Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Astronomy continues to startle us

So, just happened across this post: Water Vapor Was Just Found on Europa, More Evidence There’s Liquid Water Beneath All that Ice

Lots of cool details to this story at the link, ending with this:

Hopefully, scientists—and the rest of us—won’t have to wait too much longer to get some more definitive answers to Europa’s many questions. The Europa Clipper was moved to its final design stage in August 2019, and is due to launch sometime in the mid 2020s. It’ll carry a whole suite of instruments to probe Europa’s mysteries. The most exciting of all might be its ground-penetrating radar. It might see right through the ice and confirm the existence of a subsurface ocean once and for all.

I’m looking forward to the xenobiology to follow, aka A Darkling Sea.

This post made me wonder what other new and interesting things astronomers might have tripped over this year. So I poked around, and found this:

A runaway star ejected from the galactic heart of darkness

Astronomers have spotted an ultrafast star, traveling at a blistering 6 million km/h, that was ejected by the supermassive black hole at the heart at the Milky Way five million years ago.

How do stars get ejected from black holes? I thought stuff that fell into black holes was gone for good?

While we’re on the subject of black holes:

Bizarre worlds orbiting a black hole

[Theoreticians have] proposed the possibility of thousands of planets around a supermassive black hole.

Great Red Spot Isn’t Disappearing, Researchers Say

Did anybody think it was?

Alien Life on Some Extrasolar Planets Could Be More Diverse than on Earth

Sure, if you tweak the software you’re using to model ecological and other factors just right, obviously that could be true! I just get a kick out of what appears to be a fun but completely made-up project like this.

I think it’s safe to say that IF complex extrasolar life exists, then on some planets its more diverse and on some planets it’s less diverse than on Earth. What else could you possibly expect?

Still, I expect the software was fun to play with.

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3 Comments Astronomy continues to startle us

  1. Mary Catelli

    Eh, someone’s got to occupy the far end of the distribution. We might be the most diverse, or the least.

    Safe? Depends on what you bet.

  2. Hanneke

    I think the runaway star is because of the slingshot effect – it gets pulled towards the black hole (at an angle because of its own direction and velocity, as it was circling the center of that galaxy) which increases its speed, so it starts to circle the black hole, but its speed is so fast that it gets slingshotted away, before it can settle into the diminishing spiral orbit that leads to being swallowed by the black hole.

    And yeah, Jupiter’s great red spot (a superstorm in Jupiter’s atmosphere) was changing and diminishing, so some scientists had speculated that it might disappear completely.

  3. Rachel

    Oh, so not so much ejected, exactly. That does make more sense.

    Mary, if n planets with life exist in the universe, one of them can be the most diverse, one can be least diverse, and n-2 are neither. Given any magnitude of n above, say, 20, “neither” looks like a safe bet to me.

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