September 29, 2023

Brighton Journal

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What is this question mark in space? Here’s what we know and what we don’t know

What is this question mark in space?  Here’s what we know and what we don’t know

Astronomers will tell you it’s just an optical illusion, a pair of galaxies caught in the act of mating as seen from the wrong angle. It happens all the time.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Halton Arp, an astronomer at the Hill Observatories in southern California, caused a stir by asserting that galaxies that are millions of light-years apart according to conventional cosmological calculations—but appear superimposed together in the sky—were interacting locally. . His claim cast doubt on the Big Bang theory of the universe. Astronomers now agree he was wrong.

now A real question mark has been discoveredin Webb’s recent observing angle of A pair of dust clouds known as Herbig-Haro 46/47 which is in the process of forming into two stars. This discovery caused a sensation on social media. “Ze space mall info booth was found by JWST,” one commenter joked on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.

Chris Brett, an astronomer with the Baltimore-based Space Telescope Science Institute who operates the Webb telescope, tried to explain. “This particular pair is so far away it’s hard to pin down a lot of the details,” he said in one of the emails. “But there are some similar galaxy mergers that have been seen near us, including This one is called II Zwicky 96. “

However, there are times when it’s worth stepping back to listen to “music,” as Einstein once referred to the beauty and mystery of the universe. You’re free to consider this question mark as weird graffiti, a commentary on both our relationship and existence. The point is, we’re barely even beginning to know anything — and that’s why we build telescopes.

Once Webb completes his rounds of investigations two decades from now, we may know more about how this star pot works. But we still don’t know why we are here. The question mark, our deep cosmic ignorance, is one of science’s greatest gifts.