One thought-provoking question always lingers in my mind, and I believe that I am not the only one. Are we alone? The space as we know it – vast, spacious – seeming to disappear into nothingness as it expands. Reaching far away, way out of my realm of understanding and it scares me. We are so small, very extremely small compared to other gigantic celestial bodies out there. The more I look into it, the wilder my mind wanders. Is there life out there? Other than us humans on this diminutive terrestrial planet called Earth? Are we also considered aliens to the aliens out there? I am a firm believer that there is some kind of life forms out there. Be it as simple as unicellular organisms to multicellular, complex beings as humans, I believe there is.
Back to my main debate – are we alone? If we really are, then there must be a reason behind it, as everything is built upon reasons and consequences. Is there actually civilization out there, but its age has already long past, leaving remnants behind being so ancient that we could not make anything out of them? An astrophysicist named Summer Ash (she’s so cool, go check her out!) mentioned about how life is not without water. One of the Galilean moons, Europa, was the first place astronomers ever got hints about liquid water – in its salt water ocean! Could there be some form of life swimming, living there? Not enough? Well, what about Enceladus and its water vapor sprouting from its surface, indicating that there is ocean underneath. There should be some living organism in there somewhere.
The search for forms of life started ever since we sent our very first human mission to Mars. NASA is getting ready to send one of their projects, Atacama Rover Drilling to search for life on Mars. Due to the extreme dryness and temperature on Mars, they believe that doing a simulation and demonstration on the high desert of Chile should do the deal. The team believe that by roving, drilling and all together while detecting for life could work together, resulting in the very intention of searching for evidence of life on Mars. Read more here.
Now that I have clearly stated my arguments, what about you? Which side are you on?
Black holes are so last year. Wanna hear something more interesting? WHITE HOLES!
Black holes, as we know, do not let anything escape from their surface, engulfing anything and everything that dare come near them, deeming themselves powerful. Even light stand no chance against them, as the space time is so curved, they cannot elude. As we learned in earlier class, there are 4 consequences should we, human, are swamped into a black hole. Those are spaghettification, magnetically ripped apart, radiation a.k.a. burned to death, or worse, pulverized.
Now, what is this thing called white hole? Scientists are having one of the most debatable questions of all time, where did galaxies come from? Where do the materials that made up galaxies come from? Well, one of the hypothesis is the existence of white hole. Contrary to black hole which does not let anything escape it, white hole does not let anything get in it. In short word, a white hole in a hypothetical surface in space which is believed to spit out astonishing amount of material from nothingness. Now this sounds like something easy to find, but in reality, no white holes have been found…yet!
If the hypothetical white hole is somewhat real, then it should explain other mystery. Such as, the materials that made up galaxies, the laws of general relativity and many more! Some people argue, saying that the Big Bang itself is a white hole since it is the start of everything. It spewed everything out in a shot and disappeared. That causes the inability for us to actually continuously observe white hole.
What are your say about this? Do you really think there is a white hole out there, waiting to be discovered? The space is so packed with mysteries, it is simply fascinating!
I have a thing for picturesque, unique space landscape and pattern and there are two nebulae that has always been my favorite. Ever since I was in elementary school (that was when I learned about space), I found out that there are MANY beautiful and spectacular shapes of nebulae. Since then, I was hooked. Two of my favorites are Pillars of Creation and The Unicorn.
Pillars of Creation, situated in Eagle Nebula, was a photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. It shows three massive columns of cold gas surrounded with hot ultraviolet light emitted from the young stars around them. Some says that they look like elephant trunks of gases and dust with some newborn hot stars. Why are they called Pillars of Creation? They are named so because the gases and dust in it are actually in the process of creating new stars. Therefore, they are as if the pillars which are birthing to newborn stars. The end of each gigantic pillar shadows the cold gas below them, thus creating long structure that looked like columns. The photo taken by the telescope was awarded one of the top ten photographs by Hubble. The Pillars of Creation, to me, look so majestic and magical. I think it is so amazing and the space sure knows how to flaunt its beauty!
The Unicorn is also one of the spectacular arts the space has to offer us. It is actually a part of Trifid Nebula which looked like the horn of a unicorn. Trifid Nebula is quite easy to find using a small telescope and it is also located in Sagittarius. The nebula also acts as a nursery of embryonic stars and new born stars. The horn is actually a ‘finger’ protruding from the dense cloud of gases pointing directly towards the star in the middle of Trifid. Trifid, which means ‘divided into three’ is a quite direct representation of three parts it hosts. A dark nebula, the emission nebula, and also the reflection nebula and they can be seen as a bright object through the small telescope. The bright and distinctive features make Trifid Nebula a favorite subject to amateur astronomers.
There are so many amazing arts out there in space that would absolutely blow our mind, and definitely more coming. Now that I have told you my favorites, what are some of yours?
I have a thing for stuff that is outrageous, different and intriguing. Greek Gods, bizarre happenings in space, and archaic events? Yes, please! So, I just recently learned about how Moon was the result of an ancient collision between old Earth (or some people call it Gaia) and another theoretical planet named Theia 4.5 billion years ago. Also known as The Big Splash or The Theia Impact, the historical collision was believed to be the origin of Moon.
Theia, a hypothesized planetary-mass planet was said to be the size of Mars. In the early Solar System, Theia was an asteroid, also called Earth trojan, orbiting in Langrange points L4 and L5. Based on the investigation, astronomers think that the collision happened before our Solar System was formed, approximately 100 million years before. It was said that Theia had struck a nearly full formed Earth at a 45 degrees angle with a strapping side swipe, with an impactor velocity of 4m/s which is quite relatively slow. There is also a hypothesis which says that the impact initiated a vigorous mixing which made Theia’s iron core to mix into Earth’s core and Theia’s mantle assembled into Earth’s.
Due to the impact, shock wave spread out and materials from both planets were jumbled together and discharged out into the orbit. The materials, consisting of rocks and minerals orbit around the Earth for some time before they fused together, forming the Moon we know today.
One of the evidences which support this event was the similarities in the oxygen isotopes of both Earth and Moon. Edward Young, a geochemistry professor at UCLA and also the one who lead the study, found that the oxygen isotopes that were found on Earth and Moon are indistinguishable. This furthermore support the argument that Theia had thoroughy mixed into Earth before their debris coalesced to form Moon. Further read can be done here.
More investigations are still being made, and many hypothesis are still being voiced out by astronomers. The verdict? I myself am still not sure. Whatever it is, I believe that everything has their own existence.
The idea of discovering new “Earth-like” planets has always intrigue me! I mean, they could be habitable planets that we can ACTUALLY live in? Just like in Terra Nova (I’ll explain more about that series in the end of this post!). Super-Earth, in short, means exoplanets in which their masses are higher than Earth’s, extra points if they are in habitable zones! For now, I am just going to focus on one habitable zone which is Kepler-62. Before that, hats off to those who guess why the zone’s name is Kepler! KEPLER is the name of NASA’s spacecraft in which its job is to find Earth-size planets orbiting another star AND it is also named after Johannes Kepler, world’s renowned astronomer.
Kepler-62 is the name of a star in Lyra constellation (somewhat cooler than our Sun). It is the smallest habitable zone found and hosted about five exoplanets. There are two main planets in Kepler-62 zone which are Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f.
Most likely to be a water world, Kepler-62e is an exoplanet with 1.6 times the size of Earth. It orbits the red dwarf star once every 122 days. The planet is roughly 1200 light years from Earth and is believed to be more gaseous than rocky, thus called mini-Neptune. Another exoplanet orbiting the same Kepler-62 is called Kepler-62f. This planet is a bit farther out compared to Kepler-62e, seeing as its orbital period is 267 days. It is 1.4 times bigger than Earth and its equilibrium temperature is close to Mars’. Through estimation of its mass, Kepler-62f is most likely to be a rocky planet.
After further research, it was found that both of the planets are similar to Earth but slightly bigger. It was also discovered that both planets are likely dominated with ocean. Any chances that there are life on those planets? Follow-ups exploration and research are being done to find out more about the habitable zones and other exoplanets. Are there any more habitable zones out there? YES. In fact, there was another zone found in 2013 and was named Kepler-69 and there are actually many more out there!
Now, there is one TV show that I would recommend you guys to watch. Titled Terra Nova, it tells us about the life of a family in far future, where Earth is no longer fit for living due to overpopulation and declining air quality. So, they have to move to another world called Terra Nova where in that world, it was as if Earth was pulled back to the past (means dinosaur still exist!) and they have to fight to survive. Quite a good series, seeing that I am into science fiction. Give it a chance, if you have some time! (It’s on Netflix, btw)
Ever wonder how kingdoms of animals ever started? What causes them? When? And ultimately, HOW? It’s CAMBRIAN EXPLOSION!
Cambrian Explosion is a relatively rapid appearance of animal kingdoms or known as phyla – a taxonomic term which means the primary kingdom of animals – which happened around 530 million years ago and lasted about 54 million years. If I were to fit the entire creation of universe in a year, then the Cambrian Explosion would happen during December 15th. When Cambrian explosion (or radiation, some might say) occurred, vast diversity of animals took place and rapid animal evolution happened, be it aquatic of land. Additionally, many scientists also believed that most animals that existed today originated from the explosion.
The dominant animals that lived during the period was aquatic, given that the Earth was practically ocean and land was hardly to be seen. Trilobites were assumed to be the dominant organisms but after future research, it was proven wrong and replaced with arthropods which was mainly dominant as aquatic organisms. It was later known that trilobites were a small part of arthropods family, which demonstrate their similar structure.
Many had voiced out their theories as to how the explosion happened but the cause of it is still unknown. Many scientists believe that it was the sudden elevation of oxygen level and concentration of calcium in water that boost the evolution.
Theories like the environmental and ecological changes on Earth and how lagoons and islands are formed were also debated. The lagoons was said to provided shallow pools as the habitat to live in and necessary food for the animals, thus creating the rapid appearance of animals. Some other theories claimed to have genetic reasons as to why the explosion happened. There are still many unresolved questions and remarks about the period, and scientists are still muddled as to how the evolution and diversification could have happened in such a short amount of time. Those questions aside, the Cambrian period had definitely marked such an impactful event in the timeline of our universe.
It is hard trudging through the development of astronomy throughout the decades without having controversies here and there. The astronomy world has many vivid figures, but nobody quite dramatic like Tycho Brahe. The man known to be genius but eccentric, wealthy but weak mathematics-wise.
He was about two when he was taken away from his parents – who were strangely alright with it – by his uncle who was a rich Danish noble. When his uncle died, Brahe was the one who inherited all of his uncle’s property, leaving him to live in a castle with bunch of weird entertainers and people he hired (talk about eccentricity).
The tale of his missing nose started with his lack of skills in mathematics and foul temper. He was having a disagreement with a Danish named Manderup Parsbjerg over a mathematics formula and due to scarce resources, they ended up having a sword fight to death. The duel resulted in Brahe having his nose sliced off. Thus, he was said to wear prosthetic nose and keep around some gold and silver noses for special occasions.
The solar eclipse that happened around 1560 boost Brahe’s interest towards researching astronomy. Having tonnes of wealth around him, he managed to build a protractor-like seat to observe the stars from a small rectangle hole on the wall (which is hard and needs a lot of concentration and patience). He was known to be the naked-eye observer as he would sit on the protractor as his assistant would adjust the angle of the seat as he instructed. His observation was able to prove Copernicus’ Saturn and Jupiter alignment and from that day onward, he aspired to compile astronomical predictions and readings as it was prized data at that time.
His astronomical tables were so sought after that the king of Denmark wanted to keep him. His data was proven to be scientific and vital as it was accurate and reliable. Tycho Brahe was definitely one of the early astronomer who helped discover the cosmos, bringing one piece on information to another thus connecting them into strings of fact. He was indeed remarkable, as a man without a nose.