Exoplanet’s Exotic Weather

Scientist thought that Venus’s weather was bad. From the planet’s acid rain, to the horrendous temperatures and pressures to the clouds that smother the planet in sulfuric acid. It’s the closest image that scientist have to depicting hell. But what if there’s something that may be even worse? What if Earth’s raging twin actually has a calm temperament compared to other planets.

This was found to be exactly the case with exoplanet WASP 7-B. This gas giant exoplanet has completely expelled anything in our solar system from being “the possible scariest/worse.” During the day, WASP 7-B reached scorching temperatures of up to 2,400 degrees Celsius (enough to vaporize metal). The night gives off a picture that’s just as daunting: iron rain. Found in the Pisces constellation, this planet rest about 640 light-years from out solar system. It has been nicknamed a “hot Jupiter” because while being only slightly smaller than Jupiter, it sits ten times closer to its star than Mercury does to the Sun! This extreme proximity has caused WASP 7-B to be a tidally locked star, with one side of the planet living in an eternal day while the other side never sees the end of the night. The proximity also causes WASP 7-B to get about 1000 times more radiation than the Earth does from the Sun.

This is an artist depiction of the iron rain from https://astronomy.com/news/2020/03/astronomers-find-an-exoplanet-where-iron-rains-from-the-sky.

Planet Nine?? (No, It’s NOT Pluto This Time)

This image is an artist depiction of what “Planet Nine” could possible look like. This image was uploaded from https://astronomy.com/magazine/2018/10/how-we-discovered-planet-nine.

Many get excited by the search for planets, as astronomy magazines name off new exoplanets every other month. But what many may not know is that scientist have brough their search for planets back home to our own solar system, searching for what may truly be our special “Planet Nine” (Sorry, Pluto still doesn’t make the cut).

As of 2 days ago, 139 planets, or what have been labeled as “minor planets,” have been found beyond the orbit of Neptune and even far beyond the orbits of Pluto (ranging 30 to 90 AU from the Sun). As of now, these TNOs simply remain unpublished as astronomical objects that orbit the sun, but as Scientist continue to survey them, they seem to get closer and closer to finding one that can truly be labeled as a planet. Using the Dark Energy Camera in a Chilean observatory, Scientist have been able to follow and catalogue the path of multitudes of TNOs to find out if they are the “real deal.”

Scientist have hypothesized that they must come across a ninth planet sooner or later due to certain astronomical phenomena that are explained by little else. One source of evidence for this planet are 6 objects in the Kuiper Belt with elliptical orbits tilted with respect to the solar plane. Furthermore, the 6-degree tilt of our actual planets to the solar planet could be described by a sixth planet. Finally, there are some objects in the Kuiper belt that orbit in the opposite direction as most others. All of these facts, scientist believe, point to the existence of another, possibly giant, planet in the great outer depths of our solar system.



The Voyage of Voyager 2

This is an image of the locations of the twin space probes, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, in their locations on their respective missions. This image was uploaded from https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php ?feature=730

In August of 1997, astronomers as NASA launched a journey to reach further into the depths of our solar system. Voyager 2, followed closely its sister probe, Voyager 1, was one of the first attempts to study our solar system’s outer planets and possibly to see what exactly lies beyond the Sun’s reach. So, what exactly has Voyager 2 shown us here on Earth since it was launched 42 years, 6 months, 24 days, 12 hours and 8 minutes ago?

Equipped with 11 scientific instruments whose only use is astronomical observations, this spacecraft remains the sole of its kind to explore all four of the giant outer planets at close range. However, its feats go well beyond this. Voyager 2 discovered Saturn’s 14th moon, 10 new Uranus moons and 5 new moons orbiting Neptune as well. Voyager 2 also discovered 2 rings around Uranus and 4 new rings around Neptune, while also bringing to light a “Great Dark Spot” on Neptune. Voyager 2 also marked the first human object fly-by of Uranus and Neptune ever achieved.

Although Voyager 2 has completed the mission it was originally created for, scientist still hope that it will remain useful for the next few years to come. Without the trajectory correction maneuver thrusters being fired up, Voyager 2 will use these to continue on its path, hopefully passing only 1.7 light-years from the star Ross 248, and, if undisturbed, passing 4.3 light years from Sirus in 296,000 years.

“In Depth.” NASA, NASA, solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/voyager-2/in-depth/.

“Voyager 2.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Mar. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_2.

Time Warps- More Than Just Sci-Fi?

Space travel is a relatively new concept compared to the overall age of astronomy. From Armstrong to Koch, sending people into space is still an amazing feat with distances that don’t dare to go beyond our moon. But what if this could change? What if, like our telescopes, we could travel to Jupiter or Pluto or beyond the bounds or our Solar System or, dare I say, to the ends of the Universe?

While these are rather dramatic in terms of our modern technology, the idea behind the possibility of the revolution of space travel is not. This idea is the concept of time warps. Time warps, phenomenon that have been known to scientist for over 100 years, are places in the universe where time is either sped up or slowed down due to the presence of a very large mass. The knowledge of these phenomenon began with Einstein’s theory of general relativity asserting gravity as a “property of the curving of space and time,” meaning that anything with mass, no matter how small, can warp time. The larger the object, the more time is warped, which is why when something is near a black hole, everything occurs slower than it would to an outside observer.

Although Sci-Fi artist love to take this idea and generate new theories for travel, it is rather unlikely that their form of rocket ships will become a reality any time soon. This is primarily because these artist focus on a rather unlikely scenario for time-warp travel:wormholes and cosmic strings. While wormholes are likely to have existed in the early universe, these connections of matter and light would have been very unstable and thus collapsed relatively quickly. Furthermore, cosmic strings, if a reality, are rather small. In fact, they would be extremely tiny- too tiny for any ship to fit through.

Sci-Fi fanatics can dream, but it seems that traveling to the edge of the universe will have to wait until a new, unforeseen discovery is made.


Image result for time warp
This is a theoretical image of a time warp from https://www.newsweek.com/time-warp-where-find-one-1423508. A time warp is a change in time caused by the presence of mass.

Are We Really Andromeda’s Twin?

While there is not concrete, photographic evidence that Andromeda and the Milky Way are galactic twins, astronomers have found evidence that points them to believe so. This picture shows the twin galaxies surrounded by tens of dwarf galaxies in their local group. This image was uploaded from http://askanastronomer.org/galaxies/faq/2016/08/22/andromeda-milkyway-collision/.

Astronomers have declared that our galaxy, the Milky Way is one of the largest two galaxies in our Local Group, rivaled only by its own twin, Andromeda. However, while technology has advanced greatly within the realm of astronomy, we have not yet reached the point of searching beyond the halo of the Milky Way and observing our own galaxy as outsiders. Considering this then begs the questions: How do we know that we are one of the largest galaxies in our Local Group? What evidence points us to the theory that we are Andromeda’s twin?

Let’s first discuss the evidence that tells us that the Milky Way is one of the largest in our local group (so large that other galaxies actually orbit around us!). In the 1920s, it was first believed that the Universe was 300,000 light years across. This was revised shortly after to only 30,000 light years across. However today, astronomers are fairly confident that the Milky Way spans 100,000 to 150,000 light years in diameter. This was discovered by the complex tools of distance measurements that astronomers call “the cosmic distance ladder.” One of the first steps in this ladder is radio waves which are shot out to distances even beyond our solar system so that astronomers can measure the time is takes for the radio waves to come back. The next step in the ladder to uncovering the large size of our galaxy is parallax, which allows scientist to gather distances of close stars within the galaxy. Following this, astronomers use main sequence fitting ( a technique that compares the brightness and color of a far away star to that of a near star) to find the distance to stars that are of even greater lengths from us. Using these techniques, astronomers are able to measure to the ends of the galaxy and get a pretty good idea of how grand our galaxy truly is in comparison to others (Baraniuk).

Yet, this still does not answer how astronomers came to believe that the Milky Way and Andromeda are twins. Previous theories presented Andromeda as three times the size of the Milky Way. Nevertheless, this changed Australian astronomers published an academic article denouncing the previous theory and replacing it with the idea that Andromeda is less than or equal to the size of the Milky Way. Using a measurement technique that measured a the necessary escape velocity of a star leaving the galaxy’s gravity, these astronomers discovered the true size of our neighbor (Parks).

Furthermore, scientist came to discover that the Milky Way is also a spiral galaxy through many clues, the first being the disk of stars that we see in our night sky. This disk of compressed stars can be seen with the naked eye at night and leads scientist to believe that this image is really a look into the disk of our galaxy. Another clue as to the shape of our galaxy is the movement of our stars. Through locating stars’ locations by their rotational velocities, scientist discovered that these stars are located in concentrated spiraling branches, or the “arms” of our galaxy (Peshin). These clues (plus the “duck test” which you can read more on at https://www.scienceabc.com/eyeopeners/how-do-we-know-the-milky-way-is-a-spiral-galaxy.html) give way to the theory that, just like Andromeda, our Milky Way is a large spiral galaxy.

Baraniuk, Chris. “Earth – It Took Centuries, but We Now Know the Size of the Universe.” BBC, BBC, 13 June 2016, http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160610-it-took-centuries-but-we-now-know-the-size-of-the-universe.

Parks, Jake. “Andromeda Is the Same Size as the Milky Way.” Astronomy.com, 14 Feb. 2018, http://www.astronomy.com/news/magazine/2018/02/adromeda-is-the-same-size-as-the-milky-way.

Peshin, Akash, et al. “How Do We Know The Milky Way Is A Spiral Galaxy?” Science ABC, 12 Apr. 2019, http://www.scienceabc.com/eyeopeners/how-do-we-know-the-milky-way-is-a-spiral-galaxy.html.

Why I Chose Astronomy

This is one of many pictures of the “Multiverse.” The multiverse is a theory that our universe is just one of many universes. It gives insight to how little is truly known about the universe, and what other possibilities there could be left to discover. This image was uploaded from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/can-physicists-ever-prove-multiverse-real-180958813/.

From the beginning of astronomical studies, it was always assumed that people, that Earth, is the center and the largest and most important of everything out there. While these basic assertions have been debunked over the past few centuries, it is only recently that this foundational way of thinking, in which we are the only beings and solar system is the only solar system and our universe the, only universe has begun to change.

This is realized through theories from aliens and life beyond our planet to the idea of a “multiverse.” The multiverse, shown in the provided picture, is defined as “innumerable regions of disconnected space-time.” To put in lay-mans terms, this theory states that there are an infinite and increasing number of universes. Each of these universes contain it’s own cohort of astronomical objects, yet different laws of physics. This vastly increasing and never-ending amount of universes is created from eternal chaotic inflation which is based upon the theory of cosmic inflation and how cosmic inflation “does not end everywhere at the same time.” This non-uniform inflation leads to multiple pocket universes that go on without an actual end. (Kunn) To look further into the idea of multiverses and parallel universes, you can find a plethora of information at https://space.mit.edu/home/tegmark/multiverse.pdf.

But how does this relate to why I personally want to study astronomy? Think about how small we are relative to our plant. Now our solar system. Now think about us in relation to our galaxy, our super cluster, our universe! We are beyond tiny; we are not even microscopic in comparison to our universe. So how much smaller would we be in comparison to a multiverse? This way of thinking allows me to put the aspects of my daily life into perspective, and liberates me from these stresses. So maybe I don’t get the best score on an exam (not that I don’t care about my classes, because I do!). When I think about how little I am, and that one test is, relative to everything else that is and could be, I am liberated from this small stress. This only makes me want to study astronomy more and understand just how important I and all that our planet has to offer truly is.

Kuhn, Robert Lawrence. “Confronting the Multiverse: What ‘Infinite Universes’ Would Mean.” Space.com, Space, 23 Dec. 2015, http://www.space.com/31465-is-our-universe-just-one-of-many-in-a-multiverse.html.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

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