The theories of QED suggest that the universe is full of “virtual particles,” which are not really particles at all. They are fluctuations in quantum fields that have most of the same properties as particles, except they appear and vanish all the time. Scientists predicted the existence of virtual particles some 80 years ago, but we have never had experimental evidence of this process until now.
In a unique twist, this binary star system is exhibiting some brutal behaviour. Highly magnetic and spinning rapidly, AR Sco’s white dwarf accelerates electrons up to almost the speed of light. As these high energy particles whip through space, they release radiation in a lighthouse-like beam which lashes across the face of the cool red dwarf star, causing the entire system to brighten and fade dramatically every 1.97 minutes. These powerful pulses include radiation at radio frequencies, which has never been detected before from a white dwarf system.
“During such interplanetary travel, astronauts will be exposed to multiple sources of ionizing radiation, including galactic cosmic rays, solar particle events, and trapped radiation in the Van Allen belts,” claims the paper. For this reason, humans are going to need serious protection to not only survive the long journey to Mars but to also become a fully space-faring civilization that continues to extend our reach into the solar system.
“It’s going to blow up,” a distraught and defeated Ebeling told his wife, Darlene, when he arrived home that night.
And it did, 73 seconds after liftoff. Seven astronauts died. Cold weather and an O-ring failure were blamed, and Ebeling carried three decades of guilt.
“That was one of the mistakes God made,” Ebeling, now 89, told me three weeks ago at his home in Brigham City, Utah. “He shouldn’t have picked me for that job. But next time I talk to him, I’m gonna ask him, ‘Why me? You picked a loser.’ “
The Ordnance Survey (national mapping agency for the UK) has just released their first map of a region on another planet. It’s a high resolution relief shaded contour map, and includes the area of Mars where ExoMars will land in 2018. Here is a close up view of it with the ESA landing ellipse in Oxia Planum superimposed.
… and every time I hear it called “Planet Nine” I hear Khan Noonien Singh in my head. Which compelled me to play with Photoshop.