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.