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There Is a Creepy Black Planet That Devours All Visible Light



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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.

Bell said,

“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.

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3D-Printed ‘Suicide Pod’ Gets Legal Approval in Switzerland, Could Roll Out In 2022



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Switzerland is among a small group of countries, mainly in Europe, that allows for people to end their own lives under strict provisions through the assistance of a licensed physician.

However, one company in the Alpine nation is hoping to streamline legalized euthanasia by removing doctors from the process through a new invention that allows people to end their own lives quickly and painlessly. And now, the device has passed an important review by Swiss legal authorities.

Nonprofit company Exit International has produced a 3D-printed suicide chamber dubbed the “Sarco,” reports  Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. The 21st-century sarcophagus-like machine could roll out as soon as 2022.

Those faced with terminal disease and other excruciating physical conditions, as well as severe psychological pain, will be able to make a clean exit from this mortal coil by lying comfortably inside the small chamber. At the press of a button, the chamber will then fill with nitrogen gas, depriving them of oxygen and terminating their life in 30 seconds.

“There is no panic, no choking feeling,” said Philip Nitschke, the nonprofit’s founder who has been dubbed “Dr. Death” by media.

The chamber is also easy to transport, allowing people to end their lives wherever they choose – be it in a cabin in the forest, at the beach, or anywhere else they might choose.

The device is controversial, however, due to the fact that it removes medical professionals from the process of euthanasia. However, Exit International hopes that it can develop an AI-assisted online exam that can gauge the mental acuity of those who wish to use Sarco.

“We want to remove any kind of psychiatric review from the process and allow the individual to control the method themselves,” Nitschke explained.

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide and live in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of helpful resources at Resources in other countries can be found here.

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Chinese Military Satellite Smashed by Russian Rocket in “Major Confirmed Orbital Collision”



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In an incident that is likely illustrative of things to come, Chinese military satellite 1-02 was smashed after it appears to have collided into the debris from a disintegrating Russian rocket.

The collision, which occurred earlier this year, shows the increasing danger of space junk such as satellite parts and other miscellaneous jetsam littering the Earth’s orbit. An estimated 8,000 metric tons of space debris pose the risk of destroying functional equipment such as weather forecasting systems, telecoms and GPS systems – and even manned space travel missions – if the problem isn’t reined in.

The fate of the Chinese satellite was uncovered by Harvard astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell.

The breakup of Yunhai 1-02 was initially reported by the U.S. Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron (18SPCS). However, it wasn’t until recently that McDowell found out what caused the breakup.

The astrophysicist soon found that it was destroyed by space junk that originated from a Russian Zenit-2 rocket that had launched a spy satellite in 1996. On Aug. 14, McDowell found a strange entry in a database on “Collided with satellite.”

 “This is a new kind of comment entry — haven’t seen such a comment for any other satellites before,” McDowell tweeted.

“A quick analysis of the TLEs show that Yunhai 1-02 (44547) and [the debris object] passed within 1 km of each other (so within the uncertainty of the TLEs) at 0741 UTC Mar 18, exactly when 18SPCS reports Yunhai broke up,” he added, noting that this “looks to be the first major confirmed orbital collision in a decade.”

However, the Yunhai satellite still remains functional and is transmitting radio signals, notes

The incident shows the growing likelihood of such collisions in the high-traffic, littered near-Earth orbital zone.

“Collisions are proportional to the square of the number of things in orbit,” McDowell explained. “That is to say, if you have 10 times as many satellites, you’re going to get 100 times as many collisions.”

He added: “So, as the traffic density goes up, collisions are going to go from being a minor constituent of the space junk problem to being the major constituent. That’s just math.”

A worst-case scenario of such collisions is known as the “Kessler Syndrome,” and describes the possibility of one collision setting in motion a chain of collisions. Such a disaster was the premise of the 2013 film “Gravity.”

One hopes that things don’t reach that point.

In the meantime, however, there have been a number of initiatives meant to tackle the growing problem of space debris, such as the ELSA-d spacecraft launched in a demonstration mission earlier this year.

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Boston Dynamics Drops New Video Of 5-Foot Atlas Humanoid Robot Effortlessly Doing Parkour



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Robot maker Boston Dynamics has released new video of its two-legged Atlas robot effortlessly completing a parkour obstacle course, offering a new display of its humanoid machines’ unsettling repertoire.

In the video, a pair of Atlas robots can be seen leaping over large gaps, vaulting beams, and even performing backflips. The robot can even be seen jumping over a board while using its arm to remain steady.

While the display seems like anything but “free” running – as the original developers of parkour had envisioned – the routine does seem like an impressive, if terrifying, display of effective coding that took months to perfect, according to the Hyundai-owned robotics firm.

“It’s not the robot just magically deciding to do parkour, it’s kind of a choreographed routine, much like a skateboard video or a parkour video,” said Atlas control lead Benjamin Stephens.

See for yourself:

Unlike its robotic dog Spot, which controversially hit New York City streets last year before being pulled, Atlas isn’t a production robot. Instead, it’s a research model meant to see how far the limits of robotics can be pushed.

In the past, Boston Dynamics has displayed the robot’s feats with videos of Atlas jogging and even busting out some cool dance moves.

Team lead Scott Kuindersma said in a statement that in about two decades, we can expect to coexist with robots that move “with grace, reliability, and work alongside humans to enrich our lives.”

Until then, some of us will continue to reserve our right to feel a bit queasy about the prospect of people being chased down by these skilled free-running (and dancing) machines.

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