June 9th, 2017

Modern Mysteries

Hessdalen Light is an unexplained light phenomenon that occurs in Hessdalen valley of Norway. They were observed over 15 to 20 times per week from 1982 until 1984. Since then, the activity has decreased and now the lights are observed about 10 to 20 times per year. The Hessdalen light most often is a bright, white or yellow light of unknown origin floating above ground level lasting sometimes for more than an hour. Some of the lights drift gently through the sky for up to two hours, while others flash white or blue and streak through the valley, disappearing in seconds. There are quite a few theories, but one is pretty disturbing. They could be what's known as "coulomb crystals." These crystals form in plasma. Scientists have mostly created them from calcium particles. They change shape depending on their impurities. One of the shapes they form is a helix. That's not the disturbing part. What's disturbing is what could be creating the plasma that creates the crystals.In spite of numerous working hypotheses, there is no convincing explanation to the origin of these lights.

Kemo D. 7

Ingredient of Life

ALMA has observed stars like the Sun at a very early stage in their formation and found traces of methyl isocyanate -- a chemical building block of life. This is the first ever detection of this prebiotic molecule towards a solar-type protostar, the sort from which our Solar System evolved. The discovery could help astronomers understand how life arose on Earth. IRAS 16293-2422 is a multiple system of very young stars, around 400 light-years away in a large star-forming region called Rho Ophiuchi in the constellation of Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer). The new results from ALMA show that methyl isocyanate gas surrounds each of these young stars.

Earth and the other planets in our Solar System formed from the material left over after the formation of the Sun. Studying solar-type protostars can therefore open a window to the past for astronomers and allow them to observe conditions similar to those that led to the formation of our Solar System over 4.5 billion years ago. Rafael Martín-Doménech and Víctor M. Rivilla, lead authors of one of the papers, comment: "We are particularly excited about the result because these protostars are very similar to the Sun at the beginning of its lifetime, with the sort of conditions that are well suited for Earth-sized planets to form. By finding prebiotic molecules in this study, we may now have another piece of the puzzle in understanding how life came about on our planet."

Kemo D. 7