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Guide to Space, Planets and the Rest of the Universe

What is the Largest Solar System?

Assuming for this, we are not counting asteroids and comets but are just counting stars and planets that are contained within the Solar system. I'm not talking about how far the furthest star is from its Sun also, just the number of objects in the solar system. The biggest that we know of is our own solar system. We will never know the largest solar system in the universe because it is so vast and so spread out. we will never be able to survey everywhere. The largest known Solar Systems are :

Our Solar System

Our very own Solar System is the largest that we know of. The solar system contains eight planets, four rocky planets ( Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars) and Four Gas Giants ( Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune). I'm not including the likes of Eris, Pluto and Ceres for the moment as I would then need to include other Dwarf Planets.

Trappist 1

Trappist-1 in the constellation of Aquarius is currently the largest solar system that we have so far discovered. The solar system contains 7 planets, labelled from b to h. The 'a' is always reserved for the star that the planets are in orbit around. Trappist 1 is a small red dwarf star, the type that makes it easy for scientists to discover planets around. When a planet orbits a star, it pulls on it and that's how they were discovered. Even the Earth being so much smaller than the Sun pulls on the star and causes a distortion.

It is easier to discover planets around small stars because the distortion is more visible than those of bigger stars. We have discovered stars round larger stars, for example, we have discovered a planet around Hamal and Aldebaran. Both of those stars are the brightest stars in Aries and Taurus respectively.

AR Cassiopeiae and Jabbah

AR Cassiopeiae and Jabbah (Nu Scorpii) are two Septulet star systems. This means both stars have seven stars that make up the multiple star system. These are the only two star systems that are recognised as having seven stars in the system at the moment.


Another notable multiple star system is Castor, Alpha Geminorum. It is in fact dimmer than the Beta Geminorum (Pollux) but Castor has the Bayer classification. All six stars all contribute to its brightness.

Comments1/27/2019 2:08:53 PM

Avengers in a 90`s Sitcom

We all know that the Marvel universe started off in 2008 with the release of Iron Man. Imagine if it had been made in the 90's and as a sitcom. A user on Youtube called Ace Zach has created a short Youtube video to show what it might be like. It takes scenes from all the Avenger movies and compiled them into a near 90 second clip. Its done in a rather tongue in cheek way and very funny.

The video features all the main character, the most notably missing is Nick Fury, the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.. To watch the clip, just click on the image below and it'll take you to the Youtube video. The music is from Full House series. Enjoy.

Click to watch <a href=/film/avengers>Avengers</a> 90's Style

Comments1/27/2019 1:58:18 PM

What is the Largest Star in the Solar System?

This might seem a silly question to ask and answer on this site but when the site's visitor logs are checked, they do ask this question. Our Solar System has only one star, that is the Sun. If you were to include the theoretical nemesis star in the solar system, our star is still the largest star in the Solar System. The answer to the question is therefore the Sun.

If you want to extend the question to what is the largest star in the Milky Way, the answer is UY Scuti. Its the largest star that we have so far discovered. It is estimated to be at 1,708 times the size of the Sun.

UY Scuti might not be the largest in the universe but it is the largest that we know of at the moment. To compare UY Scuti with our Solar System, let theoretically move it to the centre of our Solar System. Once we have moved it to the centre of our Solar System, it would extend out to past Jupiter and maybe Saturn. UY Scuti is humongous. Our planet would be inside its furness.

There might be an even bigger star out there somewhere in the cosmos but we have not discovered it yet. We will never kinow for certain what is the largest star in the universe because there are so many stars and galaxies to faint to measure all the individual stars out there. Given we are so far away from UY Scuti, 1,708 is only an estimated size, it could be smaller or larger than that but its the best calculation that we've come up with.

In the early universe, there were quasi-stars, they were supermassive large blue stars which would have made UY Scuti seem insignificant. It is believed that these Quasi-stars were so big that when they collapsed, they created the Supermassive black holes found in the centres of galaxies. As none of the Quasi-stars are believed to exist now, they are just seen as hypothetical.

Comments1/17/2019 10:26:35 PM

Third Planet Discovered by TESS

Scientists working with data from the TESS - Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite have revealed that they have discovered a planet around a star in the constellation of Reticulum. The first two were revealed in October last year. The total tally now comes to three.

The planet orbits the star HD 21749 and is known as simply HD 21749b. The b signifies that it is the first planet discovered in orbit round that star. The letter "a" is reserved for the star, naturally eh? It takes the planet just a fraction over 35 days to complete one orbit. Its not the kind of planet you'd probably want to be spending time being so close and the years going by quickly.

The star has a apparent magnitude of 8.08 and therefore you will not be able to see it without the aid of binoculars of at least 7x50. You can even forget about seeing star with any telescope as it will be too far and too small to see.

As for life on the planet, there little or no hope. Scientists have calculated that the planet is a gaseous planet, three times the mass of the Earth but not quite as big as Neptune, more a sub-Neptune. Its actually a cool planet given its proximity to the star, its reckoned to be about 300 degrees fahrenheit or 148.889 Celsius. Its not as hot as other planets but its not a planet that humans would be able to survive unprotected on.

It may not be the only planet in orbit round the star, there is evidence that there could be another planet. The second planet could be more Earth life, therefore increasing the chances of alien life out there.

Further Reading :- CNN , The Guardian

Comments1/8/2019 8:53:48 AM

Ultima Thule, Cosmic Snowman

Nearly three years after New Horizons space probe visited Pluto, the probe has flown past another Kuiper Belt object, Ultima Thule. The original target of the probe was Pluto which when the probe was launched, Pluto was classified as a planet, however since then it has been designated a dwarf planet, a controversial decision made in the middle of the last decade.

Ultima Thule was only discovered recently, 26th June 2014 by scientists working on the Hubble Space Telescope project. The object was called 2014 MU69 but was renamed by the I.A.U. because of its significance.

The probe had been designed and built to visit Pluto but as its job had been done, it was reprogrammed to visit Ultima Thule which was in its path. Ultima Thule is the furthest object ever visited by a man made object. Pluto is about 4.5 billion kilometers away with Ultima Thule an additional 2 billion more kilometers away. Although Ultima Thule is the current record holder, it is likely to be succeeded when N.A.S.A. have decided on where and what next it will visit.

Ultima Thule has been referred to as a Cosmic Snowman due to its shape and similiarity to a snowman. It seems quite apt given the season in which the United States is currently experiencing, Winter. It had been thought that Thule was two objects but instead early pictures have shown it to be two objects seemingly merged into one.

Only fuzzy images currently exist of Thule, it is believed we will get back a high resolution picture in due course. The probe has picked up seven gigabytes of data as it flew past which will take months to be transmitted back to Earth and analyzed.

Ultima Thule Kuiper Belt Object

Comments1/5/2019 9:15:33 AM

Aquaman Review

Aquaman and Meta

You're probably wondering why I'm reviewing a film that has didly squat with space and the universe, well, Aquaman is part of the Justice League, the very same group that took on Steppenwolf the previous year. Aquaman is part of the franchise.

After the previous two Justice League films (inc. Batman Vs. Superman : Dawn of Justice) not doing so well at the box office, Warner Bros. decided to create a film on one of their lessor known characters, Arthur Curry a.k.a. The Aquaman. Marvel had already proven that lessor known heroes can generate a good return starting with Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man. Could the wonder work for Warner Bros.

Out went Zach Snyder who had directed the previous two Justice League movies, in came James Wan, a director who had previously been known for horror films such as Saw and The Conjuring. To hand James Wan the task of directing the Aquaman could be deemed a risk but it worked as he directed a good film. It might not be perfect but there were no Martha moments. Martha moment being the scene in the Dawn of Justice where the fight between the two heroes stops when Clark Kent as Superman mentions his mothers name and Bruce Wayne backs off.

If you know your Aquaman stuff, Jason Mamoa is the third (I believe) actor to step into the characters shoes. The first was Justin Hartley whose pilot for the show didn't take off. Justin was subsequently tapped up for taking on Oliver Queen in the Smallville series. During Smallville, Arthur Curry was introduced, played by Alan Ritchson.

Whilst the two previous actors to play the role have been blondes, the producers of the franchise decided to go with a re-imagined version of the character, out has gone the short blonde hair, in come the bearded long dark hair version. Althought it might have upset a few people, it hasn't really affected the story.

The story is mostly faithful to the comics, the only way it diverges is that Black Mantra doesn't kill Aquaman's father, he only tries to. Black Mantra's father does die. Black Mantra is not the real villain of the story, that belongs to Ocean Master, a.k.a. King Orm, Aquaman's half brother. Aquaman is persuaded by Princess Mera to challenge for the throne because King Orn wants to launch an all out attack on the world above for the ocean pollution which with what is in the news at the moment seems appropriate.

If you think Mera's red hair is a bit bright then that's the only thing to worry about. The underwater scenes of the characters all work, they've done without bubbles when the characters talk. A character trying to gain the seat of power from another isn't original but its worked and is ok.

The special effects might give a bit of a deja-vu as they don't look too disimilar from Avatar or from Valerian and the City of a Thousand Worlds but it worked.

James Wan is reputedly being tapped up to do the sequel but that won't happen for a couple of years yet. In the meantime, we have Shazam, Cyborg and the The Flash movies to look forward to first. the futures looking a bit brighter now for the D.C. Comic moviverse.

The only thing that I didn't like was that Arthur seemed a bit too indestructible, too much like Superman. People were being bashed around but were then able to carry on with a few scratches when mere mortals would be hospitalised. I know its an adaptation of a comic but a bit of weakness wouldn't go amiss. The only chink in his armour was his family. The flashbacks to the young Arthur when they happened but there were only a couple, more could have been useful.

Mid-way through the credits is a scene so don't walk out as soon as the credits arrived. Unlike in The Avengers films, there's no guest appearances by other characters. Warner Bros. decided to make their films separate from each other after the poor Justice League films. There had been reports that Henry Cavill was to guest appear in Shazam but due to scheduling, he wasn't able to appear so that might have been the last guest appearance for a while in another D.C. film.

Comments12/16/2018 9:44:32 AM

What is the Belt of Orion?

Belt of Orion

The Belt of Orion refers to three stars in a diagonal line that are roughly in the middle of the constellation. They represent the belt that Orion, the Hunter wore when he was a person before becoming a constellation.

The constellation in thanks partly to the three stars is probably the easiest constellation to spot when you look up into the skies. It can be seen best in the winter months but is not limited to then. The stars are Alnitak (Zeta Orionis), Alnilam (Epsilon Orionis) and Mintaka (Delta Orionis).

Once you have located the three stars, you can then locate other stars. To the diagonal down right of Mintaka is Rigel which is the second brightest star in the constellation. To the right of that star is Witch-Head Nebula which is officially located in the constellation of Eridanus is lit up due to the radiation emit ted from Rigel.

At the other end of the belt, Alnitak is just above the Great Orion Nebula complete the with the Horseshead. The Great Orion Nebula is probably the most famous Nebula known. To the upper left of Alnitak is Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis), it is a giant star that is nearing it death. It is the most likely star to go supernova in the next million or so years. Betelgeuse is believed to be a Cannibal Star, one that has eaten its neighbouring star.

All the three stars are multiple star systems and none are as yet believed to have any exoplanets in orbit round. You can't say never as we could still find a planet round them. At the time of writing, it was only recent that a star was located in orbit round Barnard's Star which is the closest solo star to have an exoplanet discovered in orbit round it. Any planet in orbit round these stars and was habitable would probably be similar to Tatooine in the Star Wars galaxy. Its not unknown for a multiple star system to have a planet, the star Algieba in the constellation of Leo is a double star with a planet, albeit a gas giant. The Algieba planet is more Bespin, a gas giant than a habitable planet.

Comments12/15/2018 3:37:30 AM

What is the Boötes Supervoid and where is it?

Location of the Bootes Supervoid

The Boötes Supervoid or Great Boötes Void is an area of space in the Northern Hemisphere that doesn't have as many stars or galaxies as comparable areas of space. Its not the only void, there are others such as the Eridanus Supervoid which is much larger at about 500 million light years across but Boötes Void is more well known.

The name comes from the fact that the Void is located in the constellation of Boötes, the Bear Driver. The void is about 250 to 330 million light years across. To put that into context, the Milky Way Galaxy is roughly 100,000 light years across. The Milky Way could easily fit inside the void along with the Andromeda Galaxy to keep us company. The Andromeda Galaxy wouldn't have to be any closer than it is now to fit within the void.

Since its discovery in 1981, we've only discovered about 60 galaxies in the space that is empty. We should be seeing something like 2,000 galaxies in that space based on the 1 galaxy every 10 million light year generalisation rule. It is not the only void in space but it is the most well know.

It is not the nearest void to us, the nearest void is brilliantly named, Local Void located around Sagittarius constellation is about 150 million light years across. The centre of which is located at least 75 million light years from us. One galaxy ESO 461-36 has been located within the local void.

What causes these voids to appear is unknown but it is suggested that voids can merge as objects move out. The universe is not equally spaced out. If after the Big Bang, the universe was spread out equally and perfectly, the universe that we know would not have formed as gravity would have kept everything equally space out and therefore objects couldn't have merged into larger objects, If you ever get a chance to see Sir Stephen Hawkings Discovery Channel programme, you'll see a clip of what I'm talking about. Stephen Hawkings Universe (18:00)

Surrounding the Boötes Supervoid are a number of Galaxy Superclusters so maybe we can find the missing galaxies in amongst the Superclusters such as the Hercules Supercluster.

Just to clear things up in case anyone ever thought it. The Supervoid is not far from the radiant point of the Quadrantids meteor shower in terms of location in the sky but there is no connection. The two may be in the same area of space but millions of miles apart. If you was ever to look up to the night sky, you would not be able to see the Supervoid, its too far away to see from down here. For more information on Voids, check out the N.A.S.A. Blog Article on them.

Comments12/15/2018 2:24:51 AM

Voyager 2 has left the Solar System

The deep space probe, Voyager 2 has been confirmed as leaving the Solar System. The exact date as revealed by N.A.S.A. is the 5th November 2018. Scientists discovered it had left the Solar System where the radiation it was detecting had changed. The radiation being monitored was different to how it had been recording.

The change in radiation marked the end of the Heliosphere, the area round the star that the Suns effects can be felt. Outside the Heliosphere is intergalactic space. The Heliopause is the point at which the Sun's radiation meets intergalactic radiation.

It should be noted that Interstellar space is not just on one side of the Heliosphere but is on all sides. Voyager 2 has joined Voyager 1 which is already in Intergalactic space. The next stop is any asteroids or debris out there including the hypothesized Oort Cloud but that is a long long way off.

The Pioneer 10 and 11 probes are probably already out there past the Heliopause but contact with those probes was turned off a few years ago.

The Voyager probes took off in September 1977, a few days apart from one another. They were sent on different trajectories and are not expected to meet with one another. The next Solar System it will come into contact with won't be for another 40,000 years and even then it'll pass it by.

The picture below is from N.A.S.A. showing out solar system and where Voyager is and also the Intergalactic Space.

Lets just hope it doesn't come back looking for its creator like a similar probe did in the first Star Trek film.

N.A.S.A. artists impression of Voyager leaving the the Heliosphere

Comments12/14/2018 5:35:33 AM

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 AM

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