Halley’s Comet on 8 March 1986
High-resolution images of Pluto taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft.
The plains on Pluto’s surface are composed of more than 98 percent nitrogen ice, with traces of methane and carbon monoxide. Nitrogen and carbon monoxide are most abundant on the anti-Charon face of Pluto (around 180° longitude, where Tombaugh Regio’s western lobe, Sputnik Planitia, is located), whereas methane is most abundant near 300° east. The mountains are made of water ice. Pluto’s surface is quite varied, with large differences in both brightness and color. Pluto is one of the most contrastive bodies in the Solar System, with as much contrast as Saturn’s moon Iapetus. The color varies from charcoal black, to dark orange and white. Pluto’s color is more similar to that of Io with slightly more orange and significantly less red than Mars. Notable geographical features include Tombaugh Regio, or the “Heart” (a large bright area on the side opposite Charon), Cthulhu Macula, or the “Whale” (a large dark area on the trailing hemisphere), and the “Brass Knuckles” (a series of equatorial dark areas on the leading hemisphere). Sputnik Planitia, the western lobe of the “Heart”, is a 1,000 km-wide basin of frozen nitrogen and carbon monoxide ices, divided into polygonal cells, which are interpreted as convection cells that carry floating blocks of water ice crust and sublimation pits towards their margins; there are obvious signs of glacial flows both into and out of the basin. It has no craters that were visible to New Horizons, indicating that its surface is less than 10 million years old.
The asteroid belt is the circumstellar disc in the Solar System located roughly between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter. It is occupied by numerous irregularly shaped bodies called asteroids or minor planets. The asteroid belt is also termed the main asteroid belt or main belt to distinguish it from other asteroid populations in the Solar System such as near-Earth asteroids and trojan asteroids. About half the mass of the belt is contained in the four largest asteroids: Ceres, Vesta, Pallas, and Hygiea. The total mass of the asteroid belt is approximately 4% that of the Moon, or 22% that of Pluto, and roughly twice that of Pluto’s moon Charon (whose diameter is 1200 km).
The asteroid belt formed from the primordial solar nebula as a group of planetesimals. Planetesimals are the smaller precursors of the protoplanets. Between Mars and Jupiter, however, gravitational perturbations from Jupiter imbued the protoplanets with too much orbital energy for them to accrete into a planet.
source | images: NASA,
SOFIA/Lynette Cook, ESO/M. Kornmesser
The diversity of worlds in our solar system (climate and geology)…
The Great Red Spot is a persistent high-pressure region in the atmosphere of Jupiter, producing an anticyclonic storm 22° south of the planet’s equator. It has been continuously observed for 188 years, since 1830. Earlier observations from 1665 to 1713 are believed to be of the same storm; if this is correct, it has existed for at least 350 years. Such storms are not uncommon within the turbulent atmospheres of gas giants.
With over 400 active volcanoes, Io is the most geologically active object in the Solar System. This extreme geologic activity is the result of tidal heating from friction generated within Io’s interior as it is pulled between Jupiter and the other Galilean satellites—Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.
Europa has the smoothest surface of any known solid object in the Solar System. The apparent youth and smoothness of the surface have led to the hypothesis that a water ocean exists beneath it, which could conceivably harbor extraterrestrial life.
Neptune, the eighth and farthest planet from the sun, has the strongest winds in the solar system. At high altitudes speeds can exceed 1,100 mph. That is 1.5 times faster than the speed of sound. In 1989, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft made the first and only close-up observations of Neptune.
Ganymede is the largest and most massive moon of Jupiter and in the Solar System.
Possessing a metallic core, it has the lowest moment of inertia factor of any solid body in the Solar System and is the only moon known to have a magnetic field. (Sounds of Ganymede’s magnetosphere).
Saturn’s hexagon is a persisting hexagonal cloud pattern around the north pole of Saturn, located at about 78°N. The sides of the hexagon are about 13,800 km (8,600 mi) long, which is more than the diameter of Earth (about 12,700 km (7,900 mi)).
Miranda’s surface has patchwork regions of broken terrain indicating intense geological activity in Miranda’s past, and is criss-crossed by huge canyons. It also has the largest known cliff in the Solar System, Verona Rupes, which has a height of over 5 km (3.1 mi).
Some of Miranda’s terrain is possibly less than 100 million years old based on crater counts, which suggests that Miranda may still be geologically active today.
Enceladus is the sixth-largest moon of Saturn. It is about 500 kilometers (310 mi) in diameter, about a tenth of that of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.
Evidence of liquid water on Enceladus began to accumulate in 2005, when scientists observed plumes containing water vapor spewing from its south polar surface, with jets moving 250 kg of water vapor every second at up to 2,189 km/h (1,360 mph) into space.
Titan is the largest moon of Saturn. It is the only moon known to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object in space, other than Earth, where clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found.
Triton is one of the few moons in the Solar System known to be geologically active (the others being Jupiter’s Io and Europa, and Saturn’s Enceladus and Titan). As a consequence, its surface is relatively young with few obvious impact craters, and a complex geological history revealed in intricate cryovolcanic and tectonic terrains. Part of its surface has geysers erupting sublimated nitrogen gas, contributing to a tenuous nitrogen atmosphere less than 1/70,000 the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere at sea level.
image credit: data and images from NASA
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model for the universe from the earliest known periods through its subsequent large-scale evolution. The model describes how the universe expanded from a very high-density and high-temperature state, and offers a comprehensive explanation for a broad range of phenomena, including the abundance of light elements, the cosmic microwave background (CMB), large scale structure and Hubble’s law. If the known laws of physics are extrapolated to the highest density regime, the result is a singularity which is typically associated with the Big Bang. Physicists are undecided whether this means the universe began from a singularity, or that current knowledge is insufficient to describe the universe at that time. Detailed measurements of the expansion rate of the universe place the Big Bang at around 13.8 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the universe. After the initial expansion, the universe cooled sufficiently to allow the formation of subatomic particles, and later simple atoms. Giant clouds of these primordial elements later coalesced through gravity in halos of dark matter, eventually forming the stars and galaxies visible today.
0 seconds: Planck Epoch begins: earliest meaningful time. The Big Bang occurs in which ordinary space and time develop out of a primeval state (possibly a virtual particle or false vacuum) described by a quantum theory of gravity or “Theory of Everything”. All matter and energy of the entire visible universe is contained in an unimaginably hot, dense point (gravitational singularity), a billionth the size of a nuclear particle. This state has been described as a particle desert. Other than a few scant details, conjecture dominates discussion about the earliest moments of the universe’s history since no effective means of testing this far back in space-time is presently available. WIMPS (weakly interacting massive particles) or dark matter and dark energy may have appeared and been the catalyst for the expansion of the singularity. The infant universe cools as it begins expanding outward. It is almost completely smooth, with quantum variations beginning to cause slight variations in density.
Grand unification epoch begins: While still at an infinitesimal size, the universe cools down to 1032 kelvin. Gravity separates and begins operating on the universe—the remaining fundamental forces stabilize into the electronuclear force, also known as the Grand Unified Force or Grand Unified Theory (GUT), mediated by (the hypothetical) X and Y bosons which allow early matter at this stage to fluctuate between baryon and lepton states.
10−36 seconds: Electroweak epoch begins: The Universe cools down to 1028 kelvin. As a result, the Strong Nuclear Force becomes distinct from the Electroweak Force perhaps fuelling the inflation of the universe. A wide array of exotic elementary particles result from decay of X and Y bosons which include W and Z bosons and Higgs bosons.
10−33 seconds: Space is subjected to inflation, expanding by a factor of the order of 1026 over a time of the order of 10−33 to 10−32 seconds. The universe is supercooled from about 1027 down to 1022 kelvin.
10−32 seconds: Cosmic inflation ends. The familiar elementary particles now form as a soup of hot ionized gas called quark-gluon plasma; hypothetical components of Cold dark matter (such as axions) would also have formed at this time.
10−12 seconds: Electroweak phase transition: the four fundamental interactions familiar from the modern universe now operate as distinct forces. The Weak nuclear force is now a short-range force as it separates from Electromagnetic force, so matter particles can acquire mass and interact with the Higgs Field. The temperature is still too high for quarks to coalesce into hadrons, and the quark-gluon plasma persists (Quark epoch). The universe cools to 1015 kelvin.
10−11 seconds: Baryogenesis may have taken place with matter gaining the upper hand over anti-matter as baryon to antibaryon constituencies are established.
Hadron epoch 10−6 seconds
Hadron epoch begins: As the universe cools to about 1010 kelvin, a quark-hadron transition takes place in which quarks bind to form more complex particles—hadrons. This quark confinement includes the formation of protons and neutrons (nucleons), the building blocks of atomic nuclei.
Lepton Epoch 1 second
Lepton epoch begins: The universe cools to 109 kelvin. At this temperature, the hadrons and antihadrons annihilate each other, leaving behind leptons and antileptons – possible disappearance of antiquarks. Gravity governs the expansion of the universe: neutrinos decouple from matter creating a cosmic neutrino background.
10 seconds: Photon epoch begins: Most of the leptons and antileptons annihilate each other. As electrons and positrons annihilate, a small number of unmatched electrons are left over – disappearance of the positrons.
10 seconds: Universe dominated by photons of radiation – ordinary matter particles are coupled to light and radiation while dark matter particles start building non-linear structures as dark matter halos. Because charged electrons and protons hinder the emission of light, the universe becomes a super-hot glowing fog.
3 minutes: Primordial nucleosynthesis: nuclear fusion begins as lithium and heavy hydrogen (deuterium) and helium nuclei form from protons and neutrons.
20 minutes: Nuclear fusion ceases: normal matter consists of 75% hydrogen and 25% helium – free electrons begin scattering light.
70,000 years: Matter domination in Universe: onset of gravitational collapse as the Jeans length at which the smallest structure can form begins to fall.
The “Dark Ages” is the period between decoupling, when the universe first becomes transparent, until the formation of the first stars. Recombination:
electrons combine with nuclei to form atoms, mostly hydrogen and helium. Distributions of hydrogen and helium at this time remains constant as the electron-baryon plasma thins. The temperature falls to 3000 kelvin.
10 million years: With a trace of heavy elements in the Universe, the chemistry that later sparked life begins operating.
100 million years: Gravitational collapse: ordinary matter particles fall into the structures created by dark matter. Reionization begins: smaller (stars) and larger non-linear structures (quasars) begin to take shape – their ultraviolet light ionizes remaining neutral gas.
200–300 million years: First stars begin to shine: Because many are Population III stars (some Population II stars are accounted for at this time) they are much bigger and hotter and their life-cycle is fairly short. Unlike later generations of stars, these stars are metal free. As reionization intensifies, photons of light scatter off free protons and electrons – Universe becomes opaque again.
600 million years: Renaissance of the Universe—end of the Dark Ages as visible light begins dominating throughout. Possible formation of the Milky Way Galaxy: although age of the Methusaleh star suggests a much older date of origin, it is highly likely that HD 140283 may have come into our galaxy via a later galaxy merger. Oldest confirmed star in Milky Way Galaxy, HE 1523-0901.
700 million years: Galaxies form. Smaller galaxies begin merging to form larger ones. Galaxy classes may have also begun forming at this time including Blazars, Seyfert galaxies, radio galaxies, normal galaxies (elliptical, Spiral galaxies, barred spiral) and dwarf galaxies.
7.8 billion years: Acceleration: dark-energy dominated era begins, following the matter-dominated era in during which cosmic expansion was slowing down
9.2 billion years: Primal supernova, possibly triggers the formation of the Solar System.
9.2318 billion years: Sun forms – Planetary nebula begins accretion of planets.
9.23283 billion years: Four Jovian planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune ) evolve around the sun.
9.257 billion years: Solar System of Eight planets, four terrestrial (Mercury (planet), Venus, Earth, Mars) evolve around the sun.
Artist’s logarithmic scale conception of the observable universe with the Solar System at the center, inner and outer planets, Kuiper belt, Oort cloud, Alpha Centauri, Perseus Arm, Milky Way galaxy, Andromeda galaxy, nearby galaxies, Cosmic Web, Cosmic microwave radiation and Big Bang’s invisible plasma on the edge.
Credit: Wikipedia, Pablo Carlos Budassi
Eris is the most massive and second-largest dwarf planet in the known Solar System. Eris was discovered in January 2005 by a Palomar Observatory-based team led by Mike Brown, and its identity was verified later that year.
In September 2006 it was named after Eris, the Greek goddess of strife and discord. Eris is the ninth most massive object directly orbiting the Sun, and the 16th most massive overall, because seven moons are more massive than all known dwarf planets.
Eris is a trans-Neptunian object (TNO) and a member of a high-eccentricity population known as the scattered disk. It has one known moon, Dysnomia. (Eris and Dysnomia are seen in the first image).
Here are some posts about cosmology, astrophysics and physics. I separated some of the main posts about space. Follow the list below ↓
What is Gravitational Lensing?
What are white holes?
The collision of two black holes holes
What are brown dwarfs?
Some intriguing exoplanets
Extremely Large Telescope (ELT)
Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)
Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA)
Interesting facts about stars
What is an Exoplanet?
Nine weird facts about neutrinos
30 years after the detection of SN1987A neutrinos
The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO)
This Photo of a Single Trapped Atom Is Absolutely Breathtaking
Halo (optical phenomenon)
Where Your Elements Came From