Category Archives: Astronomy

NASA Detects a Human-Made Barrier Surrounding Earth

We, humans, are changing our planet drastically that scientists say the world entered a completely a new geological era called “Anthropocene”. But, it seems we are not shaping only the surface and the atmosphere of Earth, human activities are changing our near-space environment as well. The change is so big that NASA’s Van Allen probes have detected a human-made barrier surrounding Earth.

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Why astronauts float in space

We see images and videos from the International Space Station (ISS) where astronauts floating in the space freely. That’s because they’re in the space, so there is no gravitational force of Earth there, right?

Wrong.

The International Space Station is in Low Earth OrbitSee notes 1 with an altitude of between 330 and 435 km (205 and 270 mi). It is so close to the Earth that on a clear day easily visible to the naked eye from the ground as it is the third brightest object in the sky (NASA has actually launched a new interactive map at its Spot the Station web site). At that altitude, the Earth’s gravity is about 90 percent of what it is on the planet’s surface – still pretty strong, right? To reduce the gravity of the Earth by a factor of one million, one needs to be at a distance of 6 million kilometers (around 3,728,227 miles) from the Earth – more than fifteen times the distance between the Earth and Moon.

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Ancient carvings show a comet hit Earth 13,000 years ago

Ancient symbols carved into stone at Göbekli Tepe (an archaeological site in Turkey) tell the story of a big comet impact more than 13,000 years ago, scientists think. The devastating impact triggered a mini ice-age which drove many mammals weighing more than 40 kg to extinction.

According to an article published by New Scientist, carvings made on a pillar known as the “Vulture Stone” in Göbekli Tepe suggest that a swarm of comet fragments hit the Earth in around 11000 BC.

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Earth Between the Rings of Saturn

A beautiful image published by NASA, taken by the unmanned Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, shows the Earth between the rings of Saturn. The image is taken on April 12, 2017.

“Consider again that dot [Earth]. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” 

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
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How Earth Could Die – 8 Horrible Ways

Now we’re living on a warm, hospitable planet. As Carl Sagan has said “That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.” We, humans, are the unquestionable rulers of our little oasis in a hostile universe. But all things must pass. The life on Earth, even the planet itself, won’t last forever. What’s more, the humans may go extinct before our planet (and probably before the life on it) dies out. Here some possible (and horrible) ways how planet Earth could die.

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7 Earth-Sized Planets Found Orbiting Nearby Star – 3 of them are in the Habitable Zone

On February 22, 2017, NASA has announced that seven Earth-sized planets have been observed by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope around TRAPPIST-1, a tiny, nearby, an ultra-cool dwarf star located 39 light-years (12 parsecs; 370 petametres) away from Earth in the constellation Aquarius. The good news is: three of these planets are firmly in the habitable zone. The new discovery may be a great breakthrough in the search for extraterrestrial life.

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Water found on the exoplanet 51 Pegasi b

Scientists spotted water in the atmosphere of 51 Pegasi b, one of the first exoplanets ever been discovered. It is around 50 light years away – so we can call it a “nearby” exoplanet – and it is in the constellation of Pegasus.

51 Pegasi b has not marked a breakthrough in astronomical research for the first time: back in 1995, it was the first exoplanet to be discovered orbiting a main-sequence star. The first confirmed exoplanet discovery came in 1992 when several terrestrial-mass planets orbiting the pulsar PSR B1257+12.

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Leaving Solar System at the Speed Of Light

Our Solar system is big, and vast, despite it is really small compared to our galaxy, not to mention the complete universe. To put this into a perspective, you can think yourself as a photon emitted by the Sun. It takes about 8 minutes to reach the Earth after a photon has been emitted from the Sun’s surface. And it takes 5 hours to get out to Pluto from the Earth. The edge of the Solar System is far beyond the orbit of Pluto.

But, where’s the edge of the Solar System? Well, It’s complicated. Informally, the term “solar system” is often used to mean the space out to the last planet – Neptune. Some scientists thinks says the solar system goes out to the Oort Cloud, the source of the comets. The inner edge of the main part of the Oort Cloud could be as close as 1,000 AU (Astronomical Unit, the distance between the Earth and the Sun, which is around 93 million miles or 150 million kilometers) from our sun. The outer edge is estimated to be around 100,000 AU.

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Great American Total Solar Eclipse 2017

There will be a total solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, and the United States will be the best country to watch. It will be also the first total solar eclipse to go coast to coast in the U.S. in 99 years. From Oregon to South Carolina, 70-mile Moon-shadow will race across the U.S. and it will completely block out the Sun for a few minutes. It’s still more than seven months away, but hotels already are selling out as people prepare for the rare and amazing event.

On January 5, 2017, NASA has published the map of the event’s path announcing “…thanks to elevation data of the moon from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, coupled with detailed NASA topography data of Earth, we have the most accurate maps of the path of totality for any eclipse to date.”

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Two stars may collide and light up night sky in 2022

Two stars may collide into a stunning “red nova” in 2022 (or a few months earlier, most probably between September 2021 and September 2022), and for a few weeks become one of the brightest objects in Earth’s night sky, scientists predict. When two stars merge, they increase in brightness 10 thousandfold.

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