So this is pretty awesome: apparently NASA’s found a Jupiter-sized planet that orbits its sun in the opposite direction of the sun’s rotation. No, this isn’t like Venus rotating in the opposite direction of the other planets…this is a planet revolving its sun in a direction that supposedly defies physics.
Wait, how in the hell…?
Let’s start with how solar systems are formed. First you need a huge cloud of particles. The collapse of this cloud and the result of the pull of gravity causes the cloud to begin to spin. As it spins, the densest part of the cloud condenses and forms a sun. Less dense parts condense into smaller balls of matter and become planets.
Now it makes sense, since all these stars and planets and such arose from a single spinning cloud of debris, that the balls of matter would all be either rotating (the sun) or orbiting (the planets) in the same direction, the direction of the original spinning cloud.
So how the heck could a planet single itself out and rotate in the opposite direction?
NASA scientists suspect that the change in rotational direction is actually due to the influence of a planet external to the solar system containing the rebel revolver. They suspect that the opposite-orbiting planet originally revolved around the sun in the correct direction. However, it was also close to another planet, most likely a giant, that was slightly further away from the sun. Thus, it was stuck in a sort of gravitational tug-of-war. Its gravitation interacted with the giant planet’s gravity, with each pass between the giant planet and the sun causing a decrease in the angular momentum in the planet in question.
As the planet began to lose its momentum, it began spiraling in towards its sun (since momentum is what keeps planets from just falling into their suns). But because its plunge to near certain doom gives the planet some additional angular momentum in the opposite direction of the sun’s rotation. This additional momentum causes the planet to stabilize and establish a new orbit—one in the opposite direction of the rest of the solar system.
And how freaking crazy is that?
Haha, this is awesome.
It also led to about five hours on Wikipedia and miscellaneous other sites reading about Uranus. Uranus is my favorite planet.
Okay, that’s all. Slow day.
(Obligatory belt joke taken care of)
This photo shows a picture of Jupiter’s SEB (Southern Equatorial Belt) returning after its disappearance was noticed last May. This picture and others capture plumes of energy breaking through the cloud tops.
So pretty soon, say scientists, Jupiter will return to looking like we’re used to seeing it.
Haha, I know this This Week’s Science Blog is short, but I’ve been wondering when the band would return since I became aware of it being gone.
Today’s song: Nocturne by Nomo
The size of us here on earth in relation to the size of the overall universe: this kind of stuff boggles the mind. I love trying to comprehend it. I’ve searched around in various places to try to find stuff that would create a more comprehensive visual demonstration of size and perspective. So here come the YouTube videos.
First this: powers of ten, zooming from wide perspective to narrow perspective.
Then this little factoid, which I’ve mentioned on here before but I think it’s very relevant to get a good idea of the sheer size of the sun: The sun loses 7 million tons of material every second, but all the material lost so far amounts to less than 0.01% of its total mass since it started shining.
Here is a model of just the solar system to scale. Now look at the sun, how big it is.
Now this: another video I’ve linked to on here before (and on Facebook) but only because it’s ridiculous to think about things that size.
With this one you can compare them all more side by side.
Finally this one. It helps with the distance and the freaking huge expanse of the universe. Despite the implication near the end that a supreme being was responsible for all this, I think it’s a good demonstration. Keep in mind, this is traveling at the speed of light, taking us to the edge of the universe and then back in for perspective.
I love this stuff. Hope it was informative to you all.
Note: that is a random number in the title.
Just thought it was interesting.