Browsing: Space and Science

A UN Security Council resolution – which called on all countries to prevent an arms race in outer space, has been vetoed by Russia. The draft resolution was put forward by the US and Japan and was aimed at reaffirming a principle already set out in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

Scientists say they have, using Crispr gene-editing technology, been able to eliminate HIV from infected cells. The Nobel Prize-winning technology works like scissors, but at the molecular level, cutting DNA so “bad” bits can be removed or inactivated. 

A private US company – Intuitive Machines – has made history by becoming the first commercial outfit to put a spacecraft on the Moon. “What we can confirm, without a doubt, is our equipment is on the surface of the Moon and we are transmitting,” flight director Tim Crain announced.

Hey J. Rod (Picture: Getty/Science Photo Libra)

Extra-terrestrial beings have dominated headlines for the past year as people double down on their belief that UFOs are out there – but long before then, there was J. Rod the alien.

Haven’t heard of him?

Oh, he’s just an alien who survived a UFO crash in the 1950s then went to work for the government in Area 51, obviously.

While there he taught us humans about his home planet (the name of which has yet to be leaked), the universe, and how to reverse engineer the technology that brought him to Earth, all while living in an underground bunker on the top-secret military base.

Unsurprisingly he also apparently looked exactly like almost every humanoid alien imagined in books, TV and film – tall and slim in stature, with large eyes and almost transparent grey skin.

The story of J. Rod inspired more novels and TV shows, and he can even be found on sweatshirts and lunchboxes.

What lies within Area 51 (Picture: Getty/iStockphoto)

As to where he himself was originally found, well, it was only one of the most famous UFO crashes of all time.

In May 1953, a UFO, described as like a ‘stream-lined cigar’, was reported to have crashed near Kingman in Arizona.

Forty scientists descended on the site, where they were reportedly confronted with an object ‘metallic, 30 feet wide and three and a half feet high, oval-shaped with portholes’, according to alien author Preston Dennett.

What is Area 51? Area 51 is the common name given to a (formerly) secret US airbase in the middle of the Nevada desert.
Designated as a flight testing facility, the US government only officially acknowledged its existence in 2013.
It has become synonymous with UFO conspiracy theories following numerous sightings around the base – some believe it is used to test recovered crashed alien spacecraft, such as that at the centre of the Roswell incident.

It gets weirder inside.

In a documentary for The History Channel, Mr Dennett added: ‘Inside were two to four, four-foot-tall humanoids, deceased according to most sources, with large eyes and wearing metallic suit.’

But were they really dead?

Apparently not if you believe the legend of J. Rod – and those who knew him.

Guard Gate at Area 51 (Groom Lake, Dreamland) near Rachel, Nevada (Picture: Barry King/WireImage)

In the decades since, two former Area 51 staff have said they worked alongside him.

Former Navy pilot Bill Uhouse said J. Rod ‘sounded just like you’ and ‘tried to answer questions’ in a 2000 interview’ (presumably an internal interview and not for Cosmo, but that isn’t clear).

Dan Burisch, a microbiologist, said it was his job to keep J. Rod healthy, and claims the government made him take tissue samples from the alien.

Unsurprisingly however, no public documentation to verify the existence of this interplanetary visitor exists.

But with the latest US Congress report where individuals spoke about their UFO encounters – who knows what the government is hiding?

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This computer simulation shows a galactic wind which blows gas out of the galaxy for 200 million years (Picture: SWNS)

Mysterious radio waves the size of several galaxies could be galactic winds from stars that exploded billions of years ago, according to new research.

The winds, which can travel at up to 2,000km per second, were only discovered in 2019 and have so far remained a mystery.

But a team of American astrophysicists now believe the waves are shells formed by galactic winds – possibly from massive exploding stars known as supernovae.

Computer simulations demonstrating galactic winds blowing over 750 million years offer an explanation for the radio circles which have left scientists perplexed up to this point.

Back in 2019, the newly-completed Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope picked up something no one had ever seen before: radio wave circles so large they contained entire galaxies at their centres.

When they observed these radio rings, a team of researchers from the University of California San Diego studying ‘starburst’ galaxies believed they could provide the answers as to their origin.

Scientists had no idea what the bizarre radio signals were when they discovered them in 2019 (Picture: SWNS)

In their study, published in the journal Nature, the researchers delved into massive starburst galaxies that can drive these ultra-fast outflowing winds.

Starburst galaxies have an exceptionally high rate of star formation.

When stars die and explode, they expel gas from the star and its surroundings back into interstellar space.

If enough stars explode near each other at around the same time, the force of these explosions can push the gas out of the galaxy itself into outflowing winds – which can travel at up to 2,000 kilometres per second.

“These galaxies are really interesting,” explained astrophysicist Dr Alison Coil, a lead author of the study.

“They occur when two big galaxies collide. The merger pushes all the gas into a very small region, which causes an intense burst of star formation.

“Massive stars burn out quickly and when they die, they expel their gas as outflowing winds.”

Technological developments allowed ASKAP to scan large portions of the sky at very faint limits which made odd radio circles (ORCs) detectable for the first time in 2019.

These ORCs were enormous: hundreds of kiloparsecs across, where a kiloparsec is equal to 3,260 light-years.

For comparison, our galaxy, the Milky Way, is around a mere 30 kiloparsecs across.

Since the ORCs were detected, a multitude of theories has abounded to explain their origin, from planetary nebulae – an emission nebula consisting of an expanding, glowing shell of ionized gas ejected from red giant stars late in their lives – to black hole mergers.

But radio data alone could not discriminate between these various theories.

Dr Coil and her colleagues thought it possible the radio rings were a development from the later stages of the starburst galaxies they’d been studying, and began to look into ORC 4 – the first ORC discovered, which is observable from the Northern Hemisphere.

Until 2019, ORCs had previously only been observed through their radio emissions, without any optical data.

Dr Coil’s team, however, used an integral field spectrograph at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Maunakea, Hawaii, to look at ORC 4 which revealed a tremendous amount of highly luminous, heated, compressed gas – far more than is seen in the average galaxy.

Using optical and infrared imaging data, the researchers determined that the stars inside ORC 4 galaxy were around six billion years old.

“There was a burst of star formation in this galaxy, but it ended roughly a billion years ago,” Dr Coil said.

Dr Cassandra Lochhaas, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a co-author on the study, ran a series of computer simulations to replicate the size and properties of the large-scale radio ring, including the large amount of shocked, cool gas in the central galaxy.

Dr Lochhas’ simulations demonstrated outflowing galactic winds blowing for 200 million years before they shut off.

When the galactic wind stopped, a forward-moving shock continued to propel high-temperature gas out of the galaxy and created a radio ring, whilst a reverse shock sent cooler gas falling back onto the galaxy.

The simulation played out over 750 million years — within the ballpark of the estimated one-billion-year stellar age of ORC 4.

“To make this work you need a high-mass outflow rate, meaning it’s ejecting a lot of material very quickly,” Dr Coil said.

“And the surrounding gas just outside the galaxy has to be low density, otherwise the shock stalls. These are the two key factors.

“It turns out the galaxies we’ve been studying have these high-mass outflow rates. They’re rare, but they do exist.

“I really do think this points to ORCs originating from some kind of outflowing galactic winds.”

Dr Coil added that these outflowing winds could not only help astronomers understand ORCs, but could also help astronomers understand the outflowing winds themselves.

“ORCs provide a way for us to ‘see’ the winds through radio data and spectroscopy,” she said.

“This can help us determine how common these extreme outflowing galactic winds are and what the wind life cycle is.

“They can also help us learn more about galactic evolution: do all massive galaxies go through an ORC phase?

“Do spiral galaxies turn elliptical when they are no longer forming stars? I think there is a lot we can learn about ORCs and learn from ORCs.”