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The Earth … spinning faster?

15 February 2012

At www.physorg.com/print248347427.html … tells us that a NASA JPL research team in league with French scientists have written a paper for the Geophysical Review Letters that claim that for a couple of weeks in 2009 the Earth was spinning faster, and days were shorter – by a fraction of time. This was all because the ocean current that encircles the Antarctic changed rate in response to a down step in wind speed. The change in speed of rotation was a self correcting motion in order to conserve angular momentum. They say it is surprising that such a small change in wind speed could cause an almost immediate change in ocean current speed and that was enough to quickly impact on the speed of rotation – so what might happen in more dire events?

Over at www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-040&cid=release_2012-040 we can read about new images of previously undiscovered islands of star formation and a mysterious haze of mocrowave emissions – in our Milky Way galaxy (also covered a few days ago by a report from ESA). The haze is particularly interesting as it comes from the centre of our galaxy and looks like 'light energy' produced when electrons accelerate through magnetic fields, said a spokesperson. We're puzzled, he added, because this haze is brighter at shorter wavelength than similar light emitted elsewhere in the galaxy. They fail to mention the black hole lurking in the centre of the galaxy but theories so far include supernovae, galactic winds, and even the annihilation of dark matter – but we are getting closer to the heart all of the time.

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