Archive for the ‘I is for Interplanetary’ Category

Goldilocks Planet Gliese 581g May Be The New Earth

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Impression of Gliese 581g and its parent star by Lynette Cook via UCSC

A team of astronomers from the University of California and the Carnegie Institute of Washington have found a planet they say could support life.

Called Gliese 581g, it is three times the size of Earth, has similar gravity, and could have liquid water on the surface.

According to Steven Vogt, a UC professor of astronomy and astrophysics, “The chances for life on this planet are 100 percent, I have almost no doubt about it.”

However, earthlings won’t be traveling to Gliese 581g any time soon. Scientists say a spaceship traveling close to the speed of light would take 20 years to make this journey.

But if we did, we’d find some other things familiar. The atmosphere and gravity are similar to Earth, and if you’re from the polar regions, you’d definitely feel right at home. Scientists say the highest average temperature is about -12 degrees Celcius (10 Fahrenheit), but they point out that the planet doesn’t have a night and day—one side continually faces the star and the other side faces the darkness of space. This means one side is blazing hot and the other freezing cold.

Gliese orbits a red dwarf star called Gliese 581. Dr. Elizabeth Cunningham, planetarium astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, UK says “it’s a Goldilocks planet. It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, it’s just right” for water to form.

Now, astronomers are hoping to spot more exoplanets where life could be possible.

“We’re at exactly that threshold now with finding habitable planets,” said Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution, a co-author of the study that was funded by National Science Foundation and NASA.

Dr Vogt agreed: “The number of systems with potentially habitable planets is probably on the order of 10 or 20%, and when you multiply that by the hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way, that’s a large number,” he said.

“There could be tens of billions of these systems in our galaxy.”

Gliese 581g is in the constellation of Libra. While Earth takes 365 days to orbit our star, the sun, Gliese 581g orbits its star in 37 days.

via BBC

OUT THERE IDEAS: Black Holes Are Holograms

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Photo via flickr by austinevan

Those exploding black holes (at least in theory — none has ever been observed) lit up a new strangeness of nature. Black holes, in effect, are holograms — like the 3-D images you see on bank cards. All the information about what has been lost inside them is encoded on their surfaces. Physicists have been wondering ever since how this “holographic principle” — that we are all maybe just shadows on a distant wall — applies to the universe and where it came from.

via New York Times

Karl Pribram, neuroscientist and pioneering theorist of the holonomic brain model that extended physicist David Bohm’s theory that without our ‘lenses,’ the universe would appear a hologram, discusses how our processing makes correlations to make a ‘space-time image’ in our holographic universe:

If you didn’t have telescopes what would you see? You would see a hologram. So not only the lenses of the eye, but all the lenses that we use to look microscopically, telescopically, we would see nothing but holograms. Because light bounces all over the place. Like coming in here, you diffused it even more by giving several sources, and that all has to be gathered and focused to make a space-time image. In acoustics, this is very well-known because if you build a concert hall and it has to sound just right, and people come in with their hair and clothes and so on, it’s a dead sounding concert hall. Because everything is refracted and absorbed and this and that. So you’ve got to have reflectors and so on and so forth, so you’ve got to build your hall to be much more reflective. That doesn’t mean that objects don’t exist, that stars don’t exist, you know, you can’t take it to the holographic universe being every and all, a total explanation, anymore than you can take brain function as being a total explanation. It’s one of the processing steps that we have, that we use, and a very powerful one. That’s why you don’t want to lose it. Its power is in making correlations. We’re so good at making correlations.

More on Holograms from Sputnik Observatory:

Karl Pribram, “Channels Everywhere”

Colin Andrews, “Holographic 3D Info”

Northern Lights Tonight

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Photo via NASA

Look to the skies tonight and early morning August 4th for the Northern Lights (or aurorae). The Sun’s surface has erupted and blasted tons of plasma (ionized atoms) into interplanetary space. That plasma is headed our way, and when it arrives, it could create a spectacular light show.

Aurorae normally are visible only at high latitudes. However, during a geomagnetic storm aurorae can light up the sky at lower latitudes. Sky watchers in the northern U.S. and other countries should look toward the north on the evening of August 3rd/4th for rippling “curtains” of green and red light.

“It’s the first major Earth-directed eruption in quite some time” said astronomer Leon Golub of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

via redOrbit

Is Our Universe Living in a Wormhole?

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Photo via flickr by BloomsEyeView

Could our universe be located within a wormhole, which itself is part of a black hole that lies within a much larger universe?

Indiana University theoretical physicist Nikodem Poplawski suggests such a scenario in his published paper in Physics Letters B, where he theorizes that our universe is born from inside a wormhole (also called an Einstein-Rosen Bridge.)

Poplawski made use of the Euclidean-based coordinate system called ‘isotropic coordinates’ to describe the gravitational field of a black hole and to model the radial geodesic motion of a massive particle into a black hole.

In studying the radial motion through the event horizon (a black hole’s boundary) of two different types of black holes—Schwarzschild and Einstein-Rosen, both of which are mathematically legitimate solutions of general relativity— Poplawski admits that only experiment or observation can reveal the motion of a particle falling into an actual black hole. But he also notes that since observers can only see the outside of the black hole, the interior cannot be observed unless an observer enters or resides within.

“This condition would be satisfied if our universe were the interior of a black hole existing in a bigger universe,” he said. “Because Einstein’s general theory of relativity does not choose a time orientation, if a black hole can form from the gravitational collapse of matter through an event horizon in the future then the reverse process is also possible. Such a process would describe an exploding white hole: matter emerging from an event horizon in the past, like the expanding universe.”

A white hole is connected to a black hole by an Einstein-Rosen bridge (wormhole) and is hypothetically the time reversal of a black hole. Poplawski’s paper suggests that all astrophysical black holes, not just Schwarzschild and Einstein-Rosen black holes, may have Einstein-Rosen bridges, each with a new universe inside that formed simultaneously with the black hole.

“From that it follows that our universe could have itself formed from inside a black hole existing inside another universe,” he said.

By continuing to study the gravitational collapse of a sphere of dust in isotropic coordinates, and by applying the current research to other types of black holes, views where the universe is born from the interior of an Einstein-Rosen black hole could avoid problems seen by scientists with the Big Bang theory and the black hole information loss problem which claims all information about matter is lost as it goes over the event horizon (in turn defying the laws of quantum physics).

This model in isotropic coordinates of the universe as a black hole could explain the origin of cosmic inflation, Poplawski theorizes.

via Indiana University News

NASA: Living With A Star

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Photo via flickr by Madmoiselle Lavender

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 41 on a first-of-a-kind mission to reveal the sun’s inner workings in unprecedented detail.

The most technologically advanced of NASA’s heliophysics spacecraft, SDO will take images of the sun every 0.75 seconds and daily send back about 1.5 terabytes of data to Earth—the equivalent of streaming 380 full-length movies.

The sun’s dynamic processes affect everyone and everything on Earth. SDO will explore activity on the sun that can disable satellites, cause power grid failures, and disrupt GPS communications. SDO also will provide a better understanding of the role the sun plays in Earth’s atmospheric chemistry and climate.

SDO is the crown jewel in a fleet of NASA missions to study our sun. The mission is the cornerstone of a NASA science program called Living With A Star.

“SDO is going to make a huge step forward in our understanding of the sun and its effects on life and society,” said Richard R. Fisher, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

via NASA

The WISE Mission

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Photo of WISE arriving at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Credit: NASA.

WISE, or the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, is scheduled to blast into space in December aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from NASA”s Space Launch Complex 2. Orbiting the Earth, WISE will scan the entire sky at infrared wavelengths to unveil all sorts of unseen cosmic treasures.

This infrared surveyor will pick up not only hundreds of thousands of new asteroids in our main asteroid belt, and hundreds of near-Earth objects, but will uncover the coldest stars, called brown dwarfs, perhaps even one closer to us than our closest known neighbor, Proxima Centauri, which is 4 light-years away. More distant finds will include nurseries of stars, swirling planet-building disks and the universe’s most luminous galaxies billions of light-years away.

The data will help answer fundamental questions about how solar systems and galaxies form, and will provide the astronomical community with mountains of data to mine.

The mission will scan the sky from a sun-synchronous orbit, 500 kilometers (about 311 miles) above Earth. After a one-month checkout period, it will map the whole sky over a period of six months.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) manages the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory, Logan, Utah, and the spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data processing will take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.


The Universe-all Truth

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Photo via flickr by kevindooley

There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
—Douglas Adams (1952 – 2001), English humorist & science fiction novelist

In a conversation with Sputnik Observatory, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku explains that perhaps universes are born all the time:

Quantum gravity gives us a new paradigm, and this paradigm is: that in the beginning was nirvana – hyperspace, emptiness. But hyperspace was unstable. Because of quantum fluctuations, bubbles began to form within nothingness. These bubbles began to expand very rapidly giving us the Big Bang. So, in other words, our universe is probably a quantum fluctuation in nothing. It’s a bubble, just like boiling water, with universes being born all the time. Which means that there perhaps are other universes out there, other bubble universes. We live on one bubble, there could be other bubble universes out there where perhaps life is possible.

I is for Interplanetary

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

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