Constant Changing Comet Closest

Tjohoooooo!!! 🙂

Here comes another greenie

“Green comet 103P/Hartley 2 is approaching Earth for a close encounter on Oct. 20th. At that time, the comet will be only 11 million miles from Earth and should be dimly visible to the naked eye from dark sky sites.” –

Comet Hartley coming in for closest approach on 20 October 2010.

And the images will just keep on coming: “Two weeks after Comet Hartley has its close encounter with Earth, NASA will have a close encounter with the comet. The EPOXI spacecraft (formerly known as Deep Impact) is hurtling toward Comet Hartley now, and on Nov. 4th it will fly 435 miles from the comet’s active icy nucleus.” Great, I can’t wait.

Now to our Changing Constant …

Please meet the fine structure constant: 1/137 (it determines the strength of the electromagnetic interaction)  … or more accurately

… one of the constants of physics that … seems to be changing … or not? Here are some links to a couple of layman magazine articles about it last week.

Here is Wikipedia’s explanation (they seem to be,  this time, up-to-date and relatively unbiased in this non-emotional subject 😉  “In September 2010 researchers from Australia said they had identified a dipole-like structure in the fine structure constant across the observable universe. According to studies on quasars using the Very Large Telescope, the fine structure constant appears to have been larger by one part in 100,000 in the southern direction, 10 billion years ago. Similarly, the constant appeared to have been smaller by a similar fraction in the northern direction, billions of years ago”

And here is the guilty telescope: The Very Large Telescope in Chile 

360-degree panorama of the southern sky over the VLT observatory

Why guilty? Well … it seems, from a reading of the scientific paper, that:
a) the two independent confirmations were made by the same team of researchers,
b) they could have had trouble centering the quasars in the telescope image slits,
c) there may also be problems with torsion in the VLT structure itself.

Hmm … So it looks like our changing constant could be continuously constant afterall . Oh well … lets just continue to constantly enjoy the cosmos 🙂

Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2009: 1 mm2 of night sky, 4 day exposure, 10 000 galaxies, 13 billion year lookback time - WOW!

This entry was posted in Astronomy, Education. Bookmark the permalink.