Our universe has been an intriguing mystery to us since the beginning of mankind. We are always looking up, looking at the sky trying to figure out what lays beyond the beautiful stillness of darkness. And we have come a long way, from the heliocentric theories to finding out gravitational waves! We keep on grinding, trying to find new, interesting phenomenons in our universe. In this article I have listed some of the amazing discoveries that occurred in the past few months, but were overshadowed by the pandemic or other related events.
D-star Hexaquark Particle: Dark Matter Theory (March 11, 2020)
Since 1960, scientists have postulated that Baryonic Matter (luminous matter) constitutes only about 5% in our universe, and the other 85% of matter is “Dark Matter”. However, many experiments have been conducted in search of this Dark Matter, but none proved the existence or any particle related to Dark Matter. Amidst this, a particle discovered in 2011(merely theoretical until 2011, announced in 2014) called “d-star hexaquark” presents itself to be a promising candidate to prove the existence of Dark Matter.
A hexaquark is a Bose-Einstein condensate, the fifth state of matter, which forms when low density bosons are cooled at absolute zero. The experiments’ condition, which made the discovery of this hexaquark, is said to be roughly the same as sometime after the Big Bang when matter was forming, and therefore, the experiment can provide insights on how dark matter formed and will help us know more about its mysteries, one of the biggest puzzles in our universe!
Looks like Ceres is also an Ocean World! (August 12, 2020)
Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt and a well known dwarf planet, has been studied by NASA’s Dawn mission scientists. The new and through high-resolution pictures show that Ceres might have a global satly oceanic substructure and has been active geologically in the last few years. During Dawns’ mission, the scientists noticed several “bright spots” on the surface of Ceres. One of the most intriguing and brightly shining craters found was named “Occator.” The bright spots were later concluded to be the remnants of sodium carbonate, which must’ve evaporated from the surface, leaving behind a reflective surface. These bright conical surfaces are similar to the ones found here on Earth, which require movement of water and/or ice slurries, long after the crater was created.
Dr. Hannah Sizemore, a co-author of five journals published in Nature this week told Universe Today, “Evidence that Ceres has long-lived deep brine reservoirs is an exciting result. That a body of Ceres’ size can retain both heat and interior liquids over the age of the solar system implies that small bodies are more geologically active — may be more ‘habitable’ — than we thought.”
Dawn explored Ceres for almost three years, from March 2015 to November 2018 on its mission in the asteroid belt, where it studied Vesta as well! To learn more about this in detail, click here.
Most Distant Galaxy Found: Wolfe Galaxy (May 20, 2020)
In late May, scientists discovered the most distant galaxy that is 70 billion times the mass of our sun, and is spinning at the speed of 170 miles (272 kilometres) per second, just like our Milky Way. It is named Galaxy DLA0817g, nicknamed Wolfe Galaxy (after the late astronomer Arthur M. Wolfe). The intriguing part is that galaxies, such as the Wolfe Galaxy, are not formed until very late in the life of our universe, some date around 6 billion years after the Big Bang which happened 13.8 billion years ago. But the Wolfe galaxy dated back to 12.5 billion years ago! Therefore, the Wolfe Galaxy, being so similar to our own galaxy despite only being formed at one-tenth the age of the universe, can change the way we think about galaxy birth and other related things. The early stages of the universe were very messy and all the hot materials collided against each other (most of the early galaxies found are complete train wrecks). It was only after a long time when the gas cooled down that galaxies had a perfect “form,” so then how is a galaxy at such a turbulent stage not only surviving, but perfectly rotating and thriving??
Our knowledge of the galaxy formation process is this: dark matter halos, a large unseen bubble in space, known by its effects of surrounding matter, and attracted gas in. Mergers of gas and matter made star formation possible, eventually leading to galaxy formations. Professor J. Xavier Prochaska, study co-author and astrophysics professor at University of California Santa Cruz declared, “We think the Wolfe Disk has grown primarily through the steady accretion of cold gas,” providing an explanation on the formation of the Wolfe galaxy.
The Wolfe was first discovered in 2017 by Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimeter Array (ALMA). To read about this study in more detail, click here.
This research was done by a group of scientists at the University of York in the UK. To know more about this research, click here.
There you go, fellow astrophile! Some really exciting news and discoveries of this year, do tell me your thoughts on them below in the comments section! If you have any suggestions or if some information in this article is not correct, feel free to comment that or contact me here.