BOOM! THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
80 years ago, Carl Anderson discovered the positron, which we know as antimatter. It is a material composed of antiparticles, which have the same mass as ordinary matter but have an opposite charge. If the two particles meet, they annihilate one another. Antiparticles bind with each other to form antimatter, just like ordinary matter does. Antimatter is all around us in minute amounts, in the form of cosmic rays. No one knows exactly why the universe is mostly matter, and not antimatter.
Antimatter is one of the most difficult materials to produce, and can only exist in particle accelerators and some types of radioactive decay, due to its short life span. It is one of the most expensive materials to produce as well. It is stored in devices called Penning Traps. It has been theorized that antimatter could be used as a fuel source for interstellar voyages, using an antimatter catalyzed Nuclear Propulsion or Redshift rocket. Antimatter engines have been used in shows like Star Trek and Lost in Space, and in several science fiction novels.
Neutrinos, which have no charge at all, are both positive and negative, and are thus cancelled out. This allows them to be at two places at the same time, seemingly to break the laws of physics. This is still a great mystery to scientists.
Dark Energy is an unknown form of energy which is hypothesized to permeate all of space, and is the same energy that created the big bang, and causing it to accelerate and expand at an increasing rate. Even though the mass of matter is much denser, dark energy is uniform throughout space.
Dark Matter is an unknown form of matter that exists throughout space. It is the darkness we see at the night, and what the astronauts see in space. We can’t feel it, or experience it because the force is too weak, but it is the stuff that holds our universe together. The observable space around us contains 26% dark matter, 68.3% dark energy, and only 4.9 % matter. Exotic Matter is any matter with a negative mass, such as dark matter, Bose-Einstein condensates, or quark-gluon plasma, as well as ordinary matter placed under pressure.
In my novel, Dimension Lapse, some of the above concepts are mentioned, such as antimatter drives, and exotic energy used to travel through wormholes. As we advance in the world of physics, ideas of interstellar travel may not be as far fetched as we think, and we may be able to produce any of these particles with considerable ease.
For the next three months, I will be working heavily on completing my next novel, so blogs will probably be every other week for a while. I am still appealing to anyone out there who can come up with new topics to discuss. I would also like to address that all information on this blog is researched from other sites, and they are referenced by the links at the bottom of the page. I try to put my own spin on the information that is given. Have a good weekend, I’ll be back on June 29, 2015, for out next topic. Until then, here are the links:
THE UNIVERSE’S STRANGE REALITY
Ever look up at the night sky, and wonder why some stars are so much brighter than others? Stars like Siruis are closer to us, and their proximity causes their brightness. But what about others? Some are called Novas, Latin for “new stars.” Supernova is a phrase coined by Walter Baade and Fritz Zunicky in 1931. Novas are quite common throughout our galaxy, and supernovas, which are larger explosions, are not as common, but are still pretty regular, occurring about three times every hundred years.
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They are stellar explosions that can be brighter than a galaxy itself, radiating as much energy as a sun emits in its entire lifespan. They emit a shockwave of gas and dust traveling at 30,000 km/s or 10% the speed of light, and produce a large proportion of the cosmic rays that produce radiation. They can be triggered in two ways; through re-ignition of nuclear fusion in a dying star, or the gravitational collapse of the core of a massive star. Expanding shockwaves can result in the foundation of new stars.
The last directly observed was Kepler’s Star of SN1604, observed by Kepler himself. The earliest recorded was SN185, which was viewed by Chinese astronomers in 185 AD. The supernova SN1054 produced what is now known as the crab nebula. It is also thought by some that the Christmas Star was also a supernova, but scientists now believe since no supernova was speculated, that it was more likely a comet that the wise men saw.
In a universe that seems quiet and peaceful, stellar phenomenon such as supernovas are a reminder of how violent space can be. The result can be a cosmic cloud of gas and dust, called Nebula, which form new stars and planets. This will our topic of discussion for tomorrow. Here are today’s links:
A STAR IS BORN: NEBULAE
Nebulae are interstellar clouds of dust, hydrogen, helium, and other ionized gases, and are what’s left of a dying star. Most galaxies were referred as nebulae, until the true nature of galaxies was confirmed in the early 20th century by Vesto Slither and Edwin Hubble. They usually span hundreds of light years across, and are denser than the space around them. They eventually become so massive that they form stars, and the remaining material forms planets.
In 1610, Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc discovered the Orion Nebula using a telescope. It is the closest star forming region to Earth, at 1300 light years away, and 25 light years across. The Crab Nebula was recorded in 1054, formed from an exploding neutron star.
Just like there are different types of supernovas, there are different types of nebulae. An Emission Nebula emits light due to its star forming region, where ultraviolet light ionizes gases into various colors. The most common is red, which indicates the presence of hydrogen. A Dark Nebula is where dense areas of gas and dust block out light coming from behind. The famous Horsehead Nebula is an example of a dark nebula. Reflection Nebulae are those which do not emit their own light, but reflect it from a nearby star. The energy emitted isn’t sufficient enough to ionize the surrounding gas. A Planetary Nebula is formed when stars similar to the size of our sun use up the hydrogen in their core and begin fusing hydrogen in its outer shell. They expand until they become Red Giants, and eventually White Dwarfs. In 5 billion years, our sun will become planetary nebula.
In my novel, Dimension Lapse, Riona and Balta divert their ship, the Starlighter into a nebula to confuse the Varcon and its crew. Much to their avail, this is ineffective, and our heroes still are able to locate Balta’s home planet. Nebulae are the death of one star, and the birth of others, and are essential to the process of life creation. Our own solar system will die with this process, and new stars and planets will form trillions of years from now from its death.
Tomorrow, we will take a look at a form of star that is a bit peculiar and not totally understood by scientists, quasars. Until then, here are today’s links:
EVERY GALAXY SHOULD HAVE ONE
Quasars are the most energetic, destructive and most luminous members of the class of objects known as active galactic nuclei. They are high sources of electromagnetic energy, which includes radio waves and visible light. Their luminosity can be 100 times greater than that of the Milky Way, and they can emit 1000 times the energy, or the equivalent of 400 billion stars.
They are the the compact region in the center of a massive galaxy surrounding a supermassive black hole. The energy emitted derives from mass falling into its vortex. Most quasars are too far away to be seen with small telescopes because they are actually about the size of our solar system.
They are formed by gravitational forces which pull matter into a black hole’s event horizon. The light is unable to escape, and the remaining escaped energy generates outside the event horizon and back into space. More than 200,000 quasars are known to exist, and some of the farthest we see as they existed in the early universe.
Quasars can sometimes emit gamma rays that could prove devastating to life on Earth if they were ever to occur. There has never been one in recorded history, but it doesn’t mean they couldn’t happen. Supernovas, pulsars, and quasars all emit massive amounts of radiation, and any one of the three can wipe humans off the face of the Earth.
Tomorrow, we will look at pulsars, and see how they are similar and different from quasars. Until then, here are the links:
SPINNING TOPS OF THE UNIVERSE
Pulsars are highly magnetized rotating neutron stars that emit a beam of electromagnetic radiation. They can only be seen when the light is pointed in the direction of an observer. Neutron stars are very dense and have short, regular rotational periods, usually pulses that range from milliseconds to seconds. The first extrasolar planets periods were discovered around a pulsar, PSR B1257 +12. Some pulsars rival atomic clocks in their accuracy in keeping time.
The first pulsar was observed on Nov. 28, 1967, by Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish. It was believed that the radio emission couldn’t be ruled out as one from an alien civilization, until another pulse was discovered elsewhere in the sky. Although pulsars emit radio wavelengths, they’ve been found to emit visible light, x-rays, and gamma rays.
Pulsars begin when the core of a massive star is compressed during a supernova, which collapses into a neutron star. The neutron star keeps most of its angular momentum and is formed with a very high rotation. A beam of radiation is emitted along the magnetic axis of the pulsar, which spins along with the rotation of the neutron star.
Pulsar beams are too faint to cause any damage to us directly, but any planets within their close vicinity would be toast. Charred by radiation constantly, they would be one of the most hostile places in the universe, but just a little further out, other planets would remain untouched.