Three years ago astronomers proposed the existence of a ninth planet in the Solar System. The planet is supposed to orbit further out than anything we have yet seen within our Solar System, but according to the most recent model, if it exists it is closer to us than originally thought. And a bit smaller too.
The model is discussed in an invited review article for Physics Reports. The original proposers of Planet Nine, Caltech’s Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin, together with Fred Adams and Juliette Becker from the University of Michigan, have provided an update on what they think Planet Nine might be like. They now expect it to be about five times the mass of Earth with an orbit whose semi-major axis is around 400 times the Earth-Sun distance.
The idea that Planet Nine existed was put forward to explain the curious orbital clustering of small objects beyond the orbit of Neptune. Since then, the presence of this unseen planet has been used to explain several different phenomena. Observational campaigns have tried to discover the object, but so far, they’ve had no success.
“The presence of Planet Nine would beautifully and coherently answer several seemingly unrelated open questions about the Solar System,” Becker, who’s a graduate researcher, said in a statement. “I look forward to the day we either see it or rule it out so that we can conclusively answer these questions.”
Brown and Batygin recently published another study about the orbital clustering and Planet Nine. They worked out a way to quantify potential bias in individual observations. The idea is that maybe the clustering we see is to do with other factors. They estimate that the probability that Planet Nine is not there is around one in 500.
“Although this analysis does not say anything directly about whether Planet Nine is there, it does indicate that the hypothesis rests upon a solid foundation,” Brown stated.
Thanks to improved telescope sensitivity and more sky surveys, researchers optimistically think that in the next 10 to 15 years we will be able to either observe Planet Nine or have enough data to rule it out.
“With its proposed properties, Planet Nine is right on the edge of being observable,” explained Adams. “But this is a very dim object in a very big sky. Since we don’t know exactly where it is, you have to survey the whole sky, or at least large portions of it, in order to find the planet.”
The hunt for this possible world continues.
Von Braun Station: the first space hotel would be ready by 2025
Inspired by the concepts of a Nazi rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun, this station-hotel Von Braun Station will have its own gravity, kitchen, bars and interiors made with natural materials, and will be able to accommodate up to 400 people.
“The station could receive the first tourists in a few years,” said Tim Alatorre, senior architect of the Gateway Foundation , the company responsible for the station’s design.
“The goal of the Gateway Foundation is that in 2025 Von Braun already works and 100 tourists visit it per week,” he said.
According to the designer, the station, which will have the shape of a huge 190-meter diameter wheel, will turn constantly, creating an artificial gravitation comparable to that of the Moon and making the stay in it much more comfortable than in the ISS, where it is not possible to have a sense of direction.
The concept was taken from nothing less than Wernher von Braun, hence its name. This was a leading Nazi scientist who developed the V2 rocket. After World War II, NASA welcomed him to design, among other things, the Saturn V rocket that would take the human being to the Moon.
How will it be built?
The hotel station will be built by using automated systems, such as drones and robots, while in orbit. It will also use GSAL, special space construction machinery developed by Orbital Construction.
Once completed, some modules will be rented as individual residences, while others will be offered to different governments for scientific purposes. In total, the Gateway Foundation expects the population of the Von Braun wheel to be about 400 people.
In space … at home
Apart from rooms, the hotel part of the wheel will feature many of the things that are seen on cruises, such as restaurants, bars, music concerts, film screenings and educational seminars. Also, the interiors will have nothing to do with the sterility of the space stations of science fiction films.
«As humans, we are innately connected with natural materials and colors. […] The use of fabrics, lighting and warm-colored paints and textured materials help us connect and feel at home, ”said Alatorre, although he admitted that heavy materials, such as wood and stone, will be replaced by“ substitutes for light and easy to clean natural materials ».
The architect said that the project, which presupposes the creation of even larger space hotels, tries to put an end to the current high prices of orbital tourism, making it accessible to broad social sectors and facilitating extraterrestrial exploration.
” Gateway Foundation aims to make space travel open to everyone and this and the company’s next project will be true cities in space that will be ports of call for those who come and go from the Moon and Mars,” he concluded. .
Ariana Grande Responds to NASA Interns Remixing Her Song
It’s no secret that Ariana Grande is a fan of space and, by extension, the folks over at NASA. And it turns out that the love is reciprocal, seeing as how a group of interns at NASA’s Johnson Space Center have just given her song “NASA” the remix treatment.
An “educational parody” of Grande’s track, the interns created an accompanying video “in order to inform the public about the amazing work going on at NASA and thee Johnson Space Center,” per its description.
Even cooler? The specific project the interns that inspired the interns is NASA’s forthcoming Artemis missions, which aims to send the first woman to the moon by 2024.
Hey @ArianaGrande, we saw ‘NASA’ trending this morning and thought it was about one of our new discoveries. But we realized that you might need some space.
🎶 It’s like you’re the universe and we’re N-A-S-A 🎶
— NASA (@NASA) February 8, 2019
Given all of this, Grande was obviously over-the-moon about the parody. No pun intended.
“Oh my. this is so pure and special and insane,” she tweeted in response. “hi everyone over there that is doing such incredible work ! thank u for taking the time to make this ! my heart is ….. bursting.”
Watch the entire remix video for yourself, below.
Another Interstellar Comet Has Arrived
“Based on the available observations, the orbit solution for this object has converged to the hyperbolic elements shown below, which would indicate an interstellar origin. A number of other orbit computers have reached similar conclusions, initially D. Farnocchia (JPL), W. Gray, and D. Tholen (UoH).”
Remember ‘Oumuamua, the first interstellar object ever discovered in our solar system? You won’t for long as another one was picked up by multiple observers and reported this week by The Minor Planet Center (MPC) at Harvard University. Unlike ‘Oumuamua, this one is definitely a comet and has been identified earlier enough in its trip through the solar system to be analyzed intensely – possibly revealing where it came from and how astronomers can locate more of them.
“The comet’s current velocity is high, about 93,000 mph [150,000 kph], which is well above the typical velocities of objects orbiting the sun at that distance. The high velocity indicates not only that the object likely originated from outside our solar system, but also that it will leave and head back to interstellar space.”
The BBC reports that object gb00234, now known as Comet C/2019 Q4, was discovered by amateur (but experienced) astronomer Gennady Borisov on August 30th, 2019, at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Bakhchysarai. When he noticed it, C/2019 Q4 was three astronomical units (450 million km) from the Sun. Since then, other astronomers have seen its tail – confirming C/2019 Q4 is a comet – and measured its eccentricity at 3.2, based on current observations. A perfect circle has an eccentricity of 0, while a closed elliptical orbit ranges from 0 to 1. Anything greater than one indicates an arc-shaped trajectory and is likely an interstellar comet or object making a one-time visit. While not confirmed yet, together these make Comet C/2019 Q4 the first ‘true’ comet to visit use from outside our solar system.
Unless it’s a spaceship.
Good point. Anyone?
Unlike ‘Oumuamua, whose asteroid-or-comet nature still gets debated, this one is definitely a comet. If it is unequivocally interstellar, it’ll be fascinating to see how its composition (spectral properties) compare to the variety we see in comets from our own solar system.
Astrophysicist Karl Battams, from the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC, tweeted an end to that comet-asteroid-spaceship-or-what debate which has trailed ‘Oumuamua like a tail (if it had one) since it was discovered hightailing out of here. Comet C/2019 Q4 will have plenty of eyes on it as it will be visible to even low-powered professional telescopes for at least a year, including when it makes its turn around the sun (perihelion) around December 10. However, the MPC leaves an opening for the unusual:
“Absent an unexpected fading or disintegration, [C/2019 Q4] should be observable for at least a year.”
In lieu of seeing windows with aliens waving out of them, an “unexpected disintegration” would be the next coolest thing.
Source: Mysterious Universe
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