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Space is an absolutely crazy place. From super-fast stars to the nature of matter, here we'll be looking at the strangest and most mysterious elements of the universe.

Gliese 581 c

Gliese 581 c is a planet outside of our solar system.This planet orbits a red dwarf star which is many times smaller and only 1.3% as luminous as our Sun. This means that the planet is much closer to its star than we are to ours. Because of this, Gliese 581 c is stuck in a state of tidal locking, meaning that one side of the planet is always facing the star, and one side is always facing away—just like our moon’s relationship with Earth. 

This makes the planet have some really strange features. The side of the planet where the star shines is completely uninhabitable (stepping out onto the star-side of the planet would immediately kill you). Likewise, the opposite side of the planet where there is no sunlight shining is also completely uninhabitable (you would freeze instantly to death). However, in between these two extremes is a small belt where life could theoretically exist.

Living on Gliese 581 c would have its challenges, though. The star it orbits is a Red Dwarf, which means that it makes the entire sky of Gliese 581 c a hellish red color. Another side effect of this is the fact that photosynthesizing plants would have to adapt to the constant bombardment of infrared radiation, rendering them a deep black color.

Gliese 581 c

Space Raspberries and Rum

For the last few years, scientists have been studying a dust cloud near the centre of our Milky Way galaxy. The dust cloud, named Sagittarius B2, smells of rum and tastes like raspberries.

This gas cloud consists largely of ethyl formate, which gives raspberries their taste, and rum its distinctive smell. This large cloud is said to contain billions of liters of the stuff. However, it is undrinkable because of toxic particles such as cyanide.

Space Raspberries and Rum

Burning Ice planet

In the same solar system as Gliese 581c is another strange planet, Gliese 436b. Gliese is a planet made out of ice but at a surprising temperature: 439 C!! This makes this planet a burning ice cube! So how is this possible? Normally, water becomes ice at temperatures below freezing. However, the enormous amount of water on the planet is pulled towards the core, generating a lot of pressure. The water as a result is pushed so tightly together that it becomes ice and cannot evaporate, even in the intense heat.

Burning Ice planet

Shine Bright Like a Diamond

55 Cancri e is a crazy planet made entirely out of crystallized diamond, which would make this planet cost 26.9 nonillion dollars. The huge diamond planet was once a star in a binary system, until its partner began to cannibalize it. However, the star could pull its carbon core away. Actually, diamond is just carbon after a lot of heat and pressure has been applied. So at a surface temperature of 1648 degrees C, the conditions are almost perfect!

One third of the planet is said to be completely pure diamond! And this planet is made mainly of graphite and diamond (which are both allotropes of Carbon). The huge gemstone is two times the size of Earth, and has eight times the mass.

Shine Bright Like a Diamond

Black Holes

We have all heard of or seen a black hole in Science Fiction movies, and they really are strange indeed! In the centre of the black hole is what we call the "event horizon." There, the gravitational pull is so strong that nothing can escape, even light! Astrophysicists think dying stars about three to 20 times the mass of our sun can form these strange objects.


Exercise

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