10. The Star With 7 Earths
The search for exoplanets in other star systems, for the past decade, has revealed thousands of other worlds, but there’s one star with a particularly unusual setup. Known as the Trappist-1 system, named for the telescope in Chile that first detected 2 of the planets, there are a total of 7 Earth-sized planets orbiting the star. They are made of rock, are all closer to their star than the earth is to the sun, and could even be home to large volumes of water.
9. Moon Stripes
As we explore our own solar system in greater detail than ever before, researchers are continually discovering mysterious features in the most unlikely of places. NASA’s Cassini probe orbited Saturn between 2004 and 2017, where it studied both the planet itself and its moons. Images that were sent back of one of the moons, Dione, showed a series of long, narrow, bright stripes across the surface.
8. The ‘Egg’ Rock
As one of our closest neighbors, Mars has fascinated civilizations since its first discovery and, other than our own planet, it is the most explored place in our Solar System. While the search for life on the red planet has so far been a fruitless endeavor, NASA’s Curiosity rover discovered something very unusual in 2016. Known as the ‘egg’ rock, this dark and smooth object stands out from the Martian landscape. It was found on the slope of Mount Sharp and, at first, was a complete mystery.
7. Hypervelocity Stars
The structure of the Universe, as we know it, relies on certain principles. One of which is that planets orbit around stars, and stars orbit around large central structures, that are thought to be supermassive black holes, to form what we call galaxies. There are some places where things don’t quite make sense, though. In the farther reaches of the Milky Way, for example, there are stars that move at a high enough speed to escape the gravitational pull of the galaxy.
6. Dust Moons
How many moons are there around the Earth? The obvious one, of course, is the one that’s responsible for the oceanic tides and illuminating the night sky, but the interaction of the gravitational forces between the moon and the earth causes something strange to happen. The moon and earth are constantly tugging at each other, but there are 5 points in space where their gravitational forces balance each other out.
5. Titan’s Magic Island
The largest of Saturn’s moons is Titan- so big, in fact, that it’s larger than the planet Mercury. It’s been a source of interest for researchers and a focal point of the Cassini probe that recently investigated Saturn and its moons. Titan has large oceans that are made up of liquid methane and ethane, something that’s possible because of the extreme temperatures there. It rarely gets above -290°F. (-179°C)
4. An Exomoon
The Kepler telescope changed the face of deep space exploration by discovering thousands of exoplanets before going out of service just last month, in October of 2018. While planets were discoverable by the effect their orbit has on the strength of light that’s seen from their star, there remain other objects that scientists wanted to be able to detect that don’t have such a noticeable effect- namely moons.
3. Gravitational Waves
Gravitational waves are the ripples in the fabric of space-time that are caused by some of the most powerful processes in the Universe. They were first theorized by Albert Einstein in 1916, but it would take almost 100 years for the waves to actually be seen. They were first identified in February of 2016 by a team of scientists who were looking at the merging of two black holes.
Of all the space rocks that continually pass by our planet, one of the most interesting is Oumuamua or, to give it its official title, 1l/2017 U1. This cigar-shaped object was first discovered when it was 21 million miles away from Earth, and moving away from the sun.
Our solar system is made up of the sun at the center, and a number of planets, asteroids, and various rocks and pieces of debris orbiting it… while it may seem like that’s the way it has been and always will be that’s not actually the case.