Astronomy Current Affairs - 2019

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China constructing a huge Observatory to probe origins of Cosmic Rays

The Chinese scientists are constructing a huge cosmic ray observation station that is equivalent to 200 soccer fields in Sichuan province. The observatory is located 4,400 meters above sea level.

Key Facts

  • The rocks from Ice Age were blasted for the construction
  • Three huge underground pools more than triple the size of Aquatic centers are to hold the detectors. The detectors collect high energy photons generated by remote celestial bodies
  • Around 12 telescopes are to be erected to conduct high-precision measurement of cosmic rays
  • The observatory is named as “Large High-Altitude Air Shower Observatory” (LHAASO). The project is to be completed by 2020.
  • The main objective of the observatory is to study the origin of cosmic rays, their acceleration and transmission mechanism.
  • Research teams from Australia and Thailand are directly participating in the project.

Significance

Cosmic Rays are atom fragments that rain down on the surface of the earth from the outer space. The study on Cosmic rays are important as they carry source of information about the origin of the universe. The cosmic rays can also be used for applications outside astronomy. In 2017, a team of scientists found a void at the The Great Pyramid of Giza using cosmic rays.

Oumuamua: Alien asteroid discovered in Solar system

Scientists have discovered an asteroid named Oumuamua (or (514107) 2015 BZ509) nestling in Jupiter’s orbit that had migrated from another star system. It makes it first known permanent immigrant to our solar system. It   confirms suspicions of scientists’ that asteroids from other stars have arrived in our solar system. The asteroid Oumuamua was actually first discovered in 2014, but after four years of tracking it, scientists were able to determine that it had arrived in our solar system some 4.5 billion years ago – just as Earth was beginning to form.

Key Facts

All planets in our solar system travel around Sun. But this asteroid moves in opposite direction, referred to as retrograde orbit and is in same path as Jupiter. This shows that it is from different solar system. If it was native of our solar system, it might have same original direction as all of other planets and asteroids, inherited from cloud of gas and dust that formed them.

Asteroid immigration from other star systems occurs because Sun initially formed in tightly-packed star cluster, where every star had its own system of planets and asteroids. The close proximity of stars, aided by gravitational forces of planets, help these systems attract, remove and capture asteroids from one another solar system.