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Guide to Space, Planets and the Rest of the Universe

Avengers Endgame Trailer Premieres

Its finally been released after so many false starts, the final concluding part to this year's (2018) Avengers movie. If you have not seen it already, go and watch and then come back as there's spoilers ahead.

The ultimate enemy of the Marvel universe, Thanos has gained possession of all the Infinity Stones and has used them, wiping out fifty percent of life in the Universe. The Avengers need to regroup and work out what to do next. A lot of the characters will be returning to confront Thanos but some might not as they were wiped out.

Thanos was driven to protect the Universe from what he saw was the downfall of his planet Titan. He saw the downfall caused by overpopulation and he wanted to stop it from happening elsewhere by wiping out half the population.

Although the film doesn't give away too much, it does show familiar faces who have survived, for example, Tony Stark, alone in space. Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America is now shaven. Missing from the previous one, Ant-man and Hawkeye now make appearances.

You will need to wait until just after Easter to find out how they do it. In addition to Endgame, we also have Captain Marvel and Spiderman, Far from Home coming out next year. Captain Marvel will be the first comic from Marvel to have a female character lead and see her gain her powers to fight the Skrulls, a lizard like alien race with the ability to shapeshift.

For those who prefer D.C. Comics, we have Aquaman coming in the next few weeks. Although Aquaman is set firmly on Terra Firma, he joined the Justice League to fight Steppenwolf last year. Justice League films don't seem to be having quite the success that Marvel seem to be having at the moment, especially where you have an over-active Lex Luthor and shouting "Martha" can stop a fight. D.C. have decided to just concentrate now on individual characters rather than teaming them up.

Marvel's Avenger's Endgame

Comments12/7/2018 9:23:31 PM

Planet found in orbit round Barnard`s Star

Scientists have found an exoplanet in orbit round Barnard's star. Barnard's Star is the fourth nearest star to Earth. It is the nearest solo star, the nearer stars are ones that make up Alpha Centauri multi-star system. Amongst that group of star is Proxima Centauri which is the nearest star to our solar system and also has an exoplanet in orbit

Barnard's Star is a solo star, it does not orbit or interact with any other stars. Barnard's Star is a small red dwarf star, much like Proxima and you won't be able to see it unaided. It is very much like Proxima. Proxima is believed to flame its planet which therefore means that life couldn't exists on its surface so until proven otherwise, Barnards Star could possibly be the closest planet to support life albeit microbial lifeforms.

The planet in orbit is a Super-Earth meaning it is bigger than our own Earth. It is about 2.3 times the size of Earth and orbits its star in 233 days.

The discovery increases the likelihood that we could one day discovering life elsewhere. The closer the exoplanet is, the more we can learn about the planet and ultimately discover if life exists on the planet by discovering its atmospheric composition.

The discovery was made by a team of researchers from Queen Mary University in London, England and the Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya, and the Institute of Space Sciences in Spain, The planet was discovered using a technique referred to as the Radial Velocity method. That method detects slight wobbles in the star caused by the planet orbiting. Even though a planet can be very small compared to its star, it can still pull on the star slightly.

Comments11/28/2018 9:54:21 PM

When you look up to the Universe and it smiles back at you

N.A.S.A. recently released a picture from the Hubble Space Telescope of what looks like a face in space. The face is of galaxy cluster SDSS J0952h3434 in the constellation of Leo Minor. The smile is caused by gravitational lensing, when the light of the galaxy is distorted.

N.A.S.A. photo of a smiling face in Leo Minor

Its not the first time a smile has been capture by the Hubble Space Telescope, the first was captured in 2015. The first was nicknamed the Cheshire Cat after the famous cat in the Alice in Wonderland story. The first was located in the constellation of Ursa Major. Unless you have use of a very powerful space ship, say the T.A.R.D.I.S., you can forget ever visiting them.

N.A.S.A. photo of a smiling face in Ursa Major

Comments11/6/2018 8:52:37 AM

First Exomoon believed to have been discovered in orbit around Kepler 1625b

Scientists have so far discovered 5311 exoplanets based on the figure at Exoplanets.org on the 7th of October 2018. This figure includes both confirmed and unconfirmed planets. The vast majority of the exoplanets reported can be found in the constellation of Cygnus because the Kepler Space Telescope which discovered most of them only looked at one area of space and that was in Cygnus.

The one thing that eluded scientists was whether there are any Exomoons out there, they could surely not just be something that is only found in our Solar system. Finding an Exoplanet is hard enough because they would be small compared to the star they orbit but an Exomoon would be even harder as they would be smaller than the planet.

On 3rd of October 2018, scientists decided to go public with news that they believe they had discovered the first exomoon. They published their work at ScienceMag describing what they had discovered. The first Exomoon is believed to be in orbit round Kepler 1625-b. The host planet is believed to have several times the mass of Jupiter and be many times larger than the largest planet in the Solar System. The moon in question Kepler-1625 bi with i being the Roman numeral for one in lower case is believed to be as larger if not larger than Neptune, another gas giant planet in our solar system.

It doesn't strengthen or weaken for the existence of alien life in the universe, it just means our Solar System is becoming less unique. There could well be a Moon of Endor out there which has life such as those bears, the Ewoks.

Comments10/7/2018 8:20:51 AM

What is the Kessel Run?

The Kessel Run was first mentioned in the first Star Wars film that came out in 1997. Obi-Wan Kenobi is trying to get himself, Luke Skywalker and the two droids transport to Alderaan when prospective transport pilot Han Solo brags that his craft, the Millennium Falcon can do the Kessel Run in twelve parsecs. For those that are not aware, a parsec is an unit of length and not time which it was implied it was in the film.

Excluding where it might've been mentioned in the books or cartoons, the Kessel Run is mentioned again in The Force Awakens when Rey is surprised that she's on the Millennium Falcon and has to be corrected by Han Solo when Rey incorrectly describes what the Millennium Falcon is famous for.

It is not until Solo that we learn what the Kessel Run actually is. The planet of Kessel is a planet deep within a nebula of gas, dust, monsters and gravity wells. A gravity well is the pull of gravity that a body in space exerts. In the film, the gravity well looks like a mini black hole which the Millennium Falcon uses to escape a monster in the nebula.

Kessel is controlled by a crime syndicate that uses slaves made up of a variety of races including humans and Wookies to mine Coaxium, a much prized fuel in the galaxy. As the last attempt by Han Solo and Tobias Beckett to get their hands on Coaxium ended in failure, the group had to travel to Kessel in order to steal some unrefined coaxium ore

There is only one safe path from Kessel through the nebula and that is heavily guarded. Han Solo proposes a short cut through the nebula to Savareen where the fuel will be stablized and refined. The Kessel Run is the journey through the nebula to or from the planet.

In World of Warcraft, there is a nod to the Kessel Run on Bloodmyst Isle where you are requested to use an Elekk, a type of elephant to run a certain course round the zone. It isn't the only nod to the Kessel Run but one that springs to mind.

Comments10/1/2018 6:44:59 AM

What is Oumuamua and where did it come from?

Artists impression of Oumuamua

Its been covered by this site before but here's a re-cap. Oumuamua is the name of an asteroid that visited our Solar System nearly a year ago. Most asteroids just orbit the Sun and stay in a short orbit, mainly in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists have said is it from another solar system and is an Interstellar visitor. There had been those who believed it to be an alien craft but as we've not made contact, think we can discount that one.

Oumuamua passed to within 0.25 A.U. of the Sun. 1 A.U. is the distance between the Earth and the Sun so therefore the asteroid passed within a quarter of the distance between Earth and the Sun.

A group of scientists have identified four possible locations of where the star could have come from. Two stars are easy to find information on whereas the other two are "obscure" stars and don't have easy classification names. The other two stars have GAIA references and are not discussed here and for more information, visit Arxiv.

As mentioned in my previous article, it had been believed that the star came from Lyra constellation. The asteroid started on its journey as a result of a possible collision or explosion.

The name Oumuamua, not one to roll off the tongue easily for most people is a Hawaiian term. Researchers from the University of Hawaii were first to spot the object so they had the luxury of it being named. They chose Oumuamua as it is the Hawaiian term for Scout. Metro

Hip 3757

Hip 3757 is a red dwarf star and not one that can be seen with the naked eye. The star is calculated as being in the constellation of Cetus, the whale. The star is relatively close by galactic standards at about 83.83 light years based on Hipparcos 2007 measurements.

HD 292249

HD 292249 is more solar like but too far away to be seen with the naked eye. The star has been calculated as being in the constellation of Monoceros. The star is yellow/white in colour similar to our own star, the Sun, it is too far away to be seen.

Comments9/30/2018 12:48:15 PM

First possible exoplanets discovered by TESS telescope announced

N.A.S.A. has revealed the first two candidate planets to have been spotted by TESS - Transiting Exoplanet Survey satellite that was launched earlier this year on a two year mission. The mission is to discover probable candidate exoplanets, planets that lie in orbit round other stars.

The two stars are candidate stars as Earth based scientists will need to follow up to confirm their existence. It is expected that TESS will identify thousands of stars as it searches the cosmos for planets.

Pi Mensae c

The first is around the star Pi Mensae, a star in the constellation of Mensa. It is a star that you can see when you look up to the skies but you will not be able to see any of the planets that are in orbit round the star because they are too small. It is believed that the planets are not suitable for life so we'll need to look elsewhere for aliens.

The planet is labelled c because it is the second planet to have been discovered in orbit round the star. The letter a is reserved for the star itself, planets start from b. The star itself is located in the southern hemisphere therefore it will not be visible to many people in the northern hemisphere.

The planet is a Super-Earth because it is bigger than our own planet. The planet is close to the star and completes an orbit in 6.27 days compared to 365.4 days that the Earth completes its year. It is therefore too close and hot to support life as we know it. Further reading can be done at Arxiv.

Location of Pi Mensae in the constellation of Mensa

LHS 3844

The second star that has been discovered to contain a star is LHS 3844. It is a smaller red dwarf star and is cooler and smaller than our own Sun. The planet is described as a Hot Earth meaning its size is roughly the same as that of Earth. The Hot means its temperature is well, hot, hotter than anything on this Earth, too hot for life to exist as we know it. The planet orbits its star in 11 hours which you can imagine is very fast.

Unlike Pi Mensae, this is not a eye visible star, you will need visual aids such as a telescope to see it. If you do want to try and look for the star, it is located in the constellation of Indus, the Indian in the southern hemisphere. Both constellations are not next to one another. Further reading can be found at Arxiv.

Comments9/22/2018 11:50:00 AM

Aquaman trailer finally released

During ComicCon 2018, Aquaman trailer was finally premiered to the world. Its been a long time coming but now that its out, it welcome. Although the comic book version is a blonde, this film adaptation is played by a long haired brunette actor Jason Mamoa. It is the only D.C. film that is coming out this year compared to what Disney/Marvel have planned, Black Panther, Infinity Wars, Venom, Ant-man and Wasp to name a few.

The first time we saw Aquaman in a movie was in Batman Vs. Superman : Dawn of Justice and that was only a brief glimpse of him undersea as Diana Prince and Bruce Wayne discuss about putting together a group of heroes to be known as the Justice League. Aquaman then made his first real debut in the follow up film, Justice League where he helps the others to bring down Steppenwolf, a powerful being from another world.

In the noughties, they did create a pilot for Aquaman the series but it didn't get picked up. The actor Justin Hartley would go to play Oliver Queen in the Smallville series. This is the first film dedicated to the character.

It is about how he became King of Atlantis and by way of the trailer, it doesn't disappoint. Arthur Curry is contacted by Atlanteans about coming back to Atlantis to prevent his half brother from being leader of Atlantis and launching a war on the people above the service.

This film has been directed by James Wan, who has previously been known for the Saw films. What has pleased some D.C. fans is that Zach Snyder who had oversaw the previous Justice League films is not involved in this film. D.C. films have been epic in the past with the Christian Bale/Christopher Nolan Batman films and the Christopher Reeve Superman films of the past so everyone is hoping the film can return back to the past glory that we used to know and love.

In addition to King Ohm, aka Ocean Master, Aquaman's main adversary, Black Mantra will also appear but he will only be a side story. The film will be about two hours long, Warner Bros. have turned their backs on anything longer than that.

Aquaman Trailer

Comments7/22/2018 8:40:32 AM

Pluto, one giant Comet?

Scientists revealed recently that the dwarf planet could actually one giant comet or have formed from comets. It had always been believed that all our planets including the dwarf one were created at the start of the Solar System from rock material that merged into one large object.

Scientists analyzing data from both the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the information back from the Rosetta Space Probe discovered a few similarities which started off the interest in that Pluto could be a giant comet, one that is without a tail as it is too far away from the Sun to burn off and create a tail.

It had been reported in the journal Icarus that scientists from the Southwest Research institute, San Antonio, Texas had come up with this theory. The smooth heart shape area (Tombaugh Regio) on the surface of the dwarf planet contains materials that are similar to those found on P67 comet by Rosetta. Pluto would have had to have been hit by a large number of comets over time, an estimated billions comets to be precise.

The scientists took data from P67 and scaled up the nitrogren content which matched what they found on Pluto so the theory came about. How much nitrogen Pluto had at the start and how much it has lost is not know and could affect the theory.

For further reading, you can view You Tube video which gives a good understanding or read it at Smithsonian.

Comments6/10/2018 4:19:12 AM

Evidence of Possible Life on Mars Found

Whether or not there is life on Mars has captured the minds of many people. Those people include science fiction writers such as H.G. Wells who wrote about an invasion from Mars through to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (N.A.S.A.) and other agencies who have spent billions trying to uncover the truth of whether there was life or not.

The latest evidence of possible life on mars was released on Thursday 7th June 2018. In a new study published in Science magazine, it was said that NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity may have found something. Curiosity found some organic material that is over 3.5 billion years old. This has led to some people suggesting that life on Earth may have first started on Mars before being transferred to Earth where life was then able to flourish into what see and know today. Independent

Life failed to start on Mars because it has no atmosphere and no magnetic shielding to protect it from the Sun's rays. What shielding and atmosphere would have been lost because the planet didn't have a strong enough gravity to hold on to it. If Venus and Mars had been the other way round in terms of location, maybe, Venus would have life. Venus is marginally smaller than Earth and much larger than Mars. For Venus to have had life in the Martian position, you would have hoped it didn't have the poisonous atmosphere that so tipifies the planet.

The presence of water on the planet and it having lakes and oceans isn't new, its been covered before and on this site. In addition to organic matter, the scientists have looked at Methane which is reportedly built up under the atmosphere and is released over time. On Earth, methane is produced in nature which is why methane discovery is of interest.

Comments6/10/2018 2:56:15 AM

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