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Another study confirms that Oumuamua is not an alien spaceship



A new confirmation of the fact that Oumuamua, considered the first interstellar object that has visited our solar system ever identified, is not an alien spacecraft comes from a new study that deals with the issue.

Identified for the first time by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System 1 (PanSTARRS1) telescope, this strange elongated asteroid has stimulated the fantasies of many due to its strange characteristics. The strange characteristics refer above all to its orbit that seems to accelerate the trajectory of the object, a typical thing of comets (and spaceships …), something that this object cannot be because it does not boast the gaseous emissions that characterize comets.

Now a new study, led by researcher Matthew Knight, University of Maryland, and other colleagues, confirms that it is not an artificial object but an object that “has a purely natural origin.”

In the study, which appeared in Nature Astronomy, there is also a new and more in-depth description of the object: the elongated shape is confirmed, so that someone has nicknamed it “space cigar,” and rotates on one side.

His movement in the solar system is still very strange, as Knight himself admits: he does not follow a parabolic orbit as one would expect from an asteroid and at the same time it is not a comet since it does not seem to present the classic tail of ice or dust and gas typical of comets.

Working with Alan Fitzsimmons, another astronomer at Queen’s University in Belfast, and with other colleagues, the researcher carried out a complete analysis based on all that is known about this object and the bottom line is that we did not see nothing like Oumuamua in our solar system cannot mean the artificiality of the object itself, as Knight explains: “This thing is strange and certainly difficult to explain, but this does not exclude other natural phenomena that could explain it.”

He was probably expelled from another solar system and perhaps orbited around a giant gas planet which in turn orbits another star. This theory would be compatible with that according to which Jupiter would be responsible for the formation of the Oort cloud, the huge cluster of asteroids and small objects that orbit in the outer part of our solar system.

As Jupiter slipped these objects away from the Sun, even in another star system a gaseous giant planet can slide off a small object and make it take on a speed that allows it to leave the star’s gravitational field altogether.

Within 10 years, in any case, the researcher expects at least one other object similar to Oumuamua to be discovered that will probably help astronomers understand its strange features and how common it is. However, the same researcher adds: “If we find 10-20 of these things and Oumuamua will still seem unusual, we will have to re-examine our explanations.”

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TESS discovers TOI 700 d, its first Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone



NASA’s TESS space telescope contributed to the discovery of its first Earth-sized planet located in the so-called “habitable zone” around its star. The habitable zone of a star is that in which a planet orbits the surface of which water can exist in liquid form. Liquid water is considered by many scientists to be one of the essential or very important elements for the presence of life as we know it.

The researchers have in fact confirmed the existence of TOI 700 d and have collected several other data using the Spitzer space telescope. It is an exoplanet the size of the Earth, one of the few in the habitable range and for this reason probably one of the most interesting for those who are hunting for extraterrestrial life. The TESS space telescope was designed precisely to find planets of this size that orbit around relatively close stars, as explained in the press release that presents the study Paul Hertz, one of the heads of NASA’s astrophysics division in Washington.

The planet orbits around TOI 700, a dwarf star M which is just over 100 light years away and which is located in the southern constellation of Dorado. It is smaller than the Sun (it has about 40% of its mass and size) and is also and less hot. Another interesting thing, as explained in the same statement by Emily Gilbert, a researcher at the University of Chicago who participated in the study, is that in 11 months of observation no particular flare from the star was detected. Flare are stellar eruptions that can disrupt the atmosphere of the planet and can be considered as one of the main problems for the presence of life on a planet.

There are also two other more internal planets in the system, TOI 700 b, which is almost the size of the Earth and is probably rocky, and TOI 700 c, 2.6 times the size of the Earth, probably gaseous. The third outermost planet is TOI 700 d, the one in the habitable zone and the most interesting one which is slightly larger than the Earth (about 20%) and which makes a complete orbit around the star every 37 days. Astronomers have calculated that this planet receives 86% of the energy that the Earth receives from the Sun. They also think that the planet always shows the same face to the star, as do the other two internal planets, a feature that does not completely prohibit the possible presence of life.

In the future, it will probably be possible to investigate more about the atmospheres of these planets and confirm that they are two rocky planets and one gaseous. However it is already possible to make some simulations and one of them sees TOI 700 d covered entirely by the ocean with a dense atmosphere dominated by carbon dioxide, conditions similar to those of a very young Mars.

Another model instead sees the planet with strong winds flowing from the night side of the planet converging on the side always placed in front of the star.

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Hyundai announces the new first flying taxi for Uber



In an announcement made at CES 2020, Hyundai announced a new partnership with Uber and the creation of a new division, Urban Air Mobility (UAM), for the creation of flying taxis.

This is not the first time that there has been talk of flying taxis in relation to the vehicle escort services offered by Uber itself, but it is the first announcement made in this regard by a major car manufacturer in relation to the construction of the first models.

Hyundai has in fact revealed a new model of Personal Air Vehicles (PAV), called SA-1, which resembles a sort of drone that takes off and lands vertically (VTOL) like a helicopter and tilts the rotors to position the wings like an airplane does. The flying taxi that the Hyundai will offer to Uber will, of course, be completely electric and will use various rotors. It will also feature special technology for noise reduction and suppression.

The SA-1 will have a capacity of four passengers in addition to the driver, which may soon become redundant as a technology is being developed for this type of vehicle for autonomous driving. It will have a range of just under 60 miles and will be able to travel at a height of between 300 and 600 yards. As far as speed is concerned, it will be able to reach peaks of 200 miles per hour. There is also a system for the use of emergency parachutes in case something goes wrong.

It will be large-scale production, made possible initially precisely by cooperation with uber, that will keep the costs affordable for these airborne systems, as Jaiwon Shin, head of the company’s air mobility division, reports.

In addition to the announcement of the new taxi model for Uber, Hyundai, during the conference, also shared his vision of a future traffic-free city that can finally combine, as seen only in science fiction films of past decades, air mobility with urban ground mobility.

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New method discovered to detect life on exoplanets by looking at oxygen in atmospheres



This is a new approach to understand more profitably and quickly the presence of life on an exoplanet developed by a team of researchers at the University of California at Riverside. The scientists have developed a new method to understand the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere.

Oxygen is a possible indicator of the presence of life, a so-called “bio signature,” because at least here on Earth, it is mostly generated by living organisms including plants, algae and cyanobacteria that use the method of photosynthesis to harness the energy of sunlight.

The new technique can be used mainly with the James Webb space telescope, which should be put into orbit within a couple of years and which could detect signals from oxygen molecules when they collide in the atmosphere. During these “collisions” part of the infrared light spectrum intercepted by the telescope is “hidden” and by examining these decreases in the light it’s possible to determine the composition of the planet’s atmosphere.

The problem, at least until now, was to understand how much light is blocked in the infrared when these collisions of oxygen molecules occur. This was the subject of the study presented in the journal Nature Astronomy, which explains the method that astronomers can use to understand levels of probability of extraterrestrial life on exoplanets or otherwise to find oxygen in their atmospheres.

Understanding the presence of life on an exoplanet, in fact, is basically very difficult because the exoplanets are too far away and any telescope, even the most powerful that could be built during this century, would not come to intercept life on the surface of a planet at a direct level. However, there are “biomarkers” that can be used to understand at least the probability that life could exist in these distant worlds. And one such marker is the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere.

The main problem, at least for the moment, is that there may be planets where there is a lot of oxygen in the atmosphere but at the same time this may not indicate the presence of life. When a planet’s atmosphere becomes very hot, in fact, for example when it receives too much light from the star, a lot of water vapour is formed and this water, precisely because of the star’s strong ultraviolet radiation, can split into hydrogen and oxygen.

Hydrogen escapes into space and oxygen remains. However, this is a process of which little is yet known and, as Schwieterman himself warns, it is not known how widespread it can be. It is, however, a process that will have to be studied in depth to understand if the presence of oxygen can really be considered a bio signature.

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