Planet X in the Far-flung Outer Solar System #poem #poetry #astronomy #solarsystem #planet

Man From PLanet X movie poster

This is the best I can do, since there is no image of Planet X yet

Watching perturbations.
In planets far away,
In cold realms way-past Jupiter,
Past Saturn, wobbles sway.

When Lowell discovered Pluto,
A store of luck was spent.
The famous dwarf is just too small
To tug
Neptune’s
trident.

But orbital mechanics
Cannot be denied.
Something’s out there, far away.
Perhaps a Planet Nine.

Dwarf planets with companions
Among the plutoids hide.
The more we find, the better guess
Where Planet X resides.

Kate Rauner

Thanks to space.com for their article on Goblin (2015 TG387), another Pluto-sort of object tripped over in a long-term, ongoing sky survey that may ultimately find Planet X.

Hypothesized,
And we expect
Someone will spot
This Planet X.

The more plutoids
That we find,
The more our theories
Are refined.

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Water, Water Everywhere in the Galaxy #exoplanet #space #NASA

exoplanet populationsScientists have shown that water is likely to be a major component of those exoplanets (planets orbiting other stars) which are between two to four times the size of Earth…

Hopefully atmosphere observations in the future — of thick steam atmospheres — can support or refute the new findings.   Goldschmidt Conference

Many of these detected exoplanets are larger than Earth, but it sounds like a lot of that extra mass is water – up to 50% of the planet’s weight, while water on Earth is only 0.02%. Our watery blue world is a desert in comparison.

It makes me wonder… if our Sun had more heavy elements, would Earth be larger? Would it have captured more of the solar system’s water? Would you and I be fish?

We have earlier generations of stars to thank for any watery world including our own. Hydrogen is, of course, everywhere – the most abundant element starting from the Big Bang. But heavier elements owe their existance to fusion within stars and subsequent nova and supernova explosions. That includes oxygen. So water seems to be common in the galaxy.

 

Expanding Universe Will Leave Us Alone #astronomy #poetry #poem #universe #cosmology

expanding universeThe universe expands
Ever faster as we gaze,
Carries off our cosmic kin
Farther every day.

Light from other galaxies
Won’t have time
to reach our own.
In a few billion years,
Look up! We seem alone.

Kate Rauner

A short poem this week – and late! But I’ve been working a fire with my volunteer fire department, and my dog is sick, so I have excuses. I have had time to think about cosmology, and read an interesting article I can’t find now! Darn internet.

It’s hard to wrap my head around, but the universe is expanding and accelerating. So the speed of light stays constant, but distances grow. Eventually, other galaxies will be so far away their light can’t reach our own. Of course, human beings won’t exist and even our solar system may be gone.

If there were people in that distant future, what would they think of the universe? A Steady State model would explain what they see, so they might never know there was a Big Bang. Perhaps the same thing has happened to us. The early universe may have been different in ways we can’t know or imagine. We may be missing the full truth, just like our hypothetical future brethren.

Exo-Atmospheres Send Photonic Clues #poetry #astronomy #telescope #space #planets #alien

Exoplanets - check out Kate Rauner's science inspired poetryStars wobble in our telescopes,
Luminosities diverge,
And from such tiny signals
Their planets do emerge.

Thousands of stars host planets,
Giants of swirling gas,
And some that seem more earthly
In their orbits and their mass.

But each of these is distant,
Lifetimes away for certain.
How ever will we know if
There’s life upon the surface?

Light filters through their atmospheres,
When atmospheres they own.
Molecules split spectra
Into patterns that are known.

Life creates imbalances,
However strange to see,
Disequilibrium
Points to biology.

And so we have a protocol
As we gather specks of light,
Photons that passed through planets’ air
On their interstellar flight…

Will tell us if there’s oxygen,
Or methane, CO2,
Water vapor, nitrogen,
Or ozone in the brew.

And tease us with the knowledge
That, beyond our current grasp,
Creation may have left its mark,
A hand we’ll never clasp.

Kate Rauner

Inspired by an article from the latimes

Lunar Eclipse on a Perfect Winter Morning #lunar #moon #eclipse #sky

Total lunar eclipse - Kate Rauner

Lunar eclipse from New Mexico 31JAN2018 – moon looks much more orange in picture than it did to my eye

Perfect morning for the lunar eclipse. I could stand at my kitchen sink and watch the moon through a window, then step out on my deck for a view of the whole sky. The morning was clear and calm. As moonlight dimmed, the stars grew brilliant. Then, just at totality, the rising dawn began washing them out again.

I live in the mountains of New Mexico, so once the usual morning breeze kicked up, I hopped back and forth – outside for a better view of the moon’s coppery blush, inside to warm up. Lunar eclipses last long enough for leisurely viewing. There’s time to make coffee and take pictures, even with a simple amateur camera.

The rising dawn won out, and the darkened moon, in the last minutes of totality, faded faster than it set.

Glorious.

Fading bright to dim
Now engulfed in Earth’s shadow
Blushing as you set

When Earth Coalesced, Was There Nemesis? Interesting Research Revisited #astronomy #galaxy #stars #poet #poetry #science

Binary stars - inspiration for poets

Binary stars are seldom identical

Sol,
A main sequence star
Out in a spiral arm,
Light from your nearest brethren
Falls dimly in your realm.

Bits of rock,
Scraps of gas,
Hydrogen and stone,
Remnants of your origin,
But otherwise
Alone.

It seems that in
Your early phase,
Four billion years ago,
You would have spun a coiling dance
With a twin aglow.

Half such pairs,
Such triples,
More,
Cling and orbit tight,
But others,
Looping, twisting far,
Are lost into the night.

Where does your mate,
Your other half,
reside?
That none can say.
Your splendid self looks down on Earth
The only star
To light our day.

by Kate Rauner

About 40% of stars have stellar partners, so being alone is not unusual.

Rhyming poems inspired by scienec - at your favorite online store

2nd edition now available! Expanded!

But recent studies indicate that all stars may have been born with companions. Sol may have been paired once, but the fancifully named Nemesis is far away, if it ever existed, “out there mingling with other stars in the region of the Milky Way Galaxy we call home.” newsledge

Don’t feel sorry for our Sun. Only you and I can feel loneliness.

Visit my blog for a new science inspired poem, every other post or so. Or read one of my collections – available as ebooks on all the favorite on-line outlets or paperbacks at Create Space and Amazon.

Sometimes Astronomy is Jaw Dropping – Maybe All the Time #astronomy #space #exoplanet #astrophysics #spacetelescope #NASA

That’s the star – dead center. Looks a lot like any other star in visible light.

Astronomers have spotted water vapor and evidence of exotic clouds in the atmosphere of an alien planet [HAT-P-26b]… about 430 light-years away from Earth. space.com

How’d they do that!?

Sing, Wakeford and their colleagues analyzed observations made by NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes when HAT-P-26b crossed its parent star’s face from the telescopes’ perspectives. The planet’s atmosphere filtered out certain wavelengths of starlight during these “transits,” allowing the study team to identify some of the molecules swirling in HAT-P-26b’s air.

I have to wonder how many photons that passed through HAT-P-26b’s atmosphere made it to Earth – to capture and analyze that tiny amount of data is awesome. The planet’s atmosphere is mostly hydrogen and helium, but it’s the trace elements that are most fascinating. The planet doesn’t fit the pattern we see in our own solar system regarding planet size, distance for the star, and composition.

There’s so much to learn, and our tiny sample size of one solar system isn’t nearly enough to figure it all out. If you’re wondering what difference it makes – well, it won’t change what I eat for breakfast tomorrow. I’ve never regretted learning something, even if it didn’t put a penny in my pocket. If we don’t look up at the stars how will we ever get out of the mud?

Here’s one description based on HAT-P-26b’s atmospheric composition to marvel at as you look up.

This would be a very alien sky… you’d see a kind of scattery, washed-out, gray sky.

Of course, when working on the edge of detection it’s easy to get things wrong. But a staggering amount of data is rolling in, many researchers are busy, and even more amazing telescopes are in the works – hypotheses will turn into theories.

It’s only getting better.

PS: Oddly enough, I had trouble finding an easy source to tell me where in Earth’s sky HAT-P-26b’s star is located – not that I expect to see it with my eyes, but it seems like a fun thing to know. I think I found the coordinates: RA = 14:12:37.5, DE = +04:03:36. Those are the coordinates I used to get the image above. And according to my trusty W. Tirion Sky Atlas 2000.0, that puts it in the constellation of Virgo. But I’m a bit rusty – can anyone confirm or correct me?