For as long as humans have been staring up into space, we’ve been mesmerized by the stars. Have you ever tried to count them? It’s thought at best, in the ideal location, the naked human eye will be able to see no more than 5,000 stars. That’s hardly any, considering there are 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe and in each of them there might be 1-100 trillion stars. Observable stars number about a septillion, but that’s what we can observe using equipment. Even the Milky Way, the galaxy that contains our solar system, has about 400 billion stars. It’s mind boggling what could be out there. Today we are going to look at some of the mysteries of space, in this episode of the Infographics Show, Mysterious objects in space we can’t explain yet.
Going back to the time we really didn’t know much about space, ancient people could of course see the stars and also the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Then it all changed in 1608 when a Dutch man named Hans Lippershey patented the telescope: our window to outer space. Hot on his heels was Italian Galileo Galilei, who made his own telescope. He spotted mountains on the moon, a stream of white lights now called the Milky Way, some of Jupiter’s moons, and those rocky rings that encircle the wonderful planet of Saturn. This was a high time for astronomy, and we have of course come much further. But what have we found that we just cannot fathom?
Perhaps the space mysteries that make us the most curious are the ones that compel us to think aliens did it. One such mystery is what looks like a perfect hexagon embossed on the planet Saturn. Found in 2006 by astronomers, this hexagon sitting right on Saturn’s North Pole, had people thinking it might have been left there by an intelligent alien species. Sticking with Saturn, did you know that we still can’t figure out how those rings formed or why they maintain that seemingly perfect shape? They are made of ice, and also rocks. That we know, and we think they formed right at the beginning of the solar system about 4.4 billion years ago. Are they made of bits of a destroyed moons? Are they much younger than that? We just don’t rightly know.
Shooting stars as you know are not actually shooting stars but meteors that come into our atmosphere. But there is such a thing as a shooting star, and they are brilliant. Known as hypervelocity stars, these things rocket through space at millions of miles per hour. They could have a mass similar to our sun and are sent wandering around the cosmos at 2 million miles per hour after interacting with a super massive black hole. According to NASA, this is what happens: “A galaxy devours one star in a binary system and ejects its twin, flinging it through space at superfast speeds.” We know a fair bit about them, but we are still speculating.
We have stars that get kicked out, and we also have planets that get the boot. These are known as rogue planets. One such planet is CFBDSIR2149. This planet didn’t gel with its solar system and so was ejected into space where it wanders alone for, well, we don’t know for how long. Astronomers tell us there are probably billions of these rogue planets looking for a home in the universe.
Being a lonely planet without a home is probably better than being eaten alive. There is a term for when galaxies eat each other and this not surprisingly is called ‘Galactic Cannibalism’. Two galaxies collide and one eats the other. Does this mean our closest galaxy, Andromeda, could devour us? No, because it’s too far away at about 2.5 million light years. That said, some experts believe the Milky Way and Andromeda will collide in about 4 billion years. We don’t have to worry for now. But that’s not the case for other galaxies that encroach on each other’s space, literally. The galaxy with the strongest gravitational pull will win the battle.
Speaking of being devoured, or in this case sucked away, we have something scientists call ‘Dark Flow’, which lies just outside the observable universe. The observable universe is said to have a diameter of 93 billion light-years, and beyond that lies the Dark Flow. Scientists don’t know exactly what it is, but it might have formed around the time of the Big Bang. This flow is pulling things into it. It is quite complicated, but one astronomer simply said, “There is a structure beyond the horizon of our universe and that structure is exerting a force on our universe.”
Enough of all this eating and beating, what about all the pretty things in space? Well, how does giant Diamond Star sound? According to Space.com, that is exactly what it is. A diamond, the size of planet Earth. It’s the coldest white dwarf ever found, and so cold – for a star that is – that all the carbon crystallized and formed what for all intents and purposes is a diamond. A very expensive one!
If a diamond star isn’t a wonderful thing to behold, what about a planet that is made of extremely hot ice? You might ask, how can you have hot ice. Ice is cold, right? Astronomers call this Neptune-sized world the Hot Ice Planet. It hangs out about 30 light years from our planet, and is also less poetically called GJ 436 b. It orbits a sun that is much less bright and much smaller than ours, and is also very close to that sun. That’s called Gliese 436. Because it’s so close, it is obviously really hot on that planet, about 980° F (800 Kelvin). But because of its strange gas make-up, it has a really bizzare form of what is called water ice, or “Ice-X”, as astronomers call it. No one is sure what this gas makeup is, but it’s weird, say scientists. This hot ice covers the planet, and it is so hot it would melt right through you.
Now let’s come closer to home. What are the strangest things that have ever gotten close to Earth? Well, someone once said there were blueberries on Mars… but they turned out to be rocks. They just looked really cool. And if we are going to be cute, what about the Mickey Mouse impression on Mercury? Are aliens making fun of us? No, the shape is merely a coincidence, just as when Jesus Christ turns up on American toast.
Possibly the strangest recorded object ever to get near Earth is the one all the news media is talking about now. This is an interstellar asteroid that has sailed into our solar system, and it looks like an alien spaceship. The strange object has been wandering around space for hundreds of millions of years and now it’s waving at us. NASA was over the moon about this, stating, “For decades we’ve theorized that such interstellar objects are out there, and now – for the first time – we have direct evidence they exist.” It’s called Oumuamua and it travels at about 59,030 mph (95,000 kph). It’s thought that it came from the star Vega, which is about 25 light years away. The 400 meter diameter object is dark and red and smooth, consisting of metals, water and ice. It’s so special because this is the first time we’ve ever had a visitor from another part of the galaxy, on record anyway. It’s still a mystery as we don’t really know where it’s been and how it got to us.
So, can you add to this list of Mysterious Objects in Space We Can’t Explain Yet? If so, let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video called NASA vs SpaceX! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!