“Imagine, sitting outside on a warm summer night, lying on the grass gazing into the sky. Watching how each individual star twinkles independently, how some shine brighter than others and how together they create pictures in the sky. Suddenly dawns on you that your world, what you thought only existed, is nothing more than a grain of sand on a beach that stretches for miles and miles.” - a short excerpt by me
Pictures beamed back from a NASA space observatory are helping to solve a mystery that’s puzzled scientists since the 1940s: why the outer atmosphere of the Sun, its corona, is hotter than the visible surface.
And we’re not talking about a minor temperature discrepancy, either. At the visible surface of the Sun, you can expect a toasty temperature of about 5,500 degrees Celsius (or 9,932 degrees Fahrenheit), but up in the corona, the temperature is around 200 to 500 times hotter.
“The Universe is cooler this year than last year. The leftover glow from the Big Bang is awfully cool: just 2.725 K above absolute zero. And yet, this is the temperature it’s reached only after 13.8 billion years of cooling; prior to that, it was hot enough to ionize atoms, to blast nuclei apart, even to keep quarks-and-gluons from forming individual protons and neutrons! On even longer timescales, this expansion-and-cooling will continue to take us arbitrarily close to absolute zero. A year might not make much difference, but we’re another step closer. The Cosmic Microwave Background, this year, is 200 picoKelvin (2 x 10^-10 K) cooler than it was the year before. Give us another few dozen ages of the Universe, and we won’t be able to detect it at all!”
After 13.8 billion years have gone by, you might not think that a year makes much of a difference. A year to the Universe is like 0.2 seconds – the literal blink of an eye – to a human being. Yet even though changes might be gradual, they’re real, and they very much add up over time. The Earth’s rotation slows, the Moon moves farther away, the Sun heats up, the Big Bang’s leftover glow cools down, stars are born, the galaxies recede and so much more. If we look closely and precisely enough, we can even measure exactly how – and by how much – these changes occur.
Outer space is only dark because the stars are not close together. Nowhere out there in the universe is there a place in the void where light does not shine. The black you see is merely the absence of an object for starlight to illuminate.
Though sometimes it may seem like the good in this world has faded, remember that it is always there, everywhere, and it takes only one good person for it to shine a little brighter. Imagine if we were all together, what that light would look like, and what we could make of ourselves.
M13: A Great Globular Cluster of Stars : M13 is one of the most prominent and best known globular clusters. Visible with binoculars in the constellation of Hercules, M13 is frequently one of the first objects found by curious sky gazers seeking celestials wonders beyond normal human vision. M13 is a colossal home to over 100,000 stars, spans over 150 light years across, lies over 20,000 light years distant, and is over 12 billion years old. At the 1974 dedication of Arecibo Observatory, a radio message about Earth was sent in the direction of M13. The featured image in HDR, taken through a small telescope, spans an angular size just larger than a full Moon, whereas the inset image, taken by Hubble Space Telescope, zooms in on the central 0.04 degrees. via NASA
Japan has launched a cargo ship which will use a half mile- (700m)-long tether to remove some of the vast amount of debris from Earth’s orbit.
The tether, made of aluminium strands and steel wire, is designed to slow the debris, pulling it out of orbit.
The innovative device was made with the help of a fishing net company.
There is estimated to be more than 100 million pieces of space junk in orbit, including discarded equipment from old satellites, tools and bits of rocket.
Many of these objects are moving at high velocity around the Earth at speeds of up to 28,000km/h (17,500mph) and could cause catastrophic accidents and damage to the world’s orbital telecommunications network.
Researchers say the lubricated, electro-dynamic tether will generate enough energy to change an object’s orbit, pushing it towards the atmosphere where it will burn up.