Habitable Planets (10:21)
Astronomers say the solar system is moving through an interstellar cloud called the Local Fluff made of mainly hydrogen and helium, but containing heavier atoms like carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen; our position within the Milky Way Galaxy is unknown by astronomers. According to one hypothesis, only a small portion of stars in our galaxy are in the habitable zone where the chemistry of life can evolve; our solar system lies directly between two inhospitable regions within the Milky Way Galaxy, but extremophiles could exist elsewhere in the galaxy.
Finding New Planets (07:29)
Space is filled with cosmic rays, a form of radiation know for disassociating carbon bonds, which are what makes up human DNA; magnetism keeps cosmic rays from penetrating the Earth's atmosphere. The sun's magnetic field lines do not flow smoothly but instead bubble into magnetic froth one hundred million miles wide. Scientists have discovered new ways to look into the electromagnetic spectrum with infrared vision.
Water on Earth (07:38)
Objects in predictable orbits are safe and will not do anything dangerous, but unstable, unpredictable objects are likely to do something to endanger our planet; the early Earth was hot, so scientists believe much of the water came from comets or icy asteroids from the outer solar system. Rare meteorites called carbonaceous chondrites have been found to contain organic compounds similar to those found in Antarctic micrometeorites, interstellar dust, and comet samples.
Different Types of Stars (08:18)
Alpha Centauri is a triple system of stars which astronomers discovered was a triple system in the twentieth century; most of the well-known neighbor stars within our galaxy are multiple systems, making our sun unique. Stars are many different colors due to their varying surface temperatures; the Kepler Mission has helped to uncover many different exoplanet candidates by looking for eclipses throughout our galaxy.
Threat of Supernovas (07:18)
Supernovas are created when stars explode and throw debris into space creating heavy elements, other planets, and gas clouds; these explosions, depending on how far they are from Earth, can damage or destroy the ozone layer. The red supergiant Betelgeuse is likely to go supernova as scientists have seen it shrink over the years; astronomers do not know how many supernovas are in the galaxy or when they will explode.
Credits: Our Place in the Milky Way (00:23)
Credits: Our Place in the Milky Way
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