The latest in Ph-word: June’21

Let’s have a quick look at last month’s new Ph-stuff, progressively moving further away from earth with each item. (By the way this is the shortest news post in this blog ever. Cool stuff did happen but not overly complicated; or maybe I’m getting the summer lazies.)

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The new space station by the China National Space Administration got visited by three “taikonauts”. They will spend three months in its first module that went in orbit some weeks ago, participating in its construction and carrying out experiments. The Administration has ten more crewed missions planned over the coming year for building the station.

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Funnily, astronomers found that several planets are orbiting their stars perpendicularly.

That is, perpendicular to the rotation of the respective stars. I.e. instead of lying around the star’s equator, their orbit has them pass above the star’s poles. This is unexpected because planets form inside disks of matter around stars, and these both rotate together.

Up to now the tilt between planets’ orbits and stars’ axis of rotation could be told for 57 planets. 38 of them are “normal”, while 18 are “perpendicular” (and one is neither).

The numbers may be small but they definitely show that this must be going on pretty frequently. No explanation is known yet of course, but a reasonable suggestion is that some giant planets’ gravity might have kicked smaller ones off their original plane.

🌕

LIGO, the experiment that has been catching gravitational waves from colliding black holes and colliding neutron stars for the last five-ish years, now has a collision between a black hole and a neutron star. Actually it announced that it caught two such collisions within ten days early last year.

Okay, to be frank these are not really “collisions”, as the black hole simply devours the neutron star. Still, it’s an event of proportions large enough to send gravitational ripples through space and towards us.

2 thoughts on “The latest in Ph-word: June’21

  1. Hey hey! Coming from the newsletter to leave a comment but seems like there is a bit of a discrepancy between what’s in the e-mail and what is here. I am not sure but I guess I got lost in the web site 😀 Nevertheless I will find and read that 2nd paper of yours, it can run but it can’t hide!

    1. Thank you, beautiful astronomer!
      The blog post that mentions the paper should appear soon… or so I’ve been saying for a week now. 😏

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