8 Strangest Things Scientists Have Discovered In Space

8 Strangest Things Scientists Have Discovered In Space
8 Strangest Things Scientists Have Discovered In Space

Humanity has been looking up at the sky for thousands of years, and all we’ve learned in that time is that space is a crazy place. Every day, scientists discover many bizarre things that bring up more questions than answers, make us fear the unknown, and leave us awestruck.

1. Whirlpool Galaxy (Messier 51)
The Whirlpool Galaxy, aka Messier 51, is like the rockstar of celestial bodies, always looking perfect and getting snapped by telescopes left and right. It’s not that far from us either, just some 23 million light years away. And it’s not just a pretty face. The real kicker is its cosmic tango with its BFF galaxy, NGC 5195. Their gravitational dance leads to some serious star-making action, giving those spiral arms a dazzling “stars being born” vibe.

2. Hexagonal Storm on Saturn
Saturn’s massive hexagon is probably the coolest and weirdest thing in the whole solar system. Picture this majestic storm, big enough to fit four Earths inside, just spinning there for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. This mind-blowing storm swirls around in Saturn’s atmosphere, where the winds are all over the place. The vortex at Saturn’s north pole, right inside the hexagon, is spinning faster than the winds outside the hexagon, which creates this epic storm show.

3. The Traveller – Oumuamua
On one chilly October night in 2017, the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope stumbled upon something wild. At first, they thought it was a comet, but something didn’t feel right, so they thought, “Ah, must be an asteroid!” But guess what? Wasn’t that either? This space thing was shaped like a rod, and it was getting brighter as it twirled. It turns out this space rock was not from our solar system. It’s an outsider, a traveler, that’s presumably older than our whole solar system.

4. Stephan’s Quintet of Galaxies
Back in the day, astronomers thought Stephan’s Quintet of galaxies was just some gas clouds in the Milky Way, but with better telescopes, it became clear that something else was afoot. The galaxies appear to be physically linked, like space besties holding hands. But according to their Redshifts, the distance between them should be the same, but after gathering more data, it seems as if four of them are 300 million lightyears away, and one’s just 30 million lightyears away. If neighboring galaxies have such crazy different Redshifts, forget using this method to guesstimate distance accurately.

5. Slug on Pluto
Pluto’s got a killer landscape, at least from what we can tell. It’s not something you can witness on Earth but the closest comparison would be a floating iceberg in the ocean, but the ocean is a frigid wasteland instead. That’s pretty much what Pluto’s vibe is. In 2016, NASA dropped this hilarious pic of a rock leaving a trail behind it as if it were a slug.

6. Planet with CO2
A while back, stargazers stumbled upon a Saturn-sized planet, some 700 light years away, that has CO2 in its atmosphere. That’s the first time we’ve spotted CO2 outside our solar neighborhood! The James Webb Space Telescope also caught faint whiffs of methane, water vapor, and more CO2 around a couple of other planets. It’s like a cosmic sniff test for potential life on those exoplanets.

7. Birth of a New Moon
Ever seen a new moon pop into existence? Probably not, right? This process usually takes millions of years to complete, but seeing just a glimpse is more than enough for a species like us. So the Cassini spacecraft snagged some mind-blowing pics on its way to Saturn and found what seems to be a fresh moon in the making, dubbed “Peggy.” It’s still an infant, like 0.8 km small, and it’s doing its thing just outside Saturn’s rings. Scientists think these moons happen when icy bits in the rings get shoved to the outer edges. Space is wild!

8. Space Butterfly
These awesome pics snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope have become legendary. The astronomers call it the Twin Jet Nebula, or PN M2-9 if you hate fun. But honestly, the name Space Butterfly is a perfect fit for this phenomenon. I mean, just look at it! This nebula’s got a double star system, making it a bipolar planetary nebula. The glowy shells in the pics? That’s the last hurrah of a dying star, shedding its outer layers.

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