Science

5 astronomy facts that will change your perspective of time & space

Sure, we’ve sent satellites to a number of different planets and had a man walk on the moon. But to be honest, there’s still a whole lot that we Earthlings don’t know about the world beyond our planet.

However, many of the things we do know are pretty mind-boggling. These five astronomy facts might just change your perspective of time and space.

Space isn’t completely silent

Credit: NASA

You’ve heard it before: space isn’t just quiet, it’s totally silent. And that’s true ... sort of.

No, you won’t be hearing the “pew-pew” laser sound you hear in just about every outer space movie. Since space exists in a vacuum and has no atmosphere, sound can’t get in as humans hear it. However, radio transmissions have been able to pick up some spooky space object sounds that would otherwise be undetectable by the human ear.

That’s not true of planets with air pressure and atmospheres, though. These things do permit for the type of sound you can hear. So while you’re here on Earth, you’re going to keep on hearing the sound of car horns, barking dogs, and sirens.

Boiling ice is a thing

Credit: NASA

Need some ice for that burn? Located about 33 light-years away, exoplanet Gliese 436 b is composed of a variety of different water elements, including ice that burns.

While the pressure on the planet keeps ice elements solid, surface temperatures reaching upwards of 570 degrees F (or 300 degrees C) heat the top surface of the water to the point where it turns into a vapor. That’s right: hot ice!

Strange days on Venus

Credit: NASA

If you’ve ever felt like your work day is dragging on, count your lucky stars that you don’t live on Venus.

The axis rotation on Venus is slow like molasses: it takes about 243 Earth days to go through a single cycle. And yet its orbit takes only 225 days, meaning a day is longer than a year on Venus.

In terms of sunrises, you’ll get only two per Earth year on Venus — one every 117 days. But since it takes 243 earth days to complete an axis, both sunrises technically occur on the same day. Oh, and since Venus rotates in a different direction than Earth, the direction of sunrise and sunset are reversed. The sun rises in the west and sets in the east.

There’s a ton of booze in space

Credit: NASA

Care to party in outer space? Head about 10,000 light-years away to constellation Aquila, where there’s a gaseous cloud called G34.3 that’s made of alcohol.

To get an idea of the size of this cloud, go ahead and multiply our solar system’s diameter by a thousand. As for the amount of alcohol contained in that cloud? It’s said to contain enough alcohol to supply every single person on Earth with 300,000 pints of beer each and every single day for the next billion years.

Saturn’s moon is like a Yin-Yang

Credit: NASA

Saturn’s moon Iapetus has a very unique look. One of its hemispheres is very dark, and one is very light. Not only is this unlike any other moon in the solar system, but it looks suspiciously like the Yin-Yang.

What’s responsible for this unique contrast? Some scientists say particles from another moon have fallen on what is now the dark side of the moon; others say it’s due to volcanic eruptions. Either way, Iapetus is one of the more striking moons in the solar system.

Curious about the next frontier?

Credit: NASA

No doubt about it, outer space is a weird and wacky place. From clouds straight out of a psychedelic dream to ice that sizzles and endless days on Venus, these facts are truly out of this world.