Monkey Head Nebula: Fascinating Facts (NGC 2174).

Monkey Head Nebula: Fascinating Facts (NGC 2174)

This is about the Monkey Head Nebula. It’s 37 quadrillion miles from Earth.  So if you want to learn more about the Monkey Head Nebula, then this article is for you. Let’s get right into it! The Monkey Head Nebula The Monkey Head Nebula (NGC 2174) is a beautiful sight, no doubt.  However, it is a violent nursery where hot new stars are born.  Packed densely with charged hydrogen atoms, this hostile region is called an HII emission nebula.  Star creation uses hydrogen as the primary ingredient. And, because of this, the Monkey Head Nebula is an ideal place for the cosmos to create new children. Whirling thick clouds of dark gas embed newly-formed bright pink and white stars.  In fact, it is these dark clouds that were the very birthplace of the new stars.  Now, as the stars spring to life, they begin pushing their nurseries away and grow to be big and hot. Where is the Monkey Head Nebula? Sitting deep in the Orion constellation, the Monkey Head is around 6,400 light-years away.  In other words, it is 37 quadrillion miles from Earth.  Some people consider this nebula to actually be part of a nearby star cluster (NGC 2175). Can I See the Monkey Head Nebula? NGC 2174 can be seen through some telescopes. However, spotting this object requires a keen eye and special equipment.  Not to mention, this equipment can become quite expensive. Seeing wavelengths and frequencies of ionized hydrogen atoms requires special telescopes and filters because they are not part of the visible light spectrum.  Basically, our human eyes are not powerful enough to see them. However, advanced amateur astronomers and professionals will find these items well-worth their costs for all of the new visual doors they unlock. Now, when viewing nebulas, expectations and patience are very important.  Especially since emission nebulas often appear as faint gray smudges.  Stunning astrophotography images, full of vibrant colors and crystal clarity, require years of work and thousands of dollars. For instance, the banner image for this article was taken by Hubble Space Telescope to celebrate its 24th launch anniversary.  Dozens of brilliant scientists work full-time to operate this type of equipment.  Not to mentioned, NASA spent a whopping $2 billion to make it a reality.

Butterfly Nebula Facts (NGC 6302)

Butterfly Nebula: Fascinating Facts (NGC 6302)

These are facts about the Butterfly Nebula. The Butterfly Nebula is tucked deep in the constellation Scorpius. So if you want to learn facts about the Butterfly Nebula, then you’re in the right place. Let’s get right into it! Butterfly Nebula Facts Tucked deep in the arms of the Milky Way galaxy lies the Butterfly Nebula.  Infamous for its wing-like structure, resembling a butterfly, this planetary nebula is truly beautiful. However, like nearly all deep space objects, it is a brutal and deadly environment.  Twin jets of ionized gas jut out from both ends.  At the center, the hellishly hot leftover remnant of a former star.  Despite its stunning visual appeal, the Butterfly Nebula is a death trap for all life. Where is the Butterfly Nebula? The Butterfly Nebula is tucked deep in the constellation Scorpius, sitting a distant 4,000 light-years away.  In other words, well over 23 quadrillion miles away.  Surprisingly, this is a short hop, skip, and jump from Earth in cosmic measurements.  Yet, this is thankfully far beyond any hazardous distance to us. What Causes the Shape of the Butterfly Nebula? Similar to all planetary nebula, the leftover star at the center ran out of its fuel and shed its outer layers.  Unable to “go supernova,” the large star left only a much smaller white dwarf star behind due to its size. Yet, do not be fooled. Data tell us that the central star in the Butterfly Nebula is likely 450,000º Fahrenheit.  Basically, hot enough to melt nearly all metals.  Actually, these hot temperatures would melt lead and iron with great ease. Also, asked by a thick disc of gas and dust (seen in the center), the star is not easily seen.  However, during a Hubble mission to install its new Wide Field Camera 3, photographic evidence of the star emerged in 2009. Shining bright in ultraviolet light, the star heats up—and energizes the surrounding gases, causing vibrant colors.  The wing-like shapes on both sides are supposedly the result of this dense center disc.

Lagoon Nebula Facts (Messier 8/NGC 6523)

Lagoon Nebula: Fascinating Facts (Messier 8/NGC 6523)

These are facts about the Lagoon Nebula. Lagoon Nebula can be seen without any optical aids at magnitude 6.0. So if you want to learn about the Lagoon Nebula, then this article is for you. Let’s jump right in! The Lagoon Nebula Despite its pleasant name, do not be fooled. The Lagoon Nebula (also known as Messier 8 or NGC 6523) is anything but a tropical paradise.  On the contrary, it is what we call an emission nebula or HII region. The Lagoon Nebula lies at a distant 4,100 light-years away in the constellation, Sagittarius, the archer.  A distance of 4,100 light-years may seem relatively small compared to other known deep space objects.  However, this still a staggering 24 quadrillion miles away from Earth. First documented in 1654 by Italian astronomer Giovanni Hodierna, the Lagoon Nebula is one of the few nebulas visible with the naked eye.  Naturally, sky conditions must be relatively perfect for observing this nebula without a telescope or binoculars. Lagoon Nebula’s Appearance The Lagoon Nebula is what astronomers call an emission nebula or HII region.  These are regions of ionized gas that glow in various colors depending on their wavelength.  For instance, the Lagoon Nebula appears as a reddish hue created by ionized hydrogen’s wavelengths. Like most emission nebulae, the Lagoon Nebula has several dark patches. So, it looks as though there is no light. But, these dark regions (or dark nebula) are actually clumps of thick dust that prevents us from seeing the light behind them. The Lagoon Nebula gets its name from the darkened “lane” shaped like a lagoon.  This lagoon-Esque feature sits above a bright, prominent Hourglass region in the nebula’s center. Ultraviolet light from a nearby hot star heats the nebula’s surface gases and ionizes them. This ionization causes a notable tornado-looking funnel structure. The Lagoon Nebula is among the brightest features in Sagittarius. This comes from its large size, star-forming functionality, and bright gases. Seeing the Lagoon Nebula Like nearly all nebulae, the Lagoon Nebula will appear gray through a telescope or binoculars.  Our human eyes are not sensitive enough to see some or any colors over great distances.  Plus, gases like hydrogen in the nebula are not in the visible spectrum for our eyes without special equipment. Under tremendously clear sky conditions, the Lagoon Nebula can be seen without any optical aids at magnitude 6.0.  Because of its brightness and large size, this nebula will have a diameter 2-3 times as wide as the full Moon. So, of course, it will appear as a faint smudge. The nebula Binoculars will reveal a smudge-like oblong shape. However, little to no detail will be decipherable. Through small to large telescopes, detail can easily be seen. For example, brighter star clusters may be easily observed in decent sky conditions.  Larger apertures (8″ or higher) will reveal the bright inner “hourglass” region, as well as the dark lane above the center.  Larger scopes under exceptional skies may even pick out some of the dark dust regions. This nebula is best to observe from summer through fall. Also, low-power eyepieces are recommended to fit this exceptionally large nebula entirely in your view.

Pulsars for Dummies: What Are Pulsars?

Pulsars for Dummies: What Are Pulsars?

This is about pulsars. In short: Pulsars are neutron stars. So if you want to learn what pulsars are in simple terms, then this article is for you. Let’s get right into it! Pulsars Explained in Simple Terms First discovered in 1967, pulsars are among the universe’s most exotic objects.  Unidentified radio signals, blinking in consistent intervals, baffled astronomers.  Later, they would find that these mysterious signals were actually distant pulsars.  But, what are Pulsars?  First, we need to learn more about stars. The Life and Death of a Star Stars are massive.  In fact, more than 99% of our solar system’s mass is in the Sun.  Plus, our Sun is considered to be a run-of-the-mill star in nearly every way. Converting atoms into energy through nuclear processes, stars are gigantic, natural factories. This energy is their blood, their fuel.  Also, stars’ massive size creates powerful gravity, pushing in on themselves.  Gravity pushes in, nuclear energy pushes out. This balance keeps stars alive. Reaching their final days, stars run out of nuclear fuel. Now, no longer able to fight their own gravity, the star crashes in on itself.  Depending on several characteristics, the star dies in one of many elaborate ways. And, one of those ways is turning into a neutron star. Neutron Stars Now, crashing in on itself from gravity, the star’s core is crushed.  In fact, only a densely packed ball of neutrons remains.  And, this neutron ball is extremely dense, packing a star’s mass into a diameter of only 10-20 miles. Jets of energetic particles now burst from both poles of the neutron star.  Imagine a soda bottle floating in a bathtub. Poking a hole in the bottle’s bottom causes a tiny jet of air, making the bottle spin around. Similarly, the neutron star’s powerful jets cause it to spin. Often, neutron stars spin extremely rapidly. Some spin several hundred times each second.  Actually, one neutron star, known as PSR J1748, spins at 25% the speed of light.  In other words, PSR J1748’s speed is 46,000 miles per second. So, What Are Pulsars? Briefly understanding stars, particularly neutron stars, is necessary to understand pulsars. Why?  Because pulsars are neutron stars. Neutron stars’ jets (explained above) act like lighthouses. Spinning around, beams of x-rays swirl through space.  Astronomers use these cosmic beacons to search for and study neutron stars. But, neutron stars whose beams pass directly over Earth are called pulsars. In the late 1960s, several cases of unexplained radio signals confused scientists. Blinking at consistent intervals, these mystery signals were actually the distant jets of pulsars.  Sweeping across Earth-like beacons, pulsars’ jets allow us to study and learn more about these fascinating objects. Now, astronomers have discovered thousands of pulsars. And, each serves as a window in which we can learn about stars and our universe.

Heart Nebula: Fascinating Facts (IC 1805)

Heart Nebula: Fascinating Facts (IC 1805)

These are facts about the Heart Nebula IC 1805. Even backyard astronomers can view the Heart Nebula. So if you want to learn interesting facts about the Heart Nebula, then you’re in the right place. Let’s jump right in! Heart Nebula Facts Obviously, even our universe celebrates goofy greeting card holidays.  In fact, from 7,500 light-years away, we’ve received a heart, known as IC 1805, the Valentine’s Day or Heart Nebula. Heart Nebula Characteristics Firstly, IC 1805 mixes glowing hot gases and dark space dust to cut out a giant red heart.  Plus, we see an extra bright patch in the heart’s center.  Actually, this is a fiery hot, bright cluster of newborn stars.  However, “newborn” in our endless universe actually means around 1.5 million years old. As an emission nebula, massive clouds of hydrogen billow out from where a star once lived.  But, nearing the end of its life, the star exploded in a wild supernova.  Finally, as the leftover star continues dying, it burns and radiates extremely hot ultraviolet winds.  In fact, the ultraviolet winds heat the surrounding hydrogen, causing it to glow bright red. Heart Nebula Location IC 1805 sits a close 7,500 light-years away in the Perseus arm of our own Milky Way galaxy.  In fact, the Heart Nebula resides in the Cassiopeia constellation, the vain queen of Greek mythology. Can we see the Heart Nebula? Simply put, yes, even backyard astronomers can view the Heart Nebula. Actually, with its 6.5 magnitudes, IC 1805 shines brighter than distant, frozen Neptune in our own solar system.  However, large telescopes (8” aperture or higher) are required to resolve worthwhile detail. But, as always, keeping reasonable expectations is key for observing nebulae.  Lying trillions of miles from Earth makes color and most details impossible for human eyeballs to see clearly.  As a result, the red heart will look more like a faint, gray-smudged heart.  In fact, some amateur astronomers claim IC 1805 looks more like a running dog through backyard telescopes.

How Do Stars Die?

How Do Stars Die in Simple Terms?

This is about how stars die. Stars die when their nuclear fuel runs out. So if you want to know all about star deaths, this is the article for you. Let’s get started! How Stars Die Throughout all human history, we gaze up at a beautiful canvas of thousands of stars.  In fact, these are a mere fraction of the stars in just our Milky Way galaxy alone.  Mythologies, artwork, games, and everything else include stars. But, have you ever wondered, “how do stars die?”  Actually, we only need to understand two simple things to learn about star death. Nuclear Energy – Pushing Out Deep inside every star, scorching heat and crushing density make for a seriously wild place. Even atomic particles do some funny things under such conditions. For instance, hydrogen atoms zip around so wildly, they smash into each other and combine to form heavier helium atoms. But, with all of this newly-gained extra energy, atoms feel unstable. And, they don’t like that.  Therefore, atoms now release extra energy to become stable once again. Finally, this released energy pushes outward from the star. Gravity – Pulling In Everything in our universe has mass.  In other words, everything is made of stuff.  Plus, the more stuff something is made of, the more gravity it has, or the more it can pull everything else in towards itself. For instance, gravity is why we have our Moon.  Earth’s large mass gives our planet strong gravity, which keeps the much less massive Moon locked in orbit. However, stars are on a whole new level. In fact, our Sun makes up over 99% of our entire solar system’s mass.  Seriously, think about that again. All planets, comets, asteroids, and everything else only make up less than one percent of the solar system.  The rest is our gigantic Sun.  Not to mention, our Sun is considered a rather average and unimpressively sized star. Because of this, stars have truly unimaginable gravity. They are able to hold large planets and even other stars in orbit with their powerful gravity.  Stars’ gravity is even strong enough to crash in, completely crushing itself. Then, why don’t all stars crush themselves instantly? Stars – a Perfect Balance As mentioned above, nuclear energy constantly pushes outward from a star. However, the stars’ powerful gravity is constantly trying to crush inward on itself. Ultimately, this inward-outward balance of gravity and energy is how all stars stay alive.  In fact, some stars will successfully hold this delicate balance for billions or even trillions of years. Even our Sun will keep itself balanced for another 5 billion years. But, eventually, atoms will no longer smash together to release nuclear energy.  Finally, stars will run out of nuclear fuel. In other words, they no longer push outward. However, gravity’s strong pull never stops.  Ultimately, without nuclear energy pushing out, nothing balances gravity anymore, and the star will come crashing in on itself. So now, the star dies. Several things may happen next, depending on various factors, like a star’s size. While we will not get into these in this article, they include: Turning into a black hole Becoming a neutron star Shrinking into a white dwarf star So How Do Stars Die? All stars have a truly poetic balance of pushing in and pushing out. Their strong nuclear energy pushes outward. Their own powerful gravity pushes inward. But, while stars maintain this balance for billions or trillions of years, it eventually stops. Ultimately, nuclear fuel runs out.  Finally, without anything stopping it, the star’s own gravity crashes in, crushing the star to death.

5 Facts About Matter vs. Antimatter

5 Fascinating Facts About Matter vs. Antimatter

This is about matter vs. antimatter. Everyday items like lemon are creating antimatter. So if you want to know what matter and antimatter are and how they differ, then you’re in the right place. Let’s get started! #1 What Is the Difference Between Matter and Antimatter? In the beginning, the big bang burst forth, creating a universe made of matter and antimatter.  Matter, of course, makes up everything we know and see in the universe.  Whereas antimatter is nearly identical to its matter counterpart but carries the opposite spin and charge.  When the two counterparts interact, they instantly annihilate one another, leaving behind only energy. Now, equal proportions of matter and antimatter should have been created in the big bang.  So, theoretically, all matter should have been destroyed in the early universe, and we should not exist.  Yet, something happened to allow the matter to win out, allowing everything we know to come into existence. #2 How Is Antimatter Created? Did you know that everyday items in your home are creating antimatter?  Foods containing potassium-40, a naturally occurring radioactive isotope, spit out various antiparticles.  For instance, bananas generate one positron (counterpart of the electron) every 75 minutes. Carrots, red meat, beer, lima beans, and several other common foods also produce antimatter particles.  However, none of these food items are exposing us to lethal doses of radioactivity.  Actually, you would need to eat over 800 bananas in a single day to even reach mild doses of radiation. #3 You Are Creating Antimatter Yes, your own human body is producing and emitting positron antimatter particles.  Similar to bananas, your body contains potassium-40, along with trace amounts of carbon-14, uranium, and more.  Therefore, as these natural isotopes decay, you emit positron particles every so often. Now, positrons have a positive electric charge.  So, upon meeting their electron counterparts with a negative charge, the two instantaneously destroy each other.  Therefore, the antimatter particles your body creates only last for a mere moment. #4 Can Humans Make Antimatter? Like most things in life, humans have tried and succeeded in generating manmade antimatter. Laboratories and colliders from all over the world have slowly produced small but measurable amounts of antiparticles. Matter and antimatter interactions have the potential to generate staggering amounts of energy.  In fact, a single gram of antimatter can yield the equivalent of an atomic bomb.  So, should we be concerned with malevolent people learning the art of antimatter creation?  Not currently, no. Even world-renown labs, like CERN and Fermilabs, have generated a combined 15 nanograms of antimatter.  Ultimately, this adds up to 0.0000015% of a single gram.  In other words, the energy produced by all manmade antimatter would not even boil a pot of water. Producing antimatter in a lab simply costs too much, takes too long to create, and is too difficult to store.  Actually, producing a full gram of antimatter would cost millions of billions of dollars and require hundreds of thousands of hours. #5 Where Did All the Antimatter Go? Equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have been created by our universe. Therefore, matter, as we know it, could not have existed.  Humans could not exist. However, normal matter somehow won and exists in drastically larger quantities throughout the universe than antimatter.  Yet, nobody currently knows what happened to allow the matter to win.  Currently, this is one of physics’ hottest topics and largest searches. Actually, some modern theories believe the missing antimatter is still out in space somewhere.  The International Space Station even has highly advanced equipment attached to it to help detect antiparticles traveling in cosmic rays. Yet, we currently have little evidence of antimatter existing in bulk anywhere in the universe.  Unfortunately, the search continues, and the cause of matter and antimatter asymmetry remains a mystery.

Living On the Moon (What Would Life Be on the Moon?).

Living On the Moon (What Would Life Be on the Moon?)

This is about how it would be to live on the Moon. How about moonquakes that last an hour? So if you want to know how life on Moon might be, this article is for you. Let’s get started! What Would It Be Like To Live on the Moon? Even as young children, we are familiar with the Moon because it almost always shines bright and sparks our night sky. It’s the second brightest object in Earth’s sky, second only to our Sun.  Most people also know that it is the only environment outside of Earth’s atmosphere where humans have set foot.  In fact, there is a long list of other interesting facts about our Moon that nearly all people know.  But, have you ever asked yourself: what would it be like to live on the Moon?  Ignoring the frightening dangers and assuming we currently have the technology to do so, let’s find out what it would be like! Moon – Quick Facts Distance from Sun: 93 million miles Text Message to Earth: Takes about 1 sec. Mass: 1% of Earth Width: 27% of Earth Gravity: 16% of Earth Length of Day: 656 hours (27 x 1 Earth Day) Length of Yea:: 27 days (7% of 1 Earth year) Average Temperature: -4º F Pressure: Unknown Moons: No Rings: No Your Typical Day on The Moon Your new homeland’s day lasts for over 600 hours, or 27 times one Earth day.  Even during the day, your sky would always be pitch black because you have no atmosphere to scatter the Sun’s light.  On Earth, we know the Sun is rising because the surrounding sky becomes bright and colored.  On the Moon, the Sun suddenly appears in the sky. Once it rises, light covers your surface, and temperatures instantly swell to almost 250º Fahrenheit. Since your sky is always black, you also see crystal-clear stars rise with the Sun and continue along across your skies. Speaking of your former home, you would indeed have a spectacular view of Earth.  The Moon is in a tidal lock with Earth, meaning as it orbits around Earth, the same side of the Moon is always facing the planet. This is the cause of the infamous “dark side of the Moon!”  Because of this, you would always see Earth in roughly the same spot in your sky.  You would also be able to see Earth go through phases, just like you saw the Moon do from Earth. Adding to the list of complete opposites, you would occasionally experience a solar eclipse.  However, it will now be the Earth that is briefly blocking the Sun. The Earth will temporarily appear as a glowing red-orange ball, blocking most of the Sun’s light from your home. As you venture out to explore your new homeland, you will see smooth plains created from molten lava.  With no atmosphere to protect your home, large collisions from the past have left gigantic mountains and deep craters.  The largest crater is Aristarchus, located on the North West region. At 25 miles wide and nearly 2.5 miles deep, this monster makes Earth’s Grand Canyon look tiny.  For the more adventurous explorers, lava has also left extremely deep holes, leading to large underground caverns in the Moon’s surface. Your Typical Night on The Moon Not surprisingly, your evening on the Moon is similar to your day; pitch black. But, without an atmosphere to trap in heat, your evening temperatures will plunge almost instantly to nearly -250º Fahrenheit. You’ll want to pack a heavy coat. Naturally, you will have no Moon to sparkle in your night sky because…well, you are on it. As explained previously, the Earth will be your main nighttime sky feature now.  And, because they are essentially unaffected visually, thousands of beaming stars will decorate your sky.  Temperature aside, there are much less pleasant views one could have in the evening. Your Typical Year on The Moon You now have two different ways of viewing your new home’s calendar year: Because of the time, it takes for the Moon to completely revolve around the Earth, you could say a Lunar year is 27 days long. You could also argue that the definition of a year is the time it takes for an object to orbit the Sun. If that is your view, then you could say the Moon has the same year as Earth since it travels around the Sun with the Earth. Regardless of your yearly views, one thing is for sure, your gravity is much different now. At only one-sixth of your previous Earth gravity, you can accomplish some amazing things.  If you could throw a football 50 yards on Earth, you can now launch a 300-yard pass. If you weighed 160 pounds when you left Earth, you would now weigh only 25 pounds on the Moon.  If you could benchpress 200 pounds in an Earth gym, you are now officially benching 1,200 pounds in your new gym. Wow! Your Local Weather Forecast Your local weather forecast is almost not even worth watching. It’s very predictable.  No matter what time of year it is, it will be very hot, then very cold, with no chance of precipitation. One factor you definitely want to stay current with is meteor particles.  Without a protective atmosphere, these particles frequently bombard your home and can be as large as golf balls.  Think about how much a piece of hail can hurt when it hits you on Earth. Now, imagine the same thing, but with zero resistance. Bottom line that will hurt, so be careful. During the long periods of time when your Moon surface is in the sunlight, deadly radiation will shower your home. During these times, your safest option is to seek shelter around the polar regions of the Moon.  In these cool parts, your home will remain free of sunlight for several months out of the year but will clearly be extremely cold. Finally, be aware of moonquakes!  This hazardous phenomenon pops up very unexpectedly and is similar to moderate earthquakes.  Overall, they are not catastrophic but are fully …

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Gravitational Waves for Dummies.

Gravitational Waves for Dummies

This is about gravitational waves. Albert Einstein predicted gravitational waves in 1916. So if you want to learn what gravitational waves are, you’re in the right place.  Let’s get right into it! Gravitational Waves Explained in Simple Terms Internet buzz, top-billing on national news, and trending on social media.  Yet, the majority of us don’t understand what gravitational waves are, let alone why they are significant to science.  Mix in some references to LIGO and interferometers, and you’ve completely lost 99% of us. It is unfortunately tough to find an easy explanation of gravitational waves.  The good news: understanding the basics of gravitational waves is not difficult.  Let’s dig in! What Are Gravitational Waves? Space is not just an empty void like you might be thinking. It is actually a four-dimensional fabric that we refer to as “spacetime.”  When objects (planets, for instance) move through space, they affect this fabric.  Imagine dropping a ball into a pool of still water. If you drop a small ball into the pool, it will create small waves that quickly disappear.  Now, dropping a bigger ball will create bigger waves that spread much further out in the pool, right?  Similarly, bigger and more massive objects, like planets, will create much larger effects, or “ripples” in spacetime fabric. These ripples are gravitational waves. The Background and the Discovery of Gravitational Waves Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in his Theory of General Relativity in 1916.  Scientifically and mathematically, he believed that bodies of a large mass moving through space should cause “ripples” in the fabric of spacetime.  But, with no physical evidence to prove because of this, his theory was viewed as a bit “out there” by most people of the time.  During several later decades (1970s and 1980s), scientists around the globe used various techniques to directly detect gravitational waves but still had zero physical evidence. Precisely 100 years after Einstein predicted gravitational waves, in 2016, we finally had our physical evidence.  A piece of technology called LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory … say that one five times!) made the discovery and history.  This was the initial detection that caused the frenzy of mainstream media. Later in June of 2016, LIGO made a second detection of gravitational waves, further exciting the science community. How LIGO Detects Gravitational Waves LIGO splits a single laser beam into two beams and shoots them out perpendicularly.  Both laser beams travel precisely equal distances at equal speeds, bounce off of mirrors, and return.  Upon their return, the actual waves that make up each laser beam should be completely aligned with each other unless something affects them.  Perhaps gravitational waves? Remember our swimming pool example?  To make waves that spread for long distances, a bigger ball was needed, right?  LIGO needs an extremely large space object that is capable of creating waves that travel amazingly long distances.  So, it focused on two black holes orbiting one another, finally colliding. Black holes are among the most massive and dense objects in our universe, so two of them colliding created gravitational waves of tremendous power.  Yet, just like our pool waves, the waves created by the twin black holes eventually fade away as they travel.  By the time they reached LIGO, they were a mere fraction of the width of an atom’s nucleus.  Think about it, an average human’s body contains around 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms (that’s seven billion billion billion!).  You can imagine how small an atom must be to fit that many inside of a person.  LIGO detected waves that were only a percentage of the size of one of those atoms … that’s amazing. Great, but Why Are These Waves Important? The funny thing is that we don’t actually know why gravitational waves are important yet. But, we do have several reasons for why they could be very important: They give scientists an entirely new way to view and study the universe.  When astronomers first realized that they could use x-rays to see things they had never seen before, it opened up several exciting new doors to study space.  Gravitational waves are believed can potentially open countless new doors to help us better understand the universe. They allow us to learn more about extreme cosmic events like black holes, pulsars, and neutron stars.  For instance, black holes have no light (hence, their name) send no visible information for astronomers to study them. But, the tremendous gravitational waves they create do send us valuable information. Some theories believe gravity is the main ingredient in time itself. If this true, gravitational waves directly affect the very passage of time, which clearly impacts everything in life as we know it. They allow us to confirm current theories (like General Relativity), make updates to them, or create entirely new theories. This helps us become one step closer to having a concrete Theory of Everything. I’d say those are some pretty significant reasons, wouldn’t you agree? There will certainly be new theories and discoveries that emerge as technology advances, and more data is collected.  For now, at least you have a truly easy explanation of gravitational waves. It should be simple to impress your friends and family now.

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot: Fascinating Facts.

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot: Fascinating Facts

This is about the Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot shrinks, but there’s still plenty to learn from it. If you want to learn more about Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s jump right in! Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Is Extremely Hot Due to its far distance from our Sun, gas giant Jupiter should rightfully yield drastically cooler temperatures.  But, a new study published in Nature shows that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot temperature is extremely hot.  In fact, they are hundreds of degrees hotter than anywhere else on the planet.  The mysterious storm, waging on for over 300 years, has puzzled astronomers for decades.  The recent findings hope to shed new light on this vexing weather phenomenon. The Search for Great Red Spot Temperature Causes Jupiter’s polar auroras generate strong electricity capable of heating the planet’s atmosphere.  However, scientists believe this generated heat should primarily stay confined to the upper and lower latitudes. Ultimately, with its rapid speeds, Jupiter’s atmosphere itself may be a culprit for elevated temperatures.  Specifically, the atmosphere surrounding the infamous Great Red Spot.  First, the storm swirls at astonishing speeds, whirling atmospheric gases around, creating gravity waves.  The waves continue upward, colliding hundreds of miles above the Jovian atmosphere, releasing tremendous energy when they crash. Observing Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Planetary scientist at Boston University, James O’Donoghue, led the study. O’Donoghue used the NASA 3-meter infrared telescope in Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Observatory to monitor above and around Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.  His findings indicated no other heat source in the area, leading him to conclusively believe the heat is coming from within or beneath the Red Spot. O’Donoghue was able to search for a specific molecule found in all gas giant planet’s atmospheres.  The molecule, H3+, can be examined and used as a tool for scientists to determine temperatures. This is how the team determined the temperature differences in the Great Red Spot and the rest of the planet. Unexpected Findings on Jupiter Ultimately, O’Donoghue also stumbled on more than simply temperature information in his study.  Suppose Jupiter’s heat is coming from below the Great Red Spot. In that case, this demonstrates that different levels of Jupiter’s atmosphere affect each other. No other previous study has generated evidence of this. Meanwhile, other recent studies have shown Jupiter’s Great Red Spot to be slowly decreasing in size. This poses a serious concern for O’Donoghue and other scientists. “I hope it doesn’t shrink too much so we can’t understand it before it goes, because that would be a shame,” says O’Donoghue. Given the longevity of the puzzling storm, it’s safe to say it will not likely disappear any time in the very near future.  As a key player in the formation of our solar system, Jupiter remains rather mysterious.  Yet, with the scientific attention, it is receiving this year, astronomers hope to unlock a wealth of answers and information.