Phil and Stephen discuss remarkable recent discoveries related to space.
Citizen scientist Thomas Jacobs was the first to spot tell-tale signs that a comet was orbiting a distant star monitored by the Kepler Space Observatory. Professor Saul Rappaport (Massachusetts Institute of Technology; MIT) and his team then collaborated with Jacobs to report the discovery in new research published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The discovery marks the first time that the presence of an object as small as a comet has been inferred by observing dips in the intensity of light from a star. Such dips usually signal crossings of planets or other objects in front of the star, which momentarily block a small fraction of its light. In this case things were different, the researchers were able to pick out the comet’s tail, a trail of gas and dust, which blocked about one-tenth of 1 percent of the star’s light as the comet streaked by.
Most objects orbiting our Sun do so along a common plane: the planets, dwarf planets and asteroids mostly swing around in roughly the same way.
This one appears to have come down on the plane from 122 degrees, from the direction of the star Vega, in the constellation Lyra. And its path did not indicate the curved ellipse typical of clockwork-like returning comets.
“If further observations confirm the unusual nature of this orbit, this object may be the first clear case of an interstellar comet,” the MPC declares.
the reason photographers were out watching the sky was an amazing show of northern lights – or Aurora Borealis – but there was an extra dimension too.
This was the launch of a Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile from Plesetsk cosmodrome aimed at the Kura testing range in Kamchatka on the country’s Pacific coast.
The launch was one of several last night in exercises by the Russian strategic nuclear forces, as confirmed by the Russian defence ministry.
It was the the trace of the Topol rocket – capable of carrying nuclear missiles – that caused this extraordinary phenomenon in the sky.
As photographer Yakovlev posted accurately: ‘It seems I accidentally shoot the launch of a secret space rocket from Plesetsk’.
A new analysis of strange modulations in a tiny set of stars appears to indicate that it could be coming from extraterrestrial intelligence that is looking to alert us to their existence.
The new study reports the finding of specific modulations in just 234 out of the 2.5 million stars that have been observed during a survey of the sky. The work found that a tiny fraction of them seemed to be behaving strangely.
it doesn’t make sense that one section of the universe would be different than what we see around us. And honestly, who can envision a universe that has an end—a huge brick wall lurking at its edge?
So, in some ways, infinity makes sense. But “infinity” means that, beyond the observable universe, you won’t just find more planets and stars and other forms of material…you will eventually find every possible thing. Every. Possible. Thing.
Stranger Things (seasons 1&2)