MadSci Network: Astronomy

Re: Do you think there is stuff we dont know about and/or havnt seen?

Date: Sun Jan 7 21:25:01 2001
Posted By: Bryan Mendez, Grad student, Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California at Berkeley
Area of science: Astronomy
ID: 977973346.As

Yes! I do think there are many, many things in the Universe that have yet to be seen or discovered.

We astronomers think, with some certainty, that the majority of matter in the Universe is made up of something that does not emit light and hence cannot be seen by us. We call this unknown stuff Dark Matter. It may be quite some time before we understand just what this stuff is.

Only now are we beginning to find planets around other stars. The ones we are finding are somewhat surprising. We expected to find planets around other stars, but we hardly expected to find so many giant plants very close to their parent stars as we have.

We are now beginning to find evidence for the existence of black holes. These are objects so dense that light cannot escape from them. Until recent times they had been only theoretical. And now we are finding black holes at the centers of galaxies that contain the mass of millions and even billions of suns. This was not expected, and is not well understood as of yet.

These are just some examples of the discoveries that are currently being made. In the past, every time we have figured out a new way to probe the Universe we have discovered something new and unexpected: from Galileo first turning his telescope to the sky and discovering moons around Jupiter to the launch of satellites that can see gamma-rays discovering unfathomable explosions in the Universe named gamma-ray bursters. I am sure that as we find new ways to probe the Universe we will discover many more new and unexpected things.

As I expect many of these new discoveries to be unexpected it is difficult to speculate what might be out there awaiting our discovery. But, one of the things we might find out there is life. We may find that ours is not the only planet that has given birth to living beings. Maybe some of that life has become intelligent and able to construct great tools as we have. Some races might become so advanced in time that they could construct many wonderous things that are not naturally occuring. It would be very exciting to discover something like this.

I think Astronomy is so exciting because there is such great potential for discovery yet in the Universe.

Thank you for you question.
Keep watching the stars
-Bryan Méndez

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