Thursday, May 19, 2011

"Not only stranger than we imagine..."

More mysteries in the news from the depths of space.
Round about a month ago, I blogged about a "superflare" detected in the Crab Nebula.  The magnitude of this eruption of gamma rays is a full six times greater than any other such burst ever before detected in space.  The link above takes you to an article with a bit more information on the matter.  Seems that the leading horse in the derby of explanations (don't ask me where my head gets these metaphors) is that particles such as electrons were accelerated to near light-speed as the magnetic field around a pulsar became somehow restructured.  There.  See?  Simple as that.

There apparently is such a thing as a "planet hurtling through space."  When several large planets occupy orbits in a solar system, their gravitational fields can interfere with each other.  Planets with the smaller mass get pushed out, sentenced to roam the unforgiving cosmos alone.  While astronomers believe that the majority of these rogue planets are mostly gaseous in form and therefore likely lifeless, imagine if they were home to a civilization?  What would happen?  How would they survive, if that is even possible?  I must admit, I wouldn't have thought such an astronomical occurrence as these "wandering planets" to be likely, thinking that a planet is in part dependent upon a gravitational field to hold it together.  Not so.  I did once read a scientific treatise on what would happen to our world if we somehow lost the light and the heat of the Sun but the star retained its mass.  Yeah, ok, it was DC's "Final Night" crossover, but they did consult with a few scientists.  In that highly unlikely scenario, humanity would have about seven days before life would become untenable.  I'd imagine the same set of conditions would apply to a rogue planet, along with other catastrophic affects.  Still, there's a story in there.  And as the linked article will describe in greater detail, this finding seems to bear out Einstein's postulation of "gravitational lensing."

Then I stumbled across this little tidbit from last year.  The extrasolar planet Upsilon Andromedae b has a "hot spot" on it, a bright spark with an extremely high temperature within the Jupiter-like world's composition.  One theory is that it is an alien city.  Methinks that would be difficult to verify, but just imagine it.

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