For centuries, humans have endeavoured to discover and describe the sum of Earth’s biological diversity. Scientists and naturalists have catalogued species from all continents and oceans, from the depths of Earth’s crust to the highest mountains, and from the most remote jungles to our most populated cities. This grand effort sheds light on the forms and behaviours that evolution has made possible, while serving as the foundation for understanding the common descent of life. Until recently, our planet was thought to be inhabited by nearly 10 million species (107). Though no small number, this estimate is based almost solely on species that can be seen with the naked eye.Continue reading There are more microbial species on Earth than stars in the galaxy
What is the biggest star in the Universe? In fact, it is really hard to give an exact answer to this question since the universe is big, neighboring and the other galaxies are billions of light years away from us. But, we can give it a try. Here are the top 6 biggest stars in the Universe currently known by radius.Continue reading Top 6 Biggest Stars in the Universe
The Sun is the primary source of energy for Earth’s climate system, and the life on Earth. With a diameter of about 1.39 million kilometers (864,337 miles, i.e. 109 times that of Earth), and a mass about 1.9885×1030 kg (330,000 times that of Earth, accounting for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System), it may be the biggest thing in this neighborhood, but it is actually just a medium-sized star among the hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way galaxy. In the video published by the CAMENGAT creative astronomy below, you can see some dwarf stars and other giants compared to the Sun at the edge of its sphere: at 150 million kilometers (1 AUNotes 1) with a 50 mm objective. The stars are the Sun, Alpha Centauri A, Sirius, Vega, Pollux, Arcturus, Aldebaran, Rigel, Antares, and Betelgeuse. The scenario: Astronomical Observatory of Paranal, Chile.
Continue reading Watch: what other stars would look like in the place of the Sun
ESA’s (European Space Agency) Gaia spacecraft has created the most accurate and detailed map of the Milky Way galaxy (and beyond) to date. The map includes high-precision measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars and reveals previously unseen details of our home Galaxy. It is the second iteration of the map and published by ESA on April 25, 2018.
Continue reading ESA’s Gaia has Created the Most Detailed Map of the Milky Way
You can help NASA on some projects: for instance, citizen scientists helped NASA identify an aurora-related celestial phenomenon, now called STEVE. Want to become a citizen scientist? You can find projects on NASA website.
Continue reading Want to Become a Citizen Scientist for NASA?
Will we ever visit other stars? Maybe, in the distant future, if humans won’t become extinct, our grand grand … (insert a hundred or a thousand grands here) children can stand on an exoplanet’s surface someday. But, we don’t have to wait. NASA has opened a new web page, an “Exoplanet Travel Bureau”, and we can, at least, see the artists’ imaginations of what an exoplanet surface look like, based on available data. NASA warns, there are no actual images of the exoplanets, obviously. With interactive 3D images, it is still an exciting experience.
Continue reading Exoplanet Travel Bureau by NASA – Interactive 3D Images
How old is the Earth? This question preoccupied first philosophers, then scientists, for many centuries. Today, we know that the age of the Earth is approximately 4.54 billion years, with an error range of about 50 million years (4.54 × 109years ± 1%). This number is based on evidence from radiometric dating of the oldest-known terrestrial rocks as well as lunar rock samplesNotes 1 and meteorites.
Continue reading The Earth is 18 Galactic Years Old
In 1054 A.D, a new, very bright star has appeared in Earth’s sky, in the constellation Taurus. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Arab astronomers observed the event and noted: “a new bright star emerged in the heavens”. The star was so bright: for nearly three weeks, it was visible even during the daytime, under the hot, shiny summer sun, and remained visible for around two years (653 days to be exact). Today, we know that that “heavenly star” was actually a supernova (SN 1054), and its remnant is what we now know as the Crab Nebula today (catalogue designations M1, NGC 1952, Taurus A).
Continue reading A new star in heavens: how Crab Nebula was born
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.
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.