Bengaluru: A study by an international team from Europe and the US led by an Indian planetary scientist has resolved one of the mysteries that baffled astronomers.
Astronomical studies have shown that several small bodies – Centaurs and Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) – in the outer solar system are having surfaces that are extremely dark but the origin of this color had remained unclear.
Centaurs estimated to number around 44,000 are minor planets with diameters larger than one kilometer. And TNOs are similar objects at a distance farther than Neptune, the most distant planet in the solar system.
Now, in a report published in the International Journal of Astrobiology, Dr. Chaitanya Giri, who led the research from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, and co-workers claim to have found why these objects appear dark.
They say they have obtained experimental evidence that the darkness of these objects is due to presence on their surfaces of highly ‘carbonized’ organic material analogous to ‘Titan tholin’ — a substance first synthesized in the late 1970s in the laboratory of Carl Sagan and another Indian scientist Bishun Khare at Cornell University to simulate the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon ‘Titan’.
“We investigated the chemical structure and composition of ‘Titan tholin’ using multiple analytical techniques such as laser desorption, mass spectrometry, Raman spectroscopy, and field-emission scanning electron microscopy,” Giri told IANS in an email.
“The investigation led to the discovery of novel graphitic structural components within the larger macromolecular structure of Titan tholin,” he said.
“Like the dark appearance of coal, our research indicates that the graphite within the Titan tholin-like material on Centaurs and TNOs contributes to their extreme darkness.”
According to Giri, since Centaurs and TNOs are progenitors of comets, “the darkness of the comet’s surface can also be attributed to similar material.”
For instance comet “67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko”, which was visited by Europe’s Rosetta space mission in 2014, “was extremely dark,” said Giri, who was a co-investigator on the mission.
Giri, who is currently with Japan’s Earth Life Science Institute at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, says the findings of this research will have far-reaching implications.
“For astronomers and planetary scientists, the prospect of complex organic material present on several objects in our Solar System is striking,” he said.
Astronomers might further use “Titan tholin” to study the surfaces of exoplanets (that are planets beyond our solar system) and planetary scientists could probe into the role of tholin-like material in shaping up organic-rich atmosphere and geology of several solar system objects.
“Chemists could further explore the exotic conformations in which ultra-complex organics exist in the universe and biologists would further probe whether such organics play any role in the origin of life on Earth,” he added.
Giri noted that in the past few years, interest in the small Solar System bodies had been on an ascent.
“Besides Europe’s Rosetta mission, NASA’s Dawn mission to dwarf planet Ceres and the New Horizons mission to dwarf planet Pluto all have given us glimpses to our yet unexplored and enormously diverse Solar System.”
Giri said the “Titan tholin” for his study was synthesized at the NASA Ames Research Center while chemical investigations were carried out at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and at the Universities of Maryland (US), Nice (France), and Goettingen (Germany). (IANS)(Photo: chaitanyagiri.com)
New York, Oct 13: Astronomers have discovered that a Sun-like star lurking around 350 light-years away consumed the rocky equivalent of 15 Earths.
Dubbed Kronos after the child-eating Titan of Greek mythology, the star is the clearest and most dramatic case yet of a Sun-like star consuming its own planets, said Semyeong Oh, astrophysicist at Princeton University in New Jersey and lead author of the study.
“Even if our Sun ate the entire inner solar system, it wouldn’t come close to the anomaly we see in this star,” study co-author David Hogg from the Flatiron Institute in New York added.
The research did not begin as a hunt for a planet-eater.
Oh was analysing a catalog of new star data collected by the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft for pairs of stars with similar speeds and trajectories.
Such duos are typically twin stars that formed close together from the same ingredients.
The analysis ultimately led to the identification of Kronos and its lesser known brother Krios.
Their official designations are HD 240430 and HD 240429, and they are both about 350 light years from Earth.
The keys to the discovery were first confirming that the widely separated pair are in fact a binary pair, and secondly observing Kronos’ strikingly unusual chemical abundance pattern, Oh explained in a statement released by the Princeton University.
Other co-moving star pairs have had different chemistries, Oh explained, but none as dramatic as Kronos and Krios.
Most stars that are as metal-rich as Kronos “have all the other elements enhanced at a similar level,” she said, “whereas Kronos has volatile elements suppressed, which makes it really weird in the general context of stellar abundance patterns.”
In other words, Kronos had an unusually high level of rock-forming minerals, including magnesium, aluminium, silicon, iron, chromium and yttrium, without an equally high level of volatile compounds — those that are most often found in gas form, like oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and potassium, the study said. (IANS)
The science communities since a long time have been debating upon the existence of Planet Nine.
Space highlights different shreds of evidence based on which scientists are stating the claim.
What Is Planet Nine?
Planet Nine is a hypothetical planet present in the far outer Solar System, whose mass is estimated to be 10 times more than the mass of Earth. The planet is said to be 20 times farther than the sun than Neptune is.
What Do Researchers Have To Say?
Dr Konstantin Batygin, a planetary astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology, said that there were five different lines of observational evidence which pointed to the existence of Planet Nine. He stated that if this theory does not sound believable, then people would have to come up with the answers of the five pieces of evidence which could lead to further confusion.
Batygin in 2016 published a study examining the six known objects in the Kuiper Belt, a circumstellar disc in the Solar System beyond the planets that extends from the orbit of Neptune towards interstellar space.
The study examines all the objects have elliptical orbits pointing in the same direction and are tilted the same way. These serve as evidence to the planet’s existence.
It is being said that the objects are tilted 30 degrees downward compared to the plane where the eight official planets circle the sun. Researchers also made use of computer simulations of the solar system including the Planet Nine and to demonstrate that there should be more objects tilted a whopping 90 degrees to solar plane. It was revealed that five such objects, which fit these parameters were already known.
The study led to the birth of two more ideas. Researchers said that this planet could have tilted the planets of the solar system during the last 4.5 billion years.
Planet Nine’s existence could also tell the reason as to why Kuiper Belt objects orbit in the opposite direction as compared to other things in the solar system.
New Delhi, October 4, 2017 : You might have been moved by the way followers of the Hindu dharma bow down and welcome you inside their homes. Or by the way Hindu women dress, with jewellery adorning their hands and legs. Who doesn’t like the crinkling of their bangles, after all? But have you ever wondered the rationale behind their customs and traditions?
According to popular notions, the traditions and practices of the Hindu dharma have been equated with superstitions. However, a deeper look into the practices reveal that they are based on scientific knowledge and have been observed over generations , keeping in mind a more holistic approach.
Hinduism can hence, be called a dharmic scientific religion rather than just scientific religion. We prove you how!
1. Worshiping the Peepal tree
Hindu dharma entails a myriad gods and goddesses and there exist a variety of reasons that propagate worship of Peepal tree. According to Brahma Purana, demons Ashvattha and Peepala hid inside and lured people to touch the Peepal tree and consecutively killed them. They were killed by lord Shani and hence the tree has been worshiped ever since. Another legend believed Goddess Lakshmi resides under the Peepal tree every Saturday which lends it a divinely touch. Another school of thought believes lord Hanuman sat on top of the Peepal tree in Lanka to witness the hardships faced by Sita.
The Peepal tree does not have a succulent fruit, lacks strong wood and does no good other than provide shade. However, it continues to enjoy increasing devotion from people practicing the Hindu dharma. Science confirms that Peepal is the only tree which produces oxygen even during the night. Hence, in order to preserve this unique property, ancestors of the Hindu dharma related it to God. Additionally, the tree is of utmost significance in Ayurveda and its bark and leaves are used to treat diseases and illnesses.
2. Do not chew leaves of Tulsi plant
The Tulsi plant is revered in the Hindu dharma. Apart from its medicinal qualities, the plant is also known for its symbolic presence in Hindu mythology.
According to popular belief, Tulsi is the wife of Lord Vishnu. Hence, biting and chewing it is considered disrespectful.
However, according to botanists, Tulsi has high quantities of mercury. If raw mercury comes in contact with teeth (calcium), it can possibly result in inundation, making the teeth fall. Hence, leaves of the Tulsi plant are suggested to be swallowed and not chewed.
3. Applying tilak on your forehead
Application of tilak is a religious ac. According to the Hindu dharma, the forehead signifies spirituality. Hence, application of a tilak on the forehead denotes an individual’s thoughts and conviction towards spirituality. Various Vedic scriptures and Upanishads maintain that energy, potency and divinity comes to those who apply a tilak.
However, science asserts that during the application of a tilak, the central point in the forehead and the Adnya-chakra automatically pressed which encourages blood supply to the facial muscles. According to body anatomy, a major nerve point is located in the middle of the eye brows on the forehead. Application of the red tilak is believed to maintain vitality in the body and prevent the loss of energy. The Tilak is also believed to control and enhance concentration.
4. Obsessive cleaning during Diwali
Diwali, the festival of lights honors the goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth. The festival also commemorates the return of lord Ram after an exile of 14 years to his kingdom in Ayodhya. According to Hindu mythology, the night of his return was a new moon night. To illuminate his path in the pitch dark night, the villagers of Ayodhya cleaned the entire village and lit it with lamps.
Hence, Diwali is preceded by extensive cleaning of the entire house in honor of both the deities of Hindu mythology. Legend also believed goddess Lakshmi comes home on Diwali and thereby, the entire place should be cleaned and decorated to welcome the goddess.
However, science backs the concept and explains that Diwali essentially falls in October and November, and mark beginning of winters and end of monsoon season.
In older times, the monsoons were not a good period as they were characteristic of excessive rains that often resulted in floods and damaged homes, which then needed repair. This is why people indulged in repair, cleaning and beautification of their homes.
5. Folding your hands for ‘Namaskar’
You will often find people practicing Hindu dharma greeting people by joining their palms together. The ‘Namaskar’ is believed to signify respect for people.
This pose requires an individual to join all finger tips together that carry the pressure points of ears, eyes and mind. Science says pressing them together activates these pressure points, making our mind attentive. This aids us to remember people for a longer duration.
The Namaskar can also be backed up by an act to maintain hygiene and cleanliness since it does not involve any physical contact.
6. Wearing toe rings
Traditionally, toe rings are worn by married woman on the second toe and are treated as a sign of holy matrimony. However, they are believed to be a part of the Indian culture since the times of Ramayana when Sita threw her toe ring for her husband lord Ram, upon being abducted by Ravana.
Science says that a nerve on this toe connect the uterus to the heart. Wearing a ring on this finger helps regulate blood flow, thereby, strengthening the uterus and regulating menstrual cycle. It is also believed to have an erotic effect.
7. Applying henna on hands and feet
Mehendi or henna is usually applied during weddings and festivals to enhance the beauty of the women-folk. According to popular beliefs, the color of the henna denotes the affection a girl will enjoy from her husband and mother-in-law.
However, science provides rationale of applying henna during the stressful times of festivals and weddings. Festivity stress can bring fevers and migraines, which when mixed with excitement and nervous anticipation can prove to be harmful for an individual.
Thus, besides lending color, henna also possesses medicinal qualities that relieve stress and keeps the hands and feet cool thereby shielding the nerves from getting tense.
8. Fasting during Navratri
There are four major Navratris throughout the year, however only two are celebrated on a grand scale. Throughout the nine day festival, devotees observe ritualistic fasts, perform several pujas and offer bhog (holy food) to Goddess Durga in an attempt to gratify her.
But according to science, these navratris are celebrated when the seasons are transitioning. As the seasons and the temperatures change, our eating habits also do.
Fasting during Navratri allows our bodies to adjust to the changing temperature. Individuals get a chance to detox their bodies by quitting excessive salt, sugar and oil. Additionally, Navratris allow them to meditate and gain positive energy. This helps them prepare for the upcoming change in seasons.
9. Applying sindoor
In traditional Hindu societies, the Sindoor denotes a woman’s desire for their spouse’s longetivity. The red powder is believed to be the color of power, symbolizing the female energy of Parvati and Sati. The Hindu dharma holds a woman is ‘complete’ or ideal only when she wears Sindoor.
Science explains that sindoor is made out of Vermilion, which is the decontaminated and powdered type of cinnabar (mercury sulfide). Because of its characteristic properties, mercury is known to reduce anxiety, control blood pressure and also initiate sexual desire, the primary reason why married women are advised to wear the ‘holy’ red powder. This is also the reason why widows are prohibited from wearing sindoor.
10. Wearing bangles on wrists
Bangles have been worn in the Hindu dharma since times immemorial- goddesses are also pictured to adorn these beautiful rings in their wrists. Bangles are believed to enhance feminine grace and beauty. The Hindu dharma almost makes it mandatory for newly-wed brides and to-be brides to wear bangles as they are believed to symbolize the well-being of the husbands and the sons.
Science suggests the constant friction caused by wearing bangles in the wrists expands the blood flow level. Besides this, the energy passing through the external skin is once again returned to one’s own body due to the round-molded bangles which has no ends to pass the energy out.