Andy Lloyd's

Dark Star Blog

 

   

Blog 70   (January 2019)

(Currently being written)

  News, links, videos and comment   relating to the Dark Star Theory 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultima Thule : A Tumbling Red Snowman

The phenomenally successful New Horizons mission has begun to send back images of the Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69, located some 4 billion miles away (1).  Prior to the spacecraft's successful flyby, astronomers had collectively decided to give this remote 'classical cold' KBO the unofficial nickname 'Ultima Thule', after the mythical northern realm of obscure, perhaps even occult, European legend.  By some coincidence, its more official categorisation as object 2014 MU69 similarly contains an allusion to a lost continent, this time that of Mu - the Pacific Ocean's equivalent of Atlantis.  A random scrabble moment hitting the double word score.  The legend of Ultima Thule itself goes back to Roman times, but for some reason was appropriated by the Nazis who derived the concept from 19th century occult notions of a northern Aryan homeland (2).

The celestial object (or pair of objects) known as 'Ultima Thule' is a mere 20 miles by 20 miles across, and appears to be shaped somewhat like a snowman falling head over tip.  Behaving rather like the first interstellar object 'Oumuamua (3), discovered a couple of years ago, Ultima Thule is spinning end over end, like a slightly rotund tumbler.  Its orientation explains one of the first mysteries about this object - why it showed no significant change in its light curve over time (4):

"Flyby data have already solved one of Ultima's mysteries, showing that the Kuiper Belt object is spinning like a propeller with the axis pointing approximately toward New Horizons. This explains why, in earlier images taken before Ultima was resolved, its brightness didn't appear to vary as it rotated. The team has still not determined the rotation period." (1)

1I/'Oumuamua was strange in other ways, though, particularly with how elongated it was, and its lack of obvious outgassing, despite the indirect evidence from its proper motion that it behaved like a comet (5).

What will be particularly interesting as more imagery is received and scientific data gained, is the composition and form of 2014 MU69.  Knowing the likely ratio of the various frozen ices (methane, ammonia and water) to rock, for instance, may help to understand the nature of much larger objects in the Kuiper belt, particularly those which might be more reasonably considered to be dwarf planets.  It is known that the cut-off point for objects to attain a spherical shape depends a lot upon their composition: asteroids mostly comprising of rock need to be at least 900 km across before this own gravity is sufficient to mould them into a ball.  KBOs are thought to contain a lot more ice, which is more malleable, and so a roughly spherical shape may be attained at half that diameter (6).  That has an implication for what size objects are likely to have to get to before they can be classified as 'dwarf planets' in the outer solar system.  In turn, this will inform us of how many dwarf planets, similar to Pluto, are likely to be out there among the dispersed rubble of the Kuiper Belt.

Other questions which may be answered by New Horizons relate to the materials on the surface of this Kuiper Belt Object, specifically whether there is a presence of reddish frozen soups of organic materials.  At the moment, the object appears to have a reddish tinge to it, suggestive, perhaps, or organics on its surface.  A tumbling snowman covered in ketchup.

Evidence of cratering, or even refashioning, of the surface, may give clues to the collisional history and/or nature of geophysical activity within Ultima Thule.  Again, this may provide clues about the historical dynamics of the Kuiper belt itself, and whether these objects originated in situ, or migrated from elsewhere early in the history of the solar system.

Now that we are starting to get a stronger impression of the actual shape of Ultima Thule, it's becoming clearer that it is a pair of objects which coalesced together and conjoined at the hip to create a 'contact binary' (7,8).  This in itself is fascinating, as it shows how objects could have joined together in the outer solar system without creating catastrophic damage to one another.  This may help us to appreciate how larger rocky structures took shape during the early solar system, as larger planetessimals formed out of the gentle merger of smaller ones.  These kinds of 'bilobate' objects are not unknown in the solar system.  A celebrated example is the comet that was closely studied by ESA's Rosetta spacecraft:

"...comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is an accreted body of two distinct objects with ‘onion-like’ stratification, which formed before they merged. We conclude that gentle, low-velocity collisions occurred between two fully formed kilometre-sized cometesimals in the early stages of the Solar System. The notable structural similarities between the two lobes of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko indicate that the early-forming cometesimals experienced similar primordial stratified accretion, even though they formed independently." (9)

It is generally thought that bilobate comets are primordial objects, due to the presence to highly volatile ices like nitrogen and carbon monoxide.  But this is not necessarily the case.  It is curious that this shape of Ultima Thule resembles the 'rubber duck' shape of a couple of famous comets (67P and Halley's), perhaps indicating a connection in terms of how these structures came to be - or even a common source of formation.  It has been suggested that they could just as easily form within a debris field left over from catastrophic collisions of larger bodies - events which may have taken place at any time during the solar system's history:

"Catastrophic and marginally catastrophic collisions produce material straddling the limits of their mutual gravity, leading to low-speed mergers and a great variety of final shapes and sizes; this can account for what we observe in today’s cometary landscape. Clusters of fragments that initially separate at low speeds relative to each other coalesce during the gravitational phase into the next generation of comets... The eventual shape is often the result of two or more large transitory aggregates coming together and pressing into each other"  (10).

Simulations to test this have shown that the cooler fragments of collisions tend to end up in the binding piles of debris, where the hotter bits get flung away.  This kind of gravitational re-accumulation is reminiscent of the generally accepted theory about the formation of our Moon from collisional debris following an impact between Earth and a Mars-sized body, just on a much smaller scale.  If many comets and, now, Kuiper Belt Objects, appear to be composites of collisional debris, then the implication is that a great deal of catastrophic activity has gone on in the outer solar system.  This might explain why the Kuiper belt population is a fraction of what it should be.  In which case, we should ask ourselves - what has been the driving force of all this cataclysmic activity?  Is there something out there that's set such wheels in motion?

I'm convinced that creative processes of accretion are on-going in interstellar space (11), particularly centred upon the presence of substantial dark, free-floating planets - a topic I explore at length in my forthcoming book 'Darker Stars'.  Either way, Ultima Thule's merged doublet (of 'Ultima' and 'Thule', apparently), held together by their mutual gravity, clearly demonstrates the process of creative accretion at work:  An apparent lack of craters on the surface, combined with the brighter appearance of materials around the 'neck' of Ultima Thule, are suggestive of predominantly accretion over collisional processes. 

I will keep this blog item updated as the month continues and announcements are made (there is a hiatus.  And I'm not expecting a Mount Rushmore moment, but who knows??  Every snowman needs a face.

 

Written by Andy Lloyd,  2nd-7th January 2019

References:

1) John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Press Release "New Horizons Successfully Explores Ultima Thule" 1 January 2019 http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/News-Article.php

2)  Meghan Bartels "NASA named its next New Horizons target Ultima Thule, a mythical land with a Nazi connection "14 March 2018, https://www.newsweek.com/nasa-named-its-next-new-horizons-target-ultima-thule-mythical-land-nazi-844318

3)  Andy Lloyd "Alien Red Asteroid Crashes Through Solar System" 28th October 2017 http://www.andylloyd.org/darkstarblog55.htm

4)  Andy Lloyd "Approaching Ultima Thule" 24th December 2018 http://www.andylloyd.org/darkstarblog69.htm

5)  Andy Lloyd "Space Grease and Interstellar Objects" 30 June 2018 http://www.andylloyd.org/darkstarblog63.htm

6)  Mike Brown "How many dwarf planets are there in the outer solar system?" 12 Nov 2018 http://web.gps.caltech.edu/~mbrown/dps.html

7)  Marcia Dunn "NASA: Icy object past Pluto looks like reddish snowman" 2 January 2019 https://phys.org/news/2019-01-nasa-icy-pluto-reddish-snowman.html

8)  http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/soc/UltimaThule-Encounter/data/mu69/level2/lor/jpeg/040862/lor_0408622511_0x630_sci_8.jpg

9)  M. Massironi, E. Simioni and J-B. Vincent "Two independent and primitive envelopes of the bilobate nucleus of comet 67P", Nature, 526: pp402–405

10)  S. Schwartz et al. "Catastrophic disruptions as the origin of bilobate comets" Nature Astronomy, 2: pp379–382, thanks to Yun Zhang

11) Andy Lloyd "The Cumulative Effect of Intermittent Interstellar Medium Inundation Upon Objects In The Outer Solar System", Feb 2016, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/293488683_The_Cumulative_Effect_of_Intermittent_Interstellar_Medium_Inundation_Upon_Objects_In_The_Outer_Solar_System

 

 

Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

 

 

 

 

 

Exclusive!  First images back from New Horizons!

 

 

Warped Protoplanetary Disks

One of the several strands of evidence pointing towards the existence of a Planet Nine/X body is the 6 degree tilt of the ecliptic away from the Sun's own equatorial plane.  In other words, like the Earth, the Sun's axis is tilted away from the plane of the planets.  All things being equal, the Sun and the planets should have formed out of a common rotating disk of primordial matter - the coalescing pre-solar nebula.  It's understandable that many of the planets engaged in a bit of to-and-fro during the early period of planet-forming, and so ended up a little skewed.  But the Sun is the dominant player, and it should take a considerable gravitational influence to draw the planets away from its own equatorial plane.  Yet, the Sun is seemingly a lonely star.  So, that pesky 6 degree tilt has to be explained by something.  Maybe a passing star pulling at the planets at some point in the past; or maybe the Sun had an early companion (within its birthing dense core) which affected the system's alignment; or maybe another significant planet strongly inclined to the ecliptic, influencing the others over time (1).

Studies of protoplanetary disks in young star systems is revealing similar warps elsewhere.  The latest case concerns a very young single protostar system known as L1527.  This system is so young that there is an implication that the warping may be occurring in the primordial cloud itself (2).  The disk in question is effectively in two parts, where the warping issue affects the inner disc out to some 40-60 AU from the star (3).  In the perceived absence of a companion object causing this effect, it is thought that the gravitational effect of the cloud itself is causing the warp in the protoplanetary disk.

But here's the thing:  Just because there isn't a self-evident, luminous companion object near to L1527, doesn't mean that there isn't a darker companion lurking around somewhere nearby, tugging at the disk.  It has been suggested that all stars begin  life within dense cores, containing at least two protostars (4).  In turn, this has implications about the potential for failed stars being ubiquitous companion objects (5).  So, maybe L1527 does have an unseen sub-stellar companion affecting the structure of its inner disk.

 

Written by Andy Lloyd, 3rd January 2019

References:

1)  Andy Lloyd "Does Planet Nine Solve the Riddle of the Sun’s Obliquity?" 30th July 2016 http://andy-lloyd.com/planet-nine-solve-riddle-suns-obliquity/

2)  RIKEN Press Release "Early protostar already has a warped disk" 1 January 2019, http://www.riken.jp/en/pr/press/2019/20190101_1/

3)  Nami Sakai et al. "A warped disk around an infant protostar" Nature, 31 December 2018, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0819-2

4)  Sarah Sadavoy & Steven Stahler "Embedded Binaries and Their Dense Cores" MNRAS, 21 August 2017, 469(4): pp3881–3900

5)  Andy Lloyd "The Sun was Born with a Companion" 15 June 2017 http://www.andylloyd.org/darkstarblog51.htm

 

 

Repeating Fast Radio Bursts

SETI has been hunting for alien life for decades, scanning the skies for structured radio signals from space.  They tend to look for signals transmitted at certain wavelengths, and aim their search towards the galactic centre to maximise the concentration of potentially habitable star systems in view.  There have been occasions in the past when the odd signal was received, including the famous 'Wow!' signal, which seemed to emerge suddenly from a fixed point in the sky, only to disappear again (1).  However remarkable this signal was 40 years ago, nothing 'alien' could ever be proven based solely upon such a single 'contact', no matter how aberrant.  As with all scientific enquiries, there needs to be a consistency in the phenomenon - a predictability.  The 'Wow!' candidate signal has never repeated, and SETI have been left to continue their long-term search, thus far in vain.

However, since the turn of the century, a new series of candidate radio signals have emerged to tantalise the extraterrestrial lobby.  Fast Radio Bursts are transient phenomena, lasting less than a second, whose high-end energy output implies an origin within incredibly powerful astrophysical events, like the merging of black holes or super-dense neutron stars.  The sixty 'FRBs' detected to date are located randomly across the sky, rather than simply spread across the galactic plane, and are therefore thought to reach us from distant galaxies located billions of light years away.  Like quasars before them, the light from these objects may take billions of years to reach us, moving through an intergalactic and interstellar environment which leaves absorption traces in their red-shifted light spectrographs.  The nature of the light, and how the signal behaves during detection, have allowed astronomers to rule out local sources.

In 2015, one of these bursts, 'FRB 121102', was found to have a track-record of repeated emissions (the number is the inverted date of discovery, so this burst was first detected on 2nd November 2012).  This seemed to discount the possibility that the phenomenon arose from a singular event.  The non-periodic nature of these repeated signals also, potentially, puts it in the category of intelligently controlled.  Even serious academic astrophysicists have ventured an extraterrestrial solution for FRBs (2), positing that these bursts may be "leakage from planet-sized transmitters powering interstellar probes in distant galaxies" (3).  Curiously, the same idea - of spacecraft sails being propelled along by light radiation - has also been proposed for the interstellar asteroid/comet 1I/'Oumuamua, which executed a hyperbolic handbrake turn through the solar system in 2017 (4): 

"... 'Oumuamua could in fact be a light sail, which was originally proposed in another study by Prof. Loeb and Shmuel Bialy (a postdoc research with the ITC). Basically, a light sail is form of [sic] spacecraft that relies on radiation pressure to generate propulsion, which would explain why the object sped up when moving away from the sun." (5)

Returning to the FRBs, recently another repeated signal burst has been found for a different burst, this time 'FRB 180814' (6).  This second repeating FRB has again ignited the debate over whether such a non-periodic but repetitive signal might be of extraterrestrial origin (7).  If so, then the energy output from its source must be incredibly large for it to have travelled the extragalactic distances involved to get to us.  If they are intelligent signals, then the aliens involved have gone to some considerable 'expense' to create communication beams of such incredible power.  They would be well beyond what our civilisation is capable of transmitting.  Of course, that doesn't mean that intelligent civilisations are not capable of such a feat - who knows what is truly possible, given our nascent dabbling in galactic physics.  But the FRB phenomenon seems more likely to be resolved in a similar way to the early pulsars, which were themselves initially considered to be extraterrestrial in origin. 

Now, if only the 'Wow!' signal were to repeat... that would really set the ET debate alight!

 

Written by Andy Lloyd, 13th January 2019

References:

1)  Seth Shostak "Happy Birthday WOW!" 15 August 2017 https://www.seti.org/happy-birthday-wow

2)  Manasvi Lingam & Abraham Loeb "Fast Radio Bursts from Extragalactic Light Sails" The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 837(2) http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/aa633e/pdf

3)  Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Press Release "Could Fast Radio Bursts Be Powering Alien Probes?" 9 March 2017 https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2017-09

4)  Andy Lloyd ‘Oumuamua’s Many Cousins 21st January 2018 http://andy-lloyd.com/oumuamuas-many-cousins/

5)  Matt Williams "Interstellar Objects like Oumuamua Probably Crash into the Sun Every 30 Years or so and 2 Pass Within the Orbit of Mercury" 10 January 2019 https://www.universetoday.com/141089/interstellar-objects-like-oumuamua-probably-crash-into-the-sun-every-30-years-or-so-and-2-pass-within-the-orbit-of-mercury/

6)  The CHIME/FRB Collaboration "A second source of repeating fast radio bursts" Nature, 9 January 2019

7)  Mattha Busby "Mysterious fast radio bursts from deep space ‘could be aliens’" 9 January 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jan/09/repeating-fast-radio-bursts-from-deep-space-could-be-aliens

 

 

1I/'Oumuamua's hyperbolic handbrake turn. Image Credit: Greg Laughlin #AAS233

 

Image Credit: M. Weiss/CfA

   

 

 

Images from the Far Side

The build-up to China's first successful probe to land on the Moon's surface was quiet.  Perhaps they have made several attempts before, unsuccessfully.  All the same, China's Chang'e-4 probe landed safely on the far side of the Moon on 2nd January 2019, and has sent back its first images from its new permanent home - the 180km wide Von Kármán crater (1).

This ancient crater, named after Theodore von Kármán (the PhD advisor of the Chinese space programme's founder Qian Xuesen) lies within the broader South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin low down in the Moon's southern hemisphere.  This massive basin is over 2500km across, and some 13km deep, and was likely caused by a colossal impact.  Beyond its symbolic significance to the Chinese space programme, the von Kármán crater is ripe for some serious science: it is thought to be a promising location for sampling SPA-derived impact melt, the lower lunar crust and possibly upper mantle materials, too (2).  After all, the depth of the ancient impact has revealed layers of the Moon, albeit partially filled back in by basalt.  All this could help with a better understanding of the thermal evolution of the Moon.  But the far side of the Moon is also an ideal location to conduct radio astronomy, as it is shielded from the radio noise from Earth.  The Chinese lander also comes equipped with a spectrometer capable of detecting low-frequency radio waves, amongst other bits of useful science kit (1).

China can claim just credit for this amazing feat (it begs the question why the US et al haven't already done the same...).  It is rare that landers have been sent to the Moon in recent decades - most ongoing exploration by various nations and agencies has involved orbiters and impact probes.  None has attempted to land upon the far side of the Moon.  Now constantly facing away from the Earth, the Chang'e-4 lander requires relayed transmissions through an orbiting satellite to send its information home.  It really is nice, though, to see some 'modern' images of the Moon's surface, from the Moon's surface.  We'll see more as time goes on, as the Chinese have managed to successfully drive their 'Jade Rabbit 2' rover off the lander's driveway, and onto the lunar surface (4). A previous soft landing by the Chinese in 2013 also involved a rover, 'Jade Rabbit', which unfortunately malfunctioned a couple of weeks later, so we'll have to wait and see how this goes  (5), but so far everything's working as planned (6).

Questions I'm interested in concern the nature of the ancient collision, and whether there is any water/water ice on or just below the lunar surface within this deep crater (3).  The planned experiment to investigate the interaction of the solar wind with the lunar surface hints at the science to come.

 

Written by Andy Lloyd, 3rd-7th January 2019

References:

1)  BBC News "China Moon mission lands Chang'e-4 spacecraft on far side" 3rd January 2019 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46724727

2) Z. Meng et al. “Landing site selection and prospective scientific objectives of von Kármán crater within south pole-Aitken basin” https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2018/eposter/1320.pdf

3) Andy Lloyd "The Mysterious Origin of Lunar Water" 9th October 2014 http://www.andylloyd.org/darkstarblog19.htm

4)  Reuters/CCTV "Chinese rover Jade Rabbit 2 sets off to explore far side of moon - video" 4 January 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/science/video/2019/jan/04/chinese-rover-jade-rabbit-2-sets-off-to-explore-far-side-of-moon-video

5)  Michael Martina "China 'lifts mysterious veil' by landing probe on far side of the moon" 3rd January 2019 https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-china-moon/china-lifts-mysterious-veil-by-landing-probe-on-far-side-of-the-moon-idUKKCN1OX07Q

6)  AP "Chinese rover Jade Rabbit 2 powers up devices in pioneering moon mission" 5th January 2019 http://www.arabnews.com/node/1430671/science-technology

 

Image Credit: EPA/China National Space Administration

 

Image Credit: CNSA/Xinhua News Agency via AP

 

 

 

'From Mars to Sirius'

Ancient aliens make an appearance in French Death Metal gods Gojira's 2005 album 'From Mars to Sirius', which my son bought me for Christmas. I've been trying to decode it.  There's lots about Dolphins and Whales from Space, which I guess loosely alludes to the Babylonian half-fish god 'Oannes' et al, described by Berossus, and the progenitor of the creation myth 'Enuma Elish' (1).  The descriptions of planets/gods in Enuma Elish forms a substantial portion of Zecharia Sitchin's work on the Sumerian concept of 'Nibiru', which he proposed as a Planet X body (2).   Here are some pertinent lyrics from the album, which seems to hint at Sitchin's Anunnaki:

"Four hundred thousand years ago/ They came from outer space/and gave us life here." (From 'Global Warming', Joe Duplantier, 2005)

There are hints of further Sitchinesque mythology in other lyrics (e.g. the Babylonian watery monster planet Tiamat in 'Ocean Planet', which is struck by lightning, and breaks apart).  However, the artwork is less clear about such a link, given that there is a depiction of a nine planet solar system, emphasising Mars, with an flight trajectory drawn over towards the Sirius system, particularly Sirius C, a putative companion dwarf within the Sirius system.  The writer of the lyrics, frontman Joe Duplantier, says the following about his Mars/Sirius connection:

“In some cultures, Mars symbolizes war and Sirius peace. I’m simplifying! It is a journey of a state of war, even if in France we are preserved, but it can be a war within us, in our flesh, in our mind, a war with ourselves.” (3)

Well, that may be true, but I think Duplantier's moving into deeper esoteric lore with some of these lyrics!  Again, here are some relevant lyrics, from another song on the album:

"I come to Sirius C/ To learn from you friends of old...There is no goal to reach now/ Leviathans/ No complaint at all/ Dolphins from outer space/ Are in front of me/ In present they dwell."  (From 'To Sirius', Joe Duplantier, 2005)

The Sirius C connection appears to be with Robert Temple's 'Sirius Mystery' (4), alluding to the Nommo, ancestral spirits worshipped by the Dogon people of Mali.  Again, the allusion to space gods, as the 'secret knowledge' of the Dogon about Sirius appears to have included a hidden binary star, now known to astronomers. The companion star, Sirius B, is a white dwarf star which orbits around the much brighter white star Sirius A every ~50 years.  To become a white dwarf, it must have first gone through a 'red giant' phase, which would have blasted away any nearby planets.  Curiously, many of the ancients described Sirius as a red star (this is part of the 'red Sirius' anomaly'), which on the face of it seems to link to the red giant phase, although the timings would be, frankly, pretty weird as Sirius B collapsed into a white dwarf some 120 million years ago!  I wrote all about this some years back... (5)

Sirius C has never been discovered, but I would suggest that if it does exist, then it's a wide orbit cold brown dwarf, or sub-brown dwarf.  It would likely have its own habitable satellite planet, which the Dogon knew as 'Nyan Tolo'.

Anyway, I was particularly impressed with the ancient alien-oriented scribble inside Gojira's CD, which seems to include enigmatic allusions to Akkadian and Egyptian textual references.  The music's not for the faint-hearted, though...so be warned if you decide to investigate the album further!!

 

Written by Andy Lloyd, 14th January 2019

References:

1) Enuma Elish: The Epic of Creation http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/enuma.htm

2)  Zecharia Sitchin "The Twelfth Planet" Avon, 1976

3)  'From Mars to Sirius' https://genius.com/albums/Gojira/From-mars-to-sirius

4) Robert Temple "The Sirius Mystery" St Martin's Press 1976

5) Andy Lloyd "The Dogon Tribe" 2001 http://www.darkstar1.co.uk/ds12.html

 

Click on image to enlarge.

Image credit: Listenable Records, 2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

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