We live in a small solar system in the suburbs of the Milky Way galaxy. Eight planets and more than 180 moons, all orbiting the sun. In our solar system. The sun is the sheriff of the town. We do whatever the sun wants us to do. The Sun’s influence stretches more than one light year in every direction and defines the boundary of our solar system. So let’s see How The Universe Works in this article.
How The Universe Works?
Someplace out there is a place where the sun’s influence ends and the other star’s begins. That’s the entrance to interstellar space. Interstellar space is the region between star systems and our galaxy. Until now, we’ve known little about it. For so long. We’ve thought of the space in between the stars as entirely empty.
But this turns out not to be true at all. There’s a lot going on out there, and it’s the forefront of astronomy. One of the biggest clues about interstellar space came right to our doorstep. October 2017. The Pan-starrs one telescope spots something unusual. Pan-starrs is an observatory in. Hawaii and it’s scanning large sections of the sky, looking for things that change.
All of a sudden there was this tiny little visitor just screaming through the solar system. It was going about 200,000 miles an hour. It was a much faster object than what might be expected for a solar system object. And also its trajectory was such that it seemed like its orbit was not bound to the sun. It was totally unlike any other path, any other trajectory, any other orbit in our solar system.
Astronomers reached an extraordinary conclusion. It became very clear that, yeah, this was not some solar system object falling from a long way away. This was something that came from another star, and I think everybody was pretty amazed by that.
How The Universe Works? First Known Interstellar
Our first known interstellar visitor on a flyby through our solar system. It was the very first object that we’ve ever discovered that had originated outside the solar system. Everything else we’ve seen, every comet, every asteroid originated within our solar system.
Big mega solid object entering in our own solar system. And that’s something that, you know, we can only dream of but had never thought it would actually be a reality. Scientists name the object Oumuamua Hawaiian for a messenger from afar, arriving first.
How The Universe Works? Mystifying Interstellar
This thing came from interstellar space into our solar system. And the main question is what could it be? The object’s shape was mystifying. It’s almost sort of shaped like a cigar. It’s ten times longer than it is wide. And this is extraordinary. There’s no object in our solar system that we’ve ever measured that is this elongated.
Oumuamua looked so unnatural it sparked scientists imaginations. One of the things to remember about scientists is that we’re still human beings. We have read science fiction and we have imaginations. We have to admit, when we first heard about it, our first thought is that it was Rama from an Arthur C Clarke story, Rendezvous with Rama.
This is a very elongated spaceship that came from another star. It reminded me of some designs we had for interstellar spacecrafts that have to be much longer than they are wide in order to minimize friction with the interstellar gas.
Could Oumuamua be an alien interstellar spacecraft?
Astronomers, including Professor Avi Loeb, took the idea seriously. Scientists decided to follow this object using the best telescopes in the world and observe whether there is any radio transmission from it. Astronomers hunted for signs of alien communication. But after eight hours of listening across multiple frequencies, nothing.
Sadly, no emissions were detected. It’s almost certainly a natural object. They would bet all of their money on that and they were disappointed. They would have been much more excited if they had found evidence for an alien civilization.
No little green men. This time a muumuu is a natural object. But what exactly is it?
But what exactly is it?
At first, observers thought it might be a comet. Is something that’s mostly ice with a little bit of rock. Those are the sorts of bodies that exist really far out from the star and are the easiest things to eject. But a comet passing this close to the sun would warm up, turning the ice into a gas, forming a vapor trail.
On a muamua. Astronomers saw no sign of this happening. There was no fuzziness around it that you would expect from a comet as the ice was turned into a gas. It was really mysterious. And so everybody who was observing it thought it was an asteroid.
Oumuamua’s true identity
As teams track the muumuu across the sky. There was an unexpected twist. As Oumuamua passed through our solar system, it basically was falling in toward the sun, speeding up immensely as it passed the sun before exiting the solar system in almost the opposite direction. But then something weird happened as it was moving away from the sun.
It was slowing down as you’d expect, but it wasn’t slowing down fast enough. A muumuu gets a boost through our solar system. But how? So we think the reason is that it’s outgassing. In other words, it was emitting a little bit of gas and that was acting as a little bit of a rocket motor push on it.
It’s kind of like a little jet engine on the surface. It just gives it a little thrust over time. This tiny nudge reveals Oumuamua’s true identity. So in that case, it is looking more like a comet. It’s just that that emission wasn’t enough to see. Powered by outgassing. This interstellar nomad might travel from star to star, but figuring out where in the galaxy it came from just got more difficult.
Now that we know that Oumuamua has outgassed which changes its velocity and changes its trajectory, it makes it much harder to do that. A muumuu may now be safely racing away, but the solar system faces bombardment from another interstellar source, firing at Earth at close to the speed of light.
Cosmic rays are the bullets of the universe, and they are flooding interstellar space.
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