In April 2018, the European Space Agency’s Gaia observatory released its second data catalog, which includes the distances to over 1.3 billion stars. In the video published by the American Museum of Natural History, museum’s astrophysicist Jackie Faherty breaks down why this information is so revolutionary and explains how this information is helping scientists and non-scientists alike understand the universe like never before.Continue reading Watch: The Milky Way as You’ve Never Seen It Before
There are a lot of misconceptions about space. Science-fiction movies bad in science and tabloid papers greatly contribute to these myths and misconceptions. Here are the top 21 of them, we need to stop believing.Continue reading Top 21 Common Misconceptions about Space
Hint: they are all space rocks. But, there are some differences. The biggest difference between an asteroid and a comet, for example, is what they are made of.
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).
About 70,000 years ago, a wandering binary stellar system passed through the Solar System’s Oort cloudNotes 1, within 120,000 AU (0.58 pc; 1.9 ly) of the Sun. 70,000 years is just a blink of an eye compared to the Earth’s age, which is 4.543 billion years. Our ancestors were about to left Africa at that time. The binary system is dubbed as Scholz’s StarNotes 2, after its discoverer. Comets perturbed from the Oort cloud would require roughly 2 million years to get to the inner Solar System. So, in the distant future, some of these comets may hit the Earth and cause mass extinctions, like the “dinosaur killer” Chicxulub impactor which impacted a few miles from the present-day town of Chicxulub in Mexico around 66 million years ago.
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.
Earth is a blue marble in the space: the water, gives our planet its blue color: about 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water-covered. There is roughly 326 million cubic miles (1.332 billion cubic kilometers) water on the Earth’s surface. Almost 97% of that water is salty (ocean water). But where all that water came from?
The Earth is our one and only home. As Carl Sagan said (Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space), “On Earth, 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.”.
But will we ever leave our home and visit other stars in the future?
Our galaxy, “The Milky Way” is a barred spiral galaxy (a spiral galaxy with a central bar-shaped structure composed of stars) some 100,000-120,000 light-years in diameter, which contains 100-400 billion stars. It may contain at least as many planets as well. Our Sun (the Solar System) is located within the disk, about 27,000 light-years away from the Galactic Center, on the inner edge of one of the spiral-shaped concentrations of gas and dust called the Orion Arm.