September 2011 | Blogs
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Is the Earth’s Magnetic Field Reversing?
There is a weak zone in the Earth’s magnetic field known as the South Atlantic Anomaly and it may indicate that the Earth’s poles are reversing. The Earth’s magnetic field has been weakening since scientists began measuring it almost 200 years ago – it is estimated to be 10% weaker. The Earth’s magnetic field extends 36,000 miles into space and is created by the spinning of the Earth’s core. The Earth’s core is electrically-conductive and acts like an electromagnet. The magnetic field shields Earth from the high-energy radiation given off by the Sun. In the area known as the South Atlantic Anomaly,...
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Has Luke’s Home Planet Tatooine Been Found?
Remember in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, there is a shot of Luke looking out into his desert world with at two sunsets? The Kepler space telescope has found a planet with two suns! This planet has been named Kepler 16b and it is 200 light years from Earth and is approximately the size of Saturn. It is a circumbinary planet, meaning it is a planet orbiting two stars. Kepler 16b is unlikely to support life because unlike Tatooine, it is a cold planet. It lies outside the system’s habitable zone where liquid water can exist on the surface because the two stars together are cooler than our Sun. One of the stars is 69% the size of the...
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Is There Oxygen in Space?
Yes, this summer astronomers using the Herschel Telescope identified oxygen molecules in space. They found these molecules in the Orion nebula, 1,344 light years away. Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe. Until now, scientists have only seen individual oxygen atoms in space. We do not breathe individual oxygen atoms, but rather oxygen molecules. (A molecule is a group of atoms banded together and it is the smallest unit of chemical compound that can take part in a chemical reaction.) Oxygen molecules make up 20% of the air we breathe. Scientists theorize that the oxygen molecules were locked up in water ice that...