Archive for the ‘Solar System’ Tag

Proxima B – Life in the Habitable Zone?   26 comments

Historic Potentially Earth-Like World Proxima B

The historic discovery of potentially Earth- like world Proxima-b was announced 24 August 2016. Orbiting Proxima Centauri, a Red Dwarf star in the habitable zone and the nearest star to our own Sun Proxima-b marks not only the closest alien planet ever found but also with the potential to be habitable.

Proxima b

This artist’s impression shows what the sky might look like on Proxima Centauri b if the planet has a surface. The exoplanet orbits the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, currently the closest star to the solar system at 4.2 light-years. The other two members of the Alpha Centauri triple, Alpha Centauri A and B, would appear in the sky, too.
ESO / M. Kornmesser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If this proves to be the case, then there is no shortage of time for some form of life to originate based on the fact that red dwarf stars such as Proxima Centauri burn for trillions of years.

From the point of view of the average Earth-based visitor stopping by for a summer vacation, Proxima-b runs the risk of being a rather boring holiday resort. The sun-tan would be awesome, not so much so the destruction of the biological cells exposed to the intensely dodgy UV radiation that is present. Combined with the prospect of heavy duty sun-screen to protect from the sun’s constant bombardment of energy flares bouncing around the planetary surface probably wouldn’t be classed as entirely awesome either. On top of which the Proxima Centauri flares would also banish any hope of using mobile phones, tablets, X-boxes or any other such devices thanks to its electronics-disabling qualities. so no ET calling home and definitely no Skype!

Proxima b _Bustle DarkBAlthough it is a tidally locked planet– roasting hot on its star- facing side, freezing cold on the other, there is also enough wind around in the atmosphere to circulate the heat, balancing out the extreme temperatures that would otherwise exist. None-the-less a visit to the the planetary darkside, where it is bathed in perpetual night could prove to be the safest, and possibly the only option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately astronomers are choosing to be particularly pessimistic about this little world following the initial euphoria and have currently decided it is probably a dead, airless rock that will never harbour life due to it’s close proximity sun (20x nearer than Earth to the Sun) creating a risk of it boiling off the water and thereby stripping away the planet’s atmosphere. Researchers its oxygen will be gone in about 10 million years. Life on Earth took billions of years to develop.

Young M Dwarf StarsYoung M dwarf stars can unleash dangerous flares, (“planet-frying radiation”) that strip off atmosphere-forming oxygen spelling doom for closely orbiting planets. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / S. Wiessinger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

proxima bImage: NASA Goddard/Conceptual Image Lab

However hope lives eternal. Theoretically it is possible life could advance to endure the high levels of radiation, by altering the worst of Proxima Centauri’s emissions into inoffensive visible light. We know this is plausible, because due to a process known as biofluorescence this —has already happened on many occasions on Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimately It is expected that the 2018 launch of The James Webb Space Telescope, will provide answers to the critical question of whether there is any chance at all that Proxima b is capable of supporting life.

Proxima b – Habitable ‘Ocean Planet’??

Another possibility is the Proxima b could be an ocean world whose entire surface consists of a liquid ocean. This may bear a similarity to the Jupiter and Saturn moons that are icy worlds with subsurface oceans.

On the other hand the more optimistic researchers suggest that Proxima b may in fact be habitable after all. So don’t put the suitcases back in the attic just yet intrepid cosmic holiday makers! If Proxima b had in reality formed further out from it’s sun than its current position this would also offer a high possibility of there being water. This idea is based on the outer realms of planetary systems being more likely to form ice. If it then moved inwards for a up closer and more personal relationship with its sun then this ice could melt and form seas. Maybe 😉

Sea

Proxima b – A Desert World??

be8a53dc8479400431b0270a3d2ef730But it still seems most likely, according to Victoria Meadows (University of Washington), that this exoplanet is a desert world since the radiation bombarding it would almost certainly have evaporated the majority of the water. This process could have collected the oxygen and hydrogen in the water and created an atmosphere rich in oxygen. Then again it could a 2nd Venus with an atmosphere rich in Carbon Dioxide, or even another Uranus or Neptune.

The Other Closest Habitable-Zone Worlds

If all else fails cosmic holiday makers may wish to try some of the nearbyProxima Wolf 3, potentially habitable exoplanet worlds, for size….: Kapteyn b (13 light-years away) and Wolf 1061 c (14 light-years). Both planets are just over half again as wide as Earth, with minimum masses of 4 to 5 Earths, and both are in their stars’ habitable zones. Wolf 1061 c does not look at all hopeful in terms of habitability. But Kapteyn b looks good. It’s about 3½ times farther from its sun than Proxima b is from its sun so potentially it could be far enough out of reach of its sun’s rather violent output to provide a half decent holiday resort!

 

References:

www.skyandtelescope.com

www.gizmodo.com

www.space.com

www.scinews.com

www.csmonitor.com

Pretty in Pink At The Edge Of The Galaxy   38 comments

 

Far away in the celestial wastelands at the outer edge of our Solar System further out even than Pluto, lies a lone dwarf planet going by the name of Sedna.

clip_image002

Conspicuously red and shiny and boasting the sharing of its name with an Inuit goddess who according to mythology was the creator of the Arctic’s sea life, Sedna was likely enjoying its privileged position of unique lonesomeness. Having enjoyed this status since it was first discovered in 2003 it may not however have been quite so impressed to learn that it had company!

clip_image003

Ever so slightly freezing cold at approximately -430 degrees F and very pretty in pink, dwarf planet 2012 VP113 lies 7 ½ billion miles from Earth’s sun (Earth lies at 93 million miles from its sun); although when it suits, it has the capacity to swing out to as far as 42 billion miles from our Sun; this is due to it’s having what is technically known as an “eccentric and elongated orbit.” Not to be outdone by its fainter pink neighbour Sedna can swagger out up to double this distance at 84 billion miles from the sun.

     clip_image005clip_image007

Frozen pink world, VP113 is also a very small dwarf planet at only 280 miles in diameter meaning that Sedna can at least enjoy the satisfaction of being twice the size; although Earth dwarfs them both with a 7,900 miles diameter .VP113 is not at all shiny and therefore despite being very, very pretty in pink was extremely difficult for astronomers to spot. Hence its existence remained unknown until 2012 when it was discovered by the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory telescope based in Chile.

So what exactly is so fascinating about a faint, frozen pink dwarf planet somewhere out in the farthest reaches of the solar system?

Basically it is likely there are many more such worlds to be found in this remote region of the solar system just waiting to be found. Scientists hope that they will, as a collective, shed light on the formation of both the new worlds such as VP113 and also our Solar System.

Sources:

Associated Press

Agence France-Presse

Valhalla Basin (Galactic Winter Olympics)–Let The Games Begin!!   20 comments

 

2014 Galactic Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Galactic Olympic Winter Games (22nd Galactic Winter Olympic Games)

Held at Valhalla Basin, Callisto (Jovian System).

2014 Valhalla Basin (Galactic Winter Olympics)

The main venue of the Galactic Winter Olympics, Valhalla Basin, (Hall of Odin or Hall of the Slain in Norse Mythology), is also a crater produced by an impacting meteor. It sports the largest multi-ring impact crater on both Callisto (Galilean moon of Jupiter, sister world of Europa) and within the Solar System.

hqdefault_Callisto_solarsystem.nasa.govSochi symbolValhalla Basin_Callisto_harding.edu7043-sochi-olympics-opening-ceremony

Part of an extensive system in the Valhalla region Valhalla’s bright-floored central basin stretches across a diameter spanning 360 km. It is surrounded by at least eight concentric mountainous ridges, which resemble frozen rings of ghostlike ripples extending as far as 1,500 km from the basin’s central point.

  • Valhalla Basin Highlights:
    • speed skating_ventspils.lvIce skating on the frosty, bright-floored central basin.
    • Sochi Snowboarding_dw.deSnowboarding and Hi-speed skating around the 8+ concentric frozen mountainous ridges.

West of Valhalla is Asgard, the second largest multi-ring impact crater on Jupiter’s moon Callisto. (Realm of the gods in Norse mythology)

Asgard crater_seasky.org

  • Asgard Crater Highlights:
    • X-country skiing around the multi ring structure.
    • Snowboarding jumps and ski jumping from the centrally-situated domed Doh impact crater dominating Asgard.

                  sochi-2014-skiing_fieldofplay.eusochi-ski-jump_telegraph.co.uk Winter Olympic skiing_bbc.co.uk

The Galactic Olympic Village And Opening Ceremony

Gale_Crater_dlr.deGale Crater_MarsThe Galactic Winter Olympic Torch is lit at Gale Crater on Mars, the host world of the Summer Galactic Olympics. The torch will be embedded with one of the infamous Martian gemstones, these glittering galactic opals marking the beginning of the renowned Solar System-wide Torch Relay.

 

On completion of its tour throughout our stunning and remarkable galaxy – The Milky Way, it will arrive on Callisto in time for the Opening Ceremony taking place at Valhalla Basin.

Callisto_map_labeld_britastro.org Callisto_Valhall Basin_johnstonsarchive.net Sochi Opening Ceremony 

Asgard crater_fas.orgPlease take note of the Crater you are heading for – the nearby Asgard Crater houses the 3-D Printed Galactic Olympic Village. It does NOT host the Galactic Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony where all those lovely super-hot and fit athletes will be hanging out! So you will not be able to sneak in any secret romantic liaisons during this time and you might just as well Bob sleigh yourself and your naughty and wicked ways right back to where you should have been in the first place – Valhalla Basin!! Now off you go…shoo!!

  Sochivillage  Meteoritic Medals and Martian Gemstones

Medal events taking place on Mars on Valentine’s Day (14th for the benefit of you forgetful male viewers – do not forget to buy something awesomely,

romantically special for the love of your life or they might never speak to you again!) will bring, for the lucky medal winners of that day, lovingly prepared Galactic Olympic medals embedded, in the spirit of this romantic day, with beautiful, heart-shaped Martian gemstones – cosmic Opals full of love and romance!

Martian Opal_Gemstone of the Year_Image Credit_ NASA  JPL-Caltech  University of Arizona 

The anniversary of the Russian Chelyabinsk meteor event will be in Sochi, Russia on 15 February 2014. A total of seven gold medals are available to be won during the anniversary day’s medal events and each will contain fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite.

Russian Chelyabinsk meteor_apod.nasa.gov Sochi 2014 Medals OLYMPICS-SOCHI-MEDALS

On this day fragments of Valhalla Basin the main venue of the Galactic Winter Olympics, (and also a crater produced by an impacting meteor, too many moons ago to remember, just in case you’ve forgotten already, or worse still, have only started reading from here… how rude!!!), will be embedded in medals for medal events taking place on Callisto, the most cratered moon in the galaxy, in recognition of and in respect to the Russian Chelyabinsk meteor event. ‘Team GB’s bronze medal win was a pretty awesome meteoritic achievement too!! >>>>>

Jenny Jones Olympic Bronze medal_Snowboarding_dailymail.co.uk

2014 Winter Olympics–Coming Soon to a Crater Near You!!   46 comments

Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics 2014

 

2014 Winter Olympics – Chelyabinsk Meteor Anniversary

2014-winter-olympics-logoThe 2014 Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Olympic Winter Games (22nd Winter Olympic Games), are set to take place from 7 to 23 February 2014, in Sochi, Russia.                 clip_image001clip_image001[1]

Chelyabinsk meteor Chelyabinsk meteor 2The Chelyabinsk meteor was a Near-Earth asteroid that entered Earth’s atmosphere over Russia on 15 February 2013 exploding in an air burst about 40 km above Korkino, south of central Chelyabinsk Oblast. The explosion created a bright flash, churning out a sizeable quantity of small meteorite fragments and a formidable shock wave.

Lake Chebarkul The meteorite fragments fell in and near to Lake Chebarkul with the largest extracted from the bed of the lake on 16 October 2013. Despite its 654 kg (1,442 lbs.) mass tipping and breaking the scales it was weighed on, it proved very fragile and shattered into three distinct pieces. In the aftermath of the Chelyabinsk meteor event an unofficial market swiftly arose for meteorite fragments.

The anniversary of the Chelyabinsk meteor event will be in Sochi, Russia on 15 February 2014. A total of seven gold medals are available to be won during the anniversary day’s medal events and each will contain fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite.

2014 Winter Olympic Medals with meteorite fragmentsFragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite

 

Callisto (2014 Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics)

callisto2In a very interesting to note lol that by some strange cosmic coincidence the 2014 Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics will be held on Jupiter’s extremely ancient Galilean moon Callisto, the most heavily cratered moon in the Solar System.

Callisto’s impact-battered surface features multi-ring structures, variously shaped impact craters, and chains of craters (catenae). Probably due to the icy nature of its surface Callisto lacks any large mountains. The water that has spread over the surface forming bright rays and rings around the crater is a result of the meteorite impacts puncturing holes in Callisto’s crust.

It is now believed that beneath Callisto’s crust may lie a salty, subsurface ocean of liquid water around 50–200 km deep indicated by studies of the magnetic fields around Jupiter and its moons. This leaves open the option that there could be extra-terrestrial microbial life on Callisto, though conditions are thought to be less conducive to life than on neighbouring Jovian moon Europa.

Callisto in Olympian Mythology

Mount-olympusZeus and CallistoZeus-greek-mythology-god-of-the-godsCallisto is named after one of Zeus – god of the Olympics and Supreme Ruler of Mt Olympus’s many lovers, in Greek mythology. It is said that Callisto herself was a nymph who was associated with the goddess of the hunt, Artemis.

Zeus was held in exceptionally high esteem and power by the Ancient Greeks and once every four years the Olympians held a festival including games to honour their god. Today nations still meet for the Olympic Games but not to honour Zeus, rather the ability of the athletes themselves are considered and rewarded.

 

Valhalla Basin (2014 Galactic Winter Olympics)

Valhalla Basin_Credit_WikipediaValhalla Basin_Credit NASA_JPLIn another wildly unlikely cosmic coincidence, the main venue of the Galactic Winter Olympics, Valhalla Basin, is also a crater produced by an impacting meteor. (Not the same one as Russia’s! Don’t be silly!) Furthermore it is not only the largest multi-ring impact crater on Callisto but also in the Solar System.

Discovered by the Voyager probes in 1979–80 it is located slightly to the north of the equator on Callisto’s Jupiter-facing hemisphere. Part of an extensive system in the

Valhalla region Valhalla’s bright-floored central basin stretches across a diameter spanning 360 km. It is surrounded by at least eight concentric mountainous ridges, which resemble frozen rings of ‘ghostlike ripples’ extending as far as 1,500 km from the basin’s central point.

Valhalla in Mythology

ValhallaOdinThis huge impact crater is named after Valhalla, Odin’s great hall in Norse mythology.  

                                                                         

Valhalla_was_in_Asgard_Home_of_the_fallen_VikingsValhalla, Hall of the Slain, in Norse mythology is the most beautiful of Asgard’s many great halls. It was here with Odin that the W Door Valhalla Guarded by a Wolfheroes who had been slain in battle – the Einherjar, feasted nightly on the meat of the boar Schrimnir and from the goat Heldrun, mead, whilst preparing for the up and coming battle of Ragnarok. Eight hundred warriors marching shoulder to shoulder will emerge from each one of Valhalla’s five hundred and forty doors when this time comes.

Vast and daunting Valhalla was said to have spears for rafters and golden shields providing roofing thatch, along with a fine array of breast plates, scattered around the Hall.

The western door of Valhalla is guarded by a wolf and hovering high above the door an eagle. Outside the front of the hall is Glasir, a golden tree and on the roof of Valhalla, the green leaves of another tree known as Læraðr – happily munched through by the goat Heldrun and the stag Eikþyrnir.

Asgard Crater Region– Callisto

To the west of Valhalla is another large multi-ring basin—Asgard Crater; the second largest multi-ring structure (impact crater) on Jupiter’s moon Callisto. The crater is named after Asgard, the realm of the gods in Norse mythology,

Asgard in Norse Mythology – Olympic Links

Bifrost and ValhallaThe Norse equivalent to Mount Olympus in Greek mythology, Asgard was the home and stronghold of the Norse gods. Set in the skies the only way to reach it was to cross Bifrost – the rainbow bridge.

Valhalla, the dwelling of Odin was the grandest and most magnificent of the many gold and silver halls to be found in Asgard. Norse mythology stated that Asgard would be destroyed at Ragnarok -"Doom of the powers (gods)," also known as “Gotterdammerung” which in Norse mythology means “the end of the cosmos.” A huge final battle would be fought and the world enveloped in flames; the gods defeated by giants and demons. But a number of the gods will survive, or will be reborn and out of the sea a green and fertile world will emerge.

2014 Valhalla Basin Galactic Winter Olympics!

Coming soon to a Crater Near You!!

Valhalla Basin_Credit NASA_JPL

Sources:

Viking Mythology : http://www.missgien.net

http://www.wikipedia

Related blogs on this site.

Zeus god of the Olympics and Supreme Ruler of Mt Olympus – https://europasicewolf.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/zeusgod-of-the-olympics-and-supreme-ruler-of-mt-olympus/

Russian Fireball Explodes over Chelyabinsk–And it’s all the US’s Fault!!!! https://europasicewolf.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/russian-fireball-explodes-over-chelyabinskand-its-all-the-uss-fault/

Galactic Olympics – Mars 2012 https://europasicewolf.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/2012-gale-crater-galactic-olympics/

The Sounds of Mars, Venus and Titan   63 comments

 

The Sounds of Mars, Venus and Titan –

Symphonic Orchestras of the Stars

Source: University of Southampton press release

 

curiosity-mars-landing-mount-sharpHiggs Bosen (ATLAS Preliminary data)

Despite many years of space exploration, we have no evidence of the sound of other planets.

Many years of space exploration, in huge diversity of forms has taken place but in all that time, and despite all the technology available to us no-one, ever, has heard the “sound of another world.”

venus-volcano-surface-Music

“Hearing the sounds communicates ideas about the different atmospheres and highlights the sheer alienness of the other worlds in our solar system.”

~Dr. Jenny Shipway, Planetarium Manager at INTECH

The Sheer Alienness of Other Worlds

Venutian lightning, Martian whirlwinds, Titan’s (Saturn’s largest satellite-moon) icy volcanoes – the natural sounds of other worlds all from the utilisation of maths and physics! Proving that there really is a valid point and reason to our enduring long and torturous maths classes and endless hours spent in the school physics lab!

Mars_Viking_Dog

A Southampton University team led by Professor Tim Leighton of the University’s Institute for Sound and Vibration Research have, using unique transforming software been able to model the sound of a human voice on Earth to one on another world/alien planet.

Mars, Venus and Titan all have very different and varied temperatures, atmospheres and pressures. These factors all play a valid role in affecting how the human vocals sound in different off-worldly environments.

“We are confident of our calculations; we have been rigorous in our use of physics taking into account atmospheres, pressure and fluid dynamics.” ~ Professor Leighton

Venus_Atmosphere

“On Venus, the pitch of your voice would become much deeper. That is because the planet’s dense atmosphere means that the vocal cords vibrate more slowly through this ‘gassy soup’. However, the speed of sound in the atmosphere on Venus is much faster than it is on Earth, and this tricks the way our brain interprets the size of a speaker (presumably an evolutionary trait that allowed our ancestors to work out whether an animal call in the night was something that was small enough to eat or so big as to be dangerous). When we hear a voice from Venus, we think the speaker is small, but with a deep bass voice. On Venus, humans sound like bass Smurfs.” ~ Professor Leighton

The latest research has led to the capturing of the sound of the Martian and Venutian atmospheres extending the science further and also adding to the portfolio, the sounds of Martian thunder and dust storms, Venutian thunder, and the sound of thunder on Titan and of it’s ice cold cryo-volcanoes.

~ Research conducted by MSc students Nikhil Banda and Benoit Berges working with Professors Leighton and White

Mars_Panoramic

Professor Leighton and Dr. Andi Petculescu at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette have also investigated in detail how musical instruments accompanied by human singing would sound if conducted in an alien planet environment. In the future, if mankind is able to create Martian settlements they might well decide to take the “sounds of Earth” with them in the form of music and instruments or maybe design something new during their time on Mars. Perhaps even creating a galactic orchestra with Martian symphonies! It would be interesting to hear how they would sound and be affected by such an extreme environment. The song of the stars!

            Symphony_of_the_StarsTitan_Credit Cassini-Huygens_Orchestra of the Stars

            Titan_Credit Cassini-Huygens_Music of the Starsvenus-volcano-surface-artwork-desk-bg2D-001

There is also another sound not heard before on Mars… Chickens Smile It is worth noting that the Galactic Olympic Stadium on Olympic Host World, Mars has currently been converted into a “Super Chicken Coop”… They have since been eaten…by Clowie the Pyrenean Mountain Dog so there is only one left….Winking smile 

 

chicken on mars song “curiosity has a friend” remix

“Chicken on Mars Song” provides the sounds of the one remaining chicken on Mars Winking smile (There were a lot more before Clowie arrived Smile ) This Martian Chicken is also clear evidence that there is indeed life on Mars!

Snow White And The Frozen Dwarf   27 comments

 

Snow White – World of Ice and Methane

Snow White (Photo Credit: NASA)US Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have discovered that the dwarf planet 2007 OR10 known as Snow White –once a small volcanically active world firing slushy water ice from ancient volcanoes, and boasting an atmosphere, is today an icy, frozen, dead world, tinged red and enveloped in a thin layer of methane that is slowly slipping away to be lost into space.

Snow White — orbits the sun at the edge of the solar system and is about half the size of Pluto, making it the fifth largest dwarf planet. Part of a larger group of icy bodies called Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs).Ironically Snow White has actually proved to be one of the reddest objects in the solar system.

However last autumn using a newly designed instrument called the Folded-port Infrared Echellette (FIRE), with the 6.5-meter Magellan Baade Telescope in Chile, Adam Burgasser, a former graduate student and now a professor at UC San Diego, and Wesley Fraser, postdoctoral scholar were shocked to find out although Snow White was indeed red, it’s surface was also covered in water ice.

“Water ice is not red! Although ice is common in the outer solar system, it’s almost always white~ Mike Brown, the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor and professor of planetary astronomy.

One other dwarf planet that shares these characteristics is Quaoar, discovered in 2002. Slightly smaller than Snow White, Quaoar is still big enough to have had an atmosphere and a surface covered with volcanoes that sent-up and slush and ice, which as with Snow White flowed over the surface before freezing solid.

But smaller than dwarf planets like Pluto or Eris, it was unable to hold onto volatile methane, carbon monoxide, or nitrogen compounds as long. And two billion years after its formation Quaoar inevitably began to lose its atmosphere to space; now, and today all that remains is the space-irradiated methane which rests on the icy surface Quaoar’s, giving it a glowing reddish hue.

It is clear from indications on the spectrum of Snow White 2007 OR10 which clearly shows the presence of water ice that it too for the last ½ billion years it has followed in the footsteps of Quaoar, still and silent amongst the stars, slowly losing its atmosphere into space until now only a small part remains."

The existence of methane is still open to debate. But the use of a large telescope such as the Keck Observatory will show clearly whether methane exists on Snow White or not. If this proves to be so it will join Quaoar as one of only two dwarf planets that bridge the gap between the tiny selection of entities large enough to hold onto hazardous composites, and the smaller entities that constitute the vast majority of KBOs.