Epic Space Discoveries That Will Blow Your Mind
The vastness of space and the perplexing nature of the cosmic objects that occupy it provides no shortage of material for astronomers to ponder.
To round up some of the most enduring mysteries in the field of astronomy, researchers and astronomers have hunted through radio waves for mystery signals, discovered new galaxies, and even figured out which alien star systems might be able to detect Earth. Let us peek into some epic space discoveries that will certainly blow your mind.
X-ray blobs bursting from the Milky Way
Millions of years ago, an explosion in the center of the Milky Way blasted energized material above and below the galactic disk. That glowing material is still visible in the gamma-ray spectrum in two clumps discovered in 2010, known as the Fermi Bubbles. In 2020, researchers found another pair of blobs in the same region, visible in the X-ray spectrum, likely related to the Fermi bubbles.
Radio emissions from an alien world
Planets in the solar system emit radio waves, especially Jupiter with its intense magnetic fields. But no radio waves were ever detected coming from a planet beyond the solar system until 2020 when researchers picked up a signal from a gas giant in the Tau Boötes system, just 51 light-years from Earth. That signal could help them learn more about the exoplanet’s magnetic field, which could offer clues to what’s going on in its atmosphere.
Ghostly radio circles
Scientists frequently find things in space that look like fuzzy blobs, but the newfound odd radio circles (ORCs), discovered in 2019 are unique. The round blobs, visible in radio telescope data, don’t look like any known object. They’re not supernova remnants or optical effects known as Einstein rings. Some scientists have even suggested they may be the throats of wormholes. But no one really knows what these newly discovered things are.
A hint of life on Venus?
Venus may be the most inhospitable planet in the solar system, with roiling acid clouds and hellish temperatures. That’s why astronomers getting ready to look for phosphine, a smelly gas thought to be a possible signature of life on alien planets, trained their phosphine-hunting telescope on Venus first: They wanted a reference image from a surely-dead world. But in a shocking twist, they found the compound in the clouds of Venus.
A million new galaxies
A radio telescope in the Australian outback mapped 83% of the observable universe for over 300 hours of observations in 2020. And it revealed a big haul of data: 3 million galaxies, a full million of which had never been seen before. The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) relies on 36 antennas to record the sky, but this was the first time that all 36 had been used at once for a single project.
Through these epic space discoveries, we learned more about our little corner of the universe as well as the vast reaches beyond it, studded with strange stars and stranger exoplanets.