There is no mistaking the fact that the universe is weird. Just look outside and you’ll see all sorts of strange, self-reproducing flora and fauna, crawling on a blue ball of semi-molded rock covered in a thin, hard shell and covered in a thin film of gases. However, our own planet represents a small fraction of the peculiar phenomena that can be found lurking throughout the cosmos, and every day astronomers come up with new surprises. In this gallery, we take a look at some of the strangest objects in space.
Mysterious radio signals
Since 2007, researchers have been receiving ultra-strong, ultra-bright radio signals that last only a few milliseconds. These enigmatic flashes have been called fast radio bursts (FRBs), and they appear to come from billions of light-years away (they’re not aliens, they’re never aliens). Scientists recently managed to capture a repeating FRB, which flashed six times in a row, the second such signal ever seen and could help them unravel this mystery.
The strongest substance in the universe is formed from the remains of a dead star. According to simulations, the protons and neutrons in a star’s wrinkled shell may be subject to an insane gravitational pressure, squeezing them into linguine-like tangles of material that would break apart, but only if a force is applied 10 billion times. greater than that necessary to break the steel.
Haumea has rings
The dwarf planet Haumea, which orbits in the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune, is already unusual. It has a strange elongated shape, two moons, and a day that is only 4 hours long, making it the fastest-spinning large object in the solar system. But in 2017, Haumea became even rarer when astronomers watched it fly past a star and noticed extremely thin rings orbiting around it, likely the result of a collision sometime in the distant past.
A moon with a moon
What’s better than a moon? A moon orbiting a moon, which the internet has called a lunar moon. Also known as submoons, moonites, grandmoons, moonettes, and moooons, lunar moons remain only theoretical, but recent calculations suggest that nothing is impossible about their formation. Perhaps astronomers may one day discover one.
Galaxy without dark matter?
Dark matter – the unknown substance that comprises 85 percent of all matter in the universe – is strange. But the researchers are sure of at least one thing: dark matter is everywhere. So the team members were scratching their heads at a peculiar galaxy they saw in March 2018 that seemed to contain little or no dark matter. Later work suggested that the celestial oddity did indeed contain dark matter, although the finding paradoxically gave credence to an alternative theory that dark matter does not exist at all.
The strangest star
When Louisiana State University astronomer Tabetha Boyajian and her colleagues first saw the star known as KIC 846285, they were baffled. Nicknamed Tabby’s Star, the object dipped in brightness at irregular intervals and for odd lengths of time, sometimes by as much as 22 percent. Different theories have been invoked, including the possibility of an alien megastructure, but today, most researchers believe that the star is surrounded by an abnormal ring of dust that is causing the dimming.
Highly electric hyperion
The title of the strangest moon in the solar system could go to many celestial objects: Jupiter’s volcanic Io, Neptune’s geyser Triton. But one of the strangest is Saturn’s Hyperion, a jagged pumice stone with numerous craters. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which visited the Saturn system between 2004 and 2017, also found that Hyperion was charged with a “particle beam” of static electricity that flowed into space.
A guiding neutrino
The single high-energy neutrino to hit Earth on September 22, 2017 was not, on its own, all that extraordinary. Physicists at the Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica see neutrinos of similar energy levels at least once a month. But this one was special because it was the first to arrive with enough information about its origin for astronomers to point telescopes in the direction it came from. They found that it had been thrown to Earth 4 billion years ago by a flaming blazer, a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy that had been consuming surrounding material.
The galaxy of living fossils
DGSAT I is an ultradiffuse galaxy (UDG), which means that it is as big as a galaxy like the Milky Way, but its stars are so spread out that it is almost invisible. But when scientists saw the ghostly DGSAT 1 in 2016, they realized that it stood alone, unlike other UDGs, which are typically found in clusters. Its features suggest that the faint object formed during a very different era in the universe, some 1 billion years after the Big Bang, making DGSAT 1 a living fossil.
Double quasar image
Massive objects bend light enough that they can distort the image of things behind them. When the researchers used the Hubble Space Telescope to detect a quasar from the early universe, they used it to estimate the rate of expansion of the universe and found that it is expanding faster today than it was back then – a finding that is inconsistent with other measurements. Now the physicists need to find out if their theories are wrong or if something else strange is going on.
Infrared stream from space
Neutron stars are extremely dense objects formed after the death of a normal star. Normally, they emit radio waves or higher-energy radiation like X-rays, but in September 2018, astronomers found a long stream of infrared light coming from a neutron star 800 light-years from Earth, something never before observed. . The researchers proposed that a disk of dust surrounding the neutron star could be generating the signal, but a definitive explanation has yet to be found.
Wandering planet with auroras
Drifting through the galaxy are rogue planets, hurled away from their parent star by gravitational forces. One particular peculiarity of this class is known as SIMP J01365663+0933473, a planet-sized object 200 light-years away, whose magnetic field is more than 200 times stronger than Jupiter’s. It is strong enough to generate flickering auroras in its atmosphere, which can be seen with radio telescopes.