Unraveling the mysteries of the universe - once piece at a time
Astronomers have discovered an unexpected motion in distant galaxy clusters that suggest a gravitational attraction of matter that lies beyond the observable universe.
So is it possible that the universe is larger than we once thought, or is there something else going on?
In the 1960s, astronomers thought that they had identified all the various types of objects in the universe and now they only needed to concentrate on determining accurate distances. Then they discovered the mys- terious quasars that turned out to be active black holes in the early universe. The quasars are billions of light years away. A light year is the distance that light can travel in a year, about 6 trillion miles.
Remember when you look out into space, you are looking back into time. Even the light from the sun takes about 8 minutes to reach us. So we see the quasars as they looked billions of years ago.
In recent times more puzzles have surfaced; astronomers have discovered the presence of dark matter and dark energy. Dark matter will probably be small stars that are too small and dim to be seen, planets the size of Jupiter too small to be seen over great distances, neutrinos or exotic particles yet to be discovered.
This brings us to the Large Hadron Collider, which is the world’s largest and highest energy particle accelerator. This project has been constructed by over one 100 countries and many universities are involved. The accelerator is a track 70 miles in diameter located on the border between France and Switzerland. Here scientists will send particles in opposite directions and have them collide, producing conditions similar to early conditions in the universe, on a small scale. During the collision, scientists hope to see new particles forming, hopefully particles that were present during the creation. From this experiment, who knows what the discoveries will lead us to in future years; maybe transporting may become possible.
We will probably get some answers to some of our questions, but I’m sure more questions will arise. I don’t know whether we will someday solve all the pieces of the puzzle or wait for the day that the Creator reveals it to us. This will be the greatest lecture ever delivered - “ How I did it, by God.”
Jupiter is still with us, a bright object in the southwestern sky, and Venus is the bright object located low in the western sky right after sun set, and it will rise a little higher in the sky each day. Oct. 7, Jupiter will be near the moon.
Until next time, clear and dark skies.
Jim Honeycutt is an instructor of astronomy at Oxford College of Emory University.