10 Mysteries of Titan

The excellent as always Mr John Michael Godier has come out with a new video, I suggest giving it a watch. Mr Godier here explains ten mysteries of Titan, the only moon in our solar system with a substantial atmosphere, and the only other terrestrial body in our solar system with surface liquids, specifically lakes and rivers of liquid methane. It’s also becoming more and more evident that prebiotic chemistry of sorts is occurring on Titan, and what’s happening their may hold clues for the origin of life here on earth as well, as the early earth is believed to have been very similar to Titan.

It’s even possible we may find life there, however such life would be totally alien to our own, utilizing an entirely different, and also entirely hypothetical, biochemistry than the water based one that is used on earth. Titan also quite likely has a subsurface ocean of liquid water, and that subsurface ocean may very well have hydrothermal vents, meaning that it’s quite likely that even if no life is found on Titan’s surface, that life may still be found on Titan irregardless of its surface conditions.

Tabby’s Star

http://www.astronomy.com/news/2019/09/evaporating-exomoon-could-explain-weird-light-patterns-of-tabbys-star

Apparently the riddle of Tabby’s Star has been solved, the weird light fluctuations (which aren’t due to alien megastructs, if they were we would only be seeing infrared due to waste heat emissions, instead the patterns are consistent with those of dust) are due to tidal disruptions of an icy exomoon of a planet orbiting Tabby’s Star. In other words, an exomoon is being shred to bits by the star itself and the resulting chaos is what’s causing the dimmings.

Similar explanations have been proposed for the other oddly dimming stars out there, just how common is this phenomenon of moonnapping?

Note that this is only preliminary, further research is needed, and that such a coincidence could explain these odd dimmings seems unlikely.

10 unsettling astronomical incidents and phenomena

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pul9r0jfbug&list=PL1WRbGpKFCAJMfdKHM-zwe5qecY3r910n&index=11

This is a video by the excellent as always Mr John Michael Godier listing, and explaining, some unsolved astronomical phenomena. While the general rule is that “it is never aliens, until it is,” some of the phenomena listed are so strange that aliens remain a serious possibility. One of these is the Wow signal, which to this day defies explanation, it was recently proposed it may have been due to comet emissions, but this was shot down by the scientific community because if comets were emitting at the hydrogen line radio astronomers would have noticed it by now.

I recommend giving it a watch, it’s a good reminder there’s lots we still don’t know about our universe.

Formalhaut

PBS Space Time Video

In this PBS Space Time video the forming solar system of Formalhaut is explored, with lots of Lord of the Rings puns to go around ever since the now infamous “Eye of Sauron” photo was released. Interestingly the star is a member of a tristellar system, it’s stellar siblings are a red dwarf and a flare star respectively.

Formalhaut’s solar system is also (probably) home to two planets, a hot Jupiter and a probably terrestrial planet called “Dagon,” how’s that for a cool name? Interestingly enough the orbit of Dagon indicates it was formed further in, closer to Formalhaut proper, but was thrown out into its current orbit by a close encounter with the aforementioned hot Jupiter. Something similar is posited to have happened in our solar system early on with the gas giants, as they all formed relatively close together but something threw them further apart.

Formalhaut may very well be a glimpse into what would have happened during the formation of our own solar system, as it is a solar system in formation right now as we speak.

Mauna Kea Protests

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/18/hawaii-mauna-key-protest-arrests-observatory

You know, there are already enough dark sky spots in the world as it is, and people don’t want an observatory being constructed on a sacred mount, Mauna Kea, why not just move it someplace else? It’s comparable to someone desecrating Mecca or the Dome of the Rock, learn to respect other people’s cultures, people, for fuck’s sakes.

We already have enough observatories as it is, and there’s plenty of prime real estate in places like, I don’t know, the MOON for dark sky observations, getting out into space is something that’s a big deal for many people, this should be one of the major impetuses to move to space. Why wait? It’s a win-win.

Gravity

Gravity, what is it? No one knows exactly *what* gravity is. We can predict its behaviors but not much else, because even relativity’s only an incomplete view. We don’t know exactly what the essence of gravity is, nor the answer to other conundrums like why gravity is so weak compared to the other three forces, and to be frank, speculation aside, we may never know the answer to this haunting riddle, the riddle that has haunted scientists since the days of Galileo and Newton, what is gravity?

This video by the excellent as always John Michael Godier elaborates more on this subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MA7jLKnQ4c

I highly recommend it.

Remembering Carl Sagan

If only Sagan were around today to learn of the fascinating insights we have discovered since his untimely death. Since his death we have discovered more than 4,000 exoplanets, we have discovered numerous candidates for harboring extraterrestrial life in our solar system alone (*cough* Europa *cough*), coinciding with that we have discovered that numerous minor planetary bodies have oceans of liquid water inside them, with some (*cough* Europa *cough*) even possessing the right chemical mix for complex life to occur on them, not merely simple life, but complex life, I`d be willing to bet that there are fully fledged animals inside Europa’s oceans.

Sagan would be amazed by what we have discovered since his death. He would be 83 years old today. The work he had done in popularizing science to the masses remains uncontested, he inspired millions of future scientists with his works, he was truly a gift from the gods. Rest in peace, Carl, you have earned it.