Dark Star Clusters: A ‘that’s weird’ Moment

It sounds like something out of a science fiction novel.  The incredible and rare dark star cluster, hiding the evil super villain’s headquarters.  A dark star cluster is something I would imagine as a spooky, eerie type of place where everything you see changes when you enter its space. Science fiction aside, a dark star cluster is real, and it’s a new type of cluster that is similar to the mighty dense globular clusters that orbit most galaxies.  Globular clusters orbit in a halo of space around the centres of galaxies, and though our Milky Way harbours 150 of them,...

Ancient Black Hole Larger than Current Theories can Handle

The thing about black holes is that they are very dense.  If we took the entire 2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Kg of the Sun (This is the real mass of the Sun) and turned it into a black hole, it would be about 6 Km in diameter. It is theorized that there are around 100 Million Black holes in the Milky Way Galaxy alone.  But if they aren’t near a large reservoir of gas and dust, with their small size they are pretty harmless and invisible.  The only way we could find them would be through their gravitational influence, which is hard to...

Black Holes and Dark Matter: Two Crazy Concepts Related?

Every single massive galaxy has a black hole at its center, and bigger galaxies have bigger black holes.  It almost seems like a natural progression, with a bigger galaxy meaning more stars and material to feed a bigger black hole.  However, most of that material doesn’t make it to the central black hole. So how does a massive galaxy with hundreds of billions of stars spread out over hundreds of thousands of light years contribute to a black hole that at most is solar system sized? The answer might lie in another elusive and enigmatic gem of the universe: Dark...

The Gold Rush of the Galaxy – Exoplanets

I’ve always been a fan of data visualization.  We have so much raw data in the world that can reveal incredible information about our Universe, and the only thing stopping us is the time to analyse it all.  Sometime data visualizations pop up that really put things into perspective, help us see trends that we didn’t know of before, and offer insights into where we should look in the future.  I feel like I find something amazing that someone has produced on a daily basis, and being able to visualize complex data can give anyone a deeper understanding of the...

Do You Weigh Less When the Moon is Above You?

Everything in the universe that has mass, has gravity.  It’s easy to understand that the Earth has gravity and pulls on us all day every day.  It’s just as easy to understand that the Moon and the planets and the Sun have gravity too, and they are all pulling on us. It’s much harder to understand that every person on Earth has gravity too.  You exert a force on the Earth, and on every other human.  You also exert a force on every rock, tree, and creature that roams the Earth, and they all exert a force on you.  The...

Best Ever Image of a Cometary Globule: Also What is a Cometary Globule?

The best ever image of a Cometary Globule has been released by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Atacama desert in Chile. It looks a lot like a nebula right? In actuality a cometary globule is a very specific type of nebula.  It’s very faint, and it’s formation is a matter of debate among the astronomical community.  A cometary globule is small, containing the mass of a few suns worth of material.  Compare this to a typical nebula, which has enough material to form thousands or even hundreds of thousands of stars. The...

Three New Earth Sized Planets Found Orbiting Distant Star

As the Kepler Space Telescope continues work on its second mission, the slow trickle of new exoplanet discoveries has begun.  In the past few weeks scientists working with Kepler data have been able to identify new planets, and of course the variation continues to surprise us all. Most Recently, Kepler discovered a system of three planets orbiting the nearby red dwarf star EPIC 201367065, which is about half the size and mass of the Sun.  The planets are all super-Earths, being only 2.1, 1.7, and 1.5 times the size of Earth and receiving 10.5, 3.2 and 1.4 times the light intensity of Earth...

Exoplanets are Hot! Travel plans and 1 Million new Destinations!

NASA is sure to start selling trips to these fabulous space destinations! The only problem is that we have no way of getting there, or more importantly, back home.  Still the posters give a great homage to the ‘see America’ posters of the 1920s, and they sure make me want to visit. Kepler 186f is a habitable zone planet around a red dwarf star, meaning it could support liquid water.  If any plant life forms on this planet, it would photosynthesize differently, potentially giving it a red colour palette. HD 403007g is a planet with 8 times the mass of Earth....

2 Million Kph Wind from the Milky Way Core!

I thought Hurricanes had powerful winds.   The strongest wind ever recorded was a gust up to 400 Kph near a tropical cyclone in Australia.  But Earthbound wind has nothing on Galactic wind. Around the time when our ancestors were just learning to walk upright, the core of the Milky Way Galaxy unleashed a blast of gasses and material at 2 Million Kph. Millions of years later, we see the aftermath of this eruption as two massive bubbles of material blown out above and below the galactic centre, at least 30,000 Light Years tall! The lobes were discovered by the...

Finding ‘Baby Earth’ Planets is Easier than we Thought

Space is Big.  I say this often, but it is so vast we can’t even comprehend the emptiness of it.  We see Billions upon Billions of stars, all taunting us with their shine, seemingly close but completely unreachable. How do we know which stars we should spend our time looking at? We don’t really have the time to scan through each star in detail, so what are the criteria for taking a closer look? Generally we look at a population of stars to gain an understanding of each life stage, and then we look at the oldest and youngest to determine...