We’ve discovered a lot about space as a species over our relatively short existence in this universe. We’ve visited the moon, and we now have data and information on an ever-expanding multitude of planets that are in and around our solar system. Some things astound and amaze us, and some things we find are just downright strange. This list is for those things! Here are the 10 strangest things found in space.
10. The taste of Raspberries and Rum
Yes, we’re starting as we mean to go on with this list! Scientists have sifted through reams and reams of signals sent back to us from near the centre of our galaxy. The location they’re most focused on is known as Sagittarius B2, a large dust cloud that exists at the epicentre of the Milky Way.
There they found a large quantity of a material called ethyl formate. You may not have heard of this material, but it turns out this is the chemical that gives raspberries their taste, and also rum its smell!
The scientists were actually desperate to find amino acids, as it would help them in their search for how exactly life is created. But they were certainly not disappointed with their find. Dr Belloche of Cornell University said that out of 50 molecules discovered in the survey, two of them had not been seen before!
Just more proof that scientists are making groundbreaking discoveries every single day! So be careful if you find yourself out near Sagittarius B2, as you might become very drunk!
9. Hypervelocity stars
Everyone’s heard of shooting stars. If you’re lucky, you may have even seen one! They streak across the sky on a clear night and are incredibly breathtaking! Well, I have some bad news for you, and then I have some worse news.
The bad news is; those weren’t actually shooting stars you saw! What you saw was an asteroid hitting the atmosphere of our planet and combusting! Though they’re called shooting stars, they’re not technically a star that’s being catapulted through space.
And the worse news is there is such a thing as a shooting star, but it’s pretty terrifying. Scientists know that there are a lot of stars that travel in binary pairs, meaning that they spend their existence together. However, if these stars are situated around a black hole – which stars usually are – a pretty ridiculous thing can happen. If one star is sucked into the black hole, this can cause the other one to shoot off into space due to the loss of gravity.
These stars can reach speeds of up to 10,000 km or 6,000 miles per second and travel so fast that they become completely unable to slow down. That’s nearly 4 times the speed of a pistol bullet. Let that sink in for a second. Shooting stars don’t sound so magical now, do they?
The Voyager spacecraft was launched in the 1970s and it continues its journey through space. It has sent back pictures of Jupiter, Saturn and an image where you can see us from 6 billion km away, a tiny little blue dot in a vast amount of nothingness.
What’s even more interesting about Voyager is what was put onto it. A golden record was placed on the spacecraft with information about earth contained on it. This record includes photos of earth and people, recorded greetings from the President of the United States, coordinates to where exactly the Earth is located in the solar system and drawings of a man and a woman.
The disk also included a lot of music, including Mozart, Chuck Berry and Blind Willie Johnson. The Blind Willie Johnson song is a particularly interesting choice, as it’s a very solemn and sad song and Willie Johnson lived an incredibly hard and impoverished life, but now his sad moans can be heard throughout the Universe!
We often think of planets as acting like the ones we know well in our solar system. As a controlled mass that is happily floating around the sun its nearest to, with maybe a little moon floating around it as well. We think of planets as part of a larger structure, like a solar system or a galaxy.
However, this is not always the case. As the next strange thing in this list will prove!
The not-very-catchily named CFBDSIR_2149-0403 is a ‘free-floating planetary-mass’ located near the constellation of Dorado. The team that discovered it initially believed it to be a part of the AB Doradus moving group, but this was then proved to be false… Which means that this mass is not able to be classified as a planet.
I can’t help but feel bad for it to be honest! Floating around space, not quite a planet, not quite a rock, doomed to a life of absolute solitude!
Yes I had to put some in this list! There are some sightings of UFOs in outer space that is too engaging to just be passed off as space debris. One of which comes to us from Russia, and was filmed by Musa Manarov in 1991 at the Mir Space Station.
Musa looks to be outside conducting some renovation or construction on the outside of the space station when a cylindrical shape, which can only be a few hundred feet away from him seems to hover near the space station. Both Musa and a cameraman from the partner space station instantly spotted the thing as the sun shined off of it, causing it to flash.
Musa actually went public with this sighting, disregarding any notion of it being a piece of space debris, and confirmed that it was indeed a UFO.
Another interesting sighting of a UFO from space has been popularly referred to as the Black Knight Satellite theory. The photo, showing what looks to be some sort of spacecraft, was taken in 1998 during the STS-88 mission.
But conspiracy theorists claim to have dated its existence back to 1899 when Nikola Tesla conducted a series of radio experiments that picked up strange signals.
A multitude of different instances is connected with it too, including a number of detections of crafts in outer space. Though most people believe these to be a load of unrelated stories tied together by conspiracy theorists, the picture was taken in 1998 and it is definitely pretty haunting!
5. Galactic Cannibalism
Now, cannibalism is a concept that is strange enough when it’s based on earth! It refers to a species eating and consuming one of its own kind. What’s just about the only thing that can top cannibalism on the weird scale? That would be galactic cannibalism.
This occurs when two galaxies get too close together. One of the two galaxies will suck the other one in using its gravitational force and distort the original galaxy. This results in one galaxy – usually the bigger one – in essence, eating the other one.
Want to know something even scarier? Scientists believe that our very own galaxy – called The Milky Way – was formed when we collided with another, more ancient star system.
This is because there are two distinct groups of stars in our galaxy, ones that are young and part of a disk shape, and ones that are much older that form part of a halo shape.
Even stranger, astronomers estimate that our galaxy will collide with another in the future. Give it another 4.5 billion years and we think that the Andromeda galaxy will eventually merge with our own to create an elliptical galaxy, perhaps in the shape of a large disk.
What’s amazing about galactic cannibalism as well is that it can birth new stars because when galactic clouds form together, they can create new stars, so it’s not all absolutely terrifying!
4. Large Quasar Group
A quasar group is a collection of astronomical structures formed around supermassive black holes. They’re thought to be the largest objects in our known Universe.
The first-ever quasar discovered was found back in 1982, but many have been found since then, including one hilariously known as the Huge Large Quasar Group. This particular one was found by Roger Clowes and his colleagues at the University of Lancashire in 2013.
Another prominent Quasar is the Supermassive J0100+2802.
Scientists believe that this hyperluminous quasar group was formed only a billion years after the Big Bang, which startled them, considering how close that is to the very beginning of our Universe.
Another large entity that has been troubling scientists has come to be known as the Eridanus Supervoid. Why such a scary name? Well because, from what those that study it can gather, it’s an entity that spans around 1.8 billion light-years, and is filled with… absolutely nothing.
This was theorised after studying the Cosmic Microwave Background – the radiation left after the Big Bang – and finding a massive gap around 3 billion light-years away from our Milky Way.
Some believe it to be a black hole, and if this is true… then I’m pretty scared of it.
3. The Eye of Sauron
It turns out that the dark lord’s symbol isn’t much of a fantasy! There’s a start in the constellation of Piscis Austrinus that looks just like it!
Our eye’s epicentre is known as Fomalhaut, which we know to be the eighteenth brightest star in the night sky. It is, supposedly twice the size of our sun, which explains why we can see it so clearly.
But the real magic happens when Fomalhaut is observed under infrared light. We begin to see a huge ring of debris surrounding it, which could possibly be new planets that are forming with the star as their centre. All in all, it’s a pretty scary image.
And guess what, the Universe has given us a hand to go with this eye! Elephant trunks of interstellar gas and dust near the Eagle Nebula were pictured by the Hubble Telescope in 1995. The photo, which was named the number 1 space photograph taken by Hubble, shows us what looks like a huge hand reaching up into the cosmos.
It’s actually composed of 32 different images, which gives you an idea of the size of the pillars. It’s absolutely breathtaking that such beauty can exist, at such gargantuan size!
2. The Face on Mars
This incredibly famous picture was taken in 1976 by the Viking 1 spacecraft. As it was picturing what is known as the Cydonian Mesa on Mars, it captured a picture of what looked to be a humanoid face.
This caused a lot of people to think that we had finally found life on mars! But it was dismissed by scientists as a trick of the light and shadow. Viking actually went back and photographed the same area, and lo and behold, the face was no longer there!
But this isn’t to say strange things don’t happen on the red planet. Over the course of a few weeks, the Mars Rover captured something interesting, in the first picture we just see a pretty normal picture of Mars terrain, but in the second there’s something new in the frame.
Many people have argued about what it might be, the simplest explanation being a rock that the Rover kicked up, but it’s still strange. And here’s another strange formation found in space – this image of a crater formation on Mercury which looks a bit too much like Mickey Mouse, doesn’t it! Disney is definitely hiding something!
1. 55 Cancri
55 Cancri is a sun that is located 41 light-years away from our solar system in the constellation of Cancer. It has what was thought to have 4 other exoplanets orbiting it, later found out to be 5.
All sounds pretty normal, right? Well, the one planet we need to focus on is 55 Cancri E. It’s about two times the size of our Earth, and scientists have said that at least a third of the planets’ mass is made up of pure diamond. This is the first glimpse of a planet that has a completely different make-up to Earth, and it’s pretty impressive.
Though such worlds have been theorised before, 55 Cancri E is the first-ever diamond planet to be located. Which oddity from space did you think was the most interesting? Let me know in the comments down below!