Fuck Saturn, Dude. Newly Discovered Planet Has Rings 200 Times Saturn’s Size
If you’ve been reading me on this site for a while, you know that one of my guiding principles is that space is dope. Space is really dope. It’s one of the dopest things in the world, actually. Cooler than computers and taquerias and most people. I would much rather talk about space than talk about another person.
And we live in the coolest fucking time for space exploration. We’ve got the best tools ever, way more knowledge than when we were apes who threw rocks at the sky to try and turn off the lights, and an insatiable curiosity.
We are discovering cool shit about space almost every single day. Like yesterday, when scientists announced the discovery of a planet that is likely 40 times larger than Jupiter with a ring system 200 times bigger that Saturn. It’s a ring system that from end to end would stretch from Earth to the Sun.
That’s fucking huge. It’s so god damn huge that people didn’t even believe the scientist when he discovered it. From Time.
When the University of Rochester’s Eric Mamajek tells other astronomers about the object he and his colleagues discovered about 430 light-years from Earth, they tend to be skeptical—very skeptical.
He didn’t even believe it himself.
“It took us a year even to convince ourselves of what we were seeing,” says Mamajek, whose paper is based on a new analysis of observations taken back in 2007 by the SuperWASP planet search project. At the time, the observations seemed to make no sense: when a planet passes in front of a star, you usually see a dip in starlight that lasts for up to a few hours. In this case, the starlight dimmed for two months.
It wasn’t a steady dip, either. The star would fade, then brighten, then fade again, in a way that made no sense at all. When Mamajek and his group stumbled on the data in 2010, he says, “I took a printout of the light curve, put it on the wall, and stared at it for a week.” Crazy as it seemed, the most plausible explanation was a giant ring system with gaps like Saturn’s that let more or less light through at different times during the passage.
The planet, which goes by the lame ass name J1407b (I would call it Super Ring Fuck Star) is only 430 light years from Earth, which is extremely close on an intergalactic scale.
Does it look dope as shit? You bet. This is a rendering of what it would like like if the planet was where Saturn sits in the night sky.
Damn, son. The amount of dust particles in the rings, simply put, is MASSIVE. Per the Daily Mail:
The ring system, 420 light years from Earth, likely contains roughly an Earth’s worth of mass in light-obscuring dust particles.
Professor Eric Mamajek puts into context how much material is contained in these disks and rings.
‘If you were to grind up the four large Galilean moons of Jupiter into dust and ice and spread out the material over their orbits in a ring around Jupiter, the ring would be so opaque to light that a distant observer that saw the ring pass in front of the sun would see a very deep, multi-day eclipse,’ he said.
‘In the case of J1407, we see the rings blocking as much as 95 per cent of the light of this young sun-like star for days, so there is a lot of material there that could then form satellites.’
One of the reasons the planet’s ring system is so big is because it’s relatively new. Scientists speculate the planet is only 16 million years old, or 1/300th the age of our solar system. A fucking baby.
Space, man. It’s so dope.