New Type of Hypervelocity Star Found: Just Passing Through

hypervelocity star galaxy

Hypervelocity stars come and go as they please. http://www.dailygalaxy.com/

A brand new type of star has been discovered by graduates at Vanderbilt University. It is a new type of hypervelocity star, one that may not be from our galaxy.

According to Vanderbilt University graduate student Lauren Palladino, lead author on the study,

These new hypervelocity stars are very different from the ones that have been discovered previously. The original hypervelocity stars are large blue stars and appear to have originated from the galactic center. Our new stars are relatively small – about the size of the sun – and the surprising part is that none of them appear to come from the galactic core.

Astrophycists have discovered hypervelocity stars before.  They are stars that move fast enough (at least 1 million miles per hour relative to the motion of the galaxy) to escape the gravitational grip of the Milky Way. Usually the stars attain their incredible speed by passing close to the mega blackhole (massing approximately 4 million suns) at the center of our galaxy and being ejected out into the void. These new hypervelocity stars, however, are clearly not originating from the center of the galaxy. In fact, they appear to be originating from far outside it.

hypervelocity star milkway

Our home sweet home.

Related Article: A Planet Covered In Diamonds

By tracing a star’s trajectory and current position over the course of several weeks astrophysicists can construct a route that the star must have traveled on. The anomalous hypervelocity stars had a trajectory straight from nowhereville, Universe. So far 20 hypervelocity stars of the exotic variety have been spotted.

How did these particular stars pick up so much speed if not from the Milky Way’s central black hole? Where exactly are these stars coming from? Most importantly, can we eventually use rogue hypervelocity stars as a form of public interstellar transportation? This far from the galactic center, we would be waiting at the star-stop for an eon at least.

Related Article: NASA’s New Squad: A New Era of Space Travel

So, maybe using a hypervelocity celestial body as a form of high speed transportation is unrealistic, but what about living on one? According to one theory, the idea is totally plausible. Many rogue planets are just roaming around the galaxy, swayed this way and that by varying celestial mass and gravity. Ejected planets charging through the void of space could still retain an atmosphere, as well as heat and water with an adequate amount of pressure. It is perfectly possible that there is intelligent life whose lore and language does not contain a sun or moon, or night and day, just the ever-changing stars.

While Earth has a home in the outer reaches of an arbitrary arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, other stars and planets are just passing through. So long…

 

Sources:

http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2014/01/hypervelocity-stars/

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v400/n6739/full/400032a0.html

Triple Star System Paves Road to Understanding Gravity

 

triple star system pulsar

Triple star systems could play a more important role than we first thought. http://www.bbc.co.uk/

A new study published in the scientific journal Nature documents the discovery of a very peculiar triple star system. Astronomers believe that observation and analyzation of this triple star system could potentially resolve lingering discrepancies in some of Einstein’s theories concerning gravity. In fact, this particular triple star system could eventually lead to unraveling the secrets of gravity.

Related Article: Our Special Time in the Universe

This triple star system is roughly 4200 light years from Earth and is composed of a pulsar and two white dwarfs orbiting each other within a space smaller than Earth’s orbit of the sun.  The pulsar closely orbits a white dwarf star while a second white dwarf star orbits the pair from a distance. While a triple star system like this one has been found before, this is the first time such a strong interaction between the orbiting objects has been observed.

According to Scott Ransom of the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, VA:

This triple star system gives us a natural cosmic laboratory far better than anything found before for learning exactly how such three-body systems work and potentially for detecting problems with general relativity that physicists expect to see under extreme conditions. This is a fascinating system in many ways, including what must have been a completely crazy formation history, and we have much work to do to fully understand it.

triple star system binary

An easy way to imagine a stellar trio. http://www.miqel.com

Pulsars are created in the presence of a supernova. Under the intensity of a supernova, burnt out stars can collapse and turn into a dense, highly magnetized ball of neutrons. A pulsar emits radio-waves in the same way a lighthouse emits light. Pulsars can only be seen when the beam of radio waves is pointing at the Earth. While pulsars all spin at different rates, the pulsar in the study spins at an extremely rapid rate of 366 times per second. Due to its incredible rotation speed, this type of pulsar is called a millisecond pulsar. Finding this millisecond pulsar triple star system is important because

This is the first millisecond pulsar found in such a system, and we immediately recognized that it provides us with a tremendous opportunity to study both the effects and nature of gravity. The gravitational perturbations imposed on each member of this system by the others are incredibly pure and strong.

Binary and triple star systems appear all over the galaxy. Even our sun is likely part of a larger binary solar system. While the systems can vary in formation, most are formed in a very similar fashion to the triple stellar system described in the study.  Two of the stars form a binary system and the third star orbits the pair at a far greater orbit. If the system isn’t constructed this way it becomes unstable, leading to a star being ejected at high velocities away from the pair.

Related Article: New Type of Hypervelocity Star Found: Just Passing Through

So as is usual with cosmological physics, the hardest aspect of reading any study is figuring out why we should care about the discovery of a special triple star system. The thing is, gravity is a rascal when it comes to theories of the universe. It simply doesn’t fit into any modern quantum theories. The Einstein Equivalence Principle states:  

The outcome of any local non-gravitational experiment in a freely falling laboratory is independent of the velocity of the laboratory and its location in spacetime.

This eventually led to the Strong Equivalence Principle, which states:

The gravitational motion of a small test body depends only on its initial position in spacetime and velocity, and not on its constitution. The outcome of any local experiment (gravitational or not) in a freely falling laboratory is independent of the velocity of the laboratory and its location in spacetime.
triple star system earth gravity

Gravity is stranger than you think. http://podaac.jpl.nasa.gov/

The equivalence principle holds true in most experiments, but in the quantum world it completely falls apart. Einstein’s theory of general relativity holds true for massive celestial bodies, but the miniscule world of quantum physics is a different realm entirely.

Related Article: Long Distance Quantum Teleportation is Reality

Countless attempts have been made to create a Grand Unified Theory of physics involving a single equation that would involve all forces currently known to man. The problem is that gravity constantly throws a wrench in the spokes of every unified theory physicists come up with. Simply put, the reason this study of a unique triple star system is so important is that by observing the activity of a triple system with such pure and strong gravitational interactions, it may shine light on how gravity functions at the quantum level. This could one day lead to a single unified theory of everything. Physics would no longer be a class, just a single equation you could plug and chug information into and get answers.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature12917.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25598051#FBM325422

http://phys.org/news6428.html

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1994MNRAS.267..161K

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1968QJRAS…9..388E

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivalence_principle#The_Einstein_equivalence_principle

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/forces/unigrav.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Unified_Theory

 

Black Hole Spin Could Be Key in Understanding How Galaxies Expand

http://www.ras.org.uk/images/stories/press/black%20hole%20spin%20courtesy%20of%20nasa-jpl-caltech.jpg

Black Hole Spin

Scientists at Durham University (UK) have discovered a new way to measure the spin of ginormous black holes. According to the study, this could improve our understanding of how our galaxies are getting bigger; I have always wondered why a lot of the galaxies swirl and grow.  A team of astronomers found a black hole that is ten million times the size of our Sun in the center of a spiral galaxy that is about 500 million light years away from Earth. This black hole has been feeding off the materials in the disc of the galaxy which may explain its enormous size.

The data collected allowed the astronomers to measure the distance of the disc from the black hole. Distance depends on how fast the black hole’s spin is, a faster black hole’s spin pulls the disc closer, and by measuring the distance of the disc, they are able to predict the speed of the spin. The scientists agree that this could help in understanding how galaxies grow over a span of billions of years.

(Two New Blue Developments in Our Galaxy)

Almost all galaxies contain black holes. They shoot out extremely hot particles that prevent gases in the galaxy itself from cooling, therefore inhibiting the growth of new stars. The jets of energy that black holes shoot out could be linked to why black holes spin. Unless the matter is close to the black hole, it is difficult to measure spin, since the power of the black hole does not reach to further matter. The odd thing about black holes, according to Professor Chris Done, is that the black hole spin may affect the nature of the whole galaxy.

We know the black hole in the centre of each galaxy is linked to the galaxy as a whole, which is strange because black holes are tiny in relation to the size of a galaxy. This would be like something the size of a large boulder (10m), influencing something the size of the Earth.

When a black hole spins, it drags particles from the accretion disc. The more particles it drags, the faster it is able to spin. Measuring the distance between the two leads to the possibility of measuring a black hole’s spin.

(New Plausible Theory of Black Holes: Gateways to Other Universes)

 

Sources:

http://www.ras.org.uk/news-and-press/224-news-2013/2320-capturing-black-hole-spin-could-further-understanding-of-galaxy-growth

http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accretion_disc

Wondergressive: Two New Blue Developments in Our Galaxy

Wondergressive: New Plausible Theory of Black Holes

New Plausible Theory of Black Holes: Gateways to Other Universes

 

According to traditional physics, once you go far enough into a black hole, traditional physics simply ceases to be.  Any meaningful equation breaks down into nonsense. Insanity. Cosmic nincompoopery! Well, not anymore…

Einstein’s theory of general relativity states that if a person were to fall into a black hole they’d be shredded to the atomic level by a process called spaghettification, described as being stretched into an infinitely long strand of matter and energy by infinitely strong gravity.  This infinitely strong gravity is due to a singularity at the ‘end’ of the black hole, an infinitely dense area with zero volume.  A singularity is also used to describe the Big Bang.

There is a problem though; conventional physics cannot describe what occurs at a singularity point, so talking about the beginning of time or the core of a black hole has always been one-pointed, but pointless. Then quantum mechanics appeared.

Related Article: Life, It’s All Over the Place

By using the theory of loop quantum gravity, a merger of quantum mechanics and general relativity which describes space-time as a web of indivisible chunks about 10-35 meters in size, physicists have come up with a practical way to describe what occurs at the singularity point; the singularity isn’t there. 

There is no singularity. Gravity still increases as you get pulled into the black hole, but eventually it decreases, and you come out the other end. Although theories have postulated this idea before, the problem was that the singularity could never be bypassed. This is incredibly revolutionary because modern day physics has always taken the idea of a singularity for granted.  The universe had forever been filled with them; all of time and space began as a singularity.

Related Article: Ancient Galaxy That Shouldn’t Exist is Found Perfectly Formed

You are probably wondering what this means for you and me, what relevance this all has.  This opens the doors for even more science fiction to become science reality (consider: just about every piece of technology that exists today was written about as science fiction at one point).

According to the new theory, black holes are more likely doors to other universes, or incredibly distant areas of our own universe, or both.  Even more amazingly, using loop quantum gravity theory, if you were to rewind the big bang you wouldn’t be left with an infinitely dense point of mass and energy, you would cross a quantum bridge into another, older universe.

Related Article: Voyager 1: The Final Frontier?

This also helps explain what happens to information that approaches a black hole.  In a black hole with a singularity, the information would be lost forever as the black hole eventually evaporates after hundreds of trillions of years (give or take several hundred trillion years). As Jorge Pullin, lead researcher on the study at Louisiana State University, points out:

Information doesn’t disappear, it leaks out.

The infinite universe just became infinitely more infinite.

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_relativity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaghettification\

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_singularity

http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-beginning-of-time.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loop_quantum_gravity

http://mashable.com/2010/09/25/11-astounding-predictions/

http://prl.aps.org/abstract/PRL/v96/i14/e141301

http://prl.aps.org/abstract/PRL/v110/i21/e211301

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23611-quantum-gravity-takes-singularity-out-of-black-holes.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiverse

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/17/life-its-all-over-the-place/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/09/21/ancient-galaxy-that-shouldnt-exist-is-perfectly-formed/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/12/galaxy-geysers/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/21/voyager-1-final-frontier/

Our Special Time in the Universe

 

We know that we live in a special place. Earth is special as it supports the delicate conditions that have allowed us to evolve to our present state. I think it is fascinating to note that not only do we live in a special place, but the time in which we live is also remarkable.

Normally when we speak of time, we are referring to events that have or are occurring in a span that is relatively close to our own existence. Even when we discuss history, thousands of years ago, this is still very recent time as far as the universe is concerned. The time frame of which I speak is much broader, much deeper. We’re talking billions of years. Trillions of years. But trillions of years are peanuts for the universe. If the universe continues to be, and is not destroyed, then billions of years is still nothing compared to infinity. So here, when I say we live in a special time, I’m referring to a window of a trillion years, give or take.

So, what’s so special about our time? In Laurence Krauss’ book “A Universe from Nothing”, he demonstrates how our time is one when our ability to accurately observe and quantify our universe is a luxury. We live in a time when it is still possible for us to determine the size of our universe. This is possible because we can still see to the far edge of the universe, to the cosmic microwave background (the radiation that is left over from the big bang). This may not sound terribly impressive, but keep in mind that future civilizations will not have this luxury. Our universe is expanding, faster and faster, stretching space-time out as it does so. Eventually this expansion, if it continues to accelerate (which all evidence suggests that it will), will be stretching space-time out at a rate that is faster than the speed of light. Once this rate of expansion is reached, it will be impossible for light from these regions to ever reach other areas of the universe. Therefore, in a future civilization, on a different world, trillions of years from now, the greatest scientists of their era will look out through the lenses of the most powerful telescopes ever constructed and see nothing beyond their own galaxy.

This has other implications as well. Not only will these future civilizations be unable to see anything outside of their own galaxy (which will remain intact due to the local effects of gravity within the galaxy), but this will also mean that the expansion of the universe will also be undetectable. Without being able to detect the expansion, the now infamous dark energy will also remain in the dark, so to speak.

So, our time is unique in that we are able to learn key aspects of our universe that will be simply out of reach of our universal successors. The universe is a wonderfully mysterious place, and I for one feel tremendously lucky to be alive when we can appreciate intricacies such as this.

 

Sources:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjaGktVQdNg

The Big Bang Wasn’t the Beginning

A team of physicists are now hypothesizing that the big bang may not have been the beginning of the universe.  They believe that the big bang is instead the start of a phase change, like liquid water suddenly cooling to form solid ice.

The theory gets really interesting as the physicists discuss potential cracks in the universe like the cracks that form in actual ice.  One of the researchers, Quach, explained that the universe can be thought of “as being like a liquid, then as the universe cools, it ‘crystallises’ into the three spatial and one time dimension that we see today. Theorized this way, as the universe cools, we would expect that cracks should form, similar to the way cracks are formed when water freezes into ice.” 

The theory postulates that space and time are emerging properties of the universe that did not always exist.  The theory’s  math holds up, but even if the physicists do find the ‘cracks’ only time will tell whether the theory is even partially correct.  A whole lot of time.  And by that time a wholly other set of properties may emerge making the notion of time moot.

As for now, it’s certainly fun to consider.

Isn’t mystery just awesome?

Life, It’s All Over The Place

 

 

UFOs, aliens, de-materialization, anti-gravity, velocities beyond that of light; it’s all incredibly fascinating as well as being some fantastic enigmas. I’ve just finished watching a movie on Google Videos entitled UFO: The Greatest Story Ever Denied. It documents a myriad of possible evidence, physical and spoken, that sheds some light on the existence of extra-terrestrial life, as well as the knowledge the human race currently and historically has had of life beyond our little planet.  The presenters in the video are not Joe the farmer by the way.  They hold such titles as brigadier general, former chief executive of NSC, astrophysicist, varying classes of military, including black ops, and more.

I think it’s a bit naive and downright ignorant to think that out of all the infinite space that the cosmos entails, Earth is the only planet that harbors intelligent, let alone minimally complex life. The very thought that life would be so rare is ignorant in and of itself. Life is found everywhere on this planet, even places where, by definition, it shouldn’t exist.

 

Did you know there are tiny organisms living in sulfuric acid within most limestone caves inside of the Earth? They even consume iron, and use the element as a building block for its cellular protein! How weird is that?? Very weird, which is exactly the point. Just because it’s difficult to imagine a life form that doesn’t breathe oxygen and isn’t bound by the traditional hierarchical consumption of sunlight (the food chain) does not rule out its existence. Some life forms even redefine what we think of as normal geometry in life.

 

And check this: scientists have speculated that it is not out of the realm of possibility that Venus, a planet once thought of as inhospitable for life could in fact be teeming with it!

 

All it takes is a bit of imagination and observation, and suddenly the universe seems far less lonely, and a whole lot more active!