Topic: Astronomy/Astronomical objects

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Dyson sphere

Spaceflight Astronomy Engineering Astronomy/Astronomical objects

A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical megastructure that completely encompasses a star and captures a large percentage of its power output. The concept is a thought experiment that attempts to explain how a spacefaring civilization would meet its energy requirements once those requirements exceed what can be generated from the home planet's resources alone. Only a tiny fraction of a star's energy emissions reach the surface of any orbiting planet. Building structures encircling a star would enable a civilization to harvest far more energy.

The first contemporary description of the structure was by Olaf Stapledon in his science fiction novel Star Maker (1937), in which he described "every solar system... surrounded by a gauze of light traps, which focused the escaping solar energy for intelligent use." The concept was later popularized by Freeman Dyson in his 1960 paper "Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation." Dyson speculated that such structures would be the logical consequence of the escalating energy needs of a technological civilization and would be a necessity for its long-term survival. He proposed that searching for such structures could lead to the detection of advanced, intelligent extraterrestrial life. Different types of Dyson spheres and their energy-harvesting ability would correspond to levels of technological advancement on the Kardashev scale.

Since then, other variant designs involving building an artificial structure or series of structures to encompass a star have been proposed in exploratory engineering or described in science fiction under the name "Dyson sphere". These later proposals have not been limited to solar-power stations, with many involving habitation or industrial elements. Most fictional depictions describe a solid shell of matter enclosing a star, which was considered by Dyson himself the least plausible variant of the idea. In May 2013, at the Starship Century Symposium in San Diego, Dyson repeated his comments that he wished the concept had not been named after him.

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Hoag's Object

Astronomy Astronomy/Astronomical objects

Hoag's Object is a non-typical galaxy of the type known as a ring galaxy. The galaxy is named after Arthur Hoag who discovered it in 1950 and identified it as either a planetary nebula or a peculiar galaxy with eight billion stars, spanning roughly 100,000 light years.

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The fastest pulsar spins at 716Hz; its equator spins at 24% the speed of light

Astronomy Astronomy/Astronomical objects

PSR J1748−2446ad is the fastest-spinning pulsar known, at 716 Hz, or 716 times per second. This pulsar was discovered by Jason W. T. Hessels of McGill University on November 10, 2004 and confirmed on January 8, 2005.

If the neutron star is assumed to contain less than two times the mass of the Sun, within the typical range of neutron stars, its radius is constrained to be less than 16 km. At its equator it is spinning at approximately 24% of the speed of light, or over 70,000 km per second.

The pulsar is located in a globular cluster of stars called Terzan 5, located approximately 18,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius. It is part of a binary system and undergoes regular eclipses with an eclipse magnitude of about 40%. Its orbit is highly circular with a 26-hour period. The other object is at least 0.14 solar masses, with a radius of 5–6 solar radii. Hessels et al. state that the companion may be a "bloated main-sequence star, possibly still filling its Roche Lobe". Hessels et al. go on to speculate that gravitational radiation from the pulsar might be detectable by LIGO.

SN 1006

Physics China Astronomy History of Science Astronomy/Astronomical objects Arab world

SN 1006 was a supernova that is likely the brightest observed stellar event in recorded history, reaching an estimated −7.5 visual magnitude, and exceeding roughly sixteen times the brightness of Venus. Appearing between April 30 and May 1, 1006 AD in the constellation of Lupus, this "guest star" was described by observers across the modern day countries of China, Japan, Iraq, Egypt, and the continent of Europe, and possibly recorded in North American petroglyphs. Some reports state it was clearly visible in the daytime. Modern astronomers now consider its distance from Earth to be about 7,200 light-years.

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Wolf 359

Astronomy Astronomy/Astronomical objects

Wolf 359 is a red dwarf star located in the constellation Leo, near the ecliptic. At a distance of approximately 7.9 light years from Earth, it has an apparent magnitude of 13.54 and can only be seen with a large telescope. Wolf 359 is one of the nearest stars to the Sun; only the Alpha Centauri system (including Proxima Centauri), Barnard's Star and the brown dwarfs Luhman 16 and WISE 0855−0714 are known to be closer. Its proximity to Earth has led to its mention in several works of fiction.

Wolf 359 is one of the faintest and lowest-mass stars known. At the light-emitting layer called the photosphere, it has a temperature of about 2,800 K, which is low enough for chemical compounds to form and survive. The absorption lines of compounds such as water and titanium(II) oxide have been observed in the spectrum. The surface has a magnetic field that is stronger than the average magnetic field on the Sun. As a result of magnetic activity caused by convection, Wolf 359 is a flare star that can undergo sudden increases in luminosity for several minutes. These flares emit strong bursts of X-ray and gamma ray radiation that have been observed by space telescopes. Wolf 359 is a relatively young star with an age of less than a billion years. Two planetary companions are suspected but as yet no debris disks have been unmasked.

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