Blue Blobs and the Meteorite that upsets the applecart

18 June 2022

At … astronomers have identified five examples of a new class of stellar system. They are not  quite galaxies and only exist in isolation. Blue stars distributed in an irregular pattern, these are the blue blobs seen in space telescopes. A lesson in the unexpected, we are told.

At … Martian meteorites upset the planet formation theory. A basic assumption of how planets collect volatiles from the molecules around a young star is now being questioned. One way around this of course is to say the meteorite did not come from Mars but had an unknown origin. However, the said meteorite, found in 19th century France, back in 1815, has a history of long use and it is a given that it dates back to the early solar system. Hence, the choice of the meteorite rather than a more recent one.

These volatiles, derived from the molecules surrounding the young star, in this instance our sun, later find themselves back in the atmosphere, along with incoming volatiles on meteorites. The atmosphere is then produced. Now it seems this theory might be awry. The planet, at the point of formation, is a ball of molten rock, it is thought. A surface of magma. How on earth could a meteorite arrive from Mars in such a situation. This then is the mystery. The 1815 meteorite turned out to be a chondrite.  As such, on a ball of molten rock volatiles such as hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and the noble gases, are thought to sink into the magma and disappear, more or less. Hence, the volatile elements known to reside in the interior of the  Earth, and Mars by association with the formation event, are thought to reflect the composition of the solar nebula – or a mix of solar volatiles and volatiles in meteoritics raining down on earth in the next stage of the formation of the solar system. Once again this idea seems to have been upset as the meteorite is not composed of the right stuff. It does not display the expected properties that agree with the theory of planet formation. Either the meteorite does not come from the early solar system or the theory requires re-evaluation. One or the other.

At … the discovery of a solitary young neutron star, the super dense remnant of a massive star that exploded as a supernova. Or is it? Bright radio emissions powered by the spinning pulsar’s magnetic field has only recently emerged from behind a dense shell of debris from the supernova explosion. Or that is the theory. What they have observed is that it was not there in the VLA Sky Survey of 1998 but appeared in an image of the region by the same array in 2018. This was followed by observations of it in 2019, 2020, and 2022. Hence, it must be new. Was the array as good in 1998 as it was in 2018? Were the same people looking at that part of the sky? According to the new study scientists are now sure this is a young pulsar – no older than 60 to 80 years ago.

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