Hubble telescope spies water raining on distant world

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SCIENCE)

 

Hubble telescope spies water raining on distant world

The exoplanet is just twice the diameter of Earth, and could potentially host life.
The Hubble Space Telescope following grapple of the giant observatory by the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

The Hubble Space Telescope can see exoplanets when they pass in front of their stars. Credit: NASA

Astronomers have spotted hints of water raining in the atmosphere of a planet beyond the Solar System.

The discovery is a rare glimpse of water molecules around a distant world that is not much bigger than Earth. Named K2-18 b, the planet is 34 parsecs (110 light-years) from Earth in the constellation Leo. Notably, it lies in the ‘habitable zone’ around its star — the distance at which liquid water could exist, making extraterrestrial life possible in its hydrogen-rich atmosphere.

“That’s the exciting thing about this planet,” says Björn Benneke, a planetary astronomer at the University of Montreal in Canada. He is the lead author of a paper describing the discovery that was posted on the arXiv preprint server on 10 September1.

A competing team of scientists reports their own analysis of the same planet on 11 September in Nature Astronomy2. That paper′s lead author, planetary astronomer Angelos Tsairas of the University College London (UCL), says that the finding is exciting because the planet is just twice the diameter of Earth, and because little is known about the atmospheres of such small worlds.

Astronomers have previously found water in the atmospheres of gas-giant exoplanets, but studying a distant planet’s atmosphere gets harder as the planet gets smaller. Scientists have been pushing the limits to try to scrutinize planets that are smaller than Neptune but larger than Earth — a category that turns out to be surprisingly common among the thousands of exoplanets found so far.

Flickering light

Benneke and his colleagues decided to look at K2-18 b because it falls in that range. They used the Hubble Space Telescope to watch as the planet passed in front of its star, temporarily dimming its light, on eight different occasions.

The scientists analysed how the color of the star’s light changed as it filtered through the planet’s atmosphere. They combined this with data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, which examines more wavelengths of light. The researchers concluded that they were seeing water vapor in the planet′s atmosphere as well as signs that that vapor was condensing into liquid water.

It is the first time astronomers have seen such a water cycle — changing from gas to liquid and back again — on a small, distant world.

The UCL team that authored the second paper analysed the Hubble data from Benneke’s group. The observations had been uploaded to a publicly accessible archive immediately after being collected.

The UCL researchers came up with three possible explanations for what they were seeing, any one of which is equally likely. In the first scenario, the planet has no clouds and 20–50% of its atmosphere is water. In the second and third scenarios, which involve different amounts of clouds and other molecules in the atmosphere, the planet’s atmosphere contains between 0.01% and 12.5% water.

Further questions

But the presence of water alone doesn’t mean that a planet is a good place to look for life, a point illustrated by one of Earth’s closest neighbors, Venus. It’s an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of its star that once had water vapor in its atmosphere — but the Sun’s rays have stripped away much of that water, leaving its surface barren.

K2-18 b might be equally unpromising. “It is highly unlikely that this world is habitable in any way that we understand based on life as we know it,” says Hannah Wakeford, a planetary astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

Still, finding water in the planet’s atmosphere is “extremely exciting”, says Neale Gibson, an astrophysicist at Trinity College Dublin, “and the fact that two teams find the same result is very encouraging”. Future observations, such as those that the James Webb Space Telescope will collect after its planned 2021 launch, should help pin down exactly what this distant world is like.

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-02721-2

References

  1. 1.

    Benneke, B. et al. Preprint at http://arxiv.org/abs/1909.04642(2019).

Russia’s Humanoid Skybot Robot in Space Commits Twitter Photo Faux-Pas Ahead of Landing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SCIENCE.COM)

 

Russia’s Humanoid Skybot Robot in Space Commits Twitter Photo Faux-Pas Ahead of Landing

After launching to the International Space Station last month, Skybot F-850, everyone’s favorite, terrifying, humanoid Russian robot, tweeted out a picture of Earth that’s causing quite a commotion.

On Aug. 31, the bot, which is one of the latest versions of Russia’s FEDOR robots, tweeted out a picture of the Earth from the space station alongside the caption (roughly translated from Russian) “At the end of the working day, I admire our Earth from the porthole of the “Union MS-14.” She is beautiful. Studying and exploring space makes people smarter and makes them act together. And we, machines created by people, are ready to help our creators move on.” Union MS-14 is the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft that delivered Skybot F-850 to the station.

Video: Watch Russia’s Humanoid Skybot Use a Drill in Space
Related: 
Real-Life ‘Replicants’: 6 Humanoid Robots Used for Space Exploration

FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

В конце рабочего дня любуюсь нашей Землёй из иллюминатора “Союза МС-14”. Она прекрасна.
Изучение и освоение космоса делает людей более умными и заставляет действовать сообща.
А мы, созданные людьми машины, готовы помогать нашим создателям идти дальше

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But, while this seemed like a fairly innocuous post (and probably one of FEDOR’s least thrilling photos), it came to light that this wasn’t actually a photo from the space-bot. The image of Earth which shows the Strait of Gibraltar on Earth that FEDOR tweeted out was actually taken and originally shared by NASA Astronaut Doug Wheelock in September, 2010, just about 9 years ago.

Doug Wheelock

@Astro_Wheels

A view of the Iberian Peninsula, the Strait of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean, and northern Africa . A special ‘shou http://twitpic.com/2ndq3b

318 people are talking about this

Russia’s Skybot F-850 humanoid robot holds a Russian flag with cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin for a photo in the Zvezda service module of the International Space Station in this photo released Sept.

(Image credit: Roscosmos via Twitter)

People quickly noticed the mix-up, labeling the robot as a plagiarist. And yes, passing off someone else’s photo as your own fits that bill. But at least Skybot is safe from copyright infringement. The photo, while taken and shared by Wheelock, is not owned by the astronaut and would technically be credited to NASA, and NASA’s media library is public domain.

So at least there’s that, Skybot.

Blastoff! Russian Humanoid Robot Launches to Space Station
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Skybot F-850 has spent the last few weeks completing experiments aboard the space station. The robot will start making its way home to Earth today (Sept. 6) as the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft undocks from the space station.

The uncrewed Soyuz spacecraft carrying Skybot F-850 and other gear will undock from the International Space Station at 2:13 p.m. EDT (1913 GMT). It is scheduled to land on the steppes of south-central Kazakhstan at 5:35 p.m. EDT (2135 GMT). It will be 3:35 p.m. local time at the landing site.

Here’s a look back at some of the memorable moments aboard the space station that Skybot F-850 tweeted about, from its first look around the Soyuz craft to when it wore mittens and the time it wielded a drill that happened to be pointed at a cosmonaut.

FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Всем привет! Я Skybot F-859. Для своих – просто Фёдор. Сейчас я знакомлюсь с системой управления корабля “Союз МС-14”, на котором планирую полететь к 22 августа 2019 года.

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FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

2 часа до пуска. Ракета заправлена. Телеметрические датчики и системы включены.

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142 people are talking about this

FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Прошу прощения за задержку. Застрял в пробке. Готов к продолжению работы.

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893 people are talking about this

FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

В соответствии с ранее утверждённым планом меня разместили в МИМ2. Это не самое комфортное место особенно с учётом того, что именно аппаратура МИМ2 дала сбой на ближнем участке стыковки август, 24, 2019. Провожу диагностику оборудования. Надеюсь, что именно мне доверят его ремонт

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FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Алексей Николаевич и Александр Александрович. Космонавты @roscosmos , герои России. Для них я просто Фёдор, для экипажа – я Skybot F-850.
Чувствую лёгкость в приводах. К работе готов. При подключении экзоскелета были проблемы с управлением кистью левой руки. Сейчас номинал

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FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Сегодня космонавт Алексей Николаевич Овчинин при запуске моей операционной системы предложил использовать молоток и гаечный ключ. Пришлось произвести автозапуск во избежание возникновения дальнейший проблем в диалоге с Алексеем Николаевичем.

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420 people are talking about this

FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Начали тренировки. При выполнении космонавтом технологических операций я помогал ему в выборе необходимого инструмента. Потом в режиме копирования успешно собрал электросоединители, имитируя ремонт кабелей на внешнем борту станции. Сейчас мирно беседую с Алексеем Николаевичем

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239 people are talking about this

FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Здесь я работаю с различными инструментами.

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249 people are talking about this

FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Так я пытался состыковать электросоединители. Эта операция входит в перечень операций в рамках внекорабельной деятельности. Зачёт

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FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Добрый вечер, друзья! Я Skybot F-850 приветствую вас с орбиты МКС!
Мы продолжаем эксперименты, открывающиеся возможности использования в космосе антропоморфных роботов. Работы много. А в свободное время любуюсь нашей планетой.
7 сентября запланировано моё возвращение на Землю.

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375 people are talking about this

FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Добрый день! Сегодня провели серию работ с бортовыми инструментами, которые могут понадобиться для внекорабельной деятельности. Работа с электродрелью проходила под постоянным контролем Алексея Николаевича Овчинина

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FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Я снова в кресле командира “Союза”!
При спуске на Землю будет проведено ещё одно испытание: на корабле вместо аналоговой системы управления спуском на базе свободного гироскопа теперь стоит СУ на базе цифрового прибора БИУС с использованием оптоволоконных гироскопов.
Скоро домой!

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231 people are talking about this

FEDOR@FEDOR37516789

Судя по радиообмену с ЦУПом, все, кто на Земле, уехали на космодром Восточный.
Тем временем наш экипаж продолжает укладку снаряжения в мой “Союз МС-14”, проводит диагностику аппаратуры.
До возвращения на Землю осталось совсем немного времени

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correctly note that Russia’s Skybot did, indeed, appear to plagiarize NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock’s photo of Earth from space.

Follow Chelsea Gohd on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at [email protected]

‘Einstein’s Biggest Blunder’ May Have Finally Been Fixed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF LIVE SCIENCE)

 

‘Einstein’s Biggest Blunder’ May Have Finally Been Fixed

an illustration of two galaxies on their sides, in a web of lines meant to illustrate dark energy

An illustration of galaxies bending the fabric of space-time (green), and the smooth effect of dark energy (purple), which dominates the effects of gravity.
(Image: © NASA/JPL-Caltech)

There is a fundamental problem in physics.

A single number, called the cosmological constant, bridges the microscopic world of quantum mechanics and the macroscopic world of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. But neither theory can agree on its value.

In fact, there’s such a huge discrepancy between the observed value of  this constant and what theory predicts that it is widely considered the worst prediction in the history of physics. Resolving the discrepancy may be the most important goal of theoretical physics this century.

Lucas Lombriser, an assistant professor of theoretical physics at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, has introduced a new way of evaluating Albert Einstein’s equations of gravity to find a value for the cosmological constant that closely matches its observed value. He published his method online in the Oct. 10 issue of the journal Physics Letters B.

How Einstein’s biggest blunder became dark energy

The story of the cosmological constant began more than a century ago when Einstein presented a set of equations, now known as the Einstein field equations, that became the framework of his theory of general relativity. The equations explain how matter and energy warp the fabric of space and time to create the force of gravity. At the time, both Einstein and astronomers agreed that the universe was fixed in size and that the overall space between galaxies did not change. However, when Einstein applied general relativity to the universe as a whole, his theory predicted an unstable universe that would either expand or contract. To force the universe to be static, Einstein tacked on the cosmological constant.

Nearly a decade later, another physicist, Edwin Hubble, discovered that our universe is not static, but expanding. The light from distant galaxies showed they were all moving away from each other. This revelation persuaded Einstein to abandon the cosmological constant from his field equations as it was no longer necessary to explain an expanding universe. Physics lore has it that Einstein later confessed that his introduction of the cosmological constant was perhaps his greatest blunder.

In 1998, observations of distant supernovas showed the universe wasn’t just expanding, but the expansion was speeding up. Galaxies were accelerating away from each other as if some unknown force was overcoming gravity and shoving those galaxies apart. Physicists have named this enigmatic phenomenon dark energy, as its true nature remains a mystery.

In a twist of irony, physicists once again reintroduced the cosmological constant into Einstein’s field equations to account for dark energy. In the current standard model of cosmology, known as ΛCDM (Lambda CDM), the cosmological constant is interchangeable with dark energy. Astronomers have even estimated its value based on observations of distant supernovas and fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background. Although the value is absurdly small (on the order of 10^-52 per square meter), over the scale of the universe, it is significant enough to explain the accelerated expansion of space.

“The cosmological constant [or dark energy] currently constitutes about 70% of the energy content in our universe, which is what we can infer from the observed accelerated expansion that our universe is presently undergoing. Yet this constant is not understood,” Lombriser said. “Attempts to explain it have failed, and there seems to be something fundamental that we are missing in how we understand the cosmos. Unraveling this puzzle is one of the major research areas in modern physics. It is generally anticipated that resolving the issue may lead us to a more fundamental understanding of physics.”

Related: 8 Ways You Can See Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in Real Life

The worst theoretical prediction in the history of physics

The cosmological constant is thought to represent what physicists call “vacuum energy.” Quantum-field theory states that even in a completely empty vacuum of space, virtual particles pop in and out of existence and create energy — a seemingly absurd idea, but one that has been observed experimentally. The problem arises when physicists attempt to calculate its contribution to the cosmological constant. Their result differs from observations by a mind-boggling factor of 10^121 (that’s 10 followed by 120 zeroes), the largest discrepancy between theory and experiment in all of physics.

Such a disparity has caused some physicists to doubt Einstein’s original equations of gravity; some have even suggested alternative models of gravity. However, further evidence of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) have only strengthened general relativity and dismissed many of these alternative theories. Which is why instead of rethinking gravity, Lombriser took a different approach to solve this cosmic puzzle.

“The mechanism I propose does not modify Einstein’s field equations,” Lombriser said. Instead, “it adds an additional equation on top of Einstein’s field equations.”

The gravitational constant, which was first used in Isaac Newton’s laws of gravity and now an essential part of Einstein’s field equations, describes the magnitude of  the gravitational force between objects. It is considered one of the fundamental constants of physics, eternally unchanged since the beginning of the universe. Lombriser has made the dramatic assumption that this constant can change.

In Lombriser’s modification of general relativity, the gravitational constant remains the same within our observable universe but may vary beyond it. He suggests a multiverse scenario where there may be patches of the universe invisible to us that have different values for the fundamental constants.

This variation of gravity gave Lombriser an additional equation that relates the cosmological constant to the average sum of matter across space-time. After he accounted for the estimated mass of all the galaxies, stars and dark matter of the universe, he could solve that new equation to obtain a new value for the cosmological constant — one that closely agrees with observations.

Using a new parameter, ΩΛ (omega lambda), that expresses the fraction of the universe made of dark matter, he found the universe is made up of about 74% dark energy. This number closely matches the value of 68.5% estimated from observations — a tremendous improvement over the huge disparity found by quantum field theory.

Although Lombriser’s framework might solve the cosmological constant problem, there’s currently no way to test it. But in the future, if experiments from other theories validate his equations,  it could mean a major leap in our understanding of dark energy and provide a tool to solve other cosmic mysteries.

Originally published on Live Science.

Something Strange Is Happening in the Fermi Bubbles

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SPACE.COM)

 

Something Strange Is Happening in the Fermi Bubbles

The Fermi Bubbles are two enormous orbs of gas and cosmic rays that tower over the Milky Way, covering a region roughly as large as the galaxy itself. These giant space bubbles may be fueled by a strong outflow of matter from the center of the Milky Way.

The Fermi Bubbles are two enormous orbs of gas and cosmic rays that tower over the Milky Way, covering a region roughly as large as the galaxy itself. These giant space bubbles may be fueled by a strong outflow of matter from the center of the Milky Way.
(Image: © NASA Goddard)

Paul M. Sutter is an astrophysicist at The Ohio State University, host of Ask a Spaceman and Space Radio, and author of “Your Place in the Universe.” Sutter contributed this article to Space.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights

In 2010, astronomers working with the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope announced the discovery of two giant blobs. These blobs were centered on the core of the Milky Way galaxy, but they extended above and below the plane of our galactic home for over 25,000 light-years. Their origins are still a mystery, but however they got there, they are emitting copious amounts of high-energy radiation.

More recently, the Ice Cube array in Antarctica has reported 10 super-duper-high-energy neutrinos sourced from the bubbles, leading some astrophysicists to speculate that some crazy subatomic interactions are afoot. The end result: the Fermi Bubbles are even more mysterious than we thought.

Related: Huge Milky Way Gas Bubbles Clocked at 2 Million Mph

Two giant blobs of hot gas

It’s not easy to make big balls of hot gas. For starters, you need energy, and a lot of it. The kind of energy that can spread hot gas to a distance of over 25,000 light-years doesn’t come easily to a typical galaxy. However, the peculiar orientation of the Fermi Bubbles — extending evenly above and below our galactic center — is a strong clue that they might be tied our central super massive black hole, known as Sagittarius A*.

Perhaps millions of years ago, Sag A* (the more common name for our giant black hole, because who wants to keep typing or saying “Sagittarius” all the time?) ate a giant meal and got a bad case of indigestion, with the in-falling material heating up, twisting around in a complicated dance of electric and magnetic forces, and managing to escape the clutches of the event horizon before falling in. That material, energized beyond belief, raced away from the center of the galaxy, riding on jets of particles accelerated to nearly the speed of light. As they fled to safety, these particles spread and thinned out, but maintained their energetic state to the present day.

Or perhaps a star wandered too close to Sag A* and was ripped to shreds, releasing all that potent gravitational energy in a single violent episode, leading to the formation of the bubbles. Or maybe it had nothing to do with Sag A* itself, but the multitude of stars in the core — perhaps dozens or hundreds of those densely packed stars went supernova at around the same time, ejecting these plumes of gas beyond the confines of the galactic more.

Or maybe none of the above.

No matter what, the bubbles are here, they’re big, and we don’t understand them.

Related: 8 Baffling Astronomy Mysteries

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NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope – 10 Years of Discoveries
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Gamma and the neutrino

You can’t see the Fermi Bubbles with your naked eye. Despite their high temperatures, the gas inside them is incredibly thin, rendering them all but invisible. But something within them is capable of making the highest-energy kind of light there is: gamma rays, which is how the Fermi team spotted them.

We think that the gamma rays are produced within the bubbles by cosmic rays, which themselves are high-energy particles (do you get the overall “high energy” theme here?). Those particles, mostly electrons but probably some heavier fellas too, knock about, emitting the distinctive gamma rays.

But gamma rays aren’t the only things that high-energy particles can produce. Sometimes the cosmic rays interact with each other, perform some complicated subatomic dance of matter and energy, and release a neutrino, an almost-mass-less particle that only interacts with other particles via the weak nuclear force (which means it hardly ever interacts with normal matter at all).

The Ice Cube Observatory, situated at the geographic south pole, uses a cubic kilometer of pure Antarctic water ice as a neutrino detector: every once in a rare while, a high-energy neutrino passing through the ice interacts with a water molecule, setting up a domino-like chain reaction that leads to a shower of more familiar particles and a telltale flash of light.

Due to the nature of its detectors, Ice Cube isn’t the greatest when it comes to pinpointing the exact origin location for a neutrino. But to date, it has found 10 of these little ghosts coming from roughly the direction of the two Fermi Bubbles.

Is this coincidence, or conspiracy?

When Galaxies Blow Space Bubbles
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A subatomic puzzle

So something could be producing these extremely exotic neutrinos inside the Fermi Bubbles. Or not — it could just be a coincidence, and the neutrinos are really coming from some distant part of the universe behind the Bubbles.

What’s more, somehow the cosmic rays are producing all the gamma rays, though we’re not exactly sure how. Perhaps we might get lucky: maybe there’s a single set of interactions inside the Bubbles that produces both gamma rays and the right kind of neutrinos that can be detected by IceCube. That would be a big step up in explaining the physics of the Bubbles themselves, and give us a huge clue as to their origins.

Recently, a team of researchers pored through the available data, even adding results from the newly operational High Altitude Water Cherenkov detector (a super-awesome ground-based gamma ray telescope), and combined that information with various theoretical models for the Bubbles, searching for just the right combo.

In one possible scenario, protons inside the Bubbles occasionally slam into each other and produce pions, which are exotic particles that quickly decay into gamma rays. In another one, the flood of high-energy electrons in the Bubbles interacts with the ever-present radiation of the cosmic microwave background, boosting some lucky photons into the gamma regime. In a third, shock waves at the outer edges of the Bubbles use magnetic fields to drive local but lethargic particles to high velocities, which then begin emitting cosmic rays.

But try as they might, the authors of this study couldn’t find any of the scenarios (or any combination of these scenarios) to fit all the data. In short, we still don’t know what drives the gamma ray emission from the Bubbles, whether the Bubbles also produce neutrinos, or what made the Bubbles in the first place. But this is exactly how science is done: collecting data, ruling out hypotheses, and forging onward.

Read more: “Correlation of high energy neutrinos and gamma rays on the direction of Fermi Bubbles

You can listen to the Ask A Spaceman podcast on iTunes, and on the Web athttp://www.askaspaceman.com. Ask your own question on Twitter using #AskASpaceman, or by following Paul @PaulMattSutter and facebook.com/PaulMattSutter. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at [email protected]

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Is Finally 100% Assembled

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SPACE.COM)

 

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Is Finally 100% Assembled

The fully assembled James Webb Space Telescope with its sunshield and “unitized pallet structures” (which fold up around the telescope for launch) are seen partially deployed to an open configuration to enable telescope installation.

The fully assembled James Webb Space Telescope with its sun shield and “unitized pallet structures” (which fold up around the telescope for launch) are seen partially deployed to an open configuration to enable telescope installation.
(Image: © NASA/Chris Gunn)

NASA’s next big space observatory has finally come together.

Engineers have joined both halves of the $9.7 billion James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to launch in March 2021, NASA officials announced today (Aug. 28).

“The assembly of the telescope and its scientific instruments, sun shield and the spacecraft into one observatory represents an incredible achievement by the entire Webb team,” Webb project manager Bill Ochs, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement.

“This milestone symbolizes the efforts of thousands of dedicated individuals for over more than 20 years across NASA, the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, Northrop Grumman and the rest of our industrial and academic partners,” Ochs added.

Related: Building the James Webb Space Telescope (Gallery)

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NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, the agency's next giant space telescope, is seen completely assembled for the first time at Northrop Grumman’s facilities in Redondo Beach, California in this image released Aug. 28, 2019.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the agency’s next giant space telescope, is seen completely assembled for the first time at Northrop Grumman’s facilities in Redondo Beach, California in this image released Aug. 28, 2019.
(Image credit: NASA/Chris Gunn)

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, post-integration, inside Northrop Grumman’s cleanroom facilities in Redondo Beach, California.

A side view of the James Webb Space Telescope after its spacecraft and telescope sections were assembled.
(Image credit: NASA/Chris Gunn)

Integration teams carefully guide Webb’s suspended telescope section into place above its Spacecraft Element just prior to integration.

The James Webb Space Telescope’s optical section (top) is carefully lowered into place on its Spacecraft Element in this view taken just before integration.
(Image credit: NASA/Chris Gunn)

The recent work took place at the Redondo Beach, California, facilities of Northrop Grumman, the prime contractor for Webb, which NASA bills as the successor to the iconic Hubble Space Telescope.

Using a crane, engineers gently lowered the telescope element, which consists of the optical and scientific gear, onto the spacecraft body. Webb’s complex, fold-able sun shield, which will keep the telescope’s instruments cool during operation, was already connected to the spacecraft segment.

The team then connected the two halves mechanically. Technicians still need to make, and then test, the electrical connections between the pieces, NASA officials said.

The assembly milestone was a long time coming; the Webb Space Telescope mission has endured a series of delays and cost overruns. Since 2009, for example, the project’s price tag has almost doubled, and its target launch date has been pushed back by nearly seven years.

But the telescope’s great scientific potential makes all that hard work and struggle worthwhile, NASA officials have said. The powerful Webb, which is optimized to view the universe in infrared light, will allow astronomers to address some of the biggest cosmic questions once it’s up and running at the sun-Earth Lagrange Point 2, a gravitationally stable point in space about 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth.

Researchers will use the observatory to hunt for signs of life in the atmospheres of nearby alien planets, for example, and to study the formation of the universe’s first stars and galaxies about 13.5 billion years ago.

“This is an exciting time to now see all Webb’s parts finally joined together into a single observatory for the very first time,” Gregory Robinson, the Webb program director at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., said in the same statement. “The engineering team has accomplished a huge step forward, and soon we will be able to see incredible new views of our amazing universe.”

Mike Wall’s book about the search for alien life, “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at [email protected]

Astronomers Uncover Dozens of Previously Unknown Ancient and Massive Galaxies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ASTRONOMY TODAY)

 

Astronomers Uncover Dozens of Previously Unknown Ancient and Massive Galaxies

For decades, astronomers have been trying to see as far as they can into the deep Universe. By observing the cosmos as it was shortly after the Big Bang, astrophysicists and cosmologists hope to learn all they can about the early formation of the Universe and its subsequent evolution. Thanks to instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have been able to see parts of the Universe that were previously inaccessible.

But even the venerable Hubble is incapable of seeing all that was taking place during the early Universe. However, using the combined power of some of the newest astronomical observatories from around the world, a team of international astronomers led by Tokyo University’s Institute of Astronomy observed 39 previously-undiscovered ancient galaxies, a find that could have major implications for astronomy and cosmology.

The team behind the discovery included members from Tokyo University’s Institute of Astronomy, the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), the Anhui Normal University in China, the University of Ludwig-Maximilians in Munich, the National Astronomical Observatories of China, and the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA) in Taiwan. Their research appeared in the Aug. 7th issue of Nature.

Artist impression of galaxies detected by ALMA as they appear in the very early, very distant universe. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF; S. Dagnello

Spotting the “Invisible”

To put it simply, the earliest possible galaxies in the Universe have remained invisible until now because their light is very faint and occurs at long wavelengths that are undetectable by Hubble. The team therefore turned to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array(ALMA), whose telescopes are optimized for viewing this kind of light.

The discovery that resulted was not only unprecedented, but the discovery of this many galaxies of this type defies current cosmological models. As Tao Wang, a researcher from the AISAA and a co-author on the study, explained:

“This is the first time that such a large population of massive galaxies was confirmed during the first 2 billion years of the 13.7-billion-year life of the universe. These were previously invisible to us. This finding contravenes current models for that period of cosmic evolution and will help to add some details, which have been missing until now.”

These galaxies, though they were the largest in existence at the time, were still very difficult to spot. Much of the reason has to do with the extent to which their light has been stretched by the expansion of the Universe. In everyday astronomy, this phenomena is known as redshift, where the expansion of space (the Hubble Constant) causes the wavelength of light to become elongated, shifting it towards the red end of the spectrum.

This allows astronomers to not only tell how distant an object is, but what that object looked like in the past. But when looking to the very earliest epoch of the Universe (over 13 billion years ago) the immense distance stretches the wavelength of visible light to the point where it is no longer in the domain of visible light and becomes infrared.

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captured this stunning infrared image of the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, where the black hole Sagitarrius A resides. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Another reason these galaxies are difficult to spot is that larger galaxies tend to be shrouded in dust, especially when they are still in the early parts of their formation. This tends to obscure them more than their smaller galactic counterparts. For these reasons, there was some suspicion that these galaxies were not as old as the team suggested. As Wang indicated:

“It was tough to convince our peers these galaxies were as old as we suspected them to be. Our initial suspicions about their existence came from the Spitzer Space Telescope’s infrared data. But ALMA has sharp eyes and revealed details at submillimeter wavelengths, the best wavelength to peer through dust present in the early universe. Even so, it took further data from the imaginatively named Very Large Telescope in Chile to really prove we were seeing ancient massive galaxies where none had been seen before.”

What Does This Mean for Astronomy?

Since the discovery of these galaxies defies our current cosmological models, the team’s findings naturally have some significant implications for astronomers. As Kotaro Kohno, a professor with the Institute of Astronomy and a co-author on the study, explained:

“The more massive a galaxy, the more massive the supermassive black hole at its heart. So the study of these galaxies and their evolution will tell us more about the evolution of supermassive black holes, too,” added Kohno. “Massive galaxies are also intimately connected with the distribution of invisible dark matter. This plays a role in shaping the structure and distribution of galaxies. Theoretical researchers will need to update their theories now.”

Ancient galaxies from the study are visible to ALMA (right) but not to Hubble (left). Credit: Wang (et al.) 2019

Another interesting find was the ways in which these 39 ancient galaxies differ from our own. For starters, these galaxies had a higher density of stars than the Milky Way does today; which means that if our galaxy were similar, stargazers would be seeing something very different when they looked up at the night sky.

“For one thing, the night sky would appear far more majestic. The greater density of stars means there would be many more stars close by appearing larger and brighter,” said Wang. “But conversely, the large amount of dust means farther-away stars would be far less visible, so the background to these bright close stars might be a vast dark void.”

Since this is the first time that a galactic population of this kind has been discovered, astronomers are looking forward to what else they might find. As it stands, even ALMA is not sophisticated enough to investigate the chemical compositions and stellar populations of these galaxies. However, next-generation observatories will have the resolution for astrnomers to conduct these studies.

These include the James Webb Space Telescope, which is currently slated for launch in 2021. Ground-based observatories like the ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) and the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) are also likely to play a vital role.

It’s an exciting time for astronomers and cosmologists. Ever so slowly, they are peeling back another layer of the Universe to see what secrets lurk beneath!

Further Reading: University of Tokyo

Space travel breakthrough: could cover 3.6 Million miles per day passes test

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK EXPRESS)

Space travel breakthrough: Spacecraft which cover 3.6 Million miles per day passes test

A SPACESHIP which is so fast it could travel 3.6 million miles per day has been successfully tested in Earth’s orbit.

LightSail 2: Planetary Society demonstrates solar sail spacecraft

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The Lightsail 2 craft is an experiment to prove the practical application of a controlled ‘solar sail’, which has the ability to far outstrip traditional rocket engines. The revolutionary mission was launched on June 25 and developed by ‘The Planetary Society’, based in the US. The voyage became the first ever to demonstrate solar sailing and used energy from the Sun to orbit Earth.

The tiny 10x10x30cm spacecraft was powered with propelled sunlight bouncing off its mirrored sails.

The exploration used thin plastic sheets to gather the momentum from the Sun.

Most notably the spacecraft was able to manoeuvre without the need for fuel or engines.

science

The Lightsail 2 was successful in its orbit around Earth (Image: AP)

science

The voyage became the first ever to demonstrate solar sailing (Image: The Planetary Society)

Bruce Betts LightSail program manager and Planetary Society chief scientist hailed the groundbreaking mission.

Mr Betts said: “We’re thrilled to announce mission success for LightSail 2.

“Our criteria was to demonstrate controlled solar sailing in a CubeSat by changing the spacecraft’s orbit using only the light pressure of the Sun, something that’s never been done before.

READ MORE: Sun explosion: Terrifying moment Sun shockwave sends particles flying

Science

The exploitation used thin plastic sheets to gather the momentum from the Sun (Image: GETTY)

“I’m enormously proud of this team. It’s been a long road and we did it.”

Leading scientist and Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye said the mission was a “game-changer” for further space exploration.

He said: ”For The Planetary Society, this moment has been decades in the making.

“Carl Sagan talked about solar sailing when I was in his class in 1977. But the idea goes back at least to 1607, when Johannes Kepler noticed that comet tails must be created by energy from the Sun.

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Lightsail: An artist impression of the space craft in orbit

Lightsail: An artist impression of the space craft in orbit (Image: PA)

Lightsail: The designs were released on the launch of the spacecraft

Lightsail: The designs were released on the launch of the spacecraft (Image: PA)

“The LightSail 2 mission is a game-changer for spaceflight and advancing space exploration.”

The LightSail 2 is a crowdfunded mission and involved donations from 50,000 people from across the world.

Jennifer Vaughn Planetary Society CEO said the mission can be a “paradigm shift” to get more people involved in space missions.

Ms Vaughn said: “LightSail 2 proves the power of public support.

Lightsail: The Planetary Society tweeted out the last information emitted from the spacecraft

Lightsail: The Planetary Society tweeted out the last information emitted from the spacecraft (Image: TWITTER•@exploreplanets)

“This moment could mark a paradigm shift that opens up space exploration to more players.

“It amazes me that 50,000 people came together to fly a solar sail.

“Imagine if that number became 500,000 or 5 million. It’s a thrilling concept.”

In a statement on the Planetary Society Twitter account, the team wrote: “LightSail2 is now the highest performing solar sail to date and it’s 100% crowdfunded by our members and backers!”

History of solar sailing

• The idea for solar sailing dates back to the 17th century
• NASA came up with the plan for a solar sail to Halley’s comet in the 1970s
• Russia teamed up with the Planetary Society for a doomed solar test for Cosmos 1 in 2001 and 2005
• Japan launched Ikaros – the first solar sail flight in 2010
• LightSail2 was launched aboard SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket in 2019
• LightSail2’s mission is to be the second-ever controlled solar sail flight and the first in Earth orbit

LightSail 2 has a limited lifespan and is doomed to be destroyed.

The spacecraft will eventually crash into the sun and burn as it continues its orbit.

The technology follows LightSail 1 which managed a much lower orbit on the same approach.

Ikaros: Japan's space craft was the first of its kind to carry out the journey

Ikaros: Japan’s space craft was the first of its kind to carry out the journey (Image: GETTY)

How Venus Turned Into Hell, and How the Earth Is Next

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SPACE.COM)

 

How Venus Turned Into Hell, and How the Earth Is Next

The bizarre and hellish atmosphere of Venus wafts around the planet's surface in this false-color image from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency's Akatsuki spacecraft. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill processed the image using infrared and ultraviolet views captured by Akatsuki on Nov. 20, 2016.

The bizarre and hellish atmosphere of Venus wafts around the planet’s surface in this false-color image from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Akatsuki spacecraft. Citizen scientist Kevin Gill processed the image using infrared and ultraviolet views captured by Akatsuki on Nov. 20, 2016.
(Image: © Kevil Gill/JAXA/ISAS/DARTS/Flickr)

Paul M. Sutter is an astrophysicist at The Ohio State University, host of Ask a Spaceman and Space Radio, and author of “Your Place in the Universe.” Sutter contributed this article to Space.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights

Everyone wants to get off the planet Earth and go explore the solar system, without realizing just how good we’ve got it down here. We’ve got a lot of air, more liquid water than we know what to do with, a nice strong planetary magnetic field that protects us cosmic radiation, and nice strong gravity that keeps our muscles strong and our bones thick.

All things considered, Earth is pretty nice.

Related: What Would It Be Like to Live on Venus?

But still, we look to our planetary neighbors for places to visit and maybe even live. And Mars has all the attention nowadays: it’s so hot right now, with everyone practically climbing over each other’s rockets to get there in to build a nice little red home.

But what about Venus? It’s about the same size as the Earth and the same mass. It’s actually a little bit closer than Mars. It’s definitely warmer than Mars. So don’t why don’t we try going for our sister planet instead of the red one?

Oh, that’s right: Venus is basically hell.

Dante’s journey

It’s hard to not exaggerate just how bad Venus is. Seriously, imagine in your head what the worst possible planet might be, and Venus is worse than that.

Let’s start with the atmosphere. If you think that the smog in LA is bad, you should take a whiff of Venus. It’s almost entirely carbon dioxide and chokingly thick with an atmospheric pressure at the surface 90 times that of Earth. That’s the equivalent pressure of a mile beneath our ocean waves. It’s so thick that you almost have to swim through it just to move around. Only 4% of that atmosphere is nitrogen, but that’s more nitrogen total than there is in the Earth’s atmosphere.

And sitting on top of this are clouds made of sulfuric acid. Yikes.

Sulfuric acid clouds are highly reflective, giving Venus its characteristic brilliant shine. The clouds are so reflective, and the rest of the atmosphere so thick, that less than 3% of the sun’s light that reaches Venus actually makes it down to the surface. That means that you will only vaguely be aware of the difference between day and night.

But despite that lack of sunlight, the temperature on Venus is literally hot enough to melt lead, at over 700 degrees Fahrenheit (370 degrees Celsius) on average. In some places, in the deepest valleys, the temperature reaches over 750 degrees Fahrenheit (400 degrees Celsius), which is enough for the ground itself to glow a dull red.

And speaking of day and night — Venus has one of the most peculiar rotations in the solar system. For one, it rotates backward, with the sun rising in the west and setting in the east. Second, it’s incredibly slow, with one year lasting only two days.

Additionally, Venus once had plate tectonics that shut off long ago, and its crust is locked.

Yeah, Venus is hell.

Related: Photos of Venus, the Mysterious Planet Next Door

Straight to the inferno

So how did Earth’s sister end up so twisted?

Because Venus is made of pretty much the same stuff as our Earth, and has roughly the same size and mass, scientists are pretty sure that, back in the early days of the solar system, Venus was kind of nice. It probably supported liquid water oceans on the surface and white fluffy clouds dotting a blue sky. Actually, quite lovely.

But four and a half billion years ago, our sun was different. It was smaller and dimmer. As stars like our sun age, they steadily grow brighter. So back then Venus was firmly planted in the habitable zone, the region of the solar system that can support liquid water on the surface of a planet without it being too hot or too cold.

But as the sun aged, that habitable zone steadily moved outward. And as Venus approached the inner edge of that zone, things started to go haywire.

As the temperatures rose on Venus, the oceans began to evaporate, dumping a lot of water vapor into the atmosphere. This water vapor was very good at trapping heat, which further increased the surface temperatures, which caused the oceans to evaporate even more, which caused even more water vapor to get in the atmosphere, which trapped even more heat, and so on and so on as things spiraled out of control.

Eventually, Venus became a runaway greenhouse with all the water dumped into the atmosphere trapping as much heat as possible, with the surface temperatures continuing to skyrocket.

The liquid water that had been on the surface helped keep the tectonic plates nice and flexible, in a sense adding lubrication to the process of plate tectonics. But without the oceans, plate activity ground to a halt, locking the surface of Venus in place. Plate tectonics play a crucial role in regulating the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Essentially, carbon binds to elements in dirt and rocks, and those dirt and rocks eventually get buried far beneath the surface over the course of millions of years as the plates rub up against each other and sink below each other.

But without this process, carbon that was locked in the dirt just slowly outgassed or dumped out in massive volcanic events. So, once the oceans evaporated, the carbon problem on Venus became even worse with nothing to sequester it. Over time, the water vapor in the atmosphere got hit by enough sunlight to break it apart, sending the hydrogen into space, with all that mass being replaced by carbon dioxide rising up out of the surface.

The once and future Earth

And as that atmosphere grew thicker, the conditions on the surface grew even more hellish.

The atmosphere might even have had enough drag to literally slow down the rotation of Venus itself, giving it its present-day sluggish rates.

Once this process was complete, which probably took 100 million years or so, the potential for any life on Venus was snuffed out.

And here’s the worst part about the story of Earth’s twisted sister. This is our fate, too. Our sun isn’t done aging, and as it grows older, it grows brighter, with the habitable zone steadily and inexorably moving outward. At some point within the next few hundred million years, the Earth itself will approach the inner edge of the habitable zone. Our oceans will evaporate. Temperatures will spiral upward. Plate tectonics will shut off. Carbon dioxide will dump into the atmosphere.

And by that time, our solar system will be home to not just one hell but two.

Learn more by listening to the episode “What Turned Venus Into Hell?” on the Ask A Spaceman podcast, available on iTunes and on the Web at http://www.askaspaceman.com. Thanks to @ross_trower, Russel S., and @papermonster12 for the questions that led to this piece! Ask your own question on Twitter using #AskASpaceman or by following Paul @PaulMattSutterand facebook.com/PaulMattSutter

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The biggest moons in our solar system

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The biggest moons in our solar system

Janus. Phoebe. Hyperion. Europa. Most of the planetary satellites in our solar system have cool names like these — names pulled mainly from ancient mythology. But our own natural satellite? In English anyway, the single moon that orbits our planet goes by the unimaginative name, “the moon.” Why?

It turns out the name “Moon” wasn’t lame until we started discovering satellites orbiting other planets, and we made the fatal mistake of calling them “moons.” It’s somewhat confusing that the proper noun “Moon,” derived from the old English word “Mona,” was co-opted to become a generic name for any planetary satellite.

Happily, languages other than English are not so afflicted. The Moon is known in Spanish as LunaSelene in Greek, Mweze in Swahili, and Kuu in Estonian.

Regarding the other satellites in our solar system whose names are higher on the cool scale: they come in all shapes and sizes, from irregular chunks of rock and ice to giant, complex spheres. Of the over 100 moons that have been observed in our solar system (with many more waiting to be discovered), here are the five largest.

5. Earth’s Moon

Credit: NASA / JSC

It happens that the fifth-largest satellite in our solar system is our own un-inspirationally named moon, at a diameter of 3,475 kilometers (about 2,160 miles).

Fun fact: It’s not by accident that the same side of the moon faces the Earth throughout its orbit: The moon rotates on its axis with the same period as its revolution around Earth. This phenomenon, called “tidal locking,” is caused by the influence of Earth’s gravity on the moon, and is not unique to the Earth-moon system; it is found in many other planetary satellites in our solar system.

4. Io

Credit: NASA / JPLUSGS

At a diameter of 3,636 kilometers (2,260 miles), Io is only slightly larger than our moon and orbits Jupiter. It’s Jupiter’s fifth-closest known moon, and was discovered in 1610 by none other than telescope inventor Galileo Galilei.

Fun fact: Io has over 400 active volcanoes on its surface, making it the most geologically active object in our solar system.

3. Callisto

Credit: NASA

Another of Galileo’s 1610 discoveries, Callisto also orbits Jupiter. At 4,800 kilometers (just under 3,000 miles) in diameter, it is almost the same size as the planet Mercury. Like our Moon, Callisto is tidally locked to its parent planet.

Fun fact: Although it is nearly the size of Mercury, Callisto has only one-third of Mercury’s density. This suggests that about half of Callisto is composed of water ice, and there may be a liquid-water ocean under the satellite’s crust.

2. Titan

Credit: NASA

The aptly named Titan is quite large indeed, at a diameter of 5,151 kilometers (3,200 miles). Unique among the many satellites in the solar system, Titan has an atmosphere, although you can’t breathe it: It’s 95 percent nitrogen and 5 percent methane. It was discovered by Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens in 1655.

Fun fact: Titan’s dense atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect that traps solar energy near the moon’s surface. Temperatures on Titan are a comparatively balmy −179° C (290° below-zero Fahrenheit).

1. Ganymede

Credit: NASA

Galileo was on a hot streak in 1610. In addition to finding Io and Callisto, he used his newly-invented telescope to spot Europa and Ganymede orbiting Jupiter.

To be fair, Ganymede was the low-hanging fruit in that bunch. At 5,268 kilometers (3,273 miles_ in diameter, Ganymede edges Titan for the “largest moon” honor; it is larger than not only Mercury but also Pluto, the one-time planet that was demoted to dwarf planet status in 2006.

Fun fact: Like Callisto, Ganymede is believed to have a water ocean beneath its crust that completely covers the moon’s interior.

Asteroid tsunami: Scientist’s dire warning to US coast over ocean impact

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK EXPRESS NEWS)

 

Asteroid tsunami: Scientist’s dire warning to US coast over ocean impact

AN ASTEROID plunging into the Pacific Ocean would spark a tsunami that would wipe out “the entire west coast of North America”, a scientist warned.

Apophis: Astrophysicist forecasts an asteroid ‘tsunami’

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Apophis 99942 is a 370-metre-wide near-Earth space rock that caused a brief period of concern in December 2004 when initial observation indicated a probability of up to three percent that it could hit Earth on April 13, 2029. However, in 2006 scientists ruled that date out, determining that Apophis could pass through a gravitational keyhole – a tiny region of space where a planet’s gravity is altered. Researchers calculated it might set up a future impact exactly seven years later – on April 13, 2036.

However, the likelihood of a direct impact in 2036 is now all but impossible, with just a 1-in-150,000 chance of a collision in 2068.

Neil deGrasse Tyson warned what would happen if the rock did crash into Earth.

The American astrophysicist and author revealed his research during a public lecture with Ryan Watt in San Francisco in 2008.

He said: “In the era of observing the cosmos with technology, this will be the closest biggest thing we will ever see.

“The orbit we now have for it is uncertain enough, because these things are hard to measure, we cannot tell you exactly where that trajectory will be.

JUST IN: Rock bigger than Empire State Building shooting towards Earth

An asteroid could hit the Pacific Ocean

An asteroid could hit the Pacific Ocean (Image: GETTY)

Apophis poses a threat

Apophis poses a threat (Image: GETTY)

It sandblasts the entire west coast of North America clean

Neil deGrasse Tyson

“We know it won’t hit Earth, we know it will be closer than the orbiting satellites.

“But there is a 600-mile zone – we call it the keyhole – and if the asteroid goes through the middle of that it will hit the Earth 13 years later.

“It will hit 500 miles west of Santa Monica.”

He went on to explain how an impact in the ocean would cause a tsunami, adding: “If it goes through the centre, it will plunge down into the Pacific Ocean to a depth of three miles, at which point it explodes, caveatting the Pacific in a hole that’s three miles wide.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson has his own theory

Neil deGrasse Tyson has his own theory (Image: YOUTUBE)

“That will send a tsunami wave outwards from that location that is 50 feet high.

“Oceans don’t like having holes in them, so this three-mile-high wall does what? It collapses.

“It falls back into the hole sloshing against itself with such ferocity that it rises high into the atmosphere and falls back down to the ocean, caveating it again.

“This cycle takes about 50 seconds, you can calculate it.”

He then revealed the sobering prospects for North America in such a scenario.

Neil deGrasse Tyson offered a warning

Neil deGrasse Tyson offered a warning (Image: YOUTUBE)

Asteroids threaten life on Earth

Asteroids threaten life on Earth (Image: GETTY)

He continued: “So there you are on the beaches of Malibu and a tsunami comes in.

“The first wave needs a supply of water to exist, so the next wave actually sucks back on it to create itself.

“Whatever was there on the coastline is now brought back out to sea and the next tsunami brings it back to the shore.

“So what happens is, all the artificial stuff, all the houses, factories, they get churned into the force that sandblasts the entire west coast of North America clean.

NASA warn of ‘Empire State’ sized asteroid flying by Earth

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“It’s April 12, 2029, and if it threads the keyhole it will hit Earth on April 13, 2036.”

Despite his claims, the keyhole has since been determined to be less than 600 metres wide, meaning the possibility of Apophis passing through it is extremely unlikely.

In 2008, NASA reaffirmed the chance of Apophis impacting Earth in 2036 as being 1 in 45,000.

However, in February 2014, the odds of an impact on April 12, 2068, were calculated by the JPL Sentry risk table as 1 in 150,000.