Multiversal News, Actually
By Jenni Dean Harte
Climate change, natural and manmade disasters, economic collapse, depletion of Earth'ss resources, war, terrorism, changing societies and shifting populations. It'€™s been a challenging time to focus on any one aspect of recent months and thereâ€'s so much noise about it all. But finally, something else to talk about! And if youâ€™ve been wondering what marvels the Jupiter Uranus conjunction in Aries would bring, theyâ€™ve begun to arrive. As youâ€™d expect with Jupiter, the news is big and with Uranus, surprising.
For several years, we've all marvelled at the expansion of our universe. The number of new bodies identified in space has increased dramatically, and those like Eris and Sedna have revealed new, unprecedented depth and distances of our own solar systemâ€¦to say nothing of our new knowledge of other solar systems. Yes, itâ€™s a challenging time here on our blue planetâ€¦but very exciting. Clearly, inhabitants of planet Earth are ready for new realities.
Universe's most massive star, R136a1, has been discovered by scientists at the University of Sheffield via the European Southern Observatoryâ€™s Very Large Telescope in Chile, with assistance from the Hubble Space Telescope. It is believed to have formed from several young stars merging together and Professor Crowther, chief researcher in the Sheffield team thinks this is probably about as big as stars can get, it's rare and I think it's unlikely that this new record will be broken any time soon.
R136a1 is located in the Tarantula Nebula, a satellite galaxy which orbits our own Milky Way. Astronomy Now magazine says if it was in our solar system, it would be as much brighter than the Sun as the Sun is compared to the Moon.
How heavy is it? Well, the previously heaviest know stars were about 150 times the mass of the Sun; R136a1, on the other hand has been measured at 265 solar masses with the thought that since the star has already lost 20% of itâ€™s mass, it is believed to have been 320 solar masses! That's not just big, it's colossal!
Speaking of Stars
Scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, USA said the space agency's orbiting Swift observatory was overwhelmed by glare from the eruption of a gamma-ray burst so powerful, their software ignored it as just too big to register!
The explosion of X-rays resulted from a star that died 5 billion years ago, far beyond the Milky Way and the timing of the blast was (apparently) caused by the collapse of a star forming a massive black hole. According to the experts it all happened before the Sun and planets formed!
The intensity of these X-rays was unexpected and unprecedented, said Neil Gehrels, Swift's principle investigator. Just when we were beginning to think that we had seen everything that gamma-ray bursts could throw at us, this burst came along to challenge our assumptionsâ€¦â€ť Dr Phil Evans, of Leicester Universityâ€™s space department said, â€śThe burst was so bright when it first erupted our data-analysis software shut down.â€ť â€śIt was like trying to use a rain gauge and a bucket to measure the flow rate of a tsunami. This burst is one for the book record books.â€ť
NASA (theyâ€™re on a roll), also announced the launch of the NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) last December and in six months, about 25,000 new asteroids along with 15 new comets and hundreds of potential brown dwarfs with confirmation of at least 20, have been discovered. WISE has a special ability to see through impenetrable veils of dust and pick up the heat glow of objects that are invisible to regular telescopes. The WISE team is obviously delighted with the discoveries of the new $320 million project. NASA intends to release a full celestial catalogue next year after more thorough processing and deletion of false alarms.
Although the discovery of R136a1 is not a NASA project, theyâ€™re definitely making some spectacular additions to our mapping of the universe and these newest arrivals were published (publicly) mid July when the transiting Sun opposed NASAâ€™s natal Moon. At the same time, Transiting Mars and Saturn were trine the Moon and transiting Mercury opposed natal Chiron. Good times. NASA: 29 July 1958, Washington, DC, 38 N 54, 77 W 02 (I used 12.00-exact time unknown). Data: Wikipedia
Oh and another 100+ planets
It just keeps on coming. As the Sun slipped into Leo, The Daily Mail Online reported 23 July that more than 100 planets, similar in size to Earth, have been discovered in the past few weeks. This discovery was by the space telescope Kepler, scanning the skies for planets orbiting stars since its launch in January 2009.
Scientists now believe that there are likely to be around 100 million planets in the Milky Way that may have the right conditions to harbour life.
Astronomer Dimitar Sasselhov told the TEDGlobal conference at Oxford in July that in the last 15 years almost 500 planets have been found around other stars in the Milky Way galaxy. He describes the discoveries as fulfilling the dreams of Copernicus. Whew.
We live in hope of peaceful life, on Earth and everywhere else.