Posted by: paulgarner | May 23, 2012

Couple of Nature highlights

In my book, The New Creationism (ch. 2), I briefly drew attention to some remarkable design features of our Sun, including the fact that many Sun-like stars produce enormous superflares, but our Sun does not. A paper in this week’s Nature reports new data from the Kepler satellite that may help to explain why.

Superflares are many thousands of times more energetic than typical solar flares. Although superflares can occur on Sun-like stars, Maehara et al. (2012) conclude that they are more frequent on rapidly rotating stars and on stars with ‘starspots’ much larger than the sunspots with which we are familiar. Fortunately it seems extremely unlikely that our Sun will ever host a superflare.

And in an online preview of a forthcoming paper, Pierce et al. (2012) present a quantitative analysis of limb mobility in the iconic Devonian tetrapod Ichthyostega. The new reconstruction indicates that Ichthyostega could not have pushed its body off the ground or moved its limbs in an alternating sequence, like more terrestrial tetrapods. One of the implications is that the tetrapod trackways described in 2010 from the Middle Devonian of Poland could not have been made by a tetrapod with the skeletal morphology and limb mobility of Ichthyostega.

References

Maehara H. and eight others. 2012. Superflares on solar-type stars. Nature 485:478–481.

Pierce S.E., Clack J.A. and Hutchinson J.R. 2012. Three-dimensional limb joint mobility in the early tetrapod Ichthyostega. Nature doi:10.1038/nature11124 (Advance online publication)

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