth. The ram’s-horn symbol marks the vernal (March) equinox direction. The Earth is exaggerated 500 times in size, and the sun 5 times. Stalks connect the Comet C/2021 T4 Lemmon to the ecliptic plane at the beginning of each month of 2023. Image copyright Guy Ottewell. Used with permission.

Renowned British astronomer Guy Ottewell originally published this piece about Comet C/2021 T4 Lemmon on May 25, 2023. Reprinted with permission. Edits by EarthSky.

Comet C/2021 T4 Lemmon

Comet C/2021 T4 Lemmon was discovered on October 7, 2021, on images taken at the Mount Lemmon Observatory, northeast of Tucson in Arizona. T4 means the 4th discovery or recovery in the first half of October.

Mount Lemmon is the highest point of the Santa Catalina Mountains, one of four mountain ranges around Tucson. It’s not to be confused with Catilina, the conspirator who tried to seize power over the Roman republic in 63 BCE. I’m reminded of my speculation that the Navajos may have seen Canopus, the great star of the south, from one of the four sacred peaks surrounding their land. In fact, it’s shown as the cover picture for the Astronomical Calendar 2023.

When discovered, comet C/2021 T4, because of the geometry of its orbit, appeared quite northerly, at declination +12°.

Comet C/2021 T4 Lemmon is a long period comet

In fact, it’s a long-period comet; if it ever previously dropped from its remote home – at 44,000 AU out – to the inner solar system, it would have been millions of years ago. So during its present passage, it’ll feel gravitational perturbations from the planets that will shorten its period to merely thousands of years.

Its orbit is inclined about 20° to the ecliptic plane. However, it’s going in a retrograde direction, or opposite to the direction in which the planets revolve. The result is that it’ll make a very long rapid sweep across our southern sky.

Constellation chart, with labeled stars and Milky Way, with curved line showing path of comet.
Chart showing the location of Comet C/2021 T4 Lemmon starting in July through November 2023. Chart copyright Guy Ottewell. Used with permission.

Finder chart

At present the comet is 60° out in the morning sky, southerly (at declination -13°), 1.75 AU from the sun and 2 AU from Earth. However, it’s still at a dim magnitude of about 11. Then, on June 27, 2023, its distance from us will shrink to 1 AU.

On July 18, 2023, we will pass it at opposition. And around this time, it’ll be nearest to us, 0.54 AU, and brightest, perhaps about magnitude 8 or 7 but still below the unaided-eye limit. Its nearness will make it appear even farther south, at declination -56° on July 20.

Then in the following months it will climb north, becoming lower in the evening sky and more distant. At the same time it’ll be dimming by perhaps 2 or 3 magnitudes. It will reach perihelion, 1.48 AU from the sun, on July 31, 2023. Finally, it’ll ascend across the ecliptic on September 10, 2023, and be at conjunction behind and north of the sun on November 9, 2023.

Of course, we must remember that predictions of a comet’s brightness, and the size of their tails, can be unreliable. That’s because they depend on the melting of ice and release of dust in these lumpy spinning objects.

Comet-Hale Bopp still observable? Wow!

By the way, Alan Hale alerted us (Guy Ottewell) to this comet with a Facebook post on May 22. Alan was discoverer of the great comet Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1). And, despite now being more than 47 AU away, it’s the first on the Minor Planet Center’s list of currently observable comets, not because of its present magnitude (about 20) but because it is the earliest-numbered non-periodic comet still considered observable at all.

Bottom line: Comet C/2021 T4 Lemmon was discovered from Mount Lemmon Observatory in 2021. It’s currently sweeping through the southern skies.

Biggest monster star! And the heaviest stars

Biggest monster star: One edge of a BIG star, and a tiny dot representing our sun.
The biggest monster star in size is UY Scuti. Shown here is an illustration showing the size of UY Scuti compared to the sun. Read more about the largest and most massive stars below. Image via Philip Park/ Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

The biggest monster star

There are very heavy stars. And there are gigantic stars. In terms of sheer size, the star UY Scuti is – as far as we know – the biggest star known. It’s only about 7 to 10 times the sun’s mass, but has a radius more than 1,700 greater than the sun.

While there is currently no competition for UY Scuti as the largest star, there is uncertainty about which star is the most massive star. All of the contenders are nearly twice as massive as what astronomers thought was possible.

Many sources continue to list R136a1 as the heaviest star known at 250 solar masses. However, a recent study in 2022 puts its mass between 170 and 230 times more massive than our sun. Thus, that enables two other stars to edge it out of the top spot on the massive star list. However, that list is dated 2016 and states that the masses listed on it are uncertain.

So, currently topping the massive star list at 250 solar masses is Westerhout 49-2. However, its mass may vary by as much as 120 solar masses – plus or minus – from that figure.

Another contender for the most massive star is BAT99-98. It’s estimated to be about 226 solar masses. And since its mass isn’t listed with a plus or minus range, it could easily be the most massive star.

Of course, regardless of which one tops the massive star list, all of them are very massive stars!

Read more about these monster stars below …

UY Scuti is just plain big

UY Scuti is located some 9,500 light-years away. And it’s the biggest star known, in terms of sheer physical size. The fact is that – for stars – mass and physical size don’t always go hand in hand. Consider that great mass means stronger gravity. And stronger gravity means a greater inward pull for a star. So being super massive might not correlate to being super big.

UY Scuti has a relatively modest mass. It’s only about 7 to 10 times more massive than our sun. But its radius is about 1,700 times greater than the radius of our sun. That would make this star nearly 8 astronomical units across. That’s eight times 93 million miles (150 million km), the distance between our Earth and sun. So, this single star is so large that its outer surface would extend far beyond the orbit of the planet Jupiter (which lies about five times farther from the sun than Earth).

Or look at it this way. More than a million Earths could fit inside the sun. But some 5 billion suns could fit inside a sphere the size of UY Scuti.

The other big stars

Who are the other candidates for the biggest star? They would include NML Cygni, whose estimated distance is about 5,300 light-years and whose radius is between 1,183 and 2,770 times greater than that of our sun. A recent study of this star suggested that it’s an unusual hypergiant star cocooned within a nebula and severely obscured by dust. So we don’t know its size exactly, and the upper part of the range would make it larger than UY Scuti.

Another hypergiant star is WOH G64, which is in the Large Magellanic Cloud and thus located at about 160,000 light-years from Earth. At an estimated 1,540 times the sun’s radius, this star is thought to be the largest star in the Large Magellanic Cloud in terms of sheer physical size. And, again, we’re talking size here, not mass. This star is only about 25 times the sun’s mass.

List of largest known stars

The heaviest stars

Currently topping the most massive star list at 250 solar masses is Westerhout 49-2. However, its mass may vary by as much as 120 solar masses – plus or minus – from that figure. It’s located 36,200 light-years away in the constellation of Aquila the Eagle. And it’s over 4 million times more luminous than our sun, with a surface temperature of 63,440 degrees F (35,226 C). However, it’s important to note, it could be a binary star system, so its estimated mass could be from a combination of two stars.

Second on the most massive star list is BAT99-98. It’s located 165,000 light-years distant in the Large Magellanic Cloud near the R136 star cluster. It’s estimated to be about 226 solar masses and is a Wolf-Rayet star. Also, it’s about 5 million times more luminous than our sun with a surface temperature of 80,540 degrees F (44,726 C).

Finally, the former champion, now third on the list, is R136a1. It’s located in the Large Magellanic Cloud at about 163,000 light-years away. R136a1 is what’s known as a Wolf–Rayet star. It has a mass between 170 and 230 times the mass of the sun. Its surface temperature is over 100,000 degrees F (55,538 degrees C). And it’s almost 5 million times more luminous than our sun

In addition to being on the massive star list, all three of these stars are among the most luminous stars.

How the most massive stars form

For decades, theories have suggested that no stars can be born by ordinary processes above 150 solar masses. So how did these stars grow so large? And why aren’t monster stars scattered throughout space?

One idea is that supermassive stars like R136a1 form through mergers of multiple stars. In 2012, astronomers at the University of Bonn suggested that the ultramassive stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud – such as R136a1 – were created when lighter stars in tight double-star systems merged.

Still, double-star systems are common. So why don’t we see more super-sized stars? The astronomers in Bonn say it’s because these stars formed under special conditions in a densely packed star cluster. And in a closely packed star cluster, double stars are more likely to encounter each other and merge.

But if these ultramassive stars form in this way, why don’t we see more of them? After all, multiple star systems are common throughout space, while monster stars are few and far between.

The answer may be that monster stars don’t live very long. They evolve very quickly in contrast to less massive stars like our sun. They end their lives in violent supernova explosions.

List of most massive stars

Imagine how bright they’d be nearby

As you can see, there are extremely heavy stars … and there are simply gigantic stars. What makes a star big might be its mass or its physical size. And either way, it’s fun to imagine what it would be like to have one of these stars relatively close to us in space … say, the distance to the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, only four light-years away.

At that distance, any of these stars would blaze in our night sky!

Small red dot, larger yellow sphere, still larger blue sphere, and part of a gigantic darker blue sphere.
Left to right: a red dwarf, the sun, a blue dwarf, and R136a1. R136a1 is not one of the largest known stars in terms of radius or volume, only in mass. Image via Wikipedia (CC BY 4.0).
Biggest monster star: 2 views of a scattered group of stars, left panel sharper than right, with one star labeled.
This comparison image of R136a1 from the Zorro imager on the 8.1-meter Gemini South telescope in Chile (left) when compared to an earlier image taken with the Hubble Space Telescope (right). The new Gemini South image allowed astronomers to clearly distinguish the star R136a1 from its nearby stellar companions, providing the data needed to reveal that – while still one of the most massive stars known in the Universe – it is less massive than previously thought. Image via International Gemini Observatory/ NOIRLab/ NSF/ AURA/ NASA/ ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Bottom line: Stars are considered big based on their sheer physical size or their mass. In terms of sheer size, UY Scuti is the biggest known star. As for the most massive, currently Westerhout 49-2 tops the list, but different sources vary on which star they list as most massive.

Replanting the Amazon could slow global warming. Here’s why it’s hard

Replanting the Amazon could help save the world’s climate. Here’s why it’s so hard to do Restoring decimated portions of Brazil’s rainforest has largely fallen to nonprofits. They’re battling illegal land-grabbers, tight budgets, botanical mysteries – and the ticking clock….


High road to Dubai COP28: What to expect at the upcoming Bonn climate conference

Countries will gather in Bonn, Germany from June 5-15 for the United Nation’s mid-year climate conference, also known as the meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB58). 

The conference will be led by two bodies within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) — the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). It will lay the groundwork for the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the UNFCCC in December.

COP27, hosted by Egypt last year, precipitated the establishment of a loss and damage fund, which had been negotiated upon and delayed for over three decades. On finance, the Parties called for the reform of multilateral development banks and other global financial institutions. 

For adaptation to the impacts of ongoing extreme weather events and slow onset events due to climate change, the Parties agreed on the establishment of a framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation, which would allow them to generate ambition and track progress under the global stock take process.

While the proposed goal of phasing down fossil fuels did not achieve consensus, COP27 reiterated previous calls “towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” and called for a just transition to renewable energy.

“2023 is a crucial year to drive equitable climate ambition. Countries in the Global North, which have already appropriated a giant share of the carbon budget should not be given a free pass on the continued use of natural gas, a significant contributor to warming. The global energy transition pathway has to be for all fossil fuels,” said Sunita Narain, director-general of Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment.

“We also need a global deal on renewable energy for energy access for the poorest and most vulnerable in the world,” she added.

Since COP27, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has published its Synthesis Report from the Sixth Assessment Cycle, which reiterated the urgency of halving emissions by 2030 if we are to stand a chance of achieving the goal laid out in the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius.

Elsewhere, the Russia-Ukraine war is yet to see an end, and energy security continues to dominate the priorities of countries. Wealthy countries have doubled down on their attachment to natural gas, particularly LNG, as evidenced by the G7 announcement at Hiroshima, Japan last month. 

They are also eager to capture the green supply chains of the future by unveiling large green subsidies, and trade-restricting carbon border taxes

Large, emerging economies have been at the centre of the discussion on energy transition, with experts at CSE and beyond calling for the transition to be equitable so that the development goals of these countries are not compromised. 

Most importantly, the conversation on finance has elevated this year. The question of much-needed reforms to the global financial architecture that is disadvantageous to developing countries in many ways has become a central priority for the climate community.

So, what will countries discuss at the mid-year climate conference in Bonn? 

Global Stocktake (GST): 2023 is the year that GST — the report card on the Paris Agreement’s goals — culminates. It provides an opportunity to “correct the course we are on”, according to UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell. In Bonn this month, the third meeting of the Technical Dialogue will be held, and thereafter, the information collection and technical assessment phase of GST will conclude, leading to the final political phase. The GST process, once completed, must act as a “ratchet mechanism” to create more ambition for climate change mitigation, adaptation, finance and technological support in line with equity.  

Loss and damage: The second Glasgow Dialogue will take forward discussions held in the two meetings and a workshop of the transitional committee (TC) on Loss and Damage. The TC was established with 24 members (14 from developing countries and 10 from developed countries) to decide upon the sources of finance for the loss and damage fund (LDF), established at COP 27, and its functioning and governance. Bonn will be a good opportunity for Parties to correct course and make LDF fully operational by COP 28, as divergent views about the scale and scope of the fund have emerged in the two meetings of the TC.

Mitigation: The Mitigation Work Programme will take discussions to the next level in Bonn with a Global Dialogue planned, followed by an Investment-Focused Event. The co-facilitators have set the tone by choosing “accelerating just energy transition” as the theme for discussions in 2023. This Work Programme has the potential to offer a constructive space for developing countries to lay out their financing and technological needs to drive more climate ambition.

Adaptation: The 6th workshop of the Glasgow Sharm El-Sheikh Work Programme on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) will be held in Bonn, June 4-5. At this workshop Parties will take forward the discussions from the 5th workshop held in March that discussed transformational adaptation taking into account the knowledge of indigenous communities around the world, various cross-cutting issues and changing mindsets. The theme of the 6th workshop would be discussions around metrics, indicators and methodologies for establishing the framework for GGA. This would pave the way for the 7th and 8th workshops. 

Finance: While the $100 billion climate finance goal may be met this year, discussions on the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) on climate finance will continue at Bonn. The Sixth Technical Expert Dialogue will deliberate on the “quantum” of money for the new goal as well as “mobilisation and provision of financial sources”.

Article 6: Under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, the SBSTA will further the work on the development of the necessary rules and procedures to implement the cooperative approaches outlined in Article 6.2. Regarding Article 6.4, the body will work to shape the responsibilities of the supervisory body and the participating parties in the mechanism. Additionally, the body will consider matters such as the appropriateness of including emission avoidance and conservation enhancement activities under Article 6.4.

For our collective progress to line up with considerations of equity, this year, above all, is about money. “For countries of the Global South, the focus should be on the lack of concessional finance to drive the energy transition. And we need to find ways to ensure that countries come up with sectoral trajectories for decarbonisation, and that these pathways list the financial gaps for which funding should be secured,” said Narain. 

The spotlight must be on finance in various concrete forms — filling up a loss and damage fund, concessional finance for the energy transition and decarbonisation in developing countries, more financing for adaptation and progress on the NCQG towards an ambitious new goal reflective of the true needs of the developing world.

The United Arab Emirate’s COP 28 tenure is being headed by the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, who is also the chairperson of Masdar, UAE’s renewable energy developer. 

Pressure has mounted from groups citing concerns about clashing interests — how can an oil baron lead the world on efforts to cut greenhouse emissions? 

Of course, wishing away conflicting interests does not make them disappear, and it will be the challenge this year for civil society and UNFCCC multilateral process to push through equitable climate ambition.

Opinion | The Ocean Is Looking More Menacing

There are a lot of unsettling signals coming from the world’s oceans right now. Even for those of us who watch things like temperature anomalies and extreme weather events as likely portents of the climate to come, the off-the-charts rise…

Seven of the nine thresholds that allow for human life on earth have already been crossed

Back in 2009, a large group of scientists identified nine limits that humans should not cross if they want the earth to remain hospitable to civilization. These included, among others, the availability of fresh water, the conservation of natural areas,…

Multiple Myeloma Cancer Treatment Has 90% Success Rate: ‘Dramatic Results’

Hadassah University Medical Center credit AVI HAYOUN

An experimental cancer treatment developed in Israel has become so effective for an incurable form of cancer, the hospital administering it has a waiting list more than 6 months long.

Oncologists at the immunology department at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem used the revolutionary CAR-T, or Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Therapy, to achieve remission of multiple myeloma in 90% of the 74 patients who undertook the experimental treatment.

Multiple myeloma is a kind of bone marrow cancer that distinguishes itself by developing in several areas at once, including the pelvis, ribs, skull, and spine. It accounts for one-tenth of all blood cancers.

CAR-T cell therapies are changing the world of cancer treatments by utilizing the patient’s own immune system to target and kill cancer tumors. Until the 1990s, it was almost completely unknown how to accomplish this, since cancers disguise themselves to avoid immune responses.

“We have evidence of a very positive overall response rate with minimal side effects, and they are mild,” Professor Polina Stepensky, head of the department at Hadassah. “These are dramatic results. This is a huge hope for patients with a disease that has not yet had a cure.”

Jerusalem Post reports that the treatment will also be available across the US in the coming months, quoting Dr. Stepensky.

“IMMX Bio has acquired a patent license, and we are about to open a clinical trial in the US,” Stepensky said. “The plan is to reach commercialization and FDA approval as a drug within a year.”

The way this particular CAR-T cell therapy treatment works is by taking donated blood and separating out the red blood cells from the white blood cells. Then, a genetic engineering procedure is undertaken in which a deactivated virus is filled with the necessary signals to train the white blood cells, in particular the immune weapon known as a T cell, how to target the cancer tumors.

Hadassah is actually the second institution to make headlines recently over a multiple myeloma CAR-T cell treatment. GNN reported on the development at a state-run hospital in Barcelona in 2021 that achieved a 75% remission rate.

CAR-T cell therapy has also shown promise against leukemia, and lupus, which isn’t a cancer but rather an autoimmune disease.

SHARE This 90% Remission Achievement With Your Friends… 

Ron DeSantis now blames ‘global warming’ for military recruitment woes

Florida’s Governor is telling Iowans that the military’s focus on “global warming” is a reason recruiting has fallen off, and he vows to “eliminate” such “distractions” if elected President. Ron DeSantis told a crowd in West Des Moines Tuesday of…

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