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Space and its secrets: 50 secrets about space

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60 secrets about space

Space is made of trillions of different objects that exist in billions of galaxies. Even thinking about this is incomprehensible and amazing for humans. Because these objects have great wonders, things that even humans have never heard of, and they find them interesting, but they are amazing facts that are being discovered more and more every day than yesterday. And in this article we will mention 50 secrets about space:

Space and its secrets: 50 secrets about space

1- Silence: 

The first secret among 50 secrets about space is silence. There is silence in the space and there is no sound. Because there is no medium or way for sound to be heard in space. Astronauts who intend to communicate with their destination. They use radios to communicate in space to create sound. These radios are designed in such a way that they are able to exchange radio waves in space, i.e. send and receive.

2- A planet with a temperature of 450 centigrade:

In the solar system, the planet Venus can be considered the hottest planet with a temperature of 450 centigrade. Although Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun in the solar system, the temperature of Mercury is lower than that of Venus, and Venus is known as the hottest planet. Because there is no atmosphere on the planet Mercury this causes the air temperature to fluctuate and not reach its highest temperature.

 3- The possibility of living on Mars:

In the solar system, the only planet that has provided the possibility of human life, except the planet Earth, is the planet Mars. In fact, it can be said that Mars is more hospitable to human life than the rest of the planet except Earth. This argument can be seen as the result of NASA’s discovery in 1986. This organization discovered fossils in the rocks of the planet Mars that showed the life of microscopic organisms on Mars. And it can be seen as the beginning of human life on this planet.

4- Unlimited stars:

No one has ever been able to discover how many stars there are in space. The vastness of the space is like this. This prediction is impossible. The highest discovery of the world’s astronomers about the stars in the area of ​​the Milky Way galaxy has been made alone. According to these astronomers, there are between 200 and 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy. which is still considered as an estimate only. Considering that the Milky Way is only one galaxy out of billions of galaxies in space. It can be concluded that it is definitely impossible to measure the stars in the world.

 5- Holly 2061

Halley’s Comet can be seen as Edmund Halley’s discovery in 1705, which was named after him because of his special discovery. This trail passes the earth once every 75 or 76 years. and is able to be seen. According to statistics, this ghost was last seen in 1986. And the next series that Holly will be able to see is estimated in 2061.

50 secrets about space

 6- 12 million dollar dress:

In the NASA organization, the cost of a complete astronaut suit, which includes a backpack and controls, is estimated to be 12 million dollars, and it is said that 70 percent of this cost is spent on the organization of the backpack and controls in this suit.

7- Neutron stars:

The next secret among 50 secrets about space is neutron stars. Neutron stars can rotate 600 times per second. These stars can be considered the densest and narrowest stars in the entire space known so far. These stars have a radius of ten kilometers. But the mass hidden in these ten kilometers is equal to the mass of the sun. The reason for the high rotation of this star is the explosion of the supernova star after birth, which causes different physical reasons in these stars and makes their rotation to 600 to 712 times per second.

 8- Diamond planet:

There is a planet in space that is made of diamonds. This planet is a very surprising discovery. This discovery was made by Yale University scientists. It is said according to this research. that there is a rock-shaped planet made of graphite and diamond. which has a radius almost twice the radius of the earth and its mass is about eight times the mass of the earth. This planet has a diamond surface and is 40 light years away from Earth. It is true that this distance is very long, but in the Cancer constellation, this planet can be seen with the eyes.

Read More: 25 Facts About Space That Will Amaze You

9- Persistence per month:

On the moon, food can remain intact for a hundred million years. Not only food but even footprints remain on the moon for a very long time. It can be said that the reason for this persistence on the moon is the absence of atmosphere and water. For example, we can say that there is no wind to destroy the surfaces on the moon. Or there is no water to destroy even the footprints on the moon.

This is the reason that the footprints of astronauts and discarded materials will remain on this planet for millions of years and will not disappear.

رد پا در ماه و فضا

10- One day is equivalent to one year:

Spending a day on the planet Venus is equal to spending a year on the planet Earth. This planet has a very slow axis of rotation, which roughly takes about 243 days equivalent to Earth. But when Venus is near the Sun. The number of days it takes for the earth to complete one full day can be considered as 225 days.

50 secrets about space

 11- Merging two galaxies together:

There is a very strange truth and that is this. In about 3.75 billion years, two galaxies, the Milky Way and Andromeda, will merge with each other. Because the Andromeda galaxy is moving towards the Milky Way at a speed of 110 km per second. And it is roughly said that it will reach the solar system in about 3.75 billion years. and will be merged with it. A very large and giant elliptical galaxy will be made from the merger of these two galaxies.

12- Existence of water in space:

There is a large source of water in space, this statement is taken from the discovery of astronomers, that is, a huge cloud of water, which is said to be about 140 trillion times the amount of water in the oceans of the planet. This source of water is about 10 billion light years away from the Earth. In fact, this source of water can be the largest water discovery that has been known to date.

 13-965 km wide of a dwarf planet:

A large asteroid can be considered the first known dwarf planet, that is, the asteroid Ceres. This asteroid is the largest object discovered by an Italian astronomer. It is said according to the research done. This asteroid is 965 km wide and is located in the belt between Mars and Jupiter. And it has the ability to form 33% of the belt.

 14- The moon is a piece of the earth:

Scientists say that the moon may have been a piece of the earth. Based on this statement, when the earth was very young, it was hit by a giant object. This impact caused the piece to be separated from the ground. And due to the earth’s gravitational pulls, it starts to rotate in the orbit around it. and form the phenomenon that we call the moon.

 15- Black holes:

Black holes can be considered an integral part of space. When a large star explodes in a region with high gravity and disappears, it causes a black hole. This dungeon is capable of swallowing everything, even light. Because this dungeon is a part of space where time has no meaning and matter is compressed in an amazing way.

The most interesting thing about dungeons is that no one can see them. Humans did this experiment with any telescope, light, or ray-like X-ray, but they were not able to see it. They have only been able to find out how it works.

50 secrets about space

 16 – Empty area in space:

There are many strange things in space. Some of these wonders have many contradictions, for example, unlike black holes, which create very large holes in space. There is a part of space that is empty, meaning there is no light and no matter.

This empty space in space is able to pass light through itself. But the darkest part of space and the largest part of space are known. This part of space, which has an empty area, is approximately 1.3 billion light years in diameter. This means that it is the largest part of the space known at the moment.

Scientists believe that this empty space has a special energy called dark energy.

 17 – Dark matter:

The biggest secret in space can be considered dark matter. This moon has helped scientists to identify some unknown objects in space. and be able to describe them. This substance is approximately 27% of the space. This substance is very unknown and scientists have not been able to get much information from it until today. Only the main features such as this material is not made of black holes have been determined. Of course, scientists believe that this material may be made from the first black holes in the world.

18 – Dark energy

Space can be considered to be composed of 27% dark matter, 68% dark energy, and about 5% normal matter. Dark energy is also very difficult to understand and discover information from it. And scientists have not been able to discover much information about it until today.

There are only hypotheses that state. This energy causes the universe to expand. And dark matter is considered exactly the opposite and they say that dark matter slows down this expansion. According to these hypotheses, dark energy can be considered the cosmic microwave background, which was created by thermal radiation after the Big Bang, that is, the big explosion.

19 – absorbent

The next secret among 50 secrets about space is absorbent. At a distance of 220 million light years from the Earth, there is an absorber that is able to attract the Earth towards itself. This absorber attracts us with a very high speed of 2.25 million kilometers per hour.

It is true that the universe grew a lot after the Big Bang and is moving. But the movement that the universe makes towards this absorber has a very specific direction, that is, towards the absorber. This absorbent is luminous due to its very high absorption power.

20- A new moon on the planet Saturn

The year 2013 can be considered the year of the formation of a new moon for the planet Venus, which was discovered by NASA. According to NASA, in 2013, a picture of the planet Venus was taken that showed a disturbance in the rings. It means that a new and small moon has been added to its rings, of course, NASA research in the same year also discovered how the rings of Venus were formed.

But NASA could not get enough information about this new moon and only said that this moon will not get bigger than it is and the possibility of this moon being separated from Venus is very high. From that year until today, scientists are still researching the state of this moon. But everything is still unclear.

50 secrets about space

21 – KAC star

This star is very famous and has a lasting name It is located at a distance of about 1500 light years from us. But the very strange thing about this star is that there is a very large object in front of this star that absorbs the light of this star and takes its energy by surrounding it.

This object is so big that it can block 20% of the light. If the planet Jupiter, which is considered the largest planet in the solar system, is only able to block one percent of the light of this planet.

Scientists consider this object to be a cluster of Dyson, although this object is smaller than the very large Dyson sphere. But until the new James Webb telescope is designed, we cannot say more about it.

22 – Moons

In the solar system, there are planets or moons. Or they don’t have moons, but in general, it can be said that in the solar system, all the planets except Mercury and Venus have moons. Of course, other planets like Earth do not have only one moon, but some planets have many moons. So the total number of moons in the solar system reaches 176 confirmed moons today.

These moons have very different sizes and some of them are even bigger than the planet Mercury itself, which is a planet without moons.

23 – Destruction of the stars:

When a star in space is closer to the black hole than a certain amount, the star will be destroyed without any time interval. And it disappears. It means that it will be broken into pieces. This statement is based on the research of a group of astronomers on a star in the center of the galaxy, which was rotating around a galaxy for a period of 20 years, and in each rotation, it is getting closer and closer to the black hole. When this star reaches a certain distance from the dungeon, it will be destroyed and destroyed by an instant explosion.

24- The hottest planet in the solar system:

Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, but Venus can be considered the hottest planet on Earth. Because this planet is made up of many gases that cause a greenhouse effect in this planet. Considering this issue, it can be said that the temperature on this planet is increasing day by day until it has reached 462 degrees Celsius today. It is known as the hottest planet in the solar system.

25-4.5 billion years of life

The solar system, in which the Earth, Sun, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter, etc. is located, is about 4.571 billion years old. According to scientists, this system will undergo extensive changes in about 7.5 billion years, more precisely, it can be said that in this system, the sun becomes so big that it swallows and destroys the earth.

50 secrets about space

26 – Enceladus

One of Saturn’s moons is called Enlaceados, which has the ability to reflect 90% of the sunlight. In fact, it can be said that this moon reflects most of the sunlight and absorbs a small amount of it because it is covered with ice. For this reason, the temperature on this moon is very low something like minus 201 degrees Celsius.

27 – Mount Elambos:

Mount Elambos can be considered the highest mountain discovered in the world so far, it is located on the planet Mars. This mountain has a height of about 25 km. In fact, it can be said that the height of this mountain is approximately three times the height of Mount Everest on the planet Earth.

28 – Galaxy M51:

Galaxy M51 can be mentioned as the first celestial object that was discovered. This galaxy has very large spiral arms. These arms can be seen as consisting of stars, gas, and dust collected in a large line.

In fact, these arms act as a factory for the production of stars in the galaxy. This means that this galaxy compresses the hydrogen gas to such an extent that it is able to create a new star.

29- Light years:

In space, long distances are measured with light years. Light years are the distance that light can travel in space in one year. This value can be changed in different spaces. But where light can easily pass through. In a second, light moves at a speed of 300,000 kilometers per hour. According to this size, one light year can be considered as something around 9500000000000 km.

30 – The size of the Milky Way galaxy

The size of the Milky Way galaxy according to light years can be considered as something around 105,700 light years, that is, if a spaceship intends to travel to the center of the galaxy. It takes about 450000000 years for this spaceship to succeed and reach its destination.

50 secrets about space

31 – The weight of the sun

The weight of the sun is very high so that if it is compared to the earth. This weight will be about 33 times the weight of the earth. In fact, when we compare the sun with the earth, it is clear that the diameter of the sun is about 109 times the diameter of the earth. The size of the sun is such that it seems to have the ability to fit 1,300,000 globes.

This is the reason why scientists consider the sun to be very gigantic and huge and consider that the sun covers about 99.85% of the solar system.

32 – The moon and the wind

When we walk on the earth we can feel the wind but if we walk on the surface of the moon we don’t feel the wind because there is no wind on the moon. This is why a human steps on the surface of the moon and walks. His footprints remain for millions of years and do not disappear because there is no wind to destroy his footprints.

33-100-38

The law of 100/38 is closed between Earth and Mars. This law is based on the fact that the gravity on Earth is much higher than on Mars, that’s why if a person weighs 100 kg on Earth. And this man will step on the planet Mars. The weight is measured at 38 kg. Because Mars has less gravity.

This is the reason why scientists take samples from Mars when building robots that plan to travel to Mars. They plan so that these robots have the ability to carry these loads on the ground and can bear their weight on the ground.

34 – Jupiter and 79 moons

In the solar system, each planet has its own number of moons. Some planets do not have moons. For example, Earth has a moon. And Jupiter has 79 moons. which is known as the planet that has the largest number of moons in the solar system. Also, this planet has another feature, which is that Jupiter has the largest moon in the space of the solar system, the moon Ganymede. This moon has an approximate diameter of 262.5 km, which is known to be larger than the planet Mercury.

In fact, it can be said that this moon is so big that you don’t need any great equipment to see it, but it can be seen with a very simple telescope.

35- A day on Mars:

On planet Earth, one day is considered 24 hours, but of course, in different places of the planet, for example, in the North Pole, this hour may be slightly different. But on the planet Mars, every day lasts 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds. This value is very close to the planet Earth and is about 40 minutes away from it.

But the main difference between this planet in time and the planet Earth is that this planet spends about twice as much as one year on Earth every year. It means that spending a full year on Mars takes about 687 days, but on Earth, it takes about 365 days.

The reason for this can be said that the planet Mars is further away from the surface of the sun than the planet Earth, and due to its large orbit, it moves around the sun more slowly than the Earth.

50 secrets about space

36 – Moon and water:

For the first time, a satellite belonging to NASA could find evidence of water on the surface of the moon. If there is no water on the moon.

After their research, scientists hypothesized that this water is from the ice that is in the moon’s pole in a stationary form in the lower layer of the moon’s surface. has been created But there is no proof of this yet.

37 – Rotation of the sun:

The sun rotates around itself once every 25 days or once every 36 days. When the earth revolves around the sun, the time of one day is taken, but when the sun itself wants to go around itself, it takes 25 to 36 days.

38 – Naming the land

All the planets in the universe are named after the gods. But the earth can be considered the only planet whose name is not derived from the name of the gods. In fact, it can be said that no one knows how this planet was named. The only thing that is available about the name of this planet is that the name of this planet, the Earth, is made from two very old words, English and German.

earth and space

39 – Tides

On the planet Earth, except for the movement that occurs in the waters, it can be considered to be caused by the gravitational force of the moon. This force works in such a way that the earth and water tend to move towards the moon. and have the ability to create large tidal currents.

40- Planet Pluto and America:

The strangest thing about the planet Pluto is its small size. In fact, it can be said that this planet is so small that it can be considered even smaller than America. This word is derived from an experiment conducted in this field. In this experiment, the equator line on the planet Pluto is considered as a way if someone wants to walk on this line or bypass this fur. This is equal to the distance from London in England to Denver in America.

50 secrets about space

41 – White holes:

The white hole in space can be considered a hypothetical region that is located between space and time. This white hole works in such a way that no person can pass through it. It means that nothing can enter it from outside. Except for materials and light that have the ability to escape from it and may also have the ability to return to it. In fact, this phenomenon, i.e. white hole, can be considered as something exactly opposite of black hole. which has the ability to enter matter and light, but nothing, not even light, has had the ability to escape from it until today.

42 – Planet without rotation:

There is a planet in space. which does not revolve around any star and does not have a specific orbit. This planet is about several times the size of Jupiter. It was discovered in 2012 and named Rogue. Scientists believe that this planet could be a part of the star. which was separated from its system in a collision and thrown to the other side.

However, others believe that this planet is a type of dwarf star whose center was not heated enough during its formation to be able to perform the fusion process in its core. In fact, it can be said that there is such a situation. When there is not enough concentration and fusion. The star formation process cannot be completed. And if it remains incomplete, it turns into other objects.

43-1.5 billion years of life:

The life of the sun is very long, so it can be said that until today, the sun has spent only half of its life. And it can be considered to be on the verge of old age. In fact, it can be said that the sun is at the beginning of its life. It had more than 70% hydrogen in it. But until today, this amount of hydrogen has been reduced by half, about 35%.

In fact, it can be said that the Sun will survive until this amount of hydrogen runs out, and scientists have estimated this amount to be around 4.5 billion years. According to the given hypotheses and research, it is said that the Earth got its life from the sun. This research states that when the sun was at its hottest, it caused the water on the planet to evaporate.

These waters have entered the atmosphere after evaporation. And then they created the earth’s atmosphere. The water of the oceans has risen on the surface of the earth and is connected to each other. In such a way that the earth at that time can be considered as a sphere derived from the blue surface. After 1.5 billion years later, the first biological species was able to emerge underwater and start life on Earth. This species evolved over time and after the earth was able to have land in it. He came to land and continued his life on land.

44- Presence of alcohol in space:

There is a star in space that was surrounded by methanol gas during its formation. This star was discovered in 2006 by a radio telescope in England. According to this discovery, it was found that alcohol exists not only on Earth but also in space.

45- The longest day and night:

Venus can be considered the planet that has the longest day and night. Of course, this feature is considered only for the solar system and between the planets of the solar system. This planet spends every day in such a way that if it is considered with the scale of spending the length of the day on planet Earth. Each day on Venus will be equal to 243 days on Earth. It can be said that one day on Venus is approximately one year on Earth.

50 secrets about space

46- Picking the nose:

Astronauts who travel to space suffer from various disorders and problems such as stuffy noses or puffy faces. Because there is no gravity in space. And give blood and fluids, these people will not be pulled down. For this reason, excess fluids accumulate in their body and can cause problems such as puffiness of the body and face and stuffy nose.

47 – The lost planet:

In the solar system, according to most scientists and researchers, a planet is missing. When we look at the planets of the solar system. At first glance, these planets are very natural. But when we look at other star systems.

Something seems strange. Because the situation in the solar system is completely different from other star systems. It means the four inner planets which are Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. They are made of stone and of a very small size. And the four outer planets, namely Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, are made of a gaseous state and have a very large size. This state exists in the solar system.

But when we pay attention to other star systems. Exoplanets are moving in orbits like the orbit of Earth and Neptune. These planets are made of rock and covered with gas. Such a situation does not exist in our system at all. For this reason, scientists believe that when our system was being formed.

Gas planets were closer to the sun and there were more planets. It means that there was a possibility that a gas planet bigger than Earth existed between Mars and Jupiter and was swallowed by the Master planet. Or there is a situation in the planet Jupiter has caused this planet to be thrown out of the solar system.

48 – Death of birds:

Birds cannot survive in space, while many other animals have this feature, that is, they can go to space and live there. But birds are unable to swallow without gravity. They do not have the ability to survive.

49 – Moving away from the moon:

Every year, the moon moves away from the Earth, so that the radius of the moon’s orbit around the Earth is increasing very slowly. According to the research, this increase reaches 3.8 cm per year.

50- Sugarcane extract:

The last secret among all 50 secrets about space is sugarecane extract. The gases that exist in the Milky Way are composed of some ethyl formate. This substance is mostly found in sugarcane and raspberry.

Space

Fermi’s paradox; Where are the extraterrestrials?

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Fermi's paradox
Fermi’s paradox refers to the contradiction between the high probability of extraterrestrial intelligence in the universe and the fact that we have no conclusive evidence for the existence of such aliens.

Fermi’s paradox; Where are the extraterrestrials?

From NASA’s efforts to scientifically study UFOs or unidentified flying objects to the unveiling of alien bodies in Mexico , these days extraterrestrial intelligence has apparently become a more serious issue for politicians, researchers and the public. Although decades have passed since the first sighting of UFOs in the skies, there is still no evidence that definitively points to their extraterrestrial origin.

We’ve also been listening to space radio signals since about the middle of the last century, maybe for a message from aliens. On the other hand, for decades we have been trying to find extraterrestrial life in its very simple form in our own cosmic neighborhood by sending various spacecraft; But we still haven’t found any sure sign of extraterrestrial life. But how can we be really alone in such a big world?

Table of Contents
  • What is Fermi’s paradox?
  • The abundance of potentially habitable worlds
  • Drake’s equation
  • Large filter
  • Possible answers to Fermi’s paradox
  • Aliens are not advanced yet
  • Life is fragile
  • Intelligent life destroys itself
  • Other answers

What is Fermi’s paradox?

Given that our solar system is very young at approximately 4.5 billion years old compared to the 13.8 billion year old universe, and that interstellar travel may have been relatively easy to achieve over this long period of time, aliens would have to Today they were meeting the earth. But as far as we know, there has been no contact between us and extraterrestrials yet. As a result, the question arises, where are the aliens?

The contradiction between the high probability of the existence of alien intelligence and the lack of evidence for the existence of such aliens is called Fermi’s paradox. This paradox takes its name from Enrico Fermi, a renowned physicist who won the Nobel Prize. Fermi apparently made the above points in 1950 during a casual lunchtime conversation.

Enrico Fermi in his laboratory
Enrico Fermi in his laboratory.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in California explains the paradox: “Farmey found that any civilization with a moderate level of rocket technology and colonialist motives could quickly colonize the entire galaxy. Over the course of a few tens of millions of years, any star system could be dominated by an empire. Tens of millions of years may seem like a long time, But it is very short compared to the age of the galaxy (which is almost a thousand times longer).”

Fermi died in 1954; As a result, other scientists were responsible for investigating and explaining his idea. One of these people was Michael Hart, an American astrophysicist who published an article in 1975 titled ” An Explanation for the Absence of Extraterrestrials on Earth ” in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). According to some, Hart’s article is the first research that examines Fermi’s paradox; However, it is difficult to prove this claim.

Any civilization with a moderate level of rocket technology and colonialist motives could quickly colonize the entire galaxy.

Hart writes in the abstract of his paper: “We see that no intelligent beings from space currently exist on Earth.” This fact can be explained by the hypothesis that there are no other advanced civilizations in our galaxy.” More research into biochemistry, planet formation, and atmospheres is needed to determine the exact answer, he noted.

Hart argued that if intelligent aliens began their interstellar journey more than two million years ago, they likely visited Earth at some point in our planet’s history. The apparent lack of such visitations, he believes, is most likely due to the lack of intelligent aliens. However, Hart offered four other potential explanations:

  • The aliens never got here because of a physical problem that might be related to astronomy, biology, or engineering that makes space travel impossible.
  • The aliens simply chose never to come to us.
  • Advanced extraterrestrial civilizations emerged too late to reach us.
  • Aliens have visited Earth in the past, But we have not seen them.

Frank Tipler, professor of physics at Tulane University, followed Hart’s argument in a 1980 paper titled ” There Is No Extraterrestrial Intelligence.” The bulk of his paper focuses on how to obtain resources for interstellar travel. According to Tipler, interstellar travel can be achieved by having a self-replicating artificial intelligence that creates multiple copies of itself as it moves from one-star system to another.

Because evidence of such advanced intelligence has never been found on Earth, Tipler argues that we are probably the only intelligent beings in the universe. He also wrote in an article in 1980 that those who believe in extraterrestrial intelligence are similar to UFO enthusiasts; Because they both believe that “we will be saved from ourselves by miraculous interstellar intervention.”

Nowadays, extraterrestrial intelligence is a popular topic, and every year numerous articles from different research groups are published about it. The idea that advanced civilizations may exist beyond Earth has been bolstered by the current revolution in the discovery and study of exoplanets.

The abundance of potentially habitable worlds

A view of an exoplanet facing its star

The universe is incredibly vast and ancient. Data collected by various telescopes show that the observable universe is approximately 92 billion light-years across (and growing faster and faster all the time). Also, separate measurements indicate that the universe is nearly 13.82 billion years old. As a result, alien civilizations have had a lot of time to emerge and expand; But before reaching us, they probably have to cross a big cosmic gulf.

When Fermi came up with his famous idea, the only worlds known to scientists were the planets in our solar system. But in 1992, astronomers saw worlds orbiting a superdense stellar body called a pulsar, and a few years later, the first exoplanet was confirmed around a Sun-like star.

Currently, there are more than five thousand confirmed exoplanets and more are being discovered every year. The large number of alien worlds suggests that life may abound throughout the universe.

Read More: 25 surprising facts about the solar system

The large number of alien worlds suggests that life may abound throughout the universe

Now, with advanced instruments like the James Webb Space Telescope, scientists have found it possible to examine the chemical composition of the atmospheres of some nearby exoplanets. However, “adjacent” is a relative term. The nearest known exoplanet, Proxima b, is located at a distance of 4.2 light years from us, which is approximately 40 trillion kilometers.

The ultimate goal is to find out how likely it is to form rocky planets in the “habitable belt” or “habitable zone” of stars. This region is traditionally defined as the range of orbital distances where water can exist on the surface of the world. However, habitability is not just about water, other factors such as the activity of the host star and the composition of the planet’s atmosphere must also be considered. Also, due to some reasons, the habitable area is considered too simple based on the aforementioned definition. For example, icy moons in our own solar system, such as Jupiter’s Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus, lie far beyond the Sun’s habitable zone; But they may still host life in the seas below their surface.

However, it seems that there are many settlements in the world. For example, a November 2013 study using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope found that one in five Sun-like stars has a roughly Earth-sized planet orbiting it in the habitable zone. A few months later, Kepler scientists announced the discovery of 715 new worlds. Many of these planets were confirmed using a new technique called “multiple proof” that works in part on the logic of probability. For example, objects that pass in front of their star through the telescope or exert gravitational forces on it, are more likely to be planets instead of companion stars; Because with two stars so close to each other, the whole system is likely to become unstable over time.

Artistic rendering of NASA's Kepler Space Telescope

An artist’s rendering of NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, an exoplanet finder.

However, Sun-like stars are a minority population in our galaxy. Almost three-quarters of the stars in the Milky Way are small, dim flares known as red dwarfs. Astronomers have found several rocky worlds orbiting in the habitable zone of red dwarfs; Like Proxima B and three planets located in Trappist 1; A system that is about 39 light-years away from Earth and contains a total of seven rocky worlds.

However, it is not known how habitable the planets around red dwarfs are; Because these stars are extremely unstable especially when they are young. As a result, their stellar eruptions may quickly destroy the nascent atmospheres of their neighboring planets, making it very difficult for life to flourish. Scientists say more studies are needed to better understand these stars and the ability of life to survive around them.

Researchers are acquiring more tools to study the stars. For example, NASA’s Passing Exoplanet Mapper satellite was successfully launched in April 2018, tasked with discovering extrasolar worlds as a successor to the Kepler telescope. Also, the James Webb Space Telescope, launched in December 2021, will study biological traces in the atmospheres of alien planets, among other tasks. The European Space Agency’s PLATO (Planetary Transit and Stellar Oscillation) spacecraft is also expected to launch in 2026.

Sun-like stars are a minority population in our galaxy

Three massive ground-based observatories, including the Extremely Large Telescope, the Giant Magellan Telescope, and the 30-meter telescope, which is powerful enough to probe the atmospheres of exoplanets, are slated to begin operating by the end of this decade. On the other hand, one of the more ambitious projects known as “Bractro Starshot” wants to study Proxima b and other nearby worlds with an array of tiny laser-guided nanoprobes. If the technology development process goes well, the first such interstellar spacecraft could be launched by around 2050.

These spacecraft and probes will help scientists improve their relatively rudimentary understanding of astrobiology. For example, we still don’t know if there are life-hosting worlds in our cosmic neighborhood. Studies conducted on Earth indicate that microbes can survive in unfavorable environments; A finding that suggests microbial life may exist on Mars, Europa, Enceladus, or Saturn’s giant moon Titan. But we haven’t explored either of those worlds enough to know for sure.

Drake’s equation

Despite the explanations given, Fermi’s paradox paints a much larger picture of microbes. To resolve this paradox, we need to know not only how common life is on alien planets, but also to what extent those extraterrestrials acquire the ability or desire to communicate with other intelligent life forms or to venture among the stars.

The number of intelligent and detectable alien civilizations is estimated by the Drake equation. According to the Seti Institute, the equation is written as “N = R* • fp • ne • fl • fi • fc • L” and has the following variables:

  • N: number of Milky Way civilizations whose electromagnetic emissions can be detected.
  • R*: the rate of formation of stars suitable for the development of intelligent life (number per year).
  • fp: fraction of those stars with planetary systems.
  • ne: the number of planets in each solar system with habitable environments.
  • fl: fraction of suitable planets where life appears.
  • fi: Fraction of life-bearing planets in which intelligent life arises.
  • fc: fraction of civilizations with technologies capable of producing recognizable signs of their existence.
  • L: average length of time such civilizations produce such signs (years).

None of the values ​​of Drake’s equation are currently known with certainty; This means that it is difficult to predict the number of civilizations willing to communicate. As a result, the Fermi paradox is fertile ground for speculation, and scientists and laypeople alike have come up with hundreds of possible explanations over the years.

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Large filter

Asteroid hitting the earth

The large filter is a general idea that attempts to explain Fermi’s paradox. According to this hypothesis, intelligent interstellar life must take many critical steps to evolve, and at least one of these steps must be highly impossible. In fact, the large filter assumes that there is at least one very large barrier that virtually no species can pass to the next stage. But in order to become a truly advanced and space-faring civilization, what important obstacles must be overcome? Here are a few things:

  • A planet capable of harboring life must form in the habitable zone of a star.
  • Life must grow on that planet.
  • Life forms must be able to reproduce using molecules such as DNA or RNA.
  • Simple cells (prokaryotes) must evolve into more complex cells (eukaryotes).
  • Multicellular organisms must grow.
  • Sexual reproduction, which greatly increases genetic diversity, must occur.
  • Complex organisms capable of using tools must evolve.
  • Those beings must develop the advanced technology needed to colonize space. (This stage is roughly where humans are today.)
  • The spacefaring species must continue to colonize other worlds and star systems while avoiding their own destruction.

The assumption of the large filter is that there is at least one very large barrier that virtually no species can pass.

But which stage is the big filter? Unfortunately, no one knows. Maybe the rarity of life is actually a big filter. Maybe life is common, But most organisms do not evolve beyond unicellularity. It may be the great filter of annihilation technology that wipes out its advanced creators. It is possible that an external factor such as the impact of a stray asteroid is the cause of the destruction of life.

If we have passed the great filter, we can hope for our future. Maybe a wise man is the kind that can colonize the world. But if the big filter is still ahead, we’re probably doomed. In the next section, we mention some hypothetical explanations for Fermi’s paradox.

Possible answers to Fermi’s paradox

A very wide range of answers can be considered for Fermi’s paradox. Probably the most obvious and likely answer is that we haven’t looked hard enough for alien life, and interstellar travel is difficult. As mentioned, the first planets beyond the solar system were discovered just 30 years ago; As a result, in the field of exploring alien worlds, we are still in the most elementary stage.

We have yet to find many planets that look exactly like Earth and orbit a Sun-like star. However, even if we were to achieve such success, the distance between the star systems is too great, and travel to them would be extremely difficult. For example, the closest star system to us, Alpha Centauri, is four light years away from Earth. For comparison, the distance from Earth to Neptune is only 0.0005 light years; As a result, it takes tens of years to reach the nearest neighboring star with current technology.

Aliens are not advanced yet

In 2015, scientists analyzing data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Kepler Space Telescope concluded that Earth was one of the first worlds in the universe to harbor life. According to the researchers, only 8 percent of all potentially habitable worlds that will emerge in the entire lifetime of the universe existed when Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago. Consequently, this is one possible explanation for the paradox: aliens will come; But not now.

Life is fragile

Perhaps life is too fragile to last long. A 2016 study in the journal Astrobiology showed that the early part of a rocky planet’s history could be very favorable for life; This means that life may usually emerge 500 million years or more after the planet cooled and liquid water became available. Our own Earth history seems to support this conclusion. There is (controversial) evidence that life appeared on Earth about 4.1 billion years ago, and was definitely established by 3.8 billion years ago. But those good days may not last long as a result of the greenhouse effect (as happened on Venus long ago) or other climate changes.

Perhaps life is too fragile to last long

“Between initial heat pulses, freezing, unstable content changes, and out-of-control positive feedbacks, maintaining life on a rocky, wet young planet in the habitable zone is like trying to ride a wild bull,” said Aditya Chopra and Charlie Lineweaver, researchers of the 2016 study. Life often falls.” The authors add that life may be rare in the universe; not because it is difficult to start, but because it is difficult to maintain habitable environments during the first billion years.

Intelligent life destroys itself

Conditions leading to the collapse of life may occur much later. Some thinkers believe that civilizations may self-destruct shortly after they become technologically capable. Again, Earth supports this hypothesis: humanity came alarmingly close to nuclear war during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Also, we are probably destroying ourselves and many other types of terrestrial life right now through climate change caused by our own activities or the development of dangerous technologies such as artificial intelligence.

Other Answers

There are many other factors to consider. For example, Alan Stern, a planetary scientist and director of NASA’s New Horizons mission, believes that buried oceans, such as the seas of Enceladus and Europa, are likely the most common environments for life in the Milky Way. As a result, it seems unlikely that the evolved beings in such regions would achieve the necessary technology to build spacecraft. In fact, many of them may not even know that there are other worlds to explore.

Alien psychology can also be effective. For example, maybe there are many advanced alien civilizations in the world; But most of them don’t want to communicate with us or visit Earth. Perhaps Earth and its inhabitants are simply not interesting enough for aliens to waste their time on, and until humanity shows enough intelligence and competence to be accepted into the “galactic club”, it will not attract the attention of extraterrestrials.

Most intelligent aliens may tend to be silent as a general rule; Because they are worried that contact with their cosmic neighbors will lead them to slavery or death. Some researchers, including the late Stephen Hawking, have cited such possibilities with the argument that humans should not actively show their presence.

Most intelligent aliens may tend to be silent as a general rule

In addition to all the aforementioned assumptions, finding intelligent aliens in a very, very vast and ancient universe is associated with complex logistical problems. Mankind only appeared on Earth 200,000 years ago and only started listening to possible radio signals from extraterrestrials in 1960. As a result, the probability that it overlaps with a recognizable alien civilization in terms of time and place does not seem very high.

Most researchers say that there is probably no single solution to Fermi’s paradox. A combination of factors, including perhaps some of the ones discussed above, is probably responsible for the great silence that currently reigns in the world. The nature of those factors will probably be more clearly noticed relatively soon.

For example, suppose scientists find evidence of ancient or current microbial life on Mars, Europa, or any other body in our own solar system. The discovery of such creatures near the Earth, which are completely different from terrestrial life, speaks of the “Second Genesis” and definitely shows the commonness of life throughout the universe. At that point, researchers can cross off a possible explanation on the long list of explanations for Fermi’s paradox. 

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How did photographing “nothing” change astronomy?

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How did photographing "nothing" change astronomy?
In deep-field photography, the empty and dark part of the sky is chosen to photograph faint galaxies in the distance. The Deep Webb Space Telescope and other telescope images from these regions are more fruitful than we imagine. So how did photographing “nothing” change astronomy?

How did photographing “nothing” change astronomy?

On July 11, the world was stunned by the release of the deepest astronomical image ever recorded by the James Webb Space Telescope ( JWST ). In the background of the galaxy cluster called SMACS 0723, whose image is from 4.6 billion years ago, thousands of galaxies of different shapes and sizes shine like brilliant diamonds in the dark universe. Some of these distant beacons were shining when the universe was only a few hundred million years old. Understanding the path of this achievement, including reaching distant cosmic islands and collecting photons that began their journey near the Big Bang, will help better understand observations of the deep field.

The origin of the first James Webb Deep Space Telescope wallpaper dates back to the early 1990s and the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. At that time, the deep field observation project was still in its infancy. Hubble was originally designed for targeted observations, and astronomers were supposed to use this telescope to observe a specific part of the sky based on the brightness of the light source; But Hubble also had the ability to photograph the deep field, which was exactly in front of the goal of astronomers: for this type of observation, astronomers place the telescope towards a region of the sky that does not have any visible light source, and from a very long exposure time to reach the depths of the universe and They use observation of dim light sources. At that time, Hubble was the best instrument for deep-field imaging.

Read More: 25 surprising facts about the solar system

However, not everyone agreed with the observation of the deep field. In a 1990 paper in the journal Science, John Bahcal and his colleagues from the Institute for Advanced Study point out that Hubble’s deep background image does not show many more galaxies than ground-based telescopes. Bahcal is best known for his solution to the solar neutrino problem and his calculations of the distribution of stars around a supermassive black hole. He was instrumental in the development of the Hubble telescope from its original design in the 1970s to its launch. Bahkal believed that Hubble’s deep field would not reveal new populations of galaxies, but such images could provide confirmation of the morphology and size of faint galaxies and the statistics of quasars.

Hubble and James Webb Deep Wallpaper Comparison

Comparison of the first Hubble Space Telescope “deep field” image captured in 1995 (left) and the first similar image from the James Webb Space Telescope (right). Both images cover roughly the same area of ​​the sky but contain different populations of galaxies. The Webb Telescope, for example, covers more cosmic time and reveals galaxies older than the early universe.

Such expectations suppressed the need for deep-field imaging with Hubble. For this reason, the first attempt to photograph the deep field was made around the winter holidays of 1995 after the optical repair of the telescope. The telescope took 10 days of exposure time for a small part of the sky in the constellation Ursa Major. After weeks, astronomers got their Christmas present by seeing the final image known as the Deep North Field.

The number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy was very small in the target area, so the Hubble telescope looked into the depths of the universe, just like a viewer looking into a pinhole. This telescope observed nearly 3,000 faint galaxies of various shapes and sizes, some of which were 12 billion light-years away from Earth. Hubble’s mission was not only to explore space but also to study time and collect light from stars that existed billions of years ago in the early cosmic ages. The Hubble Deep wallpaper quickly became an iconic image.

But a fundamental question was raised: was the galaxy-filled region in the deep field north image normal? Or were the astronomers lucky enough to point the telescope at a point full of galaxies? In 1998, the Hubble telescope captured the southern image of the deep field. The exposure of this photo was similar to the previous one, with the difference that this time the telescope was facing the southern hemisphere of the sky, which is at the farthest possible distance from the first point. The new image proves that the universe is more galaxy-filled than previously thought, especially in the far reaches. In addition to scientific value, Hubble’s deep fields revealed a technical challenge; These images covered more than 10,000 galaxies, which was the first big data challenge for astronomers.

Hubble and James Webb telescopes

The Hubble Space Telescope as seen from the space shuttle in low Earth orbit (top) James Webb Space Telescope imaging (bottom) at a distance of more than 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.

Deep-field imaging is not limited to the visible spectrum. By the beginning of the third millennium, the universe was preparing for the first deep, energetic image from the Chandra X-ray telescope. NASA’s revolutionary telescope was launched in July 1999 and has continued to operate until today. Chandra’s deep-field south image was captured with an exposure time of approximately one-millionth of a second over a portion of the sky in the Lockman Hole, a window of hydrogen clouds and dust in the Milky Way. An image south of Chandra’s deep background revealed a strange universe: hundreds of black holes that some placed far away. Although this image was not as eye-catching as the Hubble images, it contained a lot of scientific information. This field was re-imaged by Chandra with a total exposure of seven million seconds, yielding the deepest field in the X-ray spectrum. In 2003, the Chandra Deep North Image was released, which included more than 500 X-ray sources.

With the addition of instruments such as the Advanced Mapping Camera to Hubble, the Hubble Deep Space Wallpaper was released in 2006. This historic image included thousands of galaxies, and some of them were less than a billion years old. The ultra-deep field provided unprecedented details of the formation history of galaxies; Distant galaxies appeared smaller and more irregular than closer galaxies, and this observation became a support for theories of galactic evolution.

The ultra-deep field is the deepest image that can be captured at visible wavelengths. If a galaxy is too far away, its visible light is transferred out of the visible spectrum and into the infrared spectrum; This phenomenon is the result of the cosmic redshift effect, according to which the expansion of the universe causes the length of light wavelengths to be stretched, which travel huge intergalactic distances.

With this account, the infrared camera was necessary to observe longer distances in space and time. With the addition of the near-infrared camera to the Hubble telescope, the field of far-infrared was released in 2009; This image revealed galaxies that were glowing just 600 million years after the Big Bang. A decade later in 2019, another deep field was released by NASA’s Spitz Infrared Space Telescope. Both images had fruitful results for the discovery of galaxies on a cosmic scale.

Finally, Hubble’s Frontier Fields campaign provided a new deep-field imaging capability that became the precursor to James Webb’s first deep-field image. During the observing campaign, which ended in 2017, Hubble aimed at six major galaxy clusters. According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, mass density can bend along the path of light and thus amplify the light received from the background source with an effect called gravitational lensing; Therefore, these galaxy clusters were used as microscopes for distant observations.

In addition to galaxy-filled images, Frontier Fields images contain strange arcs of light that show enhanced or stretched images of background galaxies much farther from the cluster. These galaxies are so faint that it is not possible to directly observe them with Hubble. These images show some of the most distant galaxies and the first supernova transformed into a gravitational lens.

Almost 200 years have passed since the advent of photography. At that time, for the first time, humans were able to trap photons to record images. Today, highly sophisticated cameras on space telescopes millions of kilometers beyond the Earth push the boundaries of our knowledge of the universe and open new windows to space and time. There is a relatively short period of time between these two inventions, but both were designed with the same goal: to gain an understanding of nature by looking at what is not visible to the human eye.

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25 surprising facts about the solar system

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25 surprising facts about the solar system

From the vastness of the solar system and its strange moons to the ubiquitous presence of water and organic molecules, our solar neighborhood is full of surprising facts.

25 surprising facts about the solar system

Our solar system includes the sun and everything that revolves around it; Among the eight planets that we have all been familiar with since elementary school. But the main planets, despite their diversity and charm, are only part of the wonders of our cosmic neighborhood. Planet Earth’s neighbors in space include comets, asteroids, dwarf planets, mysterious moons, and a series of phenomena so strange and alien that they are not easily explained.

Table of Contents

  • 1. The solar system is very, very large
  • 2. Even our neighborhood is very big
  • 3. Uranus orbits the Sun sideways
  • 4. Jupiter’s moon Io is full of volcanic eruptions
  • 5. Mars has a volcano that is bigger than the entire state of Hawaii
  • 6. The biggest canyon on Mars could take Earth’s Grand Canyon in one bite
  • 7. Venus is swept by super-powerful winds
  • 8. Water is everywhere
  • 9. Human spacecraft have visited all planets
  • 10. Pollutants may be transported to habitable areas
  • 11. Mercury is shrinking
  • 12. Pluto has mountains
  • 13. Pluto has a strange atmosphere
  • 14. Rings are more common than you might think
  • 15. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is shrinking
  • 16. Most comets are detected with solar telescopes
  • 17. The ninth planet
  • 18. Neptune is very hot
  • 19. Earth’s Van Allen Belt is much stranger than expected
  • 20. What happened to Miranda?
  • 21. Saturn’s yin-yang moon
  • 22. Titan has a liquid cycle, But there is no water involved
  • 23. Organic molecules are everywhere
  • 24. Saturn has a hexagonal storm
  • 25. The atmosphere of the Sun is much hotter than the surface of the Sun

From fascinating glaciers on the dwarf planet Pluto and a deep valley the size of the United States on the Red Planet to the possibility of a giant, undiscovered world known as the ninth planet beyond Neptune, the space around Earth is full of wonders. Stay tuned to Zoomit for some of the weirdest facts about the solar system.

25 surprising facts about the solar system

1. The solar system is extremely largeOort cloud and Kuiper belt

By including the Oort cloud, our star’s realm becomes much, much larger.

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft began its mission in 1977, and more than three decades later in 2012, it became the first man-made object to enter interstellar space by passing through the heliopause or heliosphere boundary. The heliopause is the region where the magnetic fields and most of the particles emitted from the sun disappear.

However, according to NASA, “If we define our solar system as the Sun and primarily everything that orbits it, Voyager 1 will continue to remain within [dominance of] the Sun until, in the next 14,000 to 28,000 years, Get out of the Everett cloud. 

2. Even our neighborhood is very big

Visualization of the placement of all the planets of the solar system between the Earth and the Moon

Did you know that all the planets in the solar system can fit between the Earth and the Moon?

Depending on how accurately you do the math and how you arrange it, all the planets in the solar system can fit between the Earth and the Moon. The distance between the Earth and the Moon varies as does the diameter of each of them. Our planet and its moon are wider at their equator; As a result, Saturn or Jupiter or both must be slightly tilted to the sides to fit between them. However, if you lined up the planets from pole to pole, they would barely fit between us and our only space companion, blocking the sky with their rings and huge gas masses.

The moon is the farthest object humans have ever traveled to, and depending on how you think about it, it’s both amazingly far and incredibly close. Eight giant planets of the solar system can fit in the space between us and the moon, and yet, the distance from the Earth to the sun is more than 390 times the distance from the Earth to the moon.

Scientists use the approximate distance from the Earth to the Sun, known as an astronomical unit, or AU, to compare distances within the solar system. Jupiter is approximately 5.2 AU from the Sun and Neptune is 30.07 AU or approximately 30 times the distance from Earth to the Sun from our star.

 3. Uranus orbits the sun sideways

Composite image of the planet Uranus and its rings

This composite image of the two hemispheres of Uranus was obtained with the adaptive optics of the Keck telescope. The north pole of the planet is at 4 o’clock.

In solar system models, Uranus usually appears as a blue ball with no special features; But this gas giant, located in the outer limits of the solar system, is very strange from a global perspective. First of all, the seventh planet of the solar system has a very extreme axial deviation of 97.77 degrees; This means that it rotates sideways and completes its orbit around the sun like a rolling ball. The most likely explanation for the planet’s unusual orientation is a catastrophic collision with another body in the distant past.

The tilt of Uranus has caused NASA to witness the most unusual seasons in the solar system on this planet. In about a quarter of each Uranian year (equivalent to 21 Earth years), the Sun shines directly on the north or south pole of the planet; This situation means that half of Uranus does not see the Sun at all for more than two Earth decades.

Scientists have been monitoring these temperate seasons on Uranus and predicting that they will witness unusual weather on this planet at the moment of the 2007 equinox. But it was seven years later that unexpected violent storms occurred in the atmosphere of Uranus, and the planet became a bigger mystery than ever. 

4. Jupitor’s moon Io is full of volcanic eruptions

The eruption of the volcano in Io from the view of the Galileo spacecraft

Io has hundreds of active volcanoes. In this image, the moment of the spectacular eruption was captured by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft as it flew over the moon.

Jupiter’s moon Io may seem like a world of surprise compared to Earth’s silent moon. This Galilean moon, which is slightly smaller than the Earth’s moon, has hundreds of volcanoes and is considered the most active moon in the solar system. Io sends masses of sulfur smoke up to 300 km into its atmosphere. According to NASA, Io’s volcanoes emit a ton of gas and particles every second into space near Jupiter.

The eruptive nature of Io is due to the enormous forces that this moon is exposed to. Trapped in Jupiter’s gravitational well and magnetic field, Io experiences constant tension and relaxation as it moves away from the planet and approaches it, gaining enough energy for volcanic activity.

Scientists are still trying to figure out how heat is distributed inside Io. However, it is difficult to predict the location of volcanoes using only scientific models. 

5. Mars has a volcano that is bigger than the entire state of Hawaii

Mount Olympus on Mars

Mount Olympus is the largest volcano discovered in the solar system.

Although Mars seems peaceful now, giant volcanoes once ruled the planet’s surface. One of these volcanoes is Mount Olympus, the largest volcano discovered in the solar system. With a width of 602 km, Olympus can be compared to the state of Arizona in America. The height of this volcano is 25 km or three times higher than Everest, the highest mountain on earth. According to NASA, Olympus is 100 times larger in volume than Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on Earth in Hawaii.

Scientists suspect that volcanoes can grow to such enormous sizes on Mars because of Mars’ weak gravity compared to Earth’s. Moreover, while the earth’s crust is constantly moving, the crust of Mars is probably stationary based on the belief of some researchers. If the surface of Mars does not move, a volcano can form in one spot for a longer period of time. 

25 surprising facts about the solar system

6. The biggest canyon on Mars could take Earth’s Grand Canyon in one bite

Mariner Valley on Mars

Mariner Canyon on Mars is more than 10 times longer than the Grand Canyon on Earth.

The huge system of Martian canyons, known as the Mariner Canyon, is 4,000 kilometers long, more than 10 times larger than the Grand Canyon on Earth. Mariner Canyon was overlooked by early Martian spacecraft that flew over other parts of the planet and was finally discovered by the Mariner 9 probe in 1971. If the Mariner Valley was located on Earth, it could stretch from the East Coast to the West Coast of America.

The lack of active plate tectonics on Mars makes it difficult to discern how Mariner Valley formed. Some scientists think that a chain of volcanoes on the other side of the planet, known as the Tharsis Plateau, which includes Mount Olympus, somehow bent the crust away from Mars. That destructive force created fissures in the crust, exposed vast amounts of groundwater to excavate the rocks, and formed glaciers that opened new routes into the canyon system. 

7. Venus is swept by super-powerful winds

Computer image of the rocky surface of the planet Venus

This artistic image shows the rocky surface of Venus and sulfuric acid clouds.

Venus is a hellish planet with a high temperature and pressure environment on its surface. The second planet in the solar system is extremely dry and hot enough to melt lead and has probably never had an environment conducive to supporting life. When the heavily protected Venus spacecraft from the Soviet Union landed on Venus in the 1970s, each lasted only a few minutes, or hours at most, before melting or shattering.

However, Earth’s infernal twin has a far stranger environment beyond its surface. Scientists have found that the winds in the upper atmosphere of Venus blow 50 times faster than the rotation of the planet. The European Venus Express spacecraft, which orbited Venus between 2006 and 2014, tracked the winds over long periods and detected periodic changes. The probe also showed that powerful winds appear to be getting stronger with time.

A study in 2020 pointed to the presence of phosphine, which is a possible sign of the decay of biological materials, in the clouds of Venus. This study initially excited some astrobiologists, But the supplementary research firmly rejected the possibility of the existence of life in the dry and windy atmosphere of Venus. 

8. Water is everywhere

Computer image of Mars with water lakes

This artistic rendering shows what Mars would look like with water lakes.

At one time, water was considered as a rare substance in space; But the truth is that water ice exists throughout the solar system and is a common constituent of comets and asteroids.

Water can be found as ice in the permanently shadowed craters of Mercury and the Moon. However, we don’t know if there is enough water to support possible human settlements in those places. Also, Mars has ice on its poles. Even smaller solar system objects, such as Enceladus, Saturn’s moon, and the dwarf planet Ceres, have ice.

NASA scientists believe that Jupiter’s moon Europa is the most likely candidate known to support extraterrestrial life; Because contrary to all expectations, liquid water is probably flowing under its cracked and frozen surface. Europa, which is much smaller than Earth, probably has a deep ocean that researchers believe contains twice as much water as all the oceans on Earth combined.

However, we know that not all ice is the same. For example, a close examination of comet 67P/Churyumov-Grasimenko by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft revealed a different type of water ice than that found on Earth. 

9. Human spacecraft have visited all planets

Montage of Voyager 2 images of the outer planets of the solar system

The outer planets of the solar system as seen by the Voyager 2 spacecraft.

We’ve been exploring space for over 60 years and have been lucky enough to get close-up images of dozens of celestial bodies. Most importantly, we have sent spacecraft to all the planets in the solar system, including Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, as well as the two dwarf planets, Pluto and Ceres.

Most of the close flybys of the planets were made by NASA’s Voyager twins, which left Earth more than four decades ago and are still transmitting data from interstellar space to this day. Voyagers met all of them during their long journey, thanks to a rare alignment of the outer planets. 

10. Pollutants may be transported to habitable areas

Hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor

Hydrothermal vents in the ocean.

Scientists have not yet found evidence of life in other parts of the solar system; But as they learn more about the hardy microbes that inhabit Earth’s harsh environments, such as ocean-floor hydrothermal vents or frozen environments, they have more opportunities to find alien life on other planets.

Currently, the presence of microbial life on Mars is considered so probable that scientists take special precautions to clean spacecraft bound for this planet. NASA decided to crash the Galileo spacecraft into Jupiter to avoid the risk of contaminating Europa’s potentially habitable oceans. 

Read More: Will Earth one day become a wandering planet?

25 surprising facts about the solar system

11. Mercury is shrinking

Mercury

Mercury, the smallest planet in our solar system, has short years, long days, and extreme temperatures.

With the exception of the dwarf planet Pluto, Mercury is currently the smallest planet in the solar system and the most dense planet after Earth. However, the innermost planet in our solar neighborhood is shrinking and becoming denser.

For many years, scientists believed that Earth was the only tectonically active planet in the solar system. But after NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, performing its first orbital mission on Mercury, mapped the entire planet in high resolution and took a look at its surface features, this belief changed.

In 2016, MESSENGER data revealed chasm-like features known as fault chasms. Because these fault chasms are relatively small, scientists are confident that they did not form long ago and that Mercury is still contracting, 4.5 billion years after the formation of the solar system. 

12. Pluto has mountains

Pluto's mountains as seen by the New Horizons spacecraft

In July 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft sent back impressive images of Pluto and its moons.

Pluto is a small world at the edge of the solar system; As a result, scientists thought that this dwarf planet would have a completely uniform environment full of craters. But this belief changed in 2015. That year, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto and sent back unprecedented images, forever changing the way we look at this distant object.

Among the amazing discoveries of New Horizons, there were icebergs with a height of 3,300 meters; A finding that suggests Pluto must have been geologically active at least 100 million years ago. But geological activity requires energy, and the source of this energy inside Pluto is a mystery. The Sun is too far away to generate enough heat for geological activity, and there are no large planets close enough to Pluto to cause such a gravitational disturbance. 

13. Pluto has a strange atmosphere

Pluto's atmosphere as seen by the New Horizons spacecraft

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft took this image of Pluto from a distance of 200,000 km. Pluto’s atmosphere can be seen as a blue haze.

Pluto’s observed atmosphere disproved all predictions. The scientists observed that the dwarf planet’s unexpectedly hazy atmosphere extends up to 1,600 km and extends beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, away from the surface. When data from NASA’s New Horizons mission came in, scientists began analyzing the nebula and discovered some surprises there as well.

Scientists have found nearly 20 layers in Pluto’s atmosphere that are both colder and denser than expected. This feature affects calculations related to the rate of loss of Pluto’s nitrogen-rich atmosphere in space. The New Horizons team found that thousands of kilograms of nitrogen gas escape from the dwarf planet every hour; But Pluto somehow manages to continuously replenish the lost nitrogen. The recovery of this gas is probably done mostly through geological activities. 

14. Rings are more common than you might think

Saturn

Saturn is not the only ringed object in the solar system.

Since the invention of telescopes in the 17th century, we have known about the existence of rings around Saturn; But to reveal more rings, we needed the powerful spacecraft and telescopes built in the last 50 years. We now know that all the outer planets of the solar system, including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, have ring systems.

However, the rings vary from planet to planet: Saturn’s spectacular ring, which is partly made of glowing, reflective water ice, is unmatched anywhere else. In contrast, the rings of other giants are probably made of rocky particles and dust.

Rings are also not limited to planets. For example, in 2014 astronomers discovered rings around the asteroid Chariklo. 

15. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is shrinking

The Great Red Spot of Jupiter

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is the largest storm in the solar system.

Besides being the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter also hosts the largest storm in the solar neighborhood. This red storm, known as the Great Red Spot, has been observed in telescopes since the 17th century and studied with modern instruments such as NASA’s Juno probe. The spacecraft has recently provided evidence that Jupiter’s giant storm is hundreds of kilometers high and is likely fed by winds thousands of kilometers below. This storm has been a complex mystery for centuries; But in recent decades, another secret has been revealed: the Great Red Spot is shrinking.

In 2014, Jupiter’s Great Storm was only 16,500 km wide, roughly half its historical size. This diminution is monitored by professional telescopes as well as amateur astronomers. Amateurs can often take more consistent measurements of the client; Because the observation time in larger and professional telescopes is limited and is often divided between different objects. 

25 surprising facts about the solar system

16. Most comets are detected with solar telescopes

Comet Ison

Comet Ison appears from the lower right of the image and moves to the upper right. This impressive image was captured by the Horspeary Solar Observatory, and the image of the Sun in the center was obtained from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Comets used to be the domain of amateur astronomers who probed the sky night after night with their telescopes. Although some professional observatories also made discoveries while observing comets, the status of explorations in this field started to change with the launch of the Solar and Horseshoe Observatory (SOHO) in 1995.

Since then, SOHO has found more than 2,400 comets. This volume of comet discovery has been a very fruitful side mission for a probe that only observes the Sun. The nickname of these comets is “Sunriser” or “Solstice”. Many amateur astronomers continue to help find these objects by identifying comets in raw SOHO images. One of SOHO’s most famous observations was when it observed the collapse of the bright comet Ison in 2013. 

17. The ninth planet

Hypothetical ninth planet

A ninth planet is a hypothetical world that could explain the motion of some Kuiper belt objects.

In January 2015, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) astronomers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, relying on calculations and mathematical simulations, announced that a giant planet might be hidden far beyond Neptune. Now several teams are searching for this hypothetical “ninth planet” and research shows that it is possible to discover it within the next decade.

A ninth planet, if present, could help explain the motions of some objects in the Kuiper Belt (an icy collection of objects beyond Neptune’s orbit). Brown has already discovered several large bodies in that region, in some cases rivaling Pluto in size. In fact, his discoveries were the catalyst for Pluto’s status change from a planet to a dwarf planet in 2006.

But some scientists follow another theory; That “Planet Nine” might actually be a black hole the size of Grapefruit that bends space just like a giant planet. However, another team suggests that the strange movements of the Kuiper belt’s distant inhabitants are likely the collective effect of several small objects; No undiscovered planets or black holes. 

18. Neptune is very hot

The planet Neptune from the perspective of Voyager 2

The distance of Neptune from the Sun is approximately 30 AU.

Neptune, the outermost planet in the Solar System, is 30 times farther from the Sun than Earth and receives less light and heat. However, Neptune emits much more heat than it receives and has a much more active atmosphere than its neighbor Uranus. Uranus is closer to the Sun, yet emits nearly as much heat as Neptune. Scientists still do not know the cause of this problem.

The wind on Neptune can blow up to 2400 km/h. Does this amount of energy come from the sun, the planet’s core, or gravitational contraction? Researchers are trying to find the answer to this mystery. 

19. Earth’s Van Allen Belt is much stranger than expected

Van Allen belts around the earth

Discovered in 1958, the Van Allen belts are large bands of radiation that surround the Earth and expand and contract based on the activity of the Sun.

The Earth has several magnetically trapped bands of highly energetic charged particles around it, called the Van Allen Belts in honor of their discoverer. Although we’ve known about these belts since the dawn of the space age, the Van Allen probes, launched in 2012, provided the best possible picture of them and revealed many surprises along the way.

We now know that the belts expand and contract based on the activity of the sun. Sometimes the belts are very distinct from each other, and at other times, they swell as one large unit. An additional radiation belt, beyond the two known, was discovered in 2013. Understanding these belts helps scientists make better predictions about space weather or solar storms. 

20. What happened to Miranda?

Miranda, the moon of Uranus

Uranus’ moon Miranda has one of the most diverse landscapes of any extraterrestrial object.

One of the strangest outer moons of the solar system is Miranda. This mysterious moon of Uranus was observed only once in 1986; Voyager 2 caught a glimpse of it during its tour of the solar system. Miranda hosts sharp ridges, craters, and other large discontinuities on its surface that are usually the result of volcanic activity. Tectonic activity can cause the formation of such a surface, But Miranda is too small to generate that kind of heat on her own.

Researchers believe that the gravitational pull of Uranus could have caused the necessary pressure to heat, overturn, and deform Miranda’s surface. But to be sure, we need to send another spacecraft to investigate the unseen northern hemisphere of the moon. 

25 surprising facts about the solar system

21. Saturn’s yin-yang moon

Iaptus, a moon of SaturnIaptus, a moon of Saturn

Saturn’s moon Iapetus shows drastic differences in surface brightness depending on which side it faces the Sun.

Saturn’s moon Iaptus has a very dark hemisphere that always faces the planet and a very bright hemisphere that always faces Saturn. The brightness of most asteroids, moons, and planets is relatively uniform across their surfaces; But Iaptus sometimes shines so brightly that it was observed by the Giovanni Cassini telescope in the 17th century, and then dims considerably as it spins the other way.

Current research shows that Iaptus, also known as Saturn 8, is made mostly of water ice. According to scientists’ hypothesis, when the dark side of the moon faces the sun, water ice sublimates from that area and leaves behind darker rocks. Since dark matter heats up more than bright, reflective ice, this process may have created a positive feedback loop; In this way, when the darker and warmer part of the moon loses its ice, it heats up more easily when facing the sun and accelerates the loss of ice. 

22. Titan has a liquid cycle, But there is definitely no water involved

Artistic rendering of Titan's lakes

Titan’s lakes are full of methane and ethane and possibly a layer of water.

Another strange moon of the solar system is Titan, a moon of Saturn. Titan hosts a “fluid cycle” that moves material between the atmosphere and the surface. This circulation of materials is apparently very similar to the water cycle on Earth; But Titan’s huge lakes are filled with methane and ethane, probably on top of a layer of water.

Using data from the international Cassini mission, researchers hope to uncover some of the moon’s secrets before designing a submarine that could one day explore Titan’s mysterious depths. 

23. Organic molecules are everywhere

The rough surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Grasimenko

Organic molecules have been found in many places in the solar system, including comet 67P/Churyomov-Grasimenko. In this image, the rugged landscape of the comet’s core was captured by the Rosetta spacecraft.

Organics are complex carbon-based molecules found in living organisms, But abiotic processes can also be their creators. Although common on Earth, organic molecules can be found unexpectedly in many other places in the solar system. For example, scientists have discovered organic matter on the surface of comet 67pi. The hypothesis that organic molecules were probably brought to the surface of our planet from space to start life on Earth was strengthened by the discovery of these molecules in comet P67.

Organic matter has also been found on the surface of Mercury, Titan, Saturn’s moon (which gives it its orange color), and Mars. 

24. Saturn has a hexagonal storm

Saturn's strange hexagonal storm

Saturn’s northern hemisphere is home to a strange hexagonal storm that has been raging for decades.

Saturn’s northern hemisphere has an intense six-sided storm known as the “hexagon”. This hexagon, a towering multi-layered storm, has existed for decades, perhaps even hundreds of years.

Saturn’s strange storm was discovered in the 1980s; But until the Cassini spacecraft flew between 2004 and 2017, it was difficult to observe it. Cassini images and data showed that the hexagonal storm is 300 km high and 32 thousand km wide and consists of air moving at a speed of 320 km/h. 

25. The atmosphere of the Sun is much hotter than the surface of the Sun

Sun

The temperature of the sun is different in each layer of its atmosphere.

While the temperature of the visible surface of the sun or photosphere is 5500 degrees Celsius, the temperature of the upper atmosphere or corona (solar corona) reaches millions of degrees. This extreme temperature difference is one of the great mysteries of the star of our system.

However, NASA has several solar-observing spacecraft in its fleet of probes, and they have some hypotheses for how heat is generated in the sun. One such idea is the “heat bombs” that occur when magnetic fields align in the corona. Another hypothesis is related to the time when plasma waves move from the surface of the Sun to the corona.

With new data from the Parker probe, which has become the closest man-made object to the Sun,we are closer than ever to unlocking the secrets of the heart of the Solar System.

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