You thought that just because we’d made our rounds throughout our galaxy that we were done with our intergalactic travel? Psh. There’s so much more in that deep vast blackness that will keep us busy for some time to come – such as these 10 incredibly bizarre and unusual objects that have either been found in or have come from space!
Brightness Fluctuations in KIC 8462852
If you’ve been waiting for a time to use that Giorgio A. Tsoukalos’ Ancient Aliens meme when discussing the fluctuation in brightness of F-type star KIC 8462852, now would be the perfect time. Typically, any sort of change in brightness is associated with the presence of a planet – in fact, it’s one way exoplanets can be detected; but the approximate 15% drop in starlight is considerably greater than the 1% caused by a planet the same size as Jupiter. The object would have to be massive, something that scientists believe they would have identified by now. So, they’re left considering an incredibly unusual possibility: Aliens.
What looks like 2 galaxies merging into 1 mega galaxy or some bizarre mating ritual, is actually similar to the Black Widow Pulsar, just on a grander scale. The concept of galactic cannibalism comes into play when two galaxies collide and are left with little momentum to continue traveling on their path. Without the oomph to push forward, the galaxies just kind of settle into one another and begin to merge, typically forming an irregular galaxy. Known instances of galactic cannibalism can be seen with the Mice Galaxies, Whirlpool Galaxy, and Antennae Galaxies.
Who said the universe can’t be delicious? Okay, probably nobody because it’s a silly thing to declare, but if they had, we would fire back with the unusualness that is Sagittarius B2. No, this isn’t a new vitamin, it’s a colossal dust cloud 390 light years from the center of our galaxy that’s comprised of a large portion of ethyl formate. This specific chemical compound smells of rum and is partially responsible for the way raspberries taste. It’s believed that the ethyl alcohol attaches to dust particles left over from a star formation and, when the dust moves towards the star, the alcohol heats up and becomes its own gas. Bizarre? Yes. The best thing to happen to space pirates? We think so!
Pillars of Creation
Like eerie skeletal fingers of some galactic God, the Pillars of Creation seem to stretch out into the colorful vastness. The beautifully horrific image, likely the creepiest picture ever of space, came from the Hubble Space Telescope and depicts interstellar gasses and dust found 7,000 light years from Earth in the Eagle Nebula. As the name suggests, the odd picture depicts creation as the gas and dust are believed to be in the process of forming new stars. As if the image wasn’t imposing enough, the fingers of the formation are larger than our very own solar system. Updated, 3D images of the gaseous structure shows that they are slowly falling apart and may only have another 3 million years left in their lifespan.
Black Widow Pulsar
Like the creepy crawly black widow spider that it’s named after, the Black Widow Pulsar is known to essentially “devour” any low-mass stars that it comes in close proximity with. Pulsars are formed through a supernova, when a neutron star is left behind and starts to rotate at a rapid pace. As they spin, they emit radio waves, X-rays, gamma rays, and visible light rays until they begin to slow down, at which point the emissions become weaker. To repower themselves, the pulsars will essentially eat away at their companion star’s material until, after millions of years, only the refueled pulsar is left.
They’re pretty well known to even the common Earthling, but that doesn’t make the concept of the Black Hole any weirder. Hollywood often uses them as a means of transdimensional travel, but seeing as how nothing is able to escape from inside of it – not even light – that’s a highly unlikely scenario. These black voids, detectable only with specially designed telescopes and by gauging strong gravitational effects, are typically formed when a large star collapses on itself, though smaller and supermassive black holes are believed to have formed at the same time as their galaxy. The unknown of black holes can make them mystifying and terrifying, but there are no black holes near enough for Earth to fall into and our Sun is not large enough to create one.
Space isn’t just filled with peaceful nomad planets and potentially habitable exoplanets. There are also volatile, explosive stars that erupt with no warning. Sometimes it’s magnetars, magnetic stars that aren’t powered by nuclear fusion. These unique stars are unlike their sparkling brethren and have an unfathomable magnetic field that is stronger than any other object in the universe, even man-made magnetics. They’re said to be formed from a perfect line-up of the star’s spin, temperature, and magnetic field when collapsing into a neutron star and can be incredibly dangerous at a range of approximately 630 miles or 1,000 kilometers. As of 2016, only 29 magnetars have been discovered.
It’s strange to think that, even today, with the technology we have, about 27% of the universe’s mass simply cannot be observed. That quarter portion has come to be known as dark matter, a mysterious unknown of our universe that is more easily distinguished by what it is not than what it is. Popular theory states that dark matter is nothing observable, such as baryonic clouds, and is nothing that emits light, ruling out any star and planetary formations. Possibilities are said to include dim brown dwarfs, neutrino stars, white dwarves, or even supermassive black holes, but the most considered prospects are Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, or W.I.M.P.s. These particles are said to have up to 100 times the mass of a proton but weaker interactions, making them hard to detect.
Back in 2010, Gliese 581g took astronomers by surprise. They believe they had found a planet beyond our solar system that was so similar to Earth that it could be habitable by human life. Gliese 581g was thought to orbit its own star and came in at about the same size and temperature as Earth, but some astronomers think there’s a big issue with the exoplanet – they don’t think it exists. Speaking against the Pro-Gliese 581g crowd, astronomers like Paul Robertson claim that the would-be Super Earth is nothing more than a magnetic outburst from a star, mislabeled as a habitable planet. While there are still those that believe 581g is as originally thought, the potential exoplanet was removed from the Habitable Exoplanet Catalogue of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory of the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.
Imagine being left to float all by your lonesome in space, pulled from your planetary system by a gas giant’s gravitation pull. You’re a rogue planet, a nomadic mass that orbits the galaxy’s core instead of a star, kind of like a ship without a port. There are believed to be billions of rogue planets in the Milky Way alone, though some scientists theorize some of them, known as sub-brown dwarfs, are more akin to stars than planets. These homeless planets are normally aimless and harmless, though one individual from the University of Louisiana, Daniel Whitmire, spoke out about a mysterious “Planet Nine” or Nibiru which could cause an extinction event on Earth and is possibly responsible for prior events.