Science journal offers up essays on 8 mysteries in astronomy

Jun 01, 2012 by Bob Yirka report

( -- Because astronomy and astrophysics are still so much a mixture of theory, conjecture and generally difficult to measure phenomenon, at least as compared with many of the other sciences, one of the most highly respected science journals, Science, has chosen to run a series of articles detailing eight of what it deems the most compelling questions currently vexing those who study the cosmos; each written by someone uniquely qualified to delve into the subject matter at hand.

Adrian Cho is up first with an essay describing the hotly debated topic of Dark Energy, the reason behind why everything in the is scattering away from everything else faster than it used to be, or really should be. Equally vexing is that models and equations suggest that whatever the mysterious energy is, it appears to make up 73% of everything that exists, and still it can’t be seen, or even measured.

Tied closely to dark energy is Dark Matter, the stuff that most in the field agrees is there, yet can’t really explain in any meaningful way. Adrian Cho authors this second in the series and highlights the fact that dark matter is merely a term for describing whatever it is that holds everything in the universe together. He argues that unlike dark energy, scientists stand a reasonably good chance of one day actually detecting a particle of the stuff, which would of course prove that it really does exist.

In the third essay, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, asks, Where are the Missing Baryons? Right now, they can’t be found of course, hence the question. Baryons are particles that make up regular matter, but for some reason when adding up , and then leaving the rest to baryons, researchers can’t come up with a number that equals 100% of everything that is supposed to exist. Hence the mystery.
Also by Bhattacharjee is an essay that asks the simple question, How do Stars Explode? After a lot of research over a lot of years, researchers still don’t really understand what goes on with a star when it explodes in what is known as a supernova. They’re still working on the conditions that lead up to one.

Edwin Cartlidge then takes up the question of What Reionized the Universe? Put another way, what caused stripping off of electrons from atoms in the few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang?

In the next essay, Daniel Clery wants to know What's the Source of the Most Energetic Cosmic Rays? We’re bombarded with them every day, yet researchers can’t agree on where they come from.

Richard A. Kerr follows that by wondering Why Is the Solar System So Bizarre? Did our solar system form the way it did by following logical steps, or was it all just chaos and chance? Nobody really knows.

And Finally, Kerr concludes the series by asking Why Is the Sun's Corona So Hot? Or hotter than it is internally? Those that study the sun still really don’t know, but really wish they did.

Explore further: How baryon acoustic oscillation reveals the expansion of the universe

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User comments : 16

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5 / 5 (4) Jun 01, 2012
Dark Matter is not tied closely to Dark Energy. I am unaware of a single theoretical concept that links the two, except possibly the group of physicists trying to explain them. Perhaps this series of articles is what ties them together.
1.2 / 5 (18) Jun 01, 2012
Simply understanding that Einstein was wrong eliminates most of these questions. Einstein said the speed of light was constant for all non-accelerating frames of reference. Scientists also say that a constant speed while changing direction is considered an accelerating frame of reference. So where do you find a non-accelerating frame of reference within a solar systen or galaxy for that matter. Read my theories which explain most of the questions mentioned in this article. http://www.scribd...theories
1 / 5 (15) Jun 01, 2012
IMO the solar corona is heated with solar neutrinos as the neutrinos in dense aether model are supposed to interact stronger with sparse charged particles, than with these uncharged one. In dense aether model the gravity is the dual force to the pressure of radiation and the result of shielding of gravitational waves with massive objects. The (cold) dark matter is the result of shielding of this shielding with another neighboring massive objects. At the boundaries of visible Universe this shielding of shielding is shielded again (no neighboring objects are there) and it leads to the dark energy.
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 01, 2012
Great questions. Wish I had answers. I don't claim to have them.

1.4 / 5 (10) Jun 01, 2012
How can we see the big bang? Photons emitted 300my post BB and we see them today because we were moving away relative to the source at or above C and we recently slowed and they catch up to us? Seems HIGHLY unlikely.

The very nature of the Universe is unknown and we are either too dumb to figure it out or we haven't even got half the picture yet.

Seriously am I right or am I right?
not rated yet Jun 01, 2012
Too cool and about time. I'm getting tired of the tv 'science preachers'.
not rated yet Jun 02, 2012
Great questions. Wish I had answers. I don't claim to have them.

Exellent responce and so true. Got to love some of the 'Crackpot' theories you see around here.
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 02, 2012
Another great mystery of astronomy: why does it attract a disproportionate number of cranks?
Individuals who seem absolutely convinced that they have more insight than the much larger group of consensus seeking researchers who are likely smarter, have invested more time in the research, and have benefited much more from the exchange of ideas amongst themselves.
If you guys honestly want to promote alternate theories, this is the wrong forum. Enduring critical examination, defending your theories, might not be fun, but it's necessary.
5 / 5 (2) Jun 02, 2012
Why Is the Solar System So Bizarre? Did our solar system form the way it did by following logical steps, or was it all just chaos and chance?

Who said it was any more bizarre than any other system? Actually, I am sure it followed the logical steps OF chaos and chance.

What's the Source of the Most Energetic Cosmic Rays? Were bombarded with them every day, yet researchers cant agree on where they come from.

We know where they come from, just not WHAT is causing them.

The way these questions are presented are bizarre to me. Dark Energy is NOT tied closely to Dark Matter. And I believe a few of the questions DO have known answers. As I understand, these essays are by science writers, not scientists.

I know this should be impossible, but I think I am also choking on some of the dust falling off the unused brains of some of the commentors here. If I can't comprehend a topic, I don't assume it's because I must have a better theory. I go educate myself a bit more.
5 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2012
Read my theories which explain most of the questions mentioned in this article.

This is quite an interesting collection of revisionist theories from an obvious Renaissance man. A "must-read" for the layman who is seriously considering taking science classes. You should then be able to immediately skip over many of the unnecessary basic lessons and go directly into developing poorly understood concepts and writing about them - as DTYarbrough did.

Better yet, print some of these articles and take them to your college or university of choice. Then you can proficiently engage your instructor on finer points of physics.

Very good stuff indeed! But not for the reasons he thinks.
1 / 5 (6) Jun 04, 2012
They left out the obvious questions:
1. How did the original, first stars form?
2. Given that star formation is still a mystery, how do galaxies form?
All by themselves?
If the researchers cannot explain even the most basic of visible and measurable things that make up just about the whole universe, how are they ever going to explain the stuff they cannot even see, touch or measure except by highly indirect inference?
1 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2012
How did the original, first stars form?
In classical Big Bang cosmology the hydrogen and helium was formed first in form of sparse clouds, which condensed by their gravity until the nuclear reaction ignited. Do you see some problem with this explanation?
1 / 5 (1) Jun 10, 2012
Why did everyone 1 star me?

Tell me, without using the stupid high school teacher explanation, how in the heck we can see photons emitted from the big bang? It's like creating a system with it's own logical consistency that totally contradicts what observation tells us.

My theory: We are at the big bang right now. Time is a human illusion and when we die it disappears. You have to admit that even though humans seem to be able to communicate it could simply be mass delusion. In fact that makes this entire endeavor pointless because you will only be using your own unique neurological construct to decipher what I'm trying to explain right now.

But can we see the big bang or the aftermath? It shouldn't be possible according to everything the physics professors have taught me. Am I the only one who sees it?
not rated yet Jun 11, 2012
Cave Man: The big bang happened everywhere, but we are not seeing it, we are seeing the radiation that was released 300,000 years afterward when the universe became transparent for the first time. Up until then all matter was ionized (plasma). Because of inflation the universe was much bigger than a naive interpretation would suggest. I know some of these concepts are difficult, but there are many excellent books on the subject that would explain it much better than I can in the space allotted. Alan Guth and Joseph Silk both have excellent books on the subject.
1 / 5 (1) Jun 11, 2012
I understand all of what you said, my question is that given causality how can we see photons (CMB) that were emitted at the big bang (300million years post BB to be exact)?

It's like saying we just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Right? Hehe.

I don't know if I can explain it any better, maybe by saying that observing those photons should only be possible if we were traveling at the speed of light away from their source and only now slowed to let them catch up. Although I do understand how saying "the big bang happened everywhere" can explain things away for some people but that just adds many more questions for me. Like how you would define 'everywhere' when we are talking about the initiation of everything.

Seems to me we know VERY VERY little relative to the perception of an infinite universe.
not rated yet Jul 03, 2012
I'd like to take the authors to task on their use of the word "theory"
"...astronomy and astrophysics are still so much a mixture of theory, conjecture and generally difficult to measure phenomenon..."

This would appear support the "it's just a theory" school of thinking.

Did they mean "hypothesis"? Or did they miss out the word "facts" - intending to convey the idea that astronomy and astrophysics are a mixture of fact, well supported theory and conjecture, hypothesis etc etc? Which of course they are!

PS - and shouldn't it be "phenomena"?