Better September

2 September 2021

As Summer comes to a close, we begin to look toward Autumn. As promised, there are several new posts on physics and astronomy.

A Life With Flare

Our solar system is the only one known to have life, but astronomers have long searched for life elsewhere. We now know that red dwarfs harbor the most planets in the universe, but red dwarfs could be hostile to life due to the fact that they experience strong stellar flares. But a new study finds that most of them are directed away from a star’s poles, which is good news for potential life. Another study of a star similar to the Sun finds that early solar flares may have helped Earth form the building blocks of life.

It’s What’s For Dinner

Black holes continue to be popular this month. One particular study looked at how supermassive black holes formed within galaxies. It argues that they formed early on as a Direct Collapse Black Hole, rather than forming from the merger of large stars. Another study found a way to determine the mass of supermassive black holes by watching them flicker. Technically it isn’t a flicker of the black hole itself, but rather the flicker of material being consumed by the black hole.

In Search Of

The Gaia spacecraft has been mapping the position and motion of more than a billion stars in our galaxy, and this has helped astronomers understand its shape and structure. One recent discovery finds that there is a break in the Sagittarius Arm of the Milky Way. Other sky surveys have been searching for objects on the outer edge of our solar system, such as those in the Oort Cloud. We haven’t found any Oort Cloud objects yet, but a new paper argues that most of the Oort Cloud might have originated in other star systems. There may indeed be aliens among us. There may even be a planet lurking out there, such as the hypothetical Planet 9. If it’s out there, a new study has narrowed down where to look.

A Glorious Dawn

Physicists have long been able to create matter from energy in particle accelerators, but recently they have been able to create electrons directly from light. Einstein’s famous equation, E = mc2, is once again proven correct.

Finally, for those of you who have been interested in the Big Science TV show, there are a couple of new trailers. The series hasn’t been greenlit yet, but might be soon with a bit of luck.

Until next time, enjoy the change of season. If you enjoy these posts, be sure to share them across the web. I’ll have plenty more for you next month.