10 Amazing Space Discoveries by the World’s Largest Flying Observatory
On the night of May 26, 2010, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, the world’s largest flying observatory, first peered into the cosmos. Its mission: to study celestial objects and astronomical phenomena with infrared light. Many objects in space emit almost all their energy at infrared wavelengths. Often, they are invisible when observed in ordinary, visible light. Over the last decade, the aircraft’s 106-inch telescope has been used to study black holes, planets, galaxies, star-forming nebulas and more! The observations have led to major breakthroughs in astronomy, revolutionizing our understanding of the solar system and beyond. To celebrate its 10 years of exploration, here’s a look at the top 10 discoveries made by our telescope on a plane:
Scientists believe that around 100,000 years after the big bang, helium and hydrogen combined to make a molecule called helium hydride. Its recent discovery confirms a key part of our basic understanding of the early universe.
The planetary system around Epsilon Eridani, a star located about 10 light-years away, has an architecture remarkably similar to our solar system. What’s more, its central star is a younger, fainter version of our Sun.
Black holes in many galaxies are actively consuming material, but our Milky Way galaxy’s central black hole is relatively quiet. Observations show magnetic fields may be directing material around, not into, the belly of the beast.
They say siblings need time and space to grow, but here’s one that really needs some room. A newborn star in the Orion Nebula is clearing a bubble of space around it, preventing any new luminous family members from forming nearby.
Radiation from stars is making organic molecules in nebula NGC 7023, also known as the Iris Nebula, larger and more complex. The growth of these molecules is one of the steps that could lead to the emergence of life under the right circumstances.
SOFIA is a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft that allows astronomers to study the solar system and beyond in ways that are not possible with ground-based telescopes. Find out more about the mission at www.nasa.gov/SOFIA.
the force be with you? Much to learn you still have, padawan. In our universe
it would be more appropriate to say, “May the four forces be with you.”
are four fundamental forces that bind our universe and its building blocks
together. Two of them are easy to spot — gravity keeps your feet on the ground
while electromagnetism keeps your devices running. The other two are a little
harder to see directly in everyday life, but without them, our universe would
look a lot different!
explore these forces in a little more detail.
Gravity: Bringing the universe
you jump up, gravity brings you back down to Earth. It also keeps the solar
system together … and our galaxy, and our local group of galaxies and our
supercluster of galaxies.
everything together. Everything, from the bright centers of the universe to the
planets farthest from them. In fact, you (yes, you!) even exert a gravitational
force on a galaxy far, far away. A tiny gravitational force, but a force
Credit: NASA and the Advanced Visualization Laboratory at the
National Center for Supercomputing and B. O'Shea, M. Norman
its well-known reputation, gravity is actually the weakest of the four forces.
Its strength increases with the mass of the two objects involved. And its range
is infinite, but the strength drops off as the square of the distance. If you
and a friend measured your gravitational tug on each other and then doubled the
distance between you, your new gravitational attraction would just be a quarter
of what it was. So, you have to be really close together, or really big, or
both, to exert a lot of gravity.
so, because its range is infinite, gravity is responsible for the formation of
the largest structures in our universe! Planetary systems, galaxies and clusters of galaxies all formed because gravity
brought them together.
truly surrounds us and binds us together.
Electromagnetism: Lighting the way
know that shock you get on a dry day after shuffling across the carpet? The
electricity that powers your television? The light that illuminates your room
on a dark night? Those are all the work of electromagnetism. As the name
implies, electromagnetism is the force that includes both electricity and
keeps electrons orbiting the nucleus at the center of atoms and allows chemical
compounds to form (you know, the stuff that makes up us and everything around
us). Electromagnetic waves are also known as light. Once started, an
electromagnetic wave will travel at the speed of light until it interacts with
something (like your eye) — so it will be there to light up the dark places.
gravity, electromagnetism works at infinite distances. And, also like gravity,
the electromagnetic force between two objects falls as the square of their
distance. However, unlike gravity, electromagnetism doesn’t just attract.
Whether it attracts or repels depends on the electric charge of the objects
involved. Two negative charges or two positive charges repel each other; one of
each, and they attract each other. Plus. Minus. A balance.
is what happens with common household magnets. If you hold them with the same
“poles” together, they resist each other. On the other hand, if you hold a
magnet with opposite poles together — snap! — they’ll attract each other.
might just explain the relationship between a certain scruffy-looking
nerf-herder and a princess.
The strong force is where things get really
small. So small, that you can’t see it at work directly. But don’t let your
eyes deceive you. Despite acting only on short distances, the strong force
holds together the building blocks of the atoms, which are, in turn, the
building blocks of everything we see around us.
gravity, the strong force always attracts, but that’s really where their
similarities end. As the name implies, the force is strong with the strong
force. It is the strongest of the four
It brings together protons and neutrons to form the nucleus of atoms — it has
to be stronger than electromagnetism to do it, since all those protons are
positively charged. But not only that, the strong force holds together the
quarks — even tinier particles — to form those very protons and neutrons.
the strong force only works on very, very, very small distances. How small?
About the scale of a medium-sized atom’s nucleus. For those of you who like the
numbers, that’s about 10-15 meters, or 0.000000000000001 meters.
That’s about a hundred billion times smaller than the width of a human hair!
tiny scale is why you don’t directly see the strong force in your day-to-day
life. Judge a force by its physical size, do you?
Weak Force: Keeping us in sunshine
you thought it was hard to see the strong force, the weak force works on even smaller scales
— 1,000 times smaller. But it, too, is extremely important for life as we know
it. In fact, the weak force plays a key role in keeping our Sun shining.
what does the weak force do? Well … that requires getting a little into the
weeds of particle physics. Here goes nothing! We mentioned quarks earlier —
these are tiny particles that, among other things, make up protons and
neutrons. There are six types of quarks, but the two that make up protons and
neutrons are called up and down quarks. The weak force changes one quark type
into another. This causes neutrons to decay into protons (or the other way
around) while releasing electrons and ghostly particles called neutrinos.
for example, the weak force can turn a down quark in a neutron into an up
quark, which will turn that neutron into a proton. If that neutron is in an
atom’s nucleus, the electric charge of the nucleus changes. That tiny change turns
the atom into a different element! Such reactions are happening all
the time in our Sun, giving it the energy to shine.
weak force might just help to keep you in the (sun)light.
four of these forces run strong in the universe. They flow between all things
and keep our universe in balance. Without them, we’d be doomed. But these
forces will be with you. Always.
can learn more about gravity from NASA’s Space Place and follow NASAUniverse on Twitter or Facebook to learn about some of the cool
cosmic objects we study with light.
Swift: Our Sleuth for the Universe’s Gamma-ray Bursts
universe is full of mysteries, and we continue to search for answers. How can
we study matter and energy that we can’t see directly? What’s it like inside the crushed core
of a massive dead star? And how do some of the most
powerful explosions in the universe evolve and interact with their surrounding
for us, NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory is watching the skies and helping
astronomers answer that last question and more! As we celebrate its 15-year
anniversary, let’s get you up to speed about Swift.
What are gamma-ray bursts and why
are they interesting?
Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions in
the universe. When they occur, they are about a million trillion times as
bright as the Sun. But these bursts don’t last long — from a few milliseconds
(we call those short duration bursts) to a few minutes (long duration). In the
1960s, spacecraft were watching for gamma rays from Earth — a sign of nuclear
testing. What scientists discovered, however, were bursts of gamma rays coming
bursts eventually became one of the biggest mysteries in science. Scientists
wanted to know: What events sparked these fleeting but powerful occurrences?
So how do gamma-ray bursts and Swift
it roared into space on a
Swift’s main goals included understanding the origin of gamma-ray bursts,
discovering if there were additional classes of bursts (besides the short and
long ones), and figuring out what these events could tell us about the early
Swift as our eyes on the sky, we now know that gamma-ray bursts can be some of
the farthest objects we’ve ever detected and lie in faraway galaxies. In fact,
the closest known gamma-ray burst occurred more than 100 million light-years
from us. We also know that these explosions are associated with some of the
most dramatic events in our universe, like the collapse of a massive
star or the merger of two
neutron stars — the dense cores of collapsed stars.
do we study events that happen so fast? Swift is first on the scene because of
its ability to automatically and quickly turn to investigate sudden and
fascinating events in the cosmos. These qualities are particularly helpful in
pinpointing and studying short-lived events.
Burst Alert Telescope, which is one of Swift’s three instruments, leads the
hunt for these explosions. It can see one-sixth of the entire sky at one time.
Within 20 to 75 seconds of detecting a gamma-ray burst, Swift automatically
rotates so that its X-ray and ultraviolet telescopes can view the burst.
of the “swiftness” of the satellite, it can look at a lot in 24 hours — between
50 and 100 targets each day! Swift has new “targets-of-opportunity” to look at
every day and can also look at objects for follow up observations. By doing so,
it can see how events in our cosmos change over time.
How did Swift get its name?
may have noticed that lots of spacecraft have long names that we shorten to
acronyms. However, this isn’t the case for Swift. It’s named after the bird of
the same name, and because of the satellite’s ability to move quickly and
re-point its science instruments.
it launched, Swift was called NASA’s Swift Observatory. But in January 2018,
Swift was renamed the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory in memory of the mission’s
original principal investigator, Neil Gehrels.
Follow along with Swift to see a typical day in the life of the satellite:
“Ere many generations pass, our machinery will be driven by a power obtainable at any point of the universe.
"This idea is not novel. Men have been led to it long ago by instinct or reason; it has been expressed in many ways, and in many places, in the history of old and new. We find it in the delightful myth of Antaeus, who derives power from the earth; we find it among the subtle speculations of one of your splendid mathematicians and in many hints and statements of thinkers of the present time.
"Throughout space there is energy. Is this energy static or kinetic! If static our hopes are in vain; if kinetic — and this we know it is, for certain — then it is a mere question of time when men will succeed in attaching their machinery to the very wheelwork of nature.
"Experiments With Alternate Currents Of High Potential And High Frequency,” February 1892.
“The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience.”
Not to be insensitive to the current state of things, but y’all know why this is all happening right? Y’all can’t miss the irony here.
This is the universe giving the world a wake up call. Y’all voted an idiot into presidency who fired the global pandemic response team, who called this pandemic a hoax, and who continues to use it as an excuse for racism.
THEN y’all decided not to get vaccinated because ~ohh, it causes autism~ (which has no real scientific validity whatsoever btw) because apparently having an autistic child is worse than having a dead child.
THIS is the shit that happens when you spread misinformation and don’t do your damn research.
On a lighter note, look at how the whole world has come together against this virus. Bills have been put on hold, phone companies are offering more data/unlimited data at no extra cost, Uber/Uber eats fees are less, companies are giving out free food to families who need it. I honestly believe this could be our daily lives if we had the right people in place and consumerism wasn’t such a big motivator for everyone.
My method to manifest things I wish in my life I: Manifesting a desired person
For a time I had a need to meet new people. I was going to enter the university, I lost contact with my old friends and, in the end, I felt that I was alone and I wouldn’t be able to meet anyone who could accompany me in my new stage. For this reason, and after meditating on what was the most practical and comfortable method for me, I decided to write a letter to the Universe and thank it for the experiences that it had made me live and, also, explain about the new people who had appeared in my life. And that’s how, in two months, the boy I had described in my letter appeared.
Before I begin to explain how I made the letter, I need to clarify certain points that seem very important to me. Using this method isn’t negative or qualifies us as losers for not being able to make new friends quickly. There are people who are shy or cannot find the right situation to meet people. Making this letter will help you know what kind of people you want in your life and what kind of relationships you want to live in the future. Also, this exercise can be used to find out if the relationships in your present life make you happy or not, if they are based on attachment or other negative feelings. On the other hand, it can also help you discover how much you idealize the people around you. You can add the characteristics you want in the letter, but it’s essential you use logic and don’t ask to have, for example, a famous singer as your friend.
Another important idea is to know the letter will not manifest itself if you don’t contribute to making everything you have written happen. For example, being at home with your arms crossed and waiting for them to knock on your door isn’t a good decision. As far as you can, and you feel comfortable (don’t force yourself if you don’t feel prepared, please), get out of your comfort zone and seek to participate in activities where you can meet new people, visit places where you can interact with people… Everything will depend on the type of person you want to express: if you want a friend who loves sports, you can join a gym, go to the park for a run, etc.
What do I need to create my letter?
Paper to write your letter,
red or blue pen,
envelopes to store the letter,
flowers you relate with the person you are asking for (for example, I used dried red roses when I manifested my old boyfriend),
and cinnamon powder.
So, I already have all the materials that you have asked me, how do I start?
Take your time to think about the person you want to manifest in your life. Depending on the type of person (lover or friend), I recommend taking into account some points.
If you want to manifest a boyfriend or girlfriend, you should take into account the following: physical appearance (his/her body, how he/she dresses…), personality, hobbies, how will your relationship with him or her be (how will you treat each other, your day to day together, etc.) and your sex life (if you are comfortable talking about it).
If you want to manifest a friend: your desired friend’s personality, his/her hobbies, how your relationship will be (what you will do together, how your free time will be shared, etc.). I don’t think physical appearance is important when it comes to friendship, but if it’s important to you, you can add it.
This will take time and, perhaps, it’s advisable to make several drafts before writing your letter. Don’t be angry for taking too long to decide, since you have all the time to write and correct the aspects you consider unimportant. In the end, the draft is a tool to get rid of those aspects that you thought were important and aren’t important now or viceversa. Understand yor draft as a way to know yourself more and who you want to have by your side.
Decide where and when you will write your letter. I recommend you do it in a place and time where you can be alone and without distractions. When you have decided where and when: be sure to clean the area where you will work and place the materials near you. Some people enjoy putting incense, lighting a candle, or listening to music, but you should do what helps you to focus the most. Don’t forget your final draft, if you’ve made one!
Before writing, I advise you to use a red pen if you want to manifest a lover and the blue pen if it’s about friends. Why? There is no special reason, I simply associate these colors with love (red) and blue (friendship), and when I have done this exercise I have used them in this way and it has worked for me. If you associate green with friendship, you can write your letter in green. However, I do recommend not using black pens for this.
Start writing “Dear Universe/God/Aphrodite (to the entity you want to address, it is important that you have faith and trust in that entity), I write this letter to thank you for the arrival of all the people who are part of my life, but I especially want to thank you for the existence of the person who has become my boyfriend/girlfriend/friend/friends…”. Below you can start by talking about his/her/their physical appearance (“he/she/they have a beautiful smile that makes me smile next to them/her/him”), how he/she dresses (“his way of dressing I love, since he wears clothes of black and red like me”) or talk about a part of their body that is important to you. For example, I like men with big hands and I always try to specify it in my letter. However, remember the more specific the person you ask for, the longer it may take to reach your life. In this section, if you think it’s important, you can talk about his/her/their birth chart. I asked to meet a man with Pisces as his sun sign, and so it was.
I recommend you to continue with his/her/their personality and his/her/their hobbies. Both this section and the physical appearance can be done using a list and not redacted, since the intention is that you visualize that person while you write, so the way of writing it is indifferent. After specifying his/her/their personality (“likeable, generous, humorous…”) and his/her/their hobbies (“painting, singing, dancing, cinema, cooking…”), you should talk about your relationship with him/her/them.
This point I recommend it to be written, since your feelings and your sensations will be fundamental. You must write it in first person and in present tense (never in past or future), as if you were living it at that very moment. Your paths and feelings should be reflected in the letter: “I feel happy whenever he/she/they takes my hand, I feel butterflies in my stomach every time we look at each other.” What you feel next to that person is very important, and all your feelings must be reflected. On the other hand, it’s advisable to visualize as you write about your dream relationship, so the visualization should be in first person: as if you had him/her/them in front of your eyes.
The same for your sex life: what you feel, what practices you do with he or she… write everything you think is important.
The end of your letter is also very important. You should finish your writing by thanking the entity you referred to at the beginning of your letter. “For all this, dear Universe/God/Aphrodite, I am grateful that you have brought this person and all these sensations, emotions and blessings to his side. I wish to continue to be with this person for a long time. Thank you, Universe/God/Aphrodite, thank you, thank you. Let your will be done.”If you don’t want to say ”Let your will be done“, you can always say: ”That’s right. That’s how it will be“. It doesn’t matter how many pages you have used. There will be people who end up writing four pages and others will only use two pages.
When you finish your letter, I recommend you to read it in case you have forgotten something, if everything is correct: take your envelope and add a little cinnamon powder, sugar and the flowers you have chosen inside it. Spread the cinnamon and sugar inside the envelope and try to get it stained with the cinnamon. Do the same with your letter: spread the cinnamon powder on the pages until they are stained. You don’t have to add a lot of cinnamon, just enough to stain the pages. Fold the pages so you can put them in the envelope and, if you still have some flowers, spread them out inside the folded pages. When the folded pages are inside your envelope, close it and hide it somewhere where you won’t go looking for it. In my case, I kept it in a folder full of old documents that I didn’t use. Don’t hide your letter in a dirty or humid place, since it will not help to manifest itself.
And you’re done!
The following steps are the most complicated: forget about the existence of your letter and the person you have asked to manifest. The less you obsess, the faster it will appear in your life. I managed to forget and comply with the corresponding detachment and in less than two months the person I asked for appeared through a friend from my university.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me!