[by Rylee Hitchner]
The patterns of neural activation when we’re reading for pleasure are not the same as those when we’re reading critically. It’s not just that the brain’s pleasure centers become activated in the more relaxed, immersed form of reading while the areas that have been implicated in attention and cognitive load are more active for the close reading. Instead, the transformation appears to be on a much broader level, with emotional, spatial, motor, and other areas all involved to various extents at various points.
Astronomers have spotted a rare X-ray star explosion near the center of our Milky Way galaxy, revealing a previously unknown black hole munching on gas from a neighboring sun-like star.
Image: Gas builds up in a storage disk around a black hole, eventually leading to a bright X-ray nova. Credit:NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
NASA’s Swift satellite made the cosmic find last month when it detected a new and rapidly brightening X-ray source a few degrees from the galactic center of the Milky Way. Astronomers identified the outburst as a short-lived bright X-ray nova, which is produced when a stream of gas rushes toward either a neutron star or a black hole. Unlike a supernova, which is the explosive death of a star, novas are smaller explosions that do not completely destroy a star.
The black hole is thought to be 20,000 to 30,000 light-years away in the galaxy’s inner region. Astronomers, who named the bright X-ray nova Swift J1745-26 after its coordinates in space, said witnessing such an event is rare.
The sun unleashed a powerful solar flare late Monday (Oct. 22), releasing waves of radiation into space that have already caused a short radio blackout on Earth.
The flare erupted from the sunspot AR 11598 (short for Active Region 11598), and reached peak brightness at 11:22 p.m. EDT (0322 GMT this morning, Oct. 23), according to scientists working on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a space telescope that constantly monitors the sun with high-definition cameras. It ranked as an X1.8 solar flare, one of the strongest types of solar flares, according to the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) run by NOAA and the National Weather Service.
The same sunspot produced three strong flares before this one in just the two days since it became visible from Earth’s perspective. “This means more flares are probably in the offing, and they will become increasingly Earth-directed as the sunspot turns toward our planet in the days ahead,” astronomer Tony Phillips wrote on Spaceweather.com, a website that tracks skywatching and space weather events.