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Strange Objects Observed by Astronomers

Space is both the final frontier and the ultimate mystery. Although from here on Earth, and from our limited ventures off-planet, we have gleaned a large amount of data about the happenings of space even well beyond our solar system, there is much that remains enigmatic and unanswered.

Strange Objects Observed by Astronomers
Image is for illustrative purposes only.

The cosmos still holds some secrets from us, and from time to time something unusual arises that leads us to rethink our old conceptions of celestial mechanics. Among the many eccentricities of the night sky observed by astronomers over the centuries are strange, often hazy, lights that appear where they should not.

Sometimes resembling stars or comets, these objects are separated from more conventional astronomical observations due to their peculiar movements and other atypical behaviors.

There is a long history of such observations, despite a modest number of reports that can be considered genuinely anomalous.

As early as 1612, German astronomer Christopher Scheiner had made numerous observations of Jupiter and its moons. In the sketches of his observations, there is an object beyond the known moons of Jupiter, as recognized today. This object, although included in Scheiner’s drawings, appears to have disappeared throughout the astronomer’s ongoing observations.

According to Scheiner, the object first appeared bright and star-like, just like the other Jovian satellites, but between March 30 and the first weeks of April, the object began to darken and eventually disappeared from view. The object is absent in Scheiner’s later drawings, apparently indicating that the mysterious Jovian ‘moon’ had disappeared.

A similar phenomenon was recorded in the early years of the nineteenth century by astronomer Hofrath Huth, who in 1802 described the sight of a round star that produced “weak reddish light” in the area of ​​Theta and Delta Leonis. The object was not stationary either, and although Huth considered it a ‘moving star’, its path indicated a retrograde motion as opposed to other stars and celestial objects. The object was observed between the first six days of January, whose onset saw the ‘star’ being slightly smaller than Jupiter’s moons. However, on January 6, the strange object disappeared and was no longer seen, except for a single observation the following year by Russian astronomer Cornelius Reissig.

A similar observation of a hazy and unusual object occurred more than three decades later, in May 1835, when Italian astronomer Niccolò Cacciatore observed an unidentified eighth-magnitude star at his observation station in Palermo. He stared at Mayer’s catalog star 503 with a circle of Ramsden (an ancient astronomical instrument designed by mathematician Jesse Ramsden to measure the positions of astronomical objects). On the first night of observation, the new star appeared behind star 503, but the next night seemed to precede it. After that, the mysterious ‘star’ was never detected again.

Most sightings of such objects in the scientific record occurred during or before the nineteenth century, after which most similar objects were classified as probable comets or, in some cases, unusual classes of asteroids, such as the Reinmuth object observed by first time in April 1932.

There have been some notable cases where star-like objects have been seen moving through space most recently. One notable circumstance of this kind involved astronomer Frank Clark, who in September 1956 noticed a starlike object passing near the planet Mars. He was able to briefly trace the object, which had a yellowish color. This sighting is noteworthy because it occurred just over a year before the Soviet Union launched its first orbiting artificial satellite on October 4, 1957, apparently discarding any space objects of artificial origin.

As fleeting as these remarks may have been, their presence in the night sky remains mysterious. “Moving stars” like these serve as reminders that occasionally there are unusual things astronomers see, which, however innocuous, defy simple classification or explanation.

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A giant explosion recorded on the star Betelgeuse

Betelgeuse is considered a doomed star, and its explosion is only a matter of time. Observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope show that the sudden darkening of the supergiant star Betelgeuse was most likely caused by the enormous amount of hot matter ejected into space, forming a dust cloud that blocked the starlight emanating from Betelgeuse’s surface.

The researchers speculate that the dust cloud was formed when superhot plasma released from the upward flow of a large convection cell on the star’s surface passed through the hot atmosphere into the colder outer layers, where it cooled down and formed dust particles. The resulting dust cloud has blocked light from about a quarter of the star’s surface since late 2019. By April 2020, the star has returned to normal brightness.

Betelgeuse is an aging red supergiant star that has grown in size due to complex evolutionary changes in its fusion furnace at its core. The star is now so huge that if it replaced the Sun at the center of our solar system, its outer surface would extend beyond Jupiter’s orbit.

Betelgeuse’s unprecedented strong blackout phenomenon, visible even to the naked eye, began in October 2019. By mid-February 2020, the monster star has lost more than two-thirds of its brilliance.

This sudden blackout has puzzled astronomers, who have tried to develop several theories of abrupt change. 

Hubble recorded traces of dense, heated matter moving through the star’s atmosphere in September, October, and November 2019. Then, in December, several ground-based telescopes observed a decrease in the star’s brightness in the southern hemisphere.

“With the Hubble Telescope, we see material leaving the visible surface of the star and moving through the atmosphere before the dust was formed, which made the star appear dim,” said Dupree. “We could see the effect of a dense hot region moving in the southeastern part of the star.

“This material was two to four times brighter than the normal brightness of the star. And then, about a month later, the southern part of Betelgeuse became noticeably dimmer as the star became fainter. We think that it is possible that the dark cloud came from an explosion discovered by Hubble “.

The article was published August 13 in the Astrophysical Journal.

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Massive sunspot facing Earth could be bad news as we enter a new 25 solar cycle

A massive sunspot has formed on the Sun, which will be turned towards our planet, which can lead to large and very strong flares aimed at the Earth

The sunspot AR2770, which was recorded earlier this week, will increase in size. This particular sunspot has already emitted several minor flares, which have caused nothing serious, except for “small waves of ionization running through the upper atmosphere of the Earth.”

However, this sunspot, which can be up to 50,000 kilometers in diameter, can release enormous amounts of energy, which in turn can lead to solar flares. 

This phenomenon is called coronal mass ejections (CMEs). These outbreaks can have a serious impact on radio communications, global positioning systems (GPS) communications, power grids and satellites.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), CMEs can “oscillate electrical currents in space and excite electrons and protons trapped in Earth’s changing magnetic field.” Solar flares caused by these CMEs can also cause intense light in the sky called auroras.

On the Sun, the active zone was transformed into an ideal number 2


What is a sunspot?

A spot is a dark area in the sun that appears dark on the surface and is relatively cooler than other parts. These sunspots contain electrically charged gases that create areas of powerful magnetic forces. Gases on our Sun are constantly moving, which causes irregularities in this “magnetic field”. This activity is also called “solar activity”. The levels of solar activity do not remain the same and differ from one solar cycle to the next.

What is a solar flare?

Solar flares are the result of changes in the magnetic fields at sunspots that cause a huge explosion. These solar flares are often thrown into space. The energy of the explosion of solar flares can be equivalent to a trillion atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Is a new 25 cycle starting?

At the moment, there is no complete confidence in the beginning of the 25th solar cycle, which will mark a gradual increase in solar activity. Only one thing is clear – the solar minimum, if suddenly it continues, nothing good for our planet and, accordingly, will not bring us all.

Due to the practically zero activity of the Sun on Earth, record levels of cosmic radiation are recorded. To put it simply, our entire planet is essentially turned into a huge microwave.

But the resumption of solar activity after a long period of calm is also not good, since no one can predict the levels of this activity, and if it is high, this could potentially lead to a powerful super-flash that will cover the Earth.

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What did Mars look like millions of years ago? New theory

At the moment, Mars is considered the most suitable planet for human life. It is in many ways similar to our native Earth: the surface is solid, the day lasts almost the same 24 hours and periodically there is a change of seasons. 

Scientists are sure that millions of years ago between our planet and Mars there were even more similarities, such as the presence of water and living organisms. He has one snag – in time immemorial the sun was much weaker than it is now, and Mars was quite far from it and was not going to approach. It turns out that the planet was cold and there could not be rivers and oceans on it. 

But how, then, can explain the presence of valleys and depressions on its surface, which were clearly formed as a result of the flow of water? Canadian scientists have started looking for an explanation for this mysterious phenomenon. 

In the course of scientific work, they managed to put forward a theory that greatly changes the idea of ​​scientists about the past of the Red Planet. Perhaps Mars looked like a giant snowball.

Millions of years ago, Mars was hardly a warm place

Water on Mars

The essence of the theory was published in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience . According to one of the study’s authors, Anna Grau Galofre , over the past 40 years, the scientific community has believed that irregularities on the surface of Mars were formed by the movement of rivers. 

However, there are distinctive features between valleys and depressions in different regions of the planet. To find out what factors could affect the structure of the irregularities, scientists decided to find a place on Earth, the surface of which is as close as possible to the Martian landscape. However, researchers have long known about the existence of such a place.

Mars on Earth

One of the most Mars-like places on our planet is considered the uninhabited island of Devon, located in northern Canada. Almost all of its surface is a cold and dry desert. If you look at the island from a bird’s eye view or even from a satellite, you will notice that its surface is really very similar to the vastness of the Red Planet. 

It is also full of all kinds of irregularities and scientists are well aware of how they were formed. Since Devon Island is a rather cold place, most of the rivers there flow under a layer of ice. Part of the ice sheet melted over time and the valleys left by the rivers are now clearly visible to us. In their structure, they are very different from the valleys formed by rivers that flow in the open.

The surface of Devon Island is very similar to the Martian landscape

So, scientists became aware of the distinctive features of the two types of valleys. Based on this data, they developed an algorithm that was able to quickly study photographs of 10,000 Martian irregularities. 

Among them, the researchers found many valleys, which clearly formed under a thick layer of ice. Most of them were formed about 3.8 billion years ago. It turns out that once upon a time, although not all, but most of Mars, was covered with ice and snow. But scientists assumed that it was very similar to our blue-green Earth.

Above is the surface of Mars, and below is the surface of Devon Island

Life on Mars

If Mars really was covered with layers of ice, then the probability of the existence of living organisms on it increases markedly. The fact is that microorganisms could well inhabit the waters hidden under the ice sheet. And this shield, in turn, could perfectly protect them from cosmic radiation. 

Indeed, the Red Planet has a very weak magnetic field, which is precisely what serves to protect against harmful radiation. So, despite the changes in the idea of ​​the appearance and conditions of ancient Mars, the probability that at least primitive creatures lived on it remained. Maybe someday their traces will be discovered by devices like InSight and we will gain confidence that life on other planets can exist.

According to the new theory, 3.8 billion years ago Mars looked something like this

The computer algorithm created within the framework of scientific work will not disappear. According to the developers, it can be useful for studying the past of the Earth. 

Technologies existing at the moment allow us to look at history no further than 5 million years, and a new algorithm can reconstruct the history of glaciations on our planet over the past 35 million years. It sounds intriguing, so we can only hope that new discoveries will not be long in coming.

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