13 Facts That Prove We Really Know Nothing About the Universe
Thanks to spacecraft and probes, scientists accumulate new data about the Universe and the Solar System on a daily basis.
Bright Side is eager to share with you some of the latest discoveries made in the field of astronomy. Each one brings us a little closer to unraveling the mystery of creation.
The chances are there really was once life on Mars.
The tireless Mars Rover, Curiosity, has discovered traces of boron in some rocks inside a crater on the Red Planet. The presence of this element indicates that there was once water on the surface of Mars, which may have supported life.
Stephen Hawking has launched a program to search for extraterrestrial life.
Hawking's plan involves building a spacecraft that will use thousands of miniaturized devices to search for potentially habitable planets. The project's ultimate goal is to reach Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to our own. The ship will have to achieve 20% of the speed of light, which will allow it to reach the distant star in just 24 years.
Jupiter and Neptune are attacking Earth with comets.
For 20 years, scientists have believed that Jupiter's powerful gravitational field sucks in asteroids and comets that enter the Solar System. However, recent research suggests that Jupiter and Neptune are in fact "throwing" these objects into the inner Solar System, raising the possibility that one may someday hit Earth.
There is liquid water on Pluto.
Judging by data from NASA's New Horizons probe, there's an ocean of liquid water no less than 100 km deep beneath Pluto's crust of 300-kilometer-thick surface ice. The salinity of this ocean is suspected to be around 30% - the same as the Dead Sea on Earth.
Source: Brown University
Venus was once habitable.
Today, Venus is the hottest planet in the Solar System. However, 4 billion years ago, there were liquid oceans there that lasted for around 2 billion years. This makes it entirely possible that it once supported life.
The rings and satellites of Saturn are younger than the dinosaurs.
Saturn has 62 satellites and several rings. Recent data suggests that the planet's ring formations did not form at the same time as the planet itself (around 4 billion years ago). Computer modeling indicates that most of the gas giant's satellites and all of its rings appeared comparatively recently, when the dinosaurs still roamed Earth.
The Solar System might yet turn out to have a ninth planet.
Mathematical modeling indicates that the Solar System might have a ninth planet that is 20 times further from the Sun than Neptune. It is believed that it may be 10 times the mass of Earth. It will only receive a name if its existence is confirmed.
Source: The Astronomical Journal
There are no less than 15,000 large asteroids in near-Earth space.
Within the framework of a program initiated by NASA in 2005, scientists are currently discovering, on average, around 30 new celestial objects within the Solar System every week. In contrast, in 1998, this amount was found only over the course of an entire year.
There may be habitable planets orbiting the nearest stars.
In August 2016, scientists discovered the exo-planet Proxima b, which orbits within the habitable zone around the star Proxima Centauri. Its surface temperature is such that there may well be liquid water there. If scientists can work out whether the planet possesses a magnetic field and an atmosphere, then it's entirely possible that Proxima b supports life.
Scientists have found evidence that confirms the existence of black holes.
In February 2016, scientists discovered evidence of the existence of gravitational waves. This discovery, in turn, confirms the existence of black holes. Moreover, if scientists can study the waves that formed as a result of the Big Bang, they'll be able to finally determine the mechanism that led to the creation of the Universe.
COROT-7b – the volcanic planet where rocks fall like rain.
This exo-planet is very close to its star, so the surface temperature is hot enough to vaporize rocks and pebbles condensed out of the air. It also rains rocks into lakes of molten lava.
To realize how small we are take a look at this picture.
The diameter of VY Canis Majoris, one of the largest stars, is approximately 2000 times that of our Sun's and 155,000 times that of Earth's.
What was Earth like 4.5 billion years ago?
If we traveled back in time and saw Earth 4.5 billion years ago we'd notice that its color was not blue but reddish-yellow. Around the planet there was debris that had formed Moon after the collision between Earth and Theia. The then Moon shone like the present day Sun and influenced the gravity of our planet 25 times more greatly.
The influence of the Moon resulted in huge lava waves on Earth. Besides, the planet could rotate once on its axis in 6 hours only.