Medical breakthroughs dominated the news in 2020, but astronomers continued to work even in the face of a pandemic. They scoured radio waves for strange signals, identified new galaxies, and even determined which alien star systems may be able to detect Earth. Here are some of these mind-blowing discoveries.
01. Emissions of radio waves from an extraterrestrial world
Solar systems planets generate radio waves with high magnetic fields, notably Jupiter. But until this year, when investigators selected a signal from a gas giant in the Tau Boötes system, only 51 light-years away from Earth, none had ever discovered radio waves from a planet outside the solar system. This signal might help them understand more about the magnet field of this exoplanet, which could provide scientists insights into what is happening in its atmosphere.
02. Ghostly radio circles
Scientists sometimes uncover things in space that appear like floating blobs, but newly found strange radio circles (ORCs), which were discovered in 2019 and published in 2020, are particular. Round blobs are not like any other known entity, observed in radio telescope data. They are not residues of a supernova or optical phenomena known as Einstein rings. Some scientists even hypothesized that these may represent wormholes’ throats. But nobody truly knows the new things that have been found.
03. A million new galaxies
Over 300 hours of observation, a radio telescope in the Australian outback mapped 83% of the seen cosmos. And great traffic of data was revealed: 3 million galaxies that had never been observed before in a million. In order to capture the sky on 36 antennas, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) employed all 36 at the same time for one project.
04. The birth of new Magnetar
A Hubble Space Telescope depicts the portion of the sky from where the unique pattern of light emanated, marking the magnet’s genesis. Hubble Space Telescope / NASA (image credit)
On the 12th of November, scientists were able to observe the light display from two neutron stars merging together, a brilliant kilonova. Kilonovas are rare in space, although previously detected by scientists. However, this one was special: weird signals showed something new in the kilonova light. Researchers investigating the incident gave several opportunities but most likely claimed that a newborn magnetar was a big superstar produced following the collision: a super magnetic neutron star.
05. X-Ray blobs from the Milky Way
Millions of years ago, energy surged above and underneath the galactic disc at the core of the Milky Way. It is still visible and is blazing in the spectrum of gamma rays in two clusters, known as the Fermi Bubbles, found in 2010. In 2020, scientists discovered a couple more blobs detectable in the X-ray spectrum from the same area. These faint, gigantic characteristics of the Milky Way turn over 25,000 light-years in Fermi Bubbles, which are probably connected to the bubbles of the Fermi, end to end in the breadth of 45,000 light-years. “EROSITA Bubbles” was named by researchers.
06. Venus with a touch of life?
Venus may be the most uninhabitable planet in the solar system with rolling acid nukes and foggy temps. Therefore, astronomers are preparing themselves to seek phosphine, a gas considered a potential signature of life on extraterrestrial worlds, and have aimed their phosphine-hunting telescope on Venus for the first time. But they located the chemical in the clouds of Venus in a surprising twist. However, some experts have called for caution before declaring that Venus truly has life.
Researchers inquired in 2020 which star systems had Earth’s vantage positions, that allow them to view our little planet with a thick atmosphere. In 326 light-years, they have found 1,004-star systems that can view Earth. A star about 12 light-years from Earth contains known exoplanets and has the right point of view to observe earth in 2044.
These are some of the many interesting and intriguing discoveries that scientists encountered in 2020.
Written by W. P. Pallewatta
01. Featured image: https://bit.ly/3qsTbJg
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01. Inside the Planet Venus (Infographic) [By Karl Tate] – https://www.space.com/64-inside-the-planet-venus-infographic.html
02. P. Predehl et al. Detection of large-scale X-ray bubbles in the Milky Way halo. Nature. Published online December 9, 2020. – https://www.sciencenews.org/article/x-ray-bubbles-center-milky-way-galaxy
03. Birth of magnetar seen for the first time [Live Science] – https://www.livescience.com/neutron-stars-birth-magnetar.html
04. Astronomers map out 1 million previously unknown galaxies [By TOM FISH] [PUBLISHED: 14:17, Thu, Dec 3, 2020] – https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1367597/space-news-astronomy-million-galaxies-rapid-ask-continuum-survey-virtual-tour-evg