It is no surprise that the universe is a violent arena of destruction. After all, it was born from the biggest “explosion” that was ever possible. The Big Bang materialized out of nothing and for no reason and produced exotic matter with energies of trillions and trillions of degrees. About 400,000 years later, the universe settled in stable hydrogen, helium, and a dash of lithium and beryllium. But the peace did not last long and the chaos soon increased again.
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10 A quasar that eats the equivalent of a star every day
Imagine the power required to destroy and consume our sun. Now imagine a celestial body that does this every day. Such an entity exists and is called J2157.
J2157 is the fastest growing black hole ever discovered. And it’s unimaginably massive: 34 billion times the mass of the sun. It is also the brightest quasar discovered so far, a starved star destroyer that devours the equivalent of one star a day.
And it’s just as confusing as it is destructive: 12.5 billion light years from Earth. It was not expected that such an early black hole from the days when the universe was about a billion years old should be so massive.
To get an idea of how stupid monstrous J2157 is, it is 8,000 times larger than Sagittarius A *, the black hole with 4 million solar masses in the heart of the Milky Way. Even with the equivalent of 4 million suns in the stomach, Sagittarius A * would have to consume more than 60 percent of the stars in the Milky Way in order to become as massive as J2157.
9 A planetary collision creates a world of iron
The cosmos is full of world-moving acts of interplanetary violence. But planetary collisions create new worlds: bizarre, ten times as massive as Earth and mostly made of metal.
Kepler-107c is in the Kepler 107 system, which contains four planets orbiting a sun-like star that is 1,700 light-years away. By measuring the shift in the wavelengths of light coming from Kepler 107, astronomers were able to find indications of a planetary apocalypse outside the solar system for the first time.
A crash of cosmic bodies produced Kepler-107c, which measures about 1.5 earth radii, but is 70 percent by mass iron. It’s super tight and holds 12.6 grams of material per cubic centimeter compared to the humble 5.5 on Earth.
107c has a similarly sized but lighter sibling (only about 3.5 earth masses), Kepler-107b. Its density is rather earth-like 5.3 grams per cubic centimeter. And its iron core makes up only 30 percent of its mass.
This indicates that the unexpectedly iron-rich Kepler-107c suffered a major collision at speeds of almost 40 miles per second. The accident removed the light silicate sheath from Kepler-107c and left a scarred iron core with little else over it.
8th A black hole is torn out of its galaxy
Black holes determine the structure of the universe. With their immense gravity, they lay the foundation for massive galaxies by literally making a dent in the fabric of space-time. And that’s why they’re usually at the center of galaxies.
But celestial powers can even tear black holes out of their galaxies and make them race through space. Which is what happened to black hole XJ1417 + 52. It was discovered by the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory, two space-born instruments that observe the universe in X-rays.
The black hole XJ1417 + 52 is 4.5 billion light-years away in the outer area of a galaxy called GJ1417 + 52. It sheds an incredible amount of X-rays and smashed two cosmic records: It’s ten times further away and ten times brighter (in X-rays) than every black villain hole discovered so far.
XJ1417 + 52 has the mass of 100,000 suns and once anchored its own galaxy. But this galaxy collided with the much larger galaxy GJ1417 + 52, which stole the black (along with its orbiting stars).
7 Galaxies tear apart around the Milky Way
The Milky Way has many smaller satellite galaxies that are attracted by their tremendous attraction. And the two best-known, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) and the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), struck each other a few hundred million years ago.
And the damage from that old collision is still occurring. The southeastern part of the small Magellanic cloud or “wing” floats away from the rest of the galaxy. The stars that populate this region are moving in the same direction and at a similar speed, with evidence of a collision hundreds of millions of years ago.
If the stars moved in a vertical direction, it would indicate that the SMC and LMC passed close to each other but did not collide. But the out of control region of the SMC is moving towards the LMC, which proves that the two galaxies collided head-on.
6 Gravity breaks up small galaxies
Speaking of bad things that happen to the little Magellanic Cloud (SMC), it dies before our eyes. Some galaxies die of glorious Viking deaths torn apart by the gravity of a more massive object. But the SMC dies of a slow and unworthy death.
Although the SMC, 200,000 light years away, is one of the most distant objects visible to the naked eye, it is still not massive enough to hold back all of its gas and dust. So it quickly bleeds its life support, hydrogen gas, into space.
The galactic assassin is gravity because the SMC doesn’t order enough of it. For every single star that the SMC produces, it loses ten times the amount of gas.
But the SMC can still enjoy the death of a warrior and earn its place in the galactic Valhalla. Researchers believe that it will be absorbed by the Milky Way before it dissolves into nothing. Many other small galaxies will not be so lucky.
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5 Solar systems throw planets at their star
Our innermost planet, Mercury, orbits the sun in 88 days. However, numerous observed super-earths complete an orbit around their stars within a few days. And now new evidence points to a strange phenomenon that causes unsuspecting planets to race towards their sun.
The formation of the solar system is not surprisingly difficult since there are many forces involved. Magnetic forces, small and large collisions between whirling bodies and the good old gravity are the main forms. And if the conditions are right, these forces can push several planets in a conga line towards their star.
The particle disk from which planets are born and the planets themselves are occasionally enclosed in synchronized orbits. This “resonance” occurs when the planets and the disk push and pull against each other.
And the planets fall inside. They gradually migrate to the inner areas of their solar system and end up in an orbital berth that is too hot and sterile to form planets.
4th Galaxy clusters collide
Galaxy clusters race through space at millions of miles an hour. Sometimes they bang and merge. In some ridiculously rare cases, four clusters of galaxies combine to form one of the most massive structures the universe could ever see.
Approximately 3 billion light years from Earth, the universe gathers a massive cluster of clusters called Abell in 1758. Each cluster may contain thousands of stars, and all are trapped in an irresistible gravitational hug.
Abell 1758 is divided into two cluster pairs. In the northern pair, the two clusters have been swinging together for the past 300 million years. And they mixed their heavy elements in a gravitational vortex like a cosmic little finger oath and promised that they would reunite.
The sound boom-like shock wave from the old encounter reveals the stunning powers that are at play. The clusters, each a collective body of thousands of stars, passed at a speed of 2-3 million miles an hour. Gravity pulls them back together and will eventually transform them into the other two galaxy clusters, creating a quadruple cluster deluxe.
3rd Swallow black holes and spit like a fountain
Black holes appear to be surrounded by a calm, donut-shaped disc. But in reality black holes vomit super hot matter like a well.
Even the most insatiable black holes cannot consume everything when loaded with a golden corral amount of gas and dust. The debris accumulates into a disk of incident gas, which wildly plunges into the throat of the black hole. It is heated to millions of degrees and broken down into its atoms and ions that are expelled back into the galactic environment.
Part of the black hole raid escapes into space and is never seen again. But part of the insanely hot atomic gas is pulled back by insurmountable gravity to continue the cycle that circulates like water through a city fountain.
2nd Millions of stars explode as galaxies collide
Galactic collisions produce images of destruction. And although galaxies can be torn apart and stars can be hurled into space, collisions also ignite a mass birth of stars. The earliest example dates from when the universe was a young billion years old.
At the beginning of time, galaxies were enclosed in a chaotic heavenly mosh pit. Two of these 13 billion light-years away galaxies got into a gaseous patch called B14-65666. The bi-galactic blob is not huge. The two components together make up only about 10 percent of the Milky Way’s mass, which is expected at such an early point in space-time.
Despite its size, the blob is 100 times more active when a star is born than our own, much more massive galaxy. Galactic clusters cause huge gas clouds to compress and trigger star-birth outbreaks by literally bringing stars to life.
1 Jupiter-like planets are roasted to death
NGTS-10b is the closest orbiting hot Jupiter ever discovered. This gas giant is 20 percent larger and twice as massive as Jupiter. And it zooms so precisely and quickly around its 10 billion year old parent star that its year lasts only 18 hours.
If a planet is so close to its star that a year is 25 percent shorter than a day on Earth, that planet is probably scorching hot. And NGTS-10b is roasted. Fortunately, his star is 1000 degrees colder than our sun. And 70 percent less massive. But to scale, the planet is 27 times closer to its star than Mercury to the sun.
The average temperature on NGTS-10b is only 1000 degrees Celsius. But since it is (probably) tidal, the temperatures differ a lot between the permanent day and the permanent night side.
From today’s perspective, NGTS-10b could serve the very last part of its death sentence. In just 10 years, astronomers could watch NGTS-10b’s last death dive as it writhes in its star’s fiery bosom.
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