The name KIC 8462852 is not exactly a snappy, cool name. This is why we like that it was eventually given the name of “Tabby’s Star.” It happens to be one of the most interesting stars in science. Tabby’s Star is currently 1,470 lightyears away from Earth, which is relatively close compared to some of the other stuff we’re capable of seeing. Yet strange light fluctuations have been happening here, even causing exactly 22% of the brightness to be dimmed. This was found by citizen scientists during the Planet Hunters project.
The idea was that when other stars dimmed, they often did this due to exoplanets being in the way. That is why it was such a big deal that this dimming was found. However, the light curve that has been experienced still does not make sense. Exoplanets have not been getting in the way, so what is causing the problem? Some claim it’s a Dyson Swarm. These are a smaller, less complete form of the Dyson Sphere that surround stars and harvest their energy output. In 2019, scientists even claimed it might be due to an orphaned moon. Yet nothing is concrete even still! This is why we had to add it to our space anomalies list.
Also often referred to as the Canes Venatici Supervoid, the “Giant Void” is located in the star constellation of Canes Venatici. It is not hard to see where the name comes from, right? We now know it to be the official second-largest confirmed void in space. It has a diameter of roughly 300 to 400 Mpc. This stands for megaparsecs, which are 1 million parsecs. Just one fully equals out to 3,260,000 lightyears. Therefore, 300 to 400 Mpc would equal anywhere between 1 billion to 1.3 billion lightyears. Comprehend that for a second.
There is a place in space that is void of nearly anything for a billion or more light years. We know it to be the largest in the Northern Galactic Hemisphere. Light can clearly pass on through this void and it’s, of course, not some hole in space. While this is a void, there are 17 galaxy clusters inside it, mostly concentrated in one 50 Mpc region. Each cluster does not interfere with the other in spite of being close, meaning there’s weak gravitational interaction among them. Science still has no idea why this void exists or how voids this large exist at all. They are curiously lacking in both matter and even dark matter. It’s incredibly uncommon to have neither in such a vast area of space.
You may not know this, but it is a proven fact that the strongest substances in the universe form from the leftovers of a dead star. This is why you might see comic books talk about using alloy from a dead star or Dwarf Star, such as DC Comics character, The Atom. Yet when these leftovers are present, protons and neutrons in this dead star’s husk are said to contain some massive gravitational pressure.
This happens to squeeze them into something that looks a bit like pasta. It’ll form into tangles of material that would normally snap. However, in order to snap these pasta noodles, you’d need to apply 10 billion times the force needed to shatter steel! It is still not really known why protons and neutrons do this, especially after a star dies off. Yet it’s clear that when you need 10 billion times the force to shatter steel to break them apart, you’ve got something that’s impressively strong.
There are a lot of weird moons in our galaxy. Some are pretty cool like Titan while there are others like Jupiter’s Io and Neptune’s Triton that truly stand out as some of the weirdest. It is crazy volcanic while Triton has geysers spewing off all the time. Yet Saturn does not want to let them win too much, as their Hyperion Moon is pretty weird too. It is so weird, in fact, that it does something that scientists are pretty confused about. Hyperion is basically pumice-stone-like due to its connections to volcanic material.
Yet its overall planet body is rocky and looks like an overly hormonal 14-year-old boy with acne, as it has multiple craters all over the moon’s surface. Many of these bigger than Earth’s moon. Between 2004 and 2017, NASA’s Cassini Space Probe visited the Saturn system. This meant they’d come in contact with most if not all of the moons Saturn is known to have, including Hyperion. As it came by Hyperion, it found it was charged with a major beam of static electricity that was overflowing out into space. We’re still not sure why it’s like this.
Saturn’s moons are certainly fascinating to astronomers and offer many space anomalies to look into. Hyperion might be weird but Titan is a moon that many believe could support human life. It is the only moon anywhere in our galaxy that has a true, dense atmosphere. It is also the only moon or known body in space that has a stable body of surface water/liquid. While this might be cool, there is one part about Titan that confuses many people. That is a magical island located in the Ligeia Mare Sea. The Cassini Space Probe tracked this island from April 2007 to January 2015.
Each time it came around, an island here would appear and then disappear over and over again. Some speculated that it could be due to gas bubbles while others, of course, thought it might be alien creatures. Eventually, it was felt that Cassini caught fizzing in one of Titan’s unstable seas. Yet this is still uncertain and most still believe the island randomly went underwater from time to time. However, major fizzing in the sea of Titan’s already hazy atmosphere certainly could block off Cassini’s ability to see the island. Yet if this were the case, Cassini should not be able to see other sections either. However, it was able to catch most everything around the island.
Haumea is a dwarf planet that is around the same size as Pluto. It can be found in the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune. We knew well beforehand that Haumea offered a few space anomalies. It has a very weird elongated shape, unlike any known planet. It even has two moons that orbit around it. On top of that, it has a full day that lasts 4 hours, making it the fastest-spinning object of any kind in our solar system. Yet even more weirdness was found involving Haumea in 2017 when astronomers watched it pass in front of a star.
They noticed something that instantly made them rub their eyes and question what they just saw. Haumea showed signs of rings! Further analysis was needed. When they looked into it more, they found it had some extremely thin rings orbiting around it. Science believes it came from a collision that happened in the far-off, distant past. Yet no one is certain for sure. We also still do not know why it’s spinning so fast or how it has a such gravitational pull to have 2 moons. It’s clear that Haumea baffles scientists quite well.
It is not uncommon for radio signals to be heard from space. Since microwave radiation among other things led to this, we can kind of know why they come. Yet ever since 2007, we’ve been getting incredibly strong, incredibly bright radio signals that last about a few milliseconds each time. These flashes have since been given a name, Fast Radio Bursts or FRBs. They are coming from billions of lightyears away, but we’re still not sure of the place. Nor are we sure why they’ve been coming in our direction.
Many want to believe it is some far-off alien life that noticed fellow humans and sent us signals to catch our attention many years ago. Yet this is unlikely. As recently as June 2020, scientists were able to narrow things down. The team involved in trying to find out the origin of these FRBs claimed that they could be coming from “compact-object mergers and magnetars arising from normal core-collapse supernovae.” However, no one is certain and space anomalies like this will take more time to come to a conclusive result.
There might be nothing more beautiful than seeing the lights an Aurora can make. You can see one on Earth the further north you get, especially in the upper United States and Canadian regions. Earth has something known as the Aurora Borealis, which is incredibly beautiful. Luckily for Earthlings, the Northern Lights are not a danger to us. We have another the further South you go called the Aurora Australis. It does not pose a threat to humans either. However, Auroras themselves can be quite dangerous. They are formed from solar winds, but Earth is protected from these by our massive magnetic field.
Auroras form from a disturbance in the magnetosphere, but occur so high up from Earth’s surface that they do not hurt us. This might not be the case for the surface of a rogue dwarf planet called SIMP J01365663+0933473. It’s one of the more compelling space anomalies around. It happens to be 19.9 lightyears from Earth, located in the Pisces constellation. It was flung from its parent star yet has some of the most immense gravitational force imaginable. In fact, it’s 200 times stronger than Jupiter’s. Due to this strength, it is able to generate flashing auroras in its atmosphere, which we are able to see with radio telescopes. To understand this, the Auroras showing like that means they’d normally ravage the object each time they showed up.
All of the gas planets in our solar system have rings around them. These rings look like solid cool rings but in fact, they are made up of a lot of debris that rotates around the planets pretty fast. While we expect that of these planets of major gravitational force, we never expect this of an asteroid, especially one still on the move. Yet that is exactly what has happened with an Asteroid named Chariklo. It happens to be 250 kilometers or 155 miles across, which is not exactly record-breaking for an asteroid. Yet it sports its own ring system.
Originally, this asteroid looked quite unremarkable until it was able to cause a dip in the light of telescopes on Earth. This dip in light caused an investigation. It was then that astronomers discovered its two cosmic rings! The largest of these is 7 kilometers or 4 miles wide with the smallest being about half that size. Tiny satellites also happen to be around it, representative of moons most planets see. On top of the rings, it also has a lot of frozen water on it. While water is not unique for an asteroid, rings certainly are. Space anomalies like this are a first. We’re not sure exactly how all of this happened with Chariklo but it’s still pretty cool.
It was found a while back that random, yet odd x-ray pulses were coming out of the core of both the Andromeda and Perseus galaxies. The light signature did not match any known particle or atom. This made astronomers giddy, as it was assumed they could be discovering something brand new here. In fact, many thought it could be the first true sign of dark matter recorded. Of course, dark matter is not easy to track or see. This is the entire issue for scientists. We know it accounts for most of the mass in the universe and we know it exists.
However, it’s hard to show people what it looks like obviously. It has been theorized for some time that dark matter is made of sterile neutrinos. It’s still debated if those even exist today. The reason this is a big deal is that those particles are believed to produce x-rays during their death throes. Meaning these random x-ray pulses could be caused by them. Since radiation also comes from the center of those galaxies, it’ll correspond with areas where major dark matter could likely be. The big issue here is that science still is not certain that this was what those x-ray pulses came from. Yet unlike others on the list, we’re close to finding out.
On Earth, there have been arranged marriages for centuries. Even today, some places still do this. However, for the most part, the practice has died off. Yet for our cosmic planet and star friends, they do not get to choose. A planet known to science as Planet HD 106906b is pretty compelling. It’s 11 times bigger than Jupiter, our system’s biggest planet. It has also done something that few other planets have ever done without being labeled “rogue.” It has managed to distance itself from its parent star a super-massive 650 astronomical units, also known as AU.
To understand this, just 1 AU is equivalent to 93 million Earth miles. Meaning 650AU would be 60,450,000,000 miles. Earth to Pluto is only 3 billion miles. Just think about that. The Sun to Pluto is roughly 39.5AU. Meaning, you’d need to travel from the Sun to Pluto nearly 16 times to get to the distance Planet HD is from its star. This planet alone is responsible for most of our planetary theories no longer holding ground. This planet should not exist based on our previously known theories. It was not created by a collapsed debris ring nor primordial discs of raw matter. Space anomalies like this may never be explained.
The Triple-Star System Luke Skywalker Would Be Jealous Of
Near the beginning of the first Star Wars film, we see Luke Skywalker come out of his relative’s home. We see him sit down with 2 suns behind him. All of us as younger people seeing that were instantly wowed by it. Of course, we now know if that was a real place then the human Skywalker would have burnt up long beforehand. However, could places like this exist? While not habitable for life like ours – they can and DO exist. It’s rare to see two stars close enough for that to happen, however. Yet one system has 3 stars! Known as KIC 2856960 and discovered by the Kepler Space Observatory, more than four years were put into studying this amazing system.
It is made of one large star and two dwarf stars. Kepler noticed it when four daily dips of light curves occurred, with each dwarf crossing by the other every six hours. They’d also notice a dip in light for 204 consecutive days that happened to be caused by the third star eclipsing. After years of analysis, scientists STILL have no answer for this. Coming up with the mass of the stars should have been simple too, but even it became harder to pin down. Some believe the answer to this mystery is that KIC has a fourth, hidden star. This would only add to space anomalies like this honestly.
Sometimes we do not realize how much protection we have out there in the universe. It truly does have a power we might never know the real extent of. One of those protectors is a plasma shield billions of miles from our Solar System’s center. It is there that you will see solar wind colliding with powerful cosmic rays at a boundary known as the Heliopause. In 2019, NASA’s twin Voyager probes happened to pass through the area as they entered interstellar space. As they did, scientists saw the Heliopause and found out that it was not some simple boundary.
Rather, it was a soupy plasma of sorts that deflects and dilutes the worst of all incoming radiation from other areas of the universe. It became known as a Plasma Shield and was said to possibly deflect about 70% of cosmic rays before it could enter our solar system. Some have referred to it as the “shield that guards the realms of man.” It is clearly incredible that we have something stopping these major rays. If we didn’t, perhaps our solar system would look far different. In fact, we may not even be alive. It is uncertain how it formed and how it accomplishes such an amazing feat. Making it a “must-add” to our space anomalies list.
It’s pretty rare that astronomers find something so unique that they have to put it into an entirely new class all its own. Yet a discovery made in 2019 (reported in July 2020) was an exception. The astronomers discovered a bunch of weird, yet to be identified circles in space. Originally, the team that saw them actually thought their instruments were glitching. However, they knew it could not be a mistake after further study. These circles are visible only through radio light, with images being captured at one of the world’s most sensitive observatories. The circles were spotted by the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) Telescope.
Of course, the ASKAP Telescope was formed to help scientists better understand the development of stars and galaxies. It clearly seems that it’s doing just that. These “rings” are said to not correspond with any known object. Thus, they have now been called Odd Radio Circles or ORCs by the Astrophysicist Ray Norris and his team at Western Sydney University. Some of the discs are limb-brightened with some containing a galaxy near the center. Each circle roughly measures out to about 1 arcminute across or 827 yards/756 meters. This is pretty small but still impressive. Yet the exact measurement is hard to know due to how far away these ORCs happen to be. Space anomalies like this are incredible, right?
This particular discovery actually inspired our entire article. Recently, a cosmic gas cloud was said to have shown a mysterious gamma-ray heartbeat. It apparently syncs up perfectly with a neighboring black hole. It was an international team that discovered this cloud in the constellation of Aquila, the eagle. They used data from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope to accomplish this discovery. The team claims the cloud “beats” in rhythm with a small black hole roughly 100 lightyears away from it. A German team at the DESY National Research Center believes the black hole is connected to this mystery in some way.
The aforementioned black hole is part of a Microquasar system referred to as SS 433. This system has a giant star that’s exactly 30 times as large as the mass of our own Sun. Microquasars are just smaller Quasars, but they can still eat up massive amounts of light. As the quasar and star orbit each other, the black hole is pulling in matter from the star, resulting in an accretion disk around the black hole itself. Yet part of the matter from this star does not drain into the black hole and shoots out high-speed particles and strong magnetic fields in jet-form, producing X-rays and Gamma Rays. It is thought that the Quasar gives the heartbeat. Yet it and the cloud are 100 lightyears apart, making this one of science’s current space anomalies in need of study.
Black Holes, on their own, are not exactly space anomalies. We know they exist and we know what they can do for the most part. However, even that can be called into question. Black Holes still surprise us from time to time. To understand exactly what a Black Hole actually is, you should first know that it involves time and gravity. We know from Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity that gravity will often help us dictate time. Black Holes are a region of spacetime where the gravity is so impressively strong that absolutely nothing, even radiation & light, can escape. We found using Einstein’s equations that properly compact mass can deform spacetime, allowing the emergence of a Black Hole.
This usually tends to occur when massive stars collapse as they die off. Once one forms it can grow by absorbing more mass and even by merging with other black holes. Supermassive Black Holes are said to likely exist at the center of most galaxies. Yet this is roughly what we know. We have no idea what happens when you’re fully sucked in. We know that it will bend and break whatever it absorbs but we do not know what happens once something is fully sucked in. Does it come out somewhere else? Where does this mass absorbed actually go in the end? These are the questions science may never have a true answer to, making them essentially anomalies to us.
Today, most scientists agree that the Big Bang is how our universe formed. Still called the Big Bang “Theory” by some, it is not so much a theory any longer. The problem science has is simply how to explain it all. They will tell you most of the story, based on careful study of the universe for all of human history. However, one thing gets in the way. We just do not know how certain things existed to make the Big Bang a reality. This is heavily present when it comes to matter and antimatter. When the Big Bang happened, we should have an even amount of matter and antimatter.
Scientists call it “Matter to Antimatter Asymmetry.” Yet this would be hard to accomplish because they are produced together at the same time. They are attracted to each other due to their differences in electric charges too. When they come in contact with each other, they explode into pure energy. During the Big Bang, this would have happened a lot. We also know without matter, our universe cannot exist and we do not have that even number. Something got in the way of the two matters colliding and exploding at some point. What that is will always be one of the biggest space anomalies ever. Yet this is just one of the many questions regarding how the universe formed that science may never know the answer to.
Space anomalies like this guiding neutrino do not come along very often. In 2017, this high-energy neutrino struck the Earth. While neutrinos are not normally anything to write home about, the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica saw something very interesting. It was the first one to arrive at Earth with enough information about its origin. Due to the unique opportunity this provided for scientists, they were excited to see what they could find out.
Astronomers set their telescopes in the direction of the neutrino origin, in hopes of capturing more or even other incredible sights. They found that this neutrino came from a flaring blazer, which is a supermassive black hole at the very center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Not only that, but it was flung at Earth around 4 million years ago! Black holes are space anomalies in their own right, but this took the cake.
Quasars are really cool, and essentially space anomalies in their own right. As many people will know, massive objects are known for curving light. This can be an issue, especially when it comes to looking at something through a telescope. Such a problem existed with the Hubble Space Telescope in 1979 when they spotted a quasar from the early universe. A cool sight on its own, scientists wanted to use it to estimate the universe’s expansion rate.
That was when they found out that it was expanding faster today than it was back in the early period. Of course, this finding actually disagreed with other measurements at the time. The double quasar phenomena is a good way to measure, but due to the uncertainty, it’s still an anomaly. Due to this, more studies are being done to further understand the universe’s rapid expansion. In fact, there are many reasons used, including our next space anomaly.
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 ones, can be explained by dark matter. As laws of gravity are universal, 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 a 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 being 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 with 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.