Human eyes are limited. Thanks to simulations and real photos, people can now see the invisible world like never before. We can see mysterious twinkles around flowers, an atom (not magnified), and even the speed of light.
But not everything is happily agreed. A new type of UFO has soared in the sky. People disagree on the authenticity of the infrared puzzles, which are invisible to the naked eye.
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10 Andromeda’s halo
When stargazers look up at the night sky, they see lots of sparkles. But something else is there – only human eyes cannot see it. Galactic halos are clouds of gas that wrap around every galaxy, almost like an atmosphere. Our nearest galactic neighbor Andromeda’s bubble was made visible in 2020.
If the simulation were real nature, someone walking their dog at night would see a purple glow that is 100 times bigger than the moon. But researchers have created the halo for other reasons than to make the horizon beautiful at night. Of the two galaxies, the Milky Way cloud is the most difficult to study. Any information gathered by Andromeda can provide clues as to what our halo did in the past and how it will develop in the future.
To map Andromeda’s invisible atmosphere, scientists observed how ultraviolet light behaves on its way through the gas. In short, this technique traced the shape of the cloud. It was enormous, reaching 1.85 million light years in space. Even more surprising was that the halo consisted of two bowl-shaped formations nestled inside one another.
But really, most of the Earthlings just cared about the pretty purple glow.
9 The shock wave of an explosion
Who doesn’t love an isolated government institution? They spawn rumors of aliens, new technology, and in this case a remarkable photo. The Canadian Defense Research and Development Agency is a long way from civilization and owns a vast stretch of prairie. This is the perfect place to blow stuff up.
In 2015, the agency detonated explosives during a test. Someone at the construction site took a photo of the fireball and unexpectedly captured the shock wave from the explosion. The latter happens when something moves (or expands) faster than the speed of sound, causing a sharp change in pressure. Shock waves are usually only visible in water, or when they ripple away from the bottom of an explosion.
But the 2015 picture captured a shock wave in the air. What made the photo even more extraordinary was the clarity. The shape of the shock wave was clearly visible and surrounded the explosion with a bubble-like blur.
8th A surprising X-shaped magnetic field
NGC 4217 has a boring name. But the spiral galaxy made the record books when an image of its magnetic field was created in 2020. Almost nothing is known about how galaxies create their own fields. But to feel its proportions is no mystery. To remove the mantle of invisibility around a galactic magnetic field, scientists simply measure the speed and behavior of cosmic rays in the region.
NGC 4217’s magnetic field turned out to be colossal, reaching 22,500 light years in space. It was also X-shaped. But none of the features were new. There are other spiral galaxies with X-shaped fields that span thousands of light years. However, when the image was developed, it revealed mysterious phenomena within the field that had never been seen before.
For one thing, huge gas bubbles rocked around and they were magnetic too. There was another magnetic field rotating upwards. The strangest discovery was loops thrown outward.
7th Gravity waves over Australia
Nobody argues that Australian wildlife is weird and wonderful. But apparently the invisible side of the continent is just as strange. In 2019, a weather satellite snapped something over Australia. Upon closer inspection, the phenomenon was identified as a gravitational wave.
To be fair, gravitational waves occur elsewhere as well. But seeing them is incredibly rare. Usually invisible, things took an interesting turn when a storm off the northwest coast blew cold air into the atmosphere. The coolness pushed with the region’s warmer air, creating enough condensation to create curvy clouds.
The clouds were curved because they formed along the vertices of the gravitational waves, making the waves visible to satellites as well. The waves themselves were the result of Earth’s gravity trying to balance the atmosphere after the storm caused a chaotic temperature difference.
6th Dark matter
This goop fills 85 percent of the universe. But since space is the strange place, black matter is one great spirit. There’s no way to look directly at the stuff. The only way scientists know that dark matter exists is by the way its gravity picks up other matter and light. There is also a theory that dark matter forms halos around galaxies. Remember the thought.
The researchers recently put everything they had into a simulation. The Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics based the test on a popular theory (that black matter is made up of spots called weakly interacting massive particles). To determine whether the particles behave the same regardless of the size of their world, the simulation generated dark matter on a scale of 30 different sizes. Sure enough, dark matter rolled around galaxies in halos. But more encouragingly, it haloed on all mass scales – even those too small to see.
Since the same thing happened across the board, the halos are now recognized as a feature of dark matter. Interestingly, the simulation also showed that the rings were fuzzy around the edges and denser near the center.
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5 Bird tracks in the sky
One question preoccupied Barcelona Shutterbug Xavi Bou for a long time. What do bird tracks look like? But he wasn’t staring at the ground. Bou looked up at the sky. His imagination saw serpentine waves that followed every bird. A few years ago he found a way to photograph them.
Bou used a video camera to film different species of birds in flight. Then he put the frames together into a single image. The photo shows the position of each bird picture by picture to create fascinating “tracks” along the bird’s path.
4th The speed of light in slow motion
There is nothing faster than the speed of light (Sorry, Flash). At a speed of 300 million meters per second, nobody knew what the speed of light actually looked like. That’s right. Past tense. In 2019, the researchers put together something that suited their quarry – the fastest camera in the world.
The so-called T-Cup recorded laser shooting through a bottle of milk. Why Moo Juice? The milk molecules scatter light particles and make them more visible. The T-Cup captured the event by filming an astonishing 100 billion frames per second. It only takes 24 pictures to make a film. Not even light could escape the wild cracking of the camera.
Even so, the speed of light could only be viewed in slow motion (the laser shot through the bottle at a breakneck speed of 2 billionths of a second). The footage showed a blue blur in the milk. While this wasn’t the most spectacular sight, the performance was remarkable.
3 The glow of the flowers
In the world of photography there is a technique called UVIVF (Ultraviolet Induced Photography with Visible Fluorescence). This sorcery makes things fluorescent. When a photo is taken during a UVIVF session, it captures the invisible light emitted by an object. The results are breathtaking.
In 2018, photographer Craig Burrows used the technique for flowers. The pictures looked like something from another realm. Unusual colors, sparkles and sparkling hues shone around the plants.
Researchers still cannot solve the mystery of what role ultraviolet fluorescence plays in nature. However, the photos of the flowers showed that the pollen was particularly bright. This added more clout to an old theory that flowers use fluorescence to attract pollinators.
2 A new breed of UFO (maybe)
One of the strangest claims made by the UFO community is that the sky is full of invisible objects in flight. Many people have been tracking these UFOs with night vision cameras. The judgment? That there is a new type of UFO that emits infrared light and is otherwise undetectable. Some witnesses have even claimed they witnessed fighting between these ships.
Skeptics disagree. They believe that the “invisible fleet” is nothing more than planes, moths, bats and satellites that are magnified by infrared devices. Even the dramatic cases are not loved by scientists. When a paranormal society in Texas captured the picture of a silent and blazing triangular UFO in 2012, it was classified by scientists as nothing more than a military drone with infrared lights.
1 A trapped atom
David Nadlinger refused to believe it. Conventional wisdom told him that atoms were too small to be seen with the naked eye. But the physicist wanted to look at an atom without special goggles or magnification. In 2018 he succeeded. Nadlinger happily took a photo. He wasn’t the only lucky scholar – the picture won the grand prize in a prestigious British science competition.
Nadlinger held the atom between electric fields before stabilizing it in a vacuum chamber. Two needles 2 mm apart held the particle between them. A blue-violet laser colored the atom blue – and made it visible to the naked eye. Someday, this feat could help create quantum computers or something similarly techno-valuable. But right now it offers an amazing opportunity to look directly at the building blocks of matter.
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