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Thousands of planets can orbit a black hole

Planets may be orbiting a black hole just as our own planet orbits the sun. Imagine a planetary system of an almost unimaginable scale – tens of thousands of worlds, each ten times the mass of the earth, all orbiting the same supermassive black hole.

Could black holes house planetary systems? Image Credit: NASA / Alain Riazuelo

Sounds absurd, but can this system really exist?

We are accustomed to cosmological models that describe the formation of planets from a protoplanetary disk around stars.

Viable planets can form in the orbits of black holes

However, computer simulations by a team of Japanese astrophysicists shows that thousands of planets can form in the orbits of supermassive black holes.

Scientists came to the conclusion that at a distance of about 3,000 light-years from the supermassive black hole, rather comfortable conditions are observed where planets can form from dust particles.

Modeling showed that basically planets with a mass of 1 to 10 terrestrial are formed, and their origin takes about 100 million years.

Keiichi Wada, Yusuke Tsukamoto and Eiichiro Kokubo, who led the study, described the process of planet nucleation in detail: tiny particles of dust collide at low speeds and in some cases, sticking occurs. When the fragments acquire a size of more than a centimeter, the process accelerates sharply and so on until the appearance of a whole planet.

Professor Keiichi Wada of Kagoshima University in Japan said:

With the right conditions, planets could be formed even in harsh environments, such as around a black hole

The key to this idea is the understanding that the dust disks from which the planets form do not only occur around young stars – they can also occur around black holes. Why then can’t planets form in this environment?

Eiichiro Kokubo of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan said:

Our calculations show that tens of thousands of planets with ten times the mass of the Earth could be formed around ten light-years from a black hole.

Around black holes, there might exist planetary systems of astonishing scale.

To get an idea of ​​this scale – the dust disk around a supermassive black hole can contain something about a billion times the mass of a protoplanetary disk around a star.

It is noteworthy that some of these planets may be habitable.

The team of Czech astrophysicists from the University of Palacky, led by Tomáš Opatrna, proved that not just planets, but inhabited worlds can form in the orbits of black holes.

Viable planets can form in the orbits of black holes

The accretion disk is capable of producing a sufficient amount of heat and light, which means that a black hole in some sense could act as a source of lighting and energy, replacing an ordinary star.

Undoubtedly, a planet in the orbit of a supermassive black hole will receive significantly less energy than the Earth from the Sun, but in any case this would be enough for a primitive life to arise there.

In fact, detecting the planets in such a system will likely be a big challenge.

It turns out that in the film “Interstellar” the truth was much more than fiction.



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 /

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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‘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.


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Mars is losing its water much faster than previously thought

It turns out that Mars is losing its water much faster than previously thought. It is not clear if there will be any water left when the eventual human colonization of the Red Planet is undertaken.

On January 13, 2020, NASA proudly announced that it had finally selected 13 men and women, some of whom would fly to the moon and / or Mars, as part of the Artemis Program in the 2030s.

Meanwhile, an article has been published in the Science journal that the Martian colonists will have serious problems, combined with deadly space radiation and unresolved difficulties in maintaining the life of the station.

The survival ob the Red Planet is also related to water. In most cases, Mars water is in the form of ice and is not deep below the surface, but is mostly preserved in the form of ice caps at the poles. However, even there, it constantly evaporates and goes into space.

Scientists have known about this evaporation before, but it has recently turned out to be much faster than expected.

Martian Polar Cap

According to most projects, Martian colonists have to extract water from these ice caps, but when it comes time for them to be on Mars, there may no longer be any water on the planet. What will happen to the colonists? They will not be able to live long without water even if they process their urine.

Researchers led by Frank Montmesin, a scientist at the French University of Paris-Sackle, understand this threat by examining data from the Martian atmosphere over the past two years. This data is obtained from the Trace Gas Orbiter apparatus flying in orbit on the Red Planet.

It turns out that the upper atmosphere of Mars contains much more water vapor than the planet’s surface, about 10-100 times more than expected. The difference in values ​​depends on the position of the planet. Particularly rapid evaporation occurs during the Martian perihelion, when the planet is closest to the Sun.

Mars has low gravity, so it is not surprising that residual water quickly evaporates from its surface. At the same time, when getting into the upper atmosphere, under the influence of solar ultraviolet radiation, water vapor decomposes into oxygen and hydrogen atoms, which allows it to leave the Martian atmosphere even faster.

For how long Mars will have water under these conditions is still unknown. Now, however, future colonists will have to consider this Martian anomaly as well.

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