#AstroMiniBR: walk through the icy night of Pluto and rainbow of fire

every saturday, the TechWorld and #AstroMiniBR bring together five relevant and fun astronomical curiosities produced by the contributors to the Twitter profile to disseminate knowledge of this science, which is the oldest of all!

This week, we’re going to take a tour of Pluto’s icy surface and discover what a rainbow of fire is! Come on?

#1: The mountainous surface of the Solar System’s most beloved dwarf planet

Being able to observe a planet in detail still feels, to some, like science fiction. So imagine seeing the details of a dwarf planet more than 7 billion kilometers away from us?! The panoramic photo above easily gives the impression that we are flying over the mountains of distant Pluto. The record was made by NASA’s unmanned probe, New Horizons, which left Earth for the dwarf planet in 2006, but only reached the first stop on its journey nine years later, in 2015. The records made by the probe impressed not only scientists, but the general public as well because of the incredible views of towering mountains over two kilometers high, the flows of frozen nitrogen, the low clouds in their atmosphere, and their strangely familiar appearance with the cold regions of ours. own planet.

#2: The cosmic periodic table

Carl Sagan once said: “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies… They were made inside collapsing stars, now long dead. We are stardust”. In fact, the hydrogen in our body, present in water molecules, for example, emerged right after the Big Bang. Carbon was made by nuclear fusion inside stars, as was oxygen. Much of the iron we have in our bodies was made during star explosions that occurred billions of years ago in events known as supernovae. Even heavier elements, such as gold in jewelry, were probably produced in collisions of neutron stars that generated an incredible amount of gamma radiation and gravitational waves for a short period of time. The periodic table above is color coded to indicate the best estimate we have of the nuclear origin of all known elements. However, the sites of creation of some chemical elements, such as copper, are still not entirely well understood and are ongoing topics of scientific research.

#3: Enceladus: One of Saturn’s most peculiar moons.

Enceladus is Saturn’s sixth largest moon and is one of the most characteristic celestial objects in the Solar System. The features observed on its surface indicate that it is Saturn’s most explosive moon. The streaked patches point to an asymmetric tectonic activity that contains clues to Enceladus’ internal structure. One of the best hypotheses is that it may contain subterranean seas where life might be able to develop, which puts it in one of the best positions among place candidates for finding life outside Earth. The high-resolution images of Enceladus above were taken during an overflight by the Cassini spacecraft, which orbited Saturn between 2004 and 2017. The reason for Enceladus’ internal activity remains a mystery, as other nearby moons of approximately the same size appear quite inert.

#4: An inverted rainbow in the sky!

Known as the Fire Rainbow for its flame-like appearance, this rare event is created by ice crystals rather than fire. For an arc of this nature to be visible, the Sun must be in a very specific position in the sky: at least 58 degrees high in a sky where cirrus clouds are present. Under these conditions, if the small, flat, hexagonal ice crystals that make up the cirrus clouds are aligned horizontally, sunlight will be refracted as a single, enormous prism. The exact combination of these factors is quite unusual, which makes these phenomena quite rare. The photograph above was taken in August of this year, on the outskirts of North Fork Mountain in West Virginia, USA.

#5: The result of a galactic encounter!

Approximately 15 million light years away from the Solar System, Centaurus A is the closest active core galaxy to planet Earth. Corresponding to a diameter of more than 60,000 light-years, this peculiar elliptical galaxy (also known as NGC 5128) is presented in this beautiful photograph taken by the Blanco telescope located at the Inter-American Observatory of Cerro Tololo in Chile. Centaurus A is apparently the result of a collision of two normal galaxies, resulting in an impressive amalgamation of star clusters and dense bands of dark dust. In the vicinity of the galaxy’s core are the remnants of cosmic debris that are constantly being consumed by a massive central black hole more than a billion times the mass of our Sun. the process that probably generates the emission of radio waves, X-rays and gamma rays by Centaurus A and which are observed by our telescopes!

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