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Has someone punched a hole in the universe?

The constellation Orion has fascinated humanity for thousands of years.

Almost all cultures on the globe have myths and folklore associated with this charming constellation visible in the night sky.

The Egyptians, for example, have claimed that their god Osiris descended on Earth from Orion, and some researchers even believe that the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids by imitating stars in the sky.

Based on the constellations and the position of the stars, the ancients built fascinating monuments, calendars and “observatories” that allowed them to trace the position of the constellations and celestial bodies across the sky.

After all, many cultures have claimed that, from these constellations, “creator gods” have descended to Earth.

But in addition to the fact that Orion was very important in ancient times, giving rise to fascination among early astronomers, the constellation still puzzles modern-day scientists who are constantly exploring space.

A mystery in deep space

About 1500 light-years from Earth, south of the constellation Orion, is found mysterious structure (it’s actually a nebula) called NGC 1999.

At first glance, it may not seem like much, but the truth is that this is one of the greatest cosmic discoveries made by modern astronomers.

NGC 1999 is actually a bright nebula and despite the fact that it may look like many other nebulae, this one has one characteristic that no other nebula has: it’s empty.

This is some mystery to astronomers.

Trying to explain the black patch in space, scientists first suggested that the black patch in the sky was caused by extremely thick cloud of gas and dust which prevents light from passing through and thus gives the impression that the region of the sky is black with no stars.

This type of cosmic structure is called dark nebulae or absorbent nebulae. They are a kind of interstellar cloud that is so dense that it obscures all the light behind the objects behind it.

To make sure that NGC 1999 is, in fact, a dark nebula, scientists have directed Herschel’s telescope to observe it.

The Herschel telescope, unlike other telescopes, has the ability to penetrate thick clouds of gas, such as those found in dark nebulae.

But the observations revealed a worrying fact. When the Herschel telescope monitored NGC 1999, it found that it was indeed empty.

It’s weird, according to what we know about the universe. But it could mean two things. Either the cloud material of NGC 1999 is so thick that we simply do not have the means to penetrate it, or NGC 1999 is an unexplained phenomenon in outer space.

As Herschel’s observations revealed a “void”, subsequent studies were performed using submillimeter bolometers mounted on the Atacama Pattinder experimental radio telescope and the Mayol (Kit Peak) and Magellan telescopes.

These subsequent studies deepened the mystery.

Scientists have come to the conclusion that the mysterious “patch of emptiness” is not black because of the dense material in it, but because it is indeed an empty space.

This means that NGC 1999 is one of the rarest cosmic mysteries ever discovered by scientists.

However, despite the fact that NGC 1999 remains unexplained, scientists have speculated that the piece of empty space could be caused by extremely powerful bursts of hot gas emanating from young stars in the vicinity that helped form a massive hole in space.

Others theorize that the slice of black sky is caused by extremely powerful radiation coming from nearby stars.

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Space

NASA proposes to build mushroom houses on Mars and the Moon

In science fiction, human settlements on Mars and other planets are often presented as futuristic buildings made of metal and glass. However, in reality, the habitat of future colonists may be more “green”, NASA experts believe.

They are developing a technology for growing various structures from fungi, or rather, from mycelium. This is a vegetative body of mushrooms, consisting of thin branched threads.

The principal investigator of the project, astrobiologist Lynn Rothschild notes that for the existing, proposed design solutions for future colonists, transportation of building materials and necessary equipment from Earth will require fabulous costs.

Mushroom houses grown right on the spot are a promising and low-cost alternative.

According to experts, under certain conditions, “colonies” of the thinnest filaments of mycelium are able to be combined into larger structures and create complex structures. For example, fruit bodies of mushrooms or … building blocks .

Petri dish with mycelium growing on artificial soil imitating Martian soil.Photo by NASA / Ames Research Center / Lynn Rothschild.

During a space flight, the mycelium will be “inactive”, and upon arrival to the moon or Mars, it will be possible to literally grow houses, as well as furniture and other necessary items, from it. To do this, mushroom preparations will just need to be filled with water.

Bricks made from mycelium with the addition of wood chips.Photo 2018 Stanford-Brown-RISD iGEM Team.

By the way, back in 2018, the authors of the project demonstrated one of the first prototypes – a mushroom stool. It was grown from mycelium for two weeks, after which it was baked to make a dry and durable piece of furniture.

A stool grown from mycelium in two weeks.Photo 2018 Stanford-Brown-RISD iGEM Team.

As Lynn Rothschild explains, the key to the success of this project was the use of cyanobacteria , which in the process of photosynthesis release oxygen and substances necessary for the growth of mycelium.

According to the researchers, future homes will have a three-layer structure. The outer layer will consist of water ice, which can be mined on the Moon or Mars . It will protect against radiation.

The second layer – from cyanobacteria – will absorb the light passing through the ice. Microorganisms will produce oxygen for humans and nutrients for the last layer – mycelium.

This inner layer will serve as a framework for the “living house”. First, the mycelium will need to be activated for growth in a closed environment (inside the frame), and then bake building blocks.

At the same time, even if some strands of mycelium somehow “escape”, they will not be able to grow. To prevent this, there will be genetic changes introduced by the creators. That is, the mycelium will be viable only in certain conditions created by people.

It is important to note that mycelium can also be used to filter water, extract minerals from wastewater, regulate humidity and even bioluminescent lighting . In addition, houses that can self-heal in case of damage can be created from it.

So far, however, these possibilities are only theoretical: scientists intend to study them in future works.

Also, the authors of the project do not exclude the possibility that one day “mushroom” houses may appear on Earth. This approach will reduce the carbon emissions generated by the construction industry.

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Space

Elon Musk: ‘I will take a million people to Mars by 2050’

Elon musk, the tycoon and businessman, has surprised once again by tweeting that he will take a million people to Mars by 2050.

In several tweets released on Thursday night, the CEO of Spacex, the company that develops cutting-edge rockets, disclosed more details of its plan to colonize Mars.

As previously indicated, Musk said that in theory, 1,000 spaceships could possibly carry 100,000 people in each orbital synchronization of Earth with Mars.

Elon Musk: «I will take a million people to Mars by 2050»
Artistic representation of a city on Mars. Credit: Max Horbatiuk / artstation.com

According to Musk, the ships would depart from Earth following an orbit in a period of 30 days, taking advantage of the moment when the Earth and Mars are better aligned to make the trip, that is every 26 months.

Musk imagines that these ships will depart from Earth’s orbit for a period of 30 days, the time window when Earth and Mars are better aligned to make the trip, every 26 months.

One million people to Mars

One of the users of Twitter asked Musk, if he thinks he could take a million people to Mars, taking into account the equivalence of years and possible trips; Musk simply answered with a “yes”.

Musk said he will need his rockets to have a large load capacity to meet the goal of building a colony on Mars or on another planet.

Calculations indicate that each ship could support more than 100 tons per flight, resulting in the need that each ship might need one megaton per year in orbit, Musk indicated.

But overcoming the difficult and long journey, and once humans reach the red planet, Musk says that the work will begin.

Musk tweeted:

There will be many jobs to do. ”

Although for now, everything is based on theories and calculations, the engineers of Spacex They must work hard in these missing decades to achieve Elon Musk’s dream goal: colonize Mars.

Source: cnet


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Space

‘A world with two stars’: a teenager discovers an unusual planet while doing internships at NASA

A 17-year-old teenager from New York (USA) discovered a planet while searching for stars as an intern at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the space agency reported this week.

Wolf Cukier, a junior in high school, had received the task of examining variations in the brightness of the stars captured by the Traffic Exoplanet Inspection Satellite (TESS). While exploring a star system located 1,300 light years from Earth, he observed what appeared to be a slight spot on one of the suns of the system called TOI 1338.

“At first I thought it was a stellar eclipse, but the timing was wrong. It turned out to be a planet, ”said Cukier.

“The planet blocked the light of those two stars, which caused a small decrease in the amount of light that reached the telescope. That was what I noticed at the beginning, ”he explained later to CBS.

Difficult to detect

Once he communicated the discovery to his mentors, they spent several weeks verifying his observation. They finally concluded that what he had discovered was a planet 6.9 times larger than ours that orbits around two stars, in what is known as a circumbinary planet.

Because these binary stars orbit each other every 15 days, it was not an easy task to distinguish the transit events from the only known planet in such a system, dubbed TOI 1338-b. Planets that orbit two stars are harder to detect than those that orbit only one.

In this case, the largest star is approximately 10% larger than our Sun, while the smallest, approximately one third of that mass, is colder and dimmer.

rt

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