Thursday, April 28, 2016

What are the Aurora Borealis and Australis?

Aurora Borealis and Australis

Image result for aurora borealis

     These two events, the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis, are one of the most majestic events to occur in the sky of the northern and southern hemisphere. These lights are beautiful and have a special meaning to them in some cultures. What are they and how are they made?
     The Auroras are a product of solar radiation interacting with the free electrons in the ionosphere. When the radiation effects the ionosphere, the ionized atoms release energy in a form of light. The energy is then moved about because of the energy moving from a high to low gradient. Energy is constantly being introduced into the ionosphere but these events only occur in the northern and southern magnetic poles.
     The reason why this only happens in the northern and southern poles is because of where the north and south poles are located. They are not perfectly placed at the northern and southern end of the Earth, in fact, they are close to being 15 degrees off from the physical poles. This can give the effect that the lights can happen outside the poles, however, only to a certain point. Where the poles are is where the greatest magnetism is at, thus the electrons and charged ions are energized the most over the poles and that is where the solar radiation hits the most during any point of the night when the sun is not visible.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Impacts and Forces

      Many objects in space do collide, even when equilibrium is reached in the system. There are a lot of threats of asteroids on Earth but what makes them so deadly? Surprisingly, it is not the size of the asteroid, but the energy it has, mainly kinetic energy. Let's say that an asteroid the size of the the statue of liberty were traveling 99% of the speed of light hit earth compared to a medium sized asteroid , like Mathlide, were traveling about 250 km/s squared, the statue of liberty would probably do the most damage. This is obvious to a point but forces are not just like this. Forces are everywhere and everything interacts with everything, especially at distances very great. Right now, the most forceful object we have is the Earth, but we're also being pulled on by everything in the universe. They are significantly less than the forces we feel on Earth, but they are there and they are acting on the Earth, the Sun, the Galaxy. This however, does not mean that the rapid expansion of the universe is nullified. That is a different force that was here since the beginning of time and before it existed. However, if there were just empty space where there are no forces, and hypothetically two objects just appeared, they would slowly come together. This is gravitational force which is a property of all matter. The idea of matter having gravity is not new, but it is not the best explained. With particle accelerators, we can find how these forces interact and the best theory we have (scientific explanation, not guess) is called the higgs boson field, in which particles similar to a photon will create a field around an object that can attract other higgs fields. This is a simple explanation of it and it will not cover all of the specifics of the higgs. There are many of particles that do many forces, not all particles are created equally and not all quarks are also made the same and there are many different types of quarks that do certain functions to make atomic structures like neutrons, positrons, protons, and electrons.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Newly found Ring System

There is a star out there closely related to the star that is the Sun that has an interesting planet. The planet itself is not interesting, but the things orbiting it is interesting. The planet is called SWASP J1407b. It is a gas giant that is roughly 20 times the mass of Jupiter and it consist of a ring system that is around 0.6 AU in radius. That is about the distance of 60% of the distance that the Earth is from the Sun. The ring system also has some gaps in it which may mean there are satellites orbiting the planet. There are many ideas of why the rings are so big and the one that sticks out the best (to me) is the idea of an early gas giant system. If you were to look at Jupiter, it does have a ring system, but it also has a lot of major terrestrial satellites orbiting it. The idea is, that these maybe were once a part of a huge ring system that were outside the Roche limit of Jupiter (Check Saturn's Rings blog for an in depth explanation of the Roche limit) that formed the moons. How astronomers found this was that they used a technique that has been used a lot and is very good at finding planets called the Transit Method. This method measure the amount of light a star has at a given time and when a planet passes by it, the measurement of light is less than that of which if there were't a planet in front of it. However, they did this with the rings of the planet unintentionally. They were observing the star and happened to see that the dips in light were happening and saw how it would be darker, then the same brightness, then darker again, and then up until it was 90% of the brightness was seen and then the same pattern happened. The paper written gave a full explanation for observation but that is the simple idea of the concept. It also explained how it was the only option they could think about when they first observed it and how over 2 years, that is what they can prove for it to be. Thus, J1407b is the planet with the largest known ring system.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Brown Dwarfs

Brown Dwarfs are a special kind of object in which they are not a planet, but they are not a star. Brown Dwarfs are "failed stars." They have a huge mass, usually twice of that of mars, but they lack the requirements for having nuclear reactions going on in their core and cannot produce radiation high enough to make it visible from it. That does not give it the title of a planet, though. Planets have a clear orbit, do not produce thermonuclear radiation/energy and is rounded by its own gravity. Brown dwarfs can only be found by looking at it from an infrared telescope. They are usually found in a cloud of dust/gas.

Protoplanets and Protostars

Protoplanets and Protostars are early bodies of a solar system. In a solar system, a stable and one that is not changing, is when the star and the planets become stars and planets. Protostars look something like a bigger Jupiter but with the surface glowing because of fusion reactions. Protoplanets are something like the size of the moon or smaller and there are many of them. They smash into each and form bigger planets or chunks that orbit the planet and the most dominate planet in its orbit will either collide with other protoplanets or kick them out of their orbits. This is how the planets come to be with their own unique orbit is with collisions or throwing other protoplanets out of their orbits. However, other objects can form from collisions known as satellites like the moon. This is how astronomers think the moon came into existence is by having a protoplanet the size of Mars hit Earth and then the pieces that flew off the two objects were caught into Earth's gravity and then with their own gravity formed into a satellite around Earth.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

What are galaxies?

What Are Galaxies?

     Galaxies are a cluster of stars that usually orbit a super black hole. Galaxies vary in sizes, some are very tiny, as small as 15 light years across, or a spiral galaxy like the milky way and Andromeda galaxy which are thousands to millions light years across. Galaxies follow an organization that is a disc, unless it is an irregular type of galaxy. There are elliptical galaxies, which is a cluster of stars that are organized by gravity to make a galaxy that looks like a disc without any unique structures. Spiral galaxies are galaxies that have multiple tails at their edges that start from the center of the galaxy. The milky way galaxy that we live in is a spiral galaxy. There are some galaxies are there that do not orbit a black hole and are out floating and they're said to be a part of a galaxy that collided with another galaxy and had been thrown out of their orbit. These are called irregular galaxies because of their their is not symmetrical.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Lagrange Points

Lagrange points are points between two or more objects in space in which gravity is equal. For example, L1 (Lagrange 1) is between an object, like Earth, orbiting a star, like the Sun. There is a point in which an object will orbit between the Earth and Sun and stay in an orbit that is equal to the amount of time it takes for Earth to complete it's orbit. Let us say, there is a satellite we need to orbit in this area for studying asteroids without going into the asteroid belt for obvious reasons. We can achieve this by launching the satellite a certain distance between the Sun and the Earth and it will have the same orbital period as the Earth. This seems impossible, but that is only because there wasn't any factor of the pull of the Earth v. Sun. The closer you are to an object, the strong the pull is. The Sun is at a much greater distance than the Earth, so to have a stable orbit that follows Earth's, the satellite would need to be at the point in which the gravitational influence is almost equal. This is the basic concept of the Lagrangian points and there are up to 5 different points in which gravity will equal itself out, though, these points are unstable and require correction by using fuel and burning it to achieve this.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

States of the Universe

States of the Universe

My definition of States of the Universe doesn't mean the physical states of matter or physics. Rather, from birth to death and it's properties. The Universe has a theory (tested hypothesis that scientists agree on) of the birth of the Universe. This theory is called the Big Bang Theory, though, the name is miss leading, it sounds better than the "Rapid expansion of space" theory. This was said to be a violent event that lasted less than a second to which matter can cool down and form bodies of mass and objects. Refer to the picture above. We do not know, however, the before of the Big Bang event. There isn't evidence to help support any ideas that hypothesis the idea of a beginning before the beginning. Though, there are good ideas and theories that explain how it came about. The Multiverse theory and string theory both explain multiple universes that exist and have evidence of which why that could be. This could explain how the birth of the Universe happened, but not why.

The Universe right now, is still in expansion, known as the red shift effect, in which light will shift toward the red spectrum and beyond due to the rapid expansion of the Universe. This will make our vision of the universe's light not seen in the future. To the point in which the observable universe will have to be done with microwave/radiowave telescopes.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Oort Cloud

Oort Cloud    

 The Oort Cloud is an idea that there are materials orbiting the Sun which gives the formation of comets and possible the planet nine hypothesis. There isn't a lot of proof that it exists, but it makes sense if it would exist, so right now, it is still a hypothesis that has many theoretical ideas to it but it isn't narrowed down to what we would consider a theory. The Oort cloud may be responsible for newer comets being discovered and older ones being able to come back for quite some time. Comets are an ice rock in space, so it would make sense that it would be formed outside the asteroid belt and outside the planets since it was undetected for quite a while until arrival. This ice is not ice of pure water, though, it does contain water along with carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and ammonia. These elements freeze at a very low temperature of 20*K or lower (*K = Kelvin). It makes sense that since newer comets arrive, that there is something in which they are created and the Scientist have a good idea this is where they came from.

Image result for oort cloud

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Comets and the Kuiper Belt

Comets and The Kuiper Belt

Image result for comets

     Comets are a big rock of ice and silicates. These usually hang out in the Kuiper Belt but when they complete their orbit, in which they get close to the sun, is when their ice starts to evaporate due to the temperatures in which the ice cannot be to stay solid. This is apparent in our planets that of which the terrestrial planets are made of silicates and the gas giants are made of gas because of the cold temperatures which allow for such gas to form. This is where the comets are formed. There is such a thing called the Kuiper belt where there are small rocks that did not get used in the formation of the solar system, either got caught in the orbit of the sun, not used, or the gas giants prevented them to have gravitational forces great enough to form into something. These comets, however, formed in the Oort cloud which contains the Kuiper belt. This makes sense in a way because where would new ones come from? There is a satellite launched on Jan. 9th, 2006 in which took a photo of Pluto on July 14, 2015 which is believed to be close to the Oort cloud. This could mean a big discovery in this decade and/or a good explanation.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Saturn's Rings

                 Saturn's Rings

Image result for saturn     Saturn's Rings are a unique thing for our solar system, though, they are not the only planet that has rings, it is still a great structure. How do these rings form? In every body that has mass, there is a force called tidal force in which the gravity of one object pulls on another, causing it to deform or tear apart. This is seen on Earth where the Moon pulls on Earth's ocean water, causing tides to become higher or lower, the sun has the same affect on Earth, too. It is dependent on how close the object is to the other and how massive it is that causes these effects.

     Using the idea of tidal forces, we can calculate what is called the Roche limit (named after the astronomer who made the equation) in which an object will be torn apart by tidal forces and form a ring. The equation is Lp = 2.44(PM/Pm)*1/3*Rp  . R is the radii of the bigger body (Saturn). PM is the Primary density of the bigger body (Saturn). Pm is the density of the smaller body (some smaller object). You can see such a limit by looking at the rings and seeing where it ends and where it begins. The Roche limit is the minimum amount of distance in which something can orbit before being torn apart by the forces of the orbited body.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Planet Nine

Planet Nine

Image result for Planet nine
Planet nine is an idea that there may be a planet unknown or unseen that is beyond Pluto that is orbiting the Sun. Many say it is a captured planet in which planets that do not have a star to orbit have been captured in an orbit of another star, whether it may be temporary or permanent. It is too dark for us to see if it is there, but there is evidence that it may exist. Orbits from other dwarf planets, like Sedna and Eris. Their orbits are highly elliptical and that of which are unusual. There must be something pulling on them with gravity and making their orbits not circular but elliptical. Astronomers believe that there may be something near the size of Neptune orbiting or passing by our solar system.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Black Holes

Black Holes

Black holes are an object in space that contains the density thought to be infinite enough to create a gravitational field great that light cannot escape it's gravity beyond a certain point known as the even horizon.

Black holes are formed by a hyper giant star collapsing in on itself. This is when the radiation force of a star is less than of that of it's gravitational force thus causing the core to allow the star to collapse in on itself or implode. When a hyper giant implodes, sometimes it can have a very high density and become a black hole. These objects can hold massive amounts of other bodies around them. In spiral galaxies, these black holes are known to be located at the center and they contain stars in which they orbit around the black hole. These black holes usually have millions to trillions of stars orbiting them.

Black holes can also destroy objects atomically. When a body gets too close to the black hole, the gravity by the black hole will get stronger relative to the body getting closer to the black hole and the black hole will either rip it apart from atom to atom or it will become super heated plasmatic material. Depending on the size of the black hole and the mass, these can/will occur. 

Though, these black holes sound like they don't have a death cycle, they do, but it hasn't been achieved yet. Hawking Radiation is the idea, from Stephen Hawking, that quantum field theory can explain that a black hole can lose energy over time and shrink and then eventually be spread out into cloud of material rather than a dense object. They have used the center of the galaxy's black hole, Sagittarius A, to observe this idea and have looked at the magnetic field of the black hole and the first photo every released was in early 2016. This is a great initial result stating that black holes do emit radiation with the studies done previously can conclude Hawking Radiation to be a real thing.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Our Solar System

Our Solar System

     Our solar system is composed of many materials and planets. The Sun is the main component of our solar system and makes up 99.84% of our solar mass. On the other hand, the gas giants make up 90% of the .14% left of our solar system and the terrestrial planets make up 0.02% (along with the other materials found).

     Our solar system is unique in that Earth is the only known planet to have life on it. Other than that, it is unique to it's signature of planets. Our planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, is what makes up the planetary orbitals around our Star called the Sun (Sol).

     The terrestrial planets (non gas giants) are composed of mostly iron and silicates. Only Mars and Earth are known to have a small percentage of water on them compared to Mercury and Venus, in which Mercury is too close to the Sun and too hot to retain water, Venus is too hot due to the Green house effect, it cannot retain liquid water. Mercury has a surface temperature at night side -280*F and 800*F on the side facing the sun. It has a 7* elliptic orbit and has an 88 Earth-day orbital period. Venus is known to be in the habitable zone of our star, but since the thick atmosphere traps in most of the heat on its surface, it retains a heat of 750*F. The atmosphere has very reflective clouds of sulfuric acid, making it difficult to see the surface with visible light from outside of it. It has a orbital period of 224 days. Earth is the most unique planet in our solar system in that it contains life, a magnetic field which is created from tectonic activity and has a hydrosphere with life inside of it. Mars could have had life on it once, as predicted by the surface of it showing erosion scars on the surface.

     Our gas giants, Jupiter being the biggest, is made mostly of hydrogen and are said to have an iron core due to how our other planets where created. These planets formed from the outside of the terrestrial planets because they were far enough to have the gas be cool enough to collect in large amounts. The story is the same with the other gas giants, they all are said to contain rings, but Saturn's is the most relevant out of the bunch.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Types of Stars in the Milky Way galaxy

Types of Stars in the Milky Way galaxy

     There are estimated about 100 billion to 400 billion according to solar mass as estimated by scientists who believe that because the Milky way is 100 billion solar masses, there should be around 100 billion that average out, or go by the reason that most of the stars are yellow dwarfs or red dwarfs so there could be more than 100 billion with estimation.

     Our sun is a yellow dwarf star, our star is very important to Earth but not important compared to the interesting stars found in our galaxy. A yellow dwarf star has 80%-100% of the star, sol, our sun's, mass. This is one of the most common stars in the Milky Way galaxy. The most common, however, are the red dwarf stars. They are estimated to make up 80% of our galaxy, though, because of their low luminosity, it is hard to see them with the human eye on Earth. In 1990, the Hubble space telescope was launched into orbit around Earth at a low altitude. This telescope has contributed to the findings of the red dwarf stars that make up our galaxy by having instruments being able to detect multiple waves of the electromagnetic spectrum. According to NASA, the space telescope has made 1.2 million observations, some of which, are very impressive.

     The biggest star observed in our galaxy is UY Scuti. It is part of the Scutum constellation and it is about 2.4 billion kilometers ( 1,708 solar radii, 15.6 AU, 1.5 billion miles) in diameter with a volume of about 5 billion times that of our sun. It is about 9,500 lightyears (2.9 kiloparsecs) away from our Earth. If it were placed in our solar system where are Sun is, it is said that it would engulf everything up to Jupiter. Though this is the biggest star in our galaxy, there are more interesting things that exist within our galaxy. Imagine, having a magnetic iron bar and the bar would spin at an angle and the speed of the spin would be around 2000 revolutions per second while floating in the air. There is such a thing that exists within our galaxy. These are called pulsars. Pulsars are a neutron star that spin very quickly, about thousands of times per second and at their magnetic poles, shoot out particles of electromagnetic radiation. Neutron stars, by themselves, are about 20km in diameter on average with the mass of 1.4 times that of our Sun. The objects are so dense that if you were to stand on a Neutron Star, you would weigh 2 x 10 to the 11th power times more. Pulsars are a special kind of neutron stars, as to how a square is a special type of rectangle.

     There are stars, though, that have are so bright, that if Earth where the same distance from the Sun (1 AU) but had the Sun replaced by another, everyone, including people on the dark side, would be blinded by the light. There are many stars like this, but non other like R136a1. This is a Wolf-Rayet star, or stars that emit very high levels of ionized helium, nitrogen or carbon. This star has the most mass out of any star observed in our galaxy with 265 times the mass of our Sun. It is -91,200 solar luminosity ( our sun is -27.74). Solar luminosity is measured by how bright a star is. The lower the number is, the more visible on Earth it is. The higher the number, the less visible on Earth the star is. It is also the hottest star, at 50,000K (49726.85 C, or 89540.33 F). This is the most massive star in our galaxy (Do not confuse mass with density). If you were to stand on the star, you would weigh 10 times the weight you do on Earth. This is a very young star and is considered a main sequence star. This star is very rare and is a great find to look for during the night.

Friday, January 8, 2016


Astronomical Discoveries #1 - Nebulae

a.     This picture above is the Eta Carina Nebula. This is a formation made by a star that has reached the end of it's life cycle, in which it will either go into nova, the process in which small stars release it's outer "shell" of materials, supernova, when bigger stars collapse in its own gravity and release all of it's material, or a hypernova, in which huge stars collapse into itself and produces gamma rays from the release. It is said that it could make a pulsar or a black hole.

1.     What is a nova?
         A nova is the ejection of gas and materials from a star due to the star's inability to support itself from the forces of gravity. Radiation forces from the star from fusion in the star push outward while gravity pulls inward. When the elements inside of the star start fusing into heavier elements is when the radiation force is weaker than the gravitational force (i.e. H -> He -> Li and etc.).

2.     What is a nebula?
        A nebula is a collection of the released gas and material. It is said known that our solar system was made from a nebula made by a star that had gone supernova, not nova or hypernova. The Eta Carina Nebula will have new stars and possibly new systems from the nebula.

3.     What will happen to our solar system?
        Our star is considered a yellow dwarf star, it is a small star compared to other stars like UY Scuti and Betelgeuse. Our star will expand out and engulf the inner planets with the probability of Earth being in that list. It will not "explode", the outer shell of the star will eject it's material and it will spread outward in the outer solar system. What will be left will be a white dwarf with the mass of half our sun. If the Earth does survive, it will lose it's original orbit and be in the outer solar system or not in the system from it's velocity.