The Shocking Truth About These 6 Space Discoveries
When it comes to our universe, there is no shortage of questions. As we increase our ability to take a deeper look at space, the number of discoveries increases as well.
Often, these incredible discoveries become total mysteries. Even the most brilliant scientists and researchers among us have no explanation for them.
Let us examine six (6) recent discoveries in space that have left experts speechless.
Magic Island of Titan
Titan is the largest of Saturn’s moons and could very well be one of the most compelling members of our solar system. Many view it as a primeval Earth because it has an atmosphere, bodies of liquid, and possibly some geological activity.
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In the year 2013, the Cassini spacecraft, that was orbiting Titan, discovered a new landmass that mysteriously appeared out of the moon’s second-biggest sea, Ligeria Mare¹. And then shortly after this amazing discovery, this “Magic Island” disappeared just as mysteriously as it had appeared.
Later, the island showed up again as an even bigger landmass. While no one can explain with certainty why this island appears and disappears like this, some think it might be attributed to the heating and cooling of nitrogen. Perhaps the island disappears when its nitrogen bubbles away and reappears when it cools.
An Asteroid with Six Tails
How about the time that the Hubble Telescope found an asteroid disguised as a comet? This is precisely what happened whenever asteroid P/2013 P5 was discovered².
While comets are generally easy to identify because of their bright, streaming tails, this is not the case with asteroids. It is because they have very little ice and are comprised mostly of rock and other heavier elements. This is why finding an asteroid with six tails was a fantastic discovery.
No one has a clue why P5 looks and behaves the way it does. Some believe that it might be rotating so rapidly that it is destroying itself. Its small gravitational field cannot withstand the powerful rotational that are ripping it apart. And it is the radiation pressure from various solar emissions that spreads all the debris and particles into remarkable, comet-like appendages.
The Distant Monster Planet
A distant monster planet known as HD 106906b has become a real dilemma for astronomers³. This massive planet is some 11 times bigger than Jupiter but has defied our understanding of planets and how they form.
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For instance, HD lies a mind-boggling 650 astronomical units (AU) from its parent star. To get a perspective of this, Neptune is the most distant planet in our solar system, yet it lies only 30 AU from the Sun.
Before the discovery of HD, scientists had long since concluded all the forces that cause the forming of planets would typically come undone by huge distances. Therefore, HD should not even exist — much less be a massive planet.
The Triple-Star System
Everyone knows that the Kepler Space Observatory spends most of its time hunting for new planets. However, there was a time that it spent four years observing three stars that are gravitationally bound to one another. This triple star system is known as KIC 28569⁶⁰⁴.
KIC consists of two small dwarf stars in a binary system that was in orbit with a third stellar body. Kepler observed four dips daily in the light curve when the dwarfs crossed one another every six hours. And it would observe another light dip every 204 days when the third star would eclipse the binary stars.
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The mystery surrounding KIC was in its data. Even after collecting four years’ worth of data, they could not calculate the stellar masses of the three stars. No matter how they crunched these numbers, none of their answers made any sense at all.
The only potential answer for the data that they’d collected was unthinkable. This triple star system might contain a fourth star, but if this were the case, its orbit would have to mimic that of the third star perfectly.
Uranus Is Stormy
Uranus has baffled astronomers. As the second-farthest planet in our solar system, Uranus is usually relatively calm. Yet for some crazy reason, raging storms have been taking place on its surface⁵.
These storms are expected when the planet reaches the equinox of its 82-year orbit, and they generally occur on its equator. Yet in 2007, its stormy weather refused to abate as the planet continued its trajectory around the Sun.
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Since Uranus has no internal heat source, it needs solar energy to fuel these storms. Astronomers at the University of Berkeley, California, noted the existence of these stormy in the upper region of this planet. Several of these storms are about the size of Earth as they spiral all through the planet’s atmosphere. These storms shine so intensely that large light patches can be easily observed on its surface.
No one understands how these storms on Uranus can exist without solar heat. Even when its northern hemisphere plunges into the shadow, it continues to host these violent storms.
The Odd Asteroid That Has Rings
All of the gas giants in our solar system are surrounded by rings. Most of these rings are comprised of celestial debris. Yet there was a time when astronomers observed a ring around an asteroid⁶. And it was quite unexpected.
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This asteroid was named Chariklo, and it was around 155 miles wide. Aside from being the largest body in its vicinity, it was actually an unremarkable piece of space rock. That all changed after its anomalous light signature was observed.
It was during the eclipse of a faraway star that an unexpected dip in light was noticed. The dimming led to the discovery of this unique asteroid.
A closer look revealed that Chariklo actually has two rings. The larger ring is 4 miles wide, while the smaller ring is around 2 miles wide.
Occasionally, some asteroids have their own moons, but never before was a ring found around one. This is what makes Chariklo very unique. No one knows anything about the origin of its mysterious rings. Most experts suspect it was the result of an impact with a foreign body.
: Paul Gilster. (March 16, 2017). Titan: Nitrogen Bubbles and ‘Magic Islands’. https://www.centauri-dreams.org/2017/03/16/titan-nitrogen-bubbles-and-magic-islands/.
: Ron Cowen. (November 8, 2013). Hubble Space Telescope spots unprecedented asteroid with six tails. https://www.nature.com/news/hubble-space-telescope-spots-unprecedented-asteroid-with-six-tails-1.14133.
: Vanessa Bailey. (December 9, 2013). Newly Discovered Exoplanet HD 106906 b is Unlike Anything in Our Own Solar System. https://scitechdaily.com/newly-discovered-exoplanet-hd-106906-b-unlike-anything-solar-system/.
: Brian Koberlein. (September 9, 2014). The impossible triple star KIC 2856960. https://phys.org/news/2014-09-impossible-triple-star-kic.html.
: Robert Sanders. (November 13, 2014). No One’s Sure Why Uranus is so Stormy. https://www.futurity.org/uranus-planet-storms-801552/.
: Nola Taylor Redd. (March 26, 2014). Asteroid Found with Rings! First-of-Its-Kind Discovery Stuns Astronomers. https://www.space.com/25225-asteroid-rings-discovery-video-images.html.