“Pluto was part of their mental landscape, the one they had constructed to organize their thinking about the solar system and their own place within it. Pluto seemed like the edge of existence. Ripping Pluto out of that landscape caused what felt like an inconceivably empty hole.” -Mike Brown

We had an awfully busy week here on Starts With A Bang, with a number of fun and challenging posts:

For those of you who may not be aware, we’ve started doing monthly podcasts as well, and the second one just went live earlier this week! You can check them all out at SoundCloud, but I’ve embedded the latest one below, so you can listen right here.

Now, join me as we take a dive into our Comments of the Week!

Image credit: ISS astronaut Scott Kelly, via https://twitter.com/StationCDRKelly/status/666042034633883649/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw.

Image credit: ISS astronaut Scott Kelly, via https://twitter.com/StationCDRKelly/status/666042034633883649/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw.

From James Briggs on UFOs: “We all know the picture is real.”

The great thing about photo editing tools is that you can magnify detail that isn’t visible in the original image. Here’s what I did by throwing the original image into a very, very basic image editor (preview or GIMP will work) and just changing the saturation settings.

Image credit: ISS astronaut Scott Kelly, with adjustments by E. Siegel.

Image credit: ISS astronaut Scott Kelly, with adjustments by E. Siegel.

Lo and behold, the rest of the ISS! Or, as you might conclude, a much, much larger UFO than you ever thought possible.

I’ll leave the interpretation up to you.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

From Michael Fisher on Dark Matter hairs: “Layman question. I’m wondering why Gary Prézeau’s paper deals only with compact, planetary masses in his calculations – the centre of Sol is given [via a Google search I did] as having a density of 160 g/cm^3 whereas that of Earth’s inner core is 12 g/cm^3 & that of Jupiter is 25 g/cm^3”

First off, it isn’t the density at the center of the planet that matters so much. Any spherical or spheroidal mass of sufficient magnitude will create this density enhancement along hair-like lines.

Image credit: Gary Prezeau, via http://arxiv.org/abs/1507.07009.

Image credit: Gary Prezeau, via http://arxiv.org/abs/1507.07009.

The hair that the Earth produces is less enhanced than the hair that Jupiter produces by a factor of 10, but the Sun is further enhanced by more than another factor of 10! The reason it wasn’t highlighted in Prézeau’s paper is that the entire hair is contained within the photosphere of the Sun, from root-to-tip! Going in to detect dark matter is not very productive when the melting point of every material known is less than the Sun’s surface temperature. Oh well.

Image credit: ESO/L. Calçada.

Image credit: ESO/L. Calçada.

From Rishi Mishra on Einstein’s relativity and the solar system: “Here is something more on this
http://timesandtech.blogspot.com/2015/10/science-says-time-travel-is-possible.html

Thank you for the opportunity you just gave me to remind people of the cardinal rule of this blog: you are not free to come here and promote your own, alternative theory of physics. You didn’t do exactly that — you just wrote way outside your area of expertise and put together a page full of misunderstandings — but it’s a good reminder.

You’re always welcome here, by the way, and to learn about what we actually know and how we actually know it. I promise I won’t lead you astray, and if I ever do post something incorrect, I’ll correct it.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA); J. Blakeslee.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA); J. Blakeslee.

From Carl on what to be thankful for: “I am thankful for the glorious cosmos, our intricate world, the interlinked biosphere, and the people that walk in shoes different from mine. It took 14 billion years to get here, and we’ve only just begun.”

I agree with all of this. Wherever it is our Universe came from, including the laws that govern it, the particles that exist in it, and the unique way it unfolded to bring about the reality we perceive and our fleeting existence, it’s worth being thankful for all of it.

I don’t know all the answers — I venture that no one, living or dead, does or ever will — but I’m thankful for the time I have as myself in this Universe. Thanks for sharing a little bit of the journey with me.

Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech.

Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech.

From Julian Frost on multiple planets sharing the same orbits: “Thank you Ethan. That was really fascinating.”

You know, Julian (and everyone), one of my favorite parts of the Ask Ethan series — and one of the reasons I’ve continued it, uninterrupted, for years now — is that the really provocative questions are the ones that draw upon knowledge from a variety of sub-disciplines in physics and astronomy. It’s incredibly enjoyable for me to get to put them together in comprehensive, in-depth, informative ways that can resonate with non-experts and experts alike.

I very much appreciate knowing that I’ve done a good enough job that you feel informed and fascinated. Don’t forget, everyone, that your questions and suggestions for the rest of the year’s Ask Ethan columns can net you a free Year In Space calendar. Let’s see your best ones!

Image credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration.

Image credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration.

From Chris Mannering on the CMB and its unexplained anisotropies: “Look at the way the CMB anisotropy – which exhibits cosmological alignments with the ecliptic – in a steadily stronger form, the odds of fluke chance now being on the order of millions to one. Look at how that is hushed up by spoken or unspoken agreement, present company very much included.”

Does it exhibit a cosmological alignment with the ecliptic? Yes, it does.

But is the odds of a fluke chance on the order of millions to one? Not even close. Most analyses give the alignment (or the axis of evil) a fluke chance on the order of a few hundred or a few thousand to one, which is a far cry from the 5-sigma gold standard (and is more like 3.something-sigma) cosmology requires.

Image credit: Mikelsons, Gatis et al. Mon.Not.Roy.Astron.Soc. 400 (2009) 898 arXiv:0908.1931 [astro-ph.CO].

Image credit: Mikelsons, Gatis et al. Mon.Not.Roy.Astron.Soc. 400 (2009) 898 arXiv:0908.1931 [astro-ph.CO].

But let me ask you this: if it did turn out that there were a CMB alignment with the ecliptic, which of these two options would you turn to as the more likely explanation?

1.) The ecliptic itself, containing lots of zodiacal dust, emits foregrounds or otherwise interacts with/absorbs/shifts the CMB radiation to cause this effect.

2.) There is a massive preferred cosmic reference frame, centered on Earth, and in particular on the alignment of our Solar System’s planets with our Sun.

Among scientists, there is no one who takes the second hypothesis seriously. But it sounds like you do. If you do, I would ask you to examine why you think possibility #2 would be the default, and not #1. Assuming, that is, this effect turns out to be robust, and not merely a semi-unlikely by-product of cosmic variance.

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA, from the DAWN mission.

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA, from the DAWN mission.

From Ron on the Forbes site: “I view your blog on my iPad. [The] link to the Forbes site never gets past the welcome to Forbes page.”

Quite surprisingly, I have an iPad. I never, ever use it, for anything. Anyone who has an iPad and likes it have advice for Ron? I’m at a loss here.

Image credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2.

Image credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2.

From Denier on dark matter in tiny, tiny galaxies: “Do we see the effect of these dark matter clumps on the outer rim stars of the host galaxy?”

Although these dark matter clumps in the tiniest galaxies — the ones like Segue 1 — are found within the expected halos of other galaxies (like the Milky Way), we have to do the calculation and find out what the expected dark matter density is in that region of space, and compare it to what the density we reconstruct is. In all known cases, the mean dark matter density is many orders of magnitude below what the stars require, necessitating an additional dark matter halo centered on those stars comprising ~100% of the dark matter. (Where ~100% means 95%+, which is indistinguishable from 100% at the precisions/uncertainties we can measure.)

It’s worth noting that one must do the calculation to know for sure.

Image credit: William Borucki, Kepler Mission principal investigator, NASA / 2010.

Image credit: William Borucki, Kepler Mission principal investigator, NASA / 2010.

And finally, from Wow on the latest Kepler results and what they mean for hot exoplanets: “Well, everywhere I’ve ever looked or heard about the formation of stars has ALWAYS said that the normal is multiple star systems, binary and up.
Even for the lay public, that’s been the norm. So I don’t know how this makes our star less unusual being a singleton when finding out that many “large jupiter” planets are liable to be low mass stars.”

This is correct. Which is to say, our star isn’t all that unusual, or isn’t any more unusual than we’d previously thought. Yes, most star systems out there are binaries/trinaries, but a significant minority (between 10-50% by all accounts) are singleton stars, like us. Nothing’s changed there.

Image credit: Janella Williams, Penn State University.

Image credit: Janella Williams, Penn State University.

What has changed, though, is the amount of “super-Jupiters” we thought existed. Of course, they were the first exoplanets discovered, because they’re the easiest type to detect. But now it turns out that many of them — more than half — may turn out to not be planets after all. It’s always been a grey area as to where the line between “big Jupiter” and “brown dwarf” lies, as there isn’t a hard line of where fusion occurs. True stars, though; that’s a surprise!

This does have strong implications for what the population of super-Jupiters might be overall throughout the Universe, and makes many of us wonder how many more systems might be binaries after all, and how much more abundant low-mass M-dwarfs might actually be.

Thanks for a great week, everyone, and can’t wait to see what the next one brings.

Image credit: E. Siegel and World Scientific.

Image credit: E. Siegel and World Scientific.

Oh! And whether you’re going to buy my book or not, I do encourage everyone to download the first chapter for free and enjoy it. Free knowledge, illustrated, and researched and written by me. What more could you ask for?

Comments

  1. #1 Wow
    December 5, 2015

    “What has changed, though, is the amount of “super-Jupiters” we thought existed.”

    Then may I suggest the title of the piece was both incorrect and clickbait.

    I know that getting noticed is much more important than accuracy nowadays, because marketing keeps telling everyone that everyone else has the attention span of a stunned gnat (ever since the “MTV generation” “gag” era), but boring old factually supported does a greater service to people than pandering does.

  2. #2 AC
    December 7, 2015

    Ethan – Do you know when the book will start shipping? I pre-ordered but did not receive any information on a ship date.

  3. #3 Ethan
    December 7, 2015

    AC,

    Did you pre-order from World Scientific or from Amazon? I can contact World Scientific and ask them, but I have no idea how to get that information from Amazon.

  4. #4 AC
    December 8, 2015

    Pre-ordered from World Scientific using the link you gave last week. Not concerned with getting it ASAP, just found it a bit strange that there was no timeline given in their purchase confirmation as far as a possible delivery date.

  5. #5 Ethan
    December 8, 2015

    AC,

    Okay, I got them to tell me the following:

    “The release date in Asia is 26 Nov, we had and are fulfilling orders in Asia.
    As for Europe and Americas, the shipments are on their ways.

    We couriered some copies of your book to our US warehouse (it shall arrive this week) and estimate that Amazon will be updated around mid Dec.”

    So, the book should arrive in US Warehouses this week, which hopefully means you should get it (if you’re in the USA) next week. I’d love that!

  6. #6 Ragtag Media
    December 9, 2015

    So there is a Book now?
    Ethan, am I banned from buying the book? I asked in the other thread and get raspberries. Is my money no good?

    I told you\ folks I am not able to access this site as before. At least for the next few months and would appreciate a book update.
    Anyone?

  7. #7 Wow
    December 9, 2015

    “Ragtag Media
    December 9, 2015
    So there is a Book now?”

    And on another thread…

    ” #1 Ragtag Media
    December 8, 2015

    Awesome images Thanks Ethan.
    Folks has there been any news updates on Ethans Book?”

    Hrmmmm…..

  8. #8 Ragtag Media
    December 9, 2015

    Wowzer quit yanking my chain just give me the straight up on “The Book”.

    I told ya my job/route/whole routine has changed and no longer have much internet time. Heck I have to drive 75 miles each way now to new location so have little time to follow information on this site OR show you the error of your ways.
    Surely you can show some pity can’t you?

    Do I have to Grovel or a book date release on Amazon?

  9. #9 Wow
    December 9, 2015

    “Wowzer quit yanking my chain ”

    Oh dear, teabaggie, so you’re playing the victim again. Not got the balls to take it like a man??? Whine like a bitch, must we?

    “The book”???? Hell, yesterday, you were congratulating on “The Book”, yet apparently now you don’t know what the hell you were talking about!

    This, however, is no surprise to ANYONE here (other than your own oblivious self, of course).

    “I told ya my job/route/whole routine has changed”

    Just like you told us god was real, but just like that guy works down the chipshop who claims he’s elvis, you’re a liar and I’m not sure about him.

    Tell me, your “job” is making state car plates, isn’t it.

  10. #10 Wow
    December 9, 2015

    “so have little time to follow information on this site ”

    How does this make “knowledge” yesterday not appear today, unless you’re on a rota to troll this site with others, that is?

    And you seem to have PLENTY of time to troll your death cult propaganda on this SCIENCE site.

  11. #11 Ragtag Media
    December 9, 2015

    Geez, now your in full rage mode. Calm Down.. Take your meds.. I am of no harm to you. It’s O.K… Step away from the window young lady.

  12. #12 Ragtag Media
    December 9, 2015

    Wowzer + Questions= Tilt…Tilt..Tilt…………
    I Guess your like “Uncle Simon”

  13. #13 Wow
    December 9, 2015

    “Geez, now your in full rage mode”

    HA! ALWAYS projection!

    “I Guess your like “Uncle Simon””

    Nope, I’m exactly like me.

    Who are you like? Roman catholic? Though which sect…

  14. #14 Wow
    December 9, 2015

    Of course “Calm down” means to teabaggie here “I cannot explain how I knew yesterday there was a book, and indicated I knew before then there was a book, but today wish to pretend that I have no clue whether there is or is not a book, so instead I will pretend that you are enraged, even though there is no textual clue for that conclusion in your posts here, and that because you are enraged, somehow I do not have to defend my sub-goldfish memory problems.”.

    IOW a really crappy deflection that does nothing more than project your inadequacies and demonstrate your lack of thought.

  15. #15 Ragtag Media
    December 9, 2015

    “IOW a really crappy deflection that does nothing more than project your inadequacies and demonstrate your lack of thought.”

    OK where I have to live by what’ts on my screen here as my physical memory is dying and I admit it. I most times get less than 6 hours sleep before I have to head back in to the cotton patch so I may post and miss things.
    If you were a decent person in all your glory, you would be happy to post an Amazon link where I can buy the book so more people can see your name and click on your web…

    Opps Never mind.

  16. #16 Ragtag Media
    December 9, 2015

    “HA! ALWAYS projection!”
    For FuK Sake, That’s YOU Ya Moron.. You ALWAYS PROJECT!!!!!!!..

  17. #17 Wow
    December 9, 2015

    “OK where I have to live by what’ts on my screen here as my physical memory is dying and I admit it. ”

    It’s rather selective. You pretend to remember bits of the bible. Though to DO “forget” things like Matthew 6:5. Not to mention 6:1, 6:2 (what with all the “But Christians give more to the poor!” schtick) and 23:5.

    But we’re not talking about long term here. YESTERDAY. AND you claimed knowledge TODAY that you had posted about it YESTERDAY.

    Truly your alzheimers is more convenient than it is for the average Guiness Board of Directors member.

    “before I have to head back in to the cotton patch”

    And more hyperbollock hyperbole. Here we were told you were stuck in a bunker. Funny how you place yourself on a cotton plantation. I guess not having blacks beneath you has torqued you to believing that equality with them means you’re put in the same situation you put them in for centuries.

    Hence the fear and anger at the blacks: you’re shit scared they will do to you what you did to them and what you wish you were still doing to them today.

    It’s *always* projection.

    “If you were a decent person”

    I am. And I’m no fool, I smell bullshit. And I don’t fall for the fake sob story. It doesn’t stand up. Much like yourself.

    “you would be happy to post an Amazon link ..”

    Why?

    You’ve never put a link to a godbotherer site where we can take this godding bollocks to and we can talk about your fake mythology and cultism where it’s ACTUALLY RELEVANT.

    Because you don’t like it, and you know nobody else would let it happen on the blogs you frequent, because they’re big on “Do what I say, not what I do”, and for all your hypocritical whining, you are first in line to shut down any talk of god if it doesn’t toe your party line.

    ““HA! ALWAYS projection!”
    For FuK Sake, That’s YOU Ya Moron..”

    HA! It’s ALWAYS projection!

    PS what was that bollocks you posted some time back about how I was a bad person and moronic for not posting all I want to say in one post, just so I can get my name on the “leader board” or whatever BS you were projecting my personae to be?

  18. #18 Ragtag Media
    December 9, 2015

    “Hence the fear and anger at the blacks: you’re shit scared they will do to you what you did to them and what you wish you were still doing to them today.”

    HAHAHAHA LMFAO!!!!!!!
    That is the best. OK, I was recently partnered up at work with a Jamaican who came to America to live the dream.
    He shacked up with a “white women” and constantly complained about her bitcjing etc..yada…yada..yada..

    I looked him straight in the face AND SAID “You Blacks Think Slavery was the worst thing The White man done to ya” NOPE, I Said.. Here, are our Women, Have them…

    His eyes reveled reality and his laughter confirmed it.

  19. #19 Wow
    December 9, 2015

    “HAHAHAHA LMFAO!!!!!!!”

    I doubt it. There’s no reports of tsunamis across the other side of the ocean. But there’s also nothing there to L your FAO about. other than you want to say it.

    “He shacked up with a “white women” ”

    Yeah, Blazing Saddles parodied your sorry merkin ass with their “Where all de white wimmen at?” gag. Apparently you think that Blazing Saddles was a documentary…

    “I Said.. Here, are our Women, Have them… ”

    Aaawwww. So nice. So you give away your women, hmmm? They don’t get to live their life, you give them to others, because that’s “Mighty white” of you.

    The sound of foreheads being slapped at your stupidity is causing sonic fractures across the world…

  20. #20 Wow
    December 9, 2015

    And what happened to this lack of time you have and the lack of internet connection at “your workplace”?

  21. #21 dean
    United States
    December 9, 2015

    wow, we know ragtag is a purely vile person and congenital liar. There is no reason at all to think his posts are any more than ignorant little fever dreams.

  22. #22 Ragtag Media
    December 9, 2015

    “And what happened to this lack of time you have and the lack of internet connection at “your workplace”?”
    I am posting from HOME you dumb person,

    “wow, we know ragtag is a purely vile person and congenital lia”

    No I am NOT you WEIRDO!!!
    My Memory does fail me bur that is to be expected as we age and gave more on our plate.

  23. #23 Ragtag Media
    December 9, 2015

    Have

  24. #24 Ragtag Media
    December 9, 2015

    Damn, Am I The House Negro Foe Da Whipping?

    The House Whore Miss Wow Pounces On Mr, Then The Stable Boy PJ piles on leading the way to the whole band of merry fools who have all the answers.

    Good Luck With That

  25. #25 Wow
    December 9, 2015

    “I am posting from HOME you dumb person”

    Then why do you need to post at work, you slacker??? And what was that about you not being a fat ass slacker posting from home on the blog of a “GREAT AMERICAN”?

    Wednesday too. Part time special, are we?

    ““wow, we know ragtag is a purely vile person and congenital lia”

    No I am NOT you WEIRDO!!!”

    You are, and that’s why dean, PJ and scores of others here know it. Most of them don’t want the distress of combating a nutball like you so will avoid the strife, knowing that it won’t change you a damn bit. I think that there’s always a chance.

    “My Memory does fail ”

    You running the ghost of Ollie North? It doesn’t work for him, neither does it work for you. TODAY you knew about your post yesterday. You whined about it and made up fiction about how you got raspberries, and there were no raspberries, but making that up doesn’t stop you knowing you made that post yesterday, so the “I can’t remember my post yesterday” DOES. NOT. WORK.

    That you try is WHY everyone knows you’re a congenital liar.

  26. #26 Wow
    December 9, 2015

    “Damn, Am I The House Negro Foe Da Whipping?”

    Yup, called it.

    Now you’re equal, you MUST be persecuted, because that’s what you do to them. Equality with those negro slaves, and YOU think you’re a slave too.

  27. #27 Chris Mannering
    December 12, 2015

    Hi sorry about not responding at the time, this is the first time I’ve popped my head around the door.
    First of Ethan, if what you are saying is correct, then there is a paper somewhere publishes since planck that you surely now reference. Otherwise, it really just assertion from appeal-to-authority.
    The reason the probabilities of randomness are much smaller is because there are several substantively independent measures of different things all which relate one way or another to this alignment situation. Probabilities multiply.

    The other point I wanted to mention, is that I haven’t said anything about what the explanation might be. Yet there is an association being made between pointing to the fact, fact, that this is a serious matter that a lot of work has gone into explaining, with the outcome after all that, being the signal is even stronger with higher resolution.
    So there’s that…simply keeping fidelity with where things currently. And there is all sorts of stuff going about what might it mean. I haven’t got a clue what it means. I expect, it will be explained in the end in terms of local effects or whatever. But then the most recent studies point to the fact that a lot of cleaning work has gone by already, and there is trajectory there, in which as the various cleaning procedures are performed, making the data sharper, what is happening to the signal is consistently in the opposite direction in that it gets sharper at a faster rate than the average clean up.

    Just from your own words above, it’s obvious that you are actually motivated by this notion there is only 2 possible explanations and one is crazy. But what is really crazy is that you – and basically most everyone else – actually think you can project forward to explanations like this. And that you think the speculation about ultimate explanations somehow can legitimately retroactively sort of, alter the data and the results and where things are now. None of that corresponds to any known methodologies in science.

  28. #28 Wow
    December 12, 2015

    “Hi sorry about not responding at the time, this is the first time I’ve popped my head around the door.”

    Apart from a couple of days ago when you said exactly the same “excuse” (for what, though? You’re not duty bound to post here, post or do not post, there is no try).

    “then there is a paper somewhere publishes since planck that you surely now reference. Otherwise, it really just assertion from appeal-to-authority.”

    Ignoring the cruelly killed grammar and making assumptions about what you actually meant to write, any such paper would ALSO be the “appeal to authority” you decry.

    To which we can add the fact that the appeal to authority is not a fallacy, there is a fallacy, but that is the appeal to false authority. Asking your doctor what’s wrong with you is NOT a fallacy. Asking your doctor what’s wrong with your car IS a fallacy.

    See the difference?

    Your post, despite being very long, contained no information on what you’re talking about either. Try not playing the pronoun game.

    I presume you mean the ecliptic alignment.

    However, the question to ask is WHY SHOULD IT NOT BE ALIGNED?

    If it is aligned by chance, then we don’t expect EXACT alignment. Which is what we see.

    And the avoiding the question is continuing: you still don’t have a damn word there about what it is you think is “important” about the alignment. Without that, we can’t assess whether the alignment is proof or not.

    Since random chance would get a possibility of being aligned this close or closer, we can’t disprove random chance.

    Since geocentrism would require EXACT matching, that we don’t see it exact, it can’t prove geocentrism, doubly so in the face of all the contraindicating evidence.

    And if you can’t say what the alignment is supposed to mean, not only can’t we prove the proposition right, we can’t even FIND the proposition.

    So we have three options:
    a) It’s random chance.
    b) It’s geocentric.
    c) No idea

    Since for (b) you say this isn’t what you’re talking about, and it’s pretty much disproved anyway, it can’t be that and since for (c) there’s nothing there, we only have (a) left.

    As was once said: when you discount the impossible, whatever is left is correct, no matter how improbable it is.

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