The Heartbeat of Space
When you think of signs of life, your go to is usually a heartbeat. Cockroaches have one heart divided into thirteen chambers, Squid have one main heart and two just for their gills, even earthworms have five hearts! No matter how different we are to an earthworm, the thing we have in common is we all have a heartbeat. So, what if I told you there are heartbeats in space – surely the signs of life from the deep dark mean only one thing, life!
After looking through ten years of data that had been collected from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, using NASA’s Fermi gamma-ray telescope. There is a micro quasar system roughly 15,000 light years away, known to Scientists only as SS 433, within this system, there is a cosmic gas cloud with a ‘heartbeat.’ “The cloud, which is otherwise unremarkable, seems to be “beating” along with the rhythm of a neighbouring black hole, researchers say. They appear to be connected to each other, but it is not clear how the gamma-ray “heartbeat” of the cloud can be connected to the black hole, which lies 100 light years away.” How the black hole is powering the gas cloud is puzzling to researchers, one theory is fast protons (the nuclei of hydrogen atoms) created by the black hole are injected into the gas cloud, the moments the subatomic particles hit the gas cloud they create gamma rays that can be readable by the gamma-ray telescope.
Further observations to give us any kind of explanation of this initial discovery are definitely needed but until then let’s look at another currently unexplained signs of life from space.
- In October 2020 NASA announced that they had discovered phosphine in the atmosphere floating above Venus. The discovery of the compound is so surprising because there is no known non-biological way to create phosphine on Venus which can mean only one thing – tiny interstellar lifeforms and their, ahem, ‘natural gases’.
- In August 1977 Ohio’s “Big Ear” observatory recorded an unusual 72 second signal. The signal was so strange that the astronomer analysing the data wrote “Wow!” next to it – giving it the name of the “Wow! Signal.” To this day, Scientists are still pondering what could have caused this signal from space.
- In 2015 Astronomer Tabetha Boyajian and colleagues discovered a new star that had an odd characteristic – it seemed to dip in brightness at irregular intervals and for odd lengths of time ranging from a few hours to a few weeks. The irregular pattern means these dips are unlikely to be caused by planets or dust crossing the star’s face. Hypotheses for these strange dips ranged from a collection of comets orbiting the star, dusty debris disks surrounding a black hole, but the one theory they cannot ruled out is an Alien megastructure.
The anomalies from gas clouds with heartbeats, to tiny alien ‘gases’ may be scientifically explained in the future, or maybe Galactus is on his way to wreak havoc on earth! Either way, let’s keep looking to the stars and keeping on our best behaviour as we will never know who might be looking back at us!