WASP-12b, a fiery and pitch black exoplanet, would not be your next vacation destination.
In fact, this pitch-black heavenly body has many characteristics that would keep space tourists away.
Most of the light which travels to WASP-12b doesn’t come back again. The truth is, the black planet just doesn’t reflect much of the light that it absorbs.
This exoplanet reflects little brightness, only 0.064 according to albedo measurements taken by the Hubble Space Telescope’s spectrograph. This is less than what our moon reflects at 0.12 albedo. So, the black planet devours almost 94% of the light that falls onto it, and this is what makes it so unbelievably dark.
Lead researcher, Taylor Bell of the McGill University and the Institute for Research on Exoplanets in Canada, said,
“We did not expect to find such a dark exoplanet. Most hot Jupiters reflect about 40% of starlight.”
So, what is this talk of “hot Jupiter”
The label “hot Jupiter” is given to planets which orbit really close to their host star and they also have characteristics of being a giant gaseous planet. Our Jupiter is a giant gas planet, hence the nickname. WASP-12b is so close to its host that one year is like a day on earth. This close proximity causes the planet to be tidally locked, making rotation and orbit exactly the same. This, in turn, gives the planet a rather egg-shaped look.
Most other “hot Jupiter” planets are able to trap more of the light which they absorb, but not WASP-12b. This planet actually acts more like a star.
“This new Hubble research further demonstrates the vast diversity among the strange population of “hot Jupiters”.
Day and night
Just like our moon has two sides which never change places, WASP-12b has one side of perpetual day and one side which remains forever in night. Temperatures vary quite a bit as well between day and night for this dark planet.
The side facing the sun endures temperatures of about 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, while the nighttime side has a lower temp of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, this means the side of perpetual night experiences clouds formed by water vapor.
Here are a few interesting facts about the black planet. Deep within the atmosphere of WASP-12b, a red light glows. This exoplanet gets so intensely hot that the surface glows red like molten metal. The proximity of this planet to its star, which causes such heat, will eventually destroy the planet’s atmosphere. It is said that WASP-12b will only survive another 10 million years before it is completely consumed by its star.
On a brighter note, the planet has a high carbon/oxygen ratio, meaning its rich in carbon – diamonds or graphite. Could it be, that WASP-12b could be the “diamond planet”? And WASP-12b also has a small moon which is unexpected considering its nature and substance.
The mysteries of the universe
WASP-12b was discovered in 2008 and has been studied for almost 10 years. This dark and mysterious exoplanet is around 1400 light years from earth, which isn’t very far away according to space exploration standards.
This exoplanet is becoming one of the most studied objects outside our solar system, but soon we shall find something else that leaves us in awe. If you think the WASP-12b is fascinating, just wait for what is to come. I am sure there will be even stranger and more astonishing discoveries in the future.
Akon Finally Breaks Ground On His Futuristic $10 Billion Solar Powered “Crypto City”
The rapper, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Akon has been making significant progress on his development plans in Africa, which involve the creation of a futuristic city that runs on clean energy and cryptocurrency.
In January of last year, Akon revealed that his agreements with Senegal President Macky Sall were going forward, and a few months later it was announced that the engineering and consulting firm KE International was awarded a $6 billion contract to build the city. The company previously said it had already received $4 billion from investors for the first two phases of Akon City’s construction, giving the project a price tag of at least $10 billion.
The project goes much further than just this one city and it has already begun to make an impact across the continent. In the short time since the deal was finalized last year, a large number of solar street lights, and solar home lighting units, have been installed across 14 African countries, according to Akon Lighting Africa.
The effort was made possible by a private-public partnership model and a well-established network of partners including SOLEKTRA INT, SUMEC, and NARI.
Phase 1 of construction on the city is expected to be completed in 2023, and will include roads, a hospital, residences, hotels, a police station, a waste facility, a school, and a solar power plant. The entire city is expected to be finished around 2029. The city’s economy will be facilitated by Akon’s cryptocurrency “Akoin,” which runs on the Stellar blockchain. Stellar is a crypto ecosystem that includes its own cryptocurrency XLM, and also allows for the development of other projects, such as decentralized exchanges and additional currencies like Akoin. Banks around the world have also been considering using the Stellar blockchain for stablecoin deployment.
Akon believes that cryptocurrency is the solution to the corruption problems that create widespread inequality in Africa because the blockchain provides a record that would make corruption extremely obvious if it were to take place. With an independent cryptocurrency, governments are unable to print money and devalue the currency, and the control of the money is decentralized.
In an interview with TMZ last year, Akon compared the vision that he has for the city with the fictional “Wakanda” from the movie Black Panther.
“This movie literally made an idea of what Africa could really be. It’s just ironic that I was already working on this before the movie came out, but it’s something that helped me a lot when I was trying to explain to explain to people what I was trying to do,” Akon said.
The city’s crypto-economic system will also solve many problems specific to the developing world, like instantly calculating conversation rates for currencies, which is often an obstacle because there are so many different regional currencies and methods of trade. In some cases, people even use prepaid cellphone minutes as a currency because it is easier to use and exchange than traditional currencies. Akon says that the Akoin wallet will allow users to trade between cryptocurrencies, fiat currencies, and cellphone minutes instantly without having to go through a major exchange using Atomic Swap technology. The app will also teach users to become more familiar with the technology in general.
Pigs Have the Smarts to Play Video Games and Use Joysticks, Study Shows
For those of us who belong to the millennial or “zoomer” generations – basically anyone from teens to those in their early 40s – it’s safe to assume that we’ve had at least some experience with videogames, whether it was jumping on turtles in the original Super Mario Bros, grinding rails in Tony Hawk Pro Skater, capping zombies in Resident Evil, or dancing with mates in Fortnite.
Indeed, there’s a certain joy and sense of satisfaction we get after clearing a particularly tough level, opponent, or obstacle – which, in some cases, can make us feel pretty smart.
However, as it turns out, even a pig can play video games – and may actually enjoy them. (Although we can assume that pigs may wince at the sight of Angry Birds inflicting wanton destruction on the bad piggies and their fortresses.)
We’ve long known that swine are quite intelligent creatures. But as BBC reports, a scientific study has found that pigs do possess the mental capacity to play video games, and just a bit of training can equip them with the skills to do so.
In the new study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology by researchers from Purdue University and Comparitive Cognition Project, four hogs – Ebony, Hamlet, Ivory and Omelette – were trained to manipulate an arcade-style joystick to steer an on-screen cursor into walls with only their snouts.
Each time the pigs beat a “level,” they were then given a snack as a reward.
The paper notes that prior studies had already discovered that pigs “could solve multiple choice problems.” However, the discovery that the pigs understood the connection between the stick and the game “is no small feat” – especially because pigs are far-sighted and don’t have hands or thumbs.
Impressively, the pigs were even happy to play the game even when the food reward dispenser broke – largely because they enjoyed the social contact and encouraging words from the researchers.
The competency of the gaming pigs varied, with one pig proving to be a much keener gamer than the others.
While we can’t expect that the pigs will be able to beat the epic “A Quiet Exit” mission in Metal Gear Solid V or the infamous train scene in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the fact remains that pigs can play video games.
The findings weren’t a surprise to Kate Daniels of Willow Farms in Worcestershire, who told BBC: “I don’t think this will come as a surprise to anyone that works with pigs”.
“They’re not playing Minecraft – but that they can manipulate a situation to get a reward is no surprise at all,” she added.
“Dogs look up to you, cats look down on you, and pigs look you right in the eye,” she noted, paraphrasing a Winston Churchill quote. “When you look a pig right in the eye, you can tell there’s intelligence there.”
Indeed, past studies have shown that pigs are intelligent enough to use mirrors to locate hidden food in an enclosure and can even be taught like dogs to “come” and “sit” using verbal commands.
“This sort of study is important because, as with any sentient beings, how we interact with pigs and what we do to them impacts and matters to them,” lead author and Purdue Center for Animal Welfare Science director Candace Croney said.
“We therefore have an ethical obligation to understand how pigs acquire information, and what they are capable of learning and remembering, because it ultimately has implications for how they perceive their interactions with us and their environments,” she added.
Scientists Shocked After Discovering ‘Strange Creatures’ Nearly a Mile Under Antarctic Ice Shelf
The perplexing community of alien-like creatures wasn’t supposed to be there.
Roughly a mile beneath the icy surface of Antarctica in a remote region 160 miles from sunlight, scientists have accidentally discovered a perplexing set of bizarre creatures, perplexing the researchers who believed the area to be a wasteland wholly devoid of life.
Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey had drilled through 3,000 ft. of ice after melting 20 tons of snow to scoop up seafloor sediment before dropping a camera into the frigid ocean below. However, they soon realized that their tunnel had been dug right above a boulder at the bottom of the ocean, rendering it impossible to gather any sediment.
However, to the shock of the researchers, their camera was able to discover an ecosystem of life that left them confounded with what Wired described as “strange creatures” – two types of filter feeding sea sponges that had never been encountered, dwelling in the – 28.04°F (-2.2°C) water where researchers had believed that no life was possible.
The strange species dwelling in the pitch black waters are living over 200 miles from any known food source, but the creatures still appear to be prospering in spite of the treacherous conditions of the Antarctic sea floor.
The discovery of the strange sea sponges shows just how little we still know about one of the only unexplored regions of the world – and the forms of life that thrive there – where gigantic ice shelves that often rival the size of entire countries have prevented researchers from studying what lies below.
The team’s study laying out the jaw-dropping discovery was published Monday in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.
“It’s not the most exciting-looking rock—if you don’t know where it is,” British Antarctic Survey biologist Dr. Huw Griffiths told Wired.
Indeed, on close inspection the rock wasn’t only home to the bizarre alien-like sponges – including some shaped like cylinders – but also a film of bacteria known as a microbial mat and a range of stalked organism. Their source of sustenance is what left the scientists befuddled.
Animals that live sessile (or stationary) lives typically rely on a stable supply of food known as “marine snow” – the detritus and remains, sometimes as small as particles, of decomposed sea creatures that sink to the depths of the ocean. Anyone with their own aquarium can imagine what this marine snow looks like.
However, while the source of food might not be apparent, the scientists are guessing that underwater currents are washing in miniscule bits of organic matter from ecosystems that could be as distant as 390 to 930 miles away.
This all still remains a matter of speculation until the next expedition can study this mysterious underwater community much closer. Yet the scientists are eager to find out what these bizarre creatures are and how they ended up in the region in such an inhospitable region in the first place.
“Are they all eating the same food source?” Griffiths asked. “Or are some of them kind of getting nutrients from each other? Or are there more mobile animals around somehow providing food for this community?”
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