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Second Interstellar Meteor Discovered and This One Hit the Earth

Move over, ‘Oumuamua … there’s a new interstellar object in town. Well, there was, according to Abraham (Avi) Loeb, the astronomer who will be forever linked to ‘Oumuamua because of his theory that the cigar-shaped, not-of-this-solar-system object might actually be artificially made – in other words, an interstellar spaceship or solar sail. Despite some ridicule, Harvard didn’t fire the chair of its Astronomy Department and Loeb went back to work … and has now discovered his own interstellar object which predates ‘Oumuamua. Avi, can you give this one a name that’s easier to spell and pronounce?

“I was very surprised. I didn’t expect that. I thought we will not see anything. But in retrospect, like any discovery, you say, Oh yeah, of course. How could I be so foolish not to look for that in the first place?”

“That” is — or was – a meteor that was reported over Manus Island in Papua New Guinea on January 8, 2014. In a paper that has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Loeb and Harvard undergraduate student Amir Siraj describe how they found the report while reviewing the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies’ catalog of meteor events for objects that had two key ingredients indicating they might be from another galaxy – speed and trajectory.

“We know the motion of the Earth [and] we correct for it—for the gravity of Earth, gravity of the sun, gravity of all the planets.”

Loeb told National Geographic that he and Siraj searched through 30 years of data and found one meteor that had the right combination of both. The meteor was traveling at almost 37 miles per second (134,200 mph or 216,000 km/h) when it disintegrated over Manus Island. That’s too fast to have been slingshot at Earth by a tight loop around the Sun or Jupiter or another planet in the way NASA gives space probes a boost in velocity, which means it was probably fired at us by another star. While there are no pictures of this meteor, the data in the CNEOS catalog indicated an unusual trajectory that, when coupled with its speed, indicated this was most likely an interstellar object that arrived three years before ‘Oumuamua.

“If we identified such a thing in real time, we could take a spectrum and figure out the composition.”

Unfortunately, this one burned up in the atmosphere due to its size — three feet across and weighing about 1,100 pounds. And no, it wasn’t cigar-shaped, so Loeb doesn’t think it was a spaceship. However, it could still have been carrying life forms.

“You can imagine that if these meteors were ejected from the habitable zone of a star, they could help transfer life from one planetary system to another.”

Panspermia! Loeb thinks most of these interstellar objects are much smaller than ‘Oumuamua (1 km long) and will disintegrate before impacting, but much could be learned by beefing up the NEO detection system to catch more of them as they burn up in the atmosphere so their spectrums can be analyzed for mineral content.

That’s not as exciting as finding an alien spaceship, but Avi Loeb seems well on his way to becoming the go-to astronomer for interstellar objects.

Source: Mysterious Universe



Unknown carbon form found in Chelyabinsk meteorite

Scientists have discovered an unknown form of carbon on Earth in fragments of a meteorite that fell in the Chelyabinsk region in 2013, said Sergei Zamozdra, assistant professor of theoretical physics at the Chelyabinsk State University.

He said that the dean of the Faculty of Physics Sergey Taskaev (now the rector of the university. – Ed.), while studying samples of meteorite dust, noticed something amazing.

“At first he thought it was a diamond, because there were six faces. Later in Germany, this crystal was pulled out using micro-tweezers and when X-rayed – it turned out to be not a diamond, but a carbon crystal. We measured the position of atoms, the planes of interatomic, then Korean specialists on a computer calculated that, indeed, such an arrangement of atoms is possible, “he explained.

According to the scientist, carbon can have many modifications. However, such carbon has not yet been found on Earth, and experts will have to figure out how it came about, calculating different options.

“One option is that it arose in space conditions, because we are talking about a process of billions of years. Another is directly during a flight in the Earth’s atmosphere,” the scientist believes.

According to the press service of Chelyabinsk State University, the study of meteorite fragments was carried out by Sergey Taskaev together with colleagues from the Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany) and the National University of Kengpuk (Republic of Korea).

In the Chelyabinsk region on February 15, 2013, thousands of people watched a very bright object in the sky. In the first minutes, the expansion and twisting of its smoky plume was visible, followed by an air wave strike, similar to the sound of a strong explosion.

Fragments of the meteorite were found in the vicinity of Chebarkul, but the largest – more than 600 kilograms – was raised from the lake of the same name. Now it is stored in Chelyabinsk in the South Ural State Historical Museum under a special dome in the exhibition hall, where everyone can see it.

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Planets that are deliberately hidden from humans

It is hard to believe that during the 13 billion years of the existence of the Universe in space no intelligent civilization has developed. So why haven’t we met anyone yet?

Is humanity the only rational race – this is the question hundreds of scientists are asking. The answer to it was never received, although we put our own telescopes into orbit and looked into the most remote corners of the Universe. Are there really no aliens or do they just not want to be found?

Fermi paradox

There are trillions of stars in our galaxy. Studies show that many of them have planets, with 1-2 even in a potential habitat zone. Thus, in the course of simple calculations, astronomers determined that only in the Milky Way there are about 17 billion planets where life could have originated.

Based on all this, physicist Enrico Fermi formulated his paradox. The scientist said that in this situation, either our understanding of nature or the methods of observation are fundamentally wrong. Have all the time not even some traces of the vital activity of other races — radio waves or other radiation — have reached us?

Footage work of physicist Enrico Fermi at the university
Footage work of physicist Enrico Fermi at the university

It would be foolish to say that intelligent life really does not exist. Simple math says the opposite. Talking about underdeveloped observing systems is also inappropriate – we observe the cosmos at different periods of its life and literally study the history of the Galaxy . But even there is no sign of the existence of other civilizations. Are we under the dome of ignorance?

Are they hiding from us?

David Kipping of Harvard and Alex Tichy of Columbia University offer their explanation of the problem. According to a published article, alien civilizations are simply hiding from us. They have technologies that can literally “wipe” the emitted radiation in almost all spectra. And this is not to mention the concealment of life on the planets from prying eyes.

Another theory suggests that the Milky Way already has a highly developed cosmic community . It strictly controls any potentially inhabited planets with intelligent life and hides the real state of affairs from underdeveloped civilizations. Among them is humanity. This explains why all our searches are so unsuccessful.

The question remains open, why hide their existence from others? There are several options for this. Aliens can do this for their own safety. During its short history, mankind has managed to conduct hundreds of wars and the state of affairs does not change much, although the scale of conflicts has slightly decreased.

Now imagine wars on a cosmic scale . In such matters, hiding the location of one’s home planet or colonies is vital.

It is possible that they are hiding the truth from us for their own benefit. What will happen to society if reliable information appears about the existence of another highly developed race? Fear will envelop people, because we will face an adversary who can erase all of humanity with the click of a finger (or tentacle). Ignorance is calm.

In any case, it will not last forever. With the help of more powerful telescopes or space travel, humanity will answer the most important question – are we alone in the universe.

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Saturn’s moon may contain life, confirms new study

A new geochemical analysis reinforces the idea that, under the icy crust of Enceladus, Saturn’s moon, all the conditions necessary for life can occur.

Saturn's moon may contain life, confirms new study

Researchers from Southwest Research Institute, in the USA, has just launched a new geochemical model that reveals that the carbon dioxide (CO2) inside Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, which houses an ocean beneath its icy surface, can be controlled by chemical reactions at the bottom of the sea.

The study of geysers that emanate from the south of Enceladus and the frozen sea foam that is released through cracks in the ice that covers the surface of the alien moon, suggests that its interior is much more complex than previously thought. It is also much more favorable to life.

By understanding the composition of the geysers, we can discover what the ocean is like, how it emerged and provides environments where life as we know it could exist.

We created a new technique to analyze the composition of the vapor and gas column to estimate the concentration of dissolved CO2 in the ocean. This allowed the modeling to explore more complex internal processes.

The analysis of mass spectrometry data collected over the years by the Cassini mission from NASA indicates that the abundance of CO2 is best explained by the geochemical reactions between the rocky core of that moon and the liquid water of its underground ocean.

According to our findings, Enceladus appears to be the demonstration of a massive carbon sequestration experiment. On Earth, climate scientists are exploring whether a similar process can be used to mitigate industrial CO2 emissions.

Using two different data sets, we found CO2 concentration ranges intriguingly similar to those expected from the dissolution and formation of certain mixtures of minerals and carbon that contain silicon and carbon on the seabed.

According to the researchers, moreover, the more than likely presence of hydrothermal chimneys at the bottom of the global ocean of Enceladus only adds more complexity to the equation.

At the bottom of Earth’s ocean, these same types of hydrothermal vents emit hot, energy-rich fluids loaded with minerals, allowing unique ecosystems full of unusual creatures to thrive.

Hunter Waite, another of the article’s signatories said:

Therefore, the dynamic interface of a complex nucleus and seawater could have created energy sources capable of sustaining life.

And although we have yet to find traces of microbial life in the ocean of Enceladus, the growing evidence of chemical imbalance is a tempting suggestion that habitable conditions may exist under the icy crust of that moon.

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