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Earth has built-in protection from asteroids

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Asteroids are not just wandering space rocks, but a potential threat
to Earth. But what if the Earth already has its own built-in defenses
against them? Recent research published on the preprint server arXiv puts forward an unusual theory: Earth’s gravitational forces may serve as its secret shield against asteroids.

Our
planet uses powerful gravitational interactions with other celestial
bodies to break apart asteroids that approach it. These tidal forces,
akin to those that explain Earth’s tides caused by the Moon, can be so
intense that objects undergo tidal disruption, causing them to be torn
apart.

Observations of fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 after
its collision with Jupiter in 1994 provided the first confirmation of
this phenomenon. However, for decades astronomers have been looking for
evidence that Earth or other terrestrial planets could have a similar
effect on asteroids and comets.

Planetary scientist Mikael Granvik
from the Swedish University of Technology, Luleå, led the research that
came closer to solving the above phenomenon.

His
discovery is linked to the search for gravitationally disrupted
near-Earth asteroids (NEAS), and provides compelling evidence that our
planet’s gravitational forces are not just an abstract concept, but a
factor capable of breaking asteroids into small pieces.

Based on
modeling of asteroid trajectories, Grunwick and colleague Kevin Walsh of
the Southwest Research Institute found that collisions with rocky
planets can cause asteroids to lose a significant portion of their mass,
turning them into debris streams.

New data shows that small
asteroid fragments, while not posing a threat to life on the planet, may
nevertheless increase the likelihood of local collisions like those
that occurred in Tunguska and Chelyabinsk.

Granwick assures that
asteroids smaller than 1 km in diameter are not a critical threat, but
increase the likelihood of incidents. However, it is worth remembering
the additional risks that may arise due to the formation of new debris
clouds.

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There’s one last place Planet Nine could be hiding

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A study recently submitted to The Astronomical Journal
continues to search for the elusive Planet Nine (also called Planet X),
which is a hypothetical planet that potentially orbits in the outer
reaches of the solar system and well beyond the orbit of the dwarf
planet, Pluto.

The goal of this study, which is available on the pre-print server arXiv,
was to narrow down the possible locations of Planet Nine and holds the
potential to help researchers better understand the makeup of our solar
system, along with its formation and evolutionary processes. So, what
was the motivation behind this study regarding narrowing down the
location of a potential Planet 9?

Dr. Mike Brown, who is a Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of
Astronomy at Caltech and lead author of the study, tells Universe Today,
“We are continuing to try to systematically cover all of the regions of
the sky where we predict Planet Nine to be. Using data from Pan-STARRS
allowed us to cover the largest region to date.”

Pan-STARRS, which stands for Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid
Response System, is a collaborative astronomical observation system
located at Haleakala Observatory and operated by the University of
Hawai’i Institute of Astronomy. For the study, the researchers used data
from Data Release 2 (DR2) with the goal of narrowing down the possible
location of Planet Nine based on findings from past studies.

In the end, the team narrowed down possible locations of Planet Nine
by eliminating approximately 78% of possible locations that were
calculated from previous studies. Additionally, the researchers also
provided new estimates for the approximate semimajor axis (measured in
astronomical units, AU) and Earth-mass size of Planet Nine at 500 and
6.6, respectively. So, what are the most significant results from this
study, and what follow-up studies are currently being conducted or
planned?

“While I would love to say that the most significant result
was finding Planet Nine, we didn’t,” Dr. Brown tells Universe Today. “So
instead, it means that we have significantly narrowed the search area.
We’ve now surveyed approximately 80% of the regions where we think
Planet Nine might be.”

In terms of follow-up studies, Dr.
Brown tells Universe Today, “I think that the LSST is the most likely
survey to find Planet Nine. When it comes online in a year or two it
will quickly cover much of the search space and, if Planet Nine is
there, find it.”

LSST stands for Legacy Survey of Space and Time, and is an
astronomical survey currently scheduled as a 10-year program to study
the southern sky and take place at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in
Chile, which is presently under construction.

Objectives for LSST include studying identifying near-Earth asteroids
(NEAs) and small planetary bodies within our solar system, but also
include deep space studies, as well. These include investigating the
properties of dark matter and dark energy and the evolution of the Milky
Way galaxy. But what is the importance of finding Planet Nine?

Dr. Brown tells Universe Today, “This would be the 5th
largest planet of our solar system and the only one with a mass between
Earth and Uranus. Such planets are common around other stars, and we
would suddenly have a chance to study one in our own solar system.”

Scientists began hypothesizing the existence of Planet Nine shortly
after the discovery of Neptune in 1846, including an 1880 memoir
authored by D. Kirkwood and later a 1946 paper authored by American
astronomer, Clyde Tombaugh, who was responsible for discovering Pluto in
1930.

More recent studies include studies from 2016 and 2017 presenting
evidence for the existence of Planet Nine, the former of which was
co-authored by Dr. Brown.

This most recent study marks the
most complete investigation of narrowing down the location of Planet
Nine, which Dr. Brown has long-believed exists, telling Universe Today,
“There are too many separate signs that Planet Nine is there. The solar
system is very difficult to understand without Planet Nine.”

He continues by telling Universe Today that “…Planet Nine explains
many things about orbits of objects in the outer solar system that would
be otherwise unexplainable and would each need some sort of separate
explanation.”

“The cluster of the directions of the orbits is the best know, but
there is also the large perihelion distances of many objects, existence
of highly inclined and even retrograde objects, and the high abundance
of very eccentric orbits which cross inside the orbit of Neptune. None
of these should happen in the solar system, but all are easily
explainable as an effect of Planet Nine.”

More information:
Michael E. Brown et al, A Pan-STARRS1 Search for Planet Nine, arXiv (2024). DOI: 10.48550/arxiv.2401.17977

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‘October Surprise’: Russia To Launch Nukes in Space

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The ‘national security threat’ announced on Wednesday is
about Russia planning to launch nuclear weapons in space, causing some
to speculate whether it’s really an election year ploy.

The panic began when House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner
(R-Ohio) asked President Biden to declassify information about a
“serious national security threat”.

Modernity.news reports: The weapon would reportedly be designed to be used to take out satellites.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) responded by telling reporters he wanted “to assure the American people, there is no need for public alarm.”

The big, scary threat is serious business and involves a space-based nuke controlled by evil dictator Putin, but it’s also “not an immediate crisis,” according to what three members of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee have told Politico.

Okay, then. Just for election season, is it?

Zero Hedge reports: “So, the question is – was this:

a) a distraction from Biden’s broken brain, or

2) a last desperate attempt to get more funding for anything-but-the-US-border, or

iii) a path to pitching Putin as the uber-bad-guy again after his interview with Tucker Carlson.”

Just by coincidence, Mike Turner recently returned from Ukraine having lobbied for billions more in weapons and aid for Zelensky’s government.

Some questioned the timing, suggesting it might all be a deep state plot to keep American voters afraid when they hit the ballot box.

Speculation will now rage as to whether this is “the event,” real or imagined, that billionaires and elitists the world over have been building underground survival bunkers in preparation for.

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