Sunday, October 28, 2012

The 13 Base Harmonics Of Universal Tones

This is concerning isochronic tones and the Schumann resonance. I was meditating with a 432Hz Schumann resonance tone, and I noticed that these frequencies are closely related to my equations concerning gravitational force in my article "The theory of Time and Gravitation".

According to the equations in my last post " The theory of Time and Gravitation", the Schumann frequencies are a little bit off.

The standard equation for resonance states that (C / (2πr)) √(n(n+1) = Earth's resonant frequency = 7.8 to 8.6

My calculations from "The theory of Time and Gravitation": C m / (2π^2 r) = 7.782623Hz.

m = 1 meter or 3.281 feet.

Frequency = 1 / time

The resonant frequency of our solar/planetary system is equal to: (√C G) / (C G) = 7.083608085Hz.

Resonance is caused by the Galactic, Solar, and planetary motion through space time, and it is measured against the speed of light.

The speed of light 299,323,377.019201 m/sec. can also be seen as the 3rd harmonic base frequency of the SOURCE frequency = C^3 = 2.681772352 x 10^25cps. or Hz. Unfortunately this is too high in frequency for us to hear, we can only feel the vibrations of this frequency. Source energy is not to be confused with the Source of Universal infinite mind,or spirit = (God)

However, The 6th harmonic base frequency of 17,301Hz. can be used as a energy body expansion tool. √299,323,377.019201 = 17,301Hz.

We can take the square root of 17,301Hz and get a usable base harmonic frequency for the mind and material body. This is the 12th harmonic base frequency of the Source Energy.

√17,301Hz = 131.53Hz.

From the base harmonic frequencies we can multiply or divide by 2, 3, 4, 5,... to get the harmonics of the base harmonics.

Remember the audible range is 20Hz. to 20,000Hz. 17,301Hz - 131.53Hz is the total range of base harmonic Source Energy vibration that we can detect audibly.

G = 6.6581 x 10^-11sec. This is what modern science calls the gravitational constant, and is measured in(m^3/kg) This is actually what would follow the number, but this makes no sense at all. If mass 1: is made of sandstone and has no iron core, mass 2: is made of granite with a large iron core. Both masses are equal in size. There is no equality in mass, as mass 2 is much heavier than mass 1, even though they are the same size by volume.

Gravitation is measured by the distance the mass is away from the black hole, or mass that rotates the dark matter which carries everything in it's current.

I use seconds (sec) instead. It is what I call the Galactic time position. This gives us a better way to evaluate mass because it measures the orbital speed of the mass around the circumference of the Galactic and Universal centers against the speed of light, which gives us a precise measurement of mass because rotational and linear velocity are determined by the mass itself.

1 / time = frequency. So our Galactic frequency position is 15,019,299,800.2433 or about 15.02 GHz.

SOURCE frequency = C^3 = 2.681772352 x 10^25Hz.

Professor Einstein calculated that E = MC^2. What he did not calculate was the fact that we live in a Toroidal Universe that has an outside and an inside. The inside portion of our Universe is 3 dimensional, while the outside portion is 2 dimensional. The speed of light squared is the way we evaluate energy from our 3 dimensional perspective, while the speed of light^1 is how energy is evaluated from a 2 dimensional perspective. We live in a bi-polar Universe that evaluates energy from separate perspectives, yet it is 1 Universe. This implies that the overall SOURCE energy frequency and combined energy is C^3.

There is a hyper magnetic field dividing the 2, as any contact would spell the end of all things in this Universe. Positive and negative matter can't co-exist together, they explode violently upon contact.

I bring this to light in our discussion on frequency because C^3 is the real source of all frequencies concerning material existence. This is the speed of light cubed. Of course Source's true frequency can't be measured because the speed of thought is instantaneous and unmeasurable.

Galactic frequency position = 1 / G = 15,019,299,800.2433Hz.

Solar/planetary time position = C G =.01992924977sec.

Solar/planetary frequency position = 1 / (C G) = 50.1775035075Hz.

Identity frequency position = (C m)^2 / (2π^2 r)^2 = 60.5692249 Hz.

These are the core tone frequencies we will use to help with maximizing our meditations. From this point on we take the X root of the base frequencies to get a harmonic of that frequency. 3^√15019299800.2433Hz. = 2467.269341Hz. This is the 3rd harmonic of 1 / G.

I have purchased a tone generator to test my theory on this. So far the results are tremendous, and I would love to share them with anyone interested in testing new tones for brainwave enhancement. I am in the infancy of my brainwave engineering, but I think that my frequencies derived from the harmonics of SOURCE and resonant frequencies will change the way we look at brainwaves and how to enhance them forever.

The scale looks like this: From (√Base frequency) to (13^√Base frequency) I calculate that there are 13 root harmonics not 12. We have been programmed to see the # 13 as a bad number. This is a number that has a relation to the Fibonacci sequence and is related to the lunar cycle of our planet. We are supposed to have 13 months not 12, the 13th month is split from 14 days at the end of the year and 14 days into the new year, all months are 28.077 day periods. What I'm saying is that there are 12 root harmonics and 1 base frequency equaling 13. The base frequency is the 1st root harmonic.

Universal Base Harmonics; All numbers are measured in Hertz


1) 2.681772352^25--- 8.959448403^16---------- 299323377.019201

2) 5.178583158^12--- 299323377.019201------- 17300.96463668.9292893

3) 299323377.02------ 447466.3941-------------- 668.9292893

4) 2275650.026------- 17300.96463-------------- 131.5331313

5) 121810.4024------- 2457.289102-------------- 49.57105105

6) 17300.96463------- 668.9292893-------------- 25.86366736

7) 4291.723147------- 264.0915269-------------- 16.25089311

8) 1508.525779------- 131.5331313-------------- 11.46878944

9) 668.9292893------- 76.48685574-------------- 8.745676403

10) 349.0134702------ 49.57105105------------- 7.040671207

11) 204.9626452------ 34.76293844------------- 5.896010383

12) 131.5331313------ 25.86366736------------- 5.085633428

13) 90.37170023------ 20.13824575------------- 4.487565682


1 / G; All numders are measued in Hertz

1) 15019299800.2433

2) 122553.2529

3) 2467.269341

4) 350.0760673

5) 108.4750696

6) 49.67161504

7) 28.43197955

8) 18.71031981

9) 13.51259792

10) 10.41513656

11) 8.416857442

12) 7.047809237

13) 6.064838026


ASCENDING; All numbers are measured in Hertz

13)1.130599592^11---- 3.84271437^11

12)1.596078691^10---- 4.937556706^10

11)2253200166--------- 6344334728

10)318086508.9--------- 815192321.6

9)44904588.88---------- 104745186

8)6339225.483---------- 13458853.45

7)894914.7676---------- 1729346.647

6)126336.008------------ 222206.1364

5)17834.97992----------- 28551.57301

4 )2517.781858----------- 3668.631005

3) 355.4377695------------471.3874589

2) 50.1775035075---------60.5692249

1) 7.083608085------------7.782623266

---√(C G) / (C G)---------------C m / (2π^2 r)

Resonant frequency base & root harmonics Base = 1st root

DESCENDING; All numbers are measured in Hertz

------1 / (C G)--------------(C m)^2 / (2π^2 r)^2

1) 50.1775035075----- 60.5692249

2) 7.083608085-------- 7.782623266

3) 3.688385873-------- 3.927208919

4) 2.661504854-------- 2.78973534

5) 2.188274553-------- 2.272220131

6) 1.920517085-------- 1.981718678

7) 1.749564123-------- 1.797245608

8) 1.63141192--------- 1.670250083

9) 1.545060358-------- 1.577712992

10) 1.479281769------- 1.507388514

11) 1.427551326------- 1.452188224

12) 1.38582722-------- 1.407735301

13) 1.351376158------- 1.371185806

From these base frequencies we can establish the full range of frequencies by finding the natural harmonics = N x root frequency

Example: 2(60.5692249 Hz.) = 121.1384498Hz. or the 2nd harmonic of the identity resonant frequency base harmonic.

The mean resonant frequency is (7.782623Hz + 7.083608085Hz) / 2 = 7.441328121Hz.

The square of these resonant frequencies are equal to the solar/planetary time position frequencies. See my article: "The theory of Time and Gravitation" for more information on this.

7.083608085Hz^2 = 50.17750351 Hz

7.441328121Hz^2 = 55.3733642046Hz

7.782623Hz^2 = 60.5692249018Hz.

This gives us the foundation for the harmonic tones we should be using in our daily meditations.

Low harmonic frequency = (7.083608085Hz)(50.17750351Hz. ) = 355.4377695502Hz

Low mean harmonic frequency = (7.083608085Hz)(55.3733642046Hz) = 392.2432103952Hz

True mean harmonic frequency = (7.441328121Hz)(55.3733642046Hz) = 412.051372211Hz

High mean harmonic frequency = (7.782623Hz)(55.3733642046Hz) = 430.95003258Hz

High harmonic frequency = (7.782623Hz)(60.5692249018Hz) = 471.387458929Hz

Base harmonic frequencies in order, from lowest to highest, and a prescribed daily usage for each frequency.

50Hz.; 3.6 cps. pulse for 25 minutes/day

55Hz.; 3.6 cps. pulse for 27.5 minute/day

55Hz.; 3.7 cps. pulse for 27.5 minute/day

55Hz.; 3.9 cps. pulse for 27.5 minute/day

61Hz.; 3.9 cps. pulse for 30 minute/day

355Hz.; 7.1 cps. pulse for 50 minutes/day

392Hz.; 7.1 cps. pulse for 55 minutes/day

412Hz.; 7.4 cps. pulse for 55 minutes/day

431Hz.; 7.8 cps. pulse for 55 minutes/day

471Hz.; 7.8 cps. pulse for 60 minutes/day

We can continue the quest for usable frequencies by simply adding or subtracting combinations of any 2 of these base frequencies together to get a harmonic total. The frequencies used can be from any base or harmonic group. This is called mixing, and is applied to radio tuners of all sorts.

The base and then the following natural harmonic frequencies are the most powerful of the tones. Subdividing the tones weakens the vibrational connection to us, but they are still useful. Also the higher you go up the harmonic scale, the weaker the connection is to our physical bodies. The higher the frequency is, the closer to source energy the vibration is.

431Hz - 392Hz = 39Hz @ (7.8cps + 7.1cps) / 2 = 7.45cps. pulse for 55 minutes/day

431Hz - 55Hz = 376Hz @ (7.8cps + 3.6cps) / 2 = 5.7cps. pulse for (55min. + 27.5min.) / 2 = 41.25 minutes/day

To be a usable frequency, it must be in the range of 20Hz. to 20k Hz. Lower frequencies are generally better for connecting to the physical body because they are closer to the base frequencies of our solar system and planet.

The second harmonic frequency of the Base harmonic frequencies is calculated simply by multiplying and dividing any of the Base harmonic frequencies by 2.

50Hz. @ 3.6 cps. pulse for 25 minutes/day) x 2 = 100Hz. @ 5.4 cps. pulse for 37.5 minutes/day

55Hz. @ 3.6 cps. pulse for 27.5 minute/day) x 2 = 110Hz. @ 5.4 cps. pulse for 41.25 minutes/day

55Hz. @ 3.7 cps. pulse for 27.5 minute/day) x 2 = 110Hz. @ 5.55 cps.pulse for 41.25 minutes/day

471Hz. @ 7.8 cps. pulse for 60 minutes/day) x 2 = 942Hz. @ 11.7 cps. pulse for 90 minutes/day

The third harmonic frequency of the Base harmonic frequencies is calculated like the second harmonic frequency, by multiplying any of the Base harmonic frequencies by 3.

50Hz. @ 3.6 cps. pulse for 25 minutes/day) x 3 = 150Hz. @ 6 cps. pulse for 37.5 minutes/day

471Hz. @ 7.8 cps. pulse for 60 minutes/day) x 3 = 1413Hz. @ 13 cps. pulse for 100 minutes/day

Various frequencies have different applications. The lower frequencies are good for the centering of the mind, also the contraction of the energy body to the lower body, while the higher frequencies are good for the expansion of the mind, energy body, and getting into a closer vibrational pattern to source energy.

Use them as often as possible to promote unity within the mind, body, and energy

Forth harmonic frequency is as follows:

50Hz. @ 3.6 cps. pulse for 25 minutes/day) x 4 = 200Hz. @ 6.3 cps. pulse for 43.75minutes/day

471Hz. @ 7.8 cps. pulse for 60 minutes/day) x 4 = 1884Hz. @ 13.65 cps. pulse for 105 minutes/day

These frequencies are currently under testing. From the 6 frequencies that I have tested with a single tone process, I have had results that far exceeded my expectations. These tones took me to an Alpha state or higher, almost instantly. Some of my writing has been affected greatly by the use of these tones, and I expect even better results with the rest of the tones.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Strange Case Of Fomalhaut b

Some exoplanets just refuse to go gentle into that good night! Fomalhaut b is such a planet--a dying and rising remote world that refuses to stay dead. It is an object that was at first declared to be a planet, but was later determined not to be a planet--until it was again designated a planet in October 2012!

Astronomers have been searching for planets orbiting stars beyond our own Sun for centuries. The Dutch astronomer, physicist, and mathematician, Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695), carried out the first known search for exoplanets hundreds of years ago. Unfortunately, the next few centuries were richly marred by false alarms and dashed hopes. But, at last, on October 6, 1995, Dr. Michel Mayor and Dr. Didier Queloz of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland, made the historic announcement in the journal Nature that they had indeed discovered the very first exoplanet orbiting a normal Sun-like star, 51 Pegasi. Since then, hundreds of other exoplanets have been spotted and later confirmed by dedicated planet-hunters. Most of the exoplanets discovered so far have been found by astronomers using the radial velocity method (Doppler shift method), that searches for a tattletale wobble in a parent star, indicating that there is a planet circling it, and tugging on it gravitationally. The radial velocity method favors the detection of extremely massive planets, like the gas-giants of our own Solar System, Jupiter and Saturn. However, the method also favors the discovery of planets orbiting their stars in fast, close orbits which means that, unlike Jupiter and Saturn that whirl around our Sun in distant orbits, the massive gas-giant exoplanets discovered are at roasting distance from their fiery stellar parents. These massive gas-giant planets that orbit close to their parent stars are called hot Jupiters and, until 51 Pegasi b was discovered, astronomers did not believe that such weird worlds could possibly exist--and that gas-giants could only form in orbits much more distant from the ovens of their parent stars.

Many astronomers were bewildered by the this discovery. The then-new observations suggested a planet as hefty as Jupiter, circling very close to its parent star 51 Pegasi (51 Peg, for short)--dwelling in the constellation Pegasus. 51 Peg b is roughly 4,300,000 miles away from its star--a very tiny fraction of the distance between our Sun and Mercury--the innermost planet in our Solar System. It orbits 51 Peg every 4.2 days.

What was the hefty 51 Peg b doing so close to its stellar parent? How could this newly discovered faraway world even survive in its weird and hellish orbit? Within days, however, other astronomers confirmed the Mayor and Queloz discovery, and several teams of astrophysicists tested out the possibility for such a planet's existence by using computer models. To their surprise, the calculations suggested that a planet such as 51 Peg b could indeed easily survive the extreme radiation pouring out from its parent star, and would likely shed only a very small amount of its mass during the billions of years both it and its stellar parent dwelled together in such a tight gravitational embrace.

Of the hundreds of exoplanets discovered since 51 Peg b some have proven to be extremely bizarre beasts dwelling in the cosmic zoo, while others are hauntingly similar to the familiar planets in our own Solar System. However, there has never been a discovery--at least, not yet--like the exoplanet Fomalhaut b.

Fomalhaut is one of the brightest stars in the sky. It is also relatively close to Earth--a "mere" 25 light-years away in the constellation Piscis Austrinus. One light-year is equivalent to the distance that light can travel in a vacuum in one year--which is 5,880,000,000,000 miles. This brilliantly incandescent nearby star has captured the attention of astronomers for a very long time. In 2008, astronomers who had been observing this bewitching star, using the venerable Hubble Space Telescope (HST), announced that they had spotted a planet circling it. The planet, Fomalhaut b, was shrouded by a heavy veil of obscuring dust as it circled its stellar parent. In fact, the planet was whirling around its star from within a vast debris ring that was surrounding, but slightly offset from, Fomalhaut. Based on Fomalhaut b's mass (originally thought to be about three times that of Jupiter), as well as where it is situated, astronomers suggested that its gravitational pull probably explained the debris ring's characteristics. Dr. Paul Kalas of the University of California at Berkeley, one of the original discoverers of Fomalhaut b, told the press on November 13, 2008 that "The gravity of Fomalhaut b is the key reason that the vast dust belt surrounding Fomalhaut is cleanly sculpted into a ring and offset by the star." The sharp edge and off-center belt suggested to Kalas that a planet in an elliptical (football-shaped) orbit around the star was shaping the inner edge of the belt, in a way very similar to how the moons of Saturn shape the edges of its rings. Fomalhaut b also had the distinction of being the first exoplanet to be imaged in a visible-light snapshot! Kalas added in 2008 that "It's a profound and overwhelming experience to lay eyes on a planet never before seen."

The strange case of Fomalhaut b commenced when some astronomers began to question the object's planetary status. These scientists suggested that Fomalhaut b, far from being a long-lived planet, was in reality merely a short-lived dust cloud--and they cited brightness variations reported by the discovery team, as well as the disquieting fact that NASA's infrared Spitzer Space Telescope was unable to resolve its infrared signature, as strong clues indicating that Fomalhaut b was merely a dust cloud circling the brilliant star.

The original study that had determined Fomalhaut b was a planet reported that its brightness varied by roughly a factor of two, and claimed that this was evidence that it was a planet accreting gas. However, the skeptical astronomers said this really indicated that the mysterious object was merely a transient dust cloud.

Debate flourished for many years over Fomalhaut b's true identity. But, in October 2012, after much heated controversy, Fomalhaut b soared, like the Phoenix bird rising, back up to true exoplanet status. NASA finally determined that the original theory was correct.

"Although our results seriously challenge the original discovery paper, they do so in a way that actually makes the object's interpretation much cleaner and leaves intact the core conclusion, that Fomalhaut b is indeed a massive planet," said Dr. Thayne Currie to the press on October 26, 2012. Currie, one of the authors of the new paper, is now at the University of Toronto. This second study, bouncing Fomalhaut b back up into the pantheon of exoplanets,was developed by NASA scientists after they had taken a second peek at the Hubble data.

Currie and his team reexamined the Hubble observations of the star dating from 2004 to 2006, and discovered that the hotly disputed exoplanet was easily seen at visible wavelengths. They also made a new detection in violet light. In contrast to the earlier team's findings, Currie's team found that the exoplanet maintained a constant brightness. However the second team was also unable to spot Fomalhaut b in the infrared using the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii, probably because the exoplanet must really have less than twice the mass of Jupiter.

In addition, Currie's team claims that they have also settled the disputed issue pertaining to the exoplanet's orbit around its star. Fomalhaut b is traveling at a speed and direction consistent with the Kalas team's idea that its gravity is shaping the ring.

"What we've seen from our analysis is that the object's minimum distance from the disk has hardly changed at all in two years, which is a good sign that it's in a nice ring-sculpting orbit," said Timothy Rodigas to the press on October 26, 2012. Rodigas is a graduate student at the University of Arizona.

Furthermore, near Fomalhaut's ring, orbital dynamics should completely dissolve a compact dust cloud in as little as 60,000 years.

Fomalhaut is about 200 million years old and will likely burn out in about a billion years. It is a much more short-lived star than our Sun, which is about 4.5 billion years old, and will not burn out for another 5 billion years. Kalas commented to the press back in 2008 that "Fomalhaut b is surrounded by a planetary ring system so vast it would make Saturn's rings look pocket-sized by comparison. Fomalhaut b may actually show us what Jupiter and Saturn resembled when the Solar System was about a hundred million years old."

I am a writer and astronomer whose articles have been published since 1981 in various newspapers, magazines, and journals. Although I have written on a variety of topics, I particularly love writing about astronomy because it gives me the opportunity to communicate to others the many wonders of my field. My first book, "Wisps, Ashes, and Smoke," will be published soon.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Find the Right Backyard Domes for Sale Online

Many people are looking for high quality professional domes for sale. There are a few places that sell them on the internet, however, the make and model is the main determining factor when selecting the right product. Gazing into the stars is a hobby one cannot get bored with. However, without the right high quality domes, it is impossible to maintain the stability and focus on the sky. The below article would provide essential information about selecting the right astronomy domes for sale.

Backyard Domes

Most of the domes are suitable for mounting in the back yard, and take up little space. It is important to ensure that they are made of a strong and flexible material; withstanding the weather. Some of the domes offer expansion and adjusting opportunities, and they are also lightweight. It is also essential that the domes would be strong but lightweight; metal ones would simply require too much maintenance and regular painting. The best astronomy domes can be made of fiberglass; the most resistant and flexible lightweight material. However, this is the most expensive material for domes as well, due to the labor involved.

Explora-Dome features

The difference between regular domes and Explora-domes is the price and the material. A 100% recyclable Polyethylene is lightweight and extremely strong. The manufacturer of the Explora-domes for sale molds the material, the cost involved is lower, and the appearance of the building is not affected. The material is also UV stabilized, providing extremely powerful protection against the forces of nature. Further, all the domes for sale offered by the company are ready assembled and easy to mount in the back garden by one person. Explora-domes come in different sizes, shapes and designs, allowing owners extra flexibility. The shutters of the domes are also professionally designed for maximum durability.

Dome Functions

Most of the backyard domes for sale have a side door with a width of around 29 inches. The dome shaped top opens from the inside and securely closes after the observation is finished. Some of these buildings come with a long warranty and can withstand a wind of 65 m/s and even a smaller earthquake. Snow is also not a problem when erecting them in the back garden; most domes are made of materials that are strong and flexible enough to withstand the pressure. A dome can house a telescope as long as 2.5 meters and come with an electric, battery-operated shutter system.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Stormy Weather On Saturn

Saturn is probably the most beautiful member of our Sun's enchanting family of eight major planets. It is the second-largest planet in our Solar System, after Jupiter, and it is circled by 62 known moons, and myriads of dancing, tiny moonlets that are a mere 2 to 3 kilometers across. They are mostly icy objects, glittering both within and outside of Saturn's magnificent system of rings.

Saturn and Jupiter are our Solar System's two gas-giant planets. Both are denizens of the outer Solar System, and are primarily composed of extremely dense, deep gaseous atmospheres. Some planetary scientists think that the two immense worlds have no solid surface beneath their heavy envelopes of gas. However, other planetary scientists think that Jupiter and Saturn do have relatively tiny solid cores. The other two major planets that dwell in the outer regions of our Solar System are Uranus and Neptune. Uranus and Neptune are thought to have large cores composed of icy, rocky material, as well as gaseous envelopes that are not nearly as thick as those possessed by Jupiter and Saturn. Uranus and Neptune are the two ice-giant planets of the outer Solar System, and they are smaller than the gas-giants Jupiter and Saturn.

For many scientists and the public, Saturn's rings always steal the show. The rings are a collection of innumerable icy bits that range in size from that of minuscule smoke-sized particles to chunks as large as houses. These small orbiting icy objects interact with each other in an exquisite dance, and they are also effected by their planet's magnetosophere--which is the region of a planet's magnetic influence--as well as by the larger moons. The main rings create a very wide but unusually thin and ethereal expanse that is approximately 250,000 kilometers across but only tens of hundreds of meters deep. The origins and ages of the rings remain delightfully mysterious. Theories abound and vary greatly. Differing viewpoints suggest that the rings may be as young as 100 million years or as old as the 4.5 billion-year-old planet itself. Determining the age of the rings is an important scientific endeavor. This is because the answer to this elusive question will ultimately provide a fundamental and necessary clue to the origin and evolution of the Saturnian system itself. Although the rings have numerous attributes that make them appear to be quite young, they may have been around for as long as Saturn has.

Saturn's magnificent ring system is divided by astronomers into 5 main components: the G, F, A, B, and C rings, that are listed from the outermost to the innermost. Reality, however, is somewhat more complicated than this simple classification would indicate. These main divisions are subdivided into thousands of individual ringlets. The A, B, and C rings are easy to see, and are very wide. However, the F and G rings are slender and ethereal and very difficult to observe. There is also a large gap between the A ring and the B ring, which is termed the Cassini Division.

Although Saturn's ring system is the most famous and easiest to observe, all of the giant planets dwelling in the outer limits of our Solar System sport ring systems. However, the ring systems circling the other three giant planets are not nearly as spectacular as Saturn's. But, this doesn't mean that the ring systems of the other giant planets are uninteresting. Like Saturn, the other three outer planets also host a myriad of little dancing moonlets that orbit just beyond or very close to the rings, followed by an admirable retinue of larger moons.

On July 1, 2004 NASA's Cassini spacecraft swept into orbit around Saturn and began taking some remarkable pictures. Although Saturn appears to be a placid planet on the surface, Cassini showed that looks can be deceiving, when it imaged the "Great Springtime Storm" that blasted Saturn in early 2011. NASA announced the discovery of this immense tempest on October 25, 2012. The terrible storm sported a gigantic cloud cover as big as the entire Earth, as well as the "largest and hottest stratospheric vortex ever detected in our Solar System". At one point Cassini also detected on Saturn an "almost unbelievable"spike in regional temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which represents the biggest jump ever observed in our Solar System. Dr. Brigette Hesman, part of the Cassini team, noted in the October 26, 2012 online National Geographic News that "We were quite shocked when we detected the temperature change--nothing like that was ever observed before." Dr. Hesman is a research scientist at the University of Maryland.

Along with the dramatic temperature spike came an immense deposit of the hydrocarbon gas ethylene, which is a byproduct of methane, that had been previously observed only in trace amounts in the ringed planet's atmosphere. How this ethylene became so dramatically and suddenly abundant is a mystery.

"We know this was all caused by a big storm in the lower atmosphere," where temperatures are warm enough for water to condense and form clouds, Hesman continued to note.

The oval-shaped tempest formed when two warm spots in Saturn's ever-churning cloud deck collided and merged. The resulting storm was not visible to human eyes. However, it did shine brightly at infrared wavelengths. The tempest raged through Saturn's northern latitudes over the latter part of 2010 and most of 2011, and was the largest recorded maelstrom since 1903. Indeed, the storm grew so immense that it swept all the way across the entire planet, and actually caught its own tail. At its peak, the tempest--which produced extremely high winds and devastating flashes of intense lightning--formed a cloud cover that circled Saturn in a band that was 9,000 miles wide!

A Saturnian year is approximately equal to 30 Earth-years. Saturn is stricken by a major storm at roughly the same interval. The "Great Springtime Storm" arrived eleven years ahead of schedule and lingered for more than half a year. The visible storm spread within the cloud deck of Saturn's troposphere, and waves of energy shot up hundreds of miles. This created immense "beacons" of hot air, which pushed into the stratosphere. Although planetary scientists expected these beacons to disintegrate and cool down, by early 2011 they had instead clung together creating one immense vortex that for a short time was actually larger than Jupiter's famously enormous Great Red Spot. A bizarre soupy cauldron of hot gases was also seen encircling the enormous vortex.

The brilliant beacon is expected to fade away and eventually disappear by 2012. However, planetary scientists wonder what other surprises are in store on this beautiful, mysterious, puzzle of a giant planet. Two papers describing the vortex will be published in November 2012, one in the journal Icarus, the other in the Astrophysical Journal.

Why did this Saturnian storm produce so many weird occurrences? "We'll be studying this one for years to try to figure it out," Hesman told National Geographic.

I am a writer and astronomer whose articles have been published since 1981 in various magazines, newspapers, and journals. Although I have written on a variety of topics, I particularly love writing about astronomy because it gives me the opportunity to communicate to others the many wonders of my field. My first book, "Wisps, Ashes, and Smoke," will be published soon.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Lonesome Stars Glow In The Background

An ethereal Cosmic Infrared Background Radiation (CIB) travels to Earth from all directions in Space, carrying with it marvelous clues about our Universe's "first fireworks". This lumpy, weak infrared glow, emitted by some mysterious and very ancient objects, first began an incredibly long journey to us in visible or even ultraviolet wavelengths. But, due to the expansion of the Universe, this ancient traveling light was stretched out to longer wavelengths that astronomers now observe as a faint infrared glow all over the entire sky.

The CIB was first discovered in 2005, and then studied more intensely about two years later, by astronomers using NASA's highly successful Spitzer Space Telescope that sees the sky with infrared vision. Spitzer is a remarkable piece of technology that has succeeded in obtaining precious scientific information about the Universe since its launch on August 25, 2003, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base aboard a Delta II rocket. Spitzer ultimately drifted into a one-of-a-kind Earth-trailing orbit around the Sun, where it now observes an optically invisible Universe heavily cloaked by dust and stars. Glittering starlight is absorbed by dense veiling dust, that is re-emitted in the infrared, and therefore can be observed with Spitzer's infrared eyes. Spitzer is the fourth and final of NASA's Great Observatories program which includes the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (CGRO), and the Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO).

Spitzer has been able to look far back in time to see the lumpy, faint glow of the CIB, emitted by the very first objects dwelling in the ancient Universe. Whereas visible light reveals to astronomers the well-kept secrets of the beautiful incandescent stars that dwell within our Universe's billions and billions of galaxies, the far-infrared is emitted by cold dust that is hiding the newly formed stars like an impenetrable veil. Spotting this surprisingly great multitude of dusty galaxies has proven to be a difficult quest for astronomers. Space telescopes are necessary in order to observe far-infrared light sent forth from the very brightest of the objects that contribute to the infrared background.

In June 2012, astronomers using Spitzer reported that they may have detected these very first objects--our Universe's "first fireworks". The ancient objects may be huge stars--much larger than the familiar stars of today's Cosmos--or hungry black holes. The astronomers were quick to point out that the objects are so remote that they were extraordinarily difficult to resolve individually. However, Spitzer successfully obtained hints of what appears to be an overall pattern formed by their collective light. The observations helped to confirm the idea that these first objects were great in number, and that they burned with furious, brilliant fire.

Dr. Alexander (Sasha) Kashlinsky of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, lead author of a research paper discussing the findings that were published in the Astrophysical Journal, told the press on June 7, 2012 that "These objects would have been tremendously bright. We can't yet directly rule out mysterious sources for this light that could be coming from our nearby Universe, but it is now becoming increasingly likely that we are catching a glimpse of an ancient epoch. Spitzer is laying down a roadmap for NASA's upcoming James Webb Telescope, which will tell us exactly what and where these first objects were." The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a large infrared-optimized space telescope currently set for a 2018 launch.

The June 2012 study was designed to improve on earlier observations by measuring the CIB out to scales approximately equal to two full Moons. This is considerably larger than what had been observed previously.

However, in October 2012, other astronomers proposed a different origin for the mysterious softly glowing CIB. This later study also used data from Spitzer, and suggests that the source of the bewitching glow comes from lonesome stars hovering beyond the edges of galaxies. These isolated stars are believed to have once been denizens of these galaxies before violent galaxy mergers tore them away and then hurled them ruthlessly into the empty, cold, dark space outside of their erstwhile homes.

Dr. Asantha Cooray of the University of California at Irvine, lead author of the research published in the journal Nature, explained in an October 24, 2012, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Press Release that "The infrared background glow in our sky has been a huge mystery. We have new evidence this light is from the stars that linger between galaxies. Individually, the stars are too faint to be seen, but we think we are seeing their collective glow."

This later study is at variance with the earlier theory proposed by Kashlinsky and his colleagues, who argue that this mysterious glow is emanating from the very first stars and galaxies in the Universe.

In the later study, Cooray and co-workers looked at information gathered from a larger region of the sky, that covered an arc approximately equal to 50 full Moons. These observations, however, were not as sensitive as those from the Kashlinsky group, but the larger scale enabled the Cooray team to better scrutinize the pattern of the CIB light. They surveyed the larger region of the sky, called the Bootes field, for 250 hours.

The Cooray team ultimately reached the conclusion that the pattern of light, seen in the infrared glow, was inconsistent with those theories and computer simulations that suggested it came traveling to Earth from light emitted by the very first stars and galaxies in the Universe. They determined that the glow was too bright to be dispatched from the first galaxies, which were probably not as large or as numerous as the galaxies dwelling in today's Cosmos. Therefore, Cooray's team went on to explain the lumpy all-pervasive infrared glow based on existing theories of "intrahalo" or "intracluster" starlight.

These theories predict that there is a diffuse population of lonely stars dwelling beyond the outer limits of galaxies, as well as in the dark and relatively empty spaces between galaxies. Young galaxies were still growing in size during the Universe's early days, and as they grew, they tended to collide with one another, gaining increasingly more and more mass. As the growing galaxies crashed into one another, they became inextricably intertwined gravitationally, causing lovely ribbons of dazzling stars to be violently shredded, hurling the stars into space. In addition, galaxies also grow when they devour smaller dwarf galaxies, and this can be a very messy dinner. The mess can result in stray stars being thrown out of their galactic homes.

Cooray commented in the October 24, 2012 JPL Press Release that "A light bulb went off when reading some research papers predicting the existence of diffuse stars. They could explain what we are seeing with Spitzer."

More research is needed to determine the true origins of the CIB. Perhaps the keen vision of JWST will at long last solve the lingering mystery once and for all. Dr. Eric Smith, JWST's deputy program manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. noted in the October 24, 2012 JPL Press Release that "The keen infrared vision of the James Webb Telescope will be able to see some of the earliest stars and galaxies directly, as well as the stray stars lurking between the outskirts of nearby galaxies. The mystery objects making up the background infrared light may finally be exposed."

I am a writer and astronomer whose articles have been published since 1981 in various journals, magazines, and newspapers. Although I have written on a variety of topics, I particularly love writing about astronomy because it gives me the opportunity to communicate to others the many wonders of my field. My first book, "Wisps, Ashes, and Smoke," will be published soon

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Sacred Solfeggio Tones

I was interested in finding a connection between the Solfeggio tones and my theory "The Base Harmonics Of Universal Tones" As hard as I tried, I just couldn't make them connect in a way that would satisfy a legitimate mathematical model.

After careful consideration, I noticed something about the original Solfeggio order of tones. The Solfeggio tones are a play on the sequential numbers from 1 to 9.

This is what I found:

1 7 4---- 4 1 7---- 7 4 1

2 8 5---- 5 2 8---- 8 5 2

3 9 6---- 6 3 9---- 9 6 3

Starting from the first group of tones, first number moving down, then up and to the second group, then the third group, always using the first number moving down. You will see that the first number in each tone is in sequential order from 1 to 9.

Starting from the second group of tones, using the second number moving down, using the same method as the first one except you will always use the second number in each tone, and end the count at the first group. You will see that the second number in each tone is in sequential order from 1 to 9.

Starting from the third group of tones, always using the third number moving down, then up and back to the first group, ending at the second group, you will see that the third number in each tone is in sequential order from 1 to 9.

As cleaver of a matrix as this is, it just doesn't have any relevance to any natural tones provided by the Universe.

As you can see there is another way that you can play on these numbers.

1 4 7---- 4 7 1---- 7 1 4

2 5 8---- 5 8 2---- 8 2 5

3 6 9---- 6 9 3---- 9 3 6

I think the way Solfeggio arranged them is sequentially better, but neither way has any relevance to the Universal tones, except for the 471Hz. tone. Actually the way that I've arranged them is closer to the Universal tones than Solfeggio's way. The frequencies are fairly close to the Universal tones, and that is why they seem to work, but we can do much better.

These are the Universal tones arranged so that the first number in each tone is sequential from 1 to 9.

131.53Hz. = 12^√C^3 = 8^√C^2 = 4^√C

264.09Hz. = 7^√C^2

349.01Hz. = 10^√C^3

471.39Hz. = (C m)^3 / (2π^2 r)^3

551.98Hz. = 11(C m / (2π^2 r))

668.93Hz. = 9^√C^3 = 6^√C^2 = 3^√C

710.88Hz. = 2√(C G)^3 / (C G)^3

813.33Hz. = 9(13^√C^3)

920.71Hz. = 7(12^C^3) = 7(8^√C^2) = 7(4^√C)

There are several different ways that I can arrive at the sequential order of 1 to 9 using different Universal tones, but I think that the way I have it now is the best way to represent the sequence.

This arrangement is OK, but it leaves out plenty of very important frequencies. Some are lower than 131.53Hz. and some are higher than 920.71Hz. Also there are tones in between that are important as well, so I don't put a lot of relevance to this sequence, but it has its musical uses I suppose. You can look at my article on "The Base Harmonics Of Universal Tones" to view all the Universal tones.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Three Steps Across The Universe

Thoughts are included within the broader definition of reality and are regarded as "things". However, many philosophers and mathematicians such as Aristotle, Plato, Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein have attempted to make a fine distinction between thought corresponding to reality, that is, "coherent abstractions", and those ideas which cannot even be rationally thought of, or expressed in common language. Some delusions and hallucinations seem real at the time they occur, though. It's all just a matter of perception, really.

Just a few short years ago, for example, if a person talked about spirits and a belief in ghosts, then they were considered by some to have lost their grip on reality. Now it seems cable television programming is filled with a plethora of "reality shows" dealing with the subjects of the paranormal, haunting, and ghost stories. Today, they saturate prime time television as a popular form of accepted entertainment. More people believe in ghosts now than ever before.

Existence, by contrast, is that realm of reality that is often defined as that which only has physical existence or has a direct basis in it, much in the same way thoughts occupy the brain. One school of thought believes that there simply and literally is no reality beyond the perceptions or beliefs we commonly hold in agreement about reality. This attitude can be summarized better by the popular statements, "life is how you perceive reality" or "perception is reality" or "reality is what you can get away with". Basically they indicate "anti-reality", which is the view that there is no objective reality, whether explicitly acknowledged or not. Yet, contrary to this view, some scientists and philosophers, including Albert Einstein, have had lots of abstract thoughts that were used as building blocks to completely redefine our definition of reality and existence. You might say, from their perspective, reality is a work in progress, constantly being redefined, changed, and in a constant state of flux as the nature of the universe unfolds and human intellect reaches out to grasp the emerging subtleties of knowledge.

Reality, in a conventional, day-to-day, feet-on-the-ground sense, is often contrasted with things that are considered "not real" such as: imaginary concepts, delusions, dreams, myths, what is only in the mind, what is abstract, what is fictional, or what is false. Reality, in this case, is defined by what it is not. The truth, on the other hand, refers to what is real as perceived and defined by the collective mind; the hive mind if you will, and agreed to en masse by what people can authenticate from the realm of their five senses and what is processed by their level of intelligence. Around the periphery of this collective notion, the borders and boundaries start to get rather fuzzy and this is the gray area that spawns innovation and interpretation. The more one looks at it, the more the fractals increase the definition, and the more detailed the boundary lines become, on into infinity. Reality is just a moving target.

Theories can be real ideas and yet remain unproven. Reality is itself a theory because some of it is unproven and subject to speculation and interpretation, while some of it is very simple, matter-of-fact, and concrete. It's a moving target to be sure, and reality is different from culture to culture and individual to individual.

There are certain ideas from physics, philosophy, literature, sociology, and other related fields that shape various theories of reality. They are working tools, or formulas, or definitions that can perform useful functions, or help postulate and predict outcomes, yet cannot be proven mathematically or physically by themselves. There are things like black holes, dark energy, Bigfoot, and spontaneous human combustion, for example, that are real "theories", or conditions, in themselves, and they describe real concepts or situations that are accepted in academia; but yet no one has really ever seen them, or touched them, or fully explained them, or proven they actually exist at all beyond just being an interesting idea. Bigfoot may be the exception here because I once thought I heard him outside my door while I was watching a video of his cousin walking across a river bottom, but you get what I mean, don't you?

In our society at this juncture in time, we are asked to believe that one moment there was nothing and in the next millisecond, there was the expansive universe, in what physicists call the Big Bang Theory; now known as the common accepted definition of causality and the reality paradigm to explain our existence. One moment there was nothing, physicists tell us, and in the very next nanosecond, there was everything that now exists in the known universe. All the matter and energy and space that makes up billions of suns, stars, solar systems, galaxies, black holes, dark matter and dark energy was created out of a single, tiny sub-atomic particle; i.e., a singularity, in less time than it takes to sneeze. Try stretching your mind around that one. That is certainly one interesting view of reality for whoever wants to subscribe to it.

As I stand out on my back deck drinking my first cup of morning coffee, the air is still and quite, except for the birds and bugs making a soft background noise. On a technical level, the scientists would say I am being hurled through space at an amazing speed, but from where I'm standing; there isn't even enough of a breeze to blow my hair back. Which reality do I exist in? Both? This is what Einstein must have meant when he said it is all a matter of relativity.

The speed of an object cannot be measured by itself; it has to be measured relative to something else. The diameter of the earth at the equator is 12,756.32 kilometers or 7,926.41 miles. Each day, a person standing on the equator travels all the way around this 24,926.41 mile-long circuit in a 24 hour period (0.99726968 days to be exact). So, the speed of a person at the equator, with respect to the earth's axis, is calculated accordingly: 24,926.41 miles divided by 23.93 hours, equals 1,041.6385 miles per hour. So, for the sake of this discussion, the equatorial person travels around the surface of the earth at about 1,042 mph.

Now, of course, people located closer to either pole travel at slower speeds the closer they are to the pole, and people located directly on the pole itself do not move hardly at all relative to those at the equator. For example, I presently live near the Canadian border in the USA. Now with a little research, I have found that, using the following formula, I am able to determine my speed relative to my position on the earth with respect to the axis: Speed = (24,926.41 miles [cos(latitude)] ) ÷ 24 hours, so in my particular case, (24,926.41 [cos(47.65676)] ) ÷ 24 = 698.82520804 miles per hour; call it 700 mph. So, in reality, even though my senses tell me I'm standing still out on my deck enjoying the stillness and calm of a brand new day awakening in a very peaceful country environment, I'm actually spinning around in a cold sea of vacuum and darkness on a large blue ball, close to 700 miles per hour, and I haven't even spilled a drop of my coffee yet. Imagine that, but that's not all.

The annual orbit of the earth around the sun is called one "earth revolution" and the earth takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds (365.242199 mean solar days) to complete a full revolution, or one cycle around the sun. The earth orbits in an elliptical path and the distance between the earth and the sun varies throughout the year. At its nearest point on this elliptical path, the earth is 91,445,000 miles (147,166,462 km) from the sun. This point in the earth's orbit is known as perihelion and it occurs on January 3. The earth is farthest away from the sun on July 4 when it is 94,555,000 miles (152,171,522 km) from the sun. This point in the earth's orbit is called aphelion.

Now on average, the earth's orbit is 92,955,807 miles (149,597,870.691 km) from the sun (defined as one Astronomical Unit (1 AU) in the scientific community), taking one solar year to complete one revolution. It takes light from the sun only about 8.317 minutes to reach the earth. The earth revolves around the sun at a speed of about 18.5 miles/sec (30km/sec). So in addition to spinning around the earth's axis at roughly 700 miles per hour, I am also traveling around the sun an additional 1,110 miles per second, and yet, even at this incredible speed, it doesn't appear to make me dizzy or make my cheeks flutter like when my dog hangs his head out of the car window. My sense of reality just tells me I'm standing still, sipping on my coffee cup.

If that isn't enough to upset my equilibrium, there is still a third gear speed applied to our bodies and starship: that of our solar system rotating around the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Most astronomers believe the Milky Way Galaxy is moving at approximately 630 km per second relative to the local co-moving frame of reference. At this speed, the earth travels 51.84 million km per day, or more than 18.9 billion km per year, which is about 4.5 times its closest distance from the former planet, Pluto. At the speed of this third high gear, I can walk over to the edge of my deck, taking about three steps, and at the same time cross through several million miles of the universe. It's quite a nice stroll actually. Maybe all this traveling through space explains why I feel so tired these days.

So at any given moment during the course of our lives, when we are standing still, we are all actually subjected to ever-increasing centrifugal forces, circular paths within larger circular paths, not linear forces as we often think. So, I am always in motion and never standing still, contrary to what my wife says.

Now there is a fourth gear speed I was saving for last which is the speed of the Milky Way Galaxy rotating around the center of the universe. That is quite a fast speed, to be sure, but since no one has really measured it accurately yet, and I'm already starting to feel a little dizzy from all that other motion; I think I'll save it for a later time to add to my reality. You would think with all that speed we would leave a contrail behind us someplace, wouldn't you?

So there you have it. What school of thought on reality do you subscribe to now? I think Michelangelo best captured this complex concept in his depiction of the creation on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome during the Renaissance. He illustrated God as a gray-haired old man extending his finger toward Adam. Truth be told, though, the reality of what God was really doing in that gesture, was not conveying the gift of life to mankind, but rather directing Adam to "pull his finger". That's my opinion of reality and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What Are the Advantages of Using a Backyard Observatory?

Some people find celestial objects quite fascinating and they have a wish to look at stars and watch outer space whenever they get the opportunity. If you're one of these individuals and have a passion for the satellites, it is possible for you to create your very own planetarium, on a small-scale, in your very own house. You will be able to find plenty of domes in markets and off the internet. However, when you shop online, you will find that most of the equipment you need to create this planetarium will be found at affordable prices.

When buying equipment and items to build your very own planetarium, you will need to keep certain things in mind, including the size of the planetarium you plan on building, and the spot you plan on placing the dome itself. The backyard could be the best possible place for such an observatory. Take a look at the reasons why it is best to use a backyard observatory.

Firstly, the ease with which you can install all the equipment is astonishing. If you follow the instructions just as they are mentioned, you won't have any problems in putting everything together. It's better if you opt for a white colored dome that is UV resistant. The domes are made with polyethylene plastic and are weather resistant. You will be able to capture the view of outer space perfectly because of the top window shutter of the dome. When you're installing all this for your backyard observatory, you won't need to pay any extra installation costs or construction and structure costs either. Everything will be easily available in terms of equipment, and the backyard will be the ideal place to set up all of this equipment since the backyard observatory dome is built specifically for this purpose. Do bear in mind that you will need to choose a telescope that will fit inside the room you plan on placing it in.

The use of all of this equipment, including the backyard observatory dome is very simple. You just need a computer, and one of your favorite telescopes to sit back and enjoy the view. Because the dome is made out of unbreakable plastic, you will be able to make any modifications to the dome as you desire. The shutter of the dome is wide enough to allow the movement of people and objects through it.

The maintenance of this dome is quite simple as well. If the quality of your observatory is high, you really don't need to worry about it being damaged due to a change in weather. The plastic of these domes is usually durable and strong, so they do withstand the force of nature most of the time. The domes are eco-friendly, so they don't do any harm to the environment either. S light wash after every six months will be more than enough for the planetarium dome.

Dismantling the dome is simple, and you have a choice of colors to choose from as well. Everything for the backyard observatory comes at affordable rates and you can be sure that it won't be damaged easily.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Saturn's Seven Sister Moons

Saturn is the smaller of the two gas-giant planets dwelling in the outer regions of our Solar System, far from the friendly light and warmth of our incandescent golden Star, the Sun. The larger of the two gas-giants is Jupiter, which is also the largest planet in our Solar System. Some scientists think that the two gas giants do not have solid surfaces hidden beneath their immense and heavy gaseous envelopes, although others think that they probably do contain relatively small cores of rocky-icy material. The two other large denizens of the outer limits of our Sun's family are Uranus and Neptune, which are classified as ice-giants, because they have large icy cores buried beneath their heavy atmospheres which, though massive, are not nearly as heavy as the gaseous atmospheres borne by the two gas-giants.

Saturn is probably the most beautiful planet in our Sun's lovely family, with its magnificent system of enchanting rings, gleaming icy moons, and myriads of tumbling moonlets that dance and somersault both within and outside of the rings. One of Saturn's moons is Titan, the second largest moon in our Solar System, after Ganymede of Jupiter. Shrouded in a dense orange mist, Titan is famous for its frozen clouds of methane, and hydrocarbon seas and lakes. Titan's thick, veiling atmosphere is composed of a wonderful icy soup of compounds very much like those thought to have been present in Earth's primordial atmosphere. Titan's thick atmosphere--which is much denser than Earth's atmosphere--contains mostly nitrogen, like that of our own planet. But Titan's atmosphere also contains significantly greater percentages of such so-called "smoggy" chemicals as methane and ethane. The smog on Titan is so extremely dense that it actually rains "gasoline-like" liquids down on the surface of this bizarre world. Indeed, some of the chemicals discovered in Titan's atmosphere might indicate that simple and primitive methane-based life (methanogens), might dwell on this truly weird moon.

Until 2004, no spacecraft had visited Saturn in over two decades. Pioneer 11 had snapped the very first close-up images of Saturn when it flew past in 1979, Voyager 1 had its rendezvous about a year later, and in August 1981 Voyager 2 had its brief but highly productive encounter. At last, on July 1, 2004, NASA's Cassini spacecraft went into orbit around Saturn, and started taking breathtaking photographs.

Saturn has 62 known moons. Most of them are very small, icy worldlets. On June 11, 2004, shortly before arriving at Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft made its only flyby--at an altitude of 2,000 kilometers--past the very tiny icy moon Phoebe. Phoebe is a heavily cratered worldlet that circles its planet backwards--indicating that it is a captured object, born elsewhere, and not an original member of Saturn's family.

Most of Saturn's natural satellites are very small and icy dancing moonlets. However, the larger, icy midsized moons twirl around their enormous ringed planet in a lovely and mysterious dance. The largest of the icy moons is Rhea, Saturn's second-largest moon after the weird world that is Titan. Iapetus, the third largest of Saturn's moons, is two-faced, with one side composed of gleaming, very bright, highly reflective ice, and the other, dark and non-reflective, a blackened splotch staining the pristine white ice. Iapetus is larger than Mimas and Enceladus. There is an enormous impact crater on the moon Mimas, that stands out as a prominent feature on what is apparently a badly bombarded, heavily cratered world. The large impact crater Herschel on this 400-kilometer moon was excavated by a tumbling chunk of space-stuff made of rock, ice, or both, that came very close to powdering the entire little moon. Another icy moon, Enceladus, is a bewitching world, 500-kilometers in diameter, that is thought to harbor a global subsurface ocean beneath its frozen crust. Where there is liquid water there is always the possibility--though, by no means, the promise--of life. Enceladus also has the highest albedo of any other moon in our Solar System. This means that it has the most dazzlingly bright reflective surface. It also possesses a very active geology, rendering it almost free of craters because it is constantly being resurfaced by the emissions of gushing icy geysers that are responsible for fresh snow that keeps the surface of the little moon sparkling and smooth.

Research presented on October 19, 2012, at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences held in Reno, Nevada, has suggested a causal relationship between the seven sister moons--Titan and the six mid-sized icy moons of Saturn. The researchers suggest that the seven moons have a violent origin, and came into being when a few considerably larger moons crashed into each other to give birth to the misty, moisty moon, Titan.

According to this theory, the Saturn system began with a family of several relatively large moons, analogous to the four large Galilean moons of Jupiter--Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. However, strange and violent things happened in the Saturn system that drove its large moons onto a collision course with destiny. According to the theory, there were a few dramatic moon mergers, forming the Titan that we now know--but there was also a sufficiently large quantity of moon-stuff left over from the collisions to create the icy mid-sized satellites--Mimas, Iapetus, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, and Rhea!

"We think that the giant planets got their satellites kind of like the Sun got its planets, growing like miniature solar systems and ending with a stage of final collisions," lead author Dr. Erik Asphaug, of the University of California at Santa Cruz, said in a statement to the press on October 18, 2012.

He added that "In our model for the Saturn system, we propose that Titan grew in a couple of giant impacts, each one combining the masses of the colliding bodies, while shedding a small family of middle-sized moons."

Such moon-forming mergers and collisions are not unheard of. For example, the leading theory explaining the formation of Earth's own large Moon, suggests that it was born about 4.5 billion years ago when a Mars-sized protoplanet, dubbed Theia by astronomers, collided with our planet. Just as our Moon is identical geologically to Earth's mantle, the six medium-sized icy sister moons of Saturn are all similar in composition to Titan's icy mantle, the researchers announced in October 2012.

"Our model explains the diversity of these ice-rich moons and the evidence for their very active geology and dynamics. It also explains a puzzling fact about Titan, in that a giant impact would give it a high orbital eccentricity," Asphaug continued to explain to the press on October 18, 2012.

Jupiter, like Saturn, is circled by more than 60 known satellites. Many of them are tiny moonlets, measuring only a few miles across, and are probably captured asteroids or minor planets--or their shattered remains.

Asphaug and co-author Dr. Andreas Reufer of the University of Bern in Switzerland, devised their new giant impact model using sophisticated computer simulations. They discovered that mergers between moons the size of Jupiter's Galilean satellites--which range in size from 1,940 miles wide (Europa) to 3, 271 miles across (Ganymede)--would tear icy stuff off the outer layers of the colliding moons. This icy material would then form spiral arms, which would ultimately merge together due to gravitational attraction to create Saturn's mid-sized icy moons.

The moon-mergers may have happened very long ago--or maybe quite recently. The mergers could have been tripped off by gravitational disruption caused by a migrating giant planet such as Uranus or Neptune, the researchers told the press in October 2012.

"What makes the Saturn system so beautiful and unique could be its youth. While we don't have a preferred time frame for this origin scenario to play out, it could have happened recently if something came along to destabilize the Saturn system, triggering the collisional mergers that formed Titan," Asphaug added.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

How the Planets Are Aligned

This is the mathematical story of how our solar system is arranged. Each planet is a specific distance from the next planet. The mean distance between the planets is 1.62 x 10^9 meters. that is basically equal to (PHI)(1 x 10^9) meters; or φ x 1000000000 = 1,682,000,000m

The center circle represents the Sun even though the size is not proportional.

The CAD program would not allow me to use proportionate circles and still be able to view the picture. In fact I had a hard time making small circles. This is because I didn't know how to use the program correctly at the time.

Right on top of the Sun at the beginning of the spiral is Mercury. The planets go in order from there.

Sun = Center

Distance from preceding planet ------ Distance from the Sun

Mercury = Beginning of spiral = 1 @ 58 x 10^9 meters from the Sun.

Venus = 2nd on spiral = 1.86 @ 108 x 10^9 meters from the Sun.

Earth = 3rd on spiral = 1.39 @ 149.66 x 10^9 meters from the Sun.

Mars = 4th on spiral = 1.52 @ 226.82 x 10^9 meters from the Sun.

Asteroid Belt = 5th on spiral = 1.71 @ 502.66 x 10^9 meters from the Sun.

Jupiter = 6th on spiral = 1.71 @ 778.5 x 10^9 meters from the Sun.

Saturn = 7th on spiral = 1.82 @ 1350 x 10^9 meters from the Sun.

Uranus = 8th on the spiral = 2.01 @ 2880 x 10^9 meters from the Sun.

Neptune = 9th on spiral = 1.56 @ 4500 x 10^9 meters from the Sun.

Average distance between planets = 1.62 x 10^9 meters

Our solar system is basically arranged by using the Golden Mean φ = (PHI) = 1.618 as a base measure to separate the planets. the spiral is actually a dual spiral consisting of φ, and a Fibonacci sequential pattern. The Fibonacci sequence is the male aspect, and φ is the female aspect of the spiral.

Beginning with Venus we start to add the sequential distances. We do not include Mercuries distance because it is the first 1 planet and the second 1in the Fibonacci sequence.

Sun = 1 + Mercury = 1; so Venus = 2 where we start the count of all the planets distances from the Sun.

Sum of distance between planets ----- Fibonacci and φ^x - 1 sequential order.

Mercury = 1; Fib seq.= 1; φ^1 - 1 =.618; difference =.382

Venus = 1.86; Fib seq. = 2; φ^2 - 1 = 1.618; difference =.14;.242

Earth = 3.25; Fib seq. = 3; φ^3 - 1 = 3.24; difference =.25;.01

Mars = 4.77; Fib seq. = 5; difference =.23

Asteroid Belt = 6.48; φ^4 - 1 = 5.85; difference =.63

Jupiter = 8.19; Fib seq. = 8; difference =.19

Saturn = 10; φ^5 - 1 = 10.09; difference =.09

Uranus = 12.01 = φ^5 + 1 = 12.09; difference =.08

Neptune = 13.57; Fib seq. = 13; difference =.57

φ^6 - 1 = 16.94

Fib seq. = 21

φ^7 - 1 = 28.03 = Lunar cycle in days; actual = 28.077 days

I haven't done the work to determine where Pluto, the Kipper belt, or the Oort cloud reside in the sequence, but I'm sure that they fit in very closely, like the rest of the planets do.

Start with the center circle (Sun) and go 1 unit up. From this point we shift 90 degrees per planet and mark the position at each point. The first number you see after the planets names directly above are the numbers used to plot the points of the spiral.

continue with the 90 degree rotation of the points and you will find that it ends at approximately 4.25 revolutions or basically φ^3 revolutions.

This is the true orientation of our solar system. Even though the planets are moving and rarely align themselves in this exact sequence, the actual distance between them is what is relative to the argument. The mean distance varies do to the elliptical orbits, but not by much on the cosmic scale.

Can Man Travel to Mars, and Beyond?

When it comes to space travel to other planets will we as humans ever travel further than our moon? Perhaps put a man on the surface of mars.

When traveling into space we know man has set foot on the surface of the moon. But is this only the beginning? Will we ever set foot on other planets?

When we think of space being as huge as it is with millions of stars and planets out there will it ever be possible for man to travel to them? The most likely planet for man to set foot on is perhaps mars.

So consider this, when earth and mars are in alignment with each other, and both planets are closes to each other, it takes a long eight months to travel to mars. So will it ever be possible for man to actually set foot on mars? It may happen in 2030, but think of the dedication it would take for man to reach the red planet.

First, having enough food for the travel to and from mars, and remembering that the journey is eight long months one way only, that is a very long time for man to travel. Again we must consider earth and mars alignment with each other.

Of course astronauts must wear space suits to survive the extreme cold temperatures of Minus Eighty One degrees Fahrenheit, and even colder.

The mars atmosphere has a very high percentage of carbon dioxide, and has a very small percentage of oxygen, and so does not have enough oxygen for humans to survive. And since there is no ozone layer on mars as on earth makes it very important for astronauts to protect themselves from the radiation, cold temperatures, and the lack of oxygen.

Mars appears not to have any water on the surface except for the ice caps. Scientists believe at one time there may have been liquid water on the surface of mars. This means it's possible some form of life may have been on the planet at one time.

Today by looking at mars you may think you were looking at a desert here on earth because of the similarities.

While every planet in our solar system are very different from earth is it at all possible there could be another earth somewhere else among all the stars? So far we have not yet found any such planet. And so what about other intelligent beings? Are we truly alone, or have we just not found any other intelligent beings yet? As for man setting foot on mars, but with terrible conditions on the planet man would not survive.

But still mars is the most likely planet for humans to live on in our solar system. So than will man ever be able to live on mars in the future?

Well, if humans would or would not ever live on the surface of mars is the big question. Of course it would not be easy for humans to live on mars, but it may be possible.

With low gravity, and mostly carbon dioxide on mars for starters we would have to bring our own oxygen to mars. However plants could generate oxygen. With little protection against radiation as mentioned before, and many meteorites that crash into mars, but would not burn as they do when entering earths atmosphere would be a concern. There are wind whirls that would also penetrate everything, so any motors, electrical items would have dust sticking all over them. And than in addition to the very cold temperatures it would not be simple for humans to travel, and some day live on mars, but is not totally out of the question.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Alas, Poor Theia!

Earth's Moon is the brightest and largest object in the star-splattered night sky. It is an enchanting and lovely companion world, the fifth largest moon in our Solar System. Earth's Moon is mysterious and beckoning, an age-old symbol for love, fleeting beauty, and that which is feminine. But where did our Moon come from?

Earth's Moon is our nearest neighbor. More than 100 moons orbit the eight major planets in our Solar System. The majority of them are frigid worlds, made up primarily of ice and some rocky material, circling the giant planets inhabiting the outer limits of our Solar System--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The inner Solar System is almost devoid of moons. Our own Moon is the largest one in our region of the Sun's family. Of the four relatively small, rocky inner planets that circle nearest to the Sun--Mercury, Venus, our Earth, and Mars--Mercury and Venus are moonless, and Mars is circled by two misshapen, miserable excuses for moons, Phobos and Deimos. The two Martian moons are quite small and are likely kidnapped asteroids from the Main Asteroid Belt that whirls around our Sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

A moon is usually defined as a natural object that is in orbit around a planet. The moon is kept in its orbit by the host planet's gravity, as well as the gravity of the moon itself. Some planets host moons; some do not.

At least five theories have been suggested explaining how our Moon was born. The first theory states that the Moon was once a part of our own planet, and then somehow budded off about 4.5 billion years ago, when our Solar System was first forming. The Pacific Ocean basin is the most frequently suggested site for where our Moon originated. A second theory suggests that the Earth and Moon formed together out of the original nebula that gave birth to our Solar System. The third theory states that the interaction of Earth-orbiting and Sun-orbiting planetesimals, early in the history of our Solar System, resulted in their disintegration. Earth's Moon then condensed from this debris. Planetesimals were the building blocks of the planets in the early Solar System, and they were rocky, icy, or both. They collided and then stuck together to form the planets. The fourth theory states that our Moon was actually born elsewhere in the Solar System, and was eventually kidnapped by our planet when it ventured too close to Earth's gravitational embrace.

However, the theory that is currently considered to be the most credible is usually called the giant impact theory, or alternatively (and playfully), the Big Whack or Big Splash theory. The fundamental suggestion of this theory is that a hypothetical Mars-sized protoplanet, named Theia by astronomers, crashed into the primordial Earth billions of years ago. The catastrophe resulted in a portion of the ancient Earth's crust to be shot off into space, hoisting a myriad of moonlets into the sky. Some of this debris was eventually captured into orbit around the ancient Earth about 4.5 billion years ago, where it was eventually pulled together by the force of gravity to become our lovely Moon!

Most of the giant impact theory was first presented back in 1975 by Dr. William K. Hartmann and Dr. Donald R. Davis of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona. Their theory is based on geological samples gathered by Apollo astronauts when they made their historic voyage to the Moon in July 1969. The oxygen isotopes found within the gathered Moon rocks proved to be almost identical to those of our own planet! An isotope refers to each of two or more types of the same element containing equal numbers of protons but different numbers of neutrons in their atomic nuclei. In addition, other pieces of evidence suggested strongly that the Moon is composed primarily of the same material that is found in the Earth's mantle.

Evidence presented in the October 18, 2012 issue of the journal Nature adds still more credibility to the Big Whack scenario. Planetary scientists, examining Moon-rocks gathered during NASA's Apollo Moon-landing missions, as well as a meteorite that is known to be a chunk of the Moon, searched for traces of zinc in the lunar samples. The ratios of heavy to light isotopes were revealed to be greater than on our planet. This indicates that the Moon experienced a violent evaporation event when our Solar System was first forming. This catastrophic event may well have been the ancient, violent collision of a Mars-sized world--Theia--with the primordial Earth. The study clearly provides additional evidence that Earth's Moon was formed in the wake of a gigantic impact, the scientists explained.

When our Moon was still forming, it is thought to have sported a fiery, global magma ocean that was hot enough to vaporize zinc. A catastrophic impact is one of the few events that would be capable of generating that immense quantity of heat. A second prediction of the Big Whack is that heavier isotopes would exist in greater abundance. This is because they would condense at hotter temperatures.

Dr. Frederic Moynier, assistant professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, told the press on October 17, 2012 that "What we found is that the depletion [of lighter isotopes] of zinc is probably due to evaporation." Dr. Moynier is one of the study's co-authors.

Dr. Moynier, the paper's lead author Dr. Randal Paniello and Dr. James Day of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in California, discovered that the ratio of zinc-66 to zinc-64 contained in the lunar rocks is approximately three to four times greater than that found on either Earth or the planet Mars. On Mars it is 0.27 parts per thousand, while on Earth it is 0.25 parts per thousand. In contrast, on the Moon, it was a difference of 1.3 to 1.4 parts per thousand--a very significant difference!

Almost all of the lunar samples gathered from the Moon showed similar ratios of heavier to light isotopes, even though they were collected from different regions scattered all over the Moon.

The extremely high temperatures suggest that water vaporized. This further indicates a depletion of other volatiles, which are elements such as sulfur, chlorine, and hydrogen, which all vaporize at much lower temperatures. However, it must be noted that there are several studies suggesting that water is still present in some Moon-rocks.

Exactly how much water and other volatiles Earth's Moon contains is still a key question. Planetary scientists who suggest that there is water in the lunar mantle say that the Moon may have large quantities of those chemicals. However, other planetary scientists argue that the volatiles are primarily located in the upper layers of the Moon's soil, carried in by meteorite impacts and mostly dating from the ancient era of lunar formation.

Water and volatiles most likely resulted from impacts and solar wind, Moynier told the press in October 2012. "[The results] show that all this water they found on the face of the Moon is secondary water," he added.

Still another model, devised by Dr. Matija Cuk and Dr. Sarah Stewart of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, explains the amazingly similar chemistry of our own planet with its lovely Moon. A giant impact onto a fast-spinning Earth shoots material from Earth into orbit, giving birth to a Moon that is just like our own--depleted in iron, with a composition similar to Earth's mantle. After the impact, the once-rapidly spinning Earth is slowed down by a gravitational dance between the Moon and the Sun, termed an orbital resonance.

Of late, the Big Whack theory has lost some credibility because the Earth and its Moon have been shown to be "isotopic twins". The original Big Whack theory predicted that most of Earth's Moon was composed of Theia-stuff rather than Earth-stuff, and therefore should have shown a different isotopic composition.

Therefore, the giant impact theory was in trouble because, even though it could match the mass of the Moon and the rotation rates of the Earth and its Moon, it could not correctly predict the lunar chemical composition. Currently, tides between the Earth and Moon have slowed down Earth's orbit, and have also pushed the Moon further and further away. In the early days of our Solar System, the Moon was much closer to our planet than it is today--a gigantic companion world taking up a large part of the sky. The ancient Earth possessed a mere five-hour day when the Moon was born. If the Earth had a spin of a mere five hours after the impact, the crash of Theia could not have shot enough Earth-stuff into orbit to create a Moon with a chemistry that matched that of Earth.

However, Cuk and Stewart were able to demonstrate that if Earth's initial angular momentum were higher, corresponding to an Earth day of between two and three hours, a catastrophic impact could indeed shoot enough Earth-stuff into orbit to create a Moon that has the same isotopic composition as Earth. With this extremely fast rotation rate, it is much easier to shoot Earth-stuff into orbit as the result of a giant impact.

Cuk and Stewart also calculated that the ancient Earth could well have possessed such a short rotation period after the crash and then later have attained its current much more sluggish spin-rate by transferring angular momentum to the Sun by way of evection resonance. Evection resonance refers to the gravitational dance between Earth's orbit circling the Sun and the lunar orbit around Earth. This paper has revealed for the first time that it is indeed possible for the ancient Earth to have possessed a spin rate of only two or three hours after the giant impact.

But where did Theia go after it had smashed into the ancient Earth, causing the formation of our enchanting large Moon? That is the question! No trace of this hypothetical ancient world has ever been observed--and it has not been for lack of trying. If Theia or its remnants and relics are ever observed by astronomers it will at long last explain the mysterious origin of Earth's luminous, captivating companion.

I am a writer and astronomer whose articles have been published since 1981 in various magazines, newspapers, and journals. Although I have written on a variety of topics, I particularly love writing about astronomy because it gives me the opportunity to communicate to others the many wonders of my field. My first book, "Wisps, Ashes, and Smoke," will be published soon.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wild Horse Asteroids

asteroids are a large group of objects that swarm around in the same orbit as the gas-giant planet Jupiter--the largest planet in our Solar System. The total number of Trojan asteroids larger than 1 kilometer is thought to be about 1 million. Like wild horses, the asteroids gallop through space in herds, with one tumbling, zipping swarm leading the way in front of Jupiter, and a second swarm whizzing in from behind. But where did the Trojans come from?

There are now thousands of Trojans known--amounting to about the same number thought to inhabit the Main Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. The first Trojan was spotted on February 22, 1906, by German astronomer Max Wolf, who found the galloping object in the herd leading ahead of Jupiter. It was named Achilles by Wolf, and it is approximately 135 kilometers in diameter. Each of the Trojans is named for a hero of the Trojan War, in honor of the legend in which Greek soldiers hid inside a giant wooden horse statue in order to launch a surprise invasion of Troy, and attack that ancient city's people. The largest of the Trojans is 624 Hektor, which has a diameter of about 203 kilometers. It is thought that the smallest of the swarming Trojans are merely the leftovers from collisions between crashing larger Trojans.

Asteroids and comets are lingering relics of our Solar System's ancient past. Our Solar System was born about 4.6 billion years ago due to the gravitational collapse of a small dense knot within a giant, cold, dark molecular cloud. Most of the collapsing mass congealed at the center, giving birth to our Star, the Sun. The rest flattened into what is termed a protoplanetary disk from which the planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and other small Solar System bodies emerged. This generally accepted model, termed the nebular hypothesis, was first suggested back in the 18th century by Emanuel Swedenborg, Immanuel Kant, and Pierre-Simon Laplace.

Protoplanetary disks have been spotted circling a number of stars inhabiting young star clusters. They form when a baby star is born, but at the earliest stages cannot be seen because they are swathed by an impenetrable, opaque, veiling envelope. The accretion disk, which nourishes the central baby protostar is thought to be both very massive and searing-hot. The temperature can easily skyrocket above 1,000 Kelvin within 1 Astronomical Unit (AU) from the baby star, and 400 Kelvin inside 5 AU.One AU is the average distance between Earth and the Sun, which is 93,000,000 miles.

Accretion disks can hang around for about 10 million years. By the time the young star reaches what is termed the T Tauri stage, the disk has grown both cooler and thinner. A T Tauri star is an extremely youthful and energetic variable star that is less than 10 million years old, and possesses a mass that is similar to, or perhaps a bit less, than that of our Sun. T Tauri stars have diameters that are several times greater than that of our Star, and they are still in the process of shrinking. By the time a bouncing baby star has reached this stage, less volatile materials have already started to condense near the center of the accretion disk, forming very tiny, smoke-like dust grains that contain crystalline silicates.

These dust particles are bestowed with a natural stickiness and therefore tend to glue themselves together in the dense disk environment, leading to the formation of ever larger particles up to several centimeters in size. Further aggregation results in the formation of planetesimals, which are the building blocks of planets. The planetesimals can be 1 kilometer across or even larger. Planetesimals are extremely abundant, and they tend to spread throughout the protoplanetary disk--and some remain as relics long after the formation of a planetary system. Asteroids, such as those found in our own Solar System, are believed to be left-over rocky planetesimals. Comets, on the other hand, are thought to be the relic icy planetesimals from the outer limits of a Solar System such as our own. The asteroids are the leftover building blocks of the rocky inner planets--Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars--while the comets are the leftover building blocks of the outer giant planets, which are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Astronomers using data obtained from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), have succeeded in obtaining some new and important clues in respect to the mysterious origins of Jupiter's herds of Trojans. These observations are the first to obtain a detailed analysis of the Trojans' colors. The new observations reveal that the leading and trailing Jovian attendant herds are composed of mainly dark, reddish rocks with non-reflecting, somewhat dull surfaces. Also, the leading herd is more numerous than the trailing one.

WISE has succeeded in revealing that the two separate herds of galloping Trojans are similar, and it therefore sheds some light on the baffling origin of these asteroids. Apparently, both herds do not contain invaders from other regions of our Solar System! Furthermore, the Trojans do not resemble asteroids dwelling in the Main Asteroid Belt--neither do they bear a family resemblance to the comet-like objects spinning around in the icier, darker, and more remote region near the dwarf planet Pluto, known as the Kuiper Belt.

"Jupiter and Saturn are in calm, stable orbits today, but in their past, they rumbled around and disrupted any asteroids that were in orbit with these planets. Later, Jupiter re-captured the Trojan asteroids, but we don't know where they came from. Our results suggest that they may have been captured locally. If so, that's exciting because it means these asteroids could be made of primordial material from this particular part of the Solar System, something we don't know much about," explained Dr. Tommy Grave in an October 15 2012 NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Press Release. Dr. Grav is a WISE scientist from the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona. He is also a member of the NEOWISE team, which is the asteroid-hunting component of the WISE mission. JPL manages, and operates, WISE for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The spacecraft soared into orbit on December 14, 2009, and was put into hibernation mode in 2011, after it had succeeded in scanning the entire sky twice, completing its primary mission.

Before WISE, the primary mystery in regard to this population of objects was determining how many of them pranced around in the two herds of space rock and ice, both leading and following Jupiter.

Grav continued to note that "The two asteroid camps even have their own 'spy'. After having discovered a handful of Trojans, astronomers decided to name the asteroid in the leading camp after the Greek heroes and the ones in the trailing after the heroes of Troy. But each of the camps already had an 'enemy' in their midst, with asteroid 'Hector' in the Greek camp and 'Patroclus' in the Trojan camp."

The NEOWISE team has successfully determined the colors of hundreds of Jupiter's Trojans. This has enabled many of these objects to be sorted according to asteroid classification schemes for the very first time.

"We didn't see any ultra-red asteroids, typical of the Main Belt and Kuiper Belt populations. Instead, we find a largely uniform population of what we call D-type asteroids, which are dark burgundy in color, with the rest being C- and P- types, which are more grey-bluish in color. More research is needed, but it's possible we are looking at some of the oldest material known in the Solar System," Grav continued to explain in the October 15, 2012 JPL Press Release.

Other planets have also been found to have their own retinues of Trojans--they are Mars, Neptune, and our own Earth! WISE was responsible for discovering the very first Earth Trojan!

I am a writer and astronomer whose articles have been published since 1981 in various newspapers, journals, and magazines. Although I have written on a variety of topics, I particularly love writing about astronomy because it gives me the chance to communicate to others the many wonders of my field. My first book, "Wisps, Ashes, and Smoke," will be published soon.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Diamond Planet

"Curiouser and curiouser," exclaimed Alice, lost in a Wonderland inhabited by a truly impressive array of oddballs. Her words can easily be echoed by today's planet-hunters who search for extrasolar planets--planets that circle stars other than our Sun--who have managed to discover a bizarre array of other"oddballs" dwelling in our Milky Way Galaxy.

Scientists have been searching for planets orbiting stars beyond than our Sun for a very long time. In the 18th century, the possibility of the existence of extrasolar planets was mentioned by Sir Isaac Newton in the General Scholium that ends his Principia. Newton, making a comparison to the Sun's own familiar family of planets, writes: "And if the fixed stars are the centers of similar systems, they will all be constructed according to a similar design and subject to the dominion of One."

Many times during the 20th century, ecstatic astronomers announced what they thought was the first sighting of a planet beyond our own Solar System. They then looked on unhappily as other astronomers failed to confirm their "discoveries". In 1992, however, one happy radio astronomer hit the elusive jackpot and announced evidence confirming the existence of two extrasolar planets circling around a dense little stellar corpse in the Milky Way.

Astronomer Dr. Alexander Wolszczan of Pennsylvania State University made his announcement after observing radio emissions from a compact millisecond pulsar located about 1,300 light-years from Earth. One light-year is the distance that light can travel in a vacuum in one year--5,880,000,000,000 miles!

The pulsar, known by the bland name of PSR B1257 + 12, is a tiny dense denizen of the Virgo constellation. A pulsar is a little ball, perhaps about 12 to 20 miles in diameter, in which the collapsed core of a massive star, containing up to 1,000,000,000 tons of matter, literally is squeezed to the size of a city on Earth. A pulsar is a spinning neutron star--the relic core of a massive star that has died in a spectacular supernova blast--and these exotic objects have a density that is equivalent to 1,000,000 times that of the density of water.

It was later determined that PSR B1257 + 12 is orbited by several planets--and they are true "oddballs". They are probably rocky bodies, like the Earth, but that is where all resemblance ends. Pulsar planets, unlike Earth, can have no atmosphere. They are extremely unpleasant worlds, showered mercilessly by deadly radiation.

The vicinity of a pulsar was about the last place astronomers expected to observe planets. Such oddities should have tipped astronomers off to the existence of many, many more "oddballs" to come.

And, come they certainly did! Although the pulsar planets were the first extrasolar planets to be discovered, astronomers still sought the "Holy Grail" of planets circling a normal "main-sequence" (hydrogen-burning) star like our Sun. Triumph came in 1995, when astronomers Dr. Michel Mayor and Dr. Didier Queloz of Switzerland's Geneva Observatory announced the first convincing evidence of an extrasolar planet circling a normal Sun-like star dwelling outside of our own Solar System. However, the newly discovered extrasolar planet turned out to be a true "oddball" because it was as hefty as Jupiter--the largest planet in our Solar System--but it circled its star at a mere fraction of the distance between Mercury and the Sun. The star that hosts the roasting planet is dubbed 51 Pegasi, and the strange planet was suitably named 51 Pegasi b. 51 Pegasi b was the first extrasolar planet spotted belonging to a new class of objects termed "hot Jupiters"--giant gaseous planets orbiting fast and close around their parent stars. So far, most of the extrasolar planets discovered have been "hot Jupiters". This is because most of the extrasolar planets were discovered using the Doppler (radial velocity) method, which favors the discovery of giant planets that orbit fast and close to their fiery parent stars. However, there are other methods, in addition to the radial velocity method, that are now being used. Those other methods are able to spot smaller worlds that twirl around their stars in more distant orbits. For example, planet-hunters are now discovering transiting extrasolar planets, which are planets that float directly in front of the face of their star. Also, gravitational lensing techniques are currently being used to discover extrasolar worlds. Gravitational lensing is a prediction of Albert Einstein's General Relativity whereby a large, foreground celestial object bends, or distorts, the light emitted by a more distant object.

Since those initial discoveries in the mid 1990s, astronomers have discovered planetary systems akin to our own Solar System, as well as increasingly smaller and smaller planets--planets the size of our own Solar System's Uranus and Neptune. Planet-hunters have now succeeded in spotting much smaller planets approaching our own Earth in size. With decreasing size, astronomers expected to discover increasingly Earth-like worlds. While this may indeed be the case in many instances, smaller worlds have proven that they can be just as odd as many of the much larger extrasolar planets observed so far.

Super-Earths are bizarre extrasolar planets that are unlike any that dwell in our own Solar System. They are smaller than the familiar four giant planets that circle our Sun--even Neptune, which is our Solar System's smallest giant planet. But Super-Earths are more massive than our own Earth, and they can be composed of rock or gas or both! The extrasolar planet 55 Cancri e was discovered orbiting a nearby star in our Milky Way Galaxy, and it is a very dark, carbon-rich, rocky world. In October 2012, amazed astronomers announced that at least one-third of this "oddball's" mass is composed of diamond!

55 Cancri e has a radius about twice that of our planet, and its mass is eight times greater. It orbits the nearby Sun-like star, 55 Cancri, which is located about 40 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cancer. This "oddball" world is one of a family of five planets circling that star, whipping around it at breathtaking speed. 55 Cancri e circles its star in a mere 18 hours--in marked contrast to Earth's year which is 365 days long! The planet is searing-hot, with a sizzling temperature of 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit. Such a hostile world is not likely to harbor delicate living creatures.

This bizarre planet was first observed transiting its parent star in 2011. This enabled astronomers to measure its radius. This newly acquired information, combined with an estimation of the planet's mass, allowed Dr. Nikku Madhusudhan, a Yale University postdoctoral researcher, and his colleagues, to determine its chemical composition. The researchers accomplished this feat by using models of the planet's interior and by computing all possible combinations of elements and compounds that could yield those characteristics.

"This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth. The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite," Madhusudhan noted in the October 11, 2012 Yale News.

Astronomers had earlier reported that 55 Cancri contained more carbon than oxygen. Dr. Madhusudhan and his coworkers went on to confirm that large quantities of carbon and silicon carbide, as well as a tiny quantity of water ice, were available when 55 Cancri e was in the process of forming.

Astronomers had also suggested previously that 55 Cancri e contained a very large quantity of super-heated water--basing this on the assumption that the "oddball" world possessed a chemical composition similar to that of Earth.

However, the new research indicates that the planet really has no water at all! In fact, 55 Cancri e is apparently composed mostly of carbon--in the form of diamond and graphite, iron, silicon carbide, and, perhaps, silicates. The study further indicates that at least a third of the "oddball's" mass--which is equivalent to that of three Earths--could be diamond!

The identification of a carbon-rich Super-Earth indicates that remote rocky planets circling stars beyond our Sun can no longer be assumed to have interiors, atmospheres, chemical constituents, or biologies akin to those of our own planet, Madhhusudhan continued to explain. This discovery also opens new vistas for the study of geophysical processes and geochemistry in Earth-sized distant worlds. A carbon-rich composition could play a starring-role in a planet's plate tectonics and thermal evolution--with strong implications for mountain formation, volcanism, and seismic activity.

Dr. David Spergel, professor of astronomy and chair of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University, who was not a co-author of the study, noted in the October 11, 2012 Yale News that "Stars are simple--given a star's mass and age, you know its basic structure and history. Planets are much more complex. This 'diamond-rich-super-Earth' is likely just one example of the rich sets of discoveries that await us as we begin to explore planets around nearby stars."

This new research represents the first time that astronomers have spotted a likely diamond planet around a Sun-like star and specified its chemical composition.

The paper is titled "A Possible Carbon-rich Interior in Super-Earth 55 Cancri e", and has been accepted for publication in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters. The authors of the paper are Madhusudhan, Yale University geophysicist Dr. Kanani Lee, and Dr. Olivier Mousis, who is a planetary scientist at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique in Toulouse, France.

I am a writer and astronomer whose articles have been published since 1981 in various newspapers, magazines, and journals. Although I have written on a variety of topics, I particularly love writing about astronomy because it gives me the opportunity to communicate to others the many wonders of my field. My first book, "Wisps, Ashes, and Smoke," will be published soon.