Connect with us
Astronomers have recorded more than a thousand mysterious round spots. What could they be? 86 Astronomers have recorded more than a thousand mysterious round spots. What could they be? 87

Space

Astronomers have recorded more than a thousand mysterious round spots. What could they be?

Discovery in astronomy (Photo: Ray Norris)

Astronomers at Australia’s ASKAP radio telescope complex have reported that they have discovered strange circles of radio emission in space. According to their characteristics, they do not fit into any of the known types of objects. 

The research results have been prepared for publication in the journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia and are available at arXiv.org.

Astronomers have recorded more than a thousand mysterious round spots. What could they be? 88
© Ray P. Norris et al., 2020
ORC (Odd Radio Circles) – “strange radio circles” detected by the ASKAP telescope

In late 2019, the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope complex – one of the most sensitive in the world – detected three strange circular objects while collecting data to compile an Evolutionary Map of the Universe (EMU).

The circles of radio emission hung in the sky like cosmic smoke rings. Astronomers have called them “Odd Radio Circles” or “Orcs” (ORC).

“A couple of years ago I predicted that this exploration of the unknown would lead to unexpected discoveries, which I called WTF. But none of us expected to find something so unexpected and so quickly, ” writes the author of the new discovery, Professor of Western Sydney University Ray Norris.

At first, scientists thought that these were artifacts caused by errors in software processing, but soon the reality of the Orcs was confirmed by other radio telescopes. Astronomers have never found anything like this before. Objects are only visible in radio waves and not detectable in X-ray, optical or infrared ranges.

Researchers from the EMU project examined the entire volume of ASKAP data and found many more radio circles. The authors estimate that there are about a thousand ORCs in the sky.

So far, scientists only make assumptions about the possible origin of mysterious objects. It is not known even at what distance from the Earth they are – in our Galaxy or far in the Universe. Accordingly, their size is also unknown – preliminary analysis showed that the diameter of the found SRCs is several light years if they are in our galaxy, and several million light years if they are in deep space.

“When analyzing the position of the SRC with the help of optical telescopes, we see nothing. The radio emission rings are likely caused by clouds of electrons, but why can’t we see anything at the visible wavelengths of light? We don’t yet know the answer to this, but finding such a puzzle is every astronomer’s dream,” Ray Norris, professor at the University of Western Sydney explains.

In their article, the authors list what exactly these strange radio circles cannot be. According to the researchers, these are not supernova remnants – they are located far from most of the stars in the Milky Way, and there are too many of them.

These are not regions of star formation, as there are no galaxies nearby.

It is unlikely that these are the “petals” of radio galaxies, created by jets of electrons escaping from the vicinity of a supermassive black hole – orcs are distinctly round, in contrast to the entangled clouds of radio galaxies.

They are also not like Einstein’s rings , in which radio waves from a distant galaxy bend into a circle under the action of the gravitational field of a cluster of galaxies – the radio circles are too symmetric and they do not have a cluster in the center.

Scientists are now looking around the world for radio telescopes that could continue observing strange radio circles in order to ultimately find an answer to the question of their origin.

“It’s not an easy job because the signals from the ORC are very weak and hard to find. Our team is brainstorming, hoping for a eureka moment when one of us, or perhaps someone else, suddenly has a flash of insight that will solve the riddle, “said the first author of the article, Ray Norris in an interview with The Conversation.” This is an exciting time for us. Most astronomical research is aimed at refining our knowledge of the Universe or testing theories. Very rarely we have to stumble upon a new type of object that no one has seen before, and try to figure out what it is. “

As a working version, scientists suggest that the strange radio circles are shock waves from explosions in distant galaxies, fast radio bursts, or collisions of a neutron star and a black hole.

Space

KOI-5Ab, the curious planet that orbits in a system of three suns

KOI-5Ab, the curious planet that orbits in a system of three suns 101
Photo: (Caltech / R. Hurt (IPAC))

To us, the Sun alone seems perfectly normal, but our solar system is actually a strange exception.

Most stars in the Milky Way galaxy have at least one companion star. In a system 1,800 light-years away, astronomers have finally confirmed the existence of a gas giant planet orbiting stars in a triple star system.

Called KOI-5, the system is located in the constellation Cygnus, and the exoplanet was confirmed ten years after it was first detected by the Kepler space telescope.

In fact, the planet – now known as KOI-5Ab – was discovered by Kepler when it began operations back in 2009.

“KOI-5Ab was dropped because it was difficult and we had thousands of other candidates,” astronomer David Siardi of NASA’s Exoplanet Science Institute said.

“There were lighter dives than the KOI-5Ab, and every day we learned something new from Kepler, so the KOI-5 was almost forgotten.”

Exoplanet hunters tend to avoid the complexities of multi-star systems; of the more than 4,300 exoplanets confirmed to date, less than 10 percent are multi-star systems, although such systems dominate the galaxy. As a result, little is known about the properties of exoplanets in multi-star systems compared to those orbiting a lone star.

After Kepler’s discovery, Chardy and other astronomers used ground-based telescopes such as the Palomar Observatory, Keck Observatory, and the Gemini North Telescope to study the system. By 2014, they had identified two companion stars, KOI-5B and KOI-5C.

Scientists were able to establish that the planet KOI-5Ab, is a gas giant that is about half the mass of Saturn and 7 times the size of Earth, and is in a very close five-day orbit around KOI-5A. KOI-5A and KOI-5B, both of roughly the same mass as the Sun, form a relatively close binary system with an orbital period of about 30 years.

KOI-5Ab, the curious planet that orbits in a system of three suns 102

A third star, KOI-5C, orbits the binary system at a much greater distance, with a period of about 400 years – slightly longer than Pluto’s 248-year orbit.

“By studying this system in more detail, perhaps we can understand how planets are created in the universe.”

The discovery was announced at the 237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Continue Reading

Space

Why the universe does not fit into science

Why the universe does not fit into science 103
Photo: YouTube

Science can be compared to an artist painting what he has never seen, or to a writer describing other people’s travels: objects that he has never seen, places where he has never been. Sometimes such scientific “arts” turn out to be beautiful and interesting, but most of them will forever remain only theories, because they are beyond human capabilities.

In fact, science has the right only to speculate: how our universe appeared, how old it is, how many stars and other objects it contains.

Universe model

Why the universe does not fit into science 104

How many stars are there in the sky?

With an unarmed eye, a person can see about nine thousand stars in the sky in one cloudless and moonless night. And armed with binoculars or a telescope, much more – up to several million. However, this is much less than their true number in the universe. Indeed, only in our one galaxy (the Milky Way) there are about 400 billion stars. The exact amount, of course, is not known to science. And the visible universe contains about 170 billion galaxies.

It is worth clarifying that scientists can see the universe 46 billion light years deep in all directions. And the visible (observable) universe includes the space accessible to our eyes from the moment of the Big Explosion. In other words, only this (accessible to human perception) space science refers to our universe. Science does not consider everything that follows.

It is believed that there are supposedly a ceptillion (10 to 24 degrees) stars in our universe. These are theoretical calculations based on the approximate size and age of the universe. The origin of the universe is explained by the Big Bang theory. This is why the universe is constantly expanding and the more time passes, the more complex the universe and its components become.

Why the universe does not fit into science 105

It is not entirely correct to consider and perceive this scientific theory “head-on”. Scientists always claim that that explosion was not exactly an explosion, and the point that exploded was not the only one. After all, it was everywhere, because space did not exist then. And in general – everything happened quite differently from what is described in the Big Bang theory, but all other descriptions of the origin of the universe are even more incredible and inaccurate.

Separate but interconnected

That which is beyond the reach of human perception is usually discarded by science, or recognized as non-existent. Recognizing one thing, science does not want to recognize the existence of the other, although everything in our world is interconnected and is not able to exist separately – by itself.

Each object of the universe is a part of it much more than an independent, separate object.

Any person, like any material object of our world, consists of components: organs, cells, molecules, atoms. And each of its constituent parts can represent the whole world. Separate, and at the same time connected with all the others.

However, science, as a rule, perceives all the components of the universe – people, animals, plants, objects, the Earth, the Sun, other planets and stars – as separate subjects, thereby limiting itself.

Why the universe does not fit into science 106

Even what is considered the visible universe, one of the atoms of which could be called our solar system, is not subject to the boundaries of human perception. But perhaps the atom is an exaggeration, and our solar system is not even an atom, but one of its elements!

How, being so far from the truth, can one reason about something with the degree of probability with which science tries to reason about the origin of the universe?

Continue Reading

Space

An unexplained wobble shifts the poles of Mars

An unexplained wobble shifts the poles of Mars 107

The red planet sways from side to side like a whirligig when it loses speed. The new study allowed scientists to notice that the poles of Mars deviate slightly from the axis of rotation of the planet. On average, they move 10 cm from the center with a period of 200 days.

Such changes are called the Chandler Oscillations  – after the American astronomer Seth Chandler, who discovered them in 1891. Previously, they were only seen on Earth. It is known that the displacement of the poles of rotation of our planet occurs with a period of 433 days, while the amplitude reaches 15 meters. There is no exact answer why this is happening. It is believed that the fluctuations are influenced by processes in the ocean and the Earth’s atmosphere.

Chandler’s wobbles on Mars are equally perplexing. The authors of the study discovered them by comparing data from 18 years of studying the planet. The information was obtained thanks to three spacecraft that orbit the Red Planet: Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Global Surveyor. 

Since Mars has no oceans, it is likely that the Red Planet’s wobbly rotation is due to changes in atmospheric pressure. This is the first explanation that researchers have shared. In the future, there should be new details about the fluctuations that have so interested the scientific community.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

DO NOT MISS

Trending