“The Galaxy Report” brings you news of space and science that has the capacity to provide clues to the mystery of our existence and adds a much needed cosmic perspective in our current Anthropocene Epoch. Today’s stories range from what Carl Sagan might think about NASA’s current state of space exploration to how the Universe makes galaxies without dark matter, and more.
What will happen when a black hole hits Earth? –The odds are slim, but the consequences would be devastating. Here’s what would happen, plus how to avoid it, reports Ethan Siegel for Big Think. “In the Milky Way alone, hundreds of billions of stars have been born, which means there are hundreds of millions of black holes to look out for. Just like stars, black holes move through space, but unlike stars, they emit no light, so a “stealthy” black hole could sneak up on us, unseen.”
Mystery solved: how the Universe makes galaxies without dark matter –Out of all the galaxies we know, only a few little ones are missing dark matter. At last, we finally understand why, reports Big Think.
What Carl Sagan Might Think About NASA’s Current State Of Space Exploration, reports Bruce Dorminey for Forbes. -“If Sagan were alive today, I’d wager he’d be advocating whole new means of looking for extraterrestrial intelligence in ways that few of us could have imagined only a couple of decades ago.”
We’re Not Prepared for Contamination Between Worlds— Invasion ecologists make their case for planetary protection needing an upgrade, reports Gizmodo.
Is There Life in the TRAPPIST-1 Star System? – “Twice as Old as Our Solar System”, asks Maxwell Moe for The Daily Galaxy. ” Could one of the seven tightly packed planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system be the first exoplanet where the James Webb Space Telescope detects unmistakable signs of life?:
The Search for Life Not as We Know It, reports The Daily Galaxy. “In 2017, astrobiologist Nathalie Cabrol, Director of the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute, held a workshop titled “Decoding Alien Intelligence”, organized around Cabrol’s 2016 paper, “Alien Mindscapes” which challenged SETI to pursue “the search for life as we do not know it.”
Advanced Alien Intelligence -“May Not Need a Language”, reports The Daily Galaxy –“Language has existed on Earth for about one million years beginning with Homo erectus, says linguist Daniel Everett (see video below), which begs the question: do sentient beings with language exist elsewhere in the Cosmos? In December, 2020 ex-CIA Director John Brennan said it was “presumptuous and arrogant” to believe there are no other forms of life than the ones on Earth, referring to the videos released by the Pentagon of US Navy sightings of UFOs.”
Mega Comet Arriving From the Oort Cloud Is 85 Miles Wide, reports George Dvorsky for Gizmodo–“These latest observations confirm that Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein is the largest Oort Cloud object ever detected, as it’s nearly twice as big as comet Hale-Bopp (observed in 1997), the nucleus of which measured between 25 and 50 miles (40 and 80 km) wide. It’s also bigger than Comet Sarabat (observed in 1729), which had a nucleus measuring somewhere around 62 miles (100 km) in diameter.”
Tardigrades could be the first interstellar space travelers –A team of physicists, philosophers and biologists have come up with a list of organisms that could withstand the harsh conditions of interstellar space, and tardigrades take the top spot,” reports BBC Science Focus. The NASA Starlight program points a path forward to send small, relativistic spacecraft far outside our solar system, marking a profound change in our ability to both characterize and expand the reach of known life.
History of Subsurface Oceans on Pluto and Its Moon Charon, reports Planetary News. “Scientists predict that Pluto still has a subsurface ocean with a thickness between 25 and 95 miles (40 and 150 kilometers), while Charon’s ocean completely froze sometime in the last 500 million years.”
Five years ago, astronomers revealed a spectacular collection of other worlds: the TRAPPIST-1 system, reports the JPL. –“Since the first announcement, subsequent studies have revealed that the TRAPPIST-1 planets are rocky, that they could be almost twice as old as our solar system, and that they are located 41 light-years from Earth.”
This Hell Planet Has Metal Clouds, Astronomers Say –A football-shaped hot Jupiter has a seriously hardcore climate, reports Gizmodo. “New observations of the football-shaped exoplanet known as WASP-121b have revealed clues to its atmosphere and weather. Astronomers say it may have metal clouds made up of iron, corundum, and titanium.”
The JWST was Informed by Hubble’s Flaws, reports Supercluster –“While Webb has always been billed as the successor to Hubble, Feinberg said there’s a remarkable thread, a crossover between the two missions: The same computer algorithms used to correct Hubble’s flaw are now being used to align Webb’s mirror segments.”
A supernova could light up the Milky Way at any time. Astronomers will be watching –When a star from our Galactic neighborhood explodes, it could outshine the Moon. Researchers are racing to get ready for the fireworks, reports Nature.
Astronomers map mysterious element in space, reports Lund University –“A research team led by Lund University in Sweden has provided an important clue to the origin of the element ytterbium in the Milky Way, by showing that the element largely originates from supernova explosions.”
Webb Telescope May Find Intelligent Life Via Its Pollution Signatures on Distant Planets, reports The Weather Channel. “Air, water, light, noise, radiation, and so on — humanity’s overall presence and impact can be seen and felt through our pollution signatures across the globe, and even from space. Therefore, if intelligent aliens were to remotely look for signs of life on our planet, they may not have to search too hard and close to sense our existence.”
Astronomers Describe Their Discovery of “Alcyoneus” –The Largest Galaxy in the Universe, reports Maxwell Moe for The Daily Galaxy. “The discovery spans across 16.3 million light year making it four times the size of IC 1101and 160 times the size of the Milky Way galaxy, which makes it the largest galaxy ever discovered. The previous title was held by galaxy IC 1101, which spanned across 3.9 million light-years.”
Astronomers Discover a Strange New Star That Might be From the Collision Between two Dead Stars, reports Universe Today.
Meet 20 great astronomers who made the history books –Throughout history, innumerable people have made valuable contributions to astronomy. But since we’re short on space, here’s 20, ranked, reports Astronomy.com
There’s a lot we don’t know about the International Space Station’s ocean grave –The 450-ton station will follow a long line of retired spacecraft that have been laid to rest in the marine ‘space cemetery,’ reports Popular Science.
Image credit top of page: ESO/M. Kornmesser