Mysterious X-ray flash in deep space baffles astronomers

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A mysterious flash of X-rays has been spotted by Nasa’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in deep space, and astronomers are baffled.

The X-ray source was unremarkable for a long time. But in October 2014, it erupted and became at least 1000 times brighter in a few hours. After about 24 hours, the source had faded to the point that it couldn’t be detected by the observatory.

“Ever since discovering this source, we’ve been struggling to understand its origin,” said Franz Bauer of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. “It’s like we have a jigsaw puzzle but we don’t have all of the pieces.”

Two of the three main possibilities to explain the X-ray source invoke gamma-ray burst (GRB) events, triggered either by the collapse of a massive star or by the merger of a neutron star with another neutron star or a black hole.

Possible explanations for the CDF-S X-ray source are a GRB that is not pointed toward Earth, or a GRB that lies beyond the small galaxy. A third possibility is that a medium-sized black hole shredded a white dwarf star.

“None of these ideas fits the data perfectly,” said Ezequiel Treister, also of the Pontifical Catholic University, “but then again, we’ve rarely if ever seen any of the proposed possibilities in actual data, so we don’t understand them well at all.”

No similar events have been found by Chandra in other parts of the sky.

What do you think happened?

Read the full story here.

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Fruit Gourmet Uses X-Rays for Quality Control

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Fruit Gourmet supplies a wide variety of fruits to consumers including prunes, apricots, figs, grapes, mangoes, strawberries, raspberries, apples, blueberries, bananas and cranberries.

Their products are sold both as cooking ingredients and as healthy snacks, packed in bags as well in bulk.

The company uses x-rays for the inspection of bulk streams of the fruit pieces.  

Because of careful supplier selection and long processing experience, products such as Fruit Gourmet’s shredded apricot rarely contain contaminants. However, the highly sensitive x-ray inspection system can be set to even higher levels of sensitivity for the contaminants that have been known to occur in such agricultural products, such as minute particles of glass or stone.

The company’s slogan has the product itself saying “I am not the fruit of hazard”, meaning that its level of quality did not just happen by chance but is the result of many years of experience combined with excellent raw materials.

CEO Emeric Cadalen sees the security offered by their new x-ray inspection system as just one more extension of this approach, in which nothing is left to chance.

We can’t wait to see how companies will continue to evolve, using the latest in x-ray technology to add value for consumers!

Read the full story here.

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X-ray saves choking baby’s life

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An x-ray image has revealed how a baby choked on a penny lodged in their throat.

Kayleigh Porter was terrified when her daughter Skyla, 1, started violently choking. Porter was frantic and completely unaware that Skyla had swallowed a penny. She slapped Skyla on the back to keep her from choking before the paramedics arrived.

She was rushed to hospital where doctors initially thought her throat had closed up after having chicken pox.

It was not until she had an x-ray that the penny was discovered.

“The doctors were in absolute awe at how blocked it was,” Porter said.

After paramedics arrived, Skyla relapsed again as the coin moved inside her throat. After the x-ray, she was then taken into surgery and put to sleep so that the coin could be removed.

We’re constantly in awe of the power of x-rays. We’re glad you’re okay, Skyla!

Read the full story from Mirror.

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The Future of X-rays

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The future of x-rays? Happy Monday!

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X-ray pulses reveal structure of viral cocoon

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An international team of scientists has used high-intensity X-ray pulses to determine the structure of the crystalline protein envelope of an insect virus.

The tiny viruses with their crystal casing are by far the smallest protein crystals ever analyzed using X-ray crystallography.

“Simulations based on our measurements suggest that our method can probably be used to determine the structure of even smaller crystals consisting of only hundreds or thousands of molecules,” reports Chapman, a member of the Hamburg Center for Ultrafast Imaging (CUI). “This takes us a huge step further towards our goal of analyzing individual molecules.”

This opens up new opportunities for the study of protein structures.

Read the full story here.

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X-ray may be best screening tool for diagnosing knee pain

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Have you ever visited the doctor for knee pain or injuries from osteoarthritis?

If you have, you’re not alone! This is one of the most common reasons for a visit to the doctor’s office.

MRIs are widely used by doctors to diagnose knee problems. But a 2016 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found that a simple x-ray may be a better diagnostic tool as it helps reduce time and cost.

The study looked at 100 MRI scans of knees from patients ages 40 and older and found that the most common diagnoses were osteoarthritis (39%) and meniscal tears (29%). Almost 25% of MRI scans were taken before the patient first obtained an x-ray, and yet only one-half of those scans contributed to a patient’s diagnosis and treatment for osteoarthritis.

“X-rays are an appropriate screening test for knee pain in older patients, and often the results of an x-ray can tell whether an MRI would be even helpful,” Researcher Dr. Muyibat Adelani of Washington University in St. Louis says. In addition, an MRI costs about 12 times that of an x-ray (based on Medicare rates) and can take an hour to perform.

Get the full story from Harvard Health Publications.

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NASA technology used in digital dental x-ray Imager

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Did you know that NASA is present when you go to the dentist?

Think of the sensor that enables digital x-ray imagery that allows dentists to spot problems. Yup, that’s NASA! That technology had its start looking at planets, stars, and black holes.

The NASA technology has made dental x-rays safer, cheaper, and easier to process.

In the early 90s, engineer Eric Fossum with NASA in Pasadena, California conducted research and eventually were able to create the “camera chip” technology, as it is now known. Fossum and his department worked with several industry partners, one of which was a dental device manufacturer.

The company saw several potential benefits to the new technology and worked with Fossum and his team to realize them.

“There was a lot of back-and-forth between our designers and their engineers” to work out the idiosyncrasies inherent in adapting the technology for X-ray use, Fossum says.

For the patient, digital X-rays mean lower radiation exposure and images that can be manipulated for more accurate diagnoses and to communicate problems to the patient. That translates directly to better diagnosis and treatment for the patient.

Thanks, NASA! Who knew?

Read more here.

 

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