Universe



Editor’s note: This paper submitted to arXiv, which is an electronic service for academic papers supported by Cornell University, is citing evidence for the controversial Nemesis star theory, which claims our solar system is actually a binary star system. Below is the abstract is this paper. The authors of this paper are claiming this star exists in the boundary of our solar system, the Oort cloud and is around (in astronomical terms) the size of Jupiter. John J. Matese and Daniel P. Whitmire write via arXiv.org:
Binary Star

We present an updated dynamical and statistical analysis of outer Oort cloud cometary evidence suggesting the sun has a wide-binary Jovian mass companion. The results support a conjecture that there exists a companion of mass ~1–4 M_Jup orbiting in the innermost region of the outer Oort cloud.

Our most restrictive prediction is that the orientation angles of the orbit normal in galactic coordinates are centered on the galactic longitude of the ascending node Omega = 319 degree and the galactic inclination i = 103 degree (or the opposite direction) with an uncertainty in the normal direction subtending ~2% of the sky.



Galaxy M82Stephen Battersby writes on New Scientist:

There is something strange in the cosmic neighbourhood. An unknown object in the nearby galaxy M82 has started sending out radio waves, and the emission does not look like anything seen anywhere in the universe before.

“We don’t know what it is,” says co-discoverer Tom Muxlow of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics near Macclesfield, UK.

The thing appeared in May last year, while Muxlow and his colleagues were monitoring an unrelated stellar explosion in M82 using the MERLIN network of radio telescopes in the UK. A bright spot of radio emission emerged over only a few days, quite rapidly in astronomical terms. Since then it has done very little except baffle astrophysicists.

It certainly does not fit the pattern of radio emissions from supernovae: they usually get brighter…




From Universe Today: Mimas has drawn a fair amount of attention with its “Death Star”-like appearance, but with new images from the Cassini spacecraft, this icy moon of Saturn has just gotten…


From ScienceBlogs:

There is no age restriction on the chance to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the universe. Caroline Moore, a 14-year-old from Warwick, NY, has made such a mark on astronomy with the discovery of Supernova 2008ha. Not only is she the youngest person to discover a supernova, but this particular supernova has been identified as a different type of stellar explosion.



Definitely adding to the ideas for an exogenesis-related explanation for life on Earth. (I won’t go so far to embrace panspermia, although the co-discover of DNA, Francis Crick, did later in life.)

Interesting nonetheless. Doreen Walton writes on BBC News:

Scientists say they have confirmed that a meteorite that crashed into earth 40 years ago contains millions of different organic compounds. It is thought the Murchison meteorite could be even older than the Sun.”Having this information means you can tell what was happening during the birth of the Solar System,” said lead researcher Dr Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin. The results of the meteorite study are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We are really excited. When I first studied it and saw the complexity I was so amazed,” said Dr Schmitt-Kopplin, who works at the Institute for Ecological Chemistry in Neuherberg, Germany. Meteorites are like some kind of fossil. When you try to understand them you are looking back in time,” he explained.

The researchers says the identification of many different chemicals shows the primordial Solar System probably had a higher molecular diversity than Earth.


Ole Ole Olson writes on News Junkie Post:

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) just announced that it is releasing all information to the public. SETIQuest.org was launched on Wednesday to facilitate the release and help coordinate an ‘army of citizen scientists’ to help search for anomalies in interstellar microwave patterns.

The New Scientist reports, “SETIQuest is the product of astronomer Jill Tarter’s TED Prize wish. After being awarded the TED Prize last year, Tarter was given the opportunity to make a single wish before an auditorium full of the top names in technology and design. Tarter wished that they would “empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company.”


Hazel Muir writes on New Scientist:

A new interactive program reveals the spectacular light show you’d see if you dared to wander close to a black hole. It demonstrates how the extreme gravity of a black hole could appear to shred background constellations of stars, spinning them around as though in a giant black washing machine.

The program’s creators say it could be an excellent tool to familiarise people with the weird ways that black holes warp light. “It’s useful for people to play around with the parameters to study how, for instance, a black hole would distort the constellation Orion,” says Thomas Müller of the University of Stuttgart in Germany.


The 10th DoctorChoose your favorite doctor for this story … since David Tennant recently left the role (and did a fine job in my opinion) will pay dues in the graphic. Here’s to expressive scientists and thanks to Charlie Jane Anders for writing about this story on the must visit site io9.com:

Astronomers witnessed a supernova in progress, observing jets of material moving at relativistic speeds: up to half the speed of light. Scientist Megan Argo wanted to explain this exciting discovery to the public, so she wrote a Doctor Who story.

As the highly technical press release explains, scientists were able to detect “relativistic outflow” in a supernova for the first time, thanks to unprecedented cooperation between radio telescopes using Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). They discovered that one narrow bipolar jet of material was moving at half the speed of light.

But Argo, who works at Curtin University, came up with a much cooler way to explain this discovery to the public, the story called “Doctor Who And The Silver Spiral.” David Tennant’s Doctor, accompanied by Martha, visit this supernova up close and personal, and get caught up in the very same shock wave that astronomers just discovered. Argo does a great job of capturing the Tennant Doctor’s verbal tics.


Frank Carnevale writes on news.au.com:

A student used the Drake Equation, used to calculate chances of alien life, to prove why he was single. Peter Backus, a native of Seattle and PhD candidate in the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick, near London, took on his own dating woes in “Why I don’t have a girlfriend: An application of the Drake Equation to love in the UK.”

In describing the paper online, he wrote “the results are not encouraging”, MyFox reports. “The probability of finding love in the UK is only about 100 times better than the probability of finding intelligent life in our galaxy.”

Mr Backus, 30, found that of the 30 million women in the UK, only 26 would be suitable girlfriends for him, according to Click Liverpool.




Jonathan Amos, BBC News

The death throes of one of the biggest stars known to science have been spied by Europe’s Herschel space telescope. The observatory, launched in May, has subjected VY Canis Majoris, to a detailed spectroscopic analysis.

It has allowed Herschel to identify the different types of molecules and atoms that swirl away from the star which is 20–25 times as massive as our Sun. VY Canis Majoris is some 4,500 light-years from Earth and it could be seen to explode as a supernova at any time.

It is colossal. If VY Canis Majoris were sited at the centre of our Solar System, its surface would extend out towards the orbit of Saturn. The star, in the constellation Canis Major, has been recorded by astronomers for at least 200 years…


YouAreHereRebecca Sato & Casey Kazan write on Daily Galaxy:

Are we the lone sentient life in the universe? So far, we have no evidence to the contrary, and yet the odds that not one single other planet has evolved intelligent life would appear, from a statistical standpoint, to be quite small. There are an estimated 250 billion (2.5 x 10¹¹) stars in the Milky Way alone, and over 70 sextillion (7 x 10²²) in the visible universe, and many of them are surrounded by multiple planets.

Meanwhile, our 4.5 billion-year old Solar System exists in a universe that is estimated to be between 13.5 and 14 billion years old. Experts believe that there could be advanced civilizations out there that have existed for 1.8 gigayears (one gigayear = one billion years).

The odds of there being only one single planet that evolved life among all that unfathomable vastness seems so incredible that it is all but completely irrational to believe. But then “where are they?” asked physicist Enrico Fermi while having lunch with his colleagues in 1950…