When you hear scientists discuss the dark matter, don’t feel like they are saying something that you could never understand. They really don’t know how it works either. We’re serious…no one really does. This is why dark matter can refer to literally any substance that interacts mostly with gravity (and has visible matter). We know it makes up roughly 85% of the matter in the known universe.
Astronomers have also been able to also determine that astrophysical observations, especially gravitational, can be explained by dark matter. As laws of gravity are universal, so when they differ from that…dark matter likely played a role. The reason it is called “dark” is that it does not interact with electromagnetic fields. Therefore, it does not absorb, reflect, or emit radiation; making it nearly impossible to detect.
Elst-Pizarro is often misunderstood, as people have trouble knowing if it is an asteroid or comet. This is not a crazy problem, but most experts can see the difference. Yet Elst-Pizarro just felt like being different. Discovered in 1979, we did not really care about it a lot as it was within the asteroid field. By 1996, it was showing a tail like a comet. This led to many just assuming it was debris from a collision.
However, the tail’s brightness and even structure changed as time went on. No one seemed to understand the issue, with the most likely concept is that it could be an asteroid that collided with something that exposed an icy body. Which could then be melting away. However, no one knows why or really how this asteroid managed to become a comet. This is one of those space anomalies astronomers seemed to differ heavily on.
For those unaware, neutron stars emit radio waves or at the very least, high-energy radiation like you might see with X-Rays. Yet in 2018, astronomers were struck with something they did not expect. They found a long stream of infrared light coming from a neutron star roughly 800 lightyears away from Earth. The discovery was incredible, yet also slightly terrifying as no one knew what this could be. They certainly could not explain it.
This had never been seen before, making it hard for researchers to really explain. They did, however, propose that a disk of dust surrounding the neutron star could be the cause of it generating such a signal. The image above gives you a guide to what happened as soon as infrared was utilized and followed. As of now, they have yet to find out the true reason for the stream. Making it one of the most compelling space anomalies in recent memory.
Like dark matter, dark energy is one of the space anomalies we may never have a true answer for. What we do know is that dark energy is some form of unknown energy that affects our universe on incredibly large scales. Supernovae measurements help us find it, and helped us realize the universe was expanding at a much faster rate. Due to this discovery, we had answers for things beyond the normal forms of matter or energy that most understand.
Dark energy helped us explain cosmic events such as the Big Bang. We know it is the most likely reason the universe’s expansion has accelerated but we do not understand it all. Dark energy simply is too difficult to grasp for now, but that might not be the case for that much longer. As of 2020, research has been specifically aimed at looking further into dark energy. Perhaps we’ll know more about it one day.
If you want something to make you scratch your head, we invite you to check out the Red Rectangle Nebula. Located in the Monoceros Constellation 2,300 lightyears from Earth, you’ll see it. You’ll notice that two stars sit at the heart of the area, which is what ultimately gives us the image of it being a rectangle. Dust rings surround them, creating two cones of brightness. The Nebula here exhibits something rare known as an extended red emission, making dust glow red.
While we can understand how the rectangle came to pass, no one knows why the dust is red. Some have assumed it to be due to ultraviolet light from stars that randomly connected or interacted with carbon-rich molecules within the dust. But that is not proven. There are other areas of the universe with colored dust, yet for some reason, there is not a connection between their dust coloring and the Red Nebula.
Astronomers noticed odd ripples of dust in the Milky Way in 2009, making many feel a disruptive force was present. However, they could not determine at the time what caused the issue. By 2015, we had an answer. The cause was a dwarf galaxy orbiting the Milky Way, which is ever so slightly altering the motion of our galaxy with its gravitational pull. Scientists were only able to see it due to 4 bright stars around the galaxy.
It would be too hard to see without it. Astronomers believe dark matter is the reason why we cannot truly see it very well. Given the name Galaxy X, the dwarf galaxy was unique at the time. This all changed when in 2016, we discovered Dragonfly 44, made of literally 99.99% dark matter. Along with Segue 1, the dwarfs have been spotted more and more. However, no one knows how they came to be. Moreover, what their role is with dark matter.
While the Milky Way is a relatively flat galaxy, others are different. Some like Ellipticals can look like a football. Hoag’s Object, however, operates differently. It has an old yellow core, surrounded by a beautiful ring of blue stars. However, there is nothing in the middle as if someone took a bite out of the middle of the thing! Yet another look makes it seems like some sort of space donut!
The “Object” was spotted in 1950 by Arthur Hoag, its namesake. We have yet to see another galaxy of any kind that looks similar. Scientists have no conclusive reasoning as to how this formed. However, the theory is that a small galaxy came through and went right through it. This isn’t a bad theory, as the area spins very slowly, and a small version of the galaxy is hidden in itself.
There is a place known as the South Atlantic Anomaly or SAA. It is a region of the Earth’s magnetic field known as Space’s version of the Bermuda Triangle. Astronauts have reportedly fallen asleep only to be shocked by an intense flash of light. It is thought that this is linked to Van Allen radiation belts, which are twin particles trapped in our planet’s magnetic field. This is quite an important issue to figure out, as we know that our magnetic field is not perfectly aligned to the Earth’s rotation.
That very well could lead to why this area roughly 125,000 miles above the South Atlantic causes such trouble. Even the International Space Station has trouble in the area, as computers stop working & astronauts experience cosmic flashes. On top of this, the Hubble Space Telescope cannot take any observations! If we are to do commercial space travel, we’ll need to figure out the issue with the SAA and how to work around it.